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Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need For Software Patents 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-boys-go-on-home-now dept.
imamac sends this quote from a Reuters report: "The U.S. judge who tossed out one of the biggest court cases in Apple's smartphone technology battle is questioning whether patents should cover software or most other industries at all. ... Posner said some industries, like pharmaceuticals, had a better claim to intellectual property protection because of the enormous investment it takes to create a successful drug. Advances in software and other industries cost much less, he said, and the companies benefit tremendously from being first in the market with gadgets — a benefit they would still get if there were no software patents. 'It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries,' he said. Also, devices like smartphones have thousands of component features, and they all receive legal protection. 'You just have this proliferation of patents,' Posner said. 'It's a problem.' ... The Apple/Motorola case did not land in front of Posner by accident. He volunteered to oversee it."
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Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need For Software Patents

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  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:52AM (#40563179)

    Judges should stick to judging, and leave legislating to legislatures. Software patents may be a bad idea, and the modern patent system may be detrimental to innovation, but that is not the concern of judges. Judges are supposed to decide based on legality, they are not supposed to decide the sensibility. The Constitution clearly gives the government the power to issue patents. So it is up to Congress to fix this, and that won't happen until enough voters care.

  • by tangent3 (449222) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:07AM (#40563355)

    Copyright laws still exist even if software patents go away.

  • Re:He volunteered... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:11AM (#40563409)

    Not quite... if you RTA fully, you'll find out he only registered his interest in any cases involving patents with the lower courts, and the judge that was assigned the case requested to transfer it over to him, which he accepted.

    So, no, he didn't get to rummage around in the bin for this one. It was 3 interlocking pieces:

    1) The judge from Wisconsin the system assigned the case to knew (or was informed) of Posners interest in patent cases and asked to transfer it to him.
    2) Various pieces of judicial administration machinery allowed the transfer.
    3) Posner had to accept the transfer in his existing docket schedule.

  • Re:Oblig: TED Talk (Score:4, Informative)

    by RogerWilco (99615) on Friday July 06, 2012 @11:13AM (#40564375) Homepage Journal

    I don't agree that in general Europe is business unfriendly. The US has two other major advantages over Europe, namely a large common market and a head start after WWII.

    EU-27 has a bigger economy and more Fortune 500 companies than the US.

    Europe certainly has problems for business, but those are mostly the fact that there are many languages, currencies and different laws to deal with, not that the climate is inherently business unfriendly. Some countries might be somewhat more unfriendly towards US companies than their own, but that's mutual.

    And we manage this wile providing universal health care, guaranteed pensions, social welfare, more holidays and shorter working hours.

  • Re:Oblig: TED Talk (Score:4, Informative)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday July 06, 2012 @11:42AM (#40564697)

    Jonas Salk refused to patent his polio vaccine

    And yet he patented Remune.

    And of course his "refusal" to patent his polio vaccine had nothing to do with the lawyers at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis saying that prior art made it not patentable - they did the legal research into that just for fun with no intention of actually patenting it if it was likely to succeed.

  • Re:Oblig: TED Talk (Score:5, Informative)

    by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Friday July 06, 2012 @12:12PM (#40565103)

    I see this objection a lot. As someone with quite a bit of knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry, medicine, and basic research in biology, let me try to explain the problem: creating a cure is insanely difficult. Why?
          1. It usually requires permanently altering cellular anatomy or physiology/metabolism, and homeostasis won't let you.
          2. Many diseases have genetic components, which would require altering DNA to cure.
          3. We don't have the technology to carry out #1 and 2.

    In a disease state, the body's homeostasis has diverged from a "normal" state. Homeostasis is a robust process, meaning that it can take a lot to change it; usually it occurs slowly over a long period of time. Taking a pill that temporarily alters that homeostasis doesn't reset it to normal. Think freshman chemistry: equilibrium and Le Chatelier's principle. You changed the equilibrium, and the disease state homeostasis fights to go back to what it was.

    As for genetic components, cystic fibrosis should be the easiest disease in the world to cure: it's caused by having two copies of a bad allele for a potassium channel that result in misfolded proteins. Insert at least one good copy into the genome and voila! A cure! Yet nobody has ever demonstrated success with gene therapy in humans. Which leads us to the third point...

    We just can't figure out how to get gene therapy to work well. We also can't figure out how to permanently move a diseased homeostatic process (e.g., insulin resistance) to a normal state.

    It's not that the pharma companies don't want to. Patient compliance with medication is horrible. If you tell a patient to their face that they will only live 3 more years if they don't take this pill every day, versus 10 years if they do, the average patient will only take the pill about 180 days of the year. So, if a drug company could sell a cure at the same cost as a lifetime of one-a-day pills (which they could), then they would absolutely do so. It's guaranteed money, like a magazine subscription versus buying a copy off the rack whenever.

    Besides, many scientists at academic and government research institutions would rather find cures for diseases, yet are unable to. Unless we pull out the tin foil hats and speculate that they, too, are on the payroll of the pharma companies, it should be clearer that there are other reasons cures don't happen.

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