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Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the cutting-up-the-pie dept.
parallel_prankster writes "NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stifling innovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company's biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had 'kind of gotten crazy.' It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system's weaknesses. 'There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,' said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, 'the borders are fuzzy, so it's really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.'"
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Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:43PM (#41588783) Journal

    Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year

    I was going to submit this story this morning but I didn't because I couldn't find the source of this Stanford analysis that is mentioned (though not cited) in the article. Could someone please give me a link to a news release or PDF or anything? I thought I had pretty good Google skills but found nothing. The thing that worries me is that this headline lead me to believe that all the court fees and lawsuits are costing more than R&D. However the article itself says:

    In the smartphone industry alone, according to a Stanford University analysis, as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years — an amount equal to eight Mars rover missions. Last year, for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings.

    So my first concern is that this is also about patent purchases so this could also be including that "per phone or per license" cost that you pay when you actually do license someone's patent legally and use the system as it was intended to work. Does anyone know if they're including this or just acquisitions of smaller companies that have patent portfolios as defense/attack mechanisms? Secondly, I'm concerned that we're only seeing public filings and these sums cannot reflect undisclosed terms for settling out of court and/or licenses that are not publicized.

    Again, before people explode over this headline, I'd just like to get my hands on the data and verify that there is indeed a reason to explode over this. This isn't an apology for patents, this is just the most basic journalistic caution before I fly off the handle.

    • history question. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I recall that there were long and nasty patent disputes over rubber tires, motion picture film, airplanes, etc. Does anyone know how these old battles compare to today's situation?

      • by alen (225700)

        same thing except kids will always be dumb and think that whatever is happening today is totally new and has never happened before

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In other words, the US patent system has been shit for a long time but for some stupid reason we have yet to get around to fixing it.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Why fix it? Its obviously working... look at all that money thats going to lawyers pockets?!?! who cares that is is totally annihilating anything like innovation.

            • Not annihilating, sharing the wealth, especially sharing it to the industry from whence our lawmakers spring. And who do we look to to reform the laws and stem the flow of money to lawyers?

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              who cares that is is totally annihilating anything like innovation.

              Um, the US Constitution?

          • In other words, the US patent system has been shit for a long time but for some stupid reason we have yet to get around to fixing it.

            You make it sound as if law makers are just naive/dumb/lazy/whatever rather than, say, people who put corporations' best interest front and center. If they were, replacing them could be a first step towards cleaning this mess but, unfortunately, things are the way they are by design, not by incompetence.

            RT.

        • by idontgno (624372)

          And the depressing take-away is that "innovation by litagation" itself isn't particularly innovative.

          It's amazing anything gets done.

        • 'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers'

          Henry VI, Shakespeare

          It was old before you were young.

      • Re:history question. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FrangoAssado (561740) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:22PM (#41589233)

        Patent disputes over motion picture films were a major influence on the development of Hollywood. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        The film patents wars of the early 20th century led to the spread of film companies across the U.S. Many worked with equipment for which they did not own the rights, and thus filming in New York could be dangerous; it was close to Edison's Company headquarters, and to agents the company set out to seize cameras. By 1912, most major film companies had set up production facilities in Southern California near or in Los Angeles because of the location's proximity to Mexico, as well as the region's favorable year-round weather.

        So, at least for the movie industry, it was possible to avoid or minimize patent harassment by moving elsewhere. In today's world that's obviously impossible.

        • So, at least for the movie industry, it was possible to avoid or minimize patent harassment by moving elsewhere. In today's world that's obviously impossible.

          Actually, the movie makers moved to Jacksonville, FL [wikipedia.org] in the early 20th century, before they moved to Hollywood.

          • by FrangoAssado (561740) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:13PM (#41589767)

            That's interesting. Apparently, another important factor for the early movie industry was how the local community received the movie makers. Compare Hollywood [wikipedia.org]:

            While [in Los Angeles], the company decided to explore new territories, traveling several miles north to Hollywood, a little village that was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there.

            With Jacksonville [wikipedia.org]:

            Jacksonville's mostly conservative residents, however, objected to the hallmarks of the early movie industry, such as car chases in the streets, simulated bank robberies and fire alarms in public places, and even the occasional riot. In 1917, conservative Democrat John W. Martin was elected mayor on the platform of taming the city's movie industry.

            Still, it's clear that they were avoiding New York, which already had a movie industry.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Pretty similar. It is a natural artifact of our patent system. Companies that do not play this game find themselves hurting more then the ones that are trying to mutually annihilate each other... either from patent suits or from investors that pressure them to start suing. Old problem....
    • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:01PM (#41588977)
      Are they including Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility?
      • At least a portion of that purchase would be included (according to one source, Google has said that $5.5 billion of the purchase price was for the patents).

      • Are they including Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility?

        Perhaps, but Google didn't actually spend as much money as some people think. The official purchase price was 12.5 billion dollars. However, Motorola Mobility had substantial banked tax losses, booked in previous years, which can be carried forward and written off against taxes on Google profits in subsequent years. After taking this into consideration, the actual long term purchase price to Google was probably closer to 3.5 billion dollars or so.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Sources? We don't need no steenkin' sources!

      This is Slashdot, where the hivemind rules... Patents are bad! Corporations are bad! Sensationalism is good!

    • by FriendlyStatistician (2652203) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:01PM (#41589639)

      The nearest I can find is this, to appear in the Houston Law Review: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2125515 [ssrn.com]

      Particularly these sentences on pp. 3-4:

      "In 2012, Google spent $12.5B to buy Motorola Mobility and its patents, and $5.2B in 2011 on R&D. In 2011, Apple spent $2.4B on R&D but contributed more, approximately $2.6B, to a single transaction to buy patents from Nortel."

      There are citations on all four figures, including a note that Google says $5.5 billion of the price for Motorola Mobility was for their patents.

      The author, Colleen Chien, is actually a law professor at Santa Clara, not at Stanford. According to her CV she did her undergrad at Stanford and had a fellowship at the Stanford law school for eight months in 2006, but she doesn't list any more recent affiliation with Stanford. There is a draft of her article under Stanford's domain: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/law/ipsc/Paper%20PDF/Chien,%20Colleen%20-%20Paper.pdf [stanford.edu]

      Regardless of whether this is actually the NYT's source, and why--if it is--they affiliated it with Stanford, the numbers seem good (you can find the citations on the draft linked above).

      [I tracked this down by googling "site:stanford.edu apple google research and development patent" which brought up the draft I linked as the third result. After verifying that it contained the relevant information it was easy to find the listing on SSRN and to track down Colleen Chien's page at Santa Clara. Now that you know my tricks, you, too, can become a master of google-fu, and not have to rely on me to find sources for you!]

    • Maybe this one, not sure though - http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/facpubs/473/ [scu.edu] The author is from Santa Clara and not Stanford
  • by trout007 (975317) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:43PM (#41588787)

    At the expense of everyone else.

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#41588985)

      At the expense of everyone else.

      I think it's more accurate to say that lawmakers enact legislation which benefits their campaign-financiers. This happens even when neither is a lawyer. However, one thing that's for sure: the campaign financiers are multi-national corporations.

      • The current patent system is harmful to society because it tramples on freedom. The purpose of patents is to provide an incentive for innovation and compensate inventors for their hard work. However, it should not infringe on the freedom of others. That would be counter to its purpose. Above all, the system must never serve as a carte blanche for a few to bully all others out of the market. What we need is something like this:

        1. A special independent fund must be set aside to compensate inventors for their

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple spend money on patenting what everybody else does, Google spends money on patenting real innovations that companies like Apple steal.

    • So what exactly did Google invent? Considering they are late comer to everything.....
      • When they buy a company that did invent something, they create an incentive for the next inventor to form a company and sell out to Google.

        Most inventors want to invent, not create companies. Inventing doesn't pay very well, but if you can hold out long enough, you can make it big. At least that's the mythology.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        So what exactly did Google invent? Considering they are late comer to everything

        Web search that actually works
        Web based maps
        Google Streetview
        Self-driving cars
        etc.

        What did Apple invent? Not computers, not smart phones, not tablets, not MP3 players. All those things existed already when Apple got into the respective markets.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:48PM (#41588837) Homepage Journal

    Right now, there's a huge profit incentive for patent trolls because of the huge payouts in damages when these lawsuits are won.

    Either cap damages, or limit compensation to injunctions, to remove the huge incentive that companies have to make profit from patent battles.

    Having these companies bickering over patents and billion-dollar payouts is bad for everyone, since they should be inventing new technology or at least fixing those iPhone purple flare cameras.

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:43PM (#41590105) Homepage

      Right now, there's a huge profit incentive for patent trolls because of the huge payouts in damages when these lawsuits are won.

      The slashdot headline, and, to some extent, the slashdot summary, make it sound like Google and Apple are the only ones compiling bogus patents, but it works both ways, of course. They sue other people for patent infringement, but they also get sued. The big difference is that Google and Apple really do have R&D, and really do come up with at least some things that deserve to be patented, whereas the typical patent troll has never made any positive contributions, and is simply hoping to take advantage of the fact that the patent office doesn't really care whether applications are nontrivial.

      I got subpoenaed last week by a lawyer from Google, because Google is getting sued by a patent troll (I don't know the name of the company), and Google wants to use the web site in my sig, which dates back to 2001, to prove prior art and invalidate the patent. It's apparently a business methods patent. You might ask, "How do you know that they're a patent troll when you don't even know the company's name, and don't know anything about the patent other than the fact that it's a methods patent?" Well, the way I know that is that I built that site, and it required absolutely zero innovation or creativity on my part. If you take a look a the code [theassayer.org], you'll see that it's embarrassingly amateurish -- I think it was the very first Perl code I ever wrote. I simply bought the O'Reilly book on the Perl DBI interface, and built a bog-standard web-based front end for a SQL database. The database is nothing but a digital library catalog, the sole difference being that most such catalogs keep track of a physical collection of books, whereas mine is a catalog of books that are free on the web. It also has a feature where users can write reviews.

      Responding to the subpoena (as I'm legally required to do) has been and continues to be a minor pain in the ass. But it's just absurd that any patent examiner allowed anyone to patent anything that went into my web site, because it required zero originality. For that reason, I feel like I'm doing something somewhat positive for society by helping Google deliver a smackdown to this troll.

      Google and Apple are probably both companies that would benefit greatly from patent reform, including the elimination of software and business method patents. The big losers would be the patent trolls.

      • I got subpoenaed last week by a lawyer from Google, because Google is getting sued by a patent troll (I don't know the name of the company), and Google wants to use the web site in my sig, which dates back to 2001, to prove prior art and invalidate the patent.

        Ugh. What a pain in the posterior. However, look at the bright side -- you might meet some interesting people from Google, and/or convince them to add new Gmail skins.

    • by gander666 (723553) *

      Actually, patent trolls don't want to go to court. They are used to companies rolling over and paying a nominal sum to "license" it and go away. Then they use this pot of "winnings" to go buy some other patent to then exploit. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

      Of course, when a company fights, it gets ugly, and takes years to conclude. And the only real winners are the lawyers.

      After you have been slimed by a patent troll, the next time one hits you, you roll over and pay.

      I got the unlucky task of being the 30(b)(6) de

  • that you can never truly own an IDEA forever, but they will fight like hell trying.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but if I had a truly great idea, I would like to think I would be able to get some kind of benefit from it. Lets be honest, this benefit is most likely to be financial and for that I need to protect my idea for a short period - hence the idea of a patient.

      In reality though, how many people are sat on brilliant ideas because they know that they can't protect it from big companies if they publicised it. Its just completely wrong.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sure! Use the idea and do something with it! Like, build something?

    • by houghi (78078)

      The only way this could work is if companies were people and if they owned the government, but that is silly as companies are clearly not people and the government is there for the people. There is no way this will ever change.
      Amazing that you all do not know that.

      Now for something more serious. I am from 1985 and my time machine is broken. How can I get back?

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:52PM (#41588871)

    To avoid war, have the most & best weapons so you don't invite the weaker country to invade. Same with businesses both large and small.

    "'There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,' ... And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology." Nothing new here. You need to be able to use some patent points to "cross license".

    Lots of Apple's patents are the traditional pure mechanical features, though, which don't relate in the same way to programming.

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:56PM (#41588919) Homepage Journal

    Remember Creative, the maker of Soundblaster cards? They were also one of the first makers of MP3 players. ("Less space than an Nomad, lame")

    [in 2001] Creative applied for a broad software patent for a "portable music playback device" that bore minor similarities to the iPod, an Apple product that had gone on sale the same year. Once the patent was granted to Creative, it became a license to sue.

    When Apple came out with its own MP3 player called the iPod, Creative sued... because it infringed on Creative's patent for a "portable device that plays MP3 files". Apple settled three months later for $100 million.

    Afterwards, Steve jobs vowed never to get caught with his pants down again. When developing the new iPhone, he declared "we're going to patent it all". Basically, Creative took Apple to school on patents, and Apple learned real fast.

    • by tuppe666 (904118) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:08PM (#41589705)

      Remember Creative, the maker of Soundblaster cards? They were also one of the first makers of MP3 players. ("Less space than an Nomad, lame")

      When Apple came out with its own MP3 player called the iPod, Creative sued... because it infringed on Creative's patent for a "portable device that plays MP3 files". Apple settled three months later for $100 million.

      Afterwards, Steve jobs vowed never to get caught with his pants down again. When developing the new iPhone, he declared "we're going to patent it all". Basically, Creative took Apple to school on patents, and Apple learned real fast.

      I'm not sure of your version of history. The patent fight was not over creating a portable device that plays mp3 files it was over menu navigation on a media player[and 5 other patents] "The patent in question was Creative self-titles Zen Patent"

      FYI
      "A method of selecting at least one track from a plurality of tracks stored in a computer-readable medium of a portable media player configured to present sequentially a first, second, and third display screen on the display of the media player, the plurality of tracks accessed according to a hierarchy, the hierarchy having a plurality of categories, subcategories, and items respectively in a first, second, and third level of the hierarchy "

      A good article that gives a better description is here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com] but the problem was more that creative had patented something "on a portable media player" not that they patented "a media player".

  • If math is not patentable, then stop giving patents on it. No, saying that you are doing the math "BUT ON A COMPUTER" does not mean that your patent is on anything other than math. So how about we stop this nonsense and get back to promoting the progress of the software industry?
    • by hovelander (250785) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:33PM (#41589361)

      Looks like the only thing that will come close to fixing it will be from having gone over the buggering edge of ridiculousness.

      http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/156824/Patent/First+To+Invent+First+To+File+Or+First+To+Disclose+Patent+Reforms+Real+Incentive [mondaq.com]

      First to file will bring on the Patent Armageddon, most likely. That change is such a BLATANT swing to the rich I still have a hard time fathoming how the decision was even made. "Hmmmmmm, how can we make sure that no one has a business outside of serving my elite buddy Chad some low wage service commodity? Oh, I know! Let's tip the scales completely towards the armies of lawyers who sit around all day spamming the patent office."

      Hate to mention the movie Brazil again, but Gilliam had prophecy there...

      • Come to think of it, this will be good for the current rut that OSS is in right now. RMS being proven true, despite his cranky rabid nature.

        The dude who spent 3 decades of his lifeblood in speech recognition, only to be harpooned from the entire industry, may turn back and dump his ideas as OSS, and should. Yes, I know the walled gardens revolution right now makes that hard...

        So, if you get patented out, go guerrilla. You will have no choice but to set your info free. Most likely be labelled a terrorist

      • The "First to file" thing doesn't mean what people think it means at first glance, FWIW. Prior art still invalidates new patents.

        The concept is that two parties working in secret on the same thing get a patent decided upon the basis of which files first, not which can prove through... however... that it came up with the idea first. In practice, I doubt it'll make any difference whatsoever.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        Rest of the world has *always* had first to file and changes almost nothing other than it is easier and cheaper to prove you where first. First to file has *nothing* to do with prior art or obviousness or patentablity. Every single US firm has had the leagal right to use the first to file system in the rest of the world. It really changes nothing.
  • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:59PM (#41588959)
    This is what haappens when we let attorneys build the system. It's almost written for them. No matter who gets screwed, an attorney wins, somewhere.
    • Yeah it's the attorney's fault not the business that demanded it in the first place.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      No, that's the result of a nation that's more interested in the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.

      It begins with lawmakers putting loopholes into everything, because the very idea of a loophole is to take advantage of wording that's doesn't cover every situation conceivable (and some not). That sets the lawyers up to spend years arguing over every dotted i and crossed t. And then bill for it.

  • I am always stunned how fast a chinese company can tool a factory to push out cheap copies of electronics seemingly within days of a rumor or announcement. While I think some ideas and implementations are unpatentable (?), the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies that are willing to spend zero amount on R&D and simply copy what other companies spend billions to develop shows that such patents are necessary .

  • It seems like we could mitigate a lot of the problems around IP patents (including Pharma and genetics) if we limited them to a life of 5 years from filing (software and processes) and 5 years from first commercial approval (Pharma and genetics) Once we fix that, we should look seriously at restoring some sanity to copyright law as well.
    • In case you didn't know, a lot of Pharma products, with the exception of "Orphan Drugs" have a relatively short patent life. What they do is come out with a drug, sell it until the patent is about to expire, tweak the formula, then come out with a new-and-improved version with a new patent life. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, while this is an example of a patent with a short life, the current system is susceptible to gaming. A short patent life by itself does not solve the problem.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        What they do is come out with a drug, sell it until the patent is about to expire, tweak the formula, then come out with a new-and-improved version with a new patent life.

        Which doesn't hurt anything unless you're stupid. I took Paxil for a couple of years, and its patent ran out after the first year. The doctor then wanted to put me on the new, improved, time-release version. I said "bullshit, the stuff's working. Give me the generic." My cost went from $40 a month to $5.

        Sure, they sell the "new" patented P

  • 3 Stories, 25 Comments Each. So at least we know what a slow news day looks like on SlashDot.

  • Indirect R&D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grond (15515) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:12PM (#41589119) Homepage

    Most of Apple and Google's patent-related spending was not on litigation but rather patent purchases, such as Google buying Motorola primarily for its patent portfolio. But the value of those patents is part of what enabled Motorola to invest in the R&D that produced those inventions in the first place. Effectively, Apple and Google financed R&D done at other companies. I don't think it's meaningful to draw such a bright line between "spending on patents" and "spending on R&D."

    • by steelfood (895457)

      But the value of those patents is part of what enabled Motorola to invest in the R&D that produced those inventions in the first place.

      Uh, no... R&D is not supposed to have short-term returns, which is the purpose of patents (think about how long it took for the silicon transistor to really show its worth--not until the Internet boom 40-50 years later). Patents don't pay for R&D. Patents only pay for product development. Research is paid for by preventing companies from going extinct when the next big thing rolls around.

      Only, since the economy has moved to a success quantifier based primarily on short-term gains, R&D is seen as

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        think about how long it took for the silicon transistor to really show its worth--not until the Internet boom 40-50 years later

        Complete and utter balderdash. Transistors replaced vaccuum tubes. In the 1950s transistor radios were the Big Thing. By 1965 the only tubes that were left were in TV sets. There were even ICs in cheap calculators by 1970. Since around 1965 everything electronic was solid state; tubes had been obsolete and if it was electronic, it was solid state.

  • Simple math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:23PM (#41589243) Homepage

    Good engineer: $60-80/hr

    Crappy lawyer: $300/hr

    Good lawyer: OMG$/hr

    If you're going to bring in the suits, you'd better have the wheelbarrows of cash ready - which Google and Apple both do.

    • Exactly.

      Perhaps small ideas that grow big will just have to rely on luck to get there.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Try $30/hr for a crappy lawyer.

      Seriously I'm an engineer and I make more than most of the lawyers I know.

  • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:51PM (#41589533) Homepage

    Apple only does development. As far as I can tell they have zero published research.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What do you call patent applications--unpublished research? Patent applications describe technology and are in the public domain, for everyone to benefit from forever. Patent holders only have the benefit of the government-granted monopoly associated with the award of a patent for a limited time. For example, TiVo time shifting is now free for everyone to use.
      What do you call Apple products--undeveloped ideas?

      • Which one of these does not resolve:
        http://research.google.com
        http://research.microsoft.com
        http://research.apple.com

  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:56PM (#41589591)
    The word "Spork" made it into the dictionary in 1909, but people had to wait 61 years before it was patented and trademarked. http://www.salon.com/2012/10/06/consider_the_spork/ [salon.com] How horrible it was for people to know what something was, but be totally unable to use it because there wasn't a company to own the idea. (:-)
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:12PM (#41589747)
    The idea that the patent system was founded on was protecting an idea so it can get to market without being stolen.

    I think we've found with software patents, the opposite holds true. Software patents protect the big guys so little guys can't make any product.

    Lets face it: Programming software is illegal. If you make any non trivial software, you trip over dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of patents you're not even aware even exist! This is because people are awarded patents on trivial things that everyone else already knows how to do. So programming is illegal, we just try and make aps with the hopes that no one is going to sue us. But at any time, someone could sue if they wanted to.

    Because the big guys patents so many trivial things, non-trivial software trips over many patents. Patents do not protect the little guy. Patents protect the big guy from the little guy having a chance to compete.
    • The idea that the patent system was founded on was protecting an idea so it can get to market without being stolen.

      This is not true at all. The patent system was intended to give inventors an incentive to disclose and document how their inventions worked. It's to encourage growing the public domain, instead of everyone obfuscating everything to try to maintain trade secrets.

  • ... get the impression that a really major storm is brewing?

  • Is the buzzword for the new millennium.

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