So if they win do the Personal Audio douchebags have to pay back all the money they shook down people for?
Wait CBC was doing it first? I think I've found a new way to fund our public broadcaster!
Honestly, I don't see the problem with being a "non-practicing entity." If I invent something useful, novel, and non-obvious, then I shouldn't necessarily have to build it myself in order to be rewarded for my invention. The guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper wasn't really in a position to produce his product himself, but he clearly did deserve to receive licensing fees when the automotive industry started installing it in cars.
The problem with the podcasting patent is that its claim on the modern practice of podcasting is utterly ridiculous. He didn't invent anything that made podcasting possible, but he did manage to pull some mind-boggling slight-of-hand to rejigger a patent involving the mailing of cassette tapes into something that somehow covers downloading audio files via RSS feeds.
I just think we should make sure we're tackling the right problem.
The NPEs don't simply fail to produce a product, on the whole they fail to invent anything. They either patent a word salad (or supremely obvious process) or buy a patent off someone who patented a word salad (or supremely obvious process).
If Mr. Scratch designs a robot that anticipates when you need your back scratched and scratches but Mr. Scratch doesn't have the VC to actually produce and sell the thing, great! Licensing fees for Mr. Scratch. At least he actually invented something.
If you patent the text "robot that predicts when scratching is desirable and then scratches" and then sue Mr. Scratch when Mr. Scratch actually makes a robot that does that, you're an opportunistic NPE harassing an actual inventor.
Iggy, I totally agree! People are somehow managing to patent the idea of solving a problem, rather than actually solving the problem. So it's great that EFF is going after Personal Audio... it's a valiant battle. I just hope we'll someday win the war, which is with the utterly broken USPTO which awards such nonsense patents in the first place.
IANAL, but typically in past examples of patents being thrown out the fees that had already been paid can't be recovered because the licensing agreements are pretty solid.
Anyway, good news if this gets dumped. There was a time when being awarded a patent necessitated having a working model of what you were trying to patent. That's no longer the case.
And people calling out the USPTO on awarding stupid and obvious patents - that's their job. It's not their fault that spurious politicking has basically turned them into a rubber-stamping organization. The system as it is favours corporations and lawyers not inventors, and that's explicitly by design not because the USPTO wants it that way.
I don't really approve of patents at all. They're anti-Capitalism, introducing government regulation into the free market. Well, that's one of the arguments I adopt.
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