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[News] General Electric (GE) on USPTO Status Quo (Trolls): "It's Extortion"

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Patent trolls try to rip off high tech firms

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| “This is a huge problem for companies like ours,” said David Bates, 
| intellectual property counsel for GE Healthcare. “It’s extortion, and we do 
| face (these problems) on a regular basis, and because of the way the system 
| is set up we can’t possibly keep up   


Recent patent infringement cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas

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| Klausner alleges that six defendant companies are infringing the '576 Patent. 
| The defendants are Qwest, Yahoo, Panasonic, Ribbit Corp., SpinVox and ooma. 
| The plaintiff also alleges that all the defendants, with the exception of 
| SpinVox, have infringed the '818 Patent. 


,----[ Quote ]
| Such a set of instructions is an algorithm, so such a patent could fit some 
| people's definition of a "software patent". Of course, you could try to 
| respond to this by defining software as a set of instructions to be performed 
| by a programmable computer. But this overlooks the problem that most 
| technical processes nowadays are computer-controlled. Again, you could try 
| (as some FFII-backed MEPs did during the CII patents directive debate) to 
| restrict patentability to only those technical processes which make use 
| of "forces of nature". The first trouble here is that even "pure software" 
| makes use of "forces of nature" within the microprocessor. Even marketing 
| processes make use of forces of nature governing our brains. So this could 
| become quite a meaningless restriction, and even if it was applied 
| restrictively it would leave, for instance, sound or image processing methods 
| in a grey area. The current approach of the EPO's Boards of Appeal, which is 
| confirmed by the judges of most EPO states, is that for a computer program to 
| be patentable there must be a "technical effect" going "beyond the normal 
| physical interactions between the program and the computer". It is an 
| interpretation which of course leaves a lot of room for debate, but do you 
| have a better alternative? Of course, considering how difficult it is to pin 
| down what a "software patent" actually is, it is difficult to avoid that 
| other debate: why bother? why shouldn't pure software be patentable? what's 
| so special about it in comparison to other areas of technology?                    



Has the US patent system gone too far?

,----[ Quote ]
| When Samuel Hopkins came up with a method for improving the production of
| potash, it was probably just the kind of invention that President George
| Washington had in mind when he created the US patent system. Hopkins, who in
| 1790 received the first American patent ever issued, had discovered a way to
| increase the production of a critical resource used to make glass, soap, and
| soil fertilizer.


Backlog At The Copyright Office Highlights Massive Problem With The System

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| As you hopefully know, you don't need to register to get a copyright these
| days (and haven't since 1976), but you can still register, and need to do so
| if you want to sue someone else for damages. So, professional creators still
| register copyright on pretty much everything they do -- though the process is
| still a bit unclear even to the experts. At the recent copyright conference
| at Santa Clara University, one of the more amusing moments was when someone
| asked about registering blog posts and how that could/should be done -- and a
| bunch of the world's foremost experts in copyright law (including multiple
| representatives from the Copyright Office) effectively threw up their hands
| and said they had no clue what actually needed to be registered and how. It
| resulted in a lot of rather awkward laughter from folks in the room.


Intellectual Monopolies Kill: Two Examples

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| If people with breast cancer genes are demonstrably suffering in this way,
| statistics tells us that some of them will be dying as a direct result of
| Myriad's aggressive defence of its unwarranted intellectual monopolies.

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