Patenting ideas and theories.

Yours and mine. This is where you can gas on about how you think the universe works. To a point, after that we'll expect you to actually test your stuff and report.

Re: Patenting ideas and theories.

Postby chrismb » Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:29 am

Doug Coulter wrote:I obviously haven't read the guys claims, but I'd bet real good money that patent flies right through. The only people who get rejected are those with a really bad preceding reputation issue, or a lawyer who doesn't know how to write obfuscated claims.

A gentleman's wager, or real money, Doug?
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Re: Patenting ideas and theories.

Postby Doug Coulter » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:26 pm

Wager. Should I offer real money -- you'd likely not be wise to take the bet. Remember, I make my living betting on the foibles of others...and I'm pretty good at calling them.

I'd have to read the claims, where the rubber meets the road, before doing money, just like I not only check out a company's fundamentals (the boring financial stuff) but the crowd buzz today before I make a bet on them, or against them. Same with any bet. The only bet I've lost with my wife in ... 30 years or so, is one where I bet her she couldn't quit smoking. She did, I paid. Who won really?

At least this one's a little better than the link below. ... atory_cats
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Re: Patenting ideas and theories.

Postby Doug Coulter » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:52 am

Barcode infringement was tossed -- eventually, and only after the troll had collected hundreds of millions -- which were never paid back....That's the usual story in these things. Anybody who didn't fight, but just licensed wasn't affected at all by tossing the case out as well. Also the usual story. Justice delayed is justice denied, and those who weren't part of that case got none at all anyway. Typical. Some defense of the system ;)

Microsoft right now is making more money selling "patent insurance" on Android --4 deals in the last 10 days, which means they are making more money off that than off windows phone 7, though they didn't write a single line of Android code. They refuse to reveal which patents they own that they think matter so the open source community can attempt workarounds. This week, they got a patent on putting fake skywriting on pictures you take that show some sky. (see groklaw)

And an antigravity device got a patent just a little while back, to add to the FTL drives and fusion devices that can't be built and can't work.

Just because some case was tossed -- eventually - this doesn't make anyone whole in the end, they are hurt, the costs are passed to the consumer if the sued company doesn't fail outright. If you're them, and were driven into bankruptcy -- do you really care? That was my entire point -- that it doesn't matter how it turns out in the end, if that's later than your own end.
The cost and time of fighting even a ridiculous patent are so high (and meanwhile the other guy gets an injunction so you can't do business while waiting) that it's simply a tool to lock out competition and innovation. Not promote it. We don't have "loser automatically pays" here in the US like you do there at the moment.

"What should be" sure isn't what is, and those defenses you give are utterly meaningless and off the point -- bad patents hurt everyone, every time. When was the last time a little guy got rich off one? The last time I can recall is the guy who sued Black and Decker for copying his rather clever workbench design, and while he got a fair amount of money -- it took so long the patent expired and he still got the bad end of the deal. That was decades ago. Now we have all the big companies patenting at a rate of 10's to 100's a day and no one reads them till its too late, and in fact, interested parties can't know what's in them until too late to take part in the process.

Patents today are a weapon in the war of the big outfits to keep the little ones from competing. End of story. Go look at court records and see how things actually turned out, and who is suing who over what and it becomes very obvious that all this is either bigs suing each other for anti competitive reasons, or non practicing entities (NPE's, or as we call them, trolls). Exceptions to that are quite rare -- and one is, all the big telecoms in the mobile space now have one or more lawsuits going with every other entity in that space - hundreds if not thousands, in an attempt to get the courts do do for their business what they can't do by themselves. How again can that be healthy or good for the public at large?

The big deal of late is an anti-google consortium buying all of Nortel's patents so as to use them against Google....and that's just this week.


I count three ridiculous patent/copyright/trademark stories on right this instant. And that's not untypical. Here's an interesting one: ... c-Services

Now think what could happen if you get fusion working, and for example needed to use some form of direct energy conversion, or wanted to. Nothing would prevent Lerner from coming out of the woodwork with an injunction and perhaps a license fee request of 110% of your gross -- or simple refusal to license at all....even though he's never built one, and it' can't work anyway as described.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Patenting ideas and theories.

Postby johnf » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:03 am

Chris /Doug

I see both points ---all from experience
I have many patents to my name only one made any money ---the first--A Dual fuel ignition controller for Dual fuel cars( 1978){CNG/LPG and petrol 130 octane against 90 octane equivalent}, it got me enough money to allow me to buy this rural block instead of a suburban block because I sold the rights to a NZ car company that represented the worst of British engineering Leyland, Morris, Austin, Standard, Jaguar.

One of my last was for a USB to FM stereo transmitter so that people could transmit their MP3 files from their computers to their home stereo (invariably in a different place from the computer) and also it would allow MP3 devices to be used mobile ie in car to transmit to car stereo
A $30,000 IP battle with the patent office took place lasting 4.5 years
the patent office saying in the first place it was obvious --their main opposition---in the end they conceded that at the time it was not obvious ---isn't hindsight great!!!!

I argued that in 2000 it was not obvious as USB's main direction and application was for PC direct connect peripherals

eventually I won with it backdated to 2001 but I only had funds left for protection in NZ and Australia --another $12,000

Because of the delay
People Like Belkin el al have a stranglehold on the market for the same thing due to the delays from the patent office-- do I have the impeadus to persue them, is there a road forward --will all the Iplod owners be pissed when its only available for a higher price?? Maybe

I need a good patent lawyer that will work for nothing except a percentage of backdated royalties-----Where do you find one???????????????
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Re: Patenting ideas and theories.

Postby Doug Coulter » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:30 pm

Yeah, enough already, no one is going to be influenced by this unless and until it affects them more directly than just everything being overpriced, or they get personally ripped off, as I have been.

I have (had) a few patents myself, mostly in the "vanity" category, and going way back.

First was a method for editable analog memory, that used conductive ink on velum, read out by rolling a WW resistor with insulation removed over it, and taking the signal off the ends of the "trace". Was used in the very first speech synthesizers and shown at the NY world's fair in the '60's. No one else really needed a hand-editable multichannel slow readout analog memory, and by the time anyone did, well, digital was there. It was pretty neat at the time, though.

2nd one I got ripped of on. It was a way to bandwidth-fold such that two speech lines and one TTY could go down a single phone line without interfering with one another. AT&T found a way around our claims, we didn't have a good enough lawyer -- after we turned down a flat $10k for it - we wanted royalties. Then it became moot because of advance in tech, of course. I never used to be cynical enough to work on making things so that wouldn't happen by effectively patenting the "idea" -- which with enough legal weaseling, you can still do even though it's not supposed to be possible. I'd say the patent on remembering your customer's billing information was one such (Amazon's one click patent). Not like there wasn't prior art there....going back to the invention of double entry bookkeeping or thereabouts.

Several others in speech bandwidth compression -- probably in use by most here, incidentally (pretty much anyone who uses a phone of any kind), but I signed them over to the guys who paid for the development. Huge money, none to me, no big deal though, I was glad of the job at the time and the job paid well and was tons of fun.

It didn't occur to me to patent nonlinear editing of audio and video, which as far as I can tell, I was first with (wrote a book on it, made the very first high quality PC hardware for it too).
Wouldn't have mattered -- enough money (and it turns out there's a lot in that can break any patent. I made money off that indirectly, as it attracted work for my consulting business to the tune of millions to implement our tricks in more mundane things like phone and pa systems -- not so bad, we got paid in cash and took no risks, nice risk/reward ratio there.

(and as an aside, that's how I think the fusion thing plays out if one of us gets it going on for real -- someone else will steal the IP, no problems with that much money involved, but getting credit as "the father of fusion" -- that's enough for a life of very high paid speaking tours and any lab you want built with any help you want to hire -- makes the people "stealing" it look good, they'll go for it, and I have experienced it already, see above)

Once myself and another guy worked on and perfected an almost perfect burgler alarm, based on acoustic characterization of a room (holographic sonar). We were treated to a court appearance over which other entity would get the full rights to it -- the company we worked for (who contributed nothing whatever) or their customer -- the Army, who did have a need for such to keep things like Nukes out of the hands of thieves with an alarm that was practically impossible to make false alarms on (a favorite trick of thieves to get you to ignore the real thing). We won, but lost -- the company wasn't happy with the deal we made -- the Army got use, free (but did pay us to develop it further), the company got nada (which was fair, they didn't do anything to make it happen at all) and we got...fired.

Last one was pure vanity -- I solved an otherwise hotly attempted problem in speech pitch detection in realtime, the answer to the robotic sound of most speech codecs, as this was good enough to be instant and pulse by pulse. Signed that one over to a company that built tactile hearing aids for deaf so they could get pitch info even in syllables that only have 2-4 pitch pulses, something you can't get by lip reading. That was a neat little product, money in it for anybody really.

Apple etc might pay to license your thing in NZ (if it affects something that has nothing to do with FM), which is kind of off the radar in market share, while getting their own patent in the places that mean real money. But I doubt even that -- antenna-gate was due to them refusing to license a 50 cent per copy antenna design for their flagship iPhone -- that's their attitude about those things.

Finding a lawyer who will work on contingency and is also good is going to be a trick indeed -- only the ones in need of work (or where there's an enormous payoff evident) work on contingency. This is just one of the things that makes my point -- patents are for the rich, to keep the rest down, a mechanism to hurt the little guy. Which is the opposite of the language used to justify their existence, of course.

Today's troll on slashdot ... ok-Cooling

My reason for even bringing this up at all is the danger to us little guys working on fusion -- should any of us get "lucky", the system is not designed to reward us for our work and risk (money and time) we put in, not hardly. And despite Chris' skepticism, look at how many patents exist for fusion devices that don't work, even in our little amateur community. Even Steve S has one on his thing that doesn't work. But now if you do beam on beam fusion some way (my current interest) he can claim you're infringing....he might not win, but you lose no matter what, as it costs money to defend, and even more not to. Steve might be entirely reasonable about it himself -- but what if he sells it to someone?

There are two distinct risk scenarios that are *caused* by this system that was touted to eliminate such risks.

One is that someone with plenty of money simply patents your work and runs with it to their own benefit, maximizing profits off the very populace we were trying to help, and leaving you in the dust. This is very possible, it's been done over and over -- best lawyers win no matter the facts. And in this case, I don't think it matters if you win someday, after millions of bucks spent in trying and a decade of lawyering. To me, that's not winning -- I'll die before that plays out.

The other is some troll who patents everything he can think of, using either straight ahead or submarine tactics, and then comes out of the woodwork once you make money to sue you. All you need to attract such is deep pockets from success -- your own patents would be in more trouble if they really made money for example. Enough to make one guy rich ain't real money to the people interested in stealing from you -- pocket change, so you're pretty safe. Come up with something that looks like solving the problems of a trillion dollar annual energy business -- now even governments will want to steal it.

The point of this board is to establish prior art on our work, or at least it's one of the main motivations -- the other one is to encourage collaboration by actual practitioners of the arts involved and get the many-eyes effect, just like in open source software, and it's working. Just get it set down who did what and who did it first, at low or no cost to the posters here, so things have at least a chance of turning out "fair" in some sense down the road. In the US, this automatically grants copyright on those things that fall under that -- interesting twist of law, and since this place is backed up by an uninterested 3rd party, with timestamps, is legal in courts as evidence of who did what and when for either copyright or patent prior art.

Sadly, as Chris quoted from the patent "reform" law now under consideration, it's now going from priority of invention to priority of *filing for a patent* which dilutes this inexpensive method of protection for the rightful owners of intellectual property created by posters here. It's not really a "reform" at all, it's a disaster that favors the bigs (who can afford to patent the craziest of brain-farts just in case) even more over the smalls like us. As Arthur might say "some new use of the word reform with which I was previously unfamiliar" -- we can hope it doesn't go through as proposed.

I'd like to not have to be a lawyer to be a scientist, but sadly, that's not the way the planet is rolling just now.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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