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Tech Firms and Regulators Meet At UN About Patents

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the talk-talk-talk dept.

Patents 65

another random user writes "Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and others tech firms met with regulators and patent officials in Geneva to discuss changes to intellectual property laws. The event follows a flurry of lawsuits involving smartphone makers. It is set to focus on how to ensure license rights to critical technologies are offered on 'reasonable' terms. Companies are split over whether they should be allowed to ban rivals' devices if they do not agree a fee. The talks have been organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency responsible for ensuring phone-makers agree standards so that their devices can interact with each other."

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65 comments

How many small businesses were invited? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614143)

My guess: none.

Why? They have severely contrasting views.

My point? Nothing is going to change when your approach is biased.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (2)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 2 years ago | (#41615587)

One thing we can be sure of: any company earning less than $1B/year is going to be shut out of future intellectual property rights. It'll all be owned by the oldest, least innovative firms, and the rest will have to pack up and go home, because they wont be allowed to legally innovate.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (3, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#41615725)

Looking at the history, they will innovate and invent in countries not constrained by these rules. It's going to be rise of the New World yet again, only this time in the East instead of West.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41617711)

Looking at the history, they will innovate and invent in countries not constrained by these rules. It's going to be rise of the New World yet again, only this time in the East instead of West.

But they aren't innovating now, and they theoretically could be. Why not? What's preventing them, culturally or societally, and why is that going to change?

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#41619425)

Innovating and inventing is harder then copying. It's the same as what happened with US in the early industrial revolution. They copied Old World until there was little to copy, then they found themselves with solid manufacturing base and engineering expertise to move to much harder inventing and innovating.

It's known as "the most efficient approach".

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41619485)

OK, but China has copied so much stuff they have years worth of old crap lying around that nobody wants to buy. Hell, they copied whole cities, and they're lying around with no one to buy them. Now what?

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41621301)

wait for some one to come up with city burying technology,
copy
profit!?

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#41622983)

You seem to suggest that US didn't copy cities during its own build up. It did. Not to extent of chinese today due to lack of imaging technology back then, but it certainly copied architecture a lot.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (2)

dwater (72834) | about 2 years ago | (#41616099)

Nokia's getting pretty small these days.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41616967)

Nokia's getting pretty small these days.

yeah so small that apple is paying them hundreds of millions yearly... so what do you think their stance on the issue is going to be?

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

dwater (72834) | about 2 years ago | (#41616983)

Sorry, it was an attempt at a joke...

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (4, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41616711)

The root problem isn't patents.

It never was, that is a mere symptom of the same corruption of big business ass-raping the government and forcing it to give out goodies to their lobbyists.

Get business out of government and everything else will take care of itself. Keep business in government and no solution is going to work anyway.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#41618545)

You couldn't be more right. This is collusion by said companies to keep others out of the market. These companies love regulation and want a patent system that makes sure Joe Nobody can enter the market.

The populous thinks that we can get business out of government by controlling election spending, controlling "dinners" with politicians, etc... There are only 2 ways to remove business from government:

1. Shrink government so there are fewer benefits available to lobbying.
2. Algorithmic online/remote random representatives. Basically everyone is a rep and through the use of computer voting and statistics, determine support/dissent. Everyone is for the lobbying of everyone.

Re:How many small businesses were invited? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41619771)

But in the case of 2), whoever sets the details of the voteing policy is going to wield a lot of power. Like digital gerrymandering. Even a purely administrative body could easily tilt the rules to strongly favor one side over another.

Fox.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614189)

.. say hello to the hen house.

Re:Fox.. (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41616131)

the line forms on the right

Let's hope (2)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41614209)

They can come up with something that will keep the patent BS from happening... I understand a need for some form of patent system, but what we've got and what we need are dramatically different things.

It's a step... but it's a long way from a step in the right direction.

Re:Let's hope (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614265)

This is not a step. Note the players involved: big, moneyed interests. They will probably say "maximum patent licensing cost is $10M/year per licensor" and be done with it. Two birds with one stone -- no more infighting amongst themselves, while small, disruptive players are barred from the market place.

Re:Let's hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614691)

Some of the things Larry Page and Tim Cook have said about patents are promising. Just because they sue over patents doesn't mean they want to, it could be argued patent litigation is required of any large IT corporation.

I'm not very optimistic, but I'll at least wait until after they talk before assuming nothing will happen.

Also, you "maximum $10M/year" idea is unbelievably bad. If I sell 10,000 devices, why should I have to pay the same $10M for as somebody who sells 10,000,000? Especially when we are talking about a single piece of math in the GSM standard? Any maximum royalty needs to be a per-device value, not a per licensor value.

Re:Let's hope (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615283)

I don't think he was suggesting that the idea was good. He was suggesting that the idea would be good for large corporations so that they can maintain their oligopolies (at the expense of everyone else).

Re:Let's hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616001)

You're an idiot.

He said 10 million dollars because it was more money than someone small (selling 10,000 devices) can afford.
But so cheap someone selling 10,million devices doesn't care.

Big player says = who cares.
Small player says = holy crap I cant be in that industry.

Since the people at the table right now are big players, they can only see this is a good thing. (ie. its a bad thing because the big guys will agree on something like this)

Re:Let's hope (0)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#41614341)

I understand a need for some form of patent system

Care to share what exactly benefits do we get from one? Just like early patents [wikipedia.org] , or ones in the times of Edison, they don't seem to foster innovation but are a tool to fill coffers of companies they're granted to, with plenty of revenue shared with whatever king or ruler happens to grant them.

Re:Let's hope (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614555)

Patents are, I think, supposed to give you a limited time monopoly in order for you to share your technological process with everyone else. This is to combat the rest of us being unable to reproduce your product after you've passed on; an example being the process in making some stained glasses are apparently lost to ages. This should mean that in order to be granted a patent your process should be:-

Non-obvious - your patent shouldn't be part of natural progression.
Difficult to reproduce - It shouldn't be resonably possible for someone else to copy your idea just from seeing the end product.
Be a viable trade secret - as in, if patents didn't exist, you should still resonable be able to maintain your monopoly, possibly forever.
Be a working product - use it or lose it.

Obviously thats nothing like how the system works as the vast majority of patents are wielded against people who have seemingly implemented an idea without prior knowledge of the other patent existing. This would also pretty much make design ideas unpatentable. Put shortly I guess the two problems are a) the length of term and b) the bar of what is an accepted patent.

Of course, if you believe patents are working as intended, you probably disagree on the why they exist. Personally I don't think anyone should be granted any monopolies unless it somehow benefits the commons.

If your product can't be released without (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41617443)

If your product can't be released without giving away the patent without having to reverse engineer it, then that patent is not patentable.

Patents were the opposite to trade secret. Exposure of the trade secret was paid for by the monopoly grant.

If it can't be kept a trade secret, then it can't be patented.

Re:Let's hope (3, Insightful)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41614911)

In a perfect world a patent system would protect the 'little guy' who invented something awesome and wants to safely 'shop it around' to the 'big guys' who have the potential to release it. It should be a tool that allows and promotes the drive to 'get something patented' for mere mortals.

Like I said, what we've got is a far cry from what a patent system should be... and this is probably not the best way to make any good changes but it is a step.

Abolish (2, Informative)

Meneth (872868) | about 2 years ago | (#41614267)

It's simple: get rid of them all.

Re:Abolish (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#41615069)

I really don't have a problem with reasonable patents. Excessive patents like we have today are the problem. Be right back, patenting stupidity. Then off to become a patent troll...

Re:Abolish (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616697)

I really don't have a problem with reasonable patents.

The problem is there is simply no way to define a "reasonable patent" in objective fashion. It's all hand waving. Real world property has very well defined boundaries, "ideas as property" have almost none and the PTO's attempt to define those boundaries for the entire universe of ideas are a sad joke. Even the boundaries of the class of ideas that are patentable is arbitrary.

Re:Abolish (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41634747)

Be right back, patenting stupidity.

Way too much prior art there. :-P

Karma, tastes good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614297)

the UN should tell the USA to get lost until they pay their fees,
its not as if their patents are valid anywhere else but the USA, its an internal domestic problem thats hurting only themselves, which as far as the rest of the world is probably a good thing

Hurting everyone (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41614321)

Motorola just had to pull out devices from Germany. This is not a local issue, this is a GLOBAL problem for consumers and companies alike.

Re:Karma, tastes good (2)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41614403)

the UN should tell the USA to get lost until they pay their fees

The US is not paying those fees becuase its telling the UN to get lost on its inaction on Syria, Iraq, Central Africa, Yugoslavia... I have to say I don't feel very charitable to idiots either.

Re:Karma, tastes good (1)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#41619547)

Perhaps that's because in some cases the UN knew better?

Action wasn't needed in Iraq in 2003 at least, action in Iraq led to a few orders of magnitude more civilian deaths, and allowed Syria and Iran to spread their influence (Saddam was a major limiting factor on their power ambitions there). Note how the same time Iran started increasing it's nuclear ambitions was pretty much the exact same time the US and it's allies had crippled Iraqi military capabilities?

I agree UN inaction on some things is indeed a big problem, but similarly, US action on other things has been an even bigger problem. US action over the last decade has massively increased global instability when compared to UN inaction.

Re:Karma, tastes good (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41619765)

Perhaps that's because in some cases the UN knew better?

LOL!!!! Oh, you're serious....?

Re:Karma, tastes good (1)

Xest (935314) | about 2 years ago | (#41628123)

LOL!!!! Oh, you're a fucking ignorant typical American fuckwad who knows jack about the world and still to this day thinks intervention in Iraq was somehow a good thing.... ?

Re:Karma, tastes good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614747)

source: http://www.un.org/en/ga/about/art19.shtml [un.org]
As of 14 September 2012, 5 Member States are officially in arrears in the payments of their dues:

1.Central African Republic
2.Comoros
3.Guinea-Bissau
4.Sao Tome and Principe
5.Somalia

The US, however, still owes the UN about ~$700M. Most of the money is in fees assessed by some UN affiliated organizations (~$400M), although a good portion of it (~$100M) has been withheld because the UN is over budget (they agreed to cap the budget @ $2.5B, but did not), illegally kicked back taxes to US based employees (~$100M), and various other policy disputes (e.g, funding the PLO, giving exhorbiant raised to people stationed out of country, building a conference center in africa during a famine, failing to cap peacekeeping cost to pre-agreed amounts, overlooked a kickback scheme with russian government).

Fr0s7 pist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614399)

Wash oof hands and I probably join in especially would you like to NetBSD posts on Distributions And financial code.' Don't exacitly what you've irc.secsup.org or

where is IBM? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614467)

Why is the company holding the largest number of worthless patents not at the discussion table? It's unfathomable.

Reasonable? (1, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41614533)

The only reasonable thing to do is to deny all future patents and cut the current existing patent terms to 5 years, and so anybody with a patent older than that loses the gov't racket protection and nobody else can ever apply for another patent again.

You want to invent something and build a business around it? Fine, do it, but nobody should be given special privileges by the governments, to give them monopoly on whatever it is, even if they invented it. You don't like it? Don't show your invention to anybody, let others re-invent it and make a business out of it. Was that easy?

Another point is: there are still trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements, which are just contracts between private parties and they have nothing to do with governments.

Oh, and by the way, same thing about copyright, only their terms should be cut right now to 3 years in total and no new copyrights should be granted.

You have your moral rights of-course, but those have nothing to do with government protection racket and artificial monopoly status.

--

Now that is a sensible solution and it doesn't require anything to be done by anybody, on the contrary, it requires less government and allows for a nice way to cut on various government spending as well.

Re:Reasonable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616241)

*crickets chirping*

Patents and Trademark Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41614541)

Patents should need to meet similar requirements and scrutiny as trademark law.

The goal is imprecise and subjective (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41614635)

It can never happen right. They want "reasonable" terms? That's not exactly something you can lock down. The problems are not because of something no one can completely agree with everyone else means. Apple is "unreasonable" and yet a judge has recently ruled that Apple's notion of reasonable is unreasonable.

If they can't fight nicely, it's time to take away their weapons. It's as simple as that.

Patent are not international (0)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#41614935)

The oddity is that there is no international treaties about patents. They are only backed by national laws. The ITU will not be able to talk about what is patentable, for instance.

Re:Patent are not international (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about 2 years ago | (#41615251)

STFU and learn how to use google before spouting off:

Here's just one example of a ratified patent treaty. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Patent are not international (0)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#41615803)

That treaty says that patent application in a given state is not restricted to nationals: foreigners can file patents and enjoy the same protection as nationals. It does not create international patents: the inventor has to file patents in each state it wants to enjoy IP protection. And patent filing is still subject to local law of each state, which may forbid software patents, for instance.

Re:Patent are not international (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about 2 years ago | (#41625921)

The example I provided is the first of many treaties that cover patents. Most patent treaties essentially say "if you want us to respect patents filed in your country, you have to respect patents filed in ours".

Scary movie (1)

ksandom (718283) | about 2 years ago | (#41614939)

This feels much like watching those bad horror movies where it feels like main character is either intentionally ignoring you, or is really stupid.

Just like Romney's foreign policy speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615013)

You would think Romney would learn the lessons of the Bush Administration and Vietnam, but nooooooo.

Standards should be freely implementable (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 2 years ago | (#41615005)

By its very nature, a "standard" should be free for anyone to implement.

If I can do a better job of implementing a standard than you can, then I win. Until you leapfrog me, of course, and that's what we call innovation and progress!

What is Wrong with RAND? (2)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41615007)

"It is set to focus on how to ensure license rights to critical technologies are offered on "reasonable" terms".

US tech firms lean on UN to legalize stealing stuff from companies and then selling it back to them under RAND terms ..

What is Wrong with RAND? [groklaw.net]

Re:What is Wrong with RAND? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41619807)

Espicially Microsoft, for whome RAND means 'license incompatible with open source.'

I'm Applying for a Patent for Food. (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about 2 years ago | (#41615027)

Pay me or starve.

Ha! (1, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#41615205)

You work for Monsanto or something?

I have a better idea (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#41615189)

Prove your patent is so genuinely innovative that no one is likely to have come up with this during at least half, if not all, of the patent term being asked for (allow patents to be applied for with a shorter term of the applicant's choosing). Failure to prove means no patent.

The idea of patents in the first place was an incentive to invent or disclose the invention because we would have lacked these innovations without such incentives. Today, very few patents would fit that idea. Today, we only need very few patents. All the rest just puts a drag on the courts, economy, and real innovations.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#41616423)

There's an error in you statement "puts a drag on the courts" is a, 'erm', patently false claim. In fact patents bloat the legal system with profits, basically laws written by lawyers to promote the fiscal future of lawyers.

If they are truly seriously about resolving patent issues that will not let any lawyers any near those negotiations. Reality is of course those negotiation will be just chock full of lawyers, pretending to represent their clients whilst in reality they will be focused on ensuring their own highly profitable future.

So either no resolution and endless delays or we will end up even worse of, likely bloody both. As the longer the negotiations take the more the lawyers get paid.

Patents and copyright are government privileges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615411)

The government has every right to set mandatory licensing fees for that privilege to ensure accessibility for others to build on. And furthermore, when a company no longer licenses a product, they should lose all rights to said product. Say, for instance, when Microsoft no longer licenses and/or supports Windows 2000, it should be automatically placed into the public domain, so somebody else can keep it up to date and distribute as needed. It is abandoned property. That's how it should be treated. If they want a hundred year copyright, they should have to license its use for that same hundred years. What we have now is absolutely unacceptable.

The Obvious result (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615687)

They're going to collaborate in a way that allows them more freedom to pull their crap and to force possible upstart competitors out.

Certainly the world patent system isn't broken??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615773)

OK, the world patent system is horribly broken. There should be no patents on software. Patents should last 15 years. Copyrights should last 20 years. Any sale of a patent or copyright halves the remaining time left on the patent. DONE!

Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks (3, Interesting)

msclrhd (1211086) | about 2 years ago | (#41615815)

To my knowledge, Computer software is the only industry that has both copyright (source code, graphics, music, etc.) and patents (design concept) applicable to it, and therein lies the problem. Trademarks are independent of these two as they apply to brand identity.

You don't have patents in the fiction world, you have copyright law on the published text. You are free to have tree men in your story as long as you don't call them "ents". Likewise having a story about wizards in school, or vampires, or other story elements. Otherwise, if story elements/concepts were patentable we would not have as many varied stories we do have.

The same applies to paintings/drawings, TV shows, films, music and other creative arts. You don't have the makers of Armageddon and Deep Impact sueing each other over who has rights to the asteroid impact disaster movie, instead you have two different interpretations of that concept.

With the creative arts, you can take themes and ideas from other works and use them in a different way in your own work. So you have many paintings in the impressionist style, each artist giving their own interpretation on what that means.

We're WAY past that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41615953)

You realize that what the UN is discussion here is already based on the assumption that software is patentable.

Not just the HOW-is-works style patents, but the WHAT-it-does patents.

Successive changes by the Federal Patent Appeal Court in the US, and the EU Patent Appeal Court have eliminated most of the obviousness clauses and permitted patented on business methods.
BTW The EU Patent Appeal court, is really just some blokes from the EU Patent office that have labelled themselves as a court and pretend to have the right to modify patent laws. So the EU Patent office wasn't granted power to change patent laws, they create a court, the court says 'software must be patentable', the EU Patent office then 'bows' to the court (literally bows to itself) and started patenting software.

This is why today, we're discussion whether Apple should be allowed to block Google and Motorola (GOOG) block Microsoft, for patents on things THEY DIDN'T INVENT, when the badly issued patents are clearly doing serious harm, so much that Federal Reserves are questioning whether its harming the economy.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2012/2012-035.pdf

"By contrast, neither innovation nor R&D expenditure have exhibited
any particular upwards trend, not to speak of factor productivity. While patent litigation has increased,
few patents are actively used. Patent litigation typically involves dying firms, that have accumulated huge
stockpile of patents but are no longer able to produce marketable products, suing new and innovative
firms. A once proud firm – one of the first producers of microchips, and who in our generation can forget
7
their first TI calculator – Texas Instruments was unable to make the transition to the PC revolution and
became, for a while, the symbol of a dying company trying to stay alive by suing the newcomers. In more
recent times, Microsoft has become the chief among the patent trolls. Once the giant of the software
industry Microsoft has been unable to make the leap to portable devices such as telephones and tablet
PCs. Unable to create and produce for the marketplace, Microsoft now attempts to claim a share of the
profits Googles generates in this market through patent litigation. A firm that when it was young and
innovative had a strong position against software patents – Bill Gates said in 1991: “If people had
understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out
patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today...A future start-up with no patents of its own
will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.” – now lobbies in Europe and Asia for
the introduction of software patents, which it already obtained in its home country."

Re:Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 2 years ago | (#41617751)

You don't have patents in the fiction world, you have copyright law on the published text. You are free to have tree men in your story as long as you don't call them "ents". Likewise having a story about wizards in school, or vampires, or other story elements. Otherwise, if story elements/concepts were patentable we would not have as many varied stories we do have.

The same applies to paintings/drawings, TV shows, films, music and other creative arts. You don't have the makers of Armageddon and Deep Impact sueing each other over who has rights to the asteroid impact disaster movie, instead you have two different interpretations of that concept.

actually there are some who are trying to get plot elements patentable

which could be fun as prior art (such as plays, books, films etc.) would invalidate whole masses of them...

The difficulty... (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#41616041)

The difficulty is allowing Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung to operate freely, yet still use SPLs (Stupid Patent Lawsuits) to keep smaller companies from eroding their well-earned oligopoly.

Do the rest of us get a voice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41616233)

You may note that none invited represent "The General Public".

No.

AC

What about consumers? (1)

CodeHxr (2471822) | about 2 years ago | (#41620849)

My only question is who is representing consumers in this meeting of powers that be? Oh, wait, consumers don't have power... they are merely cattle.
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