The US Patent and Trademark Office is required by law to let the public submit "prior art" for pending patents -- essentially, evidence that the thing the patent-filer is claiming to have invented already exists. People who spot patents in need of killing post them to a Stack Exchange forum called Ask Patents, in the hopes that other forum members will come up with invalidating art.
Joel Spolsky writes about how he found -- in 15 minutes, mind you -- the prior art necessary to invalidate a dumb-ass Microsoft patent on scaling images. He documents the process by which he did it, and shows how easily you could do it, too. As Spolsky points out, software patents are all basically shit, and trivial to prove as such. It just takes a dedicated army of freedom fighters to find and submit the prior art that helps the overworked patent examiners at the USPTO to reject the garbage they get by the truckload.
Software patent applications are of uniformly poor quality. They are remarkably easy to find prior art for. Ask Patents can be used to block them with very little work. And this kind of individual destruction of one software patent application at a time might start to make a dent in the mountain of bad patents getting granted.
My dream is that when big companies hear about how friggin’ easy it is to block a patent application, they’ll use Ask Patents to start messing with their competitors. How cool would it be if Apple, Samsung, Oracle and Google got into a Mexican Standoff on Ask Patents? If each of those companies had three or four engineers dedicating a few hours every day to picking off their competitors’ applications, the number of granted patents to those companies would grind to a halt. Wouldn’t that be something!
Victory Lap for Ask Patents - Joel on Software
(via O'Reilly Radar)
Thanks to everyone who came out to last night's book tour event with Richard Kadrey at Berkeley Arts and Letters; I'm in the final stretch of the tour now, with a keynote tonight at 7PM at the Ft Vancouver Library's Revolutionary Reads series, (Clark Community College’s Gaiser Hall, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver WA 98663) […]
I've had a fabulous weekend at Chicago's C2E2 festival as part of my Radicalized book-tour, and now I'm heading to San Francisco for an appearance on Monday night at Berkeley Arts & Letters at 7:30PM with Richard Kadrey. Then it's on to The Revolutionary Reads series at Ft Vancouver (outside of Portland, OR), and then […]
This morning, CBC's flagship weekend programme Day Six aired its latest episode (MP3), a conversation between host Brent Bambury, me, and Tim Maughan, the author of an outstanding debut novel called Infinite Detail. (Image: Jason Vermes/CBC)
If you’re going to pursue a career in graphic design, videography or web development, there are some essential tools you need to have – and all of them are included in the Adobe Creative Cloud. And whether you need to brush up on Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign – or are a beginner to them all […]
Got a vision to put on film? The Film & Cinematography Mastery Bundle shows you how to put it there, with classes covering gear, lighting, production – even marketing. Even in this age of indie cinema, filmmaking can seem like an exclusive world for the chosen few. But with the right eye – and the […]
If you’re into tech at all, you should definitely consider unleashing your inner tinkerer on a Raspberry Pi board. If you’re intimidated, don’t be. It’s a statistical probability that people half your age have created cooler things than you can imagine with the versatile kit. Not sure where to start? The Complete Raspberry Pi 3B+ […]