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The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 08:15 AM EDT

Good morning, everyone. Are you ready to work? The first patent applications we are invited to try to disqualify by looking for prior art have been posted on the Peer to Patent Project website. This is the project working to provide the USPTO with information about prior art during the application process. It's an experiment, and it's historic. It's never been tried before, to let the public provide input into the application process. The USPTO wants to find out if the public can be helpful in finding prior art. Like, totally. I *know* you can, from doing Groklaw. This is right up your alley, if you choose to do it.

Here is the list of the patent applications:

You'll remember we published an article on what constitutes prior art, if you would like to review in more detail. And PubPat has tutorials as well. And now Peer to Patent has some too, including one I did, and if you stay on that first page, audio will begin explaining how to get started. From Groklaw's perspective, you can also just leave comments here with what you find, and I'll input it into the Peer to Patent system. Or feel free to do it yourself, as you please, if you've registered there. They have an email system to notify you if new applications are listed. If you want to help, you surely can.

Unless you *want* a patent on "providing status of a process" to issue. Up to you.

We are actually still working on the real video in which I address some of the questions I know many of you have about this project. The deadline got here before we were done, so they threw that video up, but another one is in the works in which I explain why I think this is worth doing. The real solution is for software and patents to get a divorce, and someday the US Supreme Court may address that, but in the meantime, real harm is being done because the USPTO doesn't know what you know. The Tim O'Reilly video explains a bit about the USPTO difficulties and why they are asking for help. Specifically, from our perspective, I would add that a large part of the problem is that there is no FOSS prior art database, although the Linux Foundation is working on one as we speak. So when patent applications are filed, the USPTO examiners have nowhere to look to see if there is any FOSS prior art. At the moment, the only such searchable database is in your brains. I also think this is worth doing because it's training, free training in prior art searching, and these days, I'm a-thinking that might come in handy. And I don't believe in security by obscurity.

What is prior art?

In a nutshell, prior art in a legal sense can be any prior invention, if anyone did it before this applicant, or practiced it publicly, or wrote about it in a published source, or sold it, or patented it in another country. Here's a clear definition:

Prior Art - "what went before" - publications, earlier patents, public use or sale - anything which is relevant to the patentability of an invention because it shows that the invention was known before the applicant invented it.

What the USPTO is also looking for is whether or not the application is sufficiently new and nonobvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art to qualify for a patent under current law. Trust me when I tell you that the USPTO has no clue when it comes to FOSS prior art. If you could have blocked Amazon's One-Click patent application so it never issued, would you have?

So what is the first step? Read the claims for the applications that interest you, and then try to think of and then find whatever you know was already out there that predates this application and that matches the claims as precisely as possible. If you think it's obvious, say why with specificity. These are patent applications, not patents, so triple damages for looking at them do not apply, I'm told. I'm the cautious type, so if I worked for a company that might be in an area related to these applications, before I participated, I'd speak to a lawyer to verify.

If you don't want to turn on Javascript to watch the videos on the Peer to Patent site, just view source on the page that lists them all, find the video url and add it to this: http://www.peertopatent.org/ -- so, for example, if you wanted to view the first one, add video/manny/VideoPlayer.html to the url, so you get http://www.peertopatent.org/ video/manny/VideoPlayer.html . And as soon as mine is ready, I'll let you know.

Credits:

The marvelous stick figure gif in the video of mine up there now, illustrating the current state of the USPTO, is from JoePixel.com and the special graphics are by our own Jill C. Carpenter. The music is "My Life Changed" which you can read about here. Thank you, Cora Beth. Thank you, JoePixel and thank you, Jill. And thank you to Francois Schnell for his charming Tux and GNU photos! And thank you to Larry Lessig, for inventing Creative Commons licenses. And most especially thank you to Groklawers, for helping me with your ideas on how to do a video.


  


The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed | 380 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic here:
Authored by: SirHumphrey on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 09:44 AM EDT
And clickable links like this
Clickable links: <a href="http://www.example.com/">Like
this</a>

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: entre on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 09:44 AM EDT
Good timing for this type of endeavour! A lot of work is ahead.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: bbaston on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 09:45 AM EDT
.

---
IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent 5
Authored by: sschlimgen on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 10:05 AM EDT
They want to patent the grahpical display of industrial processes at a plant
...

Gee, why does this remind me very much of OptoControl, or Allen-Bradley's
similar offering. Or for that matter, every graphical process-control display
system used in industry.

If they win this one, anyone who runs a manufacturing plant will be in a world
of patent extortion hurt.

Does their patent offer anything new, unique, or non-obvious? I don't think so.
I'll have to go re-read the instructions so I can try and document my gut
reaction.

Steve

---
Meandering through life like a drunk on a unicycle.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The fourth patent
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 10:24 AM EDT
"Database staging area read-through or forced flush with dirty
notification" sounds like something I remember reading that MySQL could
do...?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 10:56 AM EDT
So the system is disastrously broken, and their answer is to ask us to, for
free, all review patents such that not as many horrible ones issue? Exactly how
does this solve the problem? We'll always be on the defensive, we'll waste our
resources, and bad patents will still get issued. Even worse, lots of people
will be reading bad patents, so treble damages start kicking in all over the
place. This sounds like it's actually going to make the situation much worse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 11:19 AM EDT
If my manager wants me to review patents, then I'm sure he will put it in my
objectives and agree to pay me for it.

Otherwise, I'll get on with what he does want me to do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

M$ Fat Patent
Authored by: rsi on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 11:32 AM EDT
I would like to see the FAT "so-called" Patent reviewed again under
the new rulings. This would be a good one to start the review of all the M$
"Patents" with.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You wouldn't sign a patent deal with Microsoft, would you?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 12:32 PM EDT
The concept of this process is morally equivalent to the patent deals with
Microsoft that folks have been railing against for weeks: your decision to
participate today will have the inevitable effect of strengthening exactly the
cancer you already feel in your bones.

That our culture would outlaw the very practice of reasoned thought itself --
the solitary observable separating us from animals -- and that it would do so
with a social structure pitting peer against peer where the most viscious
animals are predetermined to destroy the brightest and most constructive
reasoning minds, where thought-cancer itself is exactly the end-goal being
engineered, that out culture would build this thing is only one more lingering
symptom of authoritarian dogmatism, of a puritanic zeal to see destroyed by fire
the threat of any voice, any idea not already owned in the books of our
fathers.

If any part of humanity is to have hope in the face of this culture, the source
and progress of the carcinogen must be studied and understood so that it can be
avoided by constructive minds who seek provable progress toward a more perfect
union. Animals are the best subjects for such studies morality has yet devised;
fortunately we have an eager and willing Dish of the Day before us.

Let the cancer take the animal so that our children may better themselves by
studying our records of its demise.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I can't even understand what's being patented
Authored by: wethion on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 12:52 PM EDT
in the 'providing status of a process' one, the whole thing is so patently
obvious it's ridiculous. Can you patent a new configuration of things that have
been in use for years? If I take wigetX and wigetY for doing task X and Y, put
them together so they do X and Y at the same time, is that patentable?

---
Jon Postel, you are missed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire's patent deal -- what patents?
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 05:18 PM EDT
I am still trying to get my brain around Microsoft's strategy.

My first conclusion was that Microsoft's intent was to get 'Microsoft
technology' into FOSS by paying people to accept it. The objective is to put
'interoperability' onto the FOSS side of the fence instead of the Microsoft side
where it rightly belongs. Once Microsoft has achieved that objective, they can
change their standards to 'break' the interoperability, at which point they are
back in control and can name their own price for permission to fix it.

Having read John Carroll - A Microsoft employee's view (see News Picks) I have
come to a second conclusion. This paid shill is puting out that the patent
moratorium part of the deal is of little importance. This made me realise that
Microsoft's objective was to avoid suing FOSS users. Microsoft is like a country
trying to intimidate its neighbour, it has big guns but no ammunition - so what
does it do? It signs a non-aggression pact with its neighbour and moves its guns
out of the DMZ - that way it still remains top-dog and doubters are convinced
that it does have ammunition.

---
Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Wordperfect license agreement.......in wingdings?
Authored by: Starlite528 on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 06:54 PM EDT
http://img4 59.imageshack.us/img459/3339/wordperfectoddhm8.jpg

---
"Death continues to be our nations number one killer."
Henry Gibson

[ Reply to This | # ]

forced flush with dirty notification?
Authored by: LionKuntz on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 07:36 PM EDT
I didn't know you could use such language on Groklaw. ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

An amusing patent application
Authored by: jseigh on Sunday, June 17 2007 @ 07:45 PM EDT
The concept anyways.

2007 0136321 System for preparing a patent application

The link appears to be broken. You'll have to either change the &amp; back to a regular & or look the application number up on uspto.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent 5 (status of a process) is rubbish.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 03:06 AM EDT
Patent 5 is "Method, apparatus and computer program product for providing status of a process." I've read this and I don't see why people should be spending their time looking up "prior art" to invalidate it. This patent should just be rejected out of hand by the patent examiners as "trivial". There is nothing very profound being revealed here.

The authors of this "invention" are just attempting to patent object oriented programming and software components by dressing up mundane facts in impressive sounding complexity. No doubt some people will be dazzled by the references to "process industries", but all they are referring to is feeding data from various sources into graphical display objects which are grouped together.

Forget the process industry jargon. It is irrelevent. It seems to be included primarily to impress people with how "technical" and "important" it sounds. What is being discussed is a GUI displaying data where several related GUI elements are grouped together. Their claim for "novelty" seems to based on the fact that they have come up with a new name for software objects, classes, and components by calling them "blocks". What is being "invented" here is simply the field of object oriented programming as applied to graphical interfaces.

If this is an example of what the "Peer to Patent Project" is supposed to examine, then I think the project is a waste of time. The whole concept in fact is wrong headed. It pits lawyers who are in full time employment pushing rubbish like this against unpaid "volunteers" who have lives to live and businesses to run.

People have the wrong idea about what the problem is. The problem is not that somehow a few "bad" patents out of a small annual handful of good patents are unaccountably making it through the system by mistake. The problem is that a deluge of rubbish is pouring through with little or nothing to stop it.

Rubbish patents are like spam e-mail. The patent spammers can spew out more rubbish than then you have patience to keep up with. If you block their patent spam with prior art, they'll just switch to some new tactics. Look at all the people who come up with a "solution" to e-mail spam. How far have they got? How far will anyone get against patent spam by trying to "delete" them one at a time?

The whole concept of the "Peer to Patent Project" is wrong. It puts the onus on the people being harmed by spam patents to stop the patents before the are harmed by them. This is like the excuses used by the e-mail spammers who claim that all you have to do is just delete their V1agra and 419 spam e-mails. The American patent system needs fundamental reform. A good start would be to simply abolish software patents. There is little to no public benefit being derived from software patents, and a great deal of public harm being caused by them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One Idea for patent reform
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 06:09 AM EDT
When skimming through the patent applications, my impression was, that the
patent applicant tried to swamp the USPTO with bogus claims, hoping that one
claim might make it through.

This is outrageous behaviour! Those applicants are hogging up a societie's
resources for nothing.

My suggestion for patent reform (if any occures): Make the applicant pay for
each invalidated claim as much as he would have payed for the whole patent if it
got approoved.
This will not hinder the truly innovative, and it will make every applicant
doing a thorough prior art search himself.
Besides, the USPTO could then afford to hire the staff they need to work through
the mountain of patent applications.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Inform the GC of impacted companies?... The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: tce on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 09:22 AM EDT
One way to leverage our awareness of the P2P Patent review process is to inform
any number of companies that own prior art or are likely to be harmed by a bad
patent in their business area.

As a 2-fer, it also gets them involved and puts them on notice that their own
(bad?) patent apps are in a brave new world.

If you get a letter off to a company, including current or former employers, and
can post it, that would be a great motivator for other to do the same.

We are amoung the very few who are even aware this is going on. Let's spread
the fire!

Tom

[ Reply to This | # ]

groklawed - The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 09:24 AM EDT
I suspect the Peer to Patent Project has been Groklawed. Response for pulling
up the pages is extremely slow.

I'll look at it later.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Peer to Patent Project Has Begun - 5 patents listed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 09:42 AM EDT
This is frustrating. For example, the one about Method, apparatus and computer
program product for providing status of a process.

I understand that they would want to group relevant sensor readings together.
There was a company, Measurex, since bought out by Honeywell, back in 1973 that
used something called BLOK as a programming language. This was implemented in
assembly language on the HP2100 computer. This was a control language, but
using this language, it was possible to group a number of readings together,
then display the results on a display screen. But I don't know that anything
was published.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Support theThe Peer to Patent Project
Authored by: TedSwart on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 11:30 AM EDT
Some contributors to this forum are skeptical about joining in the USPTO peer to
patent project. This is surely a mistake for a whole lot of reasons.
1. Most Groklawers think that the huge number of software methods patents are
invalid for reasons of obviousness snd/or prior art. And most of us would go
further and contend that all software patents are really invalid methods
patents.
2. So, if it can be shown that large numbers of methods patents are indeed
invalid, the ludicrousness of the current functioning of USPTO would soon enough
become apparent to everyone.
3. We are, by and large, opposed to the very existence of software patents and
there is surly nothing better we can do to bring about their demise by
establishing their invalidity.
4. Contributors to the world of FOSS give freely of their time and energy to
ensure that quality and true innovation wins out against mediocrity and
underhand scheming. They are bedevilled by the current patent system and for
those who have the knowledge and skills to uncover to establish that vast hoards
of software patents are invalid will be making a contribution which is every bit
as valuable as contributing to the Linux kernel -- which not everyone can do.
I would go further and suggest the at least some Groklawers can provide a shrewd
guess as to which MS patents fall into the set of 300+ which MS says are
violated by the Linux kernel and other FOSS software. A pre-emptive strike
establishing that they are invalid would be like putting money in the bank

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lack of clarity of patent description.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 11:52 AM EDT
I am curious as to the obfuscation of what the patent is actually for in these
applications.
I was under the impression that the description of a patent had to enable
somebody skilled in the art to reproduce the invention. I thought the idea was
that in return for inventing something and publicly disclosing it, the inventor
was granted a limited monopoly.

Reading through Patent 4, I can't really figure out what the invention is or
decide whether there is applicable prior art or not. (I speak as a programmer).


How is anybody supposed to judge a patent for prior art when the patent is draw
up so as to obfuscate what the invention is?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Peer to Patent Project cannot even create a decent website
Authored by: PhilFrisbie on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 12:01 PM EDT
The pages declare they are XHTML Strict but they are not.

They are not very accessible to those with alternate or text based browsers.

Some navigation does not work if JavaScript is disabled or not supported.

I hope they do not get shut down with a civil rights lawsuit before they do some
good.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Symbolic Analysis of Patents possible?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 02:14 PM EDT
Robert Heinlein, in more than one of his novels, narrated how a character was
educated in the process of semantic analysis of written or spoken
statements.<br> Paraphrasing "After removing the redunancy, claptrap,
smoke and mirrors: Semantic content - Null" rings across the years. I
wonder if the state of heuristics might be able to reduce the gobbledygook to,
perhaps a symbolic representation that would make searching for existing patents
and common applications easier. It might even work-around the treble damages
issue of being familiar with a particular patent by abstracting the actual text
to a point where the actual device is obscured?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent 1
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 03:05 PM EDT
IANAL, so maybe that explains why I am having trouble seeing any material content within the long waffle about how a PC boots up, etc.

But is this not merely describing how the BIOS lets you action (or not) errors and warnings, such as the CPU temperature, fan failure, or even the "Stop on all/all but..../no errors" setting which has been in almost every BIOS since the 286 era? Or for that matter, what you do when a potential wakeup event (LAN or modem, for instance ) occurs.

I just can't see anything of substance at all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent 3 - a patent on security holes?
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 03:17 PM EDT
It seems that there is great emphasis on freeing the memory and putting it in the free pool, without deleting the data it contains. Now a Windoze programmer once told me that the Monopoly's allegedly POSIX-compliant calloc() function has a serious bug because it failed to clear the memory before allocating it to a process which requested it. Potentially a very serious security hole, as well as causing a major bug because his program expected the memory to be cleared.

So my best guess is that somewhere in the innards of at least one version of Windoze, there must be prior art on this, because in order for the memory allocated by calloc() to contain someone else's data, that data clearly was not erased last time the memory was freed. And, even if calloc() did work as per the POSIX standard (it does in every other major OS, as far as I can tell), malloc(), which seems not to require the data to be cleared, might provide prior art, along with mfree(), which frees the memory.

But even if there is no prior art, this seems to be a patent for a security disaster, so it likely should have no effect on any serious piece of programming.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Different Tack
Authored by: BassSinger on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 03:57 PM EDT
Many have been the complaints that this process is unfair, and the system is at
fault. Well, let us do something about *THAT* in the process of reviewing these
patents.

Let us build a case for "All of computer software consists of checking the
status of a bit (0 or 1) and making decisions based on that, combined with
setting a bit (1 or 0) to reflect the progress of the decision process."

Some brilliant work has been done with software and computers, but it is all in
the *style* of how you do those basic tasks. Computers, compilers and
assemblers have advanced greatly, but *all* tasks performed in software break
down to those two simple steps.

The offshoot of this case would be the elimination of all software patents as
non-innovative.

Incidentally, the one on monitoring registeres for prefetching is merely an
automation of the old hacker's (in the true non-cracking use of the word) trick
of putting the next instruction where the readhead will be when this one is done
executing.

---
In A Chord,

Tom

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created
them." -- Albert Einstein

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent Application 3 - Prior Art
Authored by: JJSg on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 05:33 PM EDT
I submit my project, RenaissanceCore which has been hosted on SourceForge.net since Sept. 2005 (2 months before the filing--and I wrote the code well before that ;-), as prior art implementing the proposed patent. There are 3 files that manage memory for my program in a way that is OS independent. The files are:

Memory Control: initialization and garbage collection

Memory Management: allocation of pools to applications

Header file: definition of structures

The general idea is that a single allocation of shared memory in a large block is created at startup of the applicationi in the Memory Control module. This is broken up into several pools with fixed size buffers.

Applications that are allowed access to the shared memory then request the exact size required, using the Memory Management module, and are returned a pointer to the beginning of an available buffer that is big enough for the request to fit in. To free it, the requestor calls another Memory Management module that simply marks the buffer as available.

The manager process periodically checks all pools for status. If there are no available buffers, the pool is moved to a Full queue so that it does not impact performance. If there are no used buffers, the pool is put on a general availablity queue which allows the buffer size to be changed, thereby adapting to dynamic requirements of the application.

This process avoids the overhead of using system memory calls and provides a level of security because of the shared memory access restriction. As far as I can tell from a quick reading of the patent, I have implemented pretty much everything they are claiming. Also, my memory manager has been tested in a real world application.

As a final note, when I designed and implemented my module, I was aware of similar implementations which I simply refined somewhat for my specific needs.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior art.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 06:47 PM EDT
What does the Grokline database contain with regard to these patents? Is there
anything useable there?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reductive analysis
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 19 2007 @ 04:39 AM EDT
I've started looking at patent 5 on this site, and am looking for systems that
cover most or all of the claims and predate the application. That is, as I
understand it, the standard way of looking for prior art.

Is there another way possible?

For example, it would be easy to make an argument that, given a physical device,
adding an interface to that device to present information about the state of the
device to a network is not a new invention. Given a network with data on it,
adding a computer is not a new invention. Given a computer with data feeds,
collating and displaying those data feeds is not a new invention. Given a
computer system, including a GUI is not a new invention. Given a computer system
with a GUI and sets of numbers, graphing those numbers is not a new invention.
(References for all these assertions can be found easily enough...)

This eliminates claims in the particular application under review, but more
interestingly it provides a set of templates for eliminating claims in lots of
other applications. It also does not discriminate against new inventions.
It looks to me like the Peer 2 Patent website is not built to support that sort
of argument. Is that because the law is not built to support such argument?

Of course, the patent examiner could simply refuse to be convinced by the
evidence. Before one-click there was lots of prior art for having a complex
process including different data sets kicked off by clicking a single button,
but not for storing credit card details and a delivery address so you can buy a
book by clicking a single button...

Brian.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Very Dissapointing.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 19 2007 @ 09:56 PM EDT
Already some idiot has started to use it as a spam board.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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