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Minecraft Patent Lawsuit

A tweet by Minecraft creator and Mojang founder Markus "Notch" Persson reveals that Mojang is being sued for patent infringement over Minecraft, saying: "Step 1: Wake up. Step 2: Check email. Step 3: See we're being sued for patent infringement. Step 4: Smile." He's posted the complaint in Adobe Acrobat format, and Boing Boing notes the plaintiff in this case, Uniloc calls itself an intellectual property "incubation lab" specializing in computer security, but they just call them patent trolls, noting that the suit was filed in Tyler, Texas, which besides being the birthplace of NFL legend Earl Campbell, is apparently also renowned as a place where the courts are known to friendly to the plaintiffs in such cases.

Here's word from the complaint: "Mojang is directly infringing one or more claims of the í067 patent in this judicial district ... by or through making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing Android based applications for use on cellular phones and/or tablet devices that require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorized use of said application, including, but not limited to, Mindcraft [sic]."

For his part, Notch tweets about his resolve to fight this out in court, just as he did when sued over the right to name his next game scrolls, saying: "Unfortunately for them, they're suing us over a software patent. If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don't get a cent." He also blogs about this, giving his outlook on such litigation. Here's a portion:

But there is no way in hell you can convince me that itís beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve.

A common argument for patents is that inventors wonít invent unless they can protect their ideas. The problem with this argument is that patents apply even if the infringer came up with the idea independently. If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?

I will say that there are areas which are very costly to research, but where the benefits for mankind long term are very positive. I would personally prefer it to have those be government funded (like with CERN or NASA) and patent free as opposed to whatís happening with medicine, but I do understand why some people thing patents are good in these areas.

Trivial patents, such as for software, are counterproductive (they slown down technical advancement), evil (they sacrifice baby goats to baal), and costly (companies get tied up in pointless lawsuits).

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66 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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66. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 22:14 Frags4Fun
 
Prez wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 19:57:
Frags4Fun wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 19:38:
but I do understand why some people thing patents are good in these areas.

Has anyone else noticed how often people have been typing the word "think" as "thing" lately? I'm seeing it at least once a day on average. I'm not a spelling Nazi or anything, but I do wonder why it has been happening so often.

Disclaimer: My spelling and typing skills are average at best and I too have typed thing when I have meant to say think.

Hadn't noticed. I thing it may be because the 'g' and the 'k' are sort of close together on the keyboard.

LOL!
 
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65. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 19:00 Ray Marden
 
Personally, I look at all the crap a company like Monsanto does or I think about how my own genes are patented by corporations and that basically ends the discussion for me. They aren't concerned about improving the world, curing disease, or innovating - just about big profits and sustaining the need of their slowly-changing products.
Heaven forbid humans do anything more than focus on money.
Noting that "first to file" findings do not even reward creators,
Ray
 
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64. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 14:20 Digitalfiend
 
NKD wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 01:57:
Dev wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 01:31:
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 01:23:
Dev wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 00:25:
Kajetan wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 16:07:
Dev wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 15:51:
That last line is just giving ammo to his opponent.
What ammo?
Go read that last line in blues blurb again. You don't think someone could argue thats defamatory in court?
I don't see anything there that could be considered defamation (specifically libel). Shouldn't be a problem for him.
He's implying that they have a trivial patent (which is probably true) and saying they are evil (which also might be true), but it will be hard to prove they sacrifice goats.

As you said, subjective opinions are not grounds for defamation. Regarding the goats... Statements that are absurd or used as simple insults typically don't rise to the level of defamation. If I say you're a space alien from Planet X no reasonable person is likely to believe me and no damage is done to your reputation. (Proving damage is part of a defamation suit).

Furthermore, if people actually read the quote, Notch is suggesting that software patents are evil, not the company bringing the lawsuit. We can infer that he might be saying companies that patent software algorithms or ideas are, by extension, evil as well, but that's not what he actually wrote. At least that is how I read it; he's saying the very idea of patenting software is wrong.
 
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63. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 12:56 Orogogus
 
Beamer wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 12:25:
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:56:
Beamer wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:49:
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:44:
There are no cheap, easy wins in the drug industry.

Not sure why I'm the one you're arguing with, but sure there are. Anything incremental is a cheap, easy win.

It's all relative, is it not?

You posited that there were few incentives for drug companies to go after bigger, more difficult gains. In reality, those projects get looked at a lot because all drug development for the US is difficult whether it's for a cold symptom suppressant or the cure for cancer. The buy in cost is very, very high (although it is admittedly much higher for cases where the clinical trials will involve people dying). If you haven't seen many of the hard ones yet, it's because things that are hard take time.

And if they can make as much money on the easy ones they go for those. It's hard science, but the decision making isn't - if a company has two options in front of them, one that will take 100 million to get to market and one that will take 50 million, and the expected revenues for both are about the same, and the likelihood to get to market are about the same, which do they go after?

The situation is often more like that the buy in cost (clinical trials, FDA clearance, patent work) is enormous - say, $1 billion -- and then the remaining difference is relatively small - tens of millions. In such a situation companies look at the bottom line of how much money it can make because a lot of the cost is already set (or can't be anticipated, which is almost the same thing). And there's no longer really any low hanging fruit to be had, although some things, like cures for cancer, are known to be difficult.
 
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62. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 12:54 brmintz
 
I think something very important is missing from this discussion. As a biomedical engineer I am fairly familiar with FDA guidelines on drug testing as well as discovery type patents. One important thing to remember is that drugs that are fairly similar to those already on the market or old drugs being tested for a new use are subject to a much abbreviated testing period via an exemption clause which eliminates much of the cost of the first 2 phases of clinical trials. Not to be devils advocate here but seeing how the industry works, I believe a lot of these rules are necessary to keep greedy companies from taking peoples money before new drugs are adequately tested to prevent potentially catastrophic results. I do believe it is a little over the top, but necessary none the less.

The same goes for patents, there is a reason, especially in the pharmaceuticals/biotech industry to protect the ideas of scientists in R&D, namely the astronomical costs of performing biomedical research, equipment that costs several hundred thousand/million dollars, etc. is commonplace and teams consisting of engineers and PhD's cost money!

All that being said, people that just try to screw with the system suck.... wow /rant
 
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61. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 12:25 Beamer
 
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:56:
Beamer wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:49:
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:44:
There are no cheap, easy wins in the drug industry.

Not sure why I'm the one you're arguing with, but sure there are. Anything incremental is a cheap, easy win.

It's all relative, is it not?

You posited that there were few incentives for drug companies to go after bigger, more difficult gains. In reality, those projects get looked at a lot because all drug development for the US is difficult whether it's for a cold symptom suppressant or the cure for cancer. The buy in cost is very, very high (although it is admittedly much higher for cases where the clinical trials will involve people dying). If you haven't seen many of the hard ones yet, it's because things that are hard take time.

And if they can make as much money on the easy ones they go for those. It's hard science, but the decision making isn't - if a company has two options in front of them, one that will take 100 million to get to market and one that will take 50 million, and the expected revenues for both are about the same, and the likelihood to get to market are about the same, which do they go after?
 
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60. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 11:56 Orogogus
 
Beamer wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:49:
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:44:
There are no cheap, easy wins in the drug industry.

Not sure why I'm the one you're arguing with, but sure there are. Anything incremental is a cheap, easy win.

It's all relative, is it not?

You posited that there were few incentives for drug companies to go after bigger, more difficult gains. In reality, those projects get looked at a lot because all drug development for the US is difficult whether it's for a cold symptom suppressant or the cure for cancer. The buy in cost is very, very high (although it is admittedly much higher for cases where the clinical trials will involve people dying). If you haven't seen many of the hard ones yet, it's because things that are hard take time.
 
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59. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 11:49 Beamer
 
Orogogus wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 11:44:
There are no cheap, easy wins in the drug industry.

Not sure why I'm the one you're arguing with, but sure there are. Anything incremental is a cheap, easy win.

It's all relative, is it not?
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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58. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 11:44 Orogogus
 
There are no cheap, easy wins in the drug industry. Any new pharmaceutical requires a multi-phase clinical trial with hundreds or thousands of consented participants, takes about 10 years, and is usually built on the ashes of previous attempts that failed to prove efficacy. You can rest assured that plenty of money is being poured into going after big long term wins.

The pharmaceutical industry and the FDA cut a balance between rewarding the expensive development process and allowing generics to provide cheaper alternatives. The life of a drug patent is 20 years, which includes the ~10 years in clinical trials before it can go to market.

I think people underestimate how difficult and expensive it is to develop a drug and take it through clinical trials, or how easy it is to reverse engineer and manufacture it from the patent once it's been approved.
 
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57. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 10:44 Beamer
 
netnerd85 wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 10:38:
Software and medical patents are the work of the devil and/or greedy c**ts

Again, though, medical ones are kind of necessary. Yeah, I get the whole "it isn't like people won't innovate without patents" thing, but that's only true up to a point.

Medication is extremely costly and difficult to develop, in part due to FDA regulations and testing. Developing a new drug and bringing it to market takes decades and hundreds of millions of dollars. If any generic company could start pumping out medication immediately upon it hitting the market the original company would be destroyed. They need some time to recoup the money it cost to do all of the testing. Or we need to make the generic companies also do testing of their product.

There are issues with medical patents (like how companies can do a minor, insignificant reformulation to extend the patent), but doing away with them would be a bad idea. As it stands there seems too little an incentive for drug companies to go for big wins rather than easy and cheaper ones.
 
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56. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 10:38 netnerd85
 
Software and medical patents are the work of the devil and/or greedy c**ts  
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55. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 10:18 Burrito of Peace
 
Weird wood whacks wildly while waxing woefully with wisteria while waiting wistfully.  
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54. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 09:15 Verno
 
Seems like a really absurd patent to award. I'm still unclear on how they were awarded a patent that is based on the patented work of an entirely different company, forget about how broad it is.  
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Playing: Divinity Original Sin, Infamous Second Son, Madden
Watching: Spartan, Possible Worlds, The Changeling
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53. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 09:07 Ozmodan
 
The dumb thing is, the Supreme court already said that software patents were not legal. Just that they did not make the decision broad enough just restricted it to one case.

If you read the patent laws, there is no way a software patent will stand up, it is just a mathematical formula when you get down to the nitty gritty and that fails the patent test.
 
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52. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 08:34 Pankin
 
Frags4Fun wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 19:38:
but I do understand why some people thing patents are good in these areas.

Has anyone else noticed how often people have been typing the word "think" as "thing" lately? I'm seeing it at least once a day on average. I'm not a spelling Nazi or anything, but I do wonder why it has been happening so often.

Disclaimer: My spelling and typing skills are average at best and I too have typed thing when I have meant to say think.

Thimk before you type such nonsense.
 
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51. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 08:07 InBlack
 
Which is exactly my point, companies develop and pour funds ONLY into research which will net them a profit down the line.

The rest is left to the government, or various non-profit organizations which hardly have the cash to compete.

Even worse, the patent system leaves open the possibilty of developing new technology and then burying it. Say BP or Shell develops a very efficient solar cell tomorrow, one that would make solar energy a much cheaper alternative to fossil fuel...well you can see where Im going with this.

This comment was edited on Jul 23, 2012, 08:12.
 
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I have a nifty blue line!
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50. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 04:50 NKD
 
InBlack wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 04:38:
Yeah digging this world we live in, where a company can patent a cure or vaccine for a disease and charge whatever it fucking wants for a 2$ chemical solution.

Gotta love capitalism!

Not really relevant. Pharmaceuticals and these bullshit software patents are very, very different subjects. Drugs actually take years and years of research and trials and other expensive stuff. The investment in bringing to market just a single medication is enormous. They don't just pull new medicine out of their asses. Certainly there is discussion to be had regarding pharmaceutical patents, but it's a completely different issue to patent trolling.

Patenting some minor variant on an existing idea in software takes no resource investment at all, yet it happens constantly. It's a huge loophole that needs to be closed.

AnointedSword wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 04:41:
Ideas also need to be protected. For example, I have this great idea about how to make an AR-15 better. The idea is great, but I did not patent the idea. Big corporation (the ones I went to for funding) already have the funding, they take my idea and make millions off it. Protecting ideas also helps the small time inventor as well. Ideas need to be protected...

The existing patent system is more often used as a bludgeon against the small time inventor, than as a protector. It needs to be sacked and rewritten from the ground up.
 
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If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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49. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 04:41 AnointedSword
 
Ideas also need to be protected. For example, I have this great idea about how to make an AR-15 better. The idea is great, but I did not patent the idea. Big corporation (the ones I went to for funding) already have the funding, they take my idea and make millions off it. Protecting ideas also helps the small time inventor as well. Ideas need to be protected...  
If you were right, I would be agreeing with you.
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48. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 04:38 InBlack
 
Yeah digging this world we live in, where a company can patent a cure or vaccine for a disease and charge whatever it fucking wants for a 2$ chemical solution.

Gotta love capitalism!
 
Avatar 46994
 
I have a nifty blue line!
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47. Re: Minecraft Patent Lawsuit Jul 23, 2012, 02:15 Teddy
 
NKD wrote on Jul 23, 2012, 01:13:
Cutter wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 22:24:
Rattlehead wrote on Jul 22, 2012, 19:11:
You're just an asshole in general. You may not be snide or condescending, but you're still an asshole.

I don't know what happened to the ignore function but this is precisely why I have all the trolls and morons like yourself on it. You fit the very definition of asshole. All you do is troll and flame. You contribute nothing to anyone anywhere. You are, for all intents and purposes a waste of life, space, and resources. Along with your other little troll buddies/bigots/clowns/assholes like Hellbinder, Space Captain, etc. A good beating is something you cowardly little losers desperately need as well. Gee, life sure is funny when you're anonymous on the internet and living out of the folk's basement, right loser?

Oh lord, just stop. You're just as anonymous as he is, and for all we know, you live in a basement too. I know you aren't new to the Internet, so why are you stooping to the "I'll kick yer ass you no good basement dwellin' neckbeard! Don't mess with Texas!" trope? Veiled threats of violence are the Ambrosia of troll food.

Everyone already knows what kind of tools Hellbinder and friends are. Making yourself look like a complete stereotype in a futile attempt to hurt their feelings isn't a very bright idea.

Why not just discuss why you feel Notch is a jerk or asshole and point out some examples, instead of throwing invective at obvious trolls who only enjoy it.

But hey, at least Cutter doesn't make snide comments and think he's better than anyone else, right?
 
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