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Patents Games Your Rights Online

Patent Troll Claims Minecraft Infringement 304

Posted by timothy
from the two-varieties-of-blockhead dept.
First time accepted submitter ubrgeek writes "Popular game Minecraft has hit the big time: It's being sued for infringement by patent troll Uniloc who claims the game infringes a patent it holds on copy protection software. Developer Markus 'Notch' Persson sounds like he's up for the challenge: '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.'"
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Patent Troll Claims Minecraft Infringement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:48PM (#40727275)

    Enough of this crap. Patent and copyright trolling needs to end now!

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cryacin (657549) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:53PM (#40727297)
    Good to see that someone truly understands the prisoner's dillemma. On the whole in society, it's best to always choose what's best for everyone and not best for you, but if you come across a group like this, it makes perfect sense to single them out and punish them. I really wish more corporates, companies and people did this. It would really help to diminish the amount of successful selfish people in the world.
  • Re:I hope.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:54PM (#40727307)

    On the whole in society, it's best to always choose what's best for everyone and not best for you

    Until you happen to be that individual. Then you'll probably begin to see just how important individual rights are.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:57PM (#40727313)

    Your delusion seems to be thinking patents and invention are related in any way except insofar as the former prevents the latter. Patents are a mechanism for stealing from people who actually make things and giving it to lawyers.

  • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:28PM (#40727473) Homepage

    Honestly it would be cheaper to just put a hit on the guy doing all the lawsuits.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Afecks (899057) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:32PM (#40727485)

    Good to see that someone truly understands the prisoner's dillemma.

    Life is not prisoner's dilemma. It's iterated prisoner's dilemma because people can actually build up reputations. It's been shown that the best stable strategy is tit-for-tat plus forgiveness.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GumphMaster (772693) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:58PM (#40727593)

    Whether you like it or not, patents have been around for over a couple hundred years. No matter how much moaning and groaning people do about patents (particularly software patents), they aren't going away anytime soon.

    Nobody is being revisionist and claiming that patents have not existed for hundreds of years, although you'd be hard put to claim software patents have. Longevity, of itself, does not make them inherently valuable or suited to today. The "it's always been that way" perspective also fails to allow for the possibility that evolution of elements of patent law over that time has produced aspects that are neither valuable nor desirable. If people do not exercise a little of their right to "moaning and groaning" then the situation absolutely will not change in their interest, only those of others. If you do not wish to moan, fine, but do not expect everyone else to accept your fatalist position.

    Lawyers get paid the big bucks when somebody tries to fight a losing battle.

    In any battle one side will be fighting the losing battle, ergo the lawyers always get paid the big bucks. The even get paid when people opt not to fight the battle because then the victims has to acquiesce to whatever is demanded of them by the lawyers.

  • More specifically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2012 @12:37AM (#40727743)

    in the initial round it is best to be the nice guy, after that just mirror what the other side has done to you. Of course this assumes a closed system with an unlimited number of interactions.

    So in this case one party is being negative to another and has a reputation for always doing so. The appropriate thing for Notch to do is to be as ruthless as possible within legal restrictions. It is unlikely the patent troll will have a second round with you, and will never not take the negative option. Therefore it is best to take them for all they are worth, if you can.

    Amazing how common sense and game theory comes to the same conclusions given the same input.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 22, 2012 @01:28AM (#40727901) Journal

    The problem with that suggestion is this: Depending on the company even if you win...you'll lose.

    I had a friend that was running a little ISP that was basically railroaded by one of the bigger carriers. It was obviously an antitrust slam dunk, not to mention they had ignored the contracts they had signed as well as making sure nobody else would deal with his little company. So why isn't my friend sitting on a beach enjoying his victory? Because his lawyer said "Oh there isn't a doubt in my mind you'll win, none at all, but it'll cost you a good million and a half and 10 years of your life to get to the end" so needless to say since my friend didn't have a million and a half nor 10 years of his life he wished to through away in court he walked away.

    Look at how long it took to finally end the SCO mess, and that case was so damned obvious Ray Charles could have seen that SCO was full of shit. The reason that many settle is that unless you have nothing better to do with years of your life, not to mention great piles of money to piss away, its simply smarter to make it go away.

    Think about it, this guy is just a little developer....how many more games is he NOT gonna put out and NOT gonna get the money from, because he's too tied up in court bullshit to be working on games? Now do i think that is right? Fuck no, I think the system stinks. But what the system IS and what it OUGHT to be are sadly two different things and as it is this guy will in all likelihood lose a ton of money he'll never see again even if he wins. Lets face it friend, if they lose they'll just fold and start up a new firm doing the same shit tomorrow while this guy won't see a cent.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StillAnonymous (595680) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @01:45AM (#40727941)

    I disagree due to the fact that people can reverse engineer almost anything, making most trade secrets useless. If someone figures out your trade secret, you're hooped, that's all. If you have a patent though, even if someone else doesn't know about it and comes up with their implementation on their own, you still get to sue them. The patent lottery continues.

    Have you read a recent patent? It's a joke. Deliberately unreadably-lawyeresque writing style, extremely vague so that they can sue anybody who implements anything even remotely similar (ie. patenting an idea, which is something you're specifically NOT supposed to be able to do), and becoming frequently more and more obvious within the realm the cover. Slip your patent in, then sue anybody who becomes profitable using a similar idea in a product. If you're lucky, they'll setting for millions and you won't even have to go to court.

    Fuck this broken system. It's been gamed to death by filthy, parasitic scum. I seriously hope these patent trolls get crushed hard. I doubt it though. The system is so bought off and corrupt, real justice is as rare as rocking-horse shit.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:40AM (#40728153)

    And trying to AstroTurf Slashdot as an AC won't convince anyone otherwise.

    If you weren't a patent troll you'd contact companies for licensing ahead of time, and not wait for a product to get huge, then sue.

    That is the real difference in methodology. Companies with legit patents will go and try to license their patent to everyone, and only sue when people refuse to license but use the technology anyhow. Patent trolls sit quietly and wait for things to become a big success and then sue for "damages" for their patent nobody has ever heard of.

    So fuck off son.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:07AM (#40728269) Journal

    Life is not prisoner's dilemma. It's iterated prisoner's dilemma because people can actually build up reputations. It's been shown that the best stable strategy is tit-for-tat plus forgiveness.

    Do you have a reference? I would be super-thankful.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:20AM (#40728305)

    Is this why the fashion industry is thriving despite the fact that they have 0 patent protection?

    Imagine if someone patented knitting? Practically everyone that wanted to make their own clothes would have to pay royalties!

  • by eWarz (610883) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:21AM (#40728309) Homepage
    Oh and, if you are from Uniloc, I have one more thing for you: Don't fuck with minecraft and DON'T fuck with Mojang. It's one thing to harass microsoft (who basically everyone hates but deals with because there isn't a better solution), but to fuck with an indie game developer that everyone loves....that's like kicking a poor old lady in a wheel chair in times square in NYC, what the fuck do you think is going to happen here?
  • Re:I hope.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:59AM (#40728417)

    Corporations are made up of people. People have rights. Those rights cannot be taken away (being inalienable and all). So, no, "corporations" don't have rights, but the people who own those corporations *do*. In a sense, those corporations sure are people. (And that's *all* corporations, not just those evil money-making enterprises.)

    You want to rail against corporate abuse? Get rid of the lack of responsibilities. It's that, more than anything, that makes corporations misbehave. The problem isn't the "personhood" of the corporation, but the half-personhood.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Admiral Burrito (11807) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @09:36AM (#40729381)

    You have a very valid argument, but there's one aspect that's missing: just like with old-fashioned racketeering, it's not a one-time expense: fold to one patent troll and you'll have to fold to all.

    It's much worse than that. Defeating a patent troll doesn't create any sort of immunity against others. Even doing what you are ostensibly supposed to do - license every patent you need to - is no guarantee that someone else won't come along with another patent and shut you down.

    Software patents are thousands of swords of Damocles hanging over the heads of every software developer. The idea that this somehow encourages innovation is complete and utter bullshit, shovelled by those who own the swords.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... ro.net minus bsd> on Sunday July 22, 2012 @12:23PM (#40730113) Homepage Journal

    2. This isn't quite right. The primary purpose of patents is to encourage the publication of inventions and sharing of ideas. Without them, the profit motive would encourage trade secrets and hoarding of information and techniques. Say what you will about patents, obviousness, and longevity of protections, but they have succeeded brilliantly at getting everyone publishing everything in extensive detail.

    If that is the goal of patents, it has become an utterly failed goal and the role of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office certainly has not encouraged any actual documentation of the devices or concepts themselves. Sadly, I've read enough patent applications to realize that there is no possible way to glean much of any information at all from those documents in terms of being able to actually build the devices or concepts being described in them. Those applications are so full of legal descriptions that gleaning any technical data on how to do something simply can't be done.

    I'll also note that if patents were so excellent as a means to share and distribute information about technical and engineering concepts, most engineers would have a bookshelf and likely even a full library of patent applications (especially expired patents) for them to review and to get ideas from. Instead, most engineers are explicitly encouraged to never read patent applications except in a narrow scope to help out with the legal defense of a company once they have been sued or are supposed to be giving expert legal testimony on the content of the patent. The only patent related items that you will ever see in an engineering office may be some plaques honoring employees who have been granted patents, but you would typically see lawyers who see any other patent applications or grants that belong to other companies taking those materials and throwing them into the shredder or burning them with likely a long talk to any engineer who is caught with them in a joint conference with a human resources exec, the immediate supervisor, and a lawyer along with some sort of form where that employee would have a long and embarrassing "lecture" (it wouldn't even be a conversation) and they would need to sign some paper as a condition of employment to never look at another patent application without direct approval of their supervisor.

    I wish patents would work as you claim. It is a noble thought and if patents actually functioned as you claim the world would be a much better place. Sadly, they fail at the thought. The details about how to do what they claim to do is almost never there. If we had to re-create 21st century American technology out of the data base that is the USPTO patent applications, we'd still be stuck trying to figure out how to chop down a tree much less being able to build a fire or even building any of the tools that make America work today.

    If you want to share information about technology, try a textbook or some technical manual. They are embarrassingly better at sharing information about technology than any patent ever could think about, and would tell a would-be engineer how to actually accomplish the task rather than the legalese which is a patent application. That by law a patent application is supposed to provide the information is irrelevant that it actually does what it claims to do.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @01:55PM (#40730711)

    Corporations are made up of people.

    No, they aren't. Corporations are legal constructs made of legal fiction. They may or may not have legal relationships - such as ownership or employment - to people, but they are not made of people.

    People have rights. Those rights cannot be taken away (being inalienable and all). So, no, "corporations" don't have rights, but the people who own those corporations *do*.

    And nobody's suggested taking their rights away. But tell me: if I draw a cartoon, do the characters in that cartoon have legal rights? Do I get in trouble if I draw a piano falling on them? No? Then why should any other fictitious construct - such as a corporation - have them?

    In a sense, those corporations sure are people.

    By your logic, Pythagora's Theorem is a person.

    You want to rail against corporate abuse? Get rid of the lack of responsibilities. It's that, more than anything, that makes corporations misbehave. The problem isn't the "personhood" of the corporation, but the half-personhood.

    So how do you propose throwing a corporation behind bars? The worst you can do to a corporation is give it a (usually ridiculously small) fine, and even then we get a chorus of people bitterly explaining how it'll simply pass it on to the customers (not that that's relevant for a patent troll or other nonproductive parasites).

    A fictitious entity cannot be held responsible for anything because it does not exist, thus it shouldn't have rights either.

  • Re:I hope.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Schmorgluck (1293264) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @04:32PM (#40731563)
    Now if only the USA had a Loser Pays [reason.com] system like just about every other country in the world. Aside from the patent system, the American rule [wikipedia.org] is what enables patent trolls.
  • Re:I hope.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jo42 (227475) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @09:21PM (#40732879) Homepage

    Corporations are people hiding behind a legal abstraction that shields their activities from legal responsibility for their actions.

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