January 6, 2012

"Microsoft has been granted a patent for its 'avoid ghetto' feature for GPS devices."

"A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an 'unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.'"

101 comments:

Joe said...

(The Uncredentialed, Crypto Jew)

I want an App that allows me to avoid neighborhoods full of smelly Hippies or neighborhoods full of Zionist Financier-Imperialists….I bet I’m not the only one…

toby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toby said...

Sparky Griswold in Family Vacation could have used this app. It would have saved him from having to have the family station wagon painted to remove"Honky Lips."

Scott M said...

The pure awesomeness of this isn't the app itself, although that's pretty good. It's the sheer fact that truth is most often much stranger than anything a writer could dream up.

I want an app that will anticipate and help me avoid State Fair race riots and flash mob thievery. You can include avoiding tranny beatdowns and car-stealing bus-riders as an option. I'd pay the extra $1.99 for that.

traditionalguy said...

Another Global warming app?

No, it's Redlining and its back big time.

We learned its value after the Housing Bubble collapsed.

Google Earth could also put icons everywhere a murder or a robbery occurred in the last 10 years.

rhhardin said...

I don't see the difficulty, unless it's like patenting one click shopping, that is, just making a claim that nobody else thought anybody would think to make.

prairie wind said...

How about an app that helps me avoid any Smart car sightings?

Scott M said...

Google Earth could also put icons everywhere a murder or a robbery occurred in the last 10 years.

Interestingly, my father recently used Google Earth to locate almost every spot his platoon/company had set up at during Vietnam. The quality, he said, is startling. It's kind of distracting, though, when you go down to street level because you can see the multi-angle camera they used and the shadow of the ox it was on.

write_effort said...

The majority of shootings (many of them out in the streets) in the city in which I live occur in a well-defined area. That is public knowledge. This app is a no brainer. Sorry for the folks who have to live there.

Toshtu said...

Maybe a douchebag app to help people avoid Uptown Dallas.

chickenlittle said...

Crime statistics are pretty objective criteria for stigmatizing a ghetto. Unless people want to have that argument, the controversy seems manufactured.

Scott M said...

Crime statistics are pretty objective criteria for stigmatizing a ghetto. Unless people want to have that argument, the controversy seems manufactured.

You must never have visited St Louis for any length of time. Despite very clear-cut areas where crime is higher, and well-known to be, the city and state are constantly fighting with the FBI over statistics, reporting procedures, etc. In addition, the local life-style paper, The Riverfront Times, pretty much a left-wing echo chamber, had to admit that crime was rising right along the routes the light rail went in, after years of calling all people who said that would happen racists/alarmists/bigots.

It's important because I think we (meaning the metro which unfortunately includes East St Louis) trade Detroit back and forth over the top few spots for violent crime each year.

prairie wind said...

How about an app that shows all the sex offenders in an area? That way we can avoid all the teenaged boys convicted of looking at nudie pictures of their girlfriends. That will also make us parents comfortable sending our children into the homes of people not on the registry...because those people are all completely safe.

kcom said...

I noticed this problem many years ago. I saw out-of-towners getting off at what was to them a random exit on the Interstate (in the city) to get gas and, of course, it was only apparent after they got off that they'd landed smack dab in the middle of a run-down (potentially) dangerous neighborhood. Not a situation you necessarily want to stumble into away from home and with half your belongings in your car.

Revenant said...

There's already a megan's law website that will highlight the sex offenders (complete with their actual crimes) and pinpoint their addresses on the map.

edutcher said...

Reverend Jackson, please call Operation PUSH.

Oh, if this were 20 years ago, Jesse would have a whole new career ahead of him.

prairie wind said...

Yes, Revenant, I know. I'm just poking fun at the intention of Megan's law and the resulting registry they use to punish guys who have done their time...but whom society would still like to keep in the stocks on the village square.

purplepenquin said...

That will also make us parents comfortable sending our children into the homes of people not on the registry...because those people are all completely safe.

On another forum some folks were saying there should be an app of all registered gun owners, so their kids could stay away. Another guy chimed in that it would be a great app for criminals to know which houses to stay away from...and which to target.

prairie wind said...

I want an app that would identify children who have had no exposure to guns at all; the app could xref the Protective Parent db. I would use that app to decide who my kids can be friends with. No sense having kids in our house who are complete idiots about guns.

Scott M said...

No sense having kids in our house who are complete idiots about guns.

Does anyone else remember when you could go into a Wal-Mart or K-Mart and there would be an entire isle of toy guns? If you can find one model now, consider yourself lucky.

prairie wind said...

Airsoft guns! Totally cool, and they look pretty real to me. I have impressed my son with my backyard target-shooting.

Nerf guns are also a big item right now though they don't look real. Required element at all boy gatherings.

Between Airsoft and Nerf, guns might be making a comeback among kids.

Revenant said...

the resulting registry they use to punish guys who have done their time...but whom society would still like to keep in the stocks on the village square

That statement assumes that "they did their time" means "they deserve to be treated like normal citizens again". Neither our law nor our culture has ever agreed with that assumption.

Gene said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Eric Holder seeks an injunction to ban this application as a violation of minority civil rights.

There are just a lot of people in government who don't want essential information to reach the public--such as, for instance, the race of a crime suspect. The city of Berkeley, when I went to school there, once had a guy (informally called "Stinky" because of industrial chemicals on his clothes) who had raped about 50 women (many of them old ladies living alone).

There was such pressure on the police to catch the guy they had wanted posters on every utility pole in the city. Given that he'd raped so many women they had a good description of him too--except, it being Berkeley and all, they couldn't bring themselves to mention his race.

MadisonMan said...

Does anyone else remember when you could go into a Wal-Mart or K-Mart and there would be an entire isle of toy guns?

Right next to the Jarts.

EMD said...

Can urban folks get their own GPS to help them avoid PTA meetings and Libraries?

(hint: this is sarcasm.)

Joe said...

(The Uncredentialed, Crypto Jew)
the resulting registry they use to punish guys who have done their time...but whom society would still like to keep in the stocks on the village square
They have done their time for THAT PARTICULAR crime, but paedophiles have a tremendously high recidivism rate. Now I agree that the “Sex Offender Registry” has been over-used. It SHOULD be for men/womyn who have preyed children, below the age of consent…not just the 17 y.o. having sex with his 15 y.o. SO.

The difference between Fr.’s Geoghan and Shanley and Titus, if you catch my drift….

Tank said...

This will not end well for Microsoft.

EMD said...

On another forum some folks were saying there should be an app of all registered gun owners, so their kids could stay away. Another guy chimed in that it would be a great app for criminals to know which houses to stay away from...and which to target.

I love coming into to work and seeing the proudly displayed gun-free zone stickers on the doors.

It's like a welcome mat to future Virginia Tech shooter wannabes!

(Thankfully, there are a few employees who are only a mad dash to the parking lot away from their own firearms.)

Henry said...

I want to avoid criminals in the tundra. Doesn't everyone?

prairie wind said...

They did their time was meant to imply that they deserve to be treated like normal citizens again under the law.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Can urban folks get their own GPS to help them avoid PTA meetings and Libraries?

(hint: this is sarcasm.)"

You joke! Just wait til we hear about the 'rich neighborhoods' or 'german cars' app the inner city folks develop.

"Between Airsoft and Nerf, guns might be making a comeback among kids."

My son loves the airsoft guns. Unfortunately we are adjacent to an insane asylum filled with people terrified of guns, even airsoft guns. So the battles (eye protection mandatory) have to be carried out up at the elementary school property. My son just turned 16 and over Thanksgiving we were at the Latrobe, PA Army-Navy store. They have a gun range in the basement of the building. He got to shoot his first 40mm and .357 and loved the 50 rounds of each that he shot.

C R Krieger said...

Someone told me about being lost in Camden, NJ, one night and having a police car pull up along side and the officer telling them to follow him and to not stop for any lights or stop signs.  They thus left Camden, to not return.

Regards  —  Cliff

alan markus said...

and the resulting registry they use to punish guys who have done their time.

I'm not sure how it works in every state, by I think here in WI being put on the registry is part of the time to be served. I.e., prison, supervised probation, then a specified number of years on the Registry. Of course, some cases are so severe that the person is put on registry for life - I guess until sex offenders can be sentenced for life, that is going to be the next best thing.

That will also make us parents comfortable sending our children into the homes of people not on the registry...because those people are all completely safe.

Good point - I know some ubermommies who are hypervigilant about their kids not being anywhere near a sex offender, but I am always more concerned about the ones who haven't been caught yet, the ones who fly under the radar. Think of Penn state. Or more locally, we just saw the arrest of a middle school teacher for a sex crime. I think it was on a 7-year old girl 10+ years ago.

holdfast said...

". . . or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures."

So it's the "avoid Canada" app, then.

LarsPorsena said...

"..He got to shoot his first 40mm and .357 and loved the 50 rounds of each that he shot."

Yikes!!! When I was in the Army a 40mm M79 was (and still is) a grenade launcher. There's a grenade launcher range in PA for kids?

prairie wind said...

There's a grenade launcher range in PA for kids?

Hey, PA! Here's a tourism opportunity for you!

holdfast said...

I'm thinking he meant .40 caliber?

Tarkwell Robotico said...

I love Pittsburgh and took my family there to see why I loved it.

The highway into the town was closed and we were exited off into a 'hood that scared the crap out of me. Boarded up everything with Licoln Navigators prowling the streets.

If I was alone, that's one thing, but when I have my little girls in the back - well, I get loony-tunes irrational and wish I could find the comfort and safety of a Cracker Barrel.

If I had this app then, then my wife wouldn't roll her eyes everytime I say, "Pittsburgh is a very cool city".

t-man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t-man said...

High crime neighborhoods and cold weather?

I cannot believe that I'm the first to link this story to yesterday's about kids stealing cars in North Milwaukee to stay warm on their way to school.

You people are falling down on the job.

(some typos fixed)

YoungHegelian said...

When an ex-coworker of mine first moved to DC many years ago (early 80's) he decided to take a long bike ride downtown, and ended up in the neighborhoods east of L'Enfant Plaza.

He was stopped at a traffic light, still pointing east, and a very helpful black man standing on the corner turned to him and said:

"You don't know it yet, white boy, but you are lost."

My co-worker said: "Thank you, sir. Thank you very much!" and turned the bike around to head west.

PatCA said...

Raaacist!!

How soon till Microsoft drops this?

t-man said...

CR Krieger -

I can see most of Camden, NJ, from my office window, which looks east across the Delaware river from Center City, Philadelphia.

My father was born and raised in Camden, and it used to be a really nice little city - home to Campbell's Soup and RCA Victor. It is now possibly the worst little city (if you can still call it a city) in the U.S.A.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I had this idea nearly 10 years ago, but I never thought how to make it practical. Too bad.

My metric was a little different; and though probably not as effective, I still think it's a good indicator: avoid any area with a bail bondsman's office or bench ads or billboards for bail bondsmen. I figure those folks know their trade, and so they only advertise where they have a significant client base.

I think I was in Dallas the first time I saw an actual billboard for a bail bondsman. I made sure not to get off the highway until I was many miles away.

X said...

keep the airsoft on the QT prairie wind. liberals would flip out if they knew about them.

Henry said...

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote My metric was a little different; and though probably not as effective, I still think it's a good indicator: avoid any area with a bail bondsman's office or bench ads or billboards for bail bondsmen. I figure those folks know their trade, and so they only advertise where they have a significant client base.

When we first moved to Pawtucket my wife tried to figure how to give directions from the highway to our house that wouldn't have our friends and relatives driving past the bail bond offices and pawnshops. The highway is the highway. The neighborhood is nice. It's just the in between that looks wrecked.

We got used to it. Now it's part of the experience.

carrie said...

Having innocently taken Chicago Avenue from Oak Park to downtown Chicago because it was the shortest route and having honked at a car in the heart of the worst part of that street that we thought was going to hit us and having the driver of that car think that we had dissed him . . . I will be first in line to get this GPS.

chickenlittle said...

carrie said: I will be first in line to get this GPS.

Supply meets demand.

Scott M said...

@Carrie

Is that the area down around the Science and Industry Museum?

chickenlittle said...

@ScottM: You're right. I don't know St. Louis. I do live in Oceanside CA which has a reputation as crime ridden.

chickenlittle said...

PatCA said...
Raaacist!!

How soon till Microsoft drops this?


You mean until the product gets put on Holder?

Scott M said...

You're right. I don't know St. Louis.

Not a problem. My main point was to suggest that crime statistics can be highly subjective.

EMD said...

The highway into the town was closed and we were exited off into a 'hood that scared the crap out of me. Boarded up everything with Licoln Navigators prowling the streets.

Pittsburgh doesn't have many hoods and they tend to be geographically isolated. Braddock and Swissvale on the east end of town and Homestead to the Southeast.

There's the hill district which is smack in between downtown and where I lived in Oakland/Squirrel Hill.

chickenlittle said...

Not a problem. My main point was to suggest that crime statistics can be highly subjective.

Suppose they're tweaked like the Baltimore statistics in "The Wire." It wouldn't matter--above (or below) a user defined threshold, they'd all be no-go zones.

Scott M said...

Braddock and Swissvale on the east end of town and Homestead to the Southeast.

I see you're using an archaic whitebread usage. It's correctly pronounced East-saieeeed, and Sout'-saieeed. Making shadow puppets with your hands while saying either is optional and potentially hazardous depending on whom you are speaking to at the time.

rcommal said...

On another forum some folks were saying there should be an app of all registered gun owners, so their kids could stay away. Another guy chimed in that it would be a great app for criminals to know which houses to stay away from...and which to target.

Is this not a perfect illustration of the concept of unintended consequences?

carrie said...

Chicago Avenue is the east west road that goes from Oak Park to the downtown Chicago--I think it must be at least 10 miles from Oak Park to down town and most of that 10 miles is impoverished neighborhoods like Humboldt Park and Austin. I will add that after our experience on Chicago Ave we wondered if GPS manufacturers would add a feature like this and concluded that they wouldn't. I am surprised that a manufacturer is doing it.

Michael Haz said...

I wonder if Microsoft is adding this feature in order to avoid future lawsuits brought by GPS users who were injured as a result of being directed through a crime area by a Microsoft GPS.

LordSomber said...

#AVOIDWALLSTREET.

chickenlittle said...

Wall Street is a high crime zone?

garage mahal said...

Wall Street is a high crime zone?

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Revenant said...

The really obnoxious thing here isn't that there is an "avoid ghetto" feature (sounds like a good idea to me), but that Microsoft was allowed to *patent* it.

Patents are the bane of information technology.

Anne B. said...

Scott asked [re Carrie's drive on Chicago Avenue]: ``Is that the area down around the Science and Industry Museum?''

No, it isn't. Science and Industry is way on the South Side, Chicago Avenue is just a little north of the Loop.

The app in question sounds useful, as long as there are ways to update it (when a crummy neighborhood becomes gentrified, or vice versa).

John Burgess said...

US Embassies send people from foreign countries to the US for a period of four-six weeks in the International Visitors Program. The intent is to get people who would likely not have a chance to see the US and who are likely to rise in their professions to important levels, to experience the US for themselves, not settle for second- or third-hand reports spun by whatever media.

The visits usually involve trips to five or six cities scattered across the US. (Not usually including Alaska or Hawaii due to expense.) There, staying in modest hotels or in host-family homes, they meet with people in their fields, the local CofC, local gov't, or whomever else the programmers think useful. They might fly between cities, but are also likely to go by train, bus, or even drive themselves in a rental.

Staying in modest hotels, though great for the taxpayer and representative of the US, can be risky. Come out of the hotel and turn left and you're fine; turn right, though, and you can be where you really don't want to be in the time it takes to walk a block. Getting mugged or killed really turns out to be counter-productive.

This app would be very useful, not only for the visitors themselves, but for those who are choosing which hotels to put them in.

chickenlittle said...

Patents are the bane of information technology.

The trade-off to patent exclusivity is to get new and useful information (know-how) into the public domain (after the term expires). An alternative is trade secrecy. If that's not the case here, then I agree. An interesting aside is when the product lifetime never exceeds the term of the patent. I mean, what's the point of a patent from a public policy POV?

chickenlittle said...

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Do they? I've never seen it happen.

Revenant said...

An alternative is trade secrecy.

That would be a fine alternative, from an innovation standpoint. As things are today, the real innovators have to deal with the constant fear that some patent troll already has the rights to their new invention.

Cedarford said...

The dysfunctions of inner city black neighborhoods cannot be swept under the rug by PC and the usual suspects.
The information is just too important to people's safety and to investors. It is too valuable to "users" to be suppressed.
While there was a time when Government was vulnerable to political pressure to quash "bad areas" info, and the progressive Jewish owners of major legacy media cooperated in suppressing info on black crime and dangerous neighborhoods - the private sector could not leave that valuable info resource alone.

I think the app will be very valuable to foreign tourists, American visitors to places they are unfamiliar with. And the black inner city folk and their PC allies will be absolutely furious to see people armed with GPS maps showing the relevant 'hoods as "red zones" best avoided. Or black leaders and progressive Jews in the media could take the opposite tack and say "how do we clean up this nasty 'hood so it can be de-listed as a "red zone"?? Right now, that appears unlikely.


The side talk about sex pervs flagged on GPS maps by "large danger zones?" Useless side talk, IMO.
There is little value or utility in defining "thousand foot zones" around the home of some gay chickenhawk caught 20 years ago with a 16-year old male prostitute but clean record since, as a "zone" preadolescent boys and girls must avoid as terribly dangerous. Because the chickenhawk is no threat to them. A common gay pederast..not a pedophile.

Not that all chickenhawks are innoculous and without danger to their sexually preferred "smooth young teen boys" - see John Wayne Gacy.

chickenlittle said...

That would be a fine alternative, from an innovation standpoint.

Be careful what you wish for. The history of patent laws in this country and especially others evolved to counter the weight and power of guilds and their trade secrets.

Silkmaking for example was a Chinese trade secret which led to a monopoly situation and which lasted far longer than any patent term.

Just sayin'

Kirk Parker said...

rhhardin,

So you don't think software patents are problematic per se? I sure do; this instance is just Yet Another Reason To Oppose Software Patents.

EMD said...

I see you're using an archaic whitebread usage. It's correctly pronounced East-saieeeed, and Sout'-saieeed. Making shadow puppets with your hands while saying either is optional and potentially hazardous depending on whom you are speaking to at the time.

I lived close enough to Sliberty to know what the hell I'm talking about. I've seen the Stillers play at Heinz Field, and I've shopped at Jynt Iggle, too.

There is a distinct Picksburg dialect to get used to.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go red up the haus.

EMD said...

Not to stray too far off-topic, my favorite bit of Pittsburghese is that addition of "n'at" at the end of sentences.

Like, "We're goin' dahn to the strip to get some pirogis n'at."

It's actually kind of charming.

Revenant said...

Be careful what you wish for. The history of patent laws in this country and especially others evolved to counter the weight and power of guilds and their trade secrets.

We're far past the point where forming a guild with trade secrets is even *possible* without explicit legal support and enforcement of them.

Craig said...

You can include avoiding tranny beatdowns and car-stealing bus-riders as an option.

Oh, the language changes so quickly. Are you talking about automatic transmission thefts or the abuse of chicks with dicks? These vocabulary confusions are part of the reasons I left the city.

chickenlittle said...

We're far past the point where forming a guild with trade secrets is even *possible* without explicit legal support and enforcement of them.

Well that's reassuring. And hopefully--the second time around--it will be more of a farce than a tragedy. :)

Carol_Herman said...

In Manhattan, there's the Westside Highway. Many years ago, there had been an exit off at 125th Street, in Harlem. It became very unsafe for cars to exit! (And, so, the exit was closed. It disappeared.)

Good of Microsoft to identify a feature where it is truly unsafe to travel!

You know, our State Department does this too. Should you have a passport ... and you think you can just go anywhere. There are places where venturing into them is to put your life at risk.

Two hikers discovered this in Iran. They thought they were "just out for a walk."

Carol_Herman said...

I'm glad we have a Second Amendment, too.

Because over in England, cell phones are being used by mobs. Where they suddenly enter IN ... with crowbars. And, the police are unarmed. Havoc prevails.

Here? You can shoot from the roof. It really does have its advantages.

Carol_Herman said...

Oh. If you go to San Francisco, stay out of Oakland.

And, if you're visiting Washington, DC. Stick to the monuments. Though there is a freeway that cuts off the ghetto.

Lem said...

It appears to be a challenge to avoid ghettos.

So.. I'm going to avoid further comment.

Gene said...

Michael Haz: I wonder if Microsoft is adding this feature in order to avoid future lawsuits brought by GPS users who were injured as a result of being directed through a crime area by a Microsoft GPS.

Good insight. I would even take it one step further. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft added this feature precisely because so many people had already sued them over problematic routes.

The Crack Emcee said...

This would've come in handy during the 2008 election,...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Heh. I was just telling a friend of mine about my experience of walking up Turk St. from Market to Van Ness in SF. Short version: Don't do that.

(This was in the halcyon days of Virgin Records; I'd have a concert to review at Davies or Herbst, some time to kill, and I'd go browse the last remaining classical CD department in San Francisco. Of course, it's not there any more, but neither am I.)

wv: jejotran. I would so like for that to mean something.

write_effort said...

Oh. If you go to San Francisco, stay out of Oakland.
1. there is a bridge--a very long bridge--between them so you can't really wander into Oakland from SF.
2. if you know where to go, Oakland is fantastic.

Revenant said...

Well that's reassuring. And hopefully--the second time around--it will be more of a farce than a tragedy.

Well, how would such a guild work?

How, for example, would you go about turning the ability to work in engineering (pick any sub-field you like) into secret knowledge?

It is easy to form a guild when the population consists largely of illiterate farmers and there are no books covering your field anyway. It is not so easy when everything worth knowing about your field is in the public domain to begin with.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Section 8 will complicate this in suburban area and small towns.

EMD said...

Wall Street is a high crime zone?

Does a bear shit in the woods?


Thank goodness we have the Obama DOJ on the job, prosecuting those white collar Goldman Sachs bastards to the fullest!

chickenlittle said...

How, for example, would you go about turning the ability to work in engineering (pick any sub-field you like) into secret knowledge?

Process chemistry for example. Or better-molecular biology. When all you have to reverse engineer from is a finished product which gives little to no clue how it was made, especially if it is done in a commercially feasible manner.

I'm guessing here, but I image that in the field of nanotech engineering there are myriad possibilities for making new compositions of matter which would make someone of skill in the art say or think "how the fuck did they do that?" A patent disclosure discloses that; a trade secret hides that-indefinitely in theory.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsYhW_XTWgo&feature=related

Good God Gram hurt Keith.

I never knew it, but can see why, after decades, the knowledge of how to win friends and influence people, detailed in Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People, is proven time and time again.

Time tough in Wisconsin nowadays.

Time Tough.

Revenant said...

Process chemistry for example. Or better-molecular biology. When all you have to reverse engineer from is a finished product which gives little to no clue how it was made, especially if it is done in a commercially feasible manner.

But you don't need to "reverse engineer" anything to know how to work as a chemist or molecular biologist.

If you mean you need to reverse engineer the process to know how a given team of chemists or biologists produced something then, well, duh. But good luck keep that a secret either -- over the years (if not decades) during which a new drug or organism is developed and tested, scientists and engineers will be filtering on and off the project, arriving from your competitors and departing to them. Not to mention the fact that you're going to have to tell people how to repeat the process unless you plan to assign your R&D staff to work in the factory, too.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

link a Bluish Buckley named Gram and think about it.

Report back to those whom you wish to report back to, as I shall do the same.

unless it's fucking Paris.

wv: paries "is that other than fucking Paris, because if it is okay, but if not, then you shall rue the day sir."

glenn said...

Problem being if you live in a "multicultural community" the thugs will come to you. They know where the money is. We are having muggings in the best upscale shopping center and the "nicest" neighborhoods in our city. Our local paper has a code for the perps. "The mugger wasn't described in detail"

Bruce Hayden said...

The patent problem right now is that companies like Microsoft just paid $100 million or so to buy legislation designed to weaken the patent system, the Leahy-Smith "America (Dis)Invents Act". (And, Congress, or at least Rep. Smith) has shown itself interested in doing the same for the record/movie companies with SOPA).

Partly, this is the movement from First-to-Invent to First-to-File (potentially, irregardless of inventorship). And, partly, it is the addition of additional methods of invalidating patents.

Microsoft has always seemed to have a love-hate relation with patents. Even two decades ago, they seemed to be avoiding them with a passion. At a time when Motorola, with maybe 1/3 the sales had over 100 patent attorneys, Microsoft had maybe a half dozen, and they all seemed quite young and inexperienced.

This meant that they ended up spending many millions of dollars to better protected companies, most notably I suspect, IBM. So, a big push for patents.

But, in keeping with their lack of trust in patent protection, it seems like they have never been willing to spend what it takes to get quality patents. What they apparently have done is to lure away a lot of solo practitioners from firms they had been using, and set them up in a virtual law firm.

Unfortunately, the result of that approach is that much of their patent portfolio is not all that strong, from a quality point of view. This patent can be faulted on a number of technical grounds. It isn't badly written, just very mediocre, with indicia that those drafting it were not highly experienced. That said, it discloses a remarkable amount of prior art, in the form of patents, patent applications, and articles.

Bruce Hayden said...

With the enactment of the Orwellian named "America Invents Act", patent attorneys are starting to advise clients to rethink trade secret protection. It is pretty much all many of them are going to have left. The high-tech VC firms are starting to wake up to the problem - that there is much less likely going to be strong patents that they can depend on when raising VC money. Unfortunately, this realization has come much too late, after companies like Microsoft, and notably again, IBM, pushed through the legislation to make themselves much less vulnerable to attack for infringing patents of small companies and the like.

There are a lot of problems with trade secret protection. One is that it is very easy to run the statute of limitations. Most states have adopted the UTSA (Uniform Trade Secret Act), with its 2 year SoL, which means that you had better file suit within two years of when you knew of the misappropriation, or should have known. This later can be quite treacherous. And, in most states, TS misappropriation is considered a single ongoing tort, which means that you often have to go back to the first act of misappropriation, even if you didn't know about it.

Another problem is that once a trade secret is reasonably well known, or, more probably accurately, at the point where the TS owner can no longer claim that the disseminator of his TS knew that it was such, the TS owner loses his remedies. Sure, he can sue the original misappropriator, but most likely not those who find the information on the Internet. And, if the original misappropriator doesn't have deep pockets, he is SOL, and if he does, then expect to spend millions in litigation (just helped write an Amicus brief in a case where the defendant did spend that amount in their defense).

My view is that in an Internet era, patents were a much more certain method of protecting innovation than are trade secrets, at least in products that can reverse engineered, or where the innovative functionality is apparent from the product. Which is much of at least information technology - like that disclosed in the cited patent.

Unfortunately, in legislation that Nancy Pelosi hilariously claimed would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, the ability to protect innovation with patents has been severely eroded.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that I was involved a bit in lobbying against the A(D)IA. The hearings were stacked by the two committee chairs (Leahy and Smith) entirely in favor of their legislation. And, at one point last year, there were estimated to be more people in D.C. lobbying for the legislation, than there are members of Congress.

So, we have a new project of trying to help patent attorneys and the like learn to live with the new legislation, and most importantly, how to advise clients to adapt to it. It is a daunting task, esp. with many of them only waking up to the reality of the changed environment just now, months after enactment (and despite the fact that the primary professional organizations representing patent attorneys backed the legislation).

Ambrose said...

"Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

madAsHell said...

40mm

At an indoor range??....and you lived to tell about it?

Tarkwell Robotico said...

EMD,

for the record, it was Swissvale. My business took me to Duquesne which is basically Homestead and that is a scary place.

Still, for anyone who has never been:

Pittsburgh rocks.

(but as Canadian, I would add some bad neighbourhoods to EMD's list, like, I think its called, Lawrenceville?)

ken in sc said...

Nobody knows how many guns I have. Although you have to sign to buy a gun at Walmart, no one knows how many guns I brought when I moved here. Also they don't know about my stupid son who threw some of my guns into the woods when his campsite was surrounded by deputies. I still miss those guns. My daddy gave me a gun that he brought back from Japan. It looks like a piece of crap but it will shoot the hell out of an engine block. I have shot down trees with it.

Kirk Parker said...

Ken,

You might (might!) have lots of guns, but your aim sure sucks.

Gary Rosen said...

"you can't really wander into Oakland from SF."

You can't really wander to anywhere from SF except Daly City and Brisbane.

Scott M said...

40mm

At an indoor range??....and you lived to tell about it?


Surely he meant caliber. Isn't the 40mm the old Vietnam-era "thumper"?