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HDD Giants Sued Over Patent Violations

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November 18, 2010 1:45:45 AM

wow is it me or do people just have remembered their ideas being used for free and that they can file a lawsuit?

how many lawsuits have you read about this month?
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November 18, 2010 2:02:31 AM

More than anyone cares to count....

New Slogan: "The US Patent System.... Why turn a legit profit, when you can sue over a patent instead?"
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November 18, 2010 2:17:04 AM

wow, talk about one mans loss turning into someone else's profit
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Anonymous
November 18, 2010 2:22:54 AM

What a disgrace; granted people should be recognised for their ideas, but suing companies shows greed more than anything.
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November 18, 2010 2:23:00 AM

It sounds as if the end user is about to get a price increase :( .Better go buy some drives before the ruling :) .
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November 18, 2010 2:23:30 AM

The patent system is ridiculous along with copyright laws by standards shown to the public in the 1990's with emerging computer technologies to consumers on an unparalleled level. Yes, both laws need to be revised and "modernized" without being as heavily unrealistic as they are now. Rambus is a perfect example of abusing patents when 90% of its money comes from licensing fees from hundreds of patents. How a business can exist and produce next to nothing for the industry and world in general, is beyond me. Same goes with the Big Four whom control almost all of this nations entertainment. Raping artists of their content while with record ticket sales in theaters blaming pirates for a crappy movie not selling.
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November 18, 2010 2:29:44 AM

See, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it!

Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.
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November 18, 2010 2:45:15 AM

First Software...now Hardware.

Good job America, you just let other countries look smarter...
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November 18, 2010 2:50:47 AM

As long as SSDs get cheaper, I don't care who gets sued. Just don't let it be me.
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November 18, 2010 2:58:44 AM

AMD_pitbullSee, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it! Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.


Don't be sorry. You're right!! [This guy really had it] > YUP!
He's not in the wrong. These are the kinds of very legitimate things the USPTO is designed to function for. It's very simple: Big company takes advantage of a development by a little guy, and little guy does not have resources to combat it, so big company wins. This is not the first time.

The only counter to this is of there is some sort of R&D covenant between this garage developer and the corporate body.


Examples like "Superdude777" are good ones of perpetuating ignorance. The company is liable to this guy. That's why it's a PATENT instead of a TRADE SECRET.
It would be more accurate for SuperDUD to make an argement against a company like RAMBUS over their lawsuit activity over the last 20 or so years.

The other people in here are speaking the consumer language based on the predictable outcome of higher prices and how a lawsuit will affect them. I hate the idea of paying the additional licensing fee as well, although it does not make it "right".

If the conditions of this article are true, this *inventor* is legally owed 20 years worth of a cut on whatever he invented (assuming a granted licensee to use the patent). It was new, it was novel, it was not a naturally occurring "thing". It is a machine (and possibly a process), both of which can be patented. He was issued a patent, and there is no known prior art. Period.
I'm no lawyer, just have a small amount of engineering law background...
I believe, for these corporations, the patent is valid for 20 years (terminating in 2017). I guess it was a gamble on whether or not this would continue undiscovered for the duration of the patent, not counting on things like terminal disclaimers, possible extensions, etc.
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November 18, 2010 3:03:55 AM

dogman_1234First Software...now Hardware.Good job America, you just let other countries look smarter...


You got it backwards. Very....backwards...
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November 18, 2010 3:09:43 AM

If nobody ever copied eachother then the secret to making fire would have died with the caveman that discovered it. Get over yourselves people, without copying society would get nowhere.
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November 18, 2010 3:11:10 AM

Seems to be a lot of people in here who will defend a corporation, in the wrong, because it will probably negatively affect purchasing prices.
This guy is owed compensation.

Lets throw this guy under the bus people! Right?
If you were granted a patent and had a legal right to defend it, what would you do if it were violated?
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November 18, 2010 3:32:04 AM

AMD_pitbullSee, this is what bothers me: All these comments attack someone who made a patten, yet was too poor to act when he got used and abused by these big companies. Insted of thinking "wow, these guys are dicks for not paying him anything for his idea while they profited HUGE off them" they think "wow, he's an dick for wanting money for his idea". This isn't like the recent Smartphone BS that a company patented something then sued anyone with it, this guy already had it! Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.



It's called "Herd mentality". Don't get bothered, most americans don't "think" in the strict meaning of the word. They just "follow".
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November 18, 2010 4:16:42 AM

Rembrandt again, I remember they for video patent and now with this HDD patent, I guess companies have to be very careful with applying their idea that already been taken.
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November 18, 2010 4:48:40 AM

After reading the title, I immediately thought of the words patent troll.
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November 18, 2010 4:54:20 AM

The probel i have always seem to come across in such issues is the lack of places to be able to file a patent without huge costs involved given all the places that could be sued cause of it. I can understand wanting to check to see if something has already been made and patented to search for things need, cause its cost and time saver, as i think is a good purpose for it, cause why worry about more then you need to terms of making and keeping a business going?

It also put more of a burden onto consumers givent the companies gain more reasoning for control of product releases and cancelling. Which is wrong, also in terms of investors, and the market, it isnt so good, given that the prices are then raised to offset expenses to gain revnue in investments. And limiting jobs in the process and investment choices until a new product can be made or a deal on any settlements.

Cause in terms of say on things investors and companies usually get the most go, given consumers just buy the products or use them. Also given, on the side of bigger companies, patents are usually filed yrs ahead of time as well, but given times of these measures usually miss some part of use and loss to it as well. Given the times at all times really, increases patents to be filed.

Either way of such, alot dont matter in the end cause they still release products to sale to consumers for whatever reason to fit the needs or prior products.

Also in terms of of things put limitation of things due to the legal reasons of means to use such devices and hardware given patents, especially ones in patent but that arent even made yet. Which is crap cause once the money is there its gone and further debt is applied to whatever part of a company or persons and no gain out of any further developments given the rights of patents are also all over the place.

I think its more patent applicants need to do alot more as with the companies as well. Just getting there to do so is as much of a problem as either making the product or getting the filing of patent be used as intended for.

Lawsuits do affect consumers more then probably should, cause i know as one being a consumer, in terms of being able to find ways to consume has been a trick of trades within its self.
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November 18, 2010 5:16:29 AM

I am on the side of the small guy in this one, unlike the recent farce covering my favorite operating system!
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Anonymous
November 18, 2010 5:19:20 AM

So the question is did he invent it or come up with a concept and the HDD makers come up with the concept on their own. The problem I see with the US patent system is that if someone comes up with an idea that they can never possibly use they can ransom companies to pay for it even though the companies developed it completely independently of the original 'inventor'. If it is such a clever idea that no-one else could come up with then by all means sell your idea to the relevant company. If you don't have the means to make the idea a reality and don't try to provide it to those that can, you should loose your right to it. Otherwise patent trolls will forever prosper at the cost of the consumer and the general economy.
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November 18, 2010 6:04:30 AM

sykozis said:
More than anyone cares to count....

New Slogan: "The US Patent System.... Why turn a legit profit, when you can sue over a patent instead?"


Sounds better for one of the greedy patent lawyers out there.
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November 18, 2010 6:19:04 AM

AMD_pitbull said:

Honestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.


I guess the REAL missing data here is:

1. ARE they actually the same tech?
2. WHO really had the tech first?
3. WERE they completely and independently developed without knowledge of the other? (IF So, I feel no back royalties should be mandated from before the determination is made.)


I'm all for the little guy NOT getting screwed out of his inventions.

I'm NOT for ANYBODY screwing everyone else over because they:

a. Are afraid old-tech/product being released for all to use freely will unravel their new tech secrets. (#1 excuse when it comes to software IP)
b. Are just plain greedy (i.e. SCO and their Linux suit, RIAA, MPAA, BSA)
c. Are control freaks. (i.e. Microsoft, Apple, RIAA, MPAA, BSA)
d. any combination, including all of, the above.

Other than that, the system DOES need an overhaul, even if this guy is in the right.
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November 18, 2010 6:30:04 AM

spectrewind said:

If the conditions of this article are true, this *inventor* is legally owed 20 years worth of a cut on whatever he invented (assuming a granted licensee to use the patent). It was new, it was novel, it was not a naturally occurring "thing". It is a machine (and possibly a process), both of which can be patented. He was issued a patent, and there is no known prior art. Period.
I'm no lawyer, just have a small amount of engineering law background...
I believe, for these corporations, the patent is valid for 20 years (terminating in 2017). I guess it was a gamble on whether or not this would continue undiscovered for the duration of the patent, not counting on things like terminal disclaimers, possible extensions, etc.


'97, when the patent was applied for to '10 is 13 years, not 20. This isn't 2017.

The "No Known Prior Art" is not given to us at this time. There may have been, and overlooked by an uneducated approval stamper. Wouldn't be the first time. Then again, He could legitimately be the first. The remaining questions are:

* Are the two techs really the same?
* Were they developed in a vacuum, neither party aware of the other's work, but came to the same answer/design until sometime later? (Time of suit or before?)
* Is there really any prior art, or just an uneducated, overworked, approval stamper?

All questions we don't have the answers to, at least yet.
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November 18, 2010 7:20:08 AM

The only thing driving innovation and faster technology that all the above people crave is these patents. They are fools to think otherwise.
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November 18, 2010 8:14:21 AM

Well, at least it wasn't Rambus again...
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November 18, 2010 9:12:29 AM

bison88The patent system is ridiculous along with copyright laws by standards shown to the public in the 1990's with emerging computer technologies to consumers on an unparalleled level. Yes, both laws need to be revised and "modernized" without being as heavily unrealistic as they are now. Rambus is a perfect example of abusing patents when 90% of its money comes from licensing fees from hundreds of patents. How a business can exist and produce next to nothing for the industry and world in general, is beyond me. Same goes with the Big Four whom control almost all of this nations entertainment. Raping artists of their content while with record ticket sales in theaters blaming pirates for a crappy movie not selling.


correct me if im wrong, but they bought up the inventers pattent right?

legal fees cost somewhere along the lines of 30 grand a week depending on the court or the lawyer. im assuming that he had NO WAY IN HELL of paying that much, even if the case was a slam dunk. so he sold it to someone who did. that company may not make something themselves, but they hold the rights to inventions and may be the only way the original inventor can ever get some form of justice.

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November 18, 2010 9:53:05 AM

spectrewindSeems to be a lot of people in here who will defend a corporation, in the wrong, because it will probably negatively affect purchasing prices.This guy is owed compensation.Lets throw this guy under the bus people! Right?If you were granted a patent and had a legal right to defend it, what would you do if it were violated?


My issue is the fact that the patents are 13 years old....and the guy sold them. I don't believe a company should be able to purchase someone else's patent and then use them for financial gain. The party filing the suit, had no interest in these patents until they learned they could make a profit off the patents. Also, the original patent owner had the means to take legal action as most law firms, IF you have a realistic case, will defer payment until after the suit is settled. Also, my city provides lawyers specifically for matters such as this (which you don't have to pay unless you actually win)....I find it hard to believe my broke ass city can provide this service but no other city does...
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November 18, 2010 11:41:38 AM

My problem is whats the chances that seagate and WD actually went and developed this as well with their own R&D. If they could prove they did and the guy took over 10 years to say something about it does he really have a case? I mean people can say what they want but I highly doubt 2 major companies with R&D that they have wouldn't of come up with this after x amount of time on their own..
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November 18, 2010 11:54:57 AM

I think everyone's main gripe about the patent system is the wordage. He filed a patent that “cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads”. Cover, low-noise, thin, read/write? I mean, if somebody filed a patent that "covered high-resolution, big screen, multimedia/music player", would all the TV corporations have to shell out the money because he wrote it first. Can I file a patent that "covers flying cars, with the ability to levitate, either by aerodynamic manipulation or otherwise," and sue 15 years from now when someone takes the time to DESIGN it and MANUFACTURE it?
Did this guy actually design anything? Or did he have a pencil drawing of a stick and wrote "low-noise read/write device" above it? This is where the patent system is fundamentally flawed. Yes, we want to protect your ideas and inventions, NO, we do not want to give you a ticking money bomb while waiting for someone with ambition and the means necessary to take up a similar idea that sounds just like yours.
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November 18, 2010 12:15:07 PM

Seems to me like the first patent suit I've seen recently that sounds like it has merit. Some individual invented something and a couple big companies blatantly stole the invention and sold it? That's exactly what the patent system is supposed to protect against.

Reminds me of the time someone broke into my house and stole my television and sold it to a pawn shop... If everything really is as it sounds someone at seagate and WD should be going to jail in my opinion.

I've got barracuda's in my rig right now but if the allegations here are true, I sure hope the offenders have to pay dearly.
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November 18, 2010 1:46:51 PM

jomofro39I think everyone's main gripe about the patent system is the wordage. He filed a patent that “cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads”. Cover, low-noise, thin, read/write? I mean, if somebody filed a patent that "covered high-resolution, big screen, multimedia/music player", would all the TV corporations have to shell out the money because he wrote it first. Can I file a patent that "covers flying cars, with the ability to levitate, either by aerodynamic manipulation or otherwise," and sue 15 years from now when someone takes the time to DESIGN it and MANUFACTURE it? Did this guy actually design anything? Or did he have a pencil drawing of a stick and wrote "low-noise read/write device" above it? This is where the patent system is fundamentally flawed. Yes, we want to protect your ideas and inventions, NO, we do not want to give you a ticking money bomb while waiting for someone with ambition and the means necessary to take up a similar idea that sounds just like yours.


Dude, for the X-hundreth time, “cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads” is probably the TITLE of the Patent and NOT the claims! It is the claims that confer the monopoly!!!!

To obtain the claims there must be enough description to enable a person skilled in the art to reproduce the claimed invention; thus your comment as to

"have a pencil drawing of a stick and wrote "low-noise read/write device" above it"

is probably ill-placed here. No Examiner, even overloaded with work, would allow a claim based on such description...
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Anonymous
November 18, 2010 2:30:21 PM

@dirty_luge and the others that said what if WD and seagate had developed the tech independently and not just poached his ideas, it's very simple, show them the proof, you are required to provide your method for solving a mathematical problem, complex problems can not simply be solved, they need to be worked through.

If indeed WD and seagate did develop this tech on their own (why the hell did they not patent it and ensure the other company does not have access to it....) they should have the documented IP that shows how the solution was derived, even eureka moments need to be fleshed out with real numbers sooner or later

@jomofro39
this is not a software patent, he did not patent the idea of 'low noise toroidal thin film read/write head', for this patent to have been validated he would have to show proof of concept, and by proof of concept it would have to show method for achieving low noise, and yes it could be a stick drawing if there was enough engineering/scientific background to fill in the blanks, if you spent a bit of time looking up the patent you can see it's pretty exhaustive

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=VzUGAAAAEBAJ&dq=...

most hardware/chemical patents are, it's just the damn software stuff that kills the system....
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November 18, 2010 7:28:36 PM

"Rembrandt markets itself as a company that helps independent inventors "commercialize their intellectual property in a way that would never have been possible if they acted alone." Yet you can bet this development will provide more ammunition for critics of the American patent system."

sorry not every one is linus torvald and is a good little member of the communist party line commrade mossesgeld. the best things in life aren't free even franklin, edison and bell patented their stuff and AFTER they made their money on it they let it be widely used with out alot of restriction. the guy that invented this hasn't been paid a dime by the biggest names in the business that are profiting from it, i see no reason why he shouldn't get his share as long as they are getting theirs.

or maybe Tom editors won't mind their advertisors copying the site and posting it on their own sites with out compensating your owners who use that $ to pay your wage as you think every one should work for free.
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November 18, 2010 9:24:07 PM

jomofro39I think everyone's main gripe about the patent system is the wordage. He filed a patent that “cover low-noise toroidal thin film read/write heads”. Cover, low-noise, thin, read/write? I mean, if somebody filed a patent that "covered high-resolution, big screen, multimedia/music player", would all the TV corporations have to shell out the money because he wrote it first. Can I file a patent that "covers flying cars, with the ability to levitate, either by aerodynamic manipulation or otherwise," and sue 15 years from now when someone takes the time to DESIGN it and MANUFACTURE it? Did this guy actually design anything? Or did he have a pencil drawing of a stick and wrote "low-noise read/write device" above it? This is where the patent system is fundamentally flawed. Yes, we want to protect your ideas and inventions, NO, we do not want to give you a ticking money bomb while waiting for someone with ambition and the means necessary to take up a similar idea that sounds just like yours.


Western Digital and Seagate are being sued over a "Proof of Concept" patent....which makes it easier for the "inventor" to win, even though he didn't actually invent anything. Western Digital and Seagate will have to try to get this BS "Proof of Concept" patent invalidated.

"Proof of Concept" Patents are the biggest barrier to innovation. It shouldn't matter who had the idea first...it should matter who managed to actually develop it first.
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November 18, 2010 11:08:01 PM

AMD_pitbullHonestly, tell me what I'm missing, cuz, I really don't see this guy in the wrong at all. I see Seagate and WD. Sorry, but, that would be like you going out infringing on a crap load of ideas, then bitching about getting sued when you knew they were already protected.

he sold his invention to a patent troll company.
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November 18, 2010 11:32:49 PM

I suspect that opinions are like bowel movements - we all have them, sometimes several times a day. Here's my opinion.

Part of the problem with the patent system (not just US, but overall) is that now, the inventions are pouring in at an unprecedented rate. There are too many out there, and searching if what you're patenting has already been patented, but under a description that is very different is really tough. That could be a part of the problem.

Someone asked, if WD and Seagate invented this independently, why didn't they patent it? Well, maybe they have applied for a patent and it hasn't been granted yet (as in "Patent Pending"). Or maybe they read all of the patents submitted, looking to steal someone else's ideas. Perhaps their R&D team did develop the tech independently and the legal team failed in their patent research. I don't think we forum crawlers have enough info yet, which ticks me off. I mean, I just want to grab a torch and pitchfork and march out yelling, "Hang them. Hang them high!"

Yes, I think the system needs to be reevaluated. Unfortunately, all the lawyers are too busy suing over patents.
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November 19, 2010 1:24:36 AM

Good article, thoughtful commentary, spell check needs to be run on the article though. :) 
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November 19, 2010 12:51:32 PM

Let me get this straight: someone came up with an idea and patented it in 1997. Someone else used "his" idea, so he sold his rights to a Patent Troll.

What is the purpose of patents? Last time I looked, it was "To promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." How is that purpose fulfilled here?

Had he actually "invented" something, or had made his case a decade ago, I would be more disposed to take this claim seriously, but the Patent Trolls are not "inventors", and in any case, it's too late; the horse is well and truly out of the barn.
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November 19, 2010 12:53:16 PM

Let me get this straight: someone came up with an idea and patented it in 1997. Someone else used "his" idea, so he sold his rights to a Patent Troll. Thirteen years after the patent was filed, the Trolls want their pound of flesh. Is that a fair summary?

What is the purpose of patents? Last time I looked, it was "To promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." How is that purpose fulfilled here?

Had he actually "invented" something, or had made his case a decade ago, I would be more disposed to take this claim seriously, but the Patent Trolls are not "inventors", and in any case, it's too late; the horse is well and truly out of the barn.
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Anonymous
November 19, 2010 4:36:06 PM

@sykozis

the reason why a patent is granted for 20 years is because this gives the applicant plenty of time to attempt to move from proof of concept to realized product, as an individual it is extremely difficult to move from proof of concept to prototype, even simply ideas can cost up to 100k just to reach prototyping stage, no one should be penalized just because they do not have the resources to capitalize on their idea, if that were the cases then the mega corps would rule the world, If he was unable to capitalize on his idea he can seek someone who can, i dont think this guy was preventing innovation or progress, in fact being a small fry, he was probably more then happy to license out his tech to be used and further developed, just pay him his dues
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November 20, 2010 4:39:09 PM

payHimHisDues@sykozisthe reason why a patent is granted for 20 years is because this gives the applicant plenty of time to attempt to move from proof of concept to realized product, as an individual it is extremely difficult to move from proof of concept to prototype, even simply ideas can cost up to 100k just to reach prototyping stage, no one should be penalized just because they do not have the resources to capitalize on their idea, if that were the cases then the mega corps would rule the world, If he was unable to capitalize on his idea he can seek someone who can, i dont think this guy was preventing innovation or progress, in fact being a small fry, he was probably more then happy to license out his tech to be used and further developed, just pay him his dues


He's had 13 years to contact Western Digital and Seagate about the issue. Also, how many patents would developing his "idea" actually violate in the process? How many patents did HE violate within his own? Chances are, his patent will get invalidated.....
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November 21, 2010 5:05:26 PM

The only thing stupid about US Patents is that about anybody can file for one no mater how stupid it is. The fact that a patent was good enough for two companies to use it and being able to ask them to pay for the intellectual property they use is not stupid.
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