CIA sues Apple

Patents fascinate me. I even attempted to write one once and gave up because
they are an art form. It's not enough to simply say my widget does this, it does
this thing so much better than the other things out there and here are the plans. A good patent will cover every possibility or eventual function of the widget in question. It will say just enough and be a little ambiguous and contain phrases like "I can imagine it could also be used for" which will leave enough wiggle to cover future tech advances to be covered. When you consider that to patent a 4 legged chair would take about 14 pages of verbal description plus drawings and searches for prior art you can see why Patent Lawyers get paid so well.

Consider the paper clip has had multiple iterations and patents simply because the Lawyers who drew up the first two patents simply were not smart enough. This left the original inventor of the paper clip high and dry.    

When I saw Apple was sued again and this time over "Facetime" and they lost my curiosity was piqued. Facetime is basically Apples version of video conferencing (or Skype to you PC guys).
It's been around for awhile and as long as the other user has an Apple product you can call them over WiFi.
So I started digging and it turns out that some company I had never heard of, VirnetX, holds a few patents and the gist of them state that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but in digital bits and bytes. Well apparently someone at the patent office thought this was just @#$"D brilliant and awarded them a patent or three. So what this means is everyone now has to pay these jackasses or they have to make an extra hop between the connections.
I took a cursory glance through their latest patent and see little to no details as to how they would implement this tech. I see a lot of techno babble wrapped up in lawyer babble but no real meat.
It's kind of like saying I want to patent my toilet that doesn't use water. Well how does it work? If you can't describe it so that a competent person in the relevant field can duplicate it then you don't have an invention you have a $%^$$ idea. The shortest distance between two points notion has been around for a while. Sure you can say in the digital world it requires a VPN to make it happen but this is not new tech. Sure they mention some rubbish about encrypting the calls (this is the the I can imagine part). They even mention some more rubbish about generating extra bits and bytes to confuse the casual eves dropper.

But whilst I was looking through patent # 7,490,151
I saw this;


This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. 360000-1999-000000-QC-000-000 awarded by the Central Intelligence Agency. The Government has certain rights in the invention."

So let me get this straight. The CIA pays these guys to write up some rubbish which will force Apple, MS etc to setup a datacenter for the strict purpose of routing all calls to a central location on their dime. If they do not comply then they will be forced to pay some third party jackasses. Said third party jackasses form a company based on all these lucrative contracts the CIA are handing them. Float the whole company on the stock exchange which gives them the means to hire more lawyers with the express purpose of suing companies who actually produce something.  

But just in case I am not making a clear enough case here:

Dr. Victor Larson, Vice President of Research and Development
Dr. Larson is the Director of Research and Development and a co-inventor of the VirnetX technologies. Prior to joining VirnetX, Dr. Larson worked for over 20 years doing system engineering, software design and technical program management under contract to many branches of the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Dr. Larson worked on numerous advanced prototypes to implement new solutions to secure communications, remote sensing data extraction and processing, intelligence information extraction and data visualization. Dr. Larson holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology from George Mason University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

The guy above works for the govt all his life. The govt pays for his education and he walks with a pension and a couple of fat contracts under his arm. At what point do any of these patents belong to him? Whether he developed them whilst working as a contractor or employee the intellectual property is not his in the real world. Only in public service is this the norm.

Is the whole purpose of this company to force all calls video or otherwise to be routed to a few easily monitored central locations?

1 comment:

Warren James said...

My brother recently remarked, 'the trouble with conspiracy theory is it assumes people are intelligent with the capacity to act strategically on their plans' ;p

The world of patents is a mess -> who really 'owns' an idea anyway? New Zealand has recently taken a step forward in this regard to pass legislation banning software patents, a great move. Losing faith in Australia - the best we can pull together is political smear campaigns and karaoke acts.

I think all government-identified technology should automatically become public domain. Big corporations have a similar clause where all employee inventions (on company time) get transferred automatically to the company.