Friday, July 27, 2012

Richardson granted patent for dependent encryption keys

Today I was informed of yet another patent granted by the USPTO. The patent has to do with a series of dependant encryption keys with the ability to use one key to decrypt a whole series of encrypted packages each with different keys.

At the time I thought it was a really interesting approach with applications in areas where a series of products purchased by a customer could be unlocked with one master key (the latest key) if the results of each unlock were used to unlock the previous product.

Congratulations to Sean Burdick at Uniloc for working the many years to get this through the examination process.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Software patents - a reasoned perspective?

Most software developers understand and embrace the idea of copyright. They like the idea that when they write something in code, that it is their property. Whether paid for by their boss or owned themselves.

Next they love the fact that if they give that code away for the common good, for example to an open source project, then they have done something of significance. But again, their work can not be abused because they have handed the copyright to the open project and who ever uses that code must contribute to the code and give the project recognition... why?

Because of copyright.

Copyright is protection law. It stops people from just taking other peoples work and using it for their own gain.

Some people don't care. They are happy to give away their code. Fine. But in the business world, businessmen do care. Making software costs money. Frequently it involves investors who want a return on their investment.

Companies want to own code thats important to them. Some code they strategically like to share but very few of the worlds big successes are based on giving away their work.

Now to patents.

Many people think of software patents as being simple and irellevant nonesense claiming ownership of ideas that are so obvious no one should get a patent for them... right?

Simple like a mouse trap... that simple right? Or a light globe... they've been around for over a century.. a vacuum and an element, simple right? Most things we use today have been patented in the past and the person who invented them got a chance to make money out of the idea, but eventually the patent protection expires and the idea becomes free for everyone to use...

If the value of a patent was its complexity, none of the major patents of our time would have been granted including Light globes. Patents are granted on their NOVELTY ie the newness and orginality of the idea at the time it was invented... NOT ten or TWENTY years after the fact when how it works is common knowledge.

I have experienced this first hand. When I first showed the Uniloc Try and Buy system to the General Manager of Word Perfect in Australia, he thought I was faking it... he just couldn't believe that the software could uniquely identify each computer as different.. he just couldn't get his head around it... but today the idea is used pretty much throughout the industry.

The fact is that patents protect methods of doing something or systems that do something... As more problems are solved in software rather than by physical machines it's totally appropriate that the method is protected independent of whether the solution is done in software or mechanically..

The pace at which software is developed is vastly increased over mechanical methods and the reuse of code/ sharing of code makes the area more complicated to navigate than a traditional manufacturing situation.. but to hamstring a great new way of doing something, because it happens to run on a computer is incredibly short sighted.

One last word.

Many people on twitter over the last few days have waxed on poetic about an inventors responsibility to build what they invent and patent. Speaking for myself, I like to get the thing working to prove it to myself and to everyone else involved in the project, but to say that I MUST TAKE THE THING TO MARKET is unreasonable. If a designer for Ford comes up with a great new body shape for a car, his job is only to do the clay model... not produce the car.

In fact most designers are terrible at engineering. Their strengths are in the wrong place.

Similarly, I am an inventor. Not an entreprenuer. Not a startup company CEO... an inventor. I invent things... then pass them on to others.

To do this I conceive of a new idea, I file a provisional patent if it's good enough, then I do a prototype for it and then go public with the invention to see if people like it or not... if they dont then it's back to the drawing board. If they do I try to work out how it should be commercialized and find the best person I can to pass the project on to.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mojang reaction incredibly strong

Pheww. The reaction to the Mojang story is just going through the roof. over 8,000 visitors just to my site. Its amazing to see so many people loyal to this game maker. Good on him.

But guys please be fair.
1. I am not the inventor of the patent in question.
2. The personal attacks are a bit much don't you think?
3. Patents are there to stop people stealing a technology you invented and letting you have a fair shot at making a living from it. If Uniloc wants to test this in court it is there prerogative, the same way that Mojang contested the use of the copyright term "Scrolls" and took people to court.

4. What's good for the goose is good for the gander right?

If it's all so wrong then let the court decide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In defense of patents

You come up with a great idea.
You want to see hundreds, thousands  or maybe millions of people use it.
But the people you compete with have many more resources than you.
You dont have millions of dollars or thousands of smart people to help you.

In a perfect world you start making something and put a disclaimer on the front of each product "I am the inventor of this product. Please feel free to use it but please do not copy it and produce it yourself."

Unfortunately that doesn't work.

This is why governments step in and try to protect inventors of great ideas by 1. Make sure no one else has done the thing before and 2. Give the inventor a fair amount of time (20 years) to make a living from his thing before allowing everyone to use the idea as they see fit. Oh yes. The ideas is free to use... in 20 years.

So why isn't everything patented?

Because patenting is expensive and complicated.
You have to prove that no one else has done your thing before.
You have to clearly define how your invention works.
And it has to be valuable enough for some one to want to buy (for at least the cost of you going through the arduous patent process)

In this way patenting is to some extent self regulating. I had to spend $40,000 back in 1992 to protect my idea. It was not frivolous for me... it was the difference between having a deposit for a house and having a patent.

I have met some patent examiners. They are not stupid. They are not push overs. And they honestly do not want ridiculous patents clogging up the system.

I hope you as a reader take this into consideration next time you are tempted to make sweeping statements about inventors and other honest people that just want to be protected from their work being stolen.

Ric Richardson reaction to negative press on Uniloc vs Mojang

DISCLAIMER: Please note that Ric is not a principle at Uniloc, does not speak for the company,  neither does he have influence over the companies actions since he is only a non majority shareholder. Further, Ric is the inventor of the 216 patent which was the centre of the court case with Microsoft. HE IS NOT the inventor of the patent at dispute with Mojang.

I awoke this morning to a large number of emails and tweets decrying Uniloc's actions regarding a law suit against Swedish firm Mojang. Firstly, besides having shares in Uniloc this has little else to do with me. The disputed patent is not mine, and I have had no communication with the company about the matter.

That said, I also feel compelled to say something regarding all of the strong language and accusations being thrown around on twitter, in the press and some rather disgusting emails sent to me personally because I had the audacity to put my email address on my site. [Which I am now sadly forced to remove]

From the first day the importance of patents was explained to me I have tried to act responsibly with the trust given to me by the many people who gave their time, effort and investment to help insure the technologies ultimate success.

One expression that comes to my mind is the saying that having a great technology without a patent is like having a Lamborghini and leaving the keys in it.

Well back in 1992 when I invented the 216 Uniloc technology it truly was unique. No one had done this before. In the early 90's we did "try and buy" cover disk campaigns on magazines that travelled the world. In fact if most software designers are honest they will agree that the idea of locking serial numbers to specific machines came from products they saw that somehow link back to those early days.

Yes. I filed a patent back then.

Well I'm sorry if you don't think its right to protect yourself. I think it's irresponsible to involve others in an enterprise when you don't do everything you reasonably can to protect their interests as well as your own.

Just think about the logic here. The people complaining about the law suits here are complaining that a company is trying to protect it's own right to make a living from a technology that the patent office has verified as unique and novel. If you disagree then track the patent office and voice your problems with the patents as they are published.

And yet, the technology in question is a system that stops people from pirating their software and helps them make money. Well if you think it's so unfair, don't use the tech. Do something else. No one is forcing you to use the technology.

It amazes me that people complain about paying a royalty for a technology that stops up to a third of a software companies sales from being lost to piracy. What are you saying? "Its all right to steal from Uniloc as long as it helps stop pirates stealing from me?"

Finally, to the personal attacks at me.
I am not a patent troll.
I am the inventor of the 216 patent.
I worked nearly two decades to make the technology a success.
I am not a money hungry megalomaniac

In fact it has been well documented that my wife and I like to keep our life pretty simple and have dedicated all our non essential resources to a cause we support.

Further, I think it's a sad thing to see people making inflammatory remarks from the cheap seats. The Internet can be a real disappointing place when people can mouth off without taking responsibility for their actions. Just sad.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ric Richardson's latest technology Instashare - coding partner needed

Ric is coming to the end of the design phase of his latest technology that will allow iPhone users to instantly share photos, videos, contact information or pretty much anything else by sharing a verbal number. Yes... by using a number only. No need for Facebook friends or email addresses. Just an app and a number.

Imagine, taking a group photo and saying "my instashare code is 2481" and allowing everyone in the photo to get their copy of the photo instantly. 

Imagine being in the crowd at a U2 concert and seeing a number flash on the video screens that allows you to share a photo that Bono just took on stage.

iPhone Coder Needed
As you can imagine Ric is quite excited by the idea but he wants to try something new. Rather than use a hired gun to code the project Ric is looking for the best coder willing to buy into the idea with their own enthusiasm.

He wants to invest in passion for the idea NOT just another well paid contractor.

Ric will let the successful bidder retain 4x their quoted coding price from proceeds of the sale of an iPhone app based on this concept.

Are you up to the challenge?

Just fill out the form below and lets get working on this great idea.

*Instashare is the current working title for the technology
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