Patently Ridiculous: Notch vs Barry Bumgardner

By Alec Meer on July 23rd, 2012 at 11:00 am.

I don't want to think about what this image implies

Annoying news: Uniloc, a company known for spurious software patent claims, is making a spurious software patent claim against Minecraft, as well as against EA, Gameloft, Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja), Laminar (X-Plane) and Square-Enix.

Wonderful news: the lawyer representing Uniloc is called Barry J. Bumgardner. I’m told that name doesn’t raise so much as a smile in the US (where it’s very common and derives from the German ‘Baumgartner’ rather than from someone who gardens in bums for a living), but I can assure you that, in the UK, it’s basically the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

‘Bum’ is another word for ‘backside’ or ‘behind’ or ‘buttocks’ or ‘ass’, Americhums. I really wouldn’t like to suggest what sort of activities someone who gardens inside bums (or indeed any other human orifice) might do – I just know that it’s bloody hilarious, doubly so when paired with ‘Barry’, and makes it even harder to take an already ridiculous claim seriously.

The ‘claim’ concerns a 2005 patent concerning “a system and method … for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data stored on an electronic device”, which is being crudely forced into meaning license checks for Android games. Apparently Minecraft is guilty of doing this thing that everything does and has done for ages, although we can’t entirely be sure as Uniloc and Barry Bumgardner called it ‘Mindcraft’ in their legal missive. Bumgardner’s based in Texas, which is apparently the go-to place for companies looking to patent troll these days.

Luxembourg-based Uniloc has a habit of This Sort Of Thing, referring to itself as an IP ‘incubation lab’ for security software, and has previously snapped at the heels of big boys like Microsoft and small boys like stock photo sites, reports BoingBoing. Round here, we’ve got a name for folk like that. We calls ‘em Patent Trolls. As with Tim Langdell, I genuinely struggle to understand how people who make their money by hunting for ways to screw over other people manage to look themselves in the mirror and feel anything other than disgust – let alone going all the way to pride and righteousness. It’s a profoundly different way of thinking about the world.

They definitely wouldn't find it funny

No public word from the other accused companies as yet, but Mojang’s Markus Persson isn’t taking his Bumgardening lying down. “If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don’t get a cent” he claimed on the Twitters, before publishing a longer post declaring his great disdain for software patents:

“A common argument for patents is that inventors won’t invent unless they can protect their ideas,” he wrote. “The problem with this argument is that patents apply even if the infringer came up with the idea independently. If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?”

He acknowledges that “there are areas which are very costly to research, but where the benefits for mankind long term are very positive. I would personally prefer it to have those be government funded (like with CERN or NASA) and patent free as opposed to what’s happening with medicine, but I do understand why some people think patents are good in these areas”, saving his ire for “trivial patents, such as for software.” These, he feels, slow down the march of technological progress and pointlessly drag companies into expensive, time-consuming lawsuits.

It’s a tough one, innit? It’s very hard not to feel that copyright and patent law has gotten itself, and society, into a terrible state, where greed and over-defensiveness leads to constant legal action which no-one truly benefits from, but on the other hand you have all the dodgy, cynical clone games on the app store and elsewhere that really do seem to be directly snatching food from the mouths of indie developers. The current setup seems far too geared towards abuse from nitpicking patent trolls like Uniloc, and not enough towards protecting those who actually create. But imagine the horror, the potential for yet greater abuse, if laws for the latter did somehow come to pass. (I know I’m wildly conflating patents and copyright, but it’s all part of the same horrible mess to my mind).

Specific systems can be patented, programming can be protected and common language words can be ringfenced off for exclusive use, but the game ideas that contain such things cannot. The whole concept of innovation and who owns ideas in games is an extremely difficult one – the vast bulk of the industry past and present was built on the shoulders of others’ creations, after all. Too much restriction and there’s a terrible chance innovation will be subsumed by fear.

I wish my job didn’t involve irregularly reporting that company x is suing company y because element or name z is a little bit similar to to something they own. How tedious. How pointless. How much misery and waste these laws can bring about. Rip it up and start again, say I.

You can read the full claim made against Mojang in this here PDF.

Haha. ‘Bumgardner.’

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146 Comments »

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      Yep, even if you’re broadly familiar with the kerfuffle around software patents that is an enlightening and infuriating episode.

    • iniudan says:

      Thank you, that was a nice radio podcast. =)

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I love TAL. Great episode, too. Does a wonderful job of illustrating the how horribly screwed up the patent system currently is.

    • The First Door says:

      This American Life became a bit of an obsession for me after I was first directed to that episode. Such an excellent show.

      I recommend listening to the Retraction episode too. The interviews with the person who made false claims about Apple’s manufacturing in China are surprisingly emotionally charged and well done.
      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction

  1. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    I can assure you that, as an American, the name Bumgardner is inherently funny.

    • Mctittles says:

      My BIG problem with the games industry is how little Bumgardners are represented in video games. In Mass Effect, sure I can choose a Male or Female or who I have sexual relations with, but where is Commander Bumgardner?

      The state of video games and big AAA companies and big business and government and stuff is in a bad state.

      • SiHy_ says:

        I was just about to play through Fallout 3 again and I think I’ve just found my character name.

        • Kestilla says:

          No, no, play the older Fallout games so people actually refer to you as your newly chosen name. Much better, and may it strike fear into enemies’ hearts!

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Look, we don’t want Bumgardners added to our games as just a token. We don’t have a problem with Bumgardners but if we are going to put them in our game, we need a compelling reason to do so.

      • PopeJamal says:

        Being passive-aggressive by making light of the concerns of people under-represented in gaming is awesome! Do some more!1111!on1!

        • Mctittles says:

          You are right. Pop-Culture representation is truly all we should be concerned with.

          It’s a fine balance between alienating your audience and worrying about bad press from snobby journalists. Which is why pop-culture dictates what is “worth your time” to include in your game.

    • Stromko says:

      I probably can’t speak for the whole nation, but I’ve grown up with the impression that ‘bum’ is American for buttocks. Also, I thought in British Places, ‘bum’ referred to female genitals.

      Barry Bumgardner is indeed a ridiculous name and I wouldn’t be surprised if all the abuse he must have received in school has led him to a life of such craven douchebaggery.

      • SiHy_ says:

        You’re thinking of ‘fanny’. American fanny = bum. British fanny = vagina.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Yes. Let’s not forget, however, that the term “front bum” refers to the genitals of a human of either gender, and is, etymologically speaking, utterly hilarious.

          • Blaaaaaaag says:

            Where I come from, a front bum is a fat persons cleft gut hanging over their genitals.

        • Shadowcat says:

          Yes, the American phrase “fanny pack” is particularly confusing. On the other hand you gave the gift of laughter to millions by naming a children’s film “Free Willy”, so I’m sure it all balances out.

      • Surlywombat says:

        I’m more confused as to why people sit on their donkeys to watch television in the US.

      • Ignorant Texan says:

        Bum is usually used to refer to 1)a homeless panhandler or layabout – ‘That bum asked me for money!’, or 2)something substandard, bad, or wrong – a bum steer(IE, bad advice) or bummer. Now, if he was named Buttgardener, that would raise sniggers.

        • ZephaniahGrey says:

          This does however conjure the frightening image of a man farming homeless beggars for some sinister purpose.

          • Premium User Badge

            tumbleworld says:

            _innocent_ purpose. The word you’re looking for is _innocent_. Great Cthulhu isn’t going to raise himself out of his deathless slumbers, you know…

      • Tams80 says:

        Your getting the ‘bum-bag’ – ‘fanny-pack’ thing all terribly messed up.

        We call such bags ‘bum-bags’ as it’s normal to wear them over your bum (bottom) in the UK, whereas Americans seem wear them on the front.

        • Phantoon says:

          For two reasons:
          1: You can’t have things stolen from you when it’s on your front
          2: You’re some sort of paranoid weirdo or racist if you wear one

    • Henson says:

      Funnier than the Wii?

    • alice says:

      The way someone in Britain feels about Bumgardener = the way I, as a stupid american, felt when I first heard the tube lady say “you are on a piccadilly line train to cockfosters”.

      • Premium User Badge

        James G says:

        I think even seasoned Londoners will occasionally smirk at the word Cockfosters.

      • Exuro says:

        Yeah, as someone who has lived in London my entire life, I can’t even remember anymore how many times I’ve laughed at ‘Cockfosters’. The number must be well into the thousands by this point.

  2. roryok says:

    ( )( ) ( )( )

    its poor harvest this year

    • lorddon says:

      The great bum drought of 2012… What a shame.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Do you know what kind of a bum it was?

      The exploding kind. Mark my words Francoise, sinister forces are at work. This bum gardener must be apprehended at all costs.

    • Inept says:

      I’ve heard that you need to plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, with these bums you want to garden. That’s what the pastor said, anyway.

  3. simoroth says:

    “a system and method … for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data stored on an electronic device”

    …aka encryption, aka some maths. You can’t patent maths (Every piece of software eventually boils down to maths).

    Software patents are a joke and hopefully this will raise some awareness of the issue facing a lot of developers.

    • roryok says:

      nah. I don’t think awareness of this issue will ever get much higher. It’s happened so many times already and nothing changes.

    • TheMoo says:

      Not really related to the story but not only can you patent math, people have.

      A classic example is the RSA encryption algorithm which is pure math (Publicly available since 2000 but it was patented for 17 years).

    • Driadan says:

      With that description, a door with a lock would implement such method, so now they can sue every company on earth that relies on computers (unless they have them in the open)
      also, passwords and several other methods would fall in the same definition

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      If every piece of software eventually boils down to Maths, and software patents do exist, then it seem you *can* patent Maths.

      But I agree, software patents are a crock (as they stand at least).

    • Stromko says:

      The question is what kind of idiot at the patent office keeps giving patents out for things that were invented a quarter century before and in common use for decades, before the new patent was even filed?

      • LionsPhil says:

        All of them. The USPTO is a joke. The (other) big problem is this:

        If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?

        Awarded in 2005. I bet even the whippersnappers around here know that DRM predates that (by a pretty huge margin). From what I can make of the patent, for example, Steam is “infringing”. Publically released in 2003. Prior art? Tests for novelty? Nah, just rubber-stamp everything and let the courts sort it out if they’re not the first!

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Interestingly,

          If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?

          is exactly why the patent shouldn’t be issued. If something is deemed to be common, naturally derivative, and/or obvious, then it cannot be granted a patent. For example, deleting files is a common idea and very obvious for use in a system. Ergo, you cannot patent deleting files. Apple tried to, roughly, do something like that when they sued MS, claiming they owned the IP of the “trashcan.”

          Also, these types of patent trolling don’t just affect computers. Part of the reason why cell phones are still so damn expensive, despite their mass-produced nature, is because of the ass-tons of patents for cell phones. Want to have a notification of an incoming call while you’re writing a text message? There’s a patent for that, and you have better pay up or else. It’s absurd as hell, because something like that is beyond obvious.

          Somewhere down the line, the “non-obvious” requirement got thrown out and the US patent system has been increasingly spiraling down into a legal-troll hellhole.

          • Phantoon says:

            The real crime is that it stifles innovation.

          • Starky says:

            I remember reading an editorial once from a high up tech guy – who’s name utterly slips my mind – in an engineering journal once – he worked for one of the top end tech companies (not your retail crap like Apple, but the companies that make the components they use to make their products).

            Anyway, in it he said that current technology is probably about 15-20 YEARS behind where it could have been thanks to the patent system strangling innovation.

            It goes like this, someone invents something – another company discovers a way to improve that technology – but it simply isn’t worth it for them to licence it from the inventor and sell it themselves (components often work on a very small margin).

            Now they could sell that improvement to whoever is producing those components (and has the licence), or sell it to the owner of the patent – but more often than not that does not happen. The patent owner isn’t interested in improving their product (it costs money to implement improvements).

            So technology remains stagnant until a competing technology forces them to upgrade.

            There is a massive wealth of technology and design sitting on shelves because the patent system is preventing it from been implemented, but it’s the incremental improvements that are not happening that damage progress.

            Technology only improves by tiny marginal steps – and those steps are been slowed because companies would rather block everyone at the step they currently hold, than allow progress to march on.

      • diamondmx says:

        His name’s Alec, he’s the only one who works in the approvals office, and he’s an unpaid temp.
        He sleeps under the desk, and eats from the vending machine that never runs out, but never has the thing you want.
        He would leave, but someone patented the exit, so now he’s living in his own little Sims house.

        If you carefully examine the order patents being approved, you’ll see that the first letter of the third paragraph of each patent spells out, over and over again:
        “HELPIMTRAPPEDINAPATENTOFFICE”

        Someone save Alec, please. Or at least send him a sandwich, he’s been living on smarties for a week now.

    • Shuck says:

      The patent in this case is actually specific enough that Notch has said that Minecraft (or “Mindcraft” if you prefer) doesn’t actually infringe on it anyways.
      In other words, the whole thing is a farce on multiple levels.

    • imagine says:

      Patent infringement 101: It’s not the title of the patent which determines its scope, but the claims. A product or method infringes a patent only if it comprises all the features (or in American jargon, limitations) listed in one of the claims. Those guys allege the infringement of one or more claims of the patent, and at least claim 107, which reads:

      “Computer code executable on an electronic device to prevent unauthorized access to electronic data stored on the electronic device, the computer code comprising:

      code for storing license data on a portable licensing medium configured to communicate with the electronic device;

      code for determining whether to allow access to the electronic data based on the license data;

      code for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium by communicating with a registration authority having verification data; and

      code for providing updated license data received from the registration authority to the licensing medium.”

      So, while the claim is still ridiculous, it does not cover pure mathematics.

  4. duncanthrax says:

    Those Barrys should join up.

    “Bumgardner & Zuckerkorn”

  5. Flobulon says:

    I wonder if he’s related to Randy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Baumgardner

    • roryok says:

      that is the single greatest name ever

      • Deston says:

        I work for a branch of an American corporation in the UK and we often trawl the address book when we’re bored in an attempt to hunt down amusing names.

        We have a Randy Cockhead. I am not joking.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      Barry Bumgardener was merely funny. Randy Bumgardner made me start giggling aloud in the office.

      P.

    • Latterman says:

      As a German I don’t get it. A Baum is a tree. What is so funny about trees?

      • Premium User Badge

        lowprices says:

        Because a gardener is somebody who deals with trees. It’s so thematically appropriate that we can’t help but giggle.

      • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

        As a German i have to giggle at the ridiculous “simplification” from Baumgärtner to Bumgardner. Were they not already speaking english when they started to simplify the name? Or is bum being synonymous for backside a newer thing, that the americans didn’t notice?

      • kael13 says:

        Because it sounds like ‘bum’! Hehe! Ahaaaa!

        (come on, allow us our childishness)

        Edit: Oh, and it’s the ‘randy’ that makes it hilarious. Randy as in horny. Like, when your dog gets a bit humpy, it’s randy.

        I realise I’m probably making less and less sense as I continue.

    • westyfield says:

      I was just about to comment that it could only be funnier if his first name were Randy. So, er, yes.

    • TedDahlberg says:

      There’s also the Randy Bumgardner who’s assistant chief of protocol for the US’ guest house for visiting heads of foreign governments (last paragraph of the article): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/14/david-cameron-us-visit-state-dinner

  6. ananasblau says:

    Here in Austria I know a few chaps named Baumgartner but this variation of the name never occurred to me. Thank you IP trolls for giving me something to make fun of other people.

  7. sinister agent says:

    There really should be some international law that if you waste everyone’s time like this just to make money for some arsehole lawyers, you have to personally read every single word of copyright legislation on the planet before you’re allowed to go free. And then you’d be shot at the gate anyway.

  8. Milky1985 says:

    The stupid thing is that they might get settlements because in theory what they are doing is covered by the patent.

    Because basically EVERY SINGLE system of validation is covered by this redciously broad patent (the polar opposite of what patents are meant to be) and it could cover the use of dongles and authenticators because the first claim of the patent is :

    “1. A system for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data on an electronic device, the system comprising:a portable licensing medium configured to communicate with the electronic device and to store license data, the license data configured to be used by the electronic device to determine whether to allow access to the electronic data; anda registration authority configured to communicate with the electronic device, the registration authority having verification data for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium,wherein the registration authority provides updated license data for the licensing medium.”

    The issue? This patent is dated 2005 but the family of patents dates back to 2001, so it may actually be valid as this would have been novel back then.

    Oh and to everyone saying software patents are bad yes they are. They are actually specifically outlawed by the international patent treaty (check the text, software patents not allowed bu business methods are) but the US insistance on enableing them is what is breaking the sodding system :( Even in the EU now they are being accepted but not enforcable.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malcolm says:

      That could apply to any software protection dongle – and those have been around since the late ’70s if wikipedia is to be believed (but I certainly remember seeing them before 2001).

      • Arnastia says:

        The patent is a joke. It disassociates itself from another similar patent using hardware keys, i.e., dongles, because they are easily lost or stolen, and because one must be provided for each piece of software and client, which comes at a cost to the developers, besides which computers would have a limited number of ports for them.

        They do seem to suggest smartcards, which suffer from the same problems and most computers won’t even have ports for them, but go around the problem of having multiple smartcards at once by saying that a registration authority could provide a token of limited validity in time that could be used to validate the access without talking to the registration authority. This would however make it useless as DRM; you’d just make sure this token is always valid, either by altering the token (usually difficult) or by altering the software.

        I’m no lawyer, and did not take the time to read the patent in its entirety, only parts, but most forms of SSO, including for instance Kerberos, which was first released in the late ’80s, would use a similar scheme. As do many websites when they ask a browser to store an authentication cookie so that the user does not have to constantly provide password and username or any other credentials. Smartcard/Certificate/PKI based authentication schemes would also violate this if they communicate with anyone to ascertain the validity of the license (for instance OCSP for X.509 certificates?). Some governments provide authentication schemes based on national identity smartcards, and could IMO be found to be in violation. The US DoD has the Common Access Card system, that if I had to say also infringes on this patent.

        But as I said, I did not read the entirety of the patent, nor am I a lawyer, so I cannot be sure on any of this. And now I have to make lunch.

    • imagine says:

      Not to rain on your parade, but you got almost any factual detail wrong.

      “The issue? This patent is dated 2005 but the family of patents dates back to 2001, so it may actually be valid as this would have been novel back then.”

      A “patent family” is something different. The patent has been ISSUED in 2005, but the application for that patent has been FILED earlier, in 2001. So, in order for a document to be used to challenge the validity of that patent (in terms of novelty and inventive step), it must date back to 2000 (or possibly even earlier, since for older patents in US it is the date of invention that really matters, not the date of filing. In my opinion, this is retarded, but it’s the law).

      “They are actually specifically outlawed by the international patent treaty (check the text, software patents not allowed bu business methods are) but the US insistance on enableing them is what is breaking the sodding system :( Even in the EU now they are being accepted but not enforcable.”

      Please tell me which international treaty you are referring to: the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) does not pose by itself any exclusion to patentable subject – matter; the TRIPS agreement requires software to be protected AT LEAST by copyright. In Europe, the European Patent Convention indicates some exclusions to patentability, but these are to be interpreted in a restrictive sense, so it’s totally possible to have something regarded by the general public as a “software patent” granted. And yes, these patents are enforceable, in the sense that you can ask for damages and injunctions based on them and the judge will assume the patent valid unless there’s convincing evidence of the contrary.

      The reasons why software patents exist is that they are not expressly prohibited by the law. Indeed, there’s not even a universally accepted definition for a software patent, except the old “pornography” standard “I recognize one when I see it”. In the US, due to a series of factors, you can pretty much patent everything (oversimplification, but with a grain of truth in it) and then you have to fight tooth and nail in court. This is not the same everywhere: for example, a quick search shows that there is no European equivalent of the Uniloc patent, and that in the other counties they have applied the application is either still pending or lapsed.

  9. Frye2k11 says:

    I just copy-pasted this article on my website. Don’t worry, I didn’t use all of it, only part of it!

    Ok kidding, but you know what I mean.

    Reminds me of what Ken Perlin once said about his famous natural noise algorithm : if I had only patented it I would be very rich. But his idea is simple and the most obvious solution to the problem. Literally ALL Hollywood movies and videogames use it in some way or another. He did get an Academy Award though.

    • roryok says:

      Literally ALL Hollywood movies and videogames use it in some way or another

      Does Dwarf Fortress use it?

      Sorry I’m just being a bollocks

    • Alec Meer says:

      “I just copy-pasted this article on my website. Don’t worry, I didn’t use all of it, only part of it!”

      That’s fine.

    • Salt says:

      Interestingly he made an improved version of his noise algorithm which he did patent.
      So of course everyone just uses the old version with its subtle discontinuities on the second order differential, and the world suffers.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      No, I don’t know what you mean. That would be copyright infringement, not patent infringement. If you were going to make an equivalency, you should have said “I’m going to write my own article about Barry Bumgardner’s lawsuit!”

  10. Premium User Badge

    Napalm Sushi says:

    “How tedious. How pointless. How much misery and waste these laws can bring about. Rip it up and start again, say I.”

    So say we all.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I whole heartedly agree. It’s especially annoying that these lawyers can pick and choose which court their case is heard in – in this case Texas, because the perception is that Texan courts are more sympathetic to these type of copyright claims.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        How about this – copyright laws are only enforceable against organisations bigger than the owner of the copyright. By bigger, I mean generates more turnover using that specific piece of copyright. So Indie Games Inc can use tech developed by Epic if they have the brains to recreate it but Epic couldn’t pinch something developed by them.

        You could make an exception if the smaller company releases a product which directly competes i.e. if Indie Games Inc releases a cover based shooter on consoles, Epic could enforce their copyrights and patents.

        Food for thought?

        • diamondmx says:

          Too complex.

          Current patent offices can’t even manage a simple 3 point list:
          1) Describes a specific technique
          (Sometimes arse this up)
          2) Does not already exist
          (Always arsing this up)
          3) Is not fairly obvious to a member of the field it’s in
          (Always arsing this up)

          This patent sounds like it’s a bit fuzzy on 1, and is a fail on 2 and 3.

  11. Haborym says:

    Haha, profoundly different way of thinking about the world.

  12. Mordsung says:

    I hate copyrights and trademarks.

    Did you know the fashion industry does not have copyrights on their designs? It was ruled quite some time ago that copyrighting a dress design isn’t possible, so that entire industry has existed and thrived without copyright. The only thing they can own is their symbol (like the G on a Gucci bag), which is why a lot of their stuff is plastered with those symbols.

    So if one artistically based industry can exist and thrive without copyright, can’t all of them? Can you imagine a world where you could improve a game and then rerelease it? And then someone could take your improvement and improve on it more and release again.

    Imagine a world where EA has to compete with their own users to innovate their own games better than the user base. A world where THEY must add mods to the game else someone else will profit from those mods.

    Fuck copyright and fuck private property.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      opinion: copyright & trademark laws are enforced by courts/law systems which represent the ideologies of ruling classes within society. piracy/open intellectual markets/non-copyright & trademarked industries would threaten the business/monetary earning capabilities of said ruling classes, and therefore, the law will continue to be inflexible, even in this era of increased technology based change.

      i don’t know, is that crazed tinfoil hat talk? does anyone have any better suggestions/knowledge of how all this stuff operates in a broader context?

    • jhng says:

      You’ve forgotten about design rights (both registered and unregistered). The fashion industry does get the benefit of these and many fashion businesses enforce them vigorously.

      • Mordsung says:

        But those design rights are only related to symbols and such.

        You cannot copyright a skirt shape, or a sleeve shape, or a zipper position.

        Gucci could invent a purse, I could make an identical purse and as long as I don’t put a Gucci symbol on it, it’s totally legal for me to do so.

        What’s funny is many knockoffs are now designed and sold by the original designer. Staying with Gucci, they design a purse and put it out for whatever ridiculous price, then they knock off their own purse, make it out of cheaper material, don’t throw the Gucci symbol on it and sell it to chain stores.

        The fashion industry is very different from other artform businesses. It’s a giant game of follow the leader with minor changes on designs made by other designers.

        This, of course, is less the case in high-end fashion shows, but that is an art exhibit, not a clothing exhibit. I’m speaking about their actual “normal” clothing lines.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Did you consider that he doesn’t garden IN bums? Maybe what he actually is doing is growing bums: He has a garden, and in that garden he plants bums, then cares for the bums, and finally harvests the bums. I’m not sure what follows then, to be honest. He probably sells the bums to bum-aficionados, but maybe he keeps them all for himself.

    • Spengbab says:

      I think youre onto something, might be an illegal bumming operation. Let’s crack the lid of this pot wide open and see how deep the hole goes

      • Tams80 says:

        We did raid his bum garden, but he’d cleared out by the time we got there. Bummer.

  14. Mike says:

    If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?”

    While I agree that patents can be harmful, this seems like a stupid statement to make about innovation and discovery.

    • Mordsung says:

      People innovated and invented before patents.

      An inventor invents because it is in their nature to do so.

      Those who perform any task only for monetary reward have somehow got confused as to the point of it all is.

      We’re going to evolve into a society without the concept of private property simply because it becomes increasingly impossible to prevent people from taking what you own.

      Right now they try to keep passing laws to keep hold on intellectual property, but those laws continue to fail. Eventually the whole system is going to fall apart and no one is really going to own anything.

      • Phantoon says:

        Patents were supposed to protect inventors.

        They don’t. Really haven’t ever done so. Look at Edison and Tesla.

  15. mOrs says:

    Actually, in German it should be Baumgärtner. Or Baumgaertner for those keyboardly handicapped. ;p

    Fun fact: the German word for a tree nursery is Baumschule, Schule meaning school.
    Which leads me to the conclusion that B.J. Bumgardner must’ve attended Bum School for his law ed.

  16. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    As an out and proud gay man I should roll my eyes and sigh whenever I see something like this. Instead I giggled like a 6 year old. Another infraction like that and they’ll take away my gay license, and I’ll have no choice but to do it with ladies.

    Also: boo trademark trolls. Learn to spell, at least.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      As something of a crafty butcher myself I would like to second this sentiment.
      Also my real name is Ronald Fisting.

      • Premium User Badge

        lowprices says:

        I was ready to hold up “Bum gardener” as my favourite euphemism for a gay man, but then you came along with “crafty butcher”. Now I’m torn.

  17. tigershuffle says:

    ooh the cheeks of it all. Hopefully it will all be uphill for Mr Bumgardner

  18. Syra says:

    I can think of a few bums I would gladly garden all the day long.

  19. rustybroomhandle says:

    From The Escapist – Uniloc belongs to one, Ric “The Man in the Van”
    Richardson, an Australian inventor who, and I
    quote, “does much of his thinking in his van,
    which he dubs the ‘DickMobile,’ near his leafy
    property in Byron Bay.”

  20. Brendie88 says:

    Oh ho, you like Barry Bumgardner’s name? Then let me introduce you to Rusty Bumgardner, American Softball player.
    http://www.usasoftball.com/bios.asp?uid=4570
    He specializes in the gardening of the rusty bums, the ones ol’ Barry would never touch.

  21. cliffski says:

    Please don’t blur the line too far between patents and copyright. Copyright is what stops someone just taking a copy of minecraft, sticking it up on their website, and charging money for it, without the creators getting a cent. This is obviously (unless you are some anti-copyright information-wants-to-be-free anti-capitalist fruitcake) a *good thing*.

    Patenting trivial ‘inventions’ or systems, where you are preventing your rivals from creating new products they could easily have invented themselves, is entirely different.
    One encourages people to create new stuff, the other prevents it.

    TL,DR:
    copyright is good, software patents are bad.

    • jhng says:

      Up to a point. However, when you look at music or books, you do have to ask whether there is any sane justification for copyright that lasts until 70 years after the original creator is dead. That’s not incentivising or rewarding anything, it’s just artificially prolonging the life of convenient, zero-maintainance cash cows for various rights companies.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That’s an unrelated issue.

      • cliffski says:

        well frankly I have no grasp of how we can justify continuing to claim that someone owns a piece of land (that has existed a million years before they were born…) just because they have a piece of paper that says so, even five hundred years (or more) after the person who originally paid for the land died.

        People think that money invested in IP should mean you own it for a limited time, and are supposed to be grateful, whereas money spent on a patch of soil means you and your descendents unarguably own it from now until the heat-death of the universe.

        The reason, clearly is that most people never invest time in creating IP, but a lot of them look forward to inheriting their parents houses. In other words, there is no real legal,moral or logical reason for the distinction, just self-interest

        • LionsPhil says:

          Oh for pity’s sake. One of those is zero sum. The other isn’t. Boom.

        • Premium User Badge

          Hodge says:

          The reason, clearly is that most people never invest time in creating IP, but a lot of them look forward to inheriting their parents houses. In other words, there is no real legal,moral or logical reason for the distinction, just self-interest

          Yes! Because the death of somebody you love rarely means more than a cynical asset grab.

        • Arglebargle says:

          The modern iteration of copywrong exists pretty much to protect Disney’s control over Mickey Mouse and friends. They were leading the way in bribing politicians to protect Disney’s icons. Comparing the situation from 50 or so years ago to today is an interesting exercise.

          Given how much of the previous history of art includes building upon the backs of other artists, it seems pretty ludicrous to me. If Robert Johnson had put a claim in on the 12 bar blues form, his assigns could probably still be extorting bar bands everywhere.

        • Premium User Badge

          Peptidix says:

          One tiny difference is that people pays taxes to keep owning the plot of land, and probably paid to the previous owner.

          Now if in exchange for owning the IP the owner pays taxes on its value (not only on its profit), as well as pay to the previous owners of the IP (say in re-use of cultural icons). You can draw a parallel, until then the situation is quite different.

      • Tams80 says:

        I think the problem is fair use. I don’t really have a problem with copyright being indefinite (unless patent trolls try to make it the new patents), as it hardly prevents people making other things, even very similar things (as it is very specific). What am against is the owners not allowing fair use. ‘Happy Birthday’ is an infamous example.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      I shall vote up your comment! Wait… I’ll give it one of those ‘likes’! No… hm… Retweet it? Perhaps I’ll just paraphrase what you just said and say it again?

  22. pingu666 says:

    so everyone has missed that middle J
    so you could call in BJ bumgardner

  23. Premium User Badge

    gorgonaut says:

    It may be a little late in the conversation, but here in Norway, there’s a lawyer called Sædberg, which litterally translates into Sperm-mound, or Mount Sperm.

    You take from that what you will.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      Maybe it’s a lawyer-related issue, those funny names. Which would make their overall contribution to the happiness and entertainment in this world a lot better.

  24. cabdude says:

    This patent is actually much more detailed than that described above and has a much longer history than 2005. Ric Richardson originally showed the technology to Microsoft in 1993, who politely refused to licence it and then released their own identical version in Windows 95. Microsoft have since settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, rumoured to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That should give you an indication of whether the patent is valid or not.

    • Arnastia says:

      In that case Uniloc first lost, then won for some hundreds of millions of dollars, then the decision was overturned in 2009, because the jury who ruled in favor of Uniloc didn’t have a grasp of the issues at stake.

      Microsoft settled, because litigation is more expensive than just paying the guys off, which is usually what Uniloc and other patent trolls want, expensive settlements.

      That was also a different patent.

      • LionsPhil says:

        litigation is more expensive than just paying the guys off, which is usually what Uniloc and other patent trolls want, expensive settlements

        Bingo.

        This is not going to go well for Notch.

    • Tams80 says:

      You could at least post a more detailed summary for those of use who don’t have time to read a legal document, otherwise I’ll just continue to scream “PATENT TROLOOLOLOLOL!!!”.

  25. SRTie4k says:

    As an American, I feel it is my doody to clarify the assinine statements being made here.

    The term ‘bum’ in American English, as used to refer to a person’s backside, is slightly deprecated. More commonly used terms on this side of the pond include butt and ass. But at the same time, we still use butt to refer to a cigarette butt, as well as ass to refer to a myriad of things, including a donkey (although the most common term is indeed ‘donkey’ because of the negative connotation using ‘ass’).

    As for the insinuation from the article that Americans don’t know what the term bum refers to, well that is slightly insulting, but in this case I will turn the other cheek.

    • Mordsung says:

      You must admit that we (I’m Canadian, so a middle ground between American and British English) rarely use the word bum to mean backside. Sure, we all KNOW that’s a definition, but we use bum more often to describe the homeless, deadbeats, or as a verb to mean borrow/take (as in “Can I bum a smoke?”)

      Of course, my favourite use of this word is a combination of British English and American English in this beautiful question:

      “Can I bum a fag?”

      I think I even once heard or read a British person use that sentence and I giggled for a while.

    • wodin says:

      You call a bum a fanny…which is pretty fucking confusing..

  26. LionsPhil says:

    Relevant: The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes
    Their conclusions are pretty unpleasant:

    The direct costs of NPE patent assertions are substantial, totaling about $29 billion accrued in 2011. This figure does not include indirect costs to the defendant’s business such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share. Even so, the direct costs are large relative to total business spending on R&D, which totaled $247 billion in 2009 (NSF 2012), implying that NPE patent assertions effectively impose a significant tax on investment in innovation.

    NPE litigation costs smaller companies more relative to their revenues.

    Taken out and shot, etc.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Eddie Bax says:

    “I wish my job didn’t involve irregularly reporting that company x is suing company y because element or name z is a little bit similar to to something they own. How tedious. How pointless. How much misery and waste these laws can bring about. Rip it up and start again, say I.”

    As a legal reporter in the U.S. myself, replace ‘irregularly’ with ‘regularly’ and you have pretty much my sentiments too. The staggeringly large amounts of patent and copyright trolling I see on a regular basis, usually through strained legal maneuvers to get it into the rocket docket in Texas, show that something is broken in the system.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Judges can get their office here in Texas by public election. Just saying….

  28. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    “I really wouldn’t like to suggest what sort of activities someone who gardens inside bums (or indeed any other human orifice) might do…”

    Why, they cultivate intestinal flora, of course.

  29. Rawrian says:

    This is not really relevant to the case, but read what some guy patented way back in 1995: “A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct”.

  30. wodin says:

    That is a funny name..I knew a dutch lad called. Roland Knobout

  31. Dances to Podcasts says:

    So this guy is patent trolling DRM? The man’s a hero!

  32. Quasar says:

    Adding to the ‘funny names’ debate, my friend’s uncle is called Dick Fidler.

  33. moltobenny says:

    Better call Saul!

  34. anotherman7 says:

    As a Baumgardt I have to say that the Bumgardners of the world can all suck it.

  35. jesse9o3 says:

    His name can only be compared to Roger Mcfeeley (that’s Mc FEEL EY). A name that can be made funnier still by the fact that his job is an a care worker/part time childrens tv presenter. ha ha

  36. thebigJ_A says:

    THe spamchecker keeps eating my comments. Also the “drop us a line” thing isn’t working. I’m trying to say that “bum” means the same thing in America. IDK where he got the idea it doesn’t mean buttocks.