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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk
Thread started 06 Mar 2014 (Thursday) 13:05
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Peter Wolf / Capstone Photography

 
blhenson
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Mar 06, 2014 13:05 |  #1

It looks like Peter Wolf is at it again, pushing his so called patents for event photography. It seems that Capstone Photography is looking to fight this guy instead of giving in. I wonder what it will finally take to win against this guy.

Interview with Capstone Photography owner:

http://www.wfsb.com ...f-patent-abuse-owner-saysexternal link




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kenjancef
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Mar 07, 2014 09:09 |  #2

blhenson wrote in post #16739114external link
It looks like Peter Wolf is at it again, pushing his so called patents for event photography. It seems that Capstone Photography is looking to fight this guy instead of giving in. I wonder what it will finally take to win against this guy.

Interview with Capstone Photography owner:

http://www.wfsb.com ...f-patent-abuse-owner-saysexternal link

I work for Capstone, and I haven't had time to catch up on this situation. I think it sucks. Us photographers have it bad enough without situations like this...


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bseitz234
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Mar 16, 2014 10:04 |  #3

Wow, that does suck. Definitely common sense, and I really hope Capstone wins this, and gets their legal expenses paid for....




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JeffreyG
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Mar 16, 2014 17:45 |  #4

I work in a technology heavy industry and I would agree that the patent system in general needs an overhaul. I think it stifles business and innovation and the system in general is not serving its intended purpose.

The idea of patents is to allow people who have real, innovative ideas to have a chance to profit from their ideas.

Things like this, where people patent ideas that are pretty much obvious and then use the patent to stifle competition in established business markets is abusive. The idea that arranging photos by bib number is not (IMO) an idea that should be patentable.

It is intuitively obvious to arrange athletes by their jersey number so that the atheletes can find their own images. This is not a concept deserving of a patent.


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Photo509
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Mar 28, 2014 21:38 as a reply to JeffreyG's post |  #5

I have been for the past 15 years and continue to actively make my living by taking event photographs just like Capstone Photography. I developed some techniques in 1999 that streamlined the event photography process over the methods used since the 1970’s. These techniques were patented and the USPTO issued those patents to me in 2006.

These patents have stood up against all efforts to show prior art or invalidate them. Many event photography companies including the largest in the industry have licensed with us.

We made attempts to contact Michael Skelps, the President of Capstone Photography several years ago. He never returned our calls and continued to infringe on our patents. Capstone Photography contracted with events in our county here in CA and took business away from us. It caused us hardship while Capstone Photography boasted in being the largest event photography company in the country.

Capstone Photography may assert their process is obvious or different and outside the scope of our patents but our attorneys have determined that Capstone Photography infringes on my patents and Capstone’s Attorney has so far not demonstrated to us how their processes are different and outside the scope of the patents.

I was issued additional patents in 2010 and once again Capstone Photography blatantly infringed on those patents and caused us hardship. The details are described in our claims against Capstone Photography.

I find it interesting that many photographers like Mr. Skelps vigorously defend the copyright laws that protect their pictures from being used for commercial gain by anyone else. However, Mr. Skelps does not seem to recognize patent laws that protect intellectual property like the patents he is blatantly infringing on.

We are reasonable in our licensing expectations and settle for fees that have virtually no effect on our licensees doing business as usual. Generally the infringers have to overcome an emotional or pride issue of accepting that someone invented and patented “their” idea. Usually the amount of attorney fees reaches a pain threshold that forces the infringer to settle. Frequently the infringer will then face maximum, even treble damages and the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

The problem comes in when someone tries to avoid licensing with us and we have to file a lawsuit. According to the latest AIPLA survey, litigating a patent case with damages under $1 million by a 1-3 person firm averages $255,000 just to get through the end of discovery, and $623,000 dollars to take the case through trial. (2013 AIPLA Econ. Survey, p. I-133). Mr. Skelps from Capstone Photography has retained a major law firm (http://onellp.com/external link ) in Los Angeles with at least 20 attorneys.

Generally infringers are unaware that the inventor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and many man-hours developing the patented idea. Marketing research, software and hardware development plus the cost of patent applications and executing the patent through the USPTO are all very costly.

I am very sorry to see Mr. Skelps head down the path he has chosen.

I immigrated to the United States after narrowly escaping from Communist East Germany in 1960. I am a law abiding citizen trying to build a business and raise a family. I expect others to obey the laws of this land as well. Mr. Skelps has caused me hardship by infringing on my patents.

FYI:
http://youtu.be/2_tKbY​ysS8kexternal link

http://youtu.be/zvXVPc​tP2jQexternal link

http://www.amazon.com ...Paul-Cooper/dp/B0029J3Z2Aexternal link


Peter Wolf
www.photocrazy.comexternal link
www.brandedsportpictur​es.comexternal link

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banquetbear
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Mar 30, 2014 16:49 |  #6

Photo509 wrote in post #16794053external link
I have been for the past 15 years and continue to actively make my living by taking event photographs just like Capstone Photography. I developed some techniques in 1999 that streamlined the event photography process over the methods used since the 1970’s. These techniques were patented and the USPTO issued those patents to me in 2006.

These patents have stood up against all efforts to show prior art or invalidate them. Many event photography companies including the largest in the industry have licensed with us.

We made attempts to contact Michael Skelps, the President of Capstone Photography several years ago. He never returned our calls and continued to infringe on our patents. Capstone Photography contracted with events in our county here in CA and took business away from us. It caused us hardship while Capstone Photography boasted in being the largest event photography company in the country.

Capstone Photography may assert their process is obvious or different and outside the scope of our patents but our attorneys have determined that Capstone Photography infringes on my patents and Capstone’s Attorney has so far not demonstrated to us how their processes are different and outside the scope of the patents.

I was issued additional patents in 2010 and once again Capstone Photography blatantly infringed on those patents and caused us hardship. The details are described in our claims against Capstone Photography.

I find it interesting that many photographers like Mr. Skelps vigorously defend the copyright laws that protect their pictures from being used for commercial gain by anyone else. However, Mr. Skelps does not seem to recognize patent laws that protect intellectual property like the patents he is blatantly infringing on.

We are reasonable in our licensing expectations and settle for fees that have virtually no effect on our licensees doing business as usual. Generally the infringers have to overcome an emotional or pride issue of accepting that someone invented and patented “their” idea. Usually the amount of attorney fees reaches a pain threshold that forces the infringer to settle. Frequently the infringer will then face maximum, even treble damages and the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

The problem comes in when someone tries to avoid licensing with us and we have to file a lawsuit. According to the latest AIPLA survey, litigating a patent case with damages under $1 million by a 1-3 person firm averages $255,000 just to get through the end of discovery, and $623,000 dollars to take the case through trial. (2013 AIPLA Econ. Survey, p. I-133). Mr. Skelps from Capstone Photography has retained a major law firm (http://onellp.com/external link ) in Los Angeles with at least 20 attorneys.

Generally infringers are unaware that the inventor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and many man-hours developing the patented idea. Marketing research, software and hardware development plus the cost of patent applications and executing the patent through the USPTO are all very costly.

I am very sorry to see Mr. Skelps head down the path he has chosen.

I immigrated to the United States after narrowly escaping from Communist East Germany in 1960. I am a law abiding citizen trying to build a business and raise a family. I expect others to obey the laws of this land as well. Mr. Skelps has caused me hardship by infringing on my patents.

FYI:
http://youtu.be/2_tKbY​ysS8kexternal link

http://youtu.be/zvXVPc​tP2jQexternal link

http://www.amazon.com ...Paul-Cooper/dp/B0029J3Z2Aexternal link

...if you are who you say you are I'd have to say I have no sympathy for you. You are in business and when you are in business you put your big boy pants on and deal with what life deals to you. If the patent that you hold is so important to you then do what you need to do to defend it. But I doubt you will find anyone here sympathetic to your "tale of woe."

Fortunately US patents don't have reach outside of the US so we don't have to put up with a "pain threshold" and then pay you money. I don't have to recognize you as the "inventor" of a process that was invented well before you slapped a patent on it.

Hopefully Mr Skelps will cause you enough hardship that the patent system in the US will change. Because the "process" you claim to have invented doesn't deserve to be defended by the process of law.


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Scatterbrained
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Mar 30, 2014 16:56 |  #7

It's like the Apple "Page Turn" patent. :rolleyes:


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primoz
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Mar 31, 2014 07:00 as a reply to banquetbear's post |  #8

Luckily for me, I can say "only in USA". These sort of crap really went way too far already. As soon as you can patent some obvious technique or even damn shape (square with rounded corners), you know this patent thing lost any sense. I have nothing against real patents, but crap like this... like everywhere else on world these sort of things shouldn't even be allowed to be patented.


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Photo509
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Mar 31, 2014 13:25 |  #9

banquetbear wrote in post #16797499external link
...if you are who you say you are I'd have to say I have no sympathy for you. You are in business and when you are in business you put your big boy pants on and deal with what life deals to you. If the patent that you hold is so important to you then do what you need to do to defend it. But I doubt you will find anyone here sympathetic to your "tale of woe."

Of course I am the person who I say I am. I am not looking for sympathy but I am looking to get a fair shake. I came to America because I couldn't stand the corrupt Communist Regime. Now I seem to be facing bullying and name calling by uninformed and hateful people.

banquetbear wrote in post #16797499external link
..... I don't have to recognize you as the "inventor" of a process that was invented well before you slapped a patent on it.

Ok, show me where the claims of the patent were practiced long before I "slapped a patent on it." People and lawyers have searched high and low for prior art and no one has found it. Now please don't describe some non-relevant prior art. You need to play by the rules of patent law to proof it. I describe in detail in my patents the process that was used before 1999 and it was laborious and antiquated. My new methods allowed any photographer to enjoy event photography and make some money at it. All I am asking is a reasonable compensation for coming up with the idea in the first place.

banquetbear wrote in post #16797499external link
Hopefully Mr Skelps will cause you enough hardship that the patent system in the US will change. Because the "process" you claim to have invented doesn't deserve to be defended by the process of law.

Not quite sure why you wish hardship on me. I don't wish that on anyone, including Mr. Skelps. The process I invented allowed many people to enjoy event photography and generate an income. There would be little incentive for people to develop new ideas and processes without some protection so that bullies don't take those ideas away from the inventor. The laws in this country are very explicit about this. Patent protection is even mentioned in the US Constitution.

Hey, thanks for your comments. We obviously have different points of view and as long as we can express those views in a civil manner, I am all for it.

I have been inventing things all my life. Most of my inventions (nearly a dozen) were for companies in the computer printer industry. They made millions and I got a plaque and lunch with the President. No complaints from me. They paid me a good salary. Patents are difficult to enforce as a little guy.

Peter Wolf


Peter Wolf
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www.brandedsportpictur​es.comexternal link

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banquetbear
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Mar 31, 2014 14:09 |  #10

Photo509 wrote in post #16799389external link
Of course I am the person who I say I am.

...this is the internet. You could be a fourteen year old boy posting from school for all I know. We've had imposters posting here before.

I am not looking for sympathy but I am looking to get a fair shake. I came to America because I couldn't stand the corrupt Communist Regime. Now I seem to be facing bullying and name calling by uninformed and hateful people.

Playing the "I'm not looking for sympathy" and the "escaped from Communist regime STOP THE BULLYING YOU HATEFUL PEOPLE" card in the same paragraph is delightfully ironic. You are in business. Suck it up.

Ok, show me where the claims of the patent were practiced long before I "slapped a patent on it." People and lawyers have searched high and low for prior art and no one has found it. Now please don't describe some non-relevant prior art. You need to play by the rules of patent law to proof it. I describe in detail in my patents the process that was used before 1999 and it was laborious and antiquated. My new methods allowed any photographer to enjoy event photography and make some money at it. All I am asking is a reasonable compensation for coming up with the idea in the first place.

I'm not going to litigate a court case here on a message board. Go hide behind your lawyers. I don't need to play your your rules of the game: I don't live where you live. You want reasonable compensation? Give me your address and I'll send you a dollar.

Not quite sure why you wish hardship on me.

In the context of your usage of the word "hardship" means "competition."

I don't wish that on anyone, including Mr. Skelps.

Of course you do. He is taking money away from your business because his clients like him and his services better than you. You want that business or you want a licence fee. And you are happy to cause him hardship until he yields.

The process I invented allowed many people to enjoy event photography and generate an income.

BWAAA HAA HAAA!

Its a shame the US patent system is so screwed up. Capstone never consulted you. They never called on your hundreds of thousands of dollars of research. (And can I suggest you overpaid.) I can enjoy event photography and generate an income without any input from you. In fact I do enjoy event photography and generate an income without any input from you.

There would be little incentive for people to develop new ideas and processes without some protection so that bullies don't take those ideas away from the inventor.

Lets make this clear. I don't care what the US courts say. I don't live in the US and I don't have to suffer under such an appalling and abusive usage of the patent system. Lets make another thing clear. YOU are the bully.

The laws in this country are very explicit about this. Patent protection is even mentioned in the US Constitution.

Which simply means the laws in your country are an ass. And your constitution is over rated.

I have been inventing things all my life. Most of my inventions (nearly a dozen) were for companies in the computer printer industry. They made millions and I got a plaque and lunch with the President. No complaints from me. They paid me a good salary. Patents are difficult to enforce as a little guy.

Peter Wolf

You aren't a "little guy." You've just stated you've made millions. That is a few million more than any of the photographers here on this messageboard. As I said: you can't expect to get a sympathetic ear here. You won't be "bullied" here and you won't get called names. But you have chosen to do something that is deemed to be extremely controversial in the photographic community. Take ownership of that. I don't care what happened in your past. All that matters is what you choose to do now.


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watt100
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Mar 31, 2014 14:12 |  #11

Scatterbrained wrote in post #16797511external link
It's like the Apple "Page Turn" patent. :rolleyes:

or Amazon 'one click' ;)

looks like someone has discovered the good old American patent insanity (or profitability !)




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sporadic
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Mar 31, 2014 14:15 |  #12

He should go after Google. The ability to search based on meta-data?!?!?!? THE HORROR!!!!


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Scatterbrained
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Mar 31, 2014 15:22 |  #13

Ya, it reminds me of when Trump trademarked "You're Fired" and then proceeded to sue the pants off of a DIY ceramic arts store with that same name. Absolutely stupid.

BTW, search Fred Miranda, there are some interesting threads over there. Apparently Mr Wolf is exactly what his surname would have you surmise. He basically uses an overbroad patent to extort money from people under the threat of a lawsuit.
http://www.fredmiranda​.com/forum/topic/10651​28/0external link

Does everyone remember Peter Wolf and his company's patent on providing event images online for sale and having them be searchable by bib number, finishing time, etc.? If not, here is a link to one of the many topics being discussed on the FM forums: linkage.

Upon doing some research into the current nature of his patent, his claims, and any legal proceedings working against him and PhotoCrazy, I stumbled across what he's currently using as his 'tactic'. It's shameful, ugly, and essentially becomes extortion. I can't say I'm too impressed, but I can't say I'm surprised either.

He now shows up to large triathlon, running, or cycling events and sets up his team of photographers, booths, and auto-tripped cameras set to get 'automatic' images of every participant. He does this without permission from any of the race organizers and obviously without any considerations for any agreements existing between organizers and race photographers.

While there, he advertises his services to racers via his booth and promotes what he is doing to everyone and anyone that will listen. Following the race, he emails the race organizers and offers his images and works to secure a deal with them for full promotion on the race site and via email to all participants. When he is turned down, he'll threaten the organizers with legal trouble if they try to offer their own images for sale.

From Levi Leipheimer's blog on his King Ridge Gran Fondo bike race (link):

PhotoCrazy was not invited to photograph Levi’s GranFondo. They asked, but we did not extend them an invitation. They did not attend orientations. They did not avail themselves of our protocols, which were in place to protect rider safety, respect neighboring landowners, and ensure compliance with our event permits. The station they set up on Sullivan Road caused serious backlash with property owners who were never made aware of the presence of their equipment.

PhotoCrazy’s setup also was out of compliance with the encroachment permit we’re required to get from the County of Sonoma, placing a blemish on an otherwise spotless relationship with a crucial event partner. PhotoCrazy’s remotes and strobes are not what we consider to be safe equipment for riders in large, dense groups like those on Sullivan Road. Additionally, Levi’s GranFondo, like any other business, does not take kindly to misrepresentation of our two entities’ association nor with the signage and presentation of their service. Since PhotoCrazy did not respect our process or our protocols, we resent the assumption that they in any way represent our event.

Finally, we’ve seen a sampling of the photos that were taken at Sullivan Road. We do not feel that they are up to the caliber of product we wish to associate with Levi’s GranFondo. We hold a high standard and we do not feel our event or our riders are well served when we compromise it. For these reasons, we’ve firmly requested that PhotoCrazy refrain from sharing images that denigrate our standards and processes.

PhotoCrazy even put emails between them and that race's organizer on their site.

From Peter Wolf:

Maybe you saw our photography equipment on Sullivan Road by the cemetery. We took nearly 50,000 pictures of bikers heading out (3 dedicated automatic cameras) and another 3 automatic cameras of bikers coming back.

Absolutely stunning pictures. We caught just about EVERY rider on the way back because they were more spread out. We took pictures until about 6pm (we missed the last five).

The pictures should be up on our website by Monday or Tuesday. Can you please put a link to our website from your photo page? www.photocrazy.comexternal link

Race organizer's reply:

Peter,
Thank you for reaching out to us regarding your photography at our event. Unfortunately, as PhotoCrazy.com was not an official photographer of our event, we will not be posting any links to your site nor will be messaging your service to our participants. We have our own hired photographers, our own protocols, and our own systems to deliver this product to our riders and we will not engage with an unauthorized service operating outside of our knowledge and direction.

It is our understanding that you will be making this photos available to the public on your site as early as this Monday evening or Tuesday. We must firmly request that you do not do so under any circumstances. You are welcome to contact us directly.

Eventually, Peter Wolf sends the following email:

Not quite sure how you plan on posting the pictures on your gallery for people to find their particular picture. Please keep in mind that allowing viewers to search pictures by their bib number or time they passed a photographer is a patented process and you should be licensed before you offer that. All major event photography companies are licensed with PhotoCrazy for that purpose.

Anyone else find this appalling? This is not the way professional people do business. The more I learn of Peter Wolf, the more I wish someone with the money would stand up to him and his patent claims.


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JeffreyG
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Mar 31, 2014 18:07 |  #14

Photo509 wrote in post #16799389external link
Ok, show me where the claims of the patent were practiced long before I "slapped a patent on it." People and lawyers have searched high and low for prior art and no one has found it. Peter Wolf

Peter, I think you are missing the point of the arguments. No one is suggesting that your patent isn't legal. None of us are actually in a position to get into that.

What most of us are suggesting is that your patent never should have been issued in the first place. It is too broad and too obvious. Do you really think that the idea of arranging pictures of people based on numbers plastered to their torso is a novel idea?

My suggestion is that the U.S. patent system is broken, and your patent is a good example. You have patented an obvious idea and now you are using the patent to (legally) stifle competition in your market.

My company (a large multinational European company that has nothing to do with photography) has fought similar patent trolls successfully in court, but then we have the resources to do it. And I've seen our competition cave and just pay off the trolls because they ran the numbers and it was cheaper to just pay the extortion.

The only reason patents exist is to benefit society. A useful patent system rewards truly innovative people for their unique, new and creative inventions by ensuring they can profit from their ideas. When patents are issued for the idea of placing numbered items in order by number so that they can be searched, we have reached the point that we are patenting what is intuitively obvious. This does not serve the goals of society. But then, 99% of US law does not serve the goals of society in a general sense so I guess we should not be surprised.

It frustrates me. Disney should not be able to renew copyrights for 100+ years and inventors should not be able to patent obvious ideas. Even I have an engineer in my department who keeps trying to patent basic physical laws as rendered in controls form....it's crazy. You should not be able to patent the Arrhenius equation just by writing it into controls software. You should also not be able to patent organizing numbered subjects in order by number.


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Photo509
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Apr 01, 2014 01:04 |  #15

JeffreyG wrote in post #16800057external link
Peter, I think you are missing the point of the arguments. No one is suggesting that your patent isn't legal. None of us are actually in a position to get into that.

Thanks for your civil and candid response.

JeffreyG wrote in post #16800057external link
What most of us are suggesting is that your patent never should have been issued in the first place. It is too broad and too obvious. Do you really think that the idea of arranging pictures of people based on numbers plastered to their torso is a novel idea?

First of all you are grossly oversimplifying the claims of the patent. See more about that below. If it was so obvious why didn't anyone else come up with the idea at the same time or before I did? Actually companies were sorting pictures by numbers as I describe in the beginning paragraphs of the patent. However, they didn't do it in a manner that I developed and patented. Also the mindset of people at the time of the invention was quite different from what it is now. Many of my biking friends thought my patents would never amount to much since people would not want to search for their pictures on the web. That's right, that was the mindset at the time in 1999. People were used to getting little proof images mailed to them in the mail with an application to order full size prints. The thought of searching for your picture online was pretty novel in 1999 but that of course changed over night once my website went live.

Take for example Post-It notes that were developed by 3M. What could be more simple than to take some paper and glue, put the two together in the 'obvious' way 3M did and produce one of the most successful products ever. It was patented and no one infringed because 3M had the muscle to go after infringers from the get-go.

By the time my patents issued (2006) the industry was entrenched in using the methods described in my patents. I had spend most of my money executing the patents through the USPTO and very little 'muscle' to enforce them. Some companies including the largest in the industry settled without any legal intervention. I was not able to do anything prior to 2006 other than say "Patent Pending".

JeffreyG wrote in post #16800057external link
My suggestion is that the U.S. patent system is broken, and your patent is a good example. You have patented an obvious idea and now you are using the patent to (legally) stifle competition in your market.

Are you suggesting that 'obvious' ideas should not be patented? Of course the USPTO has clear standards of what is 'obvious' or not and many patent applications end up rejected for that very reason. The USPTO could not demonstrate that my ideas were obvious and the patents were issued. Now just because you and others feel they are 'obvious' should that be what we go by? You would need to agree that would cause chaos when we decide to have lay people interpret the law. The only hope of having a civil society is to adhere to the laws and have trained people interpret those laws. We may need to change certain laws in a civil manner but in the mean time we need to obey the laws.

JeffreyG wrote in post #16800057external link
The only reason patents exist is to benefit society. A useful patent system rewards truly innovative people for their unique, new and creative inventions by ensuring they can profit from their ideas. When patents are issued for the idea of placing numbered items in order by number so that they can be searched, we have reached the point that we are patenting what is intuitively obvious. This does not serve the goals of society. But then, 99% of US law does not serve the goals of society in a general sense so I guess we should not be surprised.

You are grossly oversimplifying my patents. Read the claims carefully. Those are the heart of the patent and you will notice that they describe a detailed process. An infringer has to meet (read upon) each of the elements of the claims or he/she is not infringing.

JeffreyG wrote in post #16800057external link
It frustrates me. Disney should not be able to renew copyrights for 100+ years and inventors should not be able to patent obvious ideas.


The USPTO has strict guidelines of determining that something is obvious or not. My patented claims did not meet those obvious criteria and therefore they were issued to me. At a minimum I would expect others to respect those decisions and inquire about licensing. Those that have realized that our license fees were reasonable and for the most part had no impact in doing business as usual. The competitive spirit can be live and well even with patented ideas. The penalties for not licensing and willfully infringing are severe and that is to discourage infringement and expensive law suits.

It's kind of like tax evasion. People live with paying their taxes. I don't mind because this country has and continues to give me much. i.e. freedom, hope and opportunity. I think paying taxes is a bargain for what we get. I know what we got in East Germany under Communism and most of those people would agree with me. But woe is to the person who waits for the IRS to come knocking on their door and is found guilty of tax evasion. The fines, penalties and even jail time can be severe.

Don't wait until a patent lawyer comes knocking on your door. Take the first step, negotiate some royalties and go on with life. You may have to swallow a little pride and agree to something that seems unfair. Laws may not always be fair or perfect but they keep a society from falling into chaos.

We all have the freedom to fight for laws we think are unfair but in general that is an uphill battle and you need to be ready to sacrifice. Mr. Skelps from Capstone has chosen that route. I wish him well.


Peter Wolf
www.photocrazy.comexternal link
www.brandedsportpictur​es.comexternal link

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