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posted by janrinok on Friday November 18, @02:28PM   Printer-friendly

Cascade Lake and Skylake prove even more expensive than expected:

VLSI Technology, a patent holding company affiliated with Softbank's Fortress Investment Group, has been awarded $948.8 million in a patent infringement claim against Intel Corporation.

On Tuesday, a federal jury in the Western District of Texas, a popular venue for patent claims, found that Intel's Cascade Lake and Skylake processors violated a VLSI data processing patent.

Intel in a statement emailed to The Register said it intends to appeal the decision.

"This case is just one example of many that shows the US patent system is in urgent need of reform," a company spokesperson said. "VLSI is a 'patent troll' created by Fortress, a hedge fund that is bankrolled by large investment groups for the sole purpose of filing lawsuits to extract billions from American innovators like Intel."

"This is the third time that Intel has been forced to defend itself against meritless patent infringement claims made by VLSI. Intel strongly disagrees with the jury's verdict and the excessive damages awarded. We intend to appeal and are confident in the strength of our case."

An attorney representing VLSI did not immediately respond to request for comment.

[...] A 2014 academic paper, "The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes," [PDF] found that in 2011, "the estimated direct, accrued costs of NPE [non-practicing entities] patent assertions totaled $29 billion."

Large technology companies – many of which have amassed large patent portfolios, which they often justify as defensive weapons – have complained for years about patent trolls/patent assertion entities [PAE] /NPEs, which are companies that exist to file infringement claims.

Legal changes, like the US Supreme Court's Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International decision, which made software patents more difficult to obtain, have reduced patent trials – more claims are being dismissed. But Intel in its antitrust argument against Fortress has suggested that patent assertion entities are adapting to the new legal landscape.

"In the face of these challenges, PAEs have evolved," the company said. "PAEs have increasingly been partnering with investment firms to fuel their litigation."


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Booga1 on Friday November 18, @03:30PM (10 children)

    by Booga1 (6333) on Friday November 18, @03:30PM (#1280351)

    This entire class of lawsuits should be legislated out of existence.

    Patent holding groups that don't actually use the patents should not be allowed to sue over those patents. It is to my understanding that most of these types of lawsuits from patent holding corps are over patents they purchased rights to. They didn't come up with the idea, nor did they ever have the ability to put that idea into practice. Their sole purpose of acquiring the patent was so they could charge other people for doing something vaguely similar to what's described in it or sue them if the extortion attempts fail. It's an entirely predatory operation with no benefit to the public, which is what the patent system is ostensibly created for.

    The last line of the summary really drives home the point. They're partnering with deep pockets to wield a bigger bat over their targets instead of the companies that they're suing.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Adam on Friday November 18, @04:09PM (5 children)

      by Adam (2168) on Friday November 18, @04:09PM (#1280355)

      The service to the public is that they paid the inventor for the patent, who could then go on to invent other things rather than wasting their research funds and decades of time trying to sue Intel.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, @05:30PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, @05:30PM (#1280367)

        The trolls sweep up patents by buying up bankrupt companies.
        The inventors don't get squat

        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Friday November 18, @06:49PM (2 children)

          by RamiK (1813) on Friday November 18, @06:49PM (#1280386)

          While that specific innovator won't be compensated and this might not really be the case regarding this particular patent, maybe in the future when Intel realizes they're violating someone's patent, they'll might try to license it from them while they're still in business instead of keeping quiet, hoping they'll go under so they'll be able to pick their patents at the fire sale.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @01:18AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @01:18AM (#1280428)

            > license it

            That does happen in some industries, I've read about a few cases. But not nearly enough (according to me!)--thus the opening for patent trolls.

            Among the worst is ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures. In an article or interview about him is where I saw the justification (as noted elsewhere in this discussion) that by paying the inventors for the patent, the inventors save all that mucking about in the legal system while trying to license or actually develop their patented idea. Sure looks like rationalization to me.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @12:22PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @12:22PM (#1280484)

              Here's an example where licensing is the goal of the startup,
                  https://news.mit.edu/2022/24m-batteries-1025 [mit.edu]

              They have a new design of lithium-x battery that uses less inert material and is considerably cheaper to manufacture. Because it's an MIT spin-off, with the initial backing of the MIT IP department, I'd say they have a good chance of hanging on to their patents and making real money from licensing. It appears that the inventor(s) are part of the company, so they should profit personally(??)

      • (Score: 2) by Booga1 on Friday November 18, @06:51PM

        by Booga1 (6333) on Friday November 18, @06:51PM (#1280387)

        I don't buy this argument. Your hypothetical encouragement of money to "free up" the inventor would hold water if the people purchasing the rights actually used the patent. They don't. They never will. They never intend to.

        These organizations purchase patents solely as tools for extortion. A legal club to wield against companies that are actually making things and providing services. These lawsuits suppress inventions and result in the exact opposite of what the patent system is intended to achieve.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday November 18, @04:50PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday November 18, @04:50PM (#1280358)

      Without this type of patent protection there would be even less chance of "smaller entities" being able to effectively patent and market new technology.

      As it is, you already have to have an operation in the top half of the market to really leverage a patent, if you don't then a bigger player can just buy you to circumvent any patent judgements. Case in point: little pacemaker company wins big judgement against big pacemaker company, judgement exceeds the value of the little pacemaker company, big pacemaker company takes the discount on the judgement by buying the little pacemaker company and shutting it down - two birds with one stone: less competition and lower price for the judgement settlement. If the little pacemaker company had sold their patent to a holding company, then the judgement would have been payable to the holding company.

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      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by theluggage on Friday November 18, @06:05PM (2 children)

        by theluggage (1797) on Friday November 18, @06:05PM (#1280373)

        if you don't then a bigger player can just buy you to circumvent any patent judgements.

        So you get a shedload of money from the buyout - based on a patent that is now known to be worth a lot of money. Where's the problem? OK, bad for competition, but patents are artificial, government-granted monopolies so was anybody expecting them to help competition?

        If the little pacemaker company had sold their patent to a holding company,

        ...then they wouldn't own the patent any more and would be dependent on the holding company choosing to protect their interests (rather than, say, sitting on the patent until/unless it became part of a billion dollar business and was with vastly more than the inventor got paid).

        then the judgement would have been payable to the holding company.

        ...rather than the small firm who'd lost the rights to their invention and had probably already been driven out by the big players by the time the potential damages got big enough to get the holding company out of bed. Of course, if the inventor didn't make anything either, just patented whatever they thought up while sitting on the toilet and sold patents by the dozen to the holding companies, nothing would ever get made (and couldn't get made without violating a hundred of the trivial, junk patents that such a system would generate).

        Anyway, this all assumes that the patents and infringement claims are valid - and the real problem is that the patent system is a nice idea built on the fallacy that you can reliably define and enforce (with lay juries FFS!) the difference between an obvious idea and an innovation. There's no fundamental moral basis behind a patent (as there maybe is with copyright) - the infringer doesn't need to have stolen or copied anything - and the sole justification is that they is supposed to promote industry and science. It's about time that somebody stumped up the evidence to prove that, because it looks like all it does is promote parasitic rent-seeking.

        The NPE problem is just a symptom of a more deeply broken system - but while big near-monopoly players who get their pockets picked are happy to call for an elastoplast to be slapped ob the NPEs they'll fight like hell against any more fundamental reform that might decimate their own patent portfolios.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday November 18, @07:14PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday November 18, @07:14PM (#1280390)

          >So you get a shedload of money from the buyout - based on a patent that is now known to be worth a lot of money. Where's the problem?

          Didn't really work so great for the pacemaker company - I mean, a few principals ended up with enough dosh to almost start a new venture before they had to get VC involved, but we're talking about a couple hundred specifically skilled people who had relocated to the R&D site who were rather suddenly twisting in the wind. The buildings stood empty for years, there was a giant sucking sound in the local real-estate market as the ex-employees shuffled off to other employment. Companies are much more than their principals.

          Brings to mind when Mount Sinai bought Miami Heart, the principals walked away with a shedload of money from the deal, leaving both Sinai and Miami Heart to struggle with crippling debt after the deal went through. So, was it a win for the two jackasses who skipped town with hundreds of millions, or a loss for the thousands of employees who had to pick up the pieces and tens of thousands of patients who suffered with poorer care than they would have had if the institutes had proper funding, like they did before the buyout? Also, I was working with a researcher who was developing new CPR knowledge and systems just before that - at Mt. Sinai funded by Miami Heart. Guess what happened to the funding for his, and lots of other, research after the deal...

          >then they wouldn't own the patent any more and would be dependent on the holding company choosing to protect their interests

          Are we then agreeing that the system, as currently structured, is fundamentally broken leaving no attractive options for small patent holders?

          >had probably already been driven out by the big players by the time the potential damages got big enough

          Well, what actually went down was: the little pacemaker company developed (at great expense to themselves) a far superior electrode anchor to hold the pacing lead on the cardiac wall. It was a big problem at the time, but the big pacemaker companies were making big bucks even with the problems so they didn't really feel like going to great expense to develop a better solution. Then, the better solution comes along and is offered to them at a rate which would have recouped the cost of development for the developers in, roughly, 5 years of licensing fees - not to mention saving the big pacing companies on expenses associated with faulty anchors and saving thousands of patients from repair surgeries for the inferior anchor failures. Big company does what roughly 99% of big companies do when presented with a shiny new patent not invented by themselves, they ignored it. Most times the big companies just continue doing business without the innovation (hydraulic power steering was a classic early example of this), but in this case the big company decided to try to rip off the invention and beat the smaller company in court with their superior legal firepower. Well, they got their court battle, and lost - which is pretty rare. At least pacemaker patients could finally start getting the superior anchor, but that would have happened in about the same timeframe either way: If the big company hadn't tried to infringe, the smaller company's market share was rising fast due to the performance data on their anchors.

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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by sjames on Saturday November 19, @01:27AM

          by sjames (2882) on Saturday November 19, @01:27AM (#1280429) Journal

          Arguably, the mere fact that the infringer came up with the idea independently should be taken as strong evidence that the patent was wrongfully issued in the first place and so, null and void.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Friday November 18, @05:02PM (35 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 18, @05:02PM (#1280362) Homepage Journal

    It's at least refreshing that the patent in question is non-trivial. At a glance, it is about scheduling concurrent access to memory by multiple cores.

    As an EE, I would have to spend some time studying it, along with the architectures in question, to decide whether or not it is being infringed.

    So, tell me: how the heck is a jury of random citizens qualified to make such a decision? That makes no sense at all...

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    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Friday November 18, @06:36PM (33 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Friday November 18, @06:36PM (#1280382)

      Expert witnesses and the patent office own opinion supported the validity of the patent (thought they're looking into some of the patents again). Regardless, the story makes it sound like they didn't chalange the patent but instead appealed on some "anti-competitive" thing that the court throw out:

      In October 2019, Intel and Apple filed a joint antitrust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group and several patent assertion entities (PAEs, also known as non-practicing entities, or NPEs) including VLSI. The companies sought to prevent alleged anti-competitive conduct but the case was dismissed. Intel in 2021 appealed to the US Ninth Circuit and last week the appellate court found Intel's allegations lacking.

      ( https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/16/intel_hit_with_9488_million/ [theregister.com] )

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      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday November 18, @07:23PM (32 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday November 18, @07:23PM (#1280391)

        >Expert witnesses and the patent office own opinion supported the validity of the patent

        I've been offered expert witness gigs, and I've known people who take them. What's required is a convincing presentation, appropriate education from impressive sounding schools, employment at firms with recognizable good names, and a clear speaking voice that can convince a panel of 12 lay people that you know exactly what you are talking about and not lying.

        Matter of fact: on my first day at a new company I uncovered a problem with their communication checksums. I brought the problem to the resident expert (who does expert witnessing as a side gig to pay for his divorce battles), and he gave me his best snow job about how that problem would only happen once in so many billion years, "he done the math." Yeah, being my first day at a new job I just moved across the country for, I said: "o.k., as long as you are aware of the situation." He blew some more reassuring snow that melted before it got anywhere near me. Less than a year later, he, I, and the communication software team lead are quietly called to a conference room and basically locked inside until we get to the bottom of a situation wherein evidence of communication checksum issues has been reported by at least a dozen patients who were receiving painful electroshocks as a result of the miscommunication (and several other bad design decisions along the way...) Um, yeah, how many billion years was that, again?

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        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Friday November 18, @11:04PM (31 children)

          by RamiK (1813) on Friday November 18, @11:04PM (#1280412)

          Both parties get to refute expert witness testimonies with their own expert witnesses and neither is limited to just one or two so companies the size of Intel can easily bring in more and better experts to discredit quack claims.

          Regardless, I wasn't trying to defend the system (because I believe patents and copyrights are just corporate welfare and need to be abolished). I was simply answering how patents are meant to be litigated through non-expert judge and jury. Though note the patent system is simply mirroring its political and economic adversial democracy parallels: Whether its consumers trying to decide on product prices or voters trying to decide which politician is more reliable, the principle is not to get every single "sale" right but getting the average good enough over time. In those regards, the current patent and copyright ligation process is failing since it's simply too inefficient, high-stakes and slow to weed out the trolls.

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          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday November 18, @11:40PM (28 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday November 18, @11:40PM (#1280414)

            >Both parties get to refute expert witness testimonies with their own expert witnesses and neither is limited to just one or two

            Incase I didn't make it clear: I consider expert witnesses to literally be a battle of the bullshitters. The Scopes Monkey Trial is a very clear story about what plays well in a courtroom and what does not, and it has nothing to do with facts, logic, truth, or justice. I was going to say beauty, but beauty does indeed play into it a great deal: an attractive expert witness will sway a jury more than an unattractive one, regardless of the truth or fiction of what either is saying.

            so companies the size of Intel can easily bring in more and better experts to discredit quack claims sway the jury to back their position. Again, little guy loses regardless of truth.

            Not saying all juries are 100% stupid sheep, that little pacemaker company pulled off a David hit on Goliath in the courtroom, but Goliath ate them for breakfast on the way down the courtroom steps, and that may have actually been the legal strategy: get the case over quickly and cheaply, regardless of outcome they know they will be "winning" in the not so long run.

            >getting the average good enough over time. In those regards, the current patent and copyright ligation process is failing since it's simply too inefficient, high-stakes and slow to weed out the trolls.

            Average is a poor statistic when you've got particles with sizes that vary by 6+ orders of magnitude. Yes, I agree, the trolls should be shown the light of morning and displayed on the courthouse steps as examples of what "being evil" gets you in the halls of justice, but that's a tricky thing to do without also killing off all kinds of beneficial litigation and, yes, there is such a thing - without beneficial litigation, or at least the threat thereof, our whole business world would collapse through breach of contract, unconscionable contract, etc. etc.

            A better statistic might be median... as in: all men are created equal, and the size of their bank balance should not determine their rights before the law.

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            • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @01:47AM (27 children)

              by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @01:47AM (#1280430)

              I consider expert witnesses to literally be a battle of the bullshitters

              Just like politicians and marketing...

              it has nothing to do with facts, logic, truth, or justice.

              The legal system is there to stabilize society by letting the powerful exert their influence without making the injustice obvious to everyone else. Not to actually deliver justice via facts and logic. In the case of the patent courts it lets companies throw money at each other until they feel satisfied with their idiocy.

              Average is a poor statistic when you've got particles with sizes that vary by 6+ orders of magnitude

              The USPTO is working towards are small claims court that should help with this at least.

              and the size of their bank balance should not determine their rights before the law.

              But it always had and it always will so you might as well let them "win" 1 billion dollar settlements and then deduct half of that as income taxes.

              Basically, if you can't win them, tax them.

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              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 19, @02:06AM (24 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 19, @02:06AM (#1280432)

                >the size of their bank balance should not determine their rights before the law.

                But it always had and it always will so long as you believe change is impossible.

                Imagine Universal Basic Income, I wonder if you can....

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                • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @01:50PM (23 children)

                  by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @01:50PM (#1280490)

                  Imagine Universal Basic Income, I wonder if you can....

                  Basic income will just inflate housing and commodities followed by the currency until you're back to square one. But you don't have to be an economist to figure out it won't work: Just run a game of monopoly with a rule saying each player gets a minimal fixed amount of money each round.

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                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 19, @08:02PM (17 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 19, @08:02PM (#1280538)

                    In the current economy housing is only paid for by people who make good money, or government assistance programs. With (significant) UBI, everyone has sufficient means to afford basic low cost housing and specially administered government housing projects for the needy can wind down. IMO that would provide deflationary influence on the housing market, knowing that these low income people at least have enough reliable income to pay for basic low cost housing.

                    Or, the housing owners could just be greedy bastards and let people stay homeless on the streets while they hold out for higher rent and pay higher taxes for police to protect them from the starving poor... Could go either way, or a million other ways, nobody really knows until it is put into practice.

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                    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @08:42PM (16 children)

                      by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @08:42PM (#1280543)

                      ...that would provide deflationary influence on the housing market...

                      Without taking action to increase the supply of housing you'll just create a demand-pull inflation.

                      Or, the housing owners could just be greedy bastards and let people stay homeless on the streets while they hold out for higher rent and pay higher taxes for police to protect them from the starving poor

                      You're not thinking far enough. At first money will transfer from the upper class (tax), through the poor (UBI) to the middle class (rent seeking). However, the scaling factor will enter: The ultra rich will put up huge ghetto style block cities where they'll own the supermarkets and utilities thus milking the UBI recipients directly. Another iteration forwards and the poor are back to working poor status since the rich raised the prices for everything to optimal while the middle class is no longer in the rent-seeking business since they were scaled out of it.

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                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 19, @09:58PM (15 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 19, @09:58PM (#1280548)

                        >Without taking action to increase the supply of housing you'll just create a demand-pull inflation.

                        Housing demand, at least at the low end of the market, comes from population, not money. When the poor have enough money to actually pay for housing, there will be incentive to provide it for them at prices they can afford.

                        >The ultra rich will put up huge ghetto style block cities where they'll own the supermarkets and utilities thus milking the UBI recipients directly.

                        I don't question whether this is beneath their moral scruples, clearly it isn't, but I do question whether it's actually worth the Ultra-rich's time to pursue such low margin markets? They would rather be focused on milking the middle-class dry until the Middle class is all down in UBI level housing too.

                        UBI isn't about bleeding money out of the rich, it's about changing the economics equation to put in a per-capita floor number higher than 0. Having that guaranteed income, as long as it is enough to provide basic food, clothing and shelter - even if it is in your ghettos - changes the employment social dynamic dramatically. People would be working to better their circumstances, not to avoid unlivable situations. Assuming we ever get to a representative government where the majority of a the population gets policies they want (instead of the majority of the money), all the rich would accomplish by raising the cost of living in their slums is increased taxes to pay for the increased UBI to cover those expenses.

                        Most everything worthwhile throughout human history has come about at the hands of people with, relatively speaking, too much time on their hands. Discoveries, inventions, philosophical advances have mostly been at the hands of the idle rich, or in situations of commission by the rich like Leonardo DaVinci and Edison's patent sweatshop. Wouldn't it be interesting if 100 million+ Americans had the option to pursue their own interests, rather than working from graduation until they're old and broken?

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                        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @11:18PM (14 children)

                          by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @11:18PM (#1280559)

                          would rather be focused on milking the middle-class dry until the Middle class is all down in UBI level housing too.

                          It will rotate between parties just like now: When the republicans get elected they'll mostly target the poor and when the democrats get elected they'll mostly target the middle.

                          UBI isn't about bleeding money out of the rich...Assuming we ever get to a representative government where the majority of a the population gets policies they want (instead of the majority of the money), all the rich would accomplish by raising the cost of living in their slums is increased taxes to pay for the increased UBI to cover those expenses.

                          That's the problem: The adversarial design of the republic's government and markets explicitly sets out to make sure one side is always out to bleed the other as a form of checks and balances precisely to prevent having a democratic "representative government where the majority of a the population gets policies they want". And since that's a prerequisite for UBI to work as intended...

                          Look, the US exists to fulfill a Machiavellian ideal by (John Adams' [jstor.org]) design. The Union's very nature opposes everything UBI sets to achieve. It's basically why the US was so opposed to communism and is so resistive to various socialist and progressive agendas. You just can't remove a big chunk of American from the you-stab-me-I-stab-you game. The system won't allow it. Even if the upper and middle classes somehow reach an agreement not to fuck it up, some Trump-wannabe fueled by senility, dirty money and debts will start spreading FUD how he can make America great again if they just vote for him and once he gains a bit of popularity one of the major parties will embrace him and break things up. That's how the system was design to work: Endless conflict as a form of stability to fuel growth and prevent cartels and monopolies from gaining too much political influence.

                          For UBI to happen in the US in any shape or form, it will need to happen for the whole OECD first just like health care. And even then, the US will be forced into it kicking and screaming through multiple failed legislative attempts and decades of two-steps-forward, one-step-back pushes and pulls. And that's me being optimistic.

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                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @02:28AM (13 children)

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @02:28AM (#1280582)

                            UBI doesn't serve a 51% majority, it would benefit more like an 80% supermajority, not to mention providing security for future generations...

                            If the "silent majority" ever wakes up to that reality, opponents of UBI are screwed.

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                            • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday November 20, @12:49PM (12 children)

                              by RamiK (1813) on Sunday November 20, @12:49PM (#1280661)

                              Universal health care serves 99% of the population. How's that working?

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                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @01:38PM (11 children)

                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @01:38PM (#1280668)

                                Note: dependency on Silent Majority waking up from their current delusional state. Why do you think Gov. DeSantis is explicitly passing "Anti-Woke" legislation around education?

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                                • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday November 20, @02:32PM (10 children)

                                  by RamiK (1813) on Sunday November 20, @02:32PM (#1280675)

                                  Gender politics is the sex-sales of red herrings: You can always bet on it to divide and conquer whenever you stumble on inconvenient majority consensus.

                                  But yeah. I remain unconvinced about UBI and any other plan that necessitates people not being idiots. Call me back when you can get the Kardashians to champion UBI. Then we'll talk :/

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                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @02:49PM (9 children)

                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @02:49PM (#1280679)

                                    I know he's a radical arrested for protesting, but Sanders was actually making "I'd like for us to do this" noises back when Yang was campaigning on it.

                                    I feel like it wouldn't take the Kardashians to make it happen, just a few dozen Hollywood blockbusters showing what it could do, and maybe a few more contrasting it with a future without it. They make plenty of dystopian crap, they could start getting explicit in Star Trek: "this is where we go with UBI..."

                                    I'm not at all claiming that UBI can't be a label slapped on corrupt party leader communism or similar sleight of hand bullshit revolutions that make things just as bad or worse as they were before, but unlike communism, UBI leaves the power of purchasing in the hands of the people. It's not quite: One person one (monetary) vote, but it stops people's money-voting power from dropping to zero, and that's a powerful change in the denominator.

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                                    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday November 20, @04:41PM (8 children)

                                      by RamiK (1813) on Sunday November 20, @04:41PM (#1280689)

                                      I'm beating a dead horse here but you get to choose health insurers, doctors, smartphones, a wide selection of wonderful tv channels, ISPs... Fundamentally, free markets just don't work by default as competition needs significant invested interests, legislation and active enforcement to function properly. So, unless you can design UBI in a way that pits the middle class incentives against the upper class and vice versa, it ain't gonna fly.

                                      Having said all that, there's one game changer that should actually have a fairly decent chance at getting UBI going in the next few years: The federal reserve will probably issue a CBDC* and gradually phase out paper currency in the next few years which would follow up with a fairly complete rewrite of the tax system. From there, the rich will fight tooth and nail to keep the middle class in check by cancelling social programs and favoring direct flow to people's pockets where their market dominance can be leveraged to scale. But, since the flow issues will surface early, the middle class will be able to act in time to keep the rich in check with more taxes and anti-competitive regulations and enforcement...

                                      * China is already there while the EU is starting a pilot next year so it will soon become a fundamental trust issue in the dollar unless it gets done.

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                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @05:54PM (7 children)

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @05:54PM (#1280696)

                                        >Fundamentally, free markets just don't work by default as competition needs significant invested interests

                                        No, they don't. Free markets lead to the Rockefeller domination of the oil industry and similar... Anti-trust laws sort of give justification for breakups of those kinds of monopolies - the aftermath of the AT&T breakup was an intentional shitshow, but if you look at pre and post AT&T breakup communication markets there's no denying the revolutionary improvements that were accelerated by the breakup.

                                        The problem we have today is collusion of the major players - again in the oil and energy markets, but really all over. Again, the members of "the club" basically play a gentleman's game of non-competition and act as a defacto monopoly that new entrants to the market have little or no chance of challenging. Like the anti-trust legislation of the 1920s, the 2020s really needs to get into anti-collusion activities - and we are in tiny little baby steps, but it really should move faster.

                                        Agreed that CBDC is a good thing, traceable currency is actually a good thing overall. I do feel that untraceable cash has its place and we should establish some kind of "rights to cash" that permit transactions under $10K or 33% of annual declared income as untraceable without question as a matter of civil liberty, in my Utopia this is a right NOT conferred upon corporations. I like the Scandanavian model of open tax returns, and I definitely think that anyone seeking public office at any level should put their annual income statements on public display for all to see when declaring intent to run for office.

                                        >the rich will fight tooth and nail to keep the middle class in check by cancelling social programs

                                        I am completely 100% in favor of the scale-back of social programs, replacing need-based aid with the recognition that these are needs of all citizens of the country and providing that assistance as UBI to all citizens regardless of their income level, only question to be asked: "Are you a citizen of the United States of America?" Answer yes falsely and be subject to reparation payments with penalties or deportation or both. Same thing for basic healthcare insurance - you want fancy insurance that provides the latest super-treatments? Yeah, get that on the private market - don't tax me for your experimental $900K cancer therapy as part of my kids' well-patient visits to the pediatrician insurance.

                                        I fully recognize that I would have a snowball's chance in the flowing crater of Kiluaea of getting these reforms passed if I ran for office like Andrew Wang, but we should keep the noise up and keep the politicians aware that there is support out here for these kinds of reforms. Without it, people will continue to believe that it's hopeless to even try to fight for it.

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                                        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday November 20, @08:24PM (6 children)

                                          by RamiK (1813) on Sunday November 20, @08:24PM (#1280710)

                                          The problem we have today is collusion of the major players

                                          I don't think it's wise to adopt the puritan mind set when it comes to collusion, conspiracies, collaboration or civilization as a whole whichever you want to call it. After all, when you start trying to pit the law against human nature, you're going to lose. If you want to ensure competition, you can't legislate rules saying you have to compete. You have to make it necessary to compete. If companies collude on hiring practices, illegality do-not-compete clauses and make it possible for people to quit without notice... If pharmaceutical and tech hike prices, force them to license their patent per drug to third-parties after a set period with the price of the licenses being a fixed percentage off the profits similar to how fabless and restaurant subsidiaries work... If you need companies to keep to CO2 quotas, force petroleum and green house polluters to invest in green energy R&D so it will gradually become their interests for the alternatives to sell...

                                          Basically, instead of saying no to human nature, say "Fine. But you're going to play by my rules." instead.

                                          we should keep the noise up and keep the politicians aware that there is support out here for these kinds of reforms. Without it, people will continue to believe that it's hopeless to even try to fight for it.

                                          I'm torn about this since noise about a dozen different reforms that have fundamental flaws tends to drown out the various discussion about regulatory capture and tax reforms that are closer to consensus. Still, we're in the internet age and noise seems unavoidable so maybe it's fine as a counterbalance to the lunacy the bible thumpers are proposing... Honestly I don't have a good way to evaluate the pros and cons so I guess something is better than nothing?

                                          Regardless, we're entering a recession right now so plummeting stock portfolios and record unemployment in white color jobs tend to get elected officials to reconsider their positions on reforms... But we'll see.

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                                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @09:22PM (5 children)

                                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @09:22PM (#1280717)

                                            >make it possible for people to quit without notice...

                                            You have heard of employment at will?

                                            >If pharmaceutical and tech hike prices, force them to license their patent per drug to third-parties after a set period with the price of the licenses being a fixed percentage off the profits

                                            We have that today, it's just that the set period is 20 years and that seems to be enough for things as simple as insulin to be hiked 400% well, just because we can legally.

                                            >noise about a dozen different reforms that have fundamental flaws

                                            I don't see it as a dozen different reforms, I see it as a singular recognition of basic rights of citizens under the current economic situation: basic food, shelter, etc. conferred upon each and every citizen in the form of UBI, not a bunch of de-humanizing needs tests administered by the bureaucracy - that's un-necessary, in-efficient, and missing the point: these things are everyone's right, whether employed or not. Wind down the programs that become un-necessary as a side-benefit. The major positive benefit I see of the change in policy is: people would be working because they want to, not because they have to, it would be a power-shift to the employees away from employers, particularly bottom-feeding employers who tend to be the most abusive of their employees. Eventually: minimum wage could be abolished, you want to work in WalMart for free? Go for it, if they'll have you. I assume that working conditions at these volunteer positions would be attractive to the volunteers, otherwise why would they do it?

                                            >plummeting stock portfolios

                                            I am so f-ing sick of the "market's not doing so well" belly aching of multi-millionaires who have one less million than they did last month, when overall they've made 10s of millions in the market in exchange for putting their capital at risk and out of reach for a minute.

                                            >counterbalance to the lunacy the bible thumpers are proposing.

                                            And that's my other problem with "political debate" - it is always framed in such radical extremes, overreach beyond what anyone really wants, and then some start to take the overblown message to heart and really set it as their goal, and then you get -hit like Dobbs v Jackson. Part of me is glad that Musk has shown his colors (60% of the bots and sock puppets voted this way, so it's God's will), that Trump is back on Twitter for as long as Twitter lasts with everyone fired or quitting, and that Trump is back out there bashing the Republican party into pieces, the part that isn't terrified that next time he loses (which, in any sane world is every time he runs) he's going to somehow get the loyalty of significant segments of the military and we end up nuking ourselves over imaginary election fraud...

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                                            • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Monday November 21, @03:07AM (4 children)

                                              by RamiK (1813) on Monday November 21, @03:07AM (#1280748)

                                              I don't see it as a dozen different reforms

                                              Again, I like the idea and I respect the vision as a whole but I'm concerned with the implementation details. Especially when the government simply doesn't know about the cash flow and has to trust the fox to guard the hen house when...

                                              I am so f-ing sick of the "market's not doing so well" belly aching of multi-millionaires

                                              Yeah. Governments will remain hostages to industry FUD and it will always be a huge gamble to to go against what the banks and lobbies are telling you since they CAN and WILL deliberately sabotage reforms even if it means damaging their companies. That one in particular really needs digital currency so government will be able to monitor the real world as is instead of putting its faith in interest holders.

                                              Part of me is glad that Musk has shown his colors...

                                              I suggest you read this in case any of this caught you by surprise: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/11/16/business/tesla-elon-musk-testimony-lawsuit/index.html [cnn.com]

                                              Trump is back out there bashing the Republican party into pieces...

                                              The youth support for the democrats is so high I doubt it matters who the republicans will run in 2024.

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                                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday November 21, @11:22AM (3 children)

                                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday November 21, @11:22AM (#1280787)

                                                My first job out of college I worked (for 12 years) for a "closely held" small public company, meaning: the CEO held 51% of the shares. For 10 of those years I worked closely with the CEO, and he was a good guy - compared with others in his position he was a great guy. Employees were paid more or less market rate with slightly better than market benefits as compared with much larger companies in the industry. He was in his 60s and basically mellow, but still reaching for that next level brass ring.

                                                When times were good he would pay himself $300k per year. When times were hard, he would forgo salary and make 12% APR loans to the company and issue new shares, always issuing himself enough to keep control but also taking money from the market. With 51% control these actions could never be questioned, but occasionally he would hire consultants to tell him what was "reasonable in the current environment.". Of course they would tell him things he wanted to hear. Things like: issue of restricted shares to CEO and employees: employees get the opportunity to purchase shares restricted from market sale for one year at 50% of market rate, CEO gets opportunity to purchase many more shares only restricted for six months, or maybe three, at 25% of market rate, and the worst part IMO: is not required to disclose these terms except in the annual report which comes out long after the employees decision to participate deadline. The justification is rich too: the better terms are because the size of the investment is higher IIRC CEO was investing 100k, employees were restricted to a maximum $25k in aggregate of all employees, limited due to the lesser financial means of the employees and the risky nature of the investment. In other words: because the employees are lower class they have not only restricted opportunity to benefit from the situation but also higher risk terms.

                                                He was one of the good ones, most of the investors we courted over the years weren't even shy about the nature of the pump and dump schemes they proposed wherein their investment in our company put most of the risk on the company existing shareholders and most of the gain of a successful outcome in their pockets. I forget the particulars of those deals we turned down, but IIRC "most" often ran around 90% both risk to shareholders and 90% gain to these outside investors. Virtually all of those proposals included total divestiture of the outside investors within a year or two - they weren't interested in the company at all beyond its access to the stock market.

                                                Musk is playing at such a high level that there are no precedents to compare, lawsuits are just part of the landscape there because of the opportunity to make precedent. I would not be surprised by an Elon bid for the presidency as early as 2028, but at this point I sincerely doubt his ability to successfully manage Twitter as a major platform that long and his ability to transform his various customer based (tree hugger solar and EV, starry eyed Martian hopefuls, outspoken businessman worshipers...) into a voting bloc. Even if he signed Andrew Yang as VP I would have a hard time voting for an out of touch pothead trust fund baby. Maybe if he was running against Trump.... At least he wouldn't be over 70 going into office.

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                                                • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Monday November 21, @05:55PM (2 children)

                                                  by RamiK (1813) on Monday November 21, @05:55PM (#1280842)

                                                  I would not be surprised by an Elon bid for the presidency as early as 2028

                                                  He'll have to get the natural-born citizen clause repealed first since he was born in South Africa.

                                                  lawsuits are just part of the landscape...

                                                  When Musk tweeted he secured funds he didn't for the first time, he made a mistake. When he violate the terms with the SEC on the 3rd or 4th time he made such a tweet with the excuse that "extracted from Musk through the exercise of economic duress" ( https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/27/judge-quashes-elon-musks-attempt-to-end-sec-settlement-over-tesla-tweets/ [techcrunch.com] ), he was being a criminal. When he awarded himself a $50 billion golden parachute without consulting the boardroom or appointing board members who have the shareholder's concerns at heart despite being explicitly required to do by his SEC settlement, he was being a recidivist. And now, when he's moving employees and cash from Tesla into Twitter despite it not benefiting Tesla shareholder in any way while the above case is still discussed in court... Yeah. That's not being a good CEO, a bad investor or even a repeat offender... That's him betting on getting the next president into office by control media Murdoch-style so they'll pardon him for everything.

                                                  So if you seriously didn't see Trump being invited back by Musk into twitter coming, you haven't been paying attention at all.

                                                  Regardless, the only mild surprise is that Trump had the business acumen to turn down the invitation so he'll be able to negotiate the terms. Of course, the Trump brand is associated with a competitor so that alone is enough for him to refuse if only initially... Still, if he does join Twitter back and it ends up getting him a better deal, that would be to Trump's credit.

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                                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday November 21, @06:35PM (1 child)

                                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday November 21, @06:35PM (#1280857)

                                                    >He'll have to get the natural-born citizen clause repealed first since he was born in South Africa.

                                                    Stranger things have happened, but he probably knows better than to try to run himself anyway - far better to send in a puppet.

                                                    >That's him betting on getting the next president into office by control media Murdoch-style so they'll pardon him for everything.

                                                    Interesting plot twist, wasn't paying close enough attention to call that one, but it makes sense. What I have seen, consistently, in the ranks of the very wealthy is an unusual appetite for risk. They don't usually get there by playing it safe, and most of them seem to have a pathological need to play long odds.

                                                    >that would be to Trump's credit

                                                    It's possible that in his post-COVID haze he has started following advice more than he used to, certainly there's a crust of people around him (not that he hired/fired) that have placed themselves there in a symbiotic sort of relationship - his public persona revolves around being an ego-centric sycophant seeker, and I'm sure that's who he really is deep down too, but after his time in the presidency and post-presidential preparations for his trials, he may have actually learned to listen to these people once in a while, or simply lost the will to fight it anymore.

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                                                    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Monday November 21, @09:26PM

                                                      by RamiK (1813) on Monday November 21, @09:26PM (#1280896)

                                                      very wealthy is an unusual appetite for risk

                                                      Depends on the generation: The first gen got there by a lot of dice rolls and outlier luck so they tend to bet big as a force of habit. However, the following generations tend to build off economies of scale so so long as they have basic common sense they can keep accumulating their fortune. Either way, no risk is too big when you're too-big-to-fail.

                                                      It's possible that in his post-COVID haze he has started following advice more than he used to...

                                                      I'm guessing it's just that solicitations for his money and brand are common as spam mail is to the rest of us so he shot it down by default at the speed of a left swipe on an ad. Either way, there's still something to be said about knowing who to take advice from or maybe the experience it takes to build that "too good to be true so lets refuse first, ask questions later" response so it's still to his credit.

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                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 19, @08:38PM (4 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 19, @08:38PM (#1280542)

                    >Just run a game of monopoly with a rule saying each player gets a minimal fixed amount of money each round.

                    You mean that a game of Monopoly never ends because the players never go bankrupt? I agree, that's a terrible modification to the game of Monopoly, but then Monopoly isn't the economic system I want to live in, either.

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                    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @09:03PM (3 children)

                      by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @09:03PM (#1280545)

                      a game of Monopoly never ends

                      The rule in monopoly is that "You are declared bankrupt if you owe more than you can pay either to another player or to the Bank". So, if you're bleeding out money with each turn and can't make enough to buy a property, you'll eventually dry out when you hit consecutive bad rolls.

                      but then Monopoly isn't the economic system I want to live in, either.

                      I'm afraid most people don't get a say in the matter one way or the other.

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                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 19, @10:42PM (2 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 19, @10:42PM (#1280555)

                        )I'm afraid most people don't get a say in the matter

                        The illusion of representative government might become more substantial again like it was in the 1970s.

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                        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @11:21PM (1 child)

                          by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @11:21PM (#1280560)

                          That necessitates Asia-grade economic growth.

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                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @02:24AM

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @02:24AM (#1280580)

                            That's what made it work in the US, first the super economic growth, then the WW2 vets taking control of the political machines and giving back to their buddies from the war.

                            If we can figure out how to motivate that generosity towards our fellow man instead of our captains of industry and lotto winners... We probably still have the economic strength to pull it off.

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              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @12:33PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, @12:33PM (#1280485)

                > In the case of the patent courts it lets companies throw money at each other until they feel satisfied with their idiocy.

                There is another approach (loophole), used successfully by "duopolies". Two leading companies in some specific market carry on a patent fight, often extending for decades and many competing/infringing patents. This has a chilling effect on any other possible competitive companies that might enter that market--for the potential newcomers can see that they will be in a patent fight from the start.

                One (long ago) that I chanced to hear about was two windshield wiper manufacturers--Trico and Anderson/Anco--their patent suits could have gone on for 40+ years? I believe that the company owners and lawyers were in cahoots (to some extent), once they realized that it made sense to stay in court as long as possible. It was a cheap way to keep any third company from getting into the wiper business.

                • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @02:16PM

                  by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @02:16PM (#1280494)

                  This has a chilling effect on any other possible competitive companies that might enter that market

                  Automotive cartels of this nature happen with or without patents and courts: https://pophistorydig.com/topics/smog-conspiracy-doj-vs-automakers/ [pophistorydig.com]

                  That's the whole point: You can't keep wealth from creating more wealth disproportionately to what lesser wealth can since most industries scale. So, best you can do is tax the highest earners and move the money back down. That's what the current inefficiencies of the patents system do: They force industries to waste money on slow and inefficient pointless court cases where the only real winners are the lawyers and the tax payer. It's a shitty system that is fueled by the corruption of the lawyers and in an enlightened world we would have lined the lot of them against the wall and have a sane tax code instead... But society is dumb and greedy and need their pound of flesh so that's what we get.

                  If you want to address the system's injustices, focus on the small case courts issue. Everything else is out of our hands anyhow.

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          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Saturday November 19, @01:59AM (1 child)

            by sjames (2882) on Saturday November 19, @01:59AM (#1280431) Journal

            The problem is, then it is up to someone not even in that field to decide which army of experts is blowing snow, a job that is hard enough for many people IN the field. That when the arguments and counter arguments all sound like gibberish to them.

            Add in that the intersection between charismatic speakers and top engineers is really fairly small.

            • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday November 19, @01:55PM

              by RamiK (1813) on Saturday November 19, @01:55PM (#1280491)

              Round it back to the political system and consider the adage "Every nation gets the government it deserves": If an industry can't produce more and better field experts that are willing to testify the truth over those willing to lie, it's already doomed to fail and deserved the injustice it will get in court.

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    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Friday November 18, @08:49PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 18, @08:49PM (#1280405) Journal

      Many decide based on their emotions, and the plaintiffs are cunning in getting the jury to view this as a matter of theft. It's not theft, it's infringement. Also they play upon jury sympathies for the little person, the underdog.

      This sort of thing is why intellectual property law needs drastic reform. The law pushes people's buttons. Not only do proponents of this law enjoy too much success in equating infringement with theft, they run with the individualism inherent in the assumptions behind the law. The genius inventor heroically toiling away all alone in their own garage, in defiance of all the naysayers, is one of the figures of folklore. Laws should be based on reality, not folklore. Yes, there have been a very few real people who fit that fantasy, but it's rare. Far more common is invention coming from interactions within and between communities, in which many small advances enable further advances. No one has a monopoly on genius.

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