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Jeff Rodriguez
04-17-2009, 01:18 PM
I wasn't in Atlanta, but I heard that FIRST was awarded a patent for 'a method of coopertition'. A little seaching on the patent site yielded this:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7,507,169.PN.&OS=PN/7,507,169&RS=PN/7,507,169

I guess I don't really understand the need for the patent, but it seems like a cool thing.
The more I thought about it though, the more I started to question it. While the patent seems pretty specific to ranking scores in our competition, the idea of patenting it doesn't sit well with me.
If FIRST is really about changing the culture, wouldn't they want as many people as possible to emulate them? Doesn't the patent prevent people from doing that?
To me, this patent seems unnecessary. If another competition were to use this method and infringe on the patent, than they would be trying to promote the same fundamental that FIRST is. This seems like a very good thing that should be fostered, not guarded against.
I suppose that you could just not enforce that patent, but that would defeat the entire purpose of patenting it, wouldn't it?

EricH
04-17-2009, 02:34 PM
Jeff, as I understand the purpose of a patent, it is to both protect and to proliferate.

The idea: Some guy comes up with some crazy idea that will make life better, but the technology hasn't caught up yet or he can't get funding. He's got time to do either one, but he's in a car accident and dies after months in the hospital. His idea, which wasn't really recorded for fear of somebody else stealing it, dies with him.

So, the patent serves to document the idea. However, most inventors don't like their inventions going public and having somebody else make money off of a stolen invention. So they don't like the idea of a patent.

So, patents have a limited life. For commercial use, you have to a) own the patent, b) get a license from the patent holder, or c) buy the patent from the patent holder, unless of course you like getting sued for breach of patent. However, for individual use, nobody really cares. Once the patent "expires" (they don't, you just can't sue for breach of patent), it's anybody's game. First one to the idea can make money, if you so choose. You can only renew by improving the device, IIRC. You can also make it better and get your own patent and you can't be sued.

And the patent holder has the option to not go after patent violations.

To make matters more fun, if you read the full patent...
It has the 2003 game rules. Even FIRST doesn't use most of those anymore... Other than the "standard" ones.

My guess is that FIRST was trying to publish their idea to get it out to more people and will choose not to enforce the patent during its life.

Beth Sweet
04-17-2009, 02:57 PM
Yeah Jeff, I thought the same thing as you when I heard this. If words are TM, I'm pretty sure that means that anyone who wants to use them has to pay (I think that's why the octuplet's mom is TMing the word "octomom")

Now, if we're trying to get out into the media as much as possible, we would want to communicate gracious professionalism and coopertition, would we not? But from my understanding of the TM, media using these words will now have to pay fees for using those words. Seems counter intuitive to me...

(Please note, it's been a few years since I took media law on this topic, I may not be remembering correctly)

keehun
04-17-2009, 04:29 PM
Sorry for not saying an intelligent comment, but I really think this is funny. But I do agree that a possible intent is to have it "on record"

DonRotolo
04-17-2009, 05:01 PM
They may also choose to license their patent and permit others to use the intellectual property (IP). If profit were a motive they might seek the highest payment for a license that the market would bear; however licensing a patent for $1 is not unheard of either.

If they choose to not enforce their patent, thet can lose their IP rights protected by it.

2003 to 2009 sounds about right for getting a patent approved.

Also remember that a patent is best when it is as broad as possible, but broad patents are less likely to be approved; thuis the relatively narrow scope of their claims (relative to all the concepts we consider part of FIRST).

Don

Alan Anderson
04-17-2009, 07:27 PM
Patent holders are not required to prevent people from using their invention. On the contrary, the patent system was designed to encourage inventors to make their inventions available for use.

Dean Kamen has joked on occasion about suing organizations for non-infringement of the coopertition patent. :)

tanmaker
04-17-2009, 09:17 PM
So does this mean we have to use a little ™ whenever we say gracious professionalism (™) or coopertition (™)?

Roger
04-18-2009, 01:12 PM
So does this mean we have to use a little ™ whenever we say gracious professionalism (™) or coopertition (™)?I wandered thru wikipedia finding an answer to this, but my brain is a little foggy right now. I was thinking it's more like coopertition® as it is a registered trademark now, not just trademarked, but a patent isn't a trademark, right?

Patents are for ideas or methods -- an invention -- that may or may not turn into a product. Trademarks are for names that a product is traded by. Both in the US are done by the same people, the United States Patent and Trademark O (http://www.uspto.gov/)ffice.

Other people above I think have the right track on this. FIRST wants to hold onto the phrases "gracious professionalism" and "coopertition" by patenting it, not to prevent others from using it, but to prevent another party from registering it and requiring FIRST or whomever to pay usage fees. Sort of like me racing to the USPTO to get "Big Mac" registered in my name before MacDonalds thought to register it. I could be wrong about this, but it was my first thought.

My favorite "trade name" story was way back in the 80s when they came out with the auto named "mpg" that naturally had some fantastic miles per gallon -- back then this was new. MPG, a group that also goes under the name Maine Potato Growers, were not pleased that someone took their name.

JamesByrne
04-19-2009, 12:39 PM
I think that the patent helps first spread it's idea actually. Other people can start robotics competitions, such as IFI. But what if these do not promote the same values as FIRST. As a FIRST alum i know that one of the main things that makes first such a great competition is the values it instills in the students. I think that the patents and trademarks just make sure that there values can continue.

If someone wanted to start a competition and woddy and dean were sure that someone else could start a competition that would instill the same values I think that it would be just fine with them to let them use the same type of system.

I do not think that FIRST is trying to keep competitors out of the market they are a non profit organization. But I do think that FIRST is making sure that there values continue for a long time into the future.

Just my ideas

shgshgshgshg
04-19-2009, 01:35 PM
Hmmmm
I'm not entirely sure why they patented the general concept, but I can think it is a nice step in establishing a long term future for FIRST. After all, better safe, than sorry...

dtengineering
04-19-2009, 06:46 PM
Patents, like most legal documents, are interesting things. They are both clear and easy to read (for the most part) but often difficult to fully interpret unless you are familiar with the relevant laws and case law (court decisions and precedents). So I'll begin with a couple of disclaimers... first of all, I am very much an amateur at patents, but an interested amateur nonetheless, and second of all, I'm Canadian... so unless this patent is filed in Canada (where, I suspect, it would be rejected as we have slightly different rules and precedents here) it doesn't affect robotic competitions held in Canada... or any other nation outside the USA.

I won't try to get inside Dean's head to figure out why he filed the patent, but getting a patent is an expensive process. There are several thousand dollars in government fees involved, and... unless the legal advice was provided pro bono for this patent, likely many thousands of dollars in legal fees. Obviously Dean perceives value in the patent, but I am unsure of why.

To get some idea of what value the patent may have, or is perceived to have, it is useful to look at the prosecution history (http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLN4gPMATJgFieAfqRqC LGpugijnABX4_83FT9IKBEpDlQxNDCRz8qJzU9MblSP1jfWz9A vyA3NDSi3NsRAHxEBJg!/delta/base64xml/L0lJSk03dWlDU1lKSi9vQXd3QUFNWWdBQ0VJUWhDRUVJaEZLQS EvNEZHZ2RZbktKMEZSb1hmckNIZGgvN18wXzE4TC8xNS9zYS5n ZXRCaWI!#7_0_18L). Hopefully that link works... otherwise just go here (http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair)enter the no-bot code and search by patent number, then look at the "Image File Wrapper" tag.

The inital patent's claims (the claims being the most important part of the document) were as follows:

What is claimed is.
1. A method for scoring a competition between a first team and a second team, in which one of the first team and the second team is the better scoring team and the other is the lower scoring team, the method comprising:

a. determining the raw score accumulated by the first team according to the rules of the competition;
b. determining the raw score accumulated by the second team according to the rules of the competition;
C. comparing the score accumulated by the first team to the score accumulated by the second team to determining which team is the better scoring team; and
d. computing the final score of the better scoring team by adding the raw score of the better scoring team to two times the score of the lower scoring team.

This caused the patent examiner to reject the application several times, pointing out that the claims were too broad, and were "obvious" in light of previous patents and other works.

Finally, after years of back and forth, the claims that were issued are:

What is claimed is:

1. A method for fostering coopertition and gracious professionalism among students while inspiring an appreciation of science and technology, the method comprising:

1) establishing a contest played on a playing field with at least four robots, such robots designed and built with participation of such students, such contest requiring accomplishment repetitively of a designated physical task on the playing field, wherein:

2) (i) each robot is controlled by a distinct team of students and designed to repetitively accomplish the physical task, performance of which on the playing field by a given robot triggering attribution to a score based on frequency of achievement of the physical task by the given robot; and

3)(ii) the contest is conducted in matches between two competing alliances of the teams, each match including a plurality of teams from each alliance;

4) assigning a raw score after each match to each alliance based on frequency of achievement of the task by robots of each team in each such alliance;

5) determining a final score for a winning alliance in each match, such winning alliance having a raw score exceeding the raw score of the other alliance by enhancing the raw score of the winning alliance by adding to the raw score of the winning alliance the raw score of the other alliance, so that the winning alliance is thus motivated to cause the other alliance to achieve a high raw score, and the teams of each alliance must work cooperatively

6) setting a final score for the other alliance in each match equal to the raw score achieved by that alliance;

7) ranking the teams based on the final scores achieved in matches in which they participate;

8) so that the students, by engaging in the contest, are provided with an experience involving science and technology under processes as recited herein that motivate cooperation in the midst of competition for a highest final score on the playing field.

It seems to me that the crucial aspect of this invention is likely lines 5, 6 and 7. It is interesting to note that the formula for determining the final score of the winning alliance changes from adding twice the lower score in 1d in the initial application to simply adding the lower alliance's score in 1.5 of the final patent.

At this point, however, I am unsure of a few things... as this patent seems to be based on the 2003 game, "Stack Attack", which occured the year before I got involved with FRC.

1) Did the 2003 game use this method of ranking participants?

2) Was our current system of Qualifying Points and Ranking Points used prior to the filing of this patent? (If so, then that should constitute public disclosure and that particular method of fostering competition should not be patentable.)

3) Did FIRST, or any other organization... anywhere on the planet... establish a competition involving four or more robots built with student participation and each controlled by a distinct team of students accomplishing repetitive tasks on a playing field on for the purpose of fostering co-operative competition and good sportsmanship, while inspiring an appreciation of science and technology prior to 2003? If they did... and even if it was FIRST that did it... that should constitute public disclosure of that part of this claim.
What I'm getting at, I guess, is that even if a patent is issued, it is still up to the patent holder to enforce and defend the patent. If Dean (and I'm specific here... I may have missed it, but I don't see where Dean has formally assigned the patent to FIRST) were to want to enforce this patent, he would have to file a lawsuit against whomever he felt was infringing it. That person or organization could take a number of steps to either point out that they are not infringing, or, as a more aggressive tactic, point out that the patent is not valid. This strikes me... and again... I'm an amateur at this, as a fairly weak patent, limited in scope and quite possibly subject to challenge on several counts.

Still, there has obviously been a lot of work put in to it, so congratulations to Dean on filing (yet another) patent. But like most of the rest of you... it's the "why" that leaves me kind of baffled...

Jason

Apologies for a lengthy post....

Imadapocalypse
04-21-2009, 11:02 PM
wait so do these patents mean that there will be no other robotics competitions other than FIRST? meaning other organizations like vex may be disbanded?

Rick TYler
04-21-2009, 11:22 PM
wait so do these patents mean that there will be no other robotics competitions other than FIRST? meaning other organizations like vex may be disbanded?

It's going to come down (as Jason suggests) to another competition meeting ALL the points in the patent, not just one or two. It's not the sort of patent that anyone is going to make money from, and might not even be enforceable. I doubt it threatens other robotics competitions, especially those that don't use the exact scoring methodology outlined in points 5 & 6. Since not even FIRST uses this scoring, I'm not sure what the point of this patent is.

Could you imagine the outrage in the world of FIRST teams and sponsors if FIRST tried to enforce this patent broadly on all youth robotics competitions? I don't think it would be pretty.

Sometimes patents are all about being able to brag that your technology is patented, and not about trying to protect the patent. This may be why Kamen and company followed through on this one.

EricH
04-21-2009, 11:28 PM
wait so do these patents mean that there will be no other robotics competitions other than FIRST? meaning other organizations like vex may be disbanded?
No. Remember, FIRST has the option to "forget" to enforce any patent they hold. Also, this was filed BEFORE FVC, and therefore VRC (which was a continuation of the direction FVC was going when it was changed into FTC) could be a violation of the patent. However, if FIRST decides to go after VRC, they will probably get every single participant in VRC and half of the FRC community (the other half either not caring or in VRC) angry, and lose many students and mentors because of the loss of face.

Also, remember that the patent protection, for practical purposes, doesn't apply if money isn't being made. Why? Well, who'd be stupid enough to sue for patent violation when there isn't any money to be made off of it? If VRC itself isn't making money, then there is no point. If they are, then there may be, but then it's bye-bye to Victors and Spikes being provided--and until there's another way to control the compressor, that's a bad idea.

Cory
04-22-2009, 01:20 AM
wait so do these patents mean that there will be no other robotics competitions other than FIRST? meaning other organizations like vex may be disbanded?

I'm no lawyer but I fail to see how FIRST could patent something that numerous other companies/organizations have been doing for years, sue, and expect it to hold up in court.

My first reaction to hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions is that they're like a playground bully-trying to steal the ball and take it home with them.

Imadapocalypse
04-22-2009, 01:26 AM
alright then
as long as nothing happens to vex or any other robotics competition im think im good. the reason why it had me worked up is because in our state there is no FRC. VRC is a big part of robotics for middle school students to want to enter into FRC as well as high school students to get interested in robotics. If VRC shut down support for robotics in our state would decline since the only events left will be FRC and FLL.

Molten
04-22-2009, 02:28 AM
I'm no lawyer but I fail to see how FIRST could patent something that numerous other companies/organizations have been doing for years, sue, and expect it to hold up in court.

My first reaction to hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions is that they're like a playground bully-trying to steal the ball and take it home with them.

If you read the actual patent, you'll notice that this simply isn't the case. It isn't something that anyone else has ever really done, and something that is unlikely to be ever done again.(as posted previously)

Alan Anderson
04-22-2009, 10:58 AM
My first reaction to hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions is that they're like a playground bully-trying to steal the ball and take it home with them.

Where are you hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions? The patent is about scoring and ranking algorithms.

United States Patent 7,507,169
...so that the students, by engaging in the contest, are provided with an experience involving science and technology under processes as recited herein that motivate cooperation in the midst of competition for a highest final score on the playing field.

Bharat Nain
04-22-2009, 11:14 AM
Where are you hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions? The patent is about scoring and ranking algorithms.

You're right. FIRST is only trying to patent something "that the students, by engaging in the contest, are provided with an experience involving science and technology under processes as recited herein that motivate cooperation in the midst of competition for a highest final score on the playing field. "

I wonder how a "robotics competition" would be without the above mentioned elements.

Alan Anderson
04-22-2009, 11:35 AM
You're right. FIRST is only trying to patent something "that the students, by engaging in the contest, are provided with an experience involving science and technology under processes as recited herein that motivate cooperation in the midst of competition for a highest final score on the playing field. "

I wonder how a "robotics competition" would be without the above mentioned elements.

Most non-FIRST robotics competitions I know of lack the "coopertition" element, which is the element being patented.

Cory
04-22-2009, 12:23 PM
Where are you hearing that FIRST is trying to patent robotics competitions? The patent is about scoring and ranking algorithms.

Yeah and any competition using a similar format would be in "violation" of their patent. Like VEX.

Paul Copioli
04-22-2009, 12:40 PM
All,

I deal with patents all the time in my real job and, in my opinion, is easy to get around. The key point is that the first claim is the independent claim and if you do not violate that claim, then the rest doesn't matter (unless there are more independent claims). In claim 1 there are 7 parts. Every one of those parts must be satisfied in order to violate claim 1 as they are not independent claims themselves.

Part 5 of the claim is the meat and potatoes where they talk about adding to the raw score of the winning alliance. FIRST (and VEX) don't do that anymore. The rank is based on wins and losses. In addition, all VEX has to do is not have the ranking part of the score determined by the losers score at all and they are totally around the patent.

This was a waste of FIRST (and in turn, team) money. My company has a committee that determines if a patent makes good business sense. This one, in my professional opnion, does not.

marccenter
04-22-2009, 01:26 PM
My two cents,
I think the filing is primarily defensive in nature. It can help prevent others from using FIRST generated ideas in the patent against it in court. It also adds one patent to Dean's collection. I don't know his total but I believe Edison's is over 1000. My list numbers 5 and two in process = 7.

Justin Stiltner
04-22-2009, 01:45 PM
I have to agree with Paul, I think this patent was a waste, if you want to share something, publish it with one of the many licenses available for free. Surely this would have cost less than the patent process. Further, I Personally, think this is another "imaginary property" type patent, such as the one filed recently by an entertainment company where you interact with the game by throwing the display, or many of the other process patents check this link out
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html
for some examples.

Further, If a competition wanted to use this equation, if they simply said that the opponents score was factored in, could fist force the other competition to divulge its equation? Or could you conceal it under the guise of a "trade secret"

Hrmm, I wonder if the method of posting a message on a forum has been patented yet...

Tristan Lall
04-22-2009, 03:15 PM
I have to agree with Paul, I think this patent was a waste, if you want to share something, publish it with one of the many licenses available for free. Surely this would have cost less than the patent process.Those licences only work when they've either been expressly agreed upon (i.e. contracts), or if they are enforceable under copyright law. Copyright law protects artistic works—so you could protect the text of the rulebook, but not the ideas. Contract law can protect just about anything—but who would agree to the contract?
Further, If a competition wanted to use this equation, if they simply said that the opponents score was factored in, could fist force the other competition to divulge its equation? Or could you conceal it under the guise of a "trade secret"It's only a trade secret if it's secret. Would you want to participate in a competition that does not divulge its ranking system? Wouldn't you wonder if the rankings had been adjusted to favour a certain team?


By the way, here are all of the FRC scoring algorithms released after the application date on the patent:Both teams in the losing alliance get their own alliance score in Qualifying Points (QP’s). Both teams in the winning alliance get their own score plus twice the losing alliance’s score in QP's. A tie awards the total of the match points to both alliances in QP's.All [four in 2004/six in 2005] teams will receive a number of Ranking Points equal to the Match Score of the losing alliance or their alliance score in the case of a tie.The winning alliance teams will receive a number of Ranking Points equal to the un-penalized score (the score without any assessed penalties) of the winning or losing alliance, whichever un-penalized score is lower.
The losing alliance teams will receive a number of Ranking Points equal to their final score (with any assessed penalties).
In the case of a tie, all six alliance teams will receive a number of Ranking Points equal to their alliance score (with any assessed penalties).All teams on the winning ALLIANCE will receive a number of ranking points equal to the unpenalized score (the score without any assessed penalties) of the losing ALLIANCE.
All teams on the losing ALLIANCE will receive a number of ranking points equal to their final score (with any assessed penalties).
In the case of a tie, all participating teams will receive a number of ranking points equal to their ALLIANCE score (with any assessed penalties).Notice that none of these games even make use of the patented method of scoring (add the loser's score to the winner's score), and only 2003 uses the previously-claimed method (add twice the loser's score to the winner's score). That means that they were never protected by this patent (and in fairness, that was probably understood by Dean and FIRST).

Any because existing FIRST scoring algorithms have already been disclosed to the public, they're not patentable. Dean can't go back now and get a patent with more broad terms (so as to cover all games incorporating some form of ranking based on the losing alliance's score, i.e. 2000, 2002–2009). Basically, any previous FRC scoring algorithm is perpetually fair game for non-FIRST robotics competitions, despite this patent. In any case, it predates the IFI-FIRST disputes, and wasn't created as a direct attack upon VRC.


I hypothesize that the two reasons this patent exists are to draw attention to the process behind developing an invention, and to be able to claim in promotional materials that FIRST has a patented method of organizing robotics competitions (a stretch). I find it hard to believe that those outcomes were worth the price of the patent—because you could always point to the iBot or the Segway if you wanted examples of patented technology.

dlavery
04-22-2009, 05:29 PM
This was a waste of FIRST (and in turn, team) money. My company has a committee that determines if a patent makes good business sense. This one, in my professional opnion, does not.

I have to agree with Paul, I think this patent was a waste, if you want to share something, publish it with one of the many licenses available for free. Surely this would have cost less than the patent process.
I agree that this patent was probably pursued more to make a point than with any real expectation of enforcing the claim (to whit: all of Dean's discussions about suing others for "non-infringement")**. But I would not get too worried about FIRST's cost to pursue the filing. The filing itself is not that expensive. Typically, the real costs are usually associated with the gazillion hours of patent attorney time to prepare the filing. In this particular case, I would be willing to speculate that those hours were either directly provided pro bono or provided by DEKA donating the services of their own patent attorney. So, I am not concerned about any of our registration fees going for that purpose.

-dave

** there is also an interesting little twist that I just realized that virtually ensures that FIRST would never even attempt to enforce this patent. But that is for another discussion.

.

Molten
04-22-2009, 09:17 PM
there is also an interesting little twist that I just realized that virtually ensures that FIRST would never even attempt to enforce this patent. But that is for another discussion.

Of course, even when he is serious...Lavery is still messing with our heads.

Carol
04-23-2009, 09:36 AM
I did a quick report on Dean's patents in the US, which is attached. (Disclaimer - this was a quick search on all patents and applications by "Dean Kamen" - if he used a variation on that name it would not have been retrieved. Other Dean Kamens would also be included but it doesn't look like there are any others!) (And I haven't checked this list for accuracy)

There are 107 US patents and 81 published applications. The ones that start with a year, such as US20070252683, are applications which may or may not become issued patents. They are divided into 48 families which are all related by priority applications in some manner. (Either by an application being split into several different patents, or a new application being submitted based on priority matter in the original. I'm trying not to bore you here with details).

Take for example the second family listed, which is obviously the Segway. The issued patents are listed first, with applications next. Most of the applications listed in this family have probably all issued into patents already, except for some of the recent ones. (Applications are published 18 months after being filed). There are several families at the end of the report that have not (yet) become issued patents.

It is interesting to look at the pattern of research. He started out in the medical field, added work on the engines and distillers, then moved to the Segway type of inventions. Doesn't look like the bionic arm work has published yet, but I'm willing to bet that they have been filed.

Pretty impressive list. Edison did have 1100+ US patents, but patenting was very different then.

johnr
04-23-2009, 10:02 AM
I guess this means that FiM can't break off and become a rogue entity without changing a few things.;) :) I hope wink+smile=joke,cause that is what i meant.

JaneYoung
04-23-2009, 10:31 AM
I guess this means that FiM can't break off and become a rogue entity without changing a few things.;) :) I hope wink+smile=joke,cause that is what i meant.

You can't, you rogues are stuck with the rest of us. :) ;)

oddjob
04-23-2009, 11:56 AM
The patent office is clogged up with useless patents like this one :(

ZInventor
04-30-2009, 04:46 PM
By the way: here are the trademark serial numbers:

Gracious Professionalism : 77711102
Coopertition : 77713637

-Z

Pavan Dave
05-14-2009, 08:50 AM
I saw this on Reddit and /. just seconds ago and searched and found this discussion.

I just lost almost all respect I had for Dean and FIRST for doing something as pointless as this. I hope this patent gets overturned. No matter what he says, what he does, this does NOT help robotics. I can see the one day where FIRST goes from trying to beat other programs and legally hurting other programs because it can't compete in certain areas.


I give it a matter of years before everybody knows and has participated in FIRST...for all the wrong reasons.


Pavan Davé

Jared Russell
05-14-2009, 09:11 AM
I saw this on Reddit and /. just seconds ago and searched and found this discussion.

I just lost almost all respect I had for Dean and FIRST for doing something as pointless as this. I hope this patent gets overturned. No matter what he says, what he does, this does NOT help robotics. I can see the one day where FIRST goes from trying to beat other programs and legally hurting other programs because it can't compete in certain areas.


I give it a matter of years before everybody knows and has participated in FIRST...for all the wrong reasons.


Pavan Davé

Pavan,

I think you are misunderstanding FIRST's intentions in getting these patents.

1) Patents serve to help spread ideas just as much as they protect them. Patents offer innovators a way to publicly share their inventions in a forum that still offers them legal protection from specific copying.

2) The specific wording of FIRST's patents makes violating the independent claim virtually impossible. Unless each and every one of the parts of the claim are violated, there is no violation. If you read the fine print, the "coopertition" patent actually talks about a very specific scoring algorithm that other competitions have never used anyway.

FIRST isn't trying to be the bully on the playground here. They are disseminating some "good ideas" in an official forum.

Was it necessary, and was it a good use of time and money? Not in my opinion, but I definitely don't think it calls for a "loss of almost all respect" for Dean and FIRST.

Brandon Holley
05-14-2009, 09:12 AM
I saw this on Reddit and /. just seconds ago and searched and found this discussion.

I just lost almost all respect I had for Dean and FIRST for doing something as pointless as this. I hope this patent gets overturned. No matter what he says, what he does, this does NOT help robotics. I can see the one day where FIRST goes from trying to beat other programs and legally hurting other programs because it can't compete in certain areas.


I give it a matter of years before everybody knows and has participated in FIRST...for all the wrong reasons.


Pavan Davé

This is a tremendous over-reaction.

Do you have any information that points to FIRST trying to enforce these patents against other organizations? Because I haven't seen any.

By coming on here and saying something like you lost all respect for FIRST and Dean for filing for a patent is irresponsible. Make a decision based off of the facts...not what you think may happen, and if you can't do that, at least wait for more facts to come out before you make judgement.

-Brando

Andy Baker
05-14-2009, 11:54 AM
This is a tremendous over-reaction.

-Brando

I think that many people are over-reacting on this thread. When I saw Dean present these patents on Friday at the Championship, I got this impression:

Dean (and FIRST) is trying to communicate and bring attention to GP and Coopertition.

Dean (and FIRST) is trying to communicate and bring attention to the whole patent and trademark process, and therefore encouraging the FIRST community to do the same.

I did not get any impression that FIRST would litigate other entities who were using GP and Coopertition. As a matter of fact, Dean actually suggested that FIRST litigate if other entities did not use these two ideas.

More people should have gone to the opening ceremonies in Atlanta, and could have experienced how this was presented.

Andy

Pavan Dave
05-14-2009, 12:02 PM
This is a tremendous over-reaction.

Do you have any information that points to FIRST trying to enforce these patents against other organizations? Because I haven't seen any.

By coming on here and saying something like you lost all respect for FIRST and Dean for filing for a patent is irresponsible. Make a decision based off of the facts...not what you think may happen, and if you can't do that, at least wait for more facts to come out before you make judgement.

-Brando

First let me start off by saying, I'm not to Dean Kamen as half of America is to Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. So now that that part is clear I can say it may be a slight overreaction but not too far fetched from my experiences.

As for I having seen FIRST cripple other organizations? I have worked with a few small organizations and robotics competitions in which FIRST has not been the "gracious professional" that everyone by default assumes, but that is not something FIRST will admit to and something the people behind these other small organizations will not speak of.

I do not care how it is worded I know from experience that people will dig through your rules and regulations and call a lawyer to find the smallest mistake or loophole. For either side. And with the way people in power usually behave, whatever their intentions may be, I don't believe that everyone can be a winner. There's too much at stake for FIRST. Whether it is tomorrow, ten years from now, or twenty-five years from now, I'll still be watching out.

From what I have seen and what I have been involved I still stand by my statement.

Pavan Davé

Adam Y.
05-14-2009, 12:24 PM
First let me start off by saying, I'm not to Dean Kamen as half of America is to Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. So now that that part is clear I can say it may be a slight overreaction but not too far fetched from my experiences.

Well from the extreme vagueness of your posts we have no clue whether or not you still are overreacting or not. All we know is that they did something that you didn't like.

EricVanWyk
05-14-2009, 12:48 PM
As for I having seen FIRST cripple other organizations? I have worked with a few small organizations and robotics competitions in which FIRST has not been the "gracious professional" that everyone by default assumes, but that is not something FIRST will admit to and something the people behind these other small organizations will not speak of.


That is a very strong claim to make without presenting any evidence. Within the context of this and other posts, it is nearly comical.

Your tone is hurting your argument.



That aside, I don't see as much value in this patent as others might. On the other hand, I'm relatively confident that it is a (potentially ineffective) tool, not a weapon.

Jared Russell
05-14-2009, 03:21 PM
First let me start off by saying, I'm not to Dean Kamen as half of America is to Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. So now that that part is clear I can say it may be a slight overreaction but not too far fetched from my experiences.

As for I having seen FIRST cripple other organizations? I have worked with a few small organizations and robotics competitions in which FIRST has not been the "gracious professional" that everyone by default assumes, but that is not something FIRST will admit to and something the people behind these other small organizations will not speak of.

I do not care how it is worded I know from experience that people will dig through your rules and regulations and call a lawyer to find the smallest mistake or loophole. For either side. And with the way people in power usually behave, whatever their intentions may be, I don't believe that everyone can be a winner. There's too much at stake for FIRST. Whether it is tomorrow, ten years from now, or twenty-five years from now, I'll still be watching out.

From what I have seen and what I have been involved I still stand by my statement.

Pavan Davé

Pavan,

I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish with these posts. You are accusing FIRST of both past wrongdoings and the intent to commit future wrongdoings in a public forum without presenting any evidence whatsoever.

While you of course have the right to have and express your opinions, please realize that the manner in which you are choosing to express them reflects negatively upon yourself and the groups with which you are affiliated.

Stuart
05-20-2009, 12:38 AM
Ok I think that Pavan is trying to convey some of the fear that some of us have over this issue. yes we know that Dean has said that he wants to use the patent to share and spread the ideals of FIRST but . . you know what let me put it in another way


You have an uncle . .lets call him uncle Sean hes an awesome uncle, always tells a joke when you see him, used to always have candy when he came over, dressed funny but hes a great uncle. OK so one day he invites you to his house for dinner, and from the past you know his wife, Aunt Twiggy, is a great cook. You enter the house and imediatly smell the mashed potatoes a meat roast and several other wondeful foods. You all sit down to the table and start to eat. Then Uncle Sean pulls out a glock slaps in a clip, chambers a round, throws it on the table and says, "hey look what I just got. Dont worry I don't plan on using it." you know he wont, but still you are sceared out of your mind.

At least thats how I feel about it( possibly Pavan). you see we come from a state where over 90% of the robotics education and robotics teams are not a part of FIRST (BEST, VEX, GEAR, EARLY) and for reasons other than GP don't plan on becoming part of FIRST. Yes we know that a patent can be used to be a megaphone to share ideas, but it can also become a club to squash competition.

Its the fear of the unknown, and the fear of losing control..


I guess what I would like to see FIRST do, is release the patent to the Public Domain . the idea would still be out there, however we would no longer have this hammer hanging above our heads.

Adam Y.
05-20-2009, 12:01 PM
You have an uncle . .lets call him uncle Sean hes an awesome uncle, always tells a joke when you see him, used to always have candy when he came over, dressed funny but hes a great uncle. OK so one day he invites you to his house for dinner, and from the past you know his wife, Aunt Twiggy, is a great cook. You enter the house and imediatly smell the mashed potatoes a meat roast and several other wondeful foods. You all sit down to the table and start to eat. Then Uncle Sean pulls out a glock slaps in a clip, chambers a round, throws it on the table and says, "hey look what I just got. Dont worry I don't plan on using it." you know he wont, but still you are sceared out of your mind.

Reread his post again. The complaints have nothing to do with this argument. People are just responding to the baseless accusations without any evidence about "non gracious professionalism" whatever that means. It is just too vague for any rational person to make a decision. For all we know he could be lying, correct, or just misconstruded the events. Also, what exactly spurred this debate? Your analogy seems a bit off when the gun was documented five years ago.

Stephen Kowski
05-20-2009, 07:07 PM
Yeah and any competition using a similar format would be in "violation" of their patent. Like VEX.

Doubtful VEX is going to be in violation of anything like that in the near future, I think Innovation FIRST has firmed themselves defensively for such a case. If you are still worried read these:

http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20080263628
http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20080269949