It has now been just over a year since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Alice v. CLS Bank. Since then, over 100 cases have looked at whether granted patents meet the standards set in Alice. The result has been overwhelmingly on the side of finding patents invalid. Alice has become a crucial tool for those fighting against overbroad patents on abstract ideas.
EFF, along with Public Knowledge, filed an amicus brief on Friday asking the Federal Circuit to apply Alice in the latest in a slew of cases on appeal after a district court invalidated a patent.
The case is McRO v. Bandai, or more appropriately, McRO v. anyone who animates faces, since McRO seems to have sued pretty much the entire animation industry. The patent owner lost in the district court, when Judge Wu, in a very thorough and thoughtful opinion, held that the patent was on nothing more than the abstract idea of “automated rules-based use of morph targets and delta sets for lip-synchronized three-dimensional animation.”
At first blush, that may seem like it’s not an abstract idea. But as we explain in our brief, the Supreme Court has long rejected patenting this type of innovation. Why? Because at most, what McRO is trying to patent is the idea of using mathematical rules about how our mouths move. Not only that, even if particular rules were in the claims (they’re not), that too would not be patentable. The Supreme Court long ago made clear that Pythagoras could not have patented the Pythagorean theorem just by saying that it could be used in surveying. Similarly, mathematically describing how our mouths may be a scientific breakthrough. But just like the Pythagorean theorem, it is not patentable.
The patent owner is supported on appeal by the BSA, a trade group made up of some of the biggest software companies in the country. Companies, for example like IBM, that sometimes engage in their own troll-like behavior. The BSA argued that McRO’s patent should not be invalidated, as doing otherwise takes the Alice decision too far.
But despite what the BSA claims, this case is not an over-application of Alice, and more importantly is not the death knell for the software industry. McRO’s patent is invalid under Alice and the case law that came before it. In addition, as we discuss in our brief, the software industry is simply not an industry that significantly relies on the patent incentive to innovate. So even if this case meant the end of all software patents (though it doesn’t), the software industry would continue to be just as innovative as before.
Certain patent owners are doing their best to limit the Supreme Court’s Alice decision. We hope the Federal Circuit rejects the BSA’s fear mongering and faithfully applies Alice to invalidate a patent that should never have been granted.Files: mcro_v_bandai_dist_ct_opinion.pdf mcro-v-bandai_-_pk_and_eff_amicus.pdf mcro-v-bandai_bsa_amicus.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsInnovation
Share this: || Join EFF
In one of the more exciting developments in the Bitcoin space so far this year, noted Bitcoin angel investor and entrepreneur Roger Ver has given his blessing to a Bitcoin 2.0 application, and it’s one that some may have overlooked in the past. Truthcoin, a Bitcoin sidechain designed by Yale Department of Economics Researcher Paul Sztorc, is described as a “peer-to-peer oracle system and prediction marketplace.”
The platform is a decentralized method of bringing external data, such as the price of gold or the weather in a particular city, to the blockchain, which can then be used as the basis for complex smart contracts.
Roger Ver’s backing of Truthcoin
Ver is excited about what may become possible through the use of a working implementation of Truthcoin, and shared the following statement via email: “I really do think that decentralized prediction markets may be the most important invention since Bitcoin, and will certainly change the way our world works.”
The perpetual Bitcoin angel investor has been silently funding a C++ programmer who is building a working Truthcoin implementation using a fork of the original Bitcoin codebase. Some of this early code is now available on GitHub. Ver also shared some complimentary remarks in regard to Truthcoin Creator Paul Sztorc’s understanding of the technical challenges ahead.
“Compared to Paul, I don’t think there are many people on the planet” who could have created something like Truthcoin, Ver said. “Before meeting him, I already understood some of the benefits and exciting things that distributed prediction markets will bring to the world, so upon meeting Paul, he seemed like the right person to help make it a reality, so I agreed to get involved.”
No empty promises
Sztorc has made it a point to avoid any sort of Truthcoin crowdsale without an actual product to back the offering, and he has noted his discontent with other Bitcoin 2.0 crowdsales in the past. The Truthcoin creator plans to insist that a crowdsale does not take place until the software has been built, tested and operational for “at least three months” without any need for a hard fork.
It should be noted that anyone who wishes to place a bet on the Truthcoin network will be able to do so with their bitcoin-denominated sidechain tokens. Any crowdsale for this project would likely involve the sale of votecoins, which are used by individuals who wish to vote on the outcomes of real life events. Holders of votecoins who honestly report the outcome of an event are then rewarded with fees generated from the participants in a particular prediction market.
In addition to a possible crowdsale, the monetization model for this project also includes the expected growth in the bitcoin price for holders of the digital money.
When will Truthcoin be available?
In an email to Bitcoin Magazine, Sztorc noted that Truthcoin is currently a testnet “altcoin” with only two people running nodes. “In fact, it really isn’t much of anything yet,” he added.
The votecoin in this current setup are not intended to have any value and should be viewed in a manner similar to testnet bitcoin. Sztorc also wrote about how Truthcoin might earliest become a Bitcoin sidechain.
“What would (obviously) be really cool is if, at some point, someone from Blockstream would rip it open and graft in something to make this version a ‘testnet sidechain’ so that testnet coins could hop over,” he said.
The Truthcoin team doesn’t have the time to deal with sidechain compatibility right now, and Sztorc even mentioned it “might interfere with early testing.”
Sztorc also did not want to reveal any kind of release date as he “[doesn’t] endorse that type of forecasting.” In the past, Sztorc has poked fun at Ethereum’s Frontier release due to prediction markets at Fairlay.com that seem to indicate that the release won’t happen until after August 1. This is far off from the project’s original launch date.
The post Roger Ver Backing Prediction Market Sidechain: ‘May Be the Most Important Invention Since Bitcoin’ appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Twenty years ago, you’d have to look to science fiction to find watches that let futuristic space travelers and cartoonish detectives talk on their wrists. But even in comic books and movies it would have been difficult to imagine running a full home computer’s operating system on something so small. Fast-forward to the present and, not only […]
London-based bitcoin analytics and security firm Elliptic announced that it has launched “The Bitcoin Big Bang,” an interactive visualization that plots the emergence and interconnectivity of the key players in Bitcoin since its genesis in 2009.
Elliptic describes The Bitcoin Big Bang as a breakthrough in bitcoin transaction monitoring and compliance that will help “Bitcoin startups thoughout the UK gain banking services” according to Elliptic COO Dr. Tim Robinson. Elliptic has harnessed the underlying technology supporting the visualization to deliver a full suite of anti-money laundering (AML) services. The API will enable real-time compliance, by alerting recipients of bitcoin payments linked to known thefts, illicit marketplaces and other criminal activity.
The visualization identifies more than 250 of the largest entities and the historical transactions between them. Illicit marketplaces and money laundering services are identified by name, while standard entities are described purely by their primary business to protect privacy.
“If digital currency is to take its legitimate place in the enterprise it inevitably must step out of the shadows of the dark web,” said Elliptic CEO James Smith. “Our technology allows us to trace historic and real-time flow, and represents the tipping point for enterprise adoption of Bitcoin. We have developed this technology not to incriminate nor to pry; but to support businesses’ anti-money laundering obligations. Compliance officers can finally have peace of mind, knowing that they have performed real, defensible diligence to ascertain that their bitcoin holdings are not derived from the proceeds of crime.”
The Elliptic AML suite will be available in July to a select group of early customers.
Elliptic is the founding member of the U.K. Digital Currency Association (UKDCA), working with the U.K. government and financial regulators to help shape a regulatory framework for digital currencies.
The Swiss company Chainalysis offers a similar service that provides financial institutions with the means to obtain regulatory compliance through real-time analysis of the blockchain, including an API for sophisticated in-depth real-time blockchain transaction analysis. Chainalysis customers – including regulatory entities, law enforcement and financial service providers – can obtain insight on all transactions recorded in the Bitcoin blockchain and use tools to determine the origin of the bitcoin held by any address. Unlike Chainalysis however, Elliptic has strict privacy controls in places, only reporting a users risk profile to customers but not the specific parties transacted with.
It is evident that Bitcoin is moving toward mainstreaming and regulations, and the services offered by Elliptic and Chainalysis are here to stay, but such services meet opposition from an important part of the Bitcoin community. In April, a leaked Chainalysis roadmap was received with anger and hostile comments, and it seems likely that the Elliptic announcement will cause similar reactions.
“Elliptic’s founding principle is to bring confidence and certainty to enterprises working with bitcoin,” said Smith. “We were the first bitcoin custodian to provide comprehensive insurance, the first to be Big Four-accredited and now the first to visualize the flows of bitcoin and explode the anonymity myth of the blockchain.”
Indeed, every transaction and the full transaction history of any bitcoin address are permanently recorded in the blockchain and open to analysis. The illusion of anonymity stems from the pseudonymous nature of Bitcoin addresses, which are not explicitly associated to their owners, but sophisticated blockchain analysis tools such as those provided by Chainalysis and Elliptic can often de-anonymize bitcoin users.
The post Elliptic Launches Anti-money Laundering Visualization Tool appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
In May, Bitcoin Magazine reported that lead Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen is persuaded that the best solution to the limited Bitcoin transactions rate – the Bitcoin network can currently process only a few transactions per second — is to increase the maximum block size.
Andresen argued that if the proposed solution is not urgently implemented the Bitcoin network will become oversaturated, and developed code for a proposed Bitcoin hard fork that would allow any block with a timestamp on or after March 1, 2016 to be up to 20 megabytes.
However, not everyone agrees that Andresen’s proposal is the best path forward. The MIT Technology Review published a review, titled “Leaderless Bitcoin Struggles to Make Its Most Crucial Decision,” of the pros and cons of the proposed hard fork.
Recently several of the larger mining pools, amounting to around 60 percent of the total mining capacity, have agreed to a compromise: The maximum block size would be increased to 8 megabytes instead of 20. NewsBTC reported that, even though the 8 megabyte block size is smaller than the initially 20 megabyte block size proposed, Andresen is happy about the proposal and there seems to be a consensus.
Now BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen has weighed in on the debate. In a Medium post titled “Bitcoin’s Ironic Crisis,” Cohen criticizes the proposals to increase the block size and warns, in very blunt terms, that Bitcoin is heading toward an unexpected crisis “of being undermined by a developer who’s gone rogue, using his political influence to convince vendors that an upcoming minor problem will be a major crisis, getting them to accept his own extraordinarily bad pet solution to that problem, and as a result hurtling the whole ecosystem towards potential disaster.”
The rogue developer is, according to Cohen, Gavin Andresen.
“Gavin didn’t invent Bitcoin,” says Cohen. ”He isn’t even a Bitcoin developer anymore. He resigned his position as lead developer a year ago, and has been largely inactive since. Using a voting process, or even a system of rough consensus among core developers would cause his proposal to be quickly rejected. It’s only the exertion of outside political force which has forced it to be taken seriously.”
The political influence that Cohen is denouncing could be the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, which Andresen and other Bitcoin developers joined as soon as it was launched and is positioning itself as a de-facto governance body for Bitcoin technical development.
Cohen thinks that proposed extensions to Bitcoin should go through a sort of voting process where miners indicate that they’re willing to accept them. Concerning the specific case of the block size limit, he thinks there are no problems, let alone urgent problems, that must be solved. The only thing that would happen when the block size limit – which is a limit on the bitcoin transactions rate – is reached is that the transaction fees would go up.
That, according to Cohen, is not a bad thing. On the contrary, he thinks that high transaction fees would be the first clear evidence of Bitcoin providing real value instead of just being a vehicle for speculation, and it would also lead to miners directly earning more money.
Cohen’s article will certainly put even more steam in the Bitcoin block size debate. Cohen may have been too blunt in his criticism of Anderson, but the opinion of the creator of BitTorrent, the first building block of the developing P2P Internet and a Bitcoin precursor, certainly deserves full consideration.
The post BitTorrent Creator Criticizes Increased Block Size Proposals appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Bitcoin payment processor and e-wallet provider Snapcard has announced the launch of its MassPay platform today. This new platform and API will allow businesses to send cross-border payments of all sizes to their users en masse with nothing more than an email address, phone number, or Bitcoin address on file.
MassPay also allows businesses to make these mass payments without having to worry about the volatility risk associated with bitcoin, and the platform could be seen as highly advantageous for a variety of online industries.
How it works
Snapcard has provided Bitcoin Magazine with an internal company brief on how the MassPay system works:
- A merchant or business decides it wants to integrate with the MassPay API, and Snapcard credits its account with the company’s local currency.
- When a user or contractor triggers a payout via the API, the MassPay system is activated and sends a fiat-denominated amount of bitcoin to the recipient via an email, phone number or Bitcoin address.
- The user or contractor is then notified that a payment has been received and will have the option to keep the bitcoin or withdraw it to his or her local currency for a 0.25 percent fee. The withdrawal process can take anywhere from three hours to three days depending on the country, and the fiat currency will be made available in a user’s bank account in most cases. Converting to fiat is currently available in 26 countries, although Snapcard hopes to expand this functionality to an additional 20-30 countries by the end of the year.
Launching with the Tango Card rewards platform
For the launch of their MassPay system, Snapcard has partnered with Tango Card, which is the largest rewards-as-a-service platform in the world. Tango Card has helped thousands of companies reward their users with gift cards in the past, but this new partnership with Snapcard will provide a more dynamic, flexible payout option for their clients’ users.
“Tango Card was able to use our new MassPay API to allow their users to receive Bitcoin Rewards at an email address, phone number or a Bitcoin address, all without taking on any of the currency risk,” Snapcard CEO Michael Dunworth explained.
More uses of this platform
Dunworth also described the original inspiration for MassPay, which involves a problem that affects a few different online industries. “We saw the opportunity for MassPay when we noticed partners being unable to pay out customers efficiently,” he said.
Whether it’s a rewards program for user activity or mass payments to publishers on a digital ad network, making small payments on a massive scale has been difficult in the past. This is Snapcard’s area of focus with MassPay.
From Snapcard’s perspective, the first four key areas where the MassPay platform will be useful are the mobile gaming industry, marketplaces, digital content sales and ad networks.
“Digital content companies are now able to streamline their payouts to all of their freelancers, artists and designers all with a simple API call,” Dunworth said. “Additionally, we’ve been working closely with a lot of game developers to make sure the MassPay API will plug in nicely to their gaming ecosystems.”
The post Snapcard Launches MassPay for Bitcoin-Powered Cross-Border Payments appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Amazon Echo is an internet-connected device for use around the home. It looks like a Bluetooth speaker (and it is), but you can also talk to Echo and get answers about weather, news, or other details or use voice commands to set reminders, play music, or perform other actions. When Amazon launched the Echo last […]
- Headlines for June 23, 2015
- "Perpetrator Has Been Arrested, But Killer is Still at Large": Calls Rise to Remove Confederate Flag
- "It's Not Just a Matter of It Not Being Polite to Say 'Nigger'": Obama Speaks Out on Racism
- Domestic Terrorism: From the Charleston Massacre to 1964 Slaying of Mississippi Civil Rights Workers