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Red Hat Enlists Community Help To Fight Patent Trolls

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the strength-in-numbers dept.

Red Hat Software 166

Stickster writes "Back in 2007, IP Innovation filed a lawsuit against Red Hat and Novell. IP Innovation is a subsidiary of Acacia Technologies. You may have heard of them — they're reported to be the most litigious patent troll in the USA, meaning they produce nothing of value other than money from those whom they sue (or threaten to sue) over patent issues. They're alleging infringement of patents on a user interface that has multiple workspaces. Hard to say just what they mean (which is often a problem in software patents), but it sounds a lot like functionality that pretty much all programmers and consumers use. That patent was filed back on March 25, 1987 by some folks at Xerox/PARC, which means that prior art dated before then is helpful — and art dated before March 25, 1986 is the most useful. (That means art found in a Linux distribution may not help, seeing as how Linus Torvalds first began the Linux kernel in 1991.) Red Hat has invited the community to join in the fight against the patent trolls by identifying prior art. They are coordinating efforts through the Post Issue Peer to Patent site, which is administered by the Center for Patent Innovations at the New York Law School, in conjunction with the US Patent and Trademark Office."

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166 comments

Amiga 1000... (4, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855303)

...in 1985. Next question!

Re:Amiga 1000... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855319)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:Amiga 1000... (1, Funny)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855593)

Eh? At least be original in your trolling instead of just copying the same crap each time. With a little effort, research and imagination you could put together a 'mini-series' of Linux trolls that we'd all have fun rebutting. I suggest you start with something simple, such as driver support, then move on to something more advanced...

Re:Amiga 1000... (2, Informative)

VagaStorm (691999) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855529)

I think the important question here is how can they sue over a patent filed in 1987? I thought a patent where valid for 20 years... Also, I can not remember KDE without multiple desktops. How can you just sit on a patent waiting until someone breaks it, let em use if for 10-20 years then sue... Then again, I do not claim to understand the us patent system.

Re:Amiga 1000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855621)

They are suing for infringement that happened before 2007, iirc you get 6 years (or something like that) to bring a civil case after something happens.

Old and new patent rules... (2, Informative)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855667)

The new system is that patents last 20 years from date of filing. The older system, however, was that patents lasted 17 years from the date they were GRANTED, and were secret until granted. Furthermore, companies had the procedural means to delay the process of getting their patent granted by YEARS, if they wanted to. And some companies have done just that.

Re:Amiga 1000... (3, Informative)

captnjameskirk (599714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855605)

Assuming that "multiple in-memory screens" would be covered by this patent, Amiga 1000 did in fact have this in 1985. I did some checking to be sure, and it appears that not only were multiple workspaces supported, but each workspace could even have a different resolution and color depth. It also appears to have supported dragging items from one workspace to another.

Re:Amiga 1000... (4, Informative)

DG (989) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855725)

Yup. And you could grab the titlebar of a screen and drag it down, and it would reveal the workspace behind it, upscaled to the resolution of the forward screen.

One of my favourite "blow friends away" demos was to pull a screen halfway down with F18 Interceptor running behind it, and then type in a word processor (or whatever) in the forward screen with no slowdown in either the game or the application.

That computer had its quirks, but it was powerful way beyond its time.

DG

Re:Amiga 1000... (1)

eric-x (1348097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856147)

Ironically everyone used the hotkeys to flip through the screens. However, that same trick (changing modes and colors at arbitrary vertical position) was very useful for games and demos.

Re:Amiga 1000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857475)

Yup. And you could grab the titlebar of a screen and drag it down, and it would reveal the workspace behind it, upscaled to the resolution of the forward screen.

Not quite, the native resolutions and color pallets of each application were honored, assuming they created their own desktop rather than running in the current one (which was pretty common back then because it allowed you to control the look of your application (limited colors were an issue)). This wasn't a software cheat, it was actually setting the video registers as required at the appropriate raster line. It was pretty simple to set an interrupt for the copper to wait for position X and Y on the screen and change screen modes. Workbench merely needed to create a copper list and update the interrupt vectors as you moved the screen up and down.

Re:Amiga 1000... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856007)

Oh yeah...multiple screens at different resolutions. I can't believe nobody at redhat ever used an Amiga. I remember when I switched from the Amiga to Linux in 1999 how limited I thought the GUI was in Linux.

Re:Amiga 1000... (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856575)

The people over at toastytech have a GUI timeline [toastytech.com] with screenshots of various OS desktops from different years; including one of the Amiga 1000 [wikipedia.org], a computer which was available in 1985 for the rather princely sum of $1,595 dollars, running a "user interface that has multiple workspaces".

Re:Amiga 1000... (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856919)

Didn't GEM have something similar? I seem to remember playing with multiple desktops on my uncle's C64 using GEM and some add on program that was sold for it. It has been too many years for me to recall the details, sorry. But I'm betting a lot of these patent trolls could be shot down by the Amiga or the GEM running on C64 or the Atari 800. Both setups really are the bedrock that most GUIs today are built on.

Re:Amiga 1000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857185)

Greed; the Amiga 1000 kicked patent trolls' asses in 1985.

specifically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857547)

Amiga not only had multiple apps running in separate windows on one desktop, it could also have apps running on separate "screens," each of which could be pulled down the display to reveal screens stacked behind it. IIRC you would right-click and a button would appear in the upper right to switch to the screen behind it.

Sorry, but... (1, Insightful)

Rusty pipe (1471075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855305)

I am not going to fix the broken patent system of america.

Re:Sorry, but... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855321)

Lazy bastard. I bet you can't be bothered to cure HIV or rid the world of Muslims either.

Re:Sorry, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855491)

Lazy bastard. I bet you can't be bothered to cure HIV or rid the world of Muslims either.

Just don't draw a picture of Mohammed and they won't get offended.

Re:Sorry, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856011)

those hotheads get offended by anything. drawings of their paedophile prophet, portrayals of their fundamentalist killing sprees(see: Fitna by Geert Wilders, avail. on youtube/liveleak), other religions, modern science, etc etc.

let em stay offended. last thing I'm gonna do is appease some backward babarian religion.

Re:Sorry, but... (5, Informative)

ptx0 (1471517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855337)

But patents [uspto.gov] are [uspto.gov] awesome [uspto.gov]! More fun to abuse than tor.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857037)

Is there any kind of appeal process that can be used to challenge stupid patents like these? Preferably one that puts a #000000 mark on the record of the examiner that approved it?

Apple's Switcher (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855311)

came out in 1985, and switched between multiple applications/workspaces. I know there were MS-DOS utilties to switch between workspaces, too, just can't remember any names.

Re:Apple's Switcher (2, Informative)

dintlu (1171159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855361)

Depending on how you define workspace, Windows1.0 also qualifies as prior art.

Or you can look to the history of the physical facsimile of software "multiple workplaces," the KVM, invented sometime in the early 80s and ubiquitous by the late 80s.

MS-DOS (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855385)

Quarterdeck Desq and Desqview [wikipedia.org] (1985).

There's a subtle, but possibly important, distinction between Apple's Switcher, DESQview and the AmigaOS mentioned by an earlier poster. The patent is said to apply to "multiple workspaces." Switcher and DESQview switched between workspaces. Although the underlying OS only supported a single application in a workspace, a workspace could also contain things like Macintosh Desk Accessories. AmigaOS supported multiple applications running in a single workspace.

You beat me to it (3, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855567)

Was just searching for the date:
"DESQview was released in July 1985, four months before Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows. It was widely thought to be the first program to bring multitasking and windowing capabilities to DOS, but in fact there was a predecessor, IBM's failed TopView, released in 1984, from which DESQview inherited the popup menu."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DESQview [wikipedia.org]

From the the entry for TopView:
"TopView ran in real mode on any x86 processor and could run well-behaved MS-DOS programs in windows. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TopView [wikipedia.org]

So I guess there's plenty of prior art.

Of course, there's MVS also which came out in 1974 IIRC...not sure if that counts, tho.

Re:You beat me to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855791)

Prior art by IBM is even better than just any prior art. This could kill IP Innovation!

Re:MS-DOS (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856307)

AmigaOS supported multiple applications running in a single workspace.

AmigaDOS supported both multiple applications running in a single workspace, and applications which had their own workspace. In essence the system was much like MDI, except that all your applications that were MDI had their own screen, which could be pulled up and down, stacked, layered, etc but not resized - and all your other applications were on a single screen. You could specify that they could not be pulled up and down as well, although the operating system would pull them down anyway to display fatal errors and other system exceptions.

From what I can tell from the patent's abstract, the patent wouldn't apply to AmigaDOS which didn't have virtual desktops within the system. Someone might have made a virtual desktop manager for AmigaDOS that would provide prior art, though. Again, solely from reading the patent's abstract it looks like there was some sort of interface where you clicked a button to go to the virtual desktop, and clicked a different button to return to the primary desktop.

GEOS too... (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856787)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Lisa [wikipedia.org]
Of course, I suspect this is why he didn't include Apple in the suit...

Actually, they were quite nice, if expensive machines. And everyone wanted one when they came out, because there was nothing like it in the consumer market. Note - nobody could *afford* one, but god, we all wanted and lusted after these things..

X's XDM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857569)

When did X's XDM acquire the ability to have multiple logins on a single machine?

I've used it to segregate my work & personal workspaces...

( used to have my system rigged to switch between different vt's, so when I wanted to do "work" work, I used vt-7/login, and "personal" work, vt-8/login. Can KDM do this? been awhile... )

Re:Apple's Switcher (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855809)

The best of these was Desqview, essentially a sophisticated task-switcher that loaded on top of DOS. With the advent of the 386, it was a terrific "multi-tasking" solution for that time. There weren't really multiple desktops involved, though; you'd simply switch among the various active programs. I could easily run 1-2-3, WordPerfect, and SPSS on a 386 with 2 MB of memory, and still have room to spare for a DOS box. This was in 1988, though, and Desqview386 wasn't very old at that time. Hell, the 386 wasn't all that old at that time.

Re:Apple's Switcher (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855939)

This could turn into a pretty good argument over the legitimacy of proprietary software as outfits like Microsoft may have quite a bit of prior art hidden within their OSs. That would put them in the position of actively aiding a fraud which is a crime in itself.

Hello America (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855325)

Please help me profit it is for the greater good! When I am wealthy everyone is happy, lets also slaughter Palestinians so I can drink their blood and you will all get golden mickey mouse buttplugs as a reward. I love you and you love me.

Re:Hello America (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855401)

I'm glad I don't have a whole country full of deceitful, greedy kikes stealing all my water and land anywhere near me. Fucking Jews can't just live in peace. They have to steal other people's land. Our national economy is collapsing from the Jewbanks doing their usual Jewthing. You see, with Jews, you lose. That's how THEY win. They WIN by making YOU lose. So let's lose the Jews.

Why in the fuck are our precious taxpayer dollars going to some shitty slit of land for some Jews? Global warming could be swiftly solved if we just incinerated all of them. Their ashes would be ejected into the upper atmosphere, where they would block some sunlight from hitting the earth. The international economy would improve thanks to the absence of Jewish predatory lending, and it would buy us time to deal with climate change. Two birds, one stone.

All of our politicians bend over and take it in the ass for Israel because a bunch of fat, rich Jews whose parents were nowhere near Nazi Germany have guilted the US into giving away tax dollars to support an aggressive genocide. These Israeli bastards hide behind the cloak of "never again" at any cost. They are willing to even be as damning as the Nazis before them just to preserve their artificial state given to them by the then and always spineless UN.

I don't see the US giving African Americans their own state and supporting it with billions in tax dollars. I don't see the Irish getting support in Northern Ireland by the US after being treated like shit in the US. It took a nuclear bomb on Japan totally unrelated to the internment camps in the US for the Japanese to get a US protected country. Why are the Jews so special? Their population in the US is 5 million, less than the total population of New York City, yet their influence is comparable to China diplomatically.

I say fuck Israel and its racist Jews. Pull out all funding and weapons and let them work it out on their own. Perhaps then we could focus on actual third-world countries and at least lend a REAL helping hand instead of helping Israel engage in the annihilation of the Palestinians. Between them the blame and fault goes both ways but I'll be damned if I will support a bunch of crybabies with US grade weapons attacking what amounts to a third world country in their backyard by bringing the Nazis into it once again. Prominent Jews once again go on playing the victim no matter where in the food chain they are.

Re:Hello America (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855409)

The Palestinians have Farfur, but they won't get any Farfur buttplugs since they already have their heads up their assess. No, I'm sure I don't like you.

double dos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855343)

it was from 1984/1985.

Links to the Corporate Web Sites (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855369)

http://www.ip-innovation.info/ [ip-innovation.info]
http://www.acaciatechnologies.com/ [acaciatechnologies.com]
They may want to patent the slashdot effect next, so an example of the prior art may be necessary.

Re:Links to the Corporate Web Sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857343)

From here [ip-innovation.info].

We are increasingly becoming involved in working with clients to convert their paper-based Patent Information library (patent specifications, file histories and related documents) into electronically indexed and formatted archives.

What a shame I have patented the process of converting paper-based information into electronically indexed and formatted archives.

These guys are fucking pricks. Con men hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

Contact Groklaw... (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855389)

For this kind of issues, make sure folks at Groklaw [groklaw.net] get to know fast. They are the only folks I know that will dig up facts fast. In the Novell/SCO case, One guy provided evidence dating back to 1971! By the way, SCO appears to have lost that case. Amazing.

Stick a Fork in Groklaw... (1)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855575)

... they're done, for all intents and purposes. Whether the reason is fatigue, health issues, or a new full-time job, it appears that PJ is no longer championing legal issues (on-line, at least). A shame, really, since the last few years has seen some of the finest collaborative work on the web, in an area where education and research is sorely needed.

Sorry for the melancholy off-topic guys. Would that the parent post was correct.

groklaw: demise or hiatus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855727)

For further information:

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090105033126835

Earlier examples? (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855411)

I'd think both the BeOS interface and Desqview/X might've qualified as well. Finding the "Microsoft link" is sort of a joke. They're a big technology company that's been around for decades. How many ex-Microsoft people are floating around? It's not like they're sending stealth agents out to infiltrate the industry. That's a little too "CoS-like", isn't it?

another example: doubledos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855427)

it was from 1984/1985
ran two programs, used a hot key to swap between them

Re:Earlier examples? (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855443)

BeOS started development in 1991 and was first released in 1995; it's not prior art for anything.

Re:Earlier examples? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857371)

it's not prior art for anything.

Prior art, it is
For quite important project
Project called Haiku

(is "called" one sylable or two?)

Re:Earlier examples? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855449)

Neither DesqView/X nor BeOS predate 1987. But, I would definitely think SunView [wikipedia.org], which ran on Solaris 4 in the 1980s would count.

Re:Earlier examples? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855887)

Maybe, but is there a more definitive date than Wikipedia's "early 1980s"? I don't remember coming across any SunOS 4 kit until much later (around '90 I think). The Wikipedia picture's from 2005.

Haven't we had this since VTs? (4, Informative)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855459)

Surely virtual terminals (TTYs 0—7 and onwards, switchable using control and Fx) count as workspaces, and have been around since Xenix (the forerunner to SCO UNIX) in 1980-85ish?

If it's a truly graphical thing they're after, the Amiga is an example of prior art IIRC. However, it's such an obvious idea that it shouldn't be patentable, and the fact America's patent system is so broken is truly depressing.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855523)

However, it's such an obvious idea that it shouldn't be patentable, and the fact America's patent system is so broken is truly depressing.

It's the best patent system money can buy.

Sort of like our politicians. We have the best politicians that money can buy, too.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855555)

If the system has a gui then distinct instances can be started on multiple VTs and switched betweeen by a keystroke.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855767)

And we've had VT's since the Xerox Alto in 1973. It's what Jobs saw when he made that infamous visit to Xerox PARC, which later influenced the Apple Lisa.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855923)

I don't think so. Unix virtual terminals do allow switching from one to the other (and obviously "what's on the other screen" is still held somewhere) but reading the (very obtuse) patent suggested that there's more to it than that - there's no link back to the previous workspace from the current one.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856279)

I am not [much of] a programmer and anyway have no experience writing virtual desktop managers. But it sounds like the patent would apply pretty well to the typical way of doing things up to this point: "The user can invoke a switch between workspaces by selecting a display object called a door, and a back door to the previous workspace is created automatically so that the user is not trapped in a workspace." This sounds like they are patenting not just the actual software method of going about this (which is specifically object-oriented) but also particulars of the interface. I have to install a plugin before I can load a tif though, apparently. So I haven't read past the abstract.

Re:Haven't we had this since VTs? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857255)

If it's a truly graphical thing they're after, the Amiga is an example of prior art IIRC.

From reading the patents, it seems to be a graphical thing (which I can't define) and a virtual workspace thing which seems pretty clearly defined.

Wikipedia has an article on Virtual Desktops here [wikipedia.org]. It specifically mentions the patents in this article, as well as

One thing that the virtual desktop article does not mention is switching between users which also appears to violate the patents. UNIX, OS X and Windows have been able to do this for quite sometime. Window managers with explicit virtual desktops/workspaces include GNU screen, FVWM, OLVWM, TVWM, Gnome, KDE, and many many others.

I would also guess that all of the fancy modern websites violate the patent as well. It common to have web sites with windows with things like rss feeds, weather, news and whatnot that are organized and can be rearranged rearranged.

A google search for virtual desktops shows ads from Citrix, Dell, and Dynamix Group trying to sell virtual desktops.

So there appears to be just about any computer system in at least the past 15 years that are violating this patent in some way. When do these things expire anyway?

Personally, I don't believe in filing a patent, doing nothing with it, and then retrosuing over said patent. I give the Xerox PARC people props. They came up with the WIMP interface that we still use today. Shared printers, windows, concurrent applications, and all of that was foreseen by these people, but WTF did they do with these ideas? I have never run Xerox computers or software. Xerox is still around, and they are not doing these lawsuits. Are these people going to sue every software company, or are they going to stop at RedHat and Novell?

olvwm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855481)

...for those who remember...

Hard to say just what they mean? (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855485)

That's where the claims come in. The claims represent the boundaries of the "property" to which the patent lays claim. Forget about the abstract, forget about the detailed description - read the claims, and then use the specification to help you understand what the claims are talking about. Interpret the claims as broadly as is reasonable, given what the specification says.

The claims are shown here [google.com], and yes, there are a lot of them and they will make your head explode. Stick to the independent claims at first (the ones that don't say, for example, "The system of claim 1, wherein...").

The trouble with prior art on this one is that the patent is so old. It was issued at the end of 1991, and it just expired in the past couple of months. Some Slashdotters weren't even born yet when this patent was issued, much less filed. Plus, you're not arguing invalidity of a patent issued to some fly-by-night company that develops crap and files applications on it - this was Xerox, and they typically have/had their shit together.

In any case, good luck to the defendants on this one.

Re:Hard to say just what they mean? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857675)

Plus, you're not arguing invalidity of a patent issued to some fly-by-night company that develops crap and files applications on it - this was Xerox, and they typically have/had their shit together.

They have the same incentive as any company to patent things even when prior art exists, though. And claim 1 of the '412 patent is certainly covered by Apple's 1985 "Switcher".

The other major "innovation" they appear to claim is that of pinning windows so the same one appears on multiple desktops. Given multiple desktops already, that's hardly patent-worthy... and it was probably anticipated. (Switcher may have had it, for desk accessories; I don't remember).

The Apple ][+ computer (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855579)

With a simple poke statement in basic, you can change the graphical workspace to the other screen. Finding a computer that didn't have different workspace pages may be a tougher find.

IANAL of course (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855609)

But isn't there some provision in patent law excluding things that are so obvious that if an "average person" can come up with it without specialized knowledge, it's not covered? Specifically Sect 103: "if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art"

Why isn't that clause being used more to get rid of all these frivolous patents? Wow, I have a computer, and a device that outputs something on a screen. I put them together and use a computer to output something on a screen - give me my patent. Yeah. Or one click shopping - I have a mouse, which is used to point and click and LO AND BEHOLD if you use your mouse to point at something and click, I have a patent on it. Sigh, the waste of court time far outweighs the fees paid to the government for the patent. Perhaps the patent office should be fined every time one of their patents is thrown out.

You're interpreting that incorrectly (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857365)

But isn't there some provision in patent law excluding things that are so obvious that if an "average person" can come up with it without specialized knowledge, it's not covered?

On these trivial patents, the part that is non-obvious is that you CAN actually get a patent for them, anyone that figures that out is rewarded with a patent. See what they did there, actually pretty clever!

Plenty of Prior Art (2, Insightful)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855619)

X-Window (MIT, 1984)
Apple Lisa (1983)
Windows 1.0 (1985)

Re:Plenty of Prior Art (0)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855729)

None of those had multiple workspaces. They all supported multiple applications running in a single workspace.

Re:Plenty of Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856171)

GNU screen [churchturing.org] has been around since 1987.

Across the board defense against software patents. (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855641)

If you understand the human rights and expectation of using Abstraction Physics [abstractionphysics.net] you'll know patents on software are acts of fraud against the human race. And its not like copyrights are not strong enough and even provide longer protection.....

Graphical Environment Manager (3, Informative)

bsyd (795309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855643)

Graphical Environment Manager : that's the answer RedHat is searching after.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_Environment_Manager [wikipedia.org])
This product was used in Ventura Publisher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventura_publisher [wikipedia.org])

It didn't do multiple workspace (2, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856065)

I used to have an Atari with GEM, didn't do multiple workspace. That's what this patent is about.

Check out (1)

nixomose (74724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855651)

Might want to check out prodigy, and compuserve, they were doing interesting things around that time.

DESQview 1985 (1)

Vskye (9079) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855687)

This was a god send to me back when I ran my bbs. Task switching at it's finest, err.. at least for us dos types.
see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DESQview [wikipedia.org]

Re:DESQview 1985 (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855743)

DESQview on the 386 did full-blown multitasking, not just task switching. Godsend when running a BBS because it meant, given enough RAM, you could run multiple BBS nodes and leave a window open for DOS, etc.

Re:DESQview 1985 (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856965)

Absolutely. I ran DesqView on my 486/25 with two Fidonet nodes on it (one Binkleyterm frontend with Opus backend, and one simple Opus setup connected to a (very expensive) CD-ROM reader that accessed Grolier's Encyclopaedia, which was used a lot by the local schools for the kids to do "high tech" research. And I could also run MsgEd along with everything else to read my own netmail and echomail.

It was a very cool setup, actually. I needed to run two phone lines due to the encyclopaedia use -- that tied up one bbs pretty much all day.

what about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855793)

Screen, it's been around since 87 at least. Not graphical, but it manages workspaces.

TRS-80 Model-1 game (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855799)

The title of the game has escaped me, but I used to load a "USA vs. USSR" game from audio cassette on my
TRS-80 Model-1 back in 1984 or so. The game allowed you to switch back and forth between the USA and the
USSR map, which essentially gives you two independent work area's.

As remote as it may be from today's systems, I think this would be prior art.

APL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855847)

APL, 70's vintage, let you switch workspace (and referred to them as such)

DOS task switchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26855963)

Around 1985 there were a lot of tools for switching tasks or workspaces. Virtual terminals in Unix and other mini and mainframes. Software Carousel from Softlogic. Digital Research's GEM. Topview. DESQview. And then there were TSRs like Sidekick and a million others that arguably gave the ability to work in multiple workspaces.

We sold a lot of Quarterdeck's DESQview back in the mid to late '80's. Lawyers in particular loved to be able to work on more than one document or work on a spreadsheet, dial-up research tool and word processor all at once.

A little in-depth research would be needed but I believe several of these existed in 1985 or earlier even if they weren't broadly in use until a few years later.

Lastly there was Multi User Concurrent DOS (MUCDOS) that would allow multiple entire DOS desktops on one PC or through terminals attached to one PC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiuser_DOS I worked on projects that used this in 1985.

It's Xerox Rooms, surely? (4, Insightful)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26855995)

From reading the patent, it isn't a patent for a "GUI", multiple screens or even multiple windows - all of those predate 1985. What it appears to be is a patent for is what became "Xerox Rooms" - which was eventually offered as a Windows add-on around the early '90s.

From the linked patent:
"The user can invoke a switch between workspaces by selecting a display object called a door, and a back door to the previous workspace is created automatically so that the user is not trapped in a workspace".

It seems an odd patent to try and hit Redhat with, because I can't think of any current GUI that uses anything close to the "Rooms" model. Something close to the "standard" GUI was available on Xerox commercial workstations in around 1985-1986, before this patent was issued (I remember them from college).

The nearest that might qualify as "prior art" that I can think of is the display handling on some minicomputer workstations in the early 1980s (specifically Wang VS, but possibly others). You could just about make a claim for "multiple windows held in memory" and there being a "display object" which took you back the previous workspace. You'd struggle at calling it an "object-based user interface" though.

Re:It's Xerox Rooms, surely? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857613)

The game "Ultima" or "Ultimaja" in the early 80's (Apple Lisa) had "time portals" (i.e. "doorways") which jumped you from the primitive time(castles, ships, and dragons" to the "devils time", to the current time with "airplanes", to the future time (space ships to planet X (Separate floppy)). Each time was essentially its own workspace. Each workspace was "object oriented" as the goal was to kill/sail/fly/travel-around "objects". The terrain had land and ocean. Your avatar moved around a Cartesian grid. You also went through a doorway to get into the castles (Separate workspace). You would try to bribe the castle inhabitants for information.

The game "Castle Wolfenstein" also had levels and was out in the early 80's. I think you went through doorways to get from one level to another.

Nothing to see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856045)

2007 - 1987 = 20

Patents have a 20 years life time. So, "Back in 2007" means that if this was filled after march 25 2007, the patent was dead by the time they filled.

This qualifies as vexatious litigation.

Beside, You have a limited time to file for infringement. You can't just sit on your patent, wait until the last moment, then sue. You have to prove that you acted within 3 years of finding the patent violation.

Umm... (1)

daemonburrito (1026186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856081)

Sorry for pointing out the obvious, but I believe y'all should be going to TFA and posting your comments there.

Echoing earlier posts, I used an Amiga, DESQview, GEM, MUC-DOS, etc. in the 80's.

Well, well, well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856099)

"(That means art found in a Linux distribution may not help, seeing as how Linus Torvalds first began the Linux kernel in 1991.)"

Looks like you fanbois need Unix after all...

Re:Well, well, well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856253)

Well duh, no Unix means no Linux, it is a Unix-based OS, after all.

Rather than invalidate the patent ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856159)

Rather than invalidate the patent, we ought to try to find some way to invalidate IP Innovation and Acacia Technologies. Why solve the problem piecemeal? Attack the source of the problem and get rid of any possible patent trolling they could do.

Who's behind those troll companies? How can we dig up something on them and use it to distract or disable them? People like that must have some skeletons in their closets. Let's find them and exploit them.

Oberon and Smalltalk? (2, Informative)

meburke (736645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856209)

The Oberon Project started in 1985 and I think it had independent screenspaces from the start. Smalltalk was developed in the early 70's at PARC, and and I'm not sure what the relationship is with the disputed patent, but independent screen space management was a feature.

While UNIX didn't have X-Windows in the early very early 80's, it did have multiple screens, virtual TTY's, and multiple screenspaces. The extensive documentation that came with SystemV rel3.x told how to create applications in C that used independent screen space. All Xenix, Cromix, Esix and Kodak versions included this documetation, and so did the official Bell documentation.

Expiring MDI / tabbed view patent claim? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856245)

It looks like they are trying to argue that they invented the tabbed multiple document selection within an application. With that in mind, what we would be looking for is evidence of an application that supports the editing of multiple documents that predates this patent. Could the venerable emacs claim to have supported multiple files prior to then?

The application "screen" might fit this request (1)

daurtanyn (258081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856271)

There was a popular app called "screen" which allowed switching between multiple contexts and workspaces.

I used it all the time to make the best use of (then) limited desktop real estate. In that era, big bitmapped displays were a rare luxury in the marketplace.

The patent should be expiring soon anyway? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856303)

The issue date is 1991, and what's the current year? I thought patents lasted 18 years, meaning that the patent expires this year. Why the worry?

Check GrokLaw (1)

Peter_JS_Blue (801871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856327)

Im sure GrokLaw covered this a year or two ago. Perhaps RedHat should go and trawl through their archives. I'm sure the original XT-PC had multiple text screens built into the video BIOS and that was 1981 ish

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856471)

In 1987 I was working at Compugraphic where we were developing an electronic prepress system for a Sun server. Some of us were using X-windows and some of us were using mulitple virtual terminals on a physical terminal. I was using a terminal, running an emacs session with multiple windows, and running separate shell in each. This sounds like multiple workspaces to me.

CP/M (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 5 years ago | (#26856593)

Digital Research created two products in the 80's, Concurrent CP/M and Concurrent DOS, which had a multi-view aspect to the user interface. You could run 4 text-based applications simultaneously and switch between them using a hotkey. (Alternatively, you could also custom code an XIOS to connect each process to an individual terminal and timeshare, which is something we did at the first place I worked) I'm fairly certain Concurrent CP/M was available prior to this patent being filed.

Re:CP/M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26856699)

Then the person who needs to be tracked down is Tom Rolander, who had a hand in those products and MP/M.

How many works spaces do you need? (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857511)

Might make for an interesting slashdot poll, how many workspaces do you use? Would it be a big deal if Red Hat 'turned off' this feature? There would emerge unofficial ways to turn it back on easily applied by geeks, but by officially not having it Red Hat could get around the patent.

file cabinet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26857557)

How about a file cabinet

Novell are powerful (1)

Signius (855358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26857681)

Although these particular patent trolls are no stranger to court cases and litigation. Have they gone after any companies are powerful as Novell before ? While Netware is none pretty much a dying beast, Novell have been around a long time and the patent portfolio is one fo the largest and they are also in the patent sharing project with IBM, Sony and others, would it be possible for these as a united group to crush companies like Acacia Technologies ? I am not sure if this is feasable thing by fighting patents with patents ? But Novell on their own have a huge amount of patents and a very very powerful legal team. I am often amazed by the strength of Niovell in these legal battled and waiting to just the right moment to issue a crushing blow to the attackers. While i am not fan of Novells patent agreement with Microsoft it does go to show that the big companies including Microsoft are not in favour the current patent system but it is a neccasary evil to get into. So it would be good to see some of these big patent holding companies actually use the own portfolios as weapons to destroy these patent troll companies and make it such a high risk business for the non producing trolls to get into. If you make it so expensive and of such risk for them there parastitc business of patent trolls wouldn't exist.
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