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332 comments

Oh, Apple (5, Funny)

Cormophyte (1318065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492025)

I hope this is a legitimate claim, or I'll have to start hating you, too.

Re:Oh, Apple (5, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492081)

it's a software patent.

start hating.

Re:Oh, Apple (4, Insightful)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492141)

Worse, it's a patent on a ridiculously general software concept.

I can't stand these kinds of patents, especially when they block progress and innovation.

without interruption of its primary function... (4, Insightful)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492519)

... and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer.

In my book that means: no need for a restart. Completely different from what i.E. FireFox / Thunderbird and the like do - needing to ask the user to stop with his / her work in order to perform the update.

Not trivial.

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (3, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492649)

Not trivial to implement. Is the concept itself worth a patent?

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (3, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492823)

Patents don't cover concepts. They only cover implementations. So the question is moot.

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492681)

... and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer.

And in a manner that Apple doesn't use. Software updates on OS X always ask the user. And depending on what it's updating, you may have to restart a program or reboot. The patent (from 1995) is pretty clear that it has to be completely transparent to the user which implies not only no reboot, but no notification. Anybody tries that on my machine gets the software booted off right quickly.

Unimplementable (0)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492851)

I know. The content of the patent is almost impossible to implement with current operating systems.

Re:Unimplementable (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492991)

Save the current state to a config file, disconnect from the running windows (and other resources), start the new version which reads the config file and connects to the windows, kill the first process.

Re:Unimplementable (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493075)

According to krischik, you just described how to implement the impossible. And to the user, even if they do notice, it shouldn't be any worst than a simple memory swapping delay.

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (4, Interesting)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492693)

Well yeah, but it's still a very general concept that's been patented. I have nothing against patents; I just object to this kind. Personally I feel it's an abuse of the patent system, just like these moronic patent troll companies that do nothing except file patents (no development or practical invention) and expect free money when their idea becomes practical or mainstream.

Yeah, I'm a grumpy old man...what of it...

Software patents are rubbish (3, Insightful)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492905)

I know. I have not seen a valid software patent. This one is almost impossible to implement. Apart from Web-2 applications. And this is probably why it popped up.

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492743)

Wait, what? Reading the patent excerpt suggests that this is no different than doing <script src="http://some.external.site/latest.js"</script>. Or just visiting ANY web app, for that matter - except when dealing with Flash Player, I'm automatically using the latest version of the site without any need to update things at my end.

It would be one thing if any Apple software actually DID this sort of automatic, transparent updating - including their own Dashboard Widgets. If anyone can point me to an example of software from Apple (or anyone else, for that matter) that does this, I could see some level of validity; as far as I'm concerned if they haven't implemented it then this is just patent trolling. The closest I've seen are apps that use the Sparkle update framework which is fairly seamless (better than Apple's Software Update, IMO) but still requires you to give the OK to a download and then a restart. Panic's Coda automatically DLs updates in the background but, again, requires a restart to take effect. I'm certainly no lawyer, but it seems that a required restart of the app would go against the idea of no user interference or required user intervention.

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (2, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492977)

Wait, what? Reading the patent excerpt suggests that this is no different than doing <script src="http://some.external.site/latest.js"</script>. Or just visiting ANY web app, for that matter - except when dealing with Flash Player, I'm automatically using the latest version of the site without any need to update things at my end.

Did you read the claims? Cause that's all that matters. The abstract and spec do not define the invention (with a couple minor exceptions). (Disclaimer: I haven't read the patent)

I call shenanigans! (4, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492855)

this patent is total BS!

the patent description makes it sound like we're talking about a system for automatically updating any program while its running without any interruption (which would be quite a feat if accomplished, but still not worthy of a process patent because its an obvious goal).

However the operation the patent actually describes is as follows:

1) I click on an icon to launch an application,
2) a process starts that checks to see if I have the latest version of the application
2a) if I have the latest, it launches the application
2b) if I don't have the latest, it replaces my copy with the latest and the launches the application

this stuff about "transparently running" and "no need for restart" is a red herring. of course there's no need for restart, the program isn't running yet!

Re:without interruption of its primary function... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493031)

Not trivial.

Maybe. But that doesn't mean it was not obvious.

Re:Oh, Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492731)

And it's so opposite from the recent article about the original internet RFCs and how the "who got credit" and patent stuff was set aside for... progress. :(

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/07/168243&from=rss

Re:Oh, Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492341)

Yes, whatever happened to Apple's "do no evil"????

I guess we misheard that...must be "(we) do know evil"

Re:Oh, Apple (2, Informative)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492473)

That'd be Google.

Re:Oh, Apple (5, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492495)

Actually "do no evil" was Google shtick, not Apples. Apple has never claimed not to be evil, they're just very stylish about it.

Re:Oh, Apple (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492083)

No, you won't. Steve will merely extend the reality distortion field to cover you as well. He might not be at the helm, but it is still his life energy that powers the RDF. That is why his health is failing. Keeping up good feelings about apple after all the various shit they have pulled with the iPhone has really taxed is ability to power the RDF. I hear they are looking for an alternate power source, ut its going about as well as their search for an alternate supply of PPC chips went a few years back

Re:Oh, Apple (1, Troll)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492201)

Patent trolling as usual. Nothing new...

Re:Oh, Apple (-1, Flamebait)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492231)

Really? No excuses for Apple. This is /. and all patents (legit or otherwise) are /evil.

How dare you! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492121)

How dare you mean spirited people use Apple patented stuff because you do not know how to use it properly unlike the insanely great people at Cupertino

and in a manner that is completely transparent (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492123)

FTFP:

A software program running on a computer automatically replaces itself with a newer version in a completely automated fashion, without interruption of its primary function, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer.

As long as the user is notified or must explicitly grant permission, the update process is not transparent to the user.

Apple claims a patent on a stealth method.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (3, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492213)

"Apple claims a patent on a stealth method."

Microsoft already own the portfolio on this nonsense!

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (3, Insightful)

tapo (855172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492875)

I think Google Chrome is a better fit. GoogleUpdate.exe just sits in the background, the user doesn't know it's installed or running. When a new version of Chrome is detected, its automatically downloaded and installed without any user prompt. The only way they could find out they're running a new version is to manually check.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492287)

Wouldn't "transparent" mean, that the user can see what is actually going on (ie the opposite of a black box)? Though I don't know how far you would have to go in order to fulfil this with a computer.

What you are describing sounds more like "invisible".

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492293)

Wait a moment...windows has been doing this for years. So do worms and other malicious content. I think whoever wrote the first computer worm should sue apple. But really - windows does do this (ever wake up to find your computer was reboot in the middle of the night for a windows update...making your open documents/websites go bye-bye)

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492383)

Apparently you missed 'without interruption of its primary function' in the description.

Most Windows updates only fulfill the 1st and 3rd criteria.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492435)

Most, but not all. I have had it download updated drivers for my sound card and other devices and not require a restart.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (3, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492915)

I though Reboots were part of Windows Primary Function.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492489)

Uh, no? Since when does Windows intentionally automatically reboot without confirmation? I suspect either bad hardware or a stupid system administrator changing that setting. It's also not under Apple's patent according to a poster above you - that's a definite interruption to your work.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (3, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492577)

Almost monthly, if your machine is set up to automatically apply updates. During the middle of the night... "A critical security update was installed and your computer had to be rebooted."

My work machine does this, much to my anguish.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (2, Informative)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492803)

Actually, it does notify you by placing a "rebooting in x seconds" warning on the screen. Its also clearly interrupting the program in question. Even the basic updates that don't require a reboot sometimes reset the desktop, close windows, or at the very least, notify the user. Not a single MS update is completely transparent to the user.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (5, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492589)

I think whoever wrote the first computer worm should sue apple

How apt that a worm would ruin an apple. :)

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

117 (1013655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492809)

To be fair, I'm pretty sure that my Vista Business machine at work does re-open documents, websites etc after an auto-restart from Windows Updates

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492633)

I think you're reading too much into that sentence. This is the flip side of the point that you don't patent "doing X", you patent "a method of doing X".

Normally people miss that a patent doesn't cover "a differnt method of doing X".

But in this case, you're suggesting that you can use the patented method, as long as you don't end up "doing X". IANAL, but I'll bet you're mistaken. If I write an update mechanism that follows Apple's design, and then somewhere along the way interrupt the user experience, I've still implemented Apple's patent even though I didn't use it to its full potential.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

Rusty_Rebar (1144441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492749)

A software program running on a computer automatically replaces itself with a newer version in a completely automated fashion, without interruption of its primary function, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer.

So would conficker be in violation of this patent?

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

dilute (74234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492819)

Here's a clue: "in a manner that is completely transparent" is NOT part of the claims. It is verbiage in the abstract and written description. Read the CLAIMS if you want a handle on what the patent actually covers.

Re:and in a manner that is completely transparent (1)

Maladius (1289924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493041)

I guess Microsoft must have already had the patent on automatically updating in a manner that was completely not transparent to the user.

See! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492137)

It's all about money, Apple fans. Seriously. I have tried to tell you this before, but they do not care about you at all.

Re:See! (0, Flamebait)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492297)

If it were all about money, Apple products would suck. Exhibit A: Microsoft Windows--makes a lot of money AND they don't care about users. Exhibit B: Mac OSX--makes a lot of money but has to care about users, otherwise they render themselves obsolete.

Apple's competitive advantage is that they cater to a specific type of user (good, bad, indifferent). By definition, they actually DO care about users because they have to in order to remain relevant. They do care about users, just not in the touchy-feely way your post otherwise insinuates.

Re:See! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492451)

By definition, they actually DO care about users because they have to in order to remain relevant.

If your statement is true, please explain iTunes running on Windows. Because I don't see any evidence that Apple cares about users there.

Re:See! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492597)

Nice strawman.

Btw, Apple products do suck. However, Apple fanbois tend to worry about fashion more than function.

Re:See! (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492625)

If it were all about money, Apple products would suck. Exhibit A: Microsoft Windows--makes a lot of money AND they don't care about users. Exhibit B: Mac OSX--makes a lot of money but has to care about users, otherwise they render themselves obsolete.

You don't have to outrun the wolf, just the slowest member of your party.

Re:See! (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492639)

Exhibit A: Microsoft Windows--makes a lot of money AND they don't care about users. Exhibit B: Mac OSX--makes a lot of money but has to care about users, otherwise they render themselves obsolete.

Apple "cares" about its users the same way a gold-digging wife "cares" about her husband, or a manufactured pop music group "cares" about its fans.

Apple cares about keeping its users blinded with shiny distractions, sure. It does not care about providing quality products or services, or about the long-term well-being of its customers.

Apple has been a bunch of lawsuit trolls since the infamous "look and feel" lawsuits of the late 1980s. There are every bit as evil as Microsoft, just smaller and wrapper in a prettier box.

Re:See! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27493013)

Or like you care about whatever is on the other side of the glory hole?

Re:See! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492355)

In a certain way, they have to care. Because if they make crap, people won't buy it.

For a company, caring about their customers is equal to getting their money.

New Slashdot Prior-Art system (SPAS) (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492155)

This is a good peer review of the patent.

I just read it, and it looks like stuff engineers have been doing way before 1998 (granted date).

I would imagine one or more slashdot readers will/could file prior-art to this via an old log book.

Thanks slashdot...

Re:New Slashdot Prior-Art system (SPAS) (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492301)

Um, the patent was filed in 1995, I believe that anything after the patent was file wouldn't count for prior art. I'm not sure how anything could be patented if that were the case.

And you certainly wouldn't see any items appearing until the patent was granted.

Re:New Slashdot Prior-Art system (SPAS) (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492499)

ok, 1995. But still, These "replace thyself" systems have been around since the Gemini program!

completely transparent to the user (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492615)

I don't know of any update system which fulfils:

without interruption of its primary function, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer

Do you?

Re:completely transparent to the user (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492705)

I love Apple. Does that help?

I'm confused (1, Funny)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492163)

Are we hating Apple today or loving them?

Re:I'm confused (1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492221)

We are think for ourselves,. you apparently are looking for am excuse to not think. I suggest you find a religious site.

Re:I'm confused (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492331)

"We are think for ourselves," eh?

My point, since you missed it, was that we often don't, based on the story posted. Nobody will remember this when the next iPhone comes out.

Re:I'm confused (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492337)

I've seen your posts, and they're not 'are think for ourselves'.

Also Apple sucks. Religion too. Wait, aren't they the same thing?

Re:I'm confused (1)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492471)

No, the Apple causes religion.

<mutter>...if it wasn't for that damned snake...

Re:I'm confused (1, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492497)

"I suggest you find a religious site."

Like, lets say, Slashdot?

Re:I'm confused (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492763)

We are think for ourselves,. you apparently are looking for am excuse to not think. I suggest you find a religious site.

I wonder how many people with relatively low UIDs find this statement rather amusing.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492317)

Meh. Apple is basically just Microsoft with an inferiority complex.

Re:I'm confused (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492747)

Meh. Apple is basically just Microsoft with an inferiority complex.

But a stylish, tasteful inferiority complex. You don't see Steve Jobs with sweaty underarms, do you?

Re:I'm confused (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492897)

And Jobs has never thrown a chair, threatened to "fucking kill google", or stated that his companies stock was overvalued. Or at least not while anybody was watching.

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492535)

Are we hating Apple today or loving them?

As always, the normal people are judging based on actions, and the fanboys are ignoring everything negative (or saying that the negatives are actually positives) and loving them.

I posted to the wrong story. (5, Insightful)

JO_DIE_THE_STAR_F*** (1163877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492191)

I just posted this in the last story (Happy 40th Birthday, Internet RFCs)

From the article [nytimes.com] "It probably helped that in those days we avoided patents and other restrictions; without any financial incentive to control the protocols, it was much easier to reach agreement." Exactly why patents don't work in their current form.

Now it seems more appropriate for this story.

Prior art, obvious (5, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492197)

*sigh* Patent 5155847 [uspto.gov] , referenced in Apple's patent, covers everything Apple's does. The only differences are obvious minor adaptions based on the different communications channels in use, things any network programmer does automatically every day.

You missed the transparent part. (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492683)

Let me quote the important and not at all minor difference:

without interruption of its primary function, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer

Updating a running program without interruption is everything but trivial.

Re:You missed the transparent part. (2, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493067)

Updating a running program without interruption is everything but trivial.

It can be pretty easy. I helped write a database app where every time the menu form was invoked, it would check the back-end database to see what the "current" version of the front-end should be. If it wasn't the same, it would launch the new version and quietly kill itself.

The user only experiences a slight delay that can not be differentiated from network congestion or heavy database load.

The key here is that the app does the work of checking for updates at an easy time to do it (user is transitioning from one form to another) and not based on an external stimulus (an interrupt).

Doing this for something like a word processor or spreadsheet that doesn't have such stark transitions would be trickier since it would have to somehow save the state, reload itself, and restore the state.

I think in the case of the patent, they're talking about updating the app during a page-load, so the user won't notice the delay because they're going through a state-change already. I may be mistaken, but I do not think the app gets updated in the middle of reading a page without doing a refresh of some kind.

Re:Prior art, obvious (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492739)

Too late, the patent's been granted. Or can a patent be revoked? I didn't think they could.

Whatever tiny tweak they've made (looks like it being "transparent to the user" from posts above) seems to have been enough to get the patent approved and now results in yet another patent troll scenario.

Re:Prior art, obvious (2, Informative)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492831)

*sigh* Patent 5155847 [uspto.gov] , referenced in Apple's patent, covers everything Apple's does. The only differences are obvious minor adaptions based on the different communications channels in use, things any network programmer does automatically every day.

You fail patent law 101.

The reasons those references are there are to point out that yes, the filer knew about those inventions and yes, the filer believes that the new invention is sufficiently different to be patentable, and yes, Mr. Trammel, examiner of record, and Mr. Corcoran, assistant examiner, please do look over these other patents, because we are damned sure that our invention is sufficiently different from them that it is patentable, and we are not afraid to tell you about them.

Re:Prior art, obvious (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492927)

The impression I get is more "We claim our patent's sufficiently different, so please don't bother looking over these other ones that we mention only to avoid getting nailed later for willful deception when one of our targets brings them up.". Having read the two patents, I fail to find any claims in Apple's that aren't covered in essentially the same form in the earlier patent, which I believe in patent law is exactly the definition of prior art.

Use of this patent against web browsers? (2, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492223)

If you read this claim, it seems that any webpage loaded through a caching web-browser *could* fall under it.

1. A method for automatically updating software programs on a computer, comprising the steps, of:

storing an updated version of a program at a designated location in a remote memory that is accessible to the computer;

Being that most browsers will check a cache to see if it already has your content, the act of overwriting the cache before loading the asset for your page seems to run afoul of this auto-update process.

Re:Use of this patent against web browsers? (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492629)

Except that web pages are not programs.

Re:Use of this patent against web browsers? (3, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492787)

Except that web pages are not programs.

The line's blurring. Ever use Google Documents?

Re:Use of this patent against web browsers? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492797)

Exactly...

javascript is merely another form of html as is ajax, flex, and other advanced html rendered web pages.

Not programs at all- move along- nothing to see here.

Web 2 (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492965)

As much as I hate to say: JavaScript is a programming language and there are quite a few very nifty JavaScript applications out there. If you cache the JavaScript applications then you might violate the patent.

Why wait for their decision? (1)

its_schwim (1247278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492235)

The articles linked seem to act as if there's only one update scheme in existence and we need to sit patiently until Apple decides if we can use it or not. In my humble opinion, tell Apple to shove their update schema until they reach their elbow and write a(or utilize an already written)schema that is deemed to differ from this ridiculous patent enough to be used. Oh, and quit buying their damned products too. You guys are just encouraging them.

Bunch of hypocrites (4, Interesting)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492255)

Apple is a member of the W3C, and even advertises on it's own web page (Click Here) [apple.com] that it supports an immutable commitment to royalty free licensing on W3C standards, per the W3C patent policy. Sounds like Apple is only interested in other companies licensing Royalty Free terms to them, but not the other way around....

Re:Bunch of hypocrites (4, Informative)

tb3 (313150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492557)

Geez, did you even read that page?

To accomplish this, a W3C member would be required to disclose and license to any practitioner all essential patents of a W3C standard. To exclude a patent from this royalty-free license, a W3C member could, on a case-by-case basis, notify a particular working group that it has patent rights that it believes are essential to that working group's recommendation, and that it is unwilling to license on a royalty-free basis.

Which is exactly what they're doing. You can accuse them of being patent-trolls, and using vaguely-worded, over-generalized patents, but you can't say they're being hypocritical. They're behaving exactly as they promised they would.

Re:Bunch of hypocrites (1)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492755)

Yes I did read that page. (I work in these types of standards bodies for a living)... Anyways, my point was that they are painting how fundamental it is for royalty free licensing. They even mention that the standard RAND terms are often abused by companies seeking to control access to technologies.... So even tho are are technically in the right by excersizing their right to refuse RF licensing, they ae contradicting the overall message/spirit of their statement by doing so. They claim that companies abuse RAND terms to control access to a technology, and say that mandatory RF terms solves this, but then they use the loophole to refuse RF terms, to control access to said technology... Besides, it also talks about obligations to RF terms could be hinged on granting of reciprocal RF licenses by any practitioner. Sounds like it means if the other W3C members wanted to, they could all refuse to license RF terms of other technologies to Apple unless Apple agrees to RF terms for the technology in question... I've seen companies do this in other standards bodies all the time... I've even seen it go so far as companies leaving the standards bodies over crap like this...

Re:Bunch of hypocrites (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492865)

Exactly. Being a W3C member is about creating open standards and does not imply or require signing away all one's IP.

Re:Bunch of hypocrites (2, Informative)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492889)

Yes, exactly. Apple had this patent already. The W3C royalty free licence includes the NEW, currenlty unpatented technologies being rolled into the standard. Any company that has an existing patent that W3C tries to leverge a technology protected by has the right to notify the W3C and let them know they're infringing, and then decide wether or not to licence that technology to the group.

Apple may very well want this technology to be a part of W3C, but if they don't want it to also become available royalty free to everyone else, then it has to be LICENCED by the W3C and appropriate fees must be paid to Apple. This does not mean that the W3C technologies would include Royalties, just that the group members designing it would have to pay Apple for that piece of the technology in the form of a one-time fee, or they'll have to design around it...

Re:Bunch of hypocrites (1)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493071)

I haven't taken a close look at the W3C member's agreement, but many other standards bodies remedy this by forming a patent pool that is freely accessible only to other member companies.

Is Apple a W3C member? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27492335)

  They should be booted out if so.

Apple behaving badly (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492347)

First of all, I'm not entirely sold on the source of this story, since it does come from Opera's website.

Assuming this story is true, and while I normally rush to Apple's defence, this is totally unacceptable. This sort of patent stockpiling is getting as bad as that of Microsoft or IBM. Worse, at least IBM uses some of their patents to protect open source projects (and I'm not an IBM fan by any means).

I'm not sure what their purpose is, other than to give their browser a leg up over those of their competitors.

Re:Apple behaving badly (1)

Cube Steak (1520237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492575)

First of all, I'm not entirely sold on the source of this story, since it does come from Opera's website.

Then don't believe opera and go straight to the W3C page that is the third link the summary: http://www.w3.org/2009/03/widgets-pag-charter [w3.org]

The Widgets Updates Patent Advisory Group is a Patent Advisory Group (PAG) as defined by the W3C Patent Policy (PP).

The mission of this Patent Advisory Group is to study issues and propose solutions related to a patent disclosure from Apple, Inc., concerning the Widgets 1.0: Updates Working Draft.

This PAG is triggered by Section 7.1 (PAG Formation) of the Patent Policy, which states that a PAG is triggered in the event "a patent has been disclosed that may be essential, but is not available under W3C Royalty-Free licensing requirements". The specific patent is 5,764,992 (U.S.), held by Apple, Inc. Apple Inc. has excluded all claims of patent 5,764,992 (U.S.)

I know this summary is a whopping 2 sentences long but you could have made yourself look like less of a dumbass by reading it.

Re:Apple behaving badly (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492599)

The Opera link is only one of three. Another links to a page about the recently formed Patent Advisory Group for this problem at the W3C site.

Re:Apple behaving badly (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492619)

IIRC, most of IBM's patents are for devices and physical processes, just like patent were supposed to be for.

They have to. (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492753)

If everybody is stockpiling software patents then you have to as well. Or you are at the mercy of those have. A bit like the nuclear arms race - evil but once you started there is no stopping.

Re:They have to. (2, Insightful)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492793)

There's nothing wrong with stockpiling patents. The alleged problem is that Apple refuses to grant them royalty free to the W3C, undermining the open standards that Apple professes to protect.

Re:Apple behaving badly (1)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492779)

In theory patents are supposed to promote innovation. In reality they are used by incumbents to pull up the ladder and avoid new competition. Where a group of players can all cross-license with each other it means any new competitor would have to pay a fortune to everyone else just to play, which means they stand zero chance of growing into a threat.

I'm not against the general principle of patents on certain things but it seems logical to have provisos like:

1 - You must be the inventor of something to apply for a patent on it.
2 - You must have that product on the market, stopping production invalidates the patent.
3 - The patent must be short term to allow you to recoup your costs in inventing it and profiting from it.
4 - It must not inhibit innovation.
5 - It must not be obvious.
6 - It must be declared to any partner who may choose to implement it BEFORE they decide to start work implementing it.
7 - If it's not declared or pointed out at the first opportunity, the patent cannot be legally enforced on that product.
8 - Any accepted ISO standard should be patent free, with the patent holder waving rights to the patent in the application. Failure to declare / wave those rights nulls the application.

You can think of plenty more sensible conditions that should apply. Those spilled over to ISO stuff too. They were also about patents in general rather than software patents. I don't see any advantage to customers or the innovation of software to software or business method patents.

In part this is also about submarine patents which I think are VERY bogus and need addressed. Microsoft KNEW they held the FAT patents before it became a standard and didn't declare it until YEARS later when it was everywhere. Whether or not their FAT patents will hold scrutiny in court is beside the point here. The point here is that they INTENTIONALLY didn't say a word while it was spreading. Patent laws should FORCE a patent holder to declare their ownership early on, giving the other parties the chance to either pay a license or choose a different option. If they stay shtumm the patents involved should be null, regardless of their initial validity. It also applies to MONO, Silverlight, OOXML etc.

Consider the patent... (5, Informative)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492377)

The broadest claim the patent makes (bullet points mine):

1. A method for automatically updating software programs on a computer, comprising the steps, of:

  • storing an updated version of a program at a designated location in a remote memory that is accessible to the computer;
  • launching a current version of the program that is stored in memory of the computer, wherein said current version carries out the following steps independent of functions performed by any resource external to said current version:
    • detecting whether a version of the program is stored in the designated location;
    • determining whether a detected version of the program stored at the designated location is more recent than the current version of the program which is running;
    • replacing the current version of the program with a more recent version that is stored at the designated location; and
    • subsequently executing the more recent version of the program on the computer.

Could one not simply have the client software send a request to the server software saying "send me the stored version, if it is modified since version 12.34"

Hence it would not be the current version carrying out the action of determining whether a the newest version of the program is more recent than the current version of the program; rather it would be being performed at the server.

Indeed, HTTP already includes an "If-Modified-Since" header the client can send to the server, though the HTTP header uses a date rather than a version number.

Re:Consider the patent... (1)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492941)

You could also use RSS or ATOM feeds.

Re:Consider the patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27493087)

Are you mad? Next post on /. will be about how the application is invading your privacy by telling Apple (or whoever made the application) the version number you're running.

I seem to remember a lot of fuss about a mere calculator which picked up currency rates from the net and was *perhaps* *maybe* sending a version number. It'll be that all over again, but now for real.

Will W3C strike back? (5, Funny)

phobot (1521961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492515)

It will be great if the W3C sort-a ban apple from using the HTTP and other W3C tech in OS X...when your the owner you can give and take permission whenever you like so...give em' a taste of they're own medicine. I'll die laughing if that happens!

I assume Apple doesn't get to sit in? (4, Interesting)

Qubit (100461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492529)

According to the Patent Advisory Group [w3.org] they've formed to deal with this hurdle, the PAG membership includes "Advisory Committee Representatives of each Member participating in the Web Applications Working Group".

Of course, the Web Applications Working Group [w3.org] includes: "Apple, Inc. (4 representatives)".

Isn't it kind of a conflict of interest for Apple to be sitting on the committee that has the purview to:

  • study the patent in question and discuss its impact on Widgets 1.0: Updates
  • seek prior art that may apply to the use of updates in Widgets
  • discuss ways to design around the claims excluded by Apple Inc.
  • explore ways to come to an agreement with Apple to continue work on Widgets 1.0 Updates as a Royalty-Free specification
  • write a PAG report with recommendations for the W3C Director

?

Irony - or perhaps Brassy (1)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | more than 5 years ago | (#27492707)

What's ironic, is this getting posted just after the story on the first RFC turning 40.

What's "brassy" is the balls of the legal wingnuts at Apple fucking about with the advance of open standards.

W3C should not be having to waste people's time picking through this patent and designing around it. The idea might have been mildly innovative in 1998, but now it's sorta "well-duh!" and I am sure has been implemented in a number of independent cases where there was no reliance on Apple's patent.

P.S. Apple - your Windows software update tool sucks donkey balls. Even after I thought I'd got rid of it there is still something that periodically bugs me to update QuickTime.

To advanced to implement (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27493083)

This is the third time I quote this:

without interruption of its primary function, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the user of the computer

I don't know of any application which can do that. With current operating systems almost impossible. But browser based applications are a different matter. Here it could work.

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