×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Ordered To Pay $388 Million In Patent Case

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Microsoft 233

jeffmeden writes "BusinessWeek reports today that Microsoft suffered a loss in federal court Monday. The judge rendering the verdict ordered Microsoft to pay $388 Million in damages for violating a patent held by Uniloc, a California maker of software that prevents people from illegally installing software on multiple computers. Uniloc claims Microsoft's Windows XP and some Office programs infringe on a related patent they hold. It's hard to take sides on this one, but one thing is certain: should the verdict hold up, it will be heavily ironic if the extra copies of XP and Office sold due to crafty copy protection end up not being worth $388 million."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

233 comments

One can dream (4, Insightful)

WgT2 (591074) | about 5 years ago | (#27515201)

...should the verdict hold up it will be heavily ironic if the extra copies of XP and Office sold due to crafty copy protection end up not being worth $388 million.

Yeah, but don't count on it.

XP has been around for a loooong time for a Microsoft OS. I'm sure they've made more than $388 million off of it... seeing as how they've been holding on to several billion in cash for several years now.

This doesn't even consider Office sales.

Re:One can dream (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#27515285)

OP talks about $388m being made extra due to copy protection. I.e. $388m they would not have made if they did without it. And I highly doubt that.

Has copy protection ever kept anyone from copying? At best, the "casual copier". Who has in this case even a free alternative, if he can't figure out how to torrent a version that works.

Re:One can dream (4, Insightful)

msormune (808119) | about 5 years ago | (#27515435)

That's not really why the copy protection is for. The protection is there so that you have to break or circumvent it in order to copy the product: It's like a lock on your front door. Sure it won't stop the robbers, but it will make it even more clear for the jury they intended to rob your house.

So the perfect copy protection is hard to break using normal methods, but is still breakable: It shows the breaker had an INTENTION to illegally make copies.

Re:One can dream (2, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about 5 years ago | (#27515767)

Bingo, got it in one. Additionally, I don't think Microsoft has to worry much about this one. By the time the appeals are exhausted, concessions made, and lawyers paid the company may well be defunct or have been purchased outright by Microsoft. They're about the only ones left with any money.

Re:One can dream (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#27515975)

So the perfect copy protection is hard to break using normal methods, but is still breakable: It shows the breaker had an INTENTION to illegally make copies.

So, at what point did that marginal additional argument against pirates earn Microsoft $388M?

Re:One can dream (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#27516073)

WTF is an illegal copy?

Show me the law that makes installing a purchased copy of Microsoft Office on more than one computer illegal.

There isn't one, that's why they need technological measures and scare tactics to enforce it.

Re:One can dream (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#27516195)

There is none yet. The pressure to push copyright law into the criminal code is heavy, and some countries are actually giving in already.

Re:One can dream (1)

msormune (808119) | about 5 years ago | (#27516233)

Good point there... I should have stated that I meant the actual breaking of the copy protection is illegal (well, it's illegal here in Finland, at least), not the copy.

Re:One can dream (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#27516369)

I believe that even breaking copy protection isn't illegal.. distributing tools and publishing techniques may be in some places. Here in Australia, it's only illegal if you're charging people for the tools.

Re:One can dream (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#27516521)

Um, pretty sure that breaking copyright is illegal. It's not criminal but it's illegal. Copyright law is, well, law. And breaking the law is illegal, by definition. So yeah.

Re:One can dream (1)

techprophet (1281752) | about 5 years ago | (#27516763)

In the U.S. at least, breaking copyright is illegal. But that's not the discussion point. The discussion point is copy protection. Breaking copy protection is by no means illegal.

Re:One can dream (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516587)

It's called an EULA. Click-wrap has been held up in court. Clicking "I Agree" means you are binding yourself to a contract that says you'll only use one product key on one computer.

Yes, it's binding under contract law as opposed to copyright law, but it's still binding.

Disclaimer: IANAL

Re:One can dream (1, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | about 5 years ago | (#27516665)

I'm happy that as a Free Software user, I don't have to click through EULAs to use software. That, and I don't have to worry about this copy protection mechanism the suit was over

I'm willing to bet that the companies which provide my software won't have to worry about being sued over ths patent, either. That's one less to worry about for them.

Re:One can dream (1)

Mathness (145187) | about 5 years ago | (#27516417)

It shows the breaker had an INTENTION to illegally make copies.

Or just wanted a legal backup of a product already purchased.

Re:One can dream (3, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | about 5 years ago | (#27516517)

I think even the most uneducated juries (perhaps I'm being too generous) would understand the difference between making a backup and installing 1 copy on ten different computers, and making ten backups of the original disc and keeping them safe.

Re:One can dream (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 5 years ago | (#27516949)

That's not really why the copy protection is for. The protection is there so that you have to break or circumvent it in order to copy the product: It's like a lock on your front door. Sure it won't stop the robbers, but it will make it even more clear for the jury they intended to rob your house.

So the perfect copy protection is hard to break using normal methods, but is still breakable: It shows the breaker had an INTENTION to illegally make copies.

Good idea, but it's not true in Microsoft's case. They haven't ever sued any individual end users for installing a cracked XP, so the idea of proving intent is moot. They have gone after mass producers, but in that case intent is already clear and the lock hasn't been broken yet, per se.

Re:One can dream (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | about 5 years ago | (#27515551)

Is there a copy protection in XP? Although I am using legitimate XP(you know, game producers, they would newer learn...) at home and Linux at work, from what I see in the market I was not aware there was a copy protection aside from crappy product code control and crappier MS Update tricks they pull. I do not think neither of these "methods" deserve a Patent. So, although I cannot believe what I am writing but, if this is the whole matter, then the following claim by M$ is right.

We believe that we do not infringe, that the patent is invalid and that this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported

Re:One can dream (1)

darthvader100 (1482651) | about 5 years ago | (#27515655)

XP forces you to activate your copy of windows within 30 days or cuts you off.

If you do it via phone, the program gives you a number to type into your phone, and the phone program gives you a number to type into XP(based on your PC, and the time)

Leave the code for too long, and it wont work. Change 2 components of your PC and it may require reactivation

Too many people trying to activate the same copy of XP? stop providing keys for it...

Re:One can dream (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#27516535)

XP forces you to activate your copy of windows within 30 days or cuts you off.

It does? ...oh, you must have downloaded the home version. Get the pro one, MS knows better than to piss off big companies by making them do that shit; one big (10,000 desktops+) company switching away from MS is going to cost them a buttload more than a few home users getting a few more features.

Re:One can dream (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#27516805)

Yes there is. You have to activate within 30 days or you can't use the software.

There are patches around that get round that, but if you run Windows Update, then from time to time, the patched copy of the relevant file will get updated with a real one, and then it will discover that you don't have a legit copy, and you can't use the software until you find another patch.

Alternatively it means you can't run Windows Update, and your computer gets left open to all the security exploits that it might otherwise fix.

Yes, that would be ironic... (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#27515225)

it will be heavily ironic if the extra copies of XP and Office sold due to crafty copy protection end up not being worth $388 million.

XP was released in 2001. 400 million copies were in use by 2006. Assuming a paltry $1 profit on every copy sold (it's way higher, but just for the sake of argument), they have already broken even 3 years ago.

That doesn't even include the Office cash cow.

Sorry, it is actually anti-ironic. Anironic. The opposite of ironic. Cinori. Aronic.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#27515279)

You're missing the point, nowhere near 100% of Office or Windows sales can be attributed to the anti-piracy measures built into their activation systems. In fact I would suggest that the number is near zero as pirated copies of Windows and Office releases are available for download before the product even launches for all who care to pirate them. So now Microsoft has the cost of developing the activation system, the cost of maintaining the activation servers, the cost of implementing Genuine Advantage, and now the cost of this judgement. All because some PHB honestly believes that Microsofts paltry activation systems significantly contribute to revenue retention and growth. Much of the software industry has been infected with the notion since before the days of MS DOS despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (3, Insightful)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | about 5 years ago | (#27515691)

Oh come on... $388M is like a parking ticket to Microsoft. They're only appealing the decision to dissuade the hundreds of other would-be claimants from filing the thousands of pending 9+ digit suits against them. They employ more lawyers than programmers ffs!

Now more than ever, their shareholders are screaming for them to make more money, not better software! What is M$ better at, making money, or good software?

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (0)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | about 5 years ago | (#27516095)

Microsoft are the richest corporation on the planet (to my knowledge) but their income is fading. They are losing money hand over fist for all sorts of reasons. Their monopolies in various sectors are being challenged by competitors, their influence is ebbing away like a cut they can't stem the blood flow from.

For many years they've been able to demand a high Windows fee on pre-installed PCs, with hardware costs falling so much, then netbooks they can't demand such a high price.

Yes they have a lot of money now, but don't assume a fine like this is just small change to them. It'll hurt because their ability to recoup it quickly is diminished.

They have shareholder dissent, with people demanding better returns, so an almost $400m fine going OUT is not good for the shareholders who want that $400m going IN to the company.

Personally I'm waiting on the class action suit against Microsoft in every country on the planet for damage due to botnets / malware / spam. That one would REALLY hurt them.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#27516383)

Microsoft are the richest corporation on the planet (to my knowledge)

Not even close [wikipedia.org]. 1/2 the size of Exxon, smaller than Walmart or Procter & Gamble.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (4, Informative)

johnsonav (1098915) | about 5 years ago | (#27516559)

Microsoft are the richest corporation on the planet (to my knowledge) but their income is fading. They are losing money hand over fist for all sorts of reasons.

What are you talking about? Last year, MSFT's total revenue was $60 billion, compared to $51 billion for FY07. Gross profit was $48.8 billion versus $40.4 billion. And, net income was $17.7 billion versus $14 billion. Their income is not fading. And, they aren't losing money hand over fist.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (0)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#27516817)

Its easy to say they are losing money. Q4 2008 net cashflow: $-2bn. Part of that loss was down to financing and investing activities. If they portfolio's like the rest of ours, next quarter will be a lot more lost than that!

So if you lose 2bn one quarter, maybe 3bn next quarter... pretty soon you're going to be down to your last billion in the bank. That's how companies go bankrupt, unless they can pull round their expenditures to cover this (and persuade everyone to upgrade to Win7: analysts expect MS to gather £1.5bn in revenue from Win7 sales), they could be on a downward trend over the next few years. Remember, no-one gives a hoot what you did in the past, financials are entirely focussed on your future prospects.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | about 5 years ago | (#27516933)

Its easy to say they are losing money. Q4 2008 net cashflow: $-2bn. Part of that loss was down to financing and investing activities.

Well, if they hadn't bought back $9 billion of their own stock, they would have had a net cashflow of +$7 billion. So, they're not losing money; they're buying back stock, something that has nothing to do with the strength (or lack thereof) of their business.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 5 years ago | (#27516953)

"So if you lose 2bn one quarter, maybe 3bn next quarter... pretty soon you're going to be down to your last billion in the bank."

By pretty soon you mean some 20 quarters away (5 years).

Of course, I don't want them disrupting everything all around all this time, but MS is quite a hard bully to defeat.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#27516913)

Their income is not fading. And, they aren't losing money hand over fist.

Microsoft also has Exxon-Mobil grade corporate credit. Not generally the sign of a failing business.

That explains the software... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 5 years ago | (#27516735)

...They employ more lawyers than programmers ffs!

Well, at least that helps explain their track record of software quality.

Now more than ever, their shareholders are screaming for them to make more money, not better software! What is M$ better at, making money, or good software?

Your Honor, in the case of Money vs. Quality, I bring forth Exhibit A, a computer that is running Windows ME...

'Nuff said.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 5 years ago | (#27516753)

This is a very large parking ticket, more than 2 percent of their net income in 2008.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515731)

Much like goatse [goatse.fr].

That reminds me, lunix is for faggots.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about 5 years ago | (#27515955)

I think you're missing the point. Most people aren't just sub-literature (technologically) compared to Slashdotters; most people don't even seem to understand when the tiniest thing goes wrong that they can Google an answer or go to "help" on the menubar or through the Start--> avenue. Most people seem not even to understand when a browser doesn't pop-up a window regarding a download that they should check their download folder (such that at work someone keeps clicking links furiously so that we find a ton of copies), if they even realize what a folder is. People are idiots when it comes to technology: Microsoft doesn't just understand this, but unlike linux crowds, they don't mock you for it. Also knowing this, the barest appearance of activation schemes is enough to deter most people, and that's the point.

Re:Yes, that would be ironic... (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#27515299)

You're mis-counting.

Your numbers would hold up if you assume that every single person on Earth who uses XP (except, presumably, the person who purchased the first copy) had pirated their copy from this first person.

The set of numbers you want is people who:

  • Planned or attempted to pirate XP but was put off by the anti-piracy measures and instead went and purchased a legitimate copy (including those who were sold an illegal copy in good faith by a dishonest supplier).
  • Purchased a legitimate copy which was incorrectly marked as pirated and when Microsoft told them to suck it up and buy another copy, they did so

EXTRA copies (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 5 years ago | (#27515321)

The argument is that the EXTRA copies sold because of the copy protection might not be worth it.

EXTRA, not TOTAL.

Comprehensive reading, you fail it.

Re:EXTRA copies (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 years ago | (#27515817)

The answer will be a resounding YES.

$388 million is about three days profit for Microsoft, as the person who wrote the headline ought to know.

You still failed to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515971)

That three days is from ALL MS PRODUCTS.

Not just the ones purchased that would not have been purchased if XP and Office didn't have DRM in it.

Or would EVERYONE have "stolen" both XP and Office (and the XBox, mouse, keyboard....) each and every day?

Thick as a yard of lard, you.

Re:You still failed to read (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 years ago | (#27516135)

Well, yeah, but it's a huge slice of their profits, easily more than half.

XP and Office have been around for many years, do you think $388m will worry them? Not even slightly (assuming they pay up, which they won't until several rounds of appeals, counter-lawsuits and bribery).

A huge slice??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516301)

If such piracy were a huge slice of their profits, then their profits would have increased by that huge slice upon introduction of this DRM.

No such surge in profits has been seen.

The price hasn't dropped, so even MS don't think that there's been any gain from illicit copies being untenable.

Huge chunk? Couple of percent. Tops. If that (note most of the XP licenses would have been OEM purchases, not retail)

$388M or $38M? (3, Informative)

amazeofdeath (1102843) | about 5 years ago | (#27515265)

PC World has the figure at $38 million, which one is right? News item here: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/162832/microsoft_loses_antipiracy_patent_case.html [pcworld.com]

TFA is lacking info... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515289)

is there any evidence that they stole the code from this software? What exactly is Uniloc doing with this patent? does it even matter anymore?

Re:TFA is lacking info... (5, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 5 years ago | (#27515379)

That is not the point. It would be if this was about copyright, with a patent you can infringe it if you never heard of it, your programmers came up with the idea and coded it -- it just needs for someone to have submitted a patent application before the idea was published somewhere.

This is why software patents are dreadful -- it simply rewards the guy who filed the patent application first. This is especially true with patents about simple ideas or those that are obvious to someone asked to solve a particular problem -- most software patents fall into this group.

Re:TFA is lacking info... (4, Interesting)

tommi (103396) | about 5 years ago | (#27516393)

Text from the actual patent:

Systems and methods are provided for auditing and selectively restricting software usage based on, for example, software copy counts or execution counts. In one embodiment, the method comprises verifying whether the serial number for a software installed on a computing device corresponds to one of recognized serial numbers, and calculating a copy count (or software execution count) for the serial number. In response to the copy count exceeding a defined upper limit, a limited unlock key may be sent to the device. The limited unlock key may allow the software to be executed on the device for a defined time period, a defined number of executions, and/or with at least one feature of the software disabled.

This sounds to me like a really general way of copy protection, yep another rotten software patent in my books.

cleverly... (4, Funny)

catmistake (814204) | about 5 years ago | (#27515327)

Microsoft will find a way to pay them with copies of Windows XP.

Re:cleverly... (4, Funny)

Quothz (683368) | about 5 years ago | (#27515743)

Microsoft will find a way to pay them with coupons toward the purchase of copies of Windows XP.

Fixed that for ya.

Re:cleverly... (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 5 years ago | (#27516683)

> Microsoft will find a way to pay them with coupons toward the upgrade of installed XP copies to Vista.

Here you go.

Karma (4, Funny)

NfoCipher (161094) | about 5 years ago | (#27515369)

This is what they get for suing TomTom. What goes around..

Re:Karma (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 5 years ago | (#27515479)

Serves the bastards right for saber-rattling about people infringing on their patents, and dabbling in the world of patent trolling. Troll gets trolled, now THAT'S a headline.

Re:Karma (4, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | about 5 years ago | (#27515571)

This is what they get for suing TomTom. What goes around.

This is slashdot, so an article in which someone does something generally accepted as bad but does it to Microsoft - and to their DRM, no less! - causes some kind of minor implosion.

Argghh.... Don't.... know... how ... to feel...

It doesn't matter two shits what this means to Microsoft, and it doesn't matter two shits what this means to DRM. This is definitely not a situation in which two wrongs somehow magic up a right.

This is just another story about why patents are damaging innovation in the USA, and on a global scale. But don't think that innovation enjoys being held back like this. If this situation is not fixed, we'll suffer - at most - a few more years of this BS, before the rest of the world moves on without the US.

Don't think it can't happen. If anything the current financial situation makes it more likely. Who's got the time or money to sit around being scared of the US Patent Office?

Re:Karma (4, Funny)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 5 years ago | (#27515637)

Two wrongs don't make a right, but it does create a warm fuzzy feeling to know someone who wrongs others gets a little of it back. I don't approve of software patents, don't get me wrong, but it is kind of funny that Microsoft spent all that time rumbling about patent infringement and then get slapped with a massive patent infringement bill.

For some reason, I just had a mental image of Marie Antoinette being drowned in a vat of cake-mix...

Re:Karma (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | about 5 years ago | (#27516085)

$300 million is peanuts to MS, it's more like chucking a stale cupcake at Marie Antoinette.

Re:Karma (2, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 years ago | (#27516939)

A quick googling and a peek at an MSFT investor relations article brings this [microsoft.com] up:

January 22, 2009 â" Microsoft Corp. today announced revenue of $16.63 billion for the second quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008, a 2% increase over the same period of the prior year.

A little quick calculation shows that $388 million is slightly less than 2.4% of that--which neatly wipes out that gain on the previous year.

Just because its not devastating to them doesnt mean its insignificant.

Re:Karma (1)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | about 5 years ago | (#27516431)

Patents are there to encourage innovation. What's the use of trying to think of new ideas when your competitor can just copy them once you're done. No company would have research divisions as they can just easily use the research of other companies. Research gives no solid benefit to a company if it can be easily copied so there would be minimal research.

It is only when these patents are abused that people get angry. Patenting trivial things sometimes give you a monopoly because it is very difficult to get around trivial things.

Re:Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516839)

You already have companies moving their R&D departments away from the US and other countries that have approved software patents.

If something doesn't change then those countries will soon start to feel the economic impact of the blunderous decision of allowing software patents.

Not only will companies start more R&D ou side the US but many products will not be available in the US and the US will hence fall behind

Re:Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516699)

Ever thought they might go after TomTom to pay for this case?

Online Activation DRM (2, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 5 years ago | (#27515387)

So, who's next? SecuROM, Valve, ... basically every DRM that uses online activation?

Re:Online Activation DRM (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27516843)

basically every DRM that uses online activation?

Blizzard imo. This judge is a moron who set very bad precedent - and now that they have precedent they can sue any company that uses this kind of registration. I see Adobe in the newspaper in the near future.

This sums it up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515487)

"jury verdict"

I wonder if anyone in the jury had even the foggiest idea of what the patent was actually about?

Jury of average people+patents? a bad mix IMH0 (4, Insightful)

N Monkey (313423) | about 5 years ago | (#27515583)

"jury verdict"

I wonder if anyone in the jury had even the foggiest idea of what the patent was actually about?

That strikes me as a real problem in the US system. How can a jury of average people really understand the intricacies of technology? If it takes a bright person 3 or 4 years to do a degree in the patent's subject area, what chance has the jury got to understand all these things in the time of a court case?

AFAIU, in some other regions these things are at least looked at by a board of people with some "skill in the art". Surely that must be a better way.

Re:Jury of average people+patents? a bad mix IMH0 (4, Interesting)

asc99c (938635) | about 5 years ago | (#27516015)

You only have to read the comments on Slashdot to see that a lot of people with above average technical literacy massively mis-read the scope of the claims of typical patents. And having done this, they often then pronounce the patent 'obvious' and have a lot of ideas of what could be prior art.

As you say, when an average person looks at it, they could be expected to mis-read the scope of the patent in just the same way, but then not understand the obviousness of the ideas, or know of prior art.

So a lot of it is going to come down to the skills of the lawyers on each side of the argument. I guess this is why fighting patent cases in the court can get so expensive even if the technical side of the argument is often pretty clear to the Slashdot crowd.

misreading the patent scope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516319)

that isn't a problem for slashdotters.

When starting off litigation, the abstract is used to draft the letter. Not the detail of precisely WHY their work violates the patent.

So the owner of the patent misreads the scope of the patent in the hope that the receiver will settle for a smaller sum than the cost of pursuing redress in court.

Re:Jury of average people+patents? a bad mix IMH0 (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 5 years ago | (#27516491)

I read an article a while back arguing something similar, i.e., we should do away with jury trials in patent cases because it's too complex.

It is complex, and there's a lot to be said against the common juror... but on the other hand, would it be better to leave it completely up to specialists? Then you might run into the same problem that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit experienced - a specialized venue for patents gets filled with a bunch of people who really like patents.

While I don't have much faith in my fellow citizen, I also don't have much faith that leaving the law up to a bunch of lawyers and experts will necessarily be better.

Re:Jury of average people+patents? a bad mix IMH0 (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27516865)

Defendents get to pick trial by jury or judge. So MS' dumb fault for selecting Jury. Judges dumb fault for not overriding them.

Re:This sums it up... (3, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 5 years ago | (#27515667)

Off topic but interesting article by Richard Dawkins on trial by jury in general:

http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1997-11-16trialbyjury.shtml [ox.ac.uk]

Re:This sums it up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516041)

Good arguments, compounded by the fact that in many jurisdictions participating in the jury system if you get picked is compulsory, so you get 12 people anxious to quickly agree on a verdict so they can get the hell out of there.

Good... (-1, Offtopic)

jkrise (535370) | about 5 years ago | (#27515581)

MS paying money for patents that do not have any effect on Linux technologies.

Re:Good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515661)

How is this off-topic? MS bullied TomTom and got their way... nice to see them getting their due without being able to take revenge on Linux again.

Take sides? (3, Interesting)

igaborf (69869) | about 5 years ago | (#27515673)

It's not hard to take sides at all. Software patents are bad. Period.

The only possible silver lining to this is that it helps demonstrate the badness of software patents.

(OK, seeing Microsoft discomfited is a little nice side effect, too.)

Re:Take sides? (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#27515795)

It's not hard to take sides at all. Software patents are bad. Period.

Indeed, I agree with Microsoft on this: "We are very disappointed in the jury verdict. We believe that we do not infringe, that the patent is invalid and that this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported," Microsoft spokesman David Bowermaster said in a statement. But of course that's because ALL such patents, including Microsoft's patent on the FAT file system, are invalid.

Re:Take sides? (2, Informative)

Elektroschock (659467) | about 5 years ago | (#27516025)

Software patents are trivial because what they protect is not scarce.

Microsoft gets the paycheck for what it resisted so violently, even with lobbyists in third nations: sane patent reform.

Read this IPwatch article to get an idea what is going on in the Microsoft community. [ip-watch.org] Phelps says:

What we've tried to do with "Burning the Ships" is take IP questions out of the realm of arcane debate among lawyers and show real people, in the midst of a highly dramatic internal struggle at Microsoft, learning how to deploy IP for tangible business benefit. As one reader put it, the book is a "thoroughly entertaining and informative canâ(TM)t-wait-to-get-to-the-next-page read."

Marshall Phelps wants to turn Microsoft into a kind of patent troll, or as they call it "open innovation".

IPW: A basic lesson in the book could be interpreted as, 'We were getting hurt by others who had patents, so we used our market power to require partners to agree not to enforce their patents until we had enough of our own patents to start enforcing them the way we didnâ(TM)t want others to do to us.' Can you address that?

PHELPS: Remember, this was back before software patents were a fact of life. MS was just getting a real head of steam but wasnâ(TM)t at all sure patenting was the way to go.

So either Microsoft kicks its bastards out or it simply deserves to suffer from these fines of a rotten patent system [princeton.edu].

Ah, this is Marshall Phelps [microsoft.com]. A dark side of IBM import.

Sure, the recent job losses at Microsoft will not affect their "creation of IP". Look at SCO! Developers leave your company and lawyers litigate you to the ground. Great business model.

Re:Take sides? (1)

mjrauhal (144713) | about 5 years ago | (#27515861)

Exactly, software patents are bad, period.

Therefore, every time a major pro-software patent lobbier gets significantly bitten by them, it's good, because it deincentivizes said lobbying.

There may be an uncomfortable PR side effect, though, in that the lobbier can then say "look, we're on the giving end also". However, as the patent system slowly makes things more and more difficult even to the pro-patent lobby, I believe this slight PR effect is outweighed by said disincentive.

(Of course, the disincentive doesn't apply to lawyers, who are a major driving force of the lobbying in many a company too, but at least it'll make the lawyers' job of convincing the rest of the company that swpats are a good thing a bit harder, with the ship sinking from the weight of all the unproductive lawsuits.)

Re:Take sides? (1)

Locklin (1074657) | about 5 years ago | (#27516991)

It shows how well software patents work for Microsoft.

Big boys can pay $300 million, and go on to sue someone else -the games continue. If you can't poney up that kind of cash, software development is a risky business.

They are fsck'ed and shares go up? (1)

thecarpy (1006527) | about 5 years ago | (#27515687)

I do not really get all this crap about stock & shares ... I would certainly not put any money in that company ... Besides, since Microsoft have so harshly defended software patents, they should increase the fine 10 fold! Besides, product activation and GA and all that crap has "significantly" increased Microsoft's revenue stream, get the facts! http://www.klid.dk/statistics/mswin.html [www.klid.dk] check the increase from 2001-2002, oops, that's when XP came out with product activation .... ahhhhh, that's why the figures double, then .... wintards!

Re:They are fsck'ed and shares go up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516663)

check the increase from 2001-2002, oops, that's when XP came out with product activation .... ahhhhh, that's why the figures double, then .... wintards!

Or... It's because the figures are 'projected' (i.e. estimated), and do not reflect what actually happened?

Re:They are fsck'ed and shares go up? (1)

Madball (1319269) | about 5 years ago | (#27516673)

I do not really get all this crap about stock & shares ... I would certainly not put any money in that company ... Besides, since Microsoft have so harshly defended software patents, they should increase the fine 10 fold! Besides, product activation and GA and all that crap has "significantly" increased Microsoft's revenue stream, get the facts! http://www.klid.dk/statistics/mswin.html [www.klid.dk] check the increase from 2001-2002, oops, that's when XP came out with product activation .... ahhhhh, that's why the figures double, then .... wintards!

I'm sure the stinking pile of ME had nothing to do with that, nor the XP product itself, nor their other products, or anything else--it was simply the product activation that made them all that money. Correlation != causation. Oh, and if you were to buy stock in Microsoft, unless it's an IPO, you're not giving them any money.

Re:They are fsck'ed and shares go up? (1)

thecarpy (1006527) | about 5 years ago | (#27516987)

I have bought a microsoft press book and a microsoft mouse (COM port mouse) many years ago, that's all the money they got and will ever get from me ... BUT, I just think that Microsoft is not something worth investing in because the future is looking gloomy for them, that's what I intended to point out, they are fsck'd and ppl buy shares? WTF??? ;-) they can only fall now and they are ... slowly but surely. That is why I do not get why ppl invest in them ... like investing in titanic while it is sinking ;-) ... wait a few years, that they stabilize, then invest, no way the shares will rise very much in the longer term now ... As for the statistics: If you took the time to read, you would have seen the professional side of things is much more important than the home business, XP and win2k were the same, except that xp had a fisherprice ui. So for businesses, that should not have made a great deal, however, look at the statistics ... they contradict what you say ... how many ppl upgrade from Me to XP pro? thought so, they go for home editions ... look at home editions ... ppl liked Me, preferred 98 - I agree, both lame excuses for an OS ... Me was a lousy attempt by MS to make XP look good, which it never has been! They even tried to hide the DOS foundation in Me, LOL! I liked win2k, lean, mean, sober, no bs or fuss OS and worked with it until 2003 ... then I switched to linux (desk)/MacOS(laptop) at work, which I used at home already since ~1997(linux) and 2001(MacOSX).

software patents are bad, period. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515939)

>> It's hard to take sides on this one
no, its not.
software patents are evil, no matter what.

its not just the case that companies are running the risks of getting sued,
it is also that many ppl that have ideas never bother realize the ideas because they cannot afford to take the risks that they will by accident infringe on someones patent.

it is a similar issue with countries where you are by law required to put your home address on your webpage (i.e. Germany), i would never launch a web page in Germnay because you never know which nutcases that will disagree with your views (that are expressed on the web page),
or are having problems with how the webpage is working and want to hold you responsible for it.

it all cripples ideas from the little persons, and only people/companies with much money can afford to take legal precautions, and it will lead to less innovative websites.

Re:software patents are bad, period. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516279)

Wouldn't this make sense to market shop then?

Say you're a small upstart developer, but you're uncertain whether restrictive and poorly thought out patents and stupid patent law would affect your product.

So...
Start two separate companies. First company would be in $ForeignSmallCountry which is not part of any restrictive trade agreement and has no or very little patent law affecting software. The company in $ForeignSmallCountry is where you do all your public sales, product right declarations, record keeping, and marketing from. Since sales are done online, $ForeignSmallCountry physical location doesn't matter. But set it up that $ForeignSmallCountry company contracts all their work on actual development and testing to $YourLocation company. The second company in $YourLocation does all the work on making the software. Call it a temp service or outsourcing company even though it's really not. Since $YourLocation company only does work for specifically the remote location, and all the primary records for the contracts for the work done by $YourLocation are in $SmallForeignCountry, make the jurisdiction limits work in your favor.

I'm surprised this kind of thing isn't being done already.

Holiday Travel Deal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27515943)

The latest worldwide discount holiday travel deals including cheap holidays can be found in our Bargain Box section. As a result of our continual efforts to bring you the best travel deals available in an effective and reader-friendly format, we are proud to bring you a redesign of the Bargain Box. Holiday Travel Deal [holidaytraveldeal.co.uk]

Irony abounds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27516157)

Microsoft loses intellectual property suit over intellectual property protection.

WGA (4, Funny)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | about 5 years ago | (#27516325)

Does this mean I'll have to give up my Windows Genuine Advantage tool? I was enjoying the convenience of the frequent black screens, nag screens and reboots.

The summary is incorrect (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 5 years ago | (#27516449)

It's actually easy to take sides on this one. Software patents are WRONG, and so I'm on Microsoft's side. For once.

As for a jury interpreting the patent... (2, Interesting)

Madball (1319269) | about 5 years ago | (#27516629)

Good luck with that. Here's a snippet of patent (claim 1).

1. A registration system for licensing execution of digital data in a use mode, said digital data executable on a 55 platform, said system including local licensee unique ID generating means and remote licensee unique ID generating means, said system further including mode switching means operable on said platform which permits use of said digital data in said use mode on said platform only if a licensee 60 unique ID first generated by said local licensee unique ID generating means has matched a licensee unique ID subsequently generated by said remote licensee unique ID generating means; and wherein said remote licensee unique ID generating means comprises software executed on a plat- 65 form which includes the algorithm utilized by said local licensee unique ID generating means to produce said licensee unique ID.

Say what?

Hard to take sides? (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27516749)

It's hard to take sides on this one,

What is this more /. fud? Get a story posted on /. by saying "i am confused, I hate patents but I hate MS and this patent hurt MS". If you think patents suck then you should be defending MS in this case - otherwise you are a hippocrit. If you think patents are OK then you can cheer as MS got slammed.

Not knowing the exact nuances of this patent I think it is retarded and so is the judge for allowing a patent on preventing software frmo being installed on multiple computers. Well now this company is going to move onto other companies who do the same thing.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...