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Toshiba Sues Over DVD Patents

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the cornering-the-market dept.

Patents 131

angry tapir writes "Toshiba has filed suit in a US court against Imation and several manufacturers and distributors of recordable DVD media for the alleged infringement of its patents. Imation and the other defendant companies named in the complaint do not have license agreements covering recordable DVD media with Toshiba or the DVD6C Licensing Group (DVD6C), and have engaged in the import and sale of recordable DVD media in the US without permission, according to Toshiba."

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Bad Link (0, Offtopic)

jasonbeebe (1417995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012465)

It appears the link is bad.

Link is fine, text: (4, Informative)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012511)

Toshiba filed suit Thursday in a U.S. court against Imation and several manufacturers and distributors of recordable DVD media for the alleged infringement of its patents.

Toshiba licenses patents essential for meeting DVD format specifications, the company said on Thursday.

Imation and the other defendant companies named in the complaint do not have license agreements covering recordable DVD media with Toshiba or the DVD6C Licensing Group (DVD6C), and have engaged in the import and sale of recordable DVD media in the U.S. without permission, Toshiba said.

DVD6C was set up by nine developers of DVD technology and formats, to license jointly their DVD patents.

Eight companies, including companies in Taiwan and India, have been named as defendants in the suit before the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Toshiba's complaint seeks damages for past infringement, and requests that the court prohibit the sale, manufacture and import into the U.S. of recordable DVD media by the defendant companies.

The infringing recordable DVD media is sold in the U.S. under the Imation and Memorex brand names, Toshiba said.

Re:Link is fine, text: (2, Funny)

spammeister (586331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012589)

Memorex is usually my brand of choice for price and availability, now I know why! (hurries off to Futureshack!)

Re:Link is fine, text: (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016107)

I've been having trouble burning disc images to Memorex DVDs.

Re:Link is fine, text: (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013631)

So if it's a format issue, then it's essentially a software patent and nothing else.

Maybe Toshiba are pressed by bad times and needs a cash cow?

BluRay (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28012507)

Well it's a good thing we have Bluray to protect us from those evil DVD manufacturers

Re:BluRay (1)

Inglix the Mad (576601) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014631)

Considering the HD-DVD vs Blu-ray thing was a patent war, and nothing more, this might be true. Instead of one company (in this case Toshiba) you have the BDA (a consortium of many companies) dictating the terms. DVD Forum or not, Toshiba owned it, and made a classic mistake with HD-DVD. They tried to protect their DVD patents and it cost them CE manufacturers that were being offered pieces of the Blu-ray spec. So, in the end, it was a pretty much Toshiba alone vs the combined might of nearly everyone else.

Not much of a competition in some ways.

Re:BluRay (1)

kaosfury (1276794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016043)

BlueRay is owned and licensed by Sony. You need a license from Sony to produce BlueRay disks.

Re:BluRay (1)

tenton (181778) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016343)

No it's not "owned" by Sony. Not any more than it's owned by Panasonic or Samsung. The license is handled through the BDA; the original group that started the BDA were Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp, and Samsung. Sony is not the only one there; I know Panasonic and Samsung also have patents that are used by Blu-ray.

Toshiba was really standing mostly alone with HD-DVD; NEC also played a big part in HD-DVD.

Re:BluRay (1)

kaosfury (1276794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016719)

I stand corrected. After a quick search it became obvious that my misinformation was caused by Sony being sued over blueray patents.

Oh well... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012565)

Flash drives are ridiculously cheap, and substantially more convenient. DVD-Rs can either embrace dirt-cheapness and utter commodification, or they can die.

Re:Oh well... (2, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012603)

Are flash drives an open standard or are they also encumbered by patents?

USB is patented (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013643)

Are flash drives an open standard or are they also encumbered by patents?

Both USB and SD are patented, and inventions used in high-density NAND flash memory are probably patented too.

Re:USB is patented (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017303)

And let us not forget that the ubiquitous FAT32 filesystem, used (default) on nearly all flash memory devices, is patented.

Re:Oh well... (5, Insightful)

cavtroop (859432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012629)

Re:Oh well... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012737)

One of these two things can be rewritten several hundred times, and supports substantially granular writing/deletion/rewriting.

The other supports single use, on granular read/write/delete only through "sessions" or UDF packet writing, which is a rather limited hack.

Re:Oh well... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012871)

Which is irrelevant to many. I use DVD's primarily for data backups and archiving. In that case the use is going to be a "write once and then store it" situation anyways. The rewriteability is of no use. Don't get me wrong - I keep a 4gb flash drive handy too because they are useful, but the two of them get used and markedly different ways. I've never had a need for more than 1 flash drive because it just use it for moving files around and keeping them handy when I'm on the move. And truthfully, the "Memory stick" iPod application for my iPod touch is quite possibly going to replace that flash drive. I walk into any area with wi-fi, launch up memory stick, and I then can access (password protected naturally) my iPod's internal storage from any computer just by leaving it sitting on the desk. Close out memory stick when I'm done so that it doesn't remain an open share. It's great, and by it being on the iPod it becomes 1 less device to carry around. Now if only Verizon (the only carrier that services the area where my house is) would just get access to some incarnation of the iPhone I could finally stop carrying around a separate phone and ipod . . .

Re:Oh well... (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013843)

Move to Europe .... No Software Patents here (yet) and the DVD's are made by companies outside the USA(tm) so no import problems

Re:Oh well... (2, Insightful)

Antonovich (1354565) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014791)

Move to Europe .... No Software Patents here (yet) and the DVD's are made by companies outside the USA(tm) so no import problems

Wrong, software patents are being issued while "they" wait for the Poles to be caught napping and pass the legislation (they've been blocking it for a while). The rationale is that there is no harm in issuing patents because no one can sue unless they are eventually put into law. It is an absolute disgrace because if it IS brought into law, they will almost certainly try and make it retroactive.

Re:Oh well... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28017311)

I use DVD's primarily for data backups and archiving.

How does the longevity of a DVDR compare to that of flash media?

Re:Oh well... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013485)

Which is exactly why I use DVDs for that purpose. Sure they're not archival, but the fact that you can't rewrite them is why the data on them has survived better than any of the other choices I've used. With the exception of CDROMs, and for similar reasons.

Personally, I use a ZFS mirror to store data which requires that sort of rewriting, but for backup backup I use optical discs with svf. I've yet to have any trouble with the lifespan of the media, and my only complaint is that they're a bit small. Hopefully BlueRay will solve that portion of the problem. It's also nice because they're not that hard to send offsite when I need to.

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014275)

Yep the dvd+rw.

'DVD+RW supports random write access, which means that data can be added and removed without erasing the whole disc and starting over (up to about 1000 times)'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD%2BRW [wikipedia.org]

http://www.amazon.com/Memorex-4x-DVD-25-Pack-Spindle/dp/B0000A98AC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics [amazon.com]

About 78 cents per 4.5 gig (and I wasnt even really trying to find a deal). Tell me where you can get a 4 gig flash drive for that?

Look before you leap... Just because your 'favorite' tech is being disparaged does not mean it is the 'best' at everything. DVD at this point in time has flash beat on price by about 15x. DVD even beats it on speed in many cases. USB/SD flash drives are pretty good these days as writing a DVD can be a pain. But that is a software interface issue. Flash drives are also pretty freeking portable which is why they are cool and why I use them over DVD.

Personally I buy the flash drives for rewritable stuff and the cheaper DVD-R for bulk backup.

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014395)

"Cheap" not "Cheaper".

Re:Oh well... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015065)

8 GB is around $15, which seems to be the CURRENT sweetspot on pricing.

Prices will drop and quickly as production increases, especially for the larger sized drives. There will be moment in time, when USB drives overtake DVD and I predict even BlueRay discs. Imagine being able to go to Blockbuster (web or storefront) sticking in a Flashdrive and "renting" a movie, plugging it into your TV and watching it.

Of course the stupid MPAA will no doubt cry foul or worse come up with some lame DRM scheme that doesn't ,work, so forget it actually happening anytime soon.

Someone somewhere will figure it out (APPLE??) and make it work, long enough to get entrenched. When that happens, Thumbsticks will take off, and replace all other media formats.

Re:Oh well... (2, Insightful)

Deus777 (535407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012685)

Flash drives aren't more convenient when you want to play a movie off of it and you don't have anything hooked up to the TV that has USB.

On the subject of price, you can currently get a DVD-R or even DVD-RW that will hold 4 GB for much less than you can buy a 4 GB flash drive. Even if patent licensing pushed costs to double for DVD-R and DVD-RW, they would still be cheaper than flash drives. The article only mentions Iomega and Memorex. We don't know if other major companies are licensing Toshiba's patents or not. If other major companies that produce DVD-R and DVD-RW are licensing the patents, it seems likely that prices aren't going to go up much, if at all.

Re:Oh well... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013671)

Flash drives aren't more convenient when you want to play a movie off of it and you don't have anything hooked up to the TV that has USB.

That's what plugging a laptop into a TV is for, if you'd believe other Slashdot posters.

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28015755)

Flash drives aren't more convenient when you want to play a movie off of it and you don't have anything hooked up to the TV that has USB.

That's what plugging a laptop into a TV is for, if you'd believe other Slashdot posters.

Or you can go to Best Buy and get yourself a DVD player with a USB slot that will play just about any SD movie you would download off the internet. Not that I'd buy anything from best buy or pirate movies... ;P

Re:Oh well... (1)

freemywrld (821105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014189)

The article only mentions Iomega and Memorex.

The article mentions Imation, not Iomega.

hmph (1, Troll)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012577)

There ought to be a law against patent trolling

Re:hmph (1, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012639)

There ought to be a law against patents. They have never ever in the past been used for anything other than patent trolling and innovation stiffling.

Re:hmph (5, Funny)

ivicente (1373953) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012853)

Humm, that's an interesting idea. Have you considered patenting it?

Re:hmph (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013311)

So let's take the current case, for example.

I see no evidence the patent wasn't licensed in good faith, or that the patent-holder was deliberately sitting on the patent to increase potential damages. So not a troll. (Unless you define "troll" as 'used in a way you personally don't approve of', which is as good as meaningless.)

The companies they're suing aren't trying to "innovate"; they're just manufacturing and distributing an already-designed item.

Whatever you may think of this suit, it is a clear counter-example to your claim about patents in general.

Re:hmph (1)

Bio)-(azard (1421513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013767)

Brilliant!

So now when I take my invention to the manufacturers to be mass produced, the only words I will hear now is: "Woot!, that will sell like mad, thank you for sharing your wonderful idea. You may leave now"

Three words: N D A (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014751)

As it is, you can show them your stuff, they say "Hey, that looks like it infringes on several of our patents. We'll sue you if you don't cross license".

And you're then just as butt-fucked as in your case.

An NDA and *NO* patents is far more secure.

Re:Three words: N D A (2, Insightful)

Bio)-(azard (1421513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015515)

Your argument is weak at best.

If someone owns rights to something that you think you have 'invented', then you are not the inventor of said item. In which case, they are correct to have their way with your ass. Leave or bend over.

So lets take the NDA approach which in theory may sound like the best thing since sliced bread. However that little piece of paper has holds absolutely no weight if the company disolves, or if you have no proof of an employee selling your secret. Either of which doesn't matter anyway because you don't own any rights to your idea except with the guy you showed it to.

Come on, an NDA isn't going to stop anyone from ripping off your cute idea. In the end, it may give you satisfaction that you put that little shop out of business, all the while 20 other factories are happily churning out your device while you get nothing. Mean while your lawyer is sending you bills.

So what then happens to all that time and money you put into researching and building your cute little device? I guess that goes right out the window because now there are 50 other places making your cute device.

If you expect to make money off your idea, then you need to have it protected. Otherwise, you may has well just give it to a lawyer, because they are the only one that will make a profit from it

Re:hmph (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014333)

"They have never ever in the past been used for anything other than patent trolling and innovation stiffling."

John Browning, prolific firearms designer, had 128 patents. His company produced some of the designs, and he sold or licensed his patents to various other companies. He was the single most dominant force in firearms design at the end of the 19th century, and he profited handsomely from the sale and licensing of his intellectual property.

So by your logic, there were no other firearms designs during that era? I have a Mauser rifle designed in 1898 that disagrees with you.

In addition, since Browning's patents have long expired, ANYBODY is free to build firearms that are exact copies of his designs. there is a multi-million dollar industry built around the design of the 1911 Auto Pistol.

Are patents today being abused? Sure. Just be careful with such sweeping statements.

Re:hmph (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014797)

For a time, certain arms manufacturers dominated the market because anything
that looked similar would likely trigger a lawsuit. So while it did take
quite literally centuries for a lot of the R&D in guns to come to fruition,
it also caused stagnation for decades as these patents sorted themselves
out.

Now that's just the collateral damage.

The real question remains unanswered: were they necessary?

17 years is a long time in the current tech market.

Contemplate the state of your Windows box 17 years ago.

Re:hmph (1)

Zader (814402) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016169)

Contemplate the state of your Windows box 17 years ago.

Can't do that personally, since I was running slackware Linux right about that time ... :-) (I think the beta was around before 1993, but close enough for slashdot posts.)

Re:hmph (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016503)

Contemplate the state of your Windows box 17 years ago.

I didn't have a Windows box 17 years ago, you insensitive cl...oh wait, that'd be a good thing.

Re:hmph (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016875)

Which centuries and which decades? If we are going back to medieval firearms making you are mixing metaphors - firearms advances were stalled by the european guild system, and patent laws have an entirely different effect than guilds.

Re:hmph (4, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012715)

There ought to be a law against patent trolling

They can't use it. It's patented.

Re:hmph (4, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012805)

How exactly is this a patent troll [wikipedia.org] ? It seems to me that Toshiba retains the rights to patents legitimately obtained for actual innovation and have long been known about and licensed to others. Toshiba isn't holding the patents for ransom with outrageous licensing terms, submarining them, or keeping them a secret until after a standard was ratified and then springing them. I'd say that for a system that has all sorts of flaws and issues, this is a legitimate case where the system is working as it was intended in a legitimate fashion.

Re:hmph (2, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013661)

An argument could be made that from a physical perspective only, recordable DVD media is not dramatically different from recordable CD media.

The player technology, specifically with reference to encryption, interfaces and lasers, obviously would qualify for patent protection as they were novel inventions when they were invented.

Recordable media however, not quite so easy.

On another note, my personal belief is that when manufacturers create shell organizations to jointly patent their technology, it creates an insurmountable barrier to entry for competing manufacturers who weren't a party to the initial technology development. As both supporting and countering evidence, we had BluRay and HDDVD. The lack of quickly industry standardization led to two competing formats(bad) but also no collusion between manufacturers to prevent new manufacturers from entering(also bad, because it's really a monopoly).

Obviously, neither is perfect and something has got to change.

Re:hmph (4, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014087)

While licensing consortia look at first glance to be Evil(tm), they actually do serve an important function. Many technologies are covered by several, perhaps dozens, of patents. Trying to negotiate individually with each company for licensing terms would be a legal and logistical nightmare - especially considering that if you miss one, you're screwed. Negotiating with a licensing consortium means that you only have to go through the licensing steps once, and you're covered for the duration of your license against all of the various patents covering the technology.

Yes, you still have to be careful inasmuch as some company may have decided not to get on board the consortium train, but the chances of this happening are reduced.

The true evil arises when licensing consortia impose "terms of use" on their licenses, such as by leveraging patents to enforce DRM restrictions on equipment manufacturers (DVD-CSS, AACS, HDMI, CableCARD, etc.).

Engineering Scarcity? (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015147)

When Ben Franklin got started with patents, he was happy to share the idea. Nowadays, patents are used to create scarcity. I've been reading an alternative analysis of patents and copyrights in a book called "Intellectual Monopoly." [dklevine.com] Of course, the book is making a case against intellectual property, but it is one of the easiest to read.

I find this book very interesting, especially the parts about James Watt and genetically modified organism patents. After reading just half the book, I've reached the conclusion that patents require at the least, very close parental supervision. Or we could just eliminate them, once and for all. We won't know for sure if competition is a sin until patents are gone.

This whole patent business, while entertaining, is sort of depressing.

Re:hmph (2, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28016979)

An argument could be made that from a physical perspective only, recordable DVD media is not dramatically different from recordable CD media.

Were that the case, DVDs would not exist. The media DVDs are recorded on was fully half the innovation, and it was a huge leap forward in optical recording technology. DVD-R can't get away with the "burn spot, not a burn spot, burn spot, not a burn spot" of CD-Rs. It is significantly more complicated, and combined with DVD writers and players, represents an innovative leap.

I don't know if you know this, but innovative leaps are considered quite novel, and usually get a patent. The DVD patents have been around for a long time now, and I'm surprised Imation would be dumb enough to try to sell blank discs without a license to the patent.

It's not exactly new.

Costs passed on... (1)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014043)

I'd say that for a system that has all sorts of flaws and issues, this is a legitimate case where the system is working as it was intended in a legitimate fashion.

I tend to agree with you.

I would like to add one thing, however. Whenever suits like this are brought up and the companies named as defendants are slapped with a fine, guess who ultimately coughs up the money?

That's right, the consumer. So, while everything else is going up and with prospects of inflation ahead, we can thank Toshiba (if they're successful) for increasing the costs of certain products like DVD-Rs!

Re:Costs passed on... (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014267)

Whenever suits like this are brought up and the companies named as defendants are slapped with a fine, guess who ultimately coughs up the money? That's right, the consumer.

It seems that these companies are selling products at a lower rate then they should be because they are not paying, or passing along the fees to consumers they should be. So you might possbile be getting the product for cheaper then you should be.

IS best buy raising the price for you if they charge you for stealing DVD's from their store?

Bad analogy aside, if there is a patent then the companies selling the product need to have purchased the rights to the patent. The patent holder went through the R&D to develope the technology, they do deserve to make some profit off that. otherwise, why do the R&D if others can sit back, let you waste your money, and then sell your product too without paying for the R&D or use of the patent?

Re:Costs passed on... (1)

colesw (951825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015125)

Best Buy doesn't need to raise the price as shop lifting is already factored into their pricing.

Re:Costs passed on... (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015561)

As I said, ignore the actual analogy (because analogies are flawed) and focus more on the meaning of what I was talking about.

Re:Costs passed on... (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015461)

No, assuming the other DVD-R (and/or DVD+R, depending on the extent of the patent) manufacturers(Memorex, Verbatim, Fujifilm, etc.) do pay the licensing fees as they are required, competition is now fair. If they are paying the licenses and this company is not, they have to lower their prices to compete. Doing so may cause them to sell the parts at a loss while the other company profits. This kills competition and causes a monopoly, which generally causes prices to go up in the long run.

On the other hand, if the patents are illegal, obvious, or have prior art, Toshiba should lose this case and control over the patents in question. IANAL, so its not my business to argue that.

Re:hmph (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015051)

There ought to be a law against patent trolling

Irrelevant, since Toshiba is not patent trolling. You should probably learn what that term means before you use it.

Now we're talking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28012597)

This sounds like it could actually be a case of copyright infringement!

Re:Now we're talking... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012681)

This sounds like it could actually be a case of copyright infringement!

Only if you're hard of hearing.

Unless I'm mistaken, and the sound "patent" is actually spelled "copyright"

Re:Now we're talking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013969)

[blockquote]"Trolls they were, but filled with the evil will of their master: a fell race..." -- J.R.R. Tolkien on Olog-hai[/blockquote] Is that covered under fair use, or do you have permission from the Tolkein estate to use that quote?

Re:Now we're talking... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014489)

Fair use.

Which if you bothered to research at all, you'd know.

Re:Now we're talking... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013475)

Nope. The DVD's are blank.

They're just mad about HD-DVD (3, Funny)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012661)

Toshiba's still getting over HD-DVD. They're making upscaling DVD players to compete with Blu-Ray. They lost a lot of face, and they're losing even more money. All the huge "we do everything" Japanese conglomerates (Toshiba, Hitachi, Sanyo) are in pain due to the stagnant economy. Perhaps these lawsuits can help restore them to profitability. I hope so because Toshiba is a darn fine company that makes out with your mom.

Re:They're just mad about HD-DVD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014163)

...Did someone just knock you out and take over your keyboard before you clicked submit?

Re:They're just mad about HD-DVD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28014719)

I haven't (knowingly) bought any products with the Toshiba name or using their components in ~13 years, following the experience of three laptop drive failures in 14 months. I'd be perfectly happy to see them go down.

Fairness towards all licensees (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012669)

In school, I used to get told that if I wanted to eat candy in class that I would have to provide enough for everyone. Toshiba brought enough for everyone, but some companies are trying to get more than their fair share by not paying for a license. Toshiba is completely in the right to demand payment for the licenses.

On the other hand, this is why killing HD-DVD was such an important thing. Putting two major patent holders (Toshiba and Microsoft) in charge of the direction of the de facto media format would have been disastrous.

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012725)

And Sony always plays so nice and openly?

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012801)

Sony may not always play nice, but at least they haven't been charged with monopolistic business practices (that I'm aware of, anyway).

Antitrust against Sony (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013769)

Sony may not always play nice, but at least they haven't been charged with monopolistic business practices (that I'm aware of, anyway).

The USA investigated Sony for antitrust violations in 2008 [mashable.com] , as did China in 2007 [jdsupra.com] .

Re:Antitrust against Sony (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015897)

I believe there is a difference between being investigated for a crime and being charged with it. Maybe there's more recent news items about Sony actually getting charged?

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (5, Funny)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012785)

Instead we put it in the hands of "always caring for the customer and their rights" Sony?

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013531)

Amongst many, many others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc_Association [wikipedia.org]

But don't let 'facts' get in the way of a good, old fashioned Sony bashin'.

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014921)

Say all the bad things you want about Sony (and there's plenty to say), but let's not forget that they're the ones who brought us the terms [wikipedia.org] "time-shifting" and "significant noninfringing uses". They spent good, hard money defending our rights against the movie cartels, and ended up losing the market they were trying to defend (Betamax vs. VHS) anyway.

As for the rootkit debacle, was that evil? Sure. But can you say that anyone who was affected didn't deserve it? They were all running MS Windows, after all. :)

(For the slow-on-the-uptake, that last bit was humor.)

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (2, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012875)

On the other other hand, Memorex and Imation-branded DVDs have been around for ages, are reasonably popular, and Toshiba chose to wait it out. IANAL, but I remember reading something about asking for retroactive damages when you know full well that infringement is happening, and how that's a bad idea.

Laches (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013799)

I remember reading something about asking for retroactive damages when you know full well that infringement is happening, and how that's a bad idea.

Before you knee-jerk post "that's only for trademarks", please familiarize yourself with the equitable defense of laches [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Laches (2, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015291)

Well, he was sort of right...

Though there's no Statuate of Limitations on patent infringement, but most states limit the scope of infringement to 6 years, regardless of the length of infringement, and in certain circumstances, damages awarded have been adjusted by the judge when the first party was clearly fully aware of the infringement.

Basically, We ALL know Memorex maxes blank DVDs... Toshiba should have easily kown this. No that memorex made a few billion selling disks, Toshiba want's it;s cut, and likely use a huge settlement to allow them to begotiate good terms on another patent they can't currently get memorex to license to them. However, if the judge knows this is the case, and knows that 5.5 years ago Toshiba could have brought this up, and memorex could simply have been forced to license the patent at a small cost then or abandon their sales, in which case Toshiba would not have their current claim. Thair fialure to file earlier could only reasonably be offset by proving it was not in their business interest to do so due to cost vs reward, but if by now cost vs reward is suddently justified, Laches might apply in addition to limitations on compensation.

It could indeed be very bad for toshiba, especially since MULTIPLE conpoeitors were in clear violation of the patent. it could even go back to the PTO to show that DVD was just a natural evolution of CD and their patent could be thrown out (though, that could also invalidate Blue-ray's patent too, since although it requires a red laser and more complex reading system, the disk media itself is not truly a great leap and could be considered in the right circles "evolutionary, not revolutionary" and that could strip Blu-Ray of a lot of market power (in the form of royalties).

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (3, Informative)

jaiyen (821972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012883)

On the other hand, this is why killing HD-DVD was such an important thing. Putting two major patent holders (Toshiba and Microsoft) in charge of the direction of the de facto media format would have been disastrous.

Instead we've got nine major patent holders - Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp, and Samsung - in charge of Blu-ray. Is that really an improvement ?

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013155)

On the other hand, this is why killing HD-DVD was such an important thing. Putting two major patent holders (Toshiba and Microsoft) in charge of the direction of the de facto media format would have been disastrous.

Instead we've got nine major patent holders - Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp, and Samsung - in charge of Blu-ray. Is that really an improvement ?

Actually, that's why there's patent corsortiums. There's the DVD6C, which handles all the patents related to DVD. If you wanted to make a DVD player/writer/disc/whatever, you pay one fee to DVD6C, and they'll break it up and pay the patent holders. For you, the manufacturer, it's easier to deal with one fee to license all DVD patents for DVD usage.

Similarly, there is the 4CEntity/5CEntity licensing out security specifications used by SD cards, DVD (CSS, but maybe DVD6C automatically offers a license?), etc.

MPEG has the MPEG-LA to license patents associated with various MPEG standards.

Blu-Ray will have its own as well, so instead of dealing with the 9 license holders, you deal with 1.

It's basically a one-stop shop for licensing of patents. Of course, since these consortiums don't own the patents, the patent holders have to go after violators. In this case, Toshiba, but the other patent holders may do the same as well outside of any other agreement. It's not like these consortiums are secret either - if you're making a product, the standards for your product will often point to whom you can license the patents from.

Blu-RAy is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28016405)

Blu-Ray has not been the huge success that Sony had hoped. For the average person DVD (and DVD-R/RW) is good enoufg. That won't change unless the prices on Blu-Ray players and disks drop significantly. And then there are people like me, who will never buy Blu-Ray just because its from Sony!

For many years I had though that what was needed was an international body that would decide which was the best when there were 2 competing standards. Now I don't think so, mainly because of seeing how M$ manipulated and trashed the ISO standards process. But there has been to much stupid crap that has happened when 2 or more companies try to compete to be THE standard. The classic case that most think of is Beta VS VHS video tapes. Another was the battle between Hayes and U.S Robotics.

Re:Fairness towards all licensees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013261)

at least you're well named, cause that's the worst analogy evar

Figures (2, Interesting)

Altreus (1492723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012673)

Memorex make some of the better DVDRs I've used in the UK. I presume they sell the same ones in the USA.

Toshiba, OTOH, sell expensive ones that don't seem to last quite so long.

I presume therefore that it is cheaper to file a lawsuit in the US these days than it is to invest in R&D.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28012793)

Sadly that sounds reasonable even though court costs are high.

With all these patent cases going around, I really have this urge to shake the CEOs and yell 'STOP SUING AND MAKE SOMETHING WORTH BUYING!'

Re:Figures (2, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012869)

Sorry, no... Toshiba already invested in the R&D and Memorex has been ripping them off

Memorex needs to pay (hopefully reasonable) licensing costs like all the other DVD-R manufacturers

Re:Figures (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28015247)

I could have bought that argument - if they sued them eight years ago.

Why now? All of these companies are established as a core of the market. One could argue that Toshiba needed them to help establish the DVD-R marketplace as viable to begin with.

There should be a shorter limit on how long you can knowingly allow someone to profit off of your supposed patents before you decide to sue them.

Re:Figures (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013779)

Memorex make some of the better DVDRs I've used in the UK.

Memorex makes fuck-all. They sell CMC Magnetics and Ritek media. The Office Depot brand is just as good.

There is a relatively small number of manufacturers of DVDR media. Memorex, Imation, Maxell, etc. are just stamping their names on them.

There a nice chart at the bottom of this page [digitalfaq.com]
.

Re:Figures (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013907)

An informative link... thank you.

Ironic.. (2, Interesting)

Ponder Stibions (962426) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012689)

The only reason to buy recordable media is for OS installation, as often it's either the easiest or only way to get the installer in. If USB flash drives aren't patent encumbered, can we please have our Linux installers readymade for them? Would be better for the environment too!

Re:Ironic.. (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013575)

I made a clean install of Ubuntu 9.04 recently from a USB drive, and it was fantastic. Took maybe 7 minutes total, compared to about 30 from CD.

If you already have Ubuntu, you can find this utility in System > Administration > USB Startup Disk Creator

SanDisk owns patents on USB flash drives (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013841)

If USB flash drives aren't patent encumbered, can we please have our Linux installers readymade for them?

USB is patented, as is high-density NAND flash. And SanDisk took other USB flash drive makers to court in 2007 [gizmodo.com] .

Moser Baer - India (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012825)

One of the eight companies named in the lawasuit, aside from Imation. Anyone know the others?

Re:Moser Baer - India (3, Informative)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012879)

Found the others: CMC Magnetics Crop., Ritek Corp., Glyphics Media, Hotan Corp, Khypermedia Corp and Advanced Media Inc in the United States.

Re:Moser Baer - India (3, Informative)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013539)

In other words, the companies that make the media that Imation and Memorex actually sell. Most of these "generic" sounding brands are the makers of some of the finest media available. Ritek and Khypermedia are two of the best.

Re:Moser Baer - India (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014855)

Most of these "generic" sounding brands are the makers of some of the finest media available.

"Some of the finest" non-Japanese-manufactured media, maybe. I gave up buying Taiwan-manufactured media years ago due to reliability problems.

I wonder (2, Interesting)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012917)

When are we going to get "open" disc formats, like an "open" HD optical disc? It would seem to me that something of that nature would help drive down the cost of this type of media.

Or am I being stupid again?

Re:I wonder (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013107)

Developing a new form of optical storage costs a lot of money in terms of R&D. The people who front this cash need to get it back somehow. If you can come up with a better way of doing this than patenting the new technologies and charging a license fee, then all you need to do is persuade someone to invest...

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28013761)

hmm lets see.. they could sell the new form of media that they developed. Do you really think that business can't work without patents?

Re:I wonder (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014223)

And what do they do when someone else who didn't invest in the R&D starts producing them for half the cost (because they don't have to cover the R&D costs)?

Re:I wonder (3, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014435)

That's why Toshiba should Open HD-DVD and allow royalty-free use everywhere.

Re:I wonder (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013417)

Re-invent a new format just to drive down the price of a 0.25$ disc with nearly 8GB of storage capacity?

I can't help but ask: Why?!

Re:I wonder (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013421)

The simple solution is to wait for the Hologram based disk formats, that store Terabytes on a CD Sized disc. By the time it is actually released, the patents will have no doubt expired, since it is always 5 years in away...

Which patents? (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28012925)

Which patents is it alleged that they are infringing? All of them? Some of them? Without knowing which patents they're talking about, we don't know what the fuck we're talking about. I see a lot of comments saying that Memorex &c should pay up... for what?

Re:Which patents? (3, Informative)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28013559)

The patents that cover making a DVD. Yes, all of them. The ones that most DVD manufacturer's pay licenses for, but these people didn't.

Delayed reaction? (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28014149)

Imation have been offereing DVD media since at least 2002 [beststuff.com] .

Why the delay?

Are Toshiba and the DVD6C group really suffering at the hands of solid state memory devices so badly that they need to reduce Imation's market share through a costly lawsuit? With Imation also owning TDK and Memorex, surely they could sell their products through their licences instead anyway? Or at least, 'rent' their facilities to them?

I'd like to know what the 'real' catalyst was for this situation...
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