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Facebook Ordered To Turn Over Source Code

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the revealing-trade-secret-super-poke-tech dept.

Social Networks 304

consonant writes "A Delaware District Court judge has ordered Facebook to turn over ALL its source code to Leader Technologies, who allege patent infringements by Facebook. The patent in question appears to be for 'associating a piece of data with multiple categories.' Additionally, while the judge in question deems it fine to let Leader Technologies look at Facebook's source (for a patent, no less!) in its entirety for a single feature, it would be 'overboard to ask a patent holder to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit.'"

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American "Justice" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377591)

Looks like all those "campaign contributions" had their intended effect.

Maybe one day someone will bribe our elected officials to do the right thing.

Re:American "Justice" (3, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377707)

That will happen just as soon as the "right thing" becomes highly profitable for those doing the bribing.

So, never.

Re:American "Justice" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377927)

No wonder all those corporations moving their domicile and headquarters offshore, much harder to sue over software patent in Europe, Singapore etc. not to mention other ($$$) advantages.

Re:American "Justice" (0)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378119)

Absolutely! The laws serve no other purpose than to allow multinational corporations to bully... uhh... other... multinational corporations?

this patenting thing ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377601)

If we're getting to the point where people are winning cases because they've effectively patented a design pattern, then we're all in trouble.

I mean, "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" -- sounds like every relational database schema on the planet to me.

Re:this patenting thing ... (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377763)

Just to be safe, it's probably best to limit this story to just a single tag. Under no circumstances should anybody tag this story with multiple categories such as "patenttroll" and "getfucked" at the same time.

Re:this patenting thing ... (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377799)

Looks like someone did the opposite of what you said

Re:this patenting thing ... (4, Funny)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378013)

Doing the opposite of what was said? I have a patent on that .. !

Re:this patenting thing ... (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378105)

Sorry, I've already got a patent on "A method of answering a question you have yourself posed in order to bring about a sense of smug self satisfaction."

Re:this patenting thing ... (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378439)

man, if that is the same as my patent:
"Sorry, I've already got a patent on "A method of answering THE question you have yourself posed in order to bring about a sense of smug self satisfaction."

You are screwed! I"m finding that judges email address, if he knows what that is.

Re:this patenting thing ... (1)

TechDogg (802999) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378209)

Doing the opposite of what was said? I have a patent on that .. !

Sorry, but I just found some prior art just by googling... www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKUvKE3bQlY

Re:this patenting thing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378447)

Doesn't slashdot categorize the story into multiple categories, lets sue /.

Re:this patenting thing ... (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377843)

That's not how it works. The description is just a description of what a patent is for. There can be a hundred different methods to associate a piece of data with multiple categories, and each one can be patented separately.

Now it may be that every single one of these is obvious and therefore non-patentable but you can't make that determination from the title.

Re:this patenting thing ... (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378357)

The first one to patent the idea of "patent trolling" wins.

Re:this patenting thing ... (4, Funny)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378393)

Yeah, but now it's on a computer!

Err... nevermind.

Re:this patenting thing ... (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378403)

And again, just another way our government is taking over. "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" = Associating everyone's bits & bytes data.

Re:this patenting thing ... (4, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378491)

Back in the day, BBS's had all of this plus eBay's auction functions et al.
Prior art should invalidate most of this stuff. People who have adapted OLD
ideas to the "new" age , are just assholes. 90 percent of all this was done
on Bulletin boards before the internet became popular.

It is time for all of us old timers to bring this silly stuff to an end!
We saw or developed it before ANY of these newbies ever thought of it. Sned
your prior art to the patent office!!! Most of it was copyrighted before
many of these douchebags were born !!!

Pretty absurd (5, Funny)

skelterjohn (1389343) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377609)

Facebook should hire some of Diebold's lawyers. They're really good at keeping source private.

Re:Pretty absurd (3, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377917)

As long as they don't hire their developers ... FaceBook requires some semblance of security.

Re:Pretty absurd (2, Funny)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378107)

That would be an new feature, then.

Patent infringement x 2! (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377615)

Anyone wanna take bets on how long until Leader Technologies comes out with their own social networking site that looks very similar to Facebook, and gets sued for having some technology that infringes on a Facebook patent?

But seriously, shouldn't the court be trying to determine infringement, rather than letting the plaintiff view every piece of code Facebook has written? That's almost like saying "Microsoft infringed on 'using a scroll bar'; let Red Hat view all of the source for Windows so Red Hat can make sure it's not infringing." - if Windows were the only product Microsoft had. It's a crazy statement to make. In industrial terms, it sounds even worse: "Caterpillar might be infringing on a patent for 'method of transporting hydraulic fluid'; give Mitsubishi all of their blueprints for every one of their products so they can make sure it's not infringing".

If you didn't catch it, did you notice the 'obviousness' factor in those examples? Associating data into multiple categories seems pretty obvious, as databases have been doing just that for a long time.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377643)

Not only a long time, but since they were created.

The state of patent law in the US is quite disturbing and definitely anti-competitive.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377683)

Caterpillar and Mitsubishi? if you really want to get on their nerves, you'd pick Caterpillar vs John Deere or Caterpillar vs Komatsu //speaking as a kid who grew up in East Peoria (where Caterpillar's headquarters were when I was a kid -- and yes my dad just retired from Caterpillar)

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (4, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377759)

I tried to patent some code that checks submissions for stupid patents, but the patent office stack overflowed...

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377861)

Of course. If you limited the Patent Office to non-stupid patents, it could be run by two full time people and a summer intern. You'd be putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377875)

....so they just patented them all without looking.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377775)

I don't know how this got modded insightful. Defendants in business litigation typically have to hand over the source code and other sensitive information (like sales data). The court simply issues a "protective order" limiting who can view the source code. Usually the protective order designates source code as "attorneys eyes only" meaning that only the requester's (Leader Technology) outside attorneys can view the source. Plaintiffs and defendants squabble over these issues as a way to drive up the cost of litigation and not because there is any risk that source code might be leaked and duplicated.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377807)

If you didn't catch it, did you notice the 'obviousness' factor in those examples? Associating data into multiple categories seems pretty obvious, as databases have been doing just that for a long time.

Or like Slashdot has been doing for ages. As this slashdot article is filed under the categories: news, social.

Slashdot better watch out, Follower Technologies might want to look at their source code too.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378041)

I'd like to see their faces when they get to see the css and javascript.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378187)

Shhh, don't tell anyone: http://www.slashcode.com/ [slashcode.com] ?

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (5, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377919)

Anyone wanna take bets on how long until Leader Technologies comes out with their own social networking site that looks very similar to Facebook, and gets sued for having some technology that infringes on a Facebook patent?

It really doesn't matter if they do develop a social network site or not. There's been dozens of Myspace and Facebook clones out there. None have particularly succeeded. The underlying tech isn't what drives their success. It's the ability of their Marketing Droids to convince people that the emperor is really not, in fact, stark naked.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (4, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378369)

The only reason facebook was initially popular was because it was for college students only. Once they allowed anyone to have a facebook page, it became the crap fest it is now.

Interestingly enough, if the government created a database like facebook to track citizens, people would be outraged, but make it voluntary and it becomes the next new thing.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378399)

There's been dozens of Myspace and Facebook clones out there. None have particularly succeeded. The underlying tech isn't what drives their success. It's the ability of their Marketing Droids to convince people that the emperor is really not, in fact, stark naked.

I think what really drives Facebook is that it reached the critical mass to get a strong network effect.

As you pointed out with the source code, there are numerous sites that could have served the role Facebook presently serves. I suspect this is a system that was destined to converge on one particular website, but was chaotic with respect to which site would get the crown.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1)

rallymatte (707679) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377955)

This was already mentioned [techdirt.com] in one of the links in the post.
And I sort of agree. But maybe they want the source code to see if Facebook actually associating a piece of data with multiple categories. I mean, maybe there are other ways of accomplishing what Facebook are doing, that makes them think that they are "associating a piece of data with multiple categories".
Still... don't get me wrong, I don't agree with such a patent.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377963)

Pretty much every search engine (Vector Space Model) ever invented infringes heavily on Leader's patent. In the vector space model every document or page is categorized under every term that appears in that document. Doah! Poor internet is doomed! Pretty soon Google will have to hand over all of their code too. No more multiple categories per thing.

Re:Patent infringement x 2! (1)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378073)

The patent in question deals with associating data into multiple categories dynamically. It's fairly obvious but (as far as I'm aware) it is a relatively recent innovation. It's definitely not something that databases do in terms of storage. They can do it, using views or triggers with stored procedures, but this is not a simple patent on a data table, a category table and a many-to-many cross reference table linking the two.

Prior Art? (2, Informative)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377631)

So they basically claim they have a patent on the one-to-many Foreign Key?

Only... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378239)

... on a computer!

what? (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377651)

"associating a piece of data with multiple categories"?

Are you kidding me?! So when I create a database table that allows me associate a record with multiple categories I'm infringing on this patent? Surely this isn't the whole story... could someone smarter than me fill me in please?

I am going to go patent taking a wiz in the morning. Apparently prior art doesn't mean anything.

Re:what? (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377943)

Man, I have a lot of code that I've written and/or use which I better make open for their perusal. Oh wait, it already is. Job done!

Re:what? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378015)

If prior art would vacate this patent, don't you think Facebook lawyers would have mentioned it? Are you suggesting that the team of Facebook lawyers is so incompetent as to not understand the technology or law related to this suit?

I think it's a lot more likely that none of the wags commenting here at Slashdot really understand the case. I tried to look up the patent, but frankly I don't understand patents. The articles weren't very informative.

Re:what? (4, Insightful)

RawJoe (712281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378287)

"associating a piece of data with multiple categories" is simply how TFA summarized the patent. It's not that simple, patents rarely are. If you look at the patent in question, it has several claims that go into detail about the processes involved in their system. It's likely one of these processes that is the focal point.

Now, are these claims patentable? I don't know. there is a lot of long-windedness in patent claims, and it depends on how borad or narrow they are interpreted. Obviously the examiner found them to be narrow enough to be patentable. I doubt it's as simple as a one-to-many relation in a database, because even though examiners miss things, they really wouldn't have missed that. Maybe the judge will overturn it though, if he reads the patent more broadly.

Well... (5, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377657)

While TFS claims:

Additionally, while the judge in question deems it fine to let Leader Technologies look at Facebook's source (for a patent, no less!) in its entirety for a single feature, it would be "overboard to ask a patent holder to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit".

TFA goes on to state:

Facebook has requested that they must know, whether Leader offers products that practice claims of the patent-in-suit, however judge agreed with leader that it could be overboard to ask a patentee to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit.
Moreover, Facebook has not cited authority that could support requiring a patentee to prove, through detailed claim charts. Facebook is entitled to know every Leader product or service that Leader contends practices any of the asserted claims.
The court has ordered, within ten days of the following order, that Leader shall supplement its response to Facebook and disclose all products and services.
Leader shall provide Facebook with a list of source code modules with respect to which it seeks production of technical documents no later than September 22, 2009.
Facebook shall provide Leader with all such relevant technical documents no later than September 29, 2009 and Leader shall promptly complete its review of Facebooks Source code and technical documents to Facebook no later than October 15, 2009.

So it isn't quite as outrageous as TFS makes it appear.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377851)

Well duh... You didn't expect the mods to post something that didn't cause FUD did you?

Re:Well... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378047)

Don't know if it's what I'd call FUD, exactly -- the very idea of patenting "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" is still absurd. And BTW it isn't the mods who post these things.

Re:Well... (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378379)

Don't know if it's what I'd call FUD, exactly -- the very idea of patenting "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" is still absurd.

And, strictly speaking, isn't what the patent at issue claims; as is common in patent stories, what the claimed mechanism achieves is confused here with what is claimed. Patents don't cover results, they cover particular mechanisms for acheiving them.

Re:Well... (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378315)

No, the detailed exerpt just doesn't add anything. It's still equally bogus.
The fact that the judge claimed that there is no "legal theory" to support
the idea that the suing party should not have to give good examples of
things that use the patent in question doesn't mean it's a bogus idea to
deny the request.

"Show us some examples" is hardly a high burden claim.

It's not even in the same league as "show us all your sourcecode".

What does Facebook do that is new? (1, Insightful)

improfane (855034) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377669)

While I agree that Facebook is the first well implemented piece of social software of its niche, what is so novel about its design but its momentum?

Does it have anything to do with PHP? Hadoop?

Facebook could be implemented with standard DBMS like MySQL right?
try login when I can be bothered - once a week.
I think there are a few Open source social web networks:

http://mashable.com/2007/07/25/open-source-social-platforms/ [mashable.com]

I find the Frontpage annoying because originally I couldn't work out how to only display things from friends I choose, a whitelist rather than a blacklist. It's actually easy:
Make a list of friends that you want to see updates for and then on the homepage move it to the very top on the left menu. Unintuitive but it works.

And you, slashdot (2, Insightful)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377685)

Are those multiple tags I see against the summary?

Source, now!

Re:And you, slashdot (4, Informative)

hoskeri (948924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377905)

Here [sourceforge.net]

Re:And you, slashdot (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378435)

Wow! That was a lot faster and easier than facebook!

That claim (2, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377695)

Of "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" sounds suspiciously like tags.

They'll come for slashcode next!

Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (4, Funny)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377701)

I've got both hands in the air.

Re:Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378109)

Can I raise a middle finger on each hand? Does that count?

Re:Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378199)

I'm impressed by your hands-free typing.

Re:Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378309)

Everybody smart on the internets has learned to type with their toes, or nose, or forehead on some occasions if the other 2 are busy.

Re:Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378361)

I'm impressed by your airless computing environment. Tell me, are you a fish, or do you live in a vacuum chamber?

Re:Raise Your Hand If You've Violated This Patent (2, Funny)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378391)

How are you typing then?

In a second thought, I'd better don't know.

How about patent reform? (2, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377713)

While we're on a reform kick in this country maybe we could undertake patent reform.

Re:How about patent reform? (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377755)

While we're on a reform kick in this country maybe we could undertake patent reform.

Think of all the corporate money that is being thrown at killing healthcare reform in all it's different guises...

and then multiply it by 200.

That, my friend, is the reason it isn't happening. Find ways to reduce the corporate influence and money in these fights first and then there is a chance.

Re:How about patent reform? (4, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378087)

Total health care spending is 17.6% of GDP. Nowhere near 200 times as much money could be involved in patents. :-)

Re:How about patent reform? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378259)

Of course it's a number pulled out of my backside... but my comment is based on my belief that every corporation out there that ever made a dollar off of the current broken patent system would go after any effort to fix it. That's a huge number of corporations (many of which have very deep pockets) in all areas of our economy that would work against it. Also included many corps that are in the health care market itself. I think they would all get together gang up on that legislation like a pack of wild wolves... and I think that would be a much bigger fight.

Re:How about patent reform? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378273)

Why not? Patents are imaginary property, after all. Just multiply all patents with all potential royalties and you can have whatever number you please.

Re:How about patent reform? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378151)

I've got one! Kill everyone in the whole world!

MUAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa........

Re:How about patent reform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378381)

Actually a lot of big companies would help. A lot of patents held by Microsoft, IBM, Google, etc are defensive patents to either serve as weapons of mass destruction to dissuade the other big companies or to prevent some other idiot from patenting something and suing them. Companies like Microsoft, and google have already been calling for reform for years now. Given Microsoft alone spends over $100 Million a year fighting off patent litigation I'm sure those three combined would be willing to completely outspend all of the patent trolls to push through reform.

Re:How about patent reform? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378449)

Think of all the corporate money that is being thrown at killing healthcare reform in all it's different guises...

Money that's most commonly used to fund television commercials designed to sway public opinion.

and then multiply it by 200.

How so? Patents may be a concern for businesses in numerous segments of the economy, but those concerns are hardly universal. And the public? I don't see how they could be convinced to care, so the targeted commercial idea provides no benefits

Granted, money is a factor, but it's disingenuous to overstate it. Those companies for which patents are a primary concern employ people (who are both "people" and "voters") and pay taxes (which fund the government before trickling back to the people). Any sane politician with common sense is going to think twice before enacting reforms which may have a negative effect, or otherwise risk causing widespread confusion across parts of the economy.

If you're looking for a bogey man, look in the mirror. The corrupting influence of money occurs at election time, long before any legislation is written or considered. If you refuse to be informed and/or don't participate, there's nothing but TV commercials to fill the gap. And everyone watches TV.

Patent reform is obviously needed, but it's not bogeymen who are the problem. If it doesn't happen, it will be because it's a bitch to figure out how to do it right. In that sense, it's not unlike tax reform. A messy, intolerable system that no one really understands, and changes to which cause problems no one can anticipate.

The upside to all this, and going back to your health care debate analogy, is that we, the general public, won't be subjected to absurd television commercials, or equally absurd news coverage arising out of the impact of those commercials.

Re:How about patent reform? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378469)

That, my friend, is the reason it isn't happening. Find ways to reduce the corporate influence and money in these fights first and then there is a chance.

I agree, but all the solutions I can think of are pretty scary to me.

  • Hugo Chavez. I don't see that guy ever losing an "election".
  • Cuba's revolution. I wonder when their next election will be?
  • Land reform in Zimbabwe [wikipedia.org]

But maybe I'm missing some important counter-examples?

Slashdot's Next (0)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377729)

Slashdot is infringing on my patent of encoding information about people, places in a binary format that uses the numbers 1 and 0.

Re:Slashdot's Next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378205)

Slashdot is infringing on my patent of encoding information about people, places in a binary format that uses the numbers 1 and 0.

You are infringing on my patent of encoding information about people and places in a binary format of 0+epsilon and 1-epsilon, where epsilon is an arbitrarily small positive quantity.

FIRST CLAIM! (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377733)

A computer-implemented network based system that facilitates management of data, comprising:
    a computer-implemented context component of the network based system for capturing context information associated with user-defined data created by user interaction of a user in a first context of the network based system, the context component dynamically storing the context information in metadata associated with the user-defined data, the user defined data and metadata stored on a storage component of the network-based system; and
    a computer-implemented tracking component of the network-based system for tracking a change of the user from the first context to a second context of the network-based system and dynamically updating the stored metadata based on the change, wherein the user access the data from the second context.

Why the first link? (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377767)

What is the point of the first link to shr1k.blogspot.com [blogspot.com] ? It seems completely irrelevant to this article. I searched the blog back to September 2008 and only found three references to Facebook, none have to do with Facebook being ordered to do anything.
  • Is it just me, or are 80% of the faces in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook, people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
  • Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!
  • Snippets of work. Email, Facebook, Twitter. Sporadic bursts of exercise. Passing off pretty much anything edible as food (glorious food!)

Data Hostage (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377827)

Neat!

Now if Facebook doesn't pay up, a leaked copy of its source code will appear all over teh interwebs.

It's in your best interests to pay, see?

Re:Data Hostage (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378201)

>> Now if Facebook doesn't pay up, a leaked copy of its source code will appear all over teh interwebs.

Again? Where did the last copy go?

in breaking news... (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377833)

The nations leading farmers have sued facebook over Farmville applications and their use of HBGC hormone (human butt grown into chair).

Yay! It's Ignorance Day! (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377871)

Having a judge presiding on a case whose technical details he is wholly ignorant of strikes me as terribly dumb. A judge in this case is basing his understanding of the facts upon the testimony of lawyers and expert witnesses. It's very likely both sides are lying their fucking asses off --excuse me, I mean shading the facts through a bias filter.

Judges these days make Night Court look like the gold standard for jurisprudence.

Re:Yay! It's Ignorance Day! (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378137)

How is this any different than the judge in the bnetd case, or the 2600 DeCSS case?

Are court documents made public record? (1)

Cult of Creativity (1548333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377877)

Cause if so, I definitely am intersted in getting ' paws upon that source... ----'The Spice Must Flow'---

Re:Are court documents made public record? (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378235)

These guys are doing awesome work at fixing the public record problem.

https://www.recapthelaw.org/

Re:Are court documents made public record? (1)

Cult of Creativity (1548333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378317)

These guys are doing awesome work at fixing the public record problem.

https://www.recapthelaw.org/

Will definitely give that ext. a closer look, I didn't even know about PACER. Thanks for the intelligence.

Profit! (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377891)

I'm going to file a patent on "A series of tubes( not a big truck) that are designed to handle enormous amounts of material in a serialized manner, so that when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material. "

Re:Profit! (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378097)

That doesn't make any sense at all! You'll probably win in court though, that sounds just about the level of the average judge's IQ.

Most OSes fall under the claims of this patent. (5, Informative)

bezenek (958723) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377937)

After reading through the '761 patent, any operating system which initiates a user working-space at login, e.g., a shell, will fall under the main claim of this patent.

I do not understand why Facebook's legal team has not been able to invalidate this patent via the presentation of prior art.

This patent should have never been issued and should not be defensible.

-Todd

One more thing I don't miss about Delaware... (2, Funny)

sajuuk (1371145) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377949)

Seeing these patent-trolling tards walking around downtown Wilmington.

What about relational databases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29377959)

WTH? If the patent is truly worded "Associating pieces of data with different categories" Then why the heck isn't this a prior work. Every database since the dawn of databases is about associating pieces of data with different categories.

Interlocutory appeal or special master (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377975)

Due to the extreme harm of allowing a potential competitor access to its family jewels, Facebook might try for an interlocutory appeal [wikipedia.org] or asking that a court appoint an independent special master to examine the source code and determine if there is any code that is potentially infringing, and only allowing Facebook access to that code.

Interlocutory appeals aren't easy, but a special master might be easier to get, especially if Facebook offered to foot the bill.

Even if that fails, Facebook can ask that those who see the code be under NDA and be prohibited from doing anything related to software development for the plaintiff for a period of time without court supervision.

Discovery (3, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377983)

If this is part of Discovery, then the requirement to turn over the code should be to the plaintiff's attorneys, not to the plaintiff. And the plaintiff doesn't actually get to see it themselves.

At least, that's how it worked in SCO vs IBM.

CmdrTaco beware (2, Funny)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377993)

Tagging posts here in ./ is clearly associating a piece of data (the post) to multiple categories (the tags). CmdrTaco, prepare yourself to disclose all ./ source code and to pay a hefty check to Leader Technologies.

Did ANYONE even read the patent? (5, Informative)

LS (57954) | more than 5 years ago | (#29377995)

I'm looking at the patent now, and while it's not rocket science, it's nowhere near as simple as "associating a piece of data with multiple categories". In fact, that quote is from the article, not the patent. The patent mentions nothing of the sort. The patent seems to be about maintaining metadata across multiple application contexts and updating the context appropriately. It seems pretty wishy-washy, and I think it is too broad for a patent. But it's nothing like the mirage that has got everyone here foaming at the mouth. It's NOT a patent for associating a piece of data with multiple categories. It's more like a patent for a web application API framework, if I understand the gobbledy gook at all...
LS

Re:Did ANYONE even read the patent? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378243)

I looked at it briefly in someone's post up the page... and it sounds a lot like Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect allows 3rd party websites to query FB for data about a user who has logged in to FB via their API, mash it up with data the 3rd party has collected and send it all back to FB which will then respond with appropriate content.

So FBConnect maintains metadata across multiple app contexts and updates it appropriately.

This could also be applied to their FBApp system as well... since applications built for FB also maintain metadata about a user and then update FB with the results, which can then be used in a separate FB app, and on and on... (as long as the user 'allows' it)

Laughable (4, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378295)

Did ANYONE even read the patent? I'm looking at the patent now, and while it's not rocket science, it's nowhere near as simple as "associating a piece of data with multiple categories". In fact, that quote is from the article, not the patent.

It's a software patent, and therfor, to all of us not living in the United States, laughable.

associating a piece of data with multiple.... (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378035)

"associating a piece of data with multiple categories" Seriously could that be anymore vague? Perhaps they should sue the W3C for creating the SELECT > OPTION dropdown box in HTML while they're at it.

Diverging information to a judge (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378051)

"citations to more than 100 screenshots, making it illustrative." That's the key. I can imagine some 80 year old judge in East Texas who thinks Facebook is like a high school year book presiding over this. Leader Tech had to dumb down all of this so the judge can understand. Therefore, they make a lot of screenshots and make use of a lot of pointing/hand waving. (See this button here that says "find friends"? This button infringes on our patented button on our webpage that says "find relatives") Meanwhile the judge is thinking "Oh, that button is like the other button on that picture and they WERE granted a patent for this button so obviously Facebook stole it!"

Re:Diverging information to a judge (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378329)

It's too bad that we have so many old farts that are making decisions about things that they aren't capable of understanding. The good judges should be consulting with the right experts so they can get good advice on how things that are beyond them work... but the egos are so large what is the chance this happening more than just a small part of the time?

Force everyone to disclose source code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378099)

Force everyone to disclose source code in order to gain patent or copyright protection. If all protected code is in plain view, it wouldn't hurt any particular patent or copyright holder, and it would be much easier to detect illegal use.

After all, it's not like it's impossible to copy even the most obfuscated code. Those in China selling Windows for $3 don't seem to be deterred by it, and the vast majority of users have no interest in compiling the code anyway.

Re:Force everyone to disclose source code (1)

brock bitumen (703998) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378261)

web apps aren't compiled

Tag with (1)

SlashDPC (931574) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378115)

This should be tagged with goodluckwiththat.

RDBMS (1, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378215)

"associating a piece of data with multiple categories [CC]"

Excuse me, but isn't there a TON of prior art in this arena, for example, RDBMS and object oriented database systems have done this from the very beginning. What the heck is an RDBMS good for if you can't actually use or display associated objects?

ZOMG! It's being done on a community building site! We'd better patent it because it's a revolutionary concept!

It should fail litmus tests for patents on several grounds:

  * Prior art
  * Obvious to those skilled in the trade
  * is pretty much the whole point of HTML and RDBMS in the first place
  * is the whole point of SQL
  * is the whole point of being able to test variables if strcmp(strInformation1,strInformation2) {then do something with the result}, etc.

That the patent office granted a patent for associating related data objects at this point is an epic fail underscoring the need for real patent reform.

Bookface (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378245)

Looks like the patent judge through the book in Facebook's face. And they'd better face up to it, or they'll surely be booked. Unless the judge does an about-face to save face, but I'm not going to call my bookie just yet. This whole issue is facetious, but I'm going to bookmark it for teh lulz.

GMail (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29378337)

Next they'll want the source code for GMail to see if it's infringing on their patent by associating e-mails with multiple "labels".

Absurd Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29378455)

"associating a piece of data with multiple categories"

Uh, yea, it's called meta-tagging. Does this mean every website, every search engine and every ECM solution that meta-tags or employs a common taxonomy or folksonomy is infringing on this patent?

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