Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

Apple, Others Hit With Lawsuit On Ethernet Patents

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the innovation-prevention dept.

Networking 304

bth nods an AppleInsider story on a patent troll who has gotten hold of fundamental Ethernet patents and is wielding them broadly. Three guesses which US Appeals Court the lawsuit was filed in. "A Texas company has targeted a number of technology companies, including Apple, in a new lawsuit regarding a handful of computer networking patents issued in the 1990s. ... 3Com Corporation was granted four patents from 1994 to 1998 pertaining to network adapters. Two deal with the automatic initiation of data transmission, and one addresses 'host indication optimization.' ... The company's Web site states that U.S. Ethernet Innovations was founded 'to continue 3Com Corporation's successful licensing program related to a portfolio of foundational patents in Ethernet technology.' A press release from the company states that it is the 'owner of the fundamental Ethernet technology developed and sold by 3Com Corporation in the 1990s,' suggesting it purchased the patents. ... In addition to Apple, the lawsuit names Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, Sony, and Toshiba as defendants."

cancel ×

304 comments

As no #1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804571)

1st =)

Re:As no #1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804591)

Number one? Are you into golden showers?

I want to make damned sure someone wastes a precious mod point on this post so I will say the magic word: niggers.

Trial by jury... (4, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804573)

Seems to me that asking for a trial by jury may very well backfire on them.

Patent Trolls (1)

smallpoxfart (1639841) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804583)

looks like one day we'll have someone come up and say they filed a patent for life..

Re:Trial by jury... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804589)

Here comes the GNU/Ubuntu, here comes the GNU/Ubuntu
Watch him walk this way, watch him walk that way
There goes the GNU/Ubuntu, there goes the GNU/Ubuntu

Re:Trial by jury... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804699)

A jury in East Texas will be composed of at least 10 people who believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that Jesus rode to work on a brontosaurus.

The other two will disagree, but they'd sooner strip naked and dance a jig in the town square than open their mouths to disagree.

Be very afraid.

Re:Trial by jury... (3, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805203)

That settles it then. We'll just have to invite the entire jury for naked dance in town some time.

Re:Trial by jury... (0, Troll)

wisty (1335733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805339)

They are suing Apple. How many Apple fans are out there these days? 1 in 12?

Re:Trial by jury... (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804741)

Seems to me that asking for a trial by jury may very well backfire on them.

Most likely not. Juries are not likely to be very technically apt. It's almost certain that they will ask "have you ever used ethernet" during jury selection and avoid those people who know that they have.

After that everyone will realise why it's called "intellectual property" by the fraudsters who run our legal systems. The way it's presented the patent makes this patent someone's possession. The jury just thinks "I wouldn't like it if someone took my car away from me; they should be going to prison and not just paying a fine". The compensation ends up massive.

The problem is that all these companies have set themselves up as fall guys since they all have legal departments which spout off about "respecting intellectual property". They can't even use the argument that there is no such thing because their own press releases would be used against them.

finally; blaming the patent troll is a bit stupid. They are an inevitable part of a system which tries to treat ideas like property. There are two groups available here to blame. Those that set the laws take most of the blame and the IEEE where 3COM was a member at the time the standard was set should take the rest. Organisations involved in standardisation should be required to defend the free use of a standard with all their patents.

Re:Trial by jury... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804903)

"...blaming the patent troll is a bit stupid. They are an inevitable part of a system which tries to treat ideas like property..."

Is that a bit of "Don't blame the player, blame the game." dodge?
I don't buy that shit. If you're a douchebag, you're a douchebag even if you're in a pack of douchebags.
To reiterate, just because the system can be abused, doesn't mean you should accept that abuse blindly, it's still wrong.

Well, that's my 3 cents worth. Enjoy the flames. :-)

Re:Trial by jury... (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805205)

Mod this guy up - "Don't blame me, everyone is doing it!" (or worse, "hey, no-one tried to stop me!") is no kind of defence for anyone with a shred of moral responsibility.

Re:Trial by jury... (2, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805275)

No, but trying to be an honest company among a bunch of poopyhead competitors that aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and play dirty isn't all that easy.

Trying to do business fair and square is like trying to box with one hand behind your back.

As long as unethical companies get a blind eye from the ref, there is no incentive to play fair, because once one guy cheats to get ahead and gets away with it, everyone else must either eat their dust or follow suit.

Re:Trial by jury... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805233)

Is that a bit of "Don't blame the player, blame the game." dodge?
I don't buy that shit.

I do buy it, and I'm against all copyright and patent protection. You can't have one set of laws in the books and another one in people's minds. Wherever practical, the written law should reflect the moral ideals and common decisions. You may have ideals of your own, but you can't blame anybody else for obeying the law.

We are currently in a dangerous in-between state where companies and individuals break the law daily mostly out of ignorance. That situation is extremely detrimental to a civilized society. The faster the patent trolls bankrupt big companies and the more avidly the copyright organizations persecute ordinary citizens, the faster this idiocy is removed from the law.

Re:Trial by jury... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804935)

It's a Texas company filing suit. What do you want to bet that it's in Marshal, Texas, home of the patent troll? (Sorry, lawyers call them "NPEs.")

Microsoft's lawyers were fined by the judge merely for suggesting that there's something wrong with patent trolling (I'm not sure that the Custom XML guys were patent trolls, given how Microsoft screws partners, but I don't like the reason for the fine.)

Given that juries will be drawn from the local population, I sincerely doubt that it will work against them if this is in Marshal (or anywhere else in EDT).

Re:Trial by jury... (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805279)

I think "A Texas company" says it all. I could be wrong but it seems that too many Patent Trolls love Texas. Unfortunately I think trial by jury may not backfire since many cases that go before a jury in Texas do find for the plaintive.

No I won't read the patent numbered 5,299,313 which was issued in 1994 to 3Com and should have expired by now since I don't want a headache and maybe I just dreamed I was using 10base5 Ethernet in 1982, then 10base2 in 1984 and 10baseT in 1986 although I am fairly sure these existed before those dates.

New Networking Technology (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804581)

Token ring, here we come

Re:New Networking Technology (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804697)

No, we'll just create a successor to token ring. I think we should call it Tolkien ring and it should support 10,000,000,000 [hob]bits per second.

Re:New Networking Technology (5, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805011)

But staying connected for too long turns you into a wraith!

(Oh wait, that's just like the internet.)

Re:New Networking Technology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804757)

Here comes the GNU / Ubuntu, here comes the GNU / Ubuntu
Watch him walk this way, watch him walk that way
There goes the GNU / Ubuntu, there goes the GNU / Ubuntu

Re:New Networking Technology (4, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804953)

There doesn't appear to be anything about this patent that is Ethernet specific. The claims appear general enough to apply to a modern implementation of virtually any network technology.

A quick scan seems to indicate that virtually any network adapter that directly accesses transmit descriptors in host memory or writes packets into ring buffers in host memory (i.e. does DMA in any practical way on a packet by packet basis) violates the patent.

I believe that covers about every state of the art network adapter in existence. I am somewhat curious about whether there is prior art in the way IBM mainframes handle I/O. Anyone know enough to comment?

Re:New Networking Technology (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805235)

If that is the case then there is much prior art. For example, the UK's JANET had its origins around 1970 and was pretty mature around 1980. Is this another case of the US issuing a patent to somebody for something alaready in common use elsewhere?

Re:New Networking Technology (2, Interesting)

Big Jojo (50231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805297)

Didn't the AMD LANCE Ethernet controllers (including Am7990) do per-packet DMA into host memory, and ring buffers? The Linux LANCE driver has a 1993 copyright, and I'm fairly sure the chip was earlier than that. At the time, ISTR it was one of the few nicely designed Ethernet chips in existence.

So if your quick scan is correct, then either AMD should have been sued back then ... or there's this thing called estoppel [wikipedia.org] which really ought to block this suit. Unless maybe AMD licensed the patent? Though I also seem to recall that estoppel doesn't always apply in patent cases like it does elsewhere.

Re:New Networking Technology (1)

MacroRodent (1478749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805403)

whether there is prior art in the way IBM mainframes handle I/O

Hmm, noticed that IBM is not in the list of defendants. The patent trolls don't want to wake up the IBM legal Nazgul, after what happened to SCO...

Re:New Networking Technology (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805193)

Yeah, so let's all go scavenging the scrap yards for old Token ring cards!

Reality check: Token ring would only be successful if swine flew.

Re:New Networking Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805385)

Well, we do have swine flu...is that close enough?

Swine flew? (2, Insightful)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805409)

But, I hear there's a lot of that going 'round at the moment...

New Networking Tech? No, New American Economics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805303)

The old model was: if sales are down, borrow your way out of debt.
The new model is: if sales are down, patently sue yourself out of the red.

Problem: SCO have long proved this does not work...

Um, three guesses won't be needed (5, Informative)

BifurcatedFocus (579276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804599)

Three guesses which US Appeals Court the lawsuit was filed in.

None! You cannot originate a patent infringement suit in a United States Court of Appeals, any more than you can file in the Supreme Court. Instead, patent litigation must start at a United States District Court. The losing party may appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Re:Um, three guesses won't be needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804629)

exactly. The first venue is as irrelevant as the first trial, but what matters is where the appeals process will happen... the rest is merely bleeding defendants a bit. Just like the first half of a corrida: useless bleeding except as it sets up for the rest of the fight

Re:Um, three guesses won't be needed (1)

mrmike37 (673587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804671)

Unless it's patent litigation between states :)

Re:Um, three guesses won't be needed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804887)

Here comes the GNU/Ubuntu, here comes the GNU/Ubuntu
Watch him walk this way, watch him walk that way
There goes the GNU/Ubuntu, there goes the GNU/Ubuntu

hardly relevant now... (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804641)

Everyone uses the _internet_, now. Who cares about ethernet?!

Re:hardly relevant now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804651)

Everybody. Because without ethernet, there is no internet

Re:hardly relevant now... (4, Insightful)

LaZZaR (216092) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804691)

Humour. Try it.

Re:hardly relevant now... (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804949)

Humour. Try it.

My Token Ring fell into the Ethernet.

Re:hardly relevant now... (2, Funny)

HNS-I (1119771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804993)

And then Mithrandir told you could just piggyback on the eagle to Rivendel, that must have really set you off.

Re:hardly relevant now... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804695)

woosh

Re:hardly relevant now... (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804689)

Man, I hope there isn't a submarine patent on information flowing through a series of tubes...

Re:hardly relevant now... (4, Funny)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804921)

Was that a stealth pun?

Re:hardly relevant now... (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804947)

I was hoping it would fly under the radar.

Re:hardly relevant now... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804723)

Thats exactly what I told all my friends since the network cords i purchased only a year ago became clogged with residual "Ethernet packages" and so had to be discarded immediately before they started to rot and attract "data worms". I have since done away with Ethernet all together and am finding I can get alot more done with only Internet (much faster, no data worms).

Damn! (4, Funny)

willoughby (1367773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804659)

Now I suppose it's back to those pain-in-the-ass coaxial cables.

Re:Damn! (2, Funny)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804735)

Sweet, the Terminator sitting on my Keyring may see action once again!

Re:Damn! (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804793)

he'll be back?

Re:Damn! (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804843)

Nah She'll [wikimedia.org] be back!

Re:Damn! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804971)

If coaxial cables are a pain in the ass, you're putting them in the wrong place...

Re:Damn! (1)

heneon (570292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805081)

Uhh.. Unless this patent was specific to twisted pair (no, didn't read tfa, I must not be new here) going back to coax won't save you. (which is sad, I really loved those missing terminators somewhere in the network.)

Re:Damn! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805147)

Irrelevant ! ;-))

First Ethernet was over coax, so you would still be using Ethernet ;-)):

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

Re:Damn! (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805319)

First Ethernet was over coax

And it was thickwire ethernet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10Base5 [wikipedia.org] . I recall it from the 1980s, but with little fondness.

Re:Damn! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805347)

It was proper Ethernet then, with real collisions.

Re:Damn! (4, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805211)

pain-in-the-ass coaxial cables.

Those cables weren't that thick...

pre-builts? (2, Interesting)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804663)

Legitimacy of the patents aside, I wonder why an Ethernet technology suit would be leveled against companies that do little more than assemble circuit boards.

Re:pre-builts? (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804749)

A duh, they have all the money!

Yo Grark

Re:pre-builts? (4, Insightful)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804781)

Legitimacy of the patents aside, I wonder why an Ethernet technology suit would be leveled against companies that do little more than assemble circuit boards.

Because those companies have money and make some indirect use of the technology. They'd probably sue Coke if they could find a networked vending machine.

all vending machines are networked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805343)

they all use coinsneakernet

Re:pre-builts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805441)

Networked vending machines exist in Korea.

I'm assuming also Japan.

Wrong Parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804785)

Probably because they're idiots and don't really know what "patents" are or Ethernet for that matter. I could understand Broadcom and Intel getting sued, but like you say PC "producers" barely produce the parts they use! I wonder if it will get thrown out of court quickly or really quickly?

Re:pre-builts? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805325)

1. These guys are patent trolls and would probably sue their own grandmothers if they could make money on it.
2. This is America, home of the litigious. Common sense in the system is hard to come by.

Re:pre-builts? (0, Troll)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805405)

I propose the neology "litigitis".

Trial by Luddite? (4, Funny)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804759)

How difficult will it be to find a judge and jury whose sole access to the Internet is through dial-up, and whose workplace involves no computer networking whatsoever?

Got a pussy in my panties (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804795)

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong
She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pus- I got a pus- I got a pussy pussy pussy
Got a pussy in my panties
Im just right
Got clam in my cloth
It's a curious sight
I got a pussy in my panties
Wet and tight
Wrap my thong around your dick
And put your dick in my eye.

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong
She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong
She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pussy in my panties
I got a pus- I got a pus- I got a pussy pussy pussy
I got a pussy in my panties
Wet and dank
The nasty secretions
Make my underwear stank
I got a pussy in my panties
Soft and pink
Put your head between my legs
And have yourself a drink.

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong
She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong
She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

Re:Trial by Luddite? (1)

MindPhlux (304416) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804823)

Dude, they'll just google for one.

Re:Trial by Luddite? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805029)

> How difficult will it be to find a judge and jury whose sole access to the Internet is through dial-up

Dude, it's the USA - it won't be very hard!

There goes 3com (4, Insightful)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804763)

I seems to me that by waiting until this late in the game, to the point which nearly the entire world's Internet and telecommunications infrastructure is based on Ethernet in on incarnation or another is just plain sleezy.

The fact that 3Com, once a reputable company of top notch networking technology appears to be trying make money by exercising their patent pool through a 3rd party to raise much needed money. This is sad.

There was a point when the 3Com 3c509 and 3c905 ethernet adapters dominated the Ethernet world. In fact, while their cards were more expensive and more complex than nearly any other on the market, they were likely to be found in nearly every PC that was built of quality parts (meaning machines that chose ASUS motherboards over some fly by night).

The integration of Ethernet logic within chipsets pretty much destroyed the 3Com business model, after all, 3Com made more off the adapters than anything else. Today however nearly every high end motherboard I encounter implements a Marvell Ethernet PHY. Intel is selling tons of Ethernet PHY's to embedded vendors that implement their designs on FPGAs (meaning most high end rack based devices). 3Com is nowhere to be seen.

I have been patiently waiting for 3Com to come back and start taking the high end workstation and the server market seriously. I've been waiting for them to make great products again. Instead, they keep shoveling out lower and lower interest items. The trust the world once associated with their quality is decreasing so rapidly, soon people will see them as no better than Linksys or D-Link.

If I were 3Com, I'd seriously consider taking a project like Vyatta or the likes, start developing it into a high end system capable of managing switching (Layer-2 to Layer-4) and then build every product starting with their cheapest routers based on it. I'd start producing new silicon with high end features like TCP and UDP offloading and trying to get into the mass market PHY business. Most importantly, I'd start selling trust.

The problem is, by exercising these patents which people knew about but trusted 3Com to never exercise since it would just force all the other vendors on the market to lash back at them with their huge patent pools, they're destroying the last remaining bit of trust which was for a long time the only the 3Com had left.

Rest In Peace 3Com, it's unfortunate that everything I ever loved about you is gone. Another great innovator has died. Now you can sleep eternally in a grave dug next to SCOs

Re:There goes 3com (4, Interesting)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804871)

My initial impression was also that USEI was a side-car company created by 3Com in the interest of trolling some of their old patents. However, after reading the following blog, I'm not as convinced. USEI could very well just be the slimy, independent patent troll it appears to be on the surface. http://nerdtwilight.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/3com-not-affiliated-with-u-s-ethernet-innovations/ [wordpress.com]

Re:There goes 3com (4, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804881)

Whats a US tech corp to do?
Sell $700 fire safe connectors to the US mil?
Some green gov grant for connecting smart load balancing solar cells?
Race to the bottom with useless consumer tech pouring out of China via other US firms?
They cant make anything new in a mature industry, they cannot be the 2% of some big step, must have eg usb, blu ray, pci ect.
All they have left is dusty folders of what might have been and staff rushing out China like products, hoping the brand is still strong.
The 80's and 90's and dot com days are over, if you want to win you have to put cash into R&D for real ;)

Re:There goes 3com (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804979)

Make 10gig-E or 100gig-E over copper work for reasonable cable distances. That's what they could do instead.

Re:There goes 3com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805059)

I suggest you look into a company called H3C ...

Re:There goes 3com (3, Interesting)

ishobo (160209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805145)

...get into the mass market PHY business.

That is a commodity business. You would have to be insane to recommend that.

The fact that 3Com, once a reputable company of top notch networking technology...

You are late to the party. 3Com died as a company a decade ago. Do you not remember the fiasco when they discountinued every non-SOHO hub, switch, and router in 1999? Oh yes, that was so much fun. After being given product support timelines and signing on the line, to find out through the newswire that your recent purchase would not be fulfilled and any product you already had in your possession was orphaned. And worse, you could not reach your sales rep.

They rolled out ISDN SOHO products several years late and did the same thing for DSL. They could not roll their own VPN firewalls, instead they had to repackage Sonicwall products. 3Com lost the high end NIC business to Intel and the low end to products from Taiwan.

We will not mention the cluster fuck known as USR.

3Com is a example of a company that never looked over its shoulder until it was too late. I am amazed they are still in business, with all the bridges they burned and bad blood.

If I were 3Com, I'd seriously consider taking a project like Vyatta or the likes, start developing it into a high end system capable of managing switching (Layer-2 to Layer-4)

If I were 3Com? Is that like, if I was a fire truck? Luckily, they already have high end L2-4 switches.

Re:There goes 3com (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805333)

If 3Com knew about the infringement, but knowingly let it go anyway, then shouldn't laches and/or promissory estoppel be a factor?

Missing Lawsuit Targets? (4, Interesting)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804767)

I wonder why the plaintiff is not suing some obvious companies. Cisco would be an obvious candidate -- and they have deep pockets. But all of the current defendants don't actually make Ethernet equipment. They buy Ethernet chipsets from companies like Intel, Broadcom, AMD, Marvell, VIA, and NVIDIA, among many others. Why isn't the plaintiff suing them?

Re:Missing Lawsuit Targets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804863)

Because pattent trolls are complete idiots and have no clue what the hell the pattent is talking about?
They probably only know it's got something to do with computer-networks, and that's all there is to it.
Pattents were never disigned to stimulate innovation.. sure, that's how they were "sold" to the public.. but they were just designed to keep the money where it is, was, and allways has been.

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/study_says_patents_hinder_innovation.php

Pattents hurt innovation, as has been said numerous times, but it will never dissapear because there is too much money involved.
Maybe pattents will dissapear as money loses it's value ... and maybe then we can truly start innovation

Re:Missing Lawsuit Targets? (1)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805065)

Apple has some of the deepest pockets around. currently $34,000,000,000 in cash (yes that's 34 billion).
Apple latest financial results [seekingalpha.com]
Turning to cash, our cash plus short-term and long-term marketable securities totaled $34 billion at the end of the September quarter compared to $31.1 billion at the end of the June quarter, an increase of $2.9 billion.

Re:Missing Lawsuit Targets? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805231)

Taking on deep pockets is risky though - if you win (or they settle out of court) they can pay out big, but they can also afford to mount a strong defence if they decide to fight it out.

A common strategy is to take on some smaller, weaker player(s) first, bully them into submission, and thus have some air of legitimacy to your claims when you go after the big guys.

Not that Apple is exactly small-time though...

Re:Missing Lawsuit Targets? (4, Interesting)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805367)

I'm going to bet that when 3com sold that patents to USEI, there was some agreement that USEI would not sue specific other manufacturers which probably included the companies you mentioned. If the two networking power houses are anything like the CPU powerhouses, there are numerous patents 3com owns that Cisco infringes and numerous patents Cisco owns that 3com infringes upon. To sum it up, USEI probably inherited the MAD that 3com used to have.

Thankfully PARC Isn't A Patent Troll (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804779)

Just imagine what would happen if PARC became a patent troll. The ethernet originated there in the form of an office memo, so they can make a pretty good lawsuit out of that one. Not to mention laser printing, page markup, OOP, groundbreaking work on NLP, rudimentary VLSI and perhaps most famously the GUI. They did loose a landmark case against Apple for the GUI, though.

It's pretty amazing if you think about it what a few people can do to change the world.

Re:Thankfully PARC Isn't A Patent Troll (1)

Btarlinian (922732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805315)

What's rather ironic is that you kind of just made a case for PARC to enforce its patents (or for it to have patented more stuff.) If PARC had been able to show a revenue stream stemming from patents for these innovations, it probably wouldn't have ended up becoming the shell of its former self that it has become today. The folks who did that much to change the world do actually deserve a crapton of money, not just the guys who decided to manufacture millions of mice.

I before E except after C (4, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804783)

and is weilding them broadly

Amazing that Slashdot still can't master the technology of the "spellcheck", which I had in WordStar in 1987.

Re:I before E except after C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29804831)

Wierd rule..

Re:I before E except after C (1)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805003)

touché

Re:I before E except after C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805217)

Douché :-)

Re:I before E except after C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805069)

Nor, indeed, master the use of an ampersand to concatenate ``Apple'' and `others''.

www.usethernetinnovations.com (2, Interesting)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804799)

Anyone else read that as Use Their Net Innovations?

Why the end user companies? (2, Insightful)

Korgan (101803) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804817)

This is a little surprising to me. Why would they go after the end user companies that produce computers rather than the much bigger fish that rely on this technology for their core bread and butter?

Cisco, Foundry, Juniper, F5 and so on all make a lot more sense to go after given that they're less likely to want to risk the chance of losing and more likely to settle the issue out of court.

Companies like Dell, Apple, Acer, HP and the beige box boys can simply just ignore the patent and say "Talk to Intel/nVidia/chipset vendor X" or simply not include onboard NIC machines and switch to using PCI/USB cards instead.

Theres not a lot of hope for this suit even at the best of circumstances, but the companies its going after are potentially shielded by the fact they themselves are not likely to produce the chips that handle Ethernet. Merely include chips from someone else (such as Intel) in their products.

Or am I completely missing something?

PC makers and not chipset vendors? (2, Interesting)

E-Lad (1262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804835)

Assuming that the article's list of defendants is complete, it's interesting that this troll is going after companies which make finished systems, and not the companies which make the actual ethernet chipsets and MACs that go into those systems (Broadcom, Marvel, Intel, RealTek, etc)

One would think that those would be the source of any patent infringements (real or imagined) when talking about ethernet itself.

Darl McBride's new job? (5, Funny)

aysa (452184) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804873)

Maybe he was not terminated, but instead became himself an Ethernet terminator.

brilliant patent! (3, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804897)

<sarcasm>It patents the idea of putting a memory buffer on the network card. Who would have thought of that?</sarcasm>

Re:brilliant patent! (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805067)

Sounds quite an obvious thing to do to me - but then there are so many inventions that are obvious as soon as you see it. Obviousness is indeed one of the tests for a patent to pass, though it's one of the easiest I think to pass and one of the hardest to prove.

Re:brilliant patent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805151)

congrats, you have successfully deciphered the first claim of the patent, what about the other 28?

Problem with patents is being able to sell them? (5, Insightful)

HannethCom (585323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29804985)

I'm starting to think that one of the biggest problems with patents is being able to sell them and hold them with out making products based on them. Well, the US patent system has a lot more problems like obvious things being patented and being able to patent business processes.

But apart from the US,some of the biggest problems come up in companies buying patents and being patent trolls. Patents were supposed to protect the inventor, selling the patent isn't protecting the inventor anymore. Also unless a company merges with another company I think all patents that the company owns should dissolve with the company and be unpatentable.

If you have a patent, I think you should be required to have products out using that patent, or at least working on making products with that patent. Too many companies patent something that they heard someone else speak about, they have no plans to use the patent, just profit off of someone else's work by beating them to the patent office, or just plain having the money to buy the patent where the person doesn't. I guess that still wouldn't quite solve the problem. There would need to be some process where you proved that you created the idea.

*start rant* Now as for the US Patent system, there is an official report that calls it too much of a joke for us to merge our patent system with their's. Our company started looking at US Patents and as far as we can tell, you can't write a line of code with out violating a patent. It is so silly that "If...else" is patented. "ifelse" is patented. "Begin...End" is patented. I think you can get away with "{...}" blocks, but not much else.

Adam Smith - heard of him? (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805051)

I'm starting to think that one of the biggest problems with patents is being able to sell them and hold them with out making products based on them.

So you'd like to prevent specialisation? A company that's good at R&D probably won't be good at manufacturing, selling and distribution.

The problem in this case, like many others, is the breadth & vagueness of the patent.

Re:Adam Smith - heard of him? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805095)

Patents don't have much to do with Adam Smith, though, since they're a government-created artificial monopoly, not something that exists in a free market.

Re:Adam Smith - heard of him? (1)

Btarlinian (922732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805283)

Patents don't have much to do with Adam Smith, though, since they're a government-created artificial monopoly, not something that exists in a free market.

The point of a patent is to account for the fact that ideally, the stuff you are patenting is a positive externality. A free market would likely lead to no invention or investment in R&D as there would be no way to recoup that cost. Either that, or it would lead to the excessive use of trade secrets, which would be even worse than the current occasional patent troll.

Re:Adam Smith - heard of him? (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805307)

That's just another way of saying that the free market fails to produce some things we'd like, so the government needs to do intervene to ensure that they happen. Whether it's something like instituting a patent system to produce artificial scarcity, directly fund research via the National Science Foundation, or some other method, there are pros and cons to all the interventions. But regardless of the pros and cons, one thing they aren't is laissez-faire.

Re:Problem with patents is being able to sell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805207)

There are valid uses for patents that are not held by a manufacturing firm.

For one thing, the person inventing a new device may not have the capability or desire to manufacture it -- should they not be allowed to procure and then sell or license a patent to protect and profit from their design.

Or consider patents held by a licensing group; two or more industry players hold patents that would work well together -- say for two different but compatible methods of improving motor efficiency. They might want to form an independent business that owns both patents and provides licensing to the entire industry but does not in itself make motors, so as to avoid being be competitor either to the original companies or the rest of the industry. This is a fairly common scenario for everything from compressors to DVD players, and while in some instances you could form a joint venture or simply provide cross-licensing, there are other situations where an independent, non-competing licensing consortium is the best option.

There's more to fix.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29805373)

OK, so everyone who appreciates their privacy has left or is leaving.
Those who don't like paying US tax when they're not even living there are changing citizenship.
Any non-US company running anything in finance is closing shop (thus reducing available capital to lend).
Anyone using the US Dollar is slowly reducing their exposure as there is credible evidence both reserve currency as well as energy trading currency may not be the US dollar for that much longer - all that holds that one up is foreign ownership which is gradually being reduced too (tick tock tick tock).
Every entrepreneur who wants to set up shop avoids the US as well as it's likely that even breathing can be patented and litigated. Sure, you can fight it in court, but why not avoid the problem (and costs) altogether by not having a US business?

The last one out doesn't need to bother switching off the light - it's already dimming now..

Patent duration (2, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805083)

Unlike copyright terms, which have cancerously grown to effectively more than a century (for every work created more than 30 years before death), patent terms are still at the relatively reasonable lengths copyright used to be.

It varies by type, but the standard appears to be 20 years. This patent was filed in 1990.

Someone really did wait until the absolutely last possible moment. In another year, the patent will run out, so we should be able to keep using ethernet without disruption regardless of the outcome.

However, the damages would likely be retroactive, so the companies involved must still hope that the patent gets tossed out.

((Also, all of the above is Wikipedia-fueled speculation by a non-lawyer.))

Re:Patent duration (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805191)

Correction, sorry - "in the 1990s". So yeah, it may be a few more years.

but if they waited so long... (1, Interesting)

powerspike (729889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29805419)

Now, I'm not a lawyer, however isn't a part of the patent system protect it or lose it, if it was made apart of a standard that is used globally, it means they can't say they didn't know about it, so isn't them waiting 10 years invalidating the license because they didn't protect it?
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>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...