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BetaNet Sues Everyone For Remote SW Activation

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the get-in-line dept.

Patents 227

eldavojohn writes "Not to be out patent trolled by Eolas, a mystery company named 'BetaNet, LLC' is suing: Adobe Systems, Inc, Apple, Inc., Arial Software, LLC, Autodesk, Inc.,, CARBONITE, INC., Corel Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., International Business Machines Corp., Intuit, Inc., Microsoft Corp., McAfee, Inc., Oracle Corp., Rockwell Automation, Inc., Rosetta Stone, Inc., SAP America, Inc., Siemens Corp. and Sony Creative Software, Inc. for infringement of their patent entitled Secure system for activating personal computer software at remote locations. And of course, this was filed in our favoritest of favorite places: Marshall, TX (Texas Eastern District Court)."

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227 comments

lulz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30456888)

first post!1111111111

Re:lulz (4, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457606)

    Be careful. The method for utilizing the first position in a message exchange system for the purpose of stating unrelated exclamations including but not limited to the phrase "First Post", is patented.

    "Second Post" though, is fair game. :)

BRUCE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30456896)

Perens move quick, they stole your stuff!

Marshall, TX (4, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30456932)

Surely at some point the judge/judges in that small corner of Texas should, if they're not idiots or in league with these trolls, realize that the reason they're getting so many patent lawsuits filed in their jurisdiction is because they're considered to be overly in favor of the people who are suing?

But maybe I'm just living in some sort of dreamworld where judges aren't incompetent or evil..

/Mikael

Re:Marshall, TX (5, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457026)

Judges do not make the laws, they simply settle disputes with laws already made. It would be a gross violation of their judicial power were they to legislate from the bench ( which many attempt anyway ).

Regardless, if you want to know why this particular area houses so many of these types of disputes, follow the money. They wouldn't do it if they weren't benefiting financially somehow.

Re:Marshall, TX (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457178)

Judges do not make the laws, they simply settle disputes with laws already made. It would be a gross violation of their judicial power were they to legislate from the bench ( which many attempt anyway ).

I agree, even though some (not saying you, but some) use the "legislating from the bench" argument when a judge rules contrary to their opinion even though the law can reasonably be interpreted that way. But that's a different thread...

Still, it is awfully suspicious that patent trolls seem to be significantly more successful in East Texas compared to other District Courts. Patent issues are Constitutionally a Federal issue, so there's no legal reason for this one court to consistently rule contrary to the Federal standard for patent infringement. Perhaps a higher court should hear an appeal from one of this court's patent infringement cases and make precedent whether they are really following the law or simply "legislating from the bench."

Re:Marshall, TX (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457876)

Judges do not make the laws

Judge Dredd IS the law

Re:Marshall, TX (4, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458134)

>Judges do not make the laws, they simply settle disputes with laws already made.

These are FEDERAL laws. They are the same everywhere in the US. There's no special federal law for Texas. In other words, the judges are legislating from the bench already by interpreting these laws as more favorable to the patent trolls under the guise of a pro-business conservative mentality. They are legislating from the bench with their local mentalities, local court rules, and quick and dirty fast trials.

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

strikeleader (937501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457028)

Or is it a revenue stream for them?

Re:Marshall, TX (5, Interesting)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457294)

Or is it a revenue stream for them?

You can bet that Bumfuck, TX would have a lot fewer judges, clerks, and lawyers if there weren't so many patent lawsuits filed there. For that reason alone, they are unlikely to crack down.

Much as some states (Delaware, for example) have a nice side business iin providing corporation-friendly incorporation laws, this district generates considerable (for them) local revenue in patent suits by providing friendly jurisdiction.

I wonder how much it would cost for technology corporations to simply buy up all the land in the district and effectively evict the entire population.

Re:Marshall, TX (4, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457038)

maybe I'm just living in some sort of dreamworld where judges aren't incompetent or evil

You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457444)

One of my mates was given the "blue pill" by his colleagues once (24 years old). He had one word to describe the effect:

"Relentless."

Re:Marshall, TX (5, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457884)

Which "blue pill" would that be?

    There are approx 1,200 different "blue pills".

    Acetaminophen Hydrocodone 650/10mg - pain killer [drugs.com]

    Acylcovir 200mg - herpes symptom reducer [drugs.com]

    Addreal 5mg to 10mg - amphetamine stimulant/ADD treatment [drugs.com]

    Alazopram 1mg to 2mg - anti-anxiety/sleep aid [drugs.com]

    Viagra 25mg to 100mg - erectile dysfunction treatment [drugs.com]

    I could go on ... and on ... and on. :) Watch popping unidentified pills, it may not have the intended result. You may find all of them (and more) in the same drug cabinet.

    If he's been popping the 5th too often, he may need the 2nd.

    He may take the 3rd to keep going with the 5th, but then need the 4th to sleep.

    The 1st may be necessary from the beating he's going to get from the husband from the use of the 5th.

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457046)

considering the standard programmer's logic, yes.
That is if they were not idiots or in league with these trolls, they certainly would.

Re:Marshall, TX (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457050)

More likely, the judges in question take their popularity as an indication that they're doing the right thing, and keep at it.

Re:Marshall, TX (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457078)

I wonder... why is it that companies are allowed to cherrypick the court to hear their case anyways?

I think it's an unfair advantage in favor of the prosecution that they somehow get to pick which court will be reviewing their case.

They should have to prove that the "selected court" is the closest one to where their company was headquartered at the time of the alleged abuse.

Or better yet... determine the court that is closest to an equal distance away from the place the defendant and the place the prosecutor were headquartered at.

Re:Marshall, TX (3, Informative)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457590)

"You take them to court where they do business." At least, that's what my professor said... in the one business law class I took.

So, all these businesses sell to people in Marchall (or at least can)... So they are certainly allowed to do this... Even if it sucks.

Re:Marshall, TX (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458250)

So what happens if a company doesn't sell to Marshall, Texas? Sells to everywhere else in the USA, but not there :).

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

Samuar (829173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457662)

Mod parent up! Good common sense should prevail, but rarely does.

Actually, I don't understand the legal system in the US. It seems rather complicated and time consuming. I'm not an expect in the UK either, but we don't appear to have the same high-octane/hollywood-blockbuster-action-film-like corporate law suit actions on a semi regular basis.

Software patents seem to just suck. (NB - I am very biased, i.e. I don't have any software patents)

Arkell v. Pressdram (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458090)

In the UK it's often the case that the loser pays both sides' legal costs. This has the effect of discouraging frivolous and speculative lawsuits since the plaintiff can end up making a loss. In the US its rare to get an award for costs, so the risk is only your own lawyer's fees; if he takes the case on a contingency basis - again, more common in the US - the worst the plaintiff can do is break even.

The other side of the coin is that the there's less incentive for the defendant to settle out of court; in the US it can be cheaper to roll over than to fight, even if your in the right and you can prove it.

Re:Marshall, TX (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457118)

Surely at some point the judge/judges in that small corner of Texas should, if they're not idiots or in league with these trolls, realize that the reason they're getting so many patent lawsuits filed in their jurisdiction is because they're considered to be overly in favor of the people who are suing?

If I may opine my nonprofessional perspective from the software field, patents (and really the copyrighting/property concept applied to ideas in general) are a fuzzy field of law. Meaning that in most of the cases, the common sense rule doesn't work. I mean that if you approached a large number of citizens, their response could vary depending on their political direction, their previous personal experiences with companies or even how you present the case. You'll notice that I came out in this summary screaming--in a very nonprofessional way--that BetaNet is a patent troll. Makes it obvious who to side with, right? But given the letter of the law, it's not that simple. Given United States legal code, there are cases when patent litigation is the answer (in my opinion rarely if ever in software but that's another topic altogether).

Now, if you can establish that it's a hazy field and outcomes are tied to differences in regions of the United States, you can also establish that there will always be a local maximum for percentages of cases awarded one way or the other. That's why Marshall, TX is so popular for the trolls. And if Marshall, TX had a mission statement tomorrow to shut down patent trolls from the get go then the next statistic maximum would be your preferred place of patent trolling.

What disappoints me most about Eastern Texas' Courts is that they don't say, "What the hell is this doing in my courtroom? Neither of you claim offices here or even do business here so go back to where one of you operate." Sometimes this happens but really I think this needs to be done more often. In my opinion, the solution isn't to stop Marshall, TX; it's to fix the patent system.

Re:Marshall, TX (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457578)

...that BetaNet is a patent troll... But given the letter of the law, it's not that simple.

Being a patent troll isn't about the letter of the law, it's about taking advantage of the law in such a way that stifles innovation in order to maximize your profit. Specifically, it is about getting patents and never exercising them and, even more so, not suing when infringement becomes obvious but rather waiting until you can get the biggest payday possible. Basically it is being a tech company that profits through the legal system rather than through technology. It is the antithesis of what patent law is suposed to do, patent law is suposed to be a shield, not a sword.

Re:Marshall, TX (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458260)

>What disappoints me most about Eastern Texas' Courts is that they don't say, "What the hell is this doing in my courtroom?

Err, these judges know exactly why they are there and the judges are happy to push their pro-business conservative mentality by legislating from the bench. Its pretty obvious that this district is proudly pro-IP law to the point of absurdity. To a lot of people, strong IP is an ideology that trumps common sense, especially in GOP heavy conservative districts (Hello Texas!). Everything else stinks of sharing, socialism, and communism. Its pretty much a Tea Bagger for a judge.

UUCP - prior art (1, Troll)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457248)

UUCP is prior art.

UUCP (unix to unix copy protocol ) has been doing this since at least the 1980's.

Admittedly its usually used to transfer files but uucp can still log in to a shell and remotely activate software.
( you usually have a script prepared to do this for you.)

prior art (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457372)

Whoops did not read the whole article.

However this is prior art this company has filed a patient for what is a common practice at software companies.

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457274)

They should be investigated to see if they are on the take.

Just the pressure alone could have a chilling effect, and all is fair in war.

Re:Marshall, TX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457288)

It is actually just one judge who seems to be hearing these lawsuits and just about every time sides with the patent holder

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457650)

I hate being the obnoxious citation guy... But this is something that (if true) is VERY interesting. Does someone have a list of similar cases? If so, is this true?

Re:Marshall, TX (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457918)

At this point, can we just give Texas back to Mexico? Or let them go back to being "The Republic of Texas", where the teabaggers and Dittoheads run free?

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458102)

Or maybe they just are threatened by all those patent trolls... and they do kill them if they don't listen, just look at the list of judges for that district! only 2 of them have ever retired! one was reappointed and one... we have no idea what happened to him...

So, in Texas, you either judge people or die judging...

Re:Marshall, TX (1)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458130)

Surely at some point the judge/judges in that small corner of Texas should, if they're not idiots or in league with these trolls, realize that the reason they're getting so many patent lawsuits filed in their jurisdiction is because they're considered to be overly in favor of the people who are suing?

But maybe I'm just living in some sort of dreamworld where judges aren't incompetent or evil..

/Mikael

Not a dream world, my friend, just the real world where the two highlighted phrases above aren't mutually exclusive, as they are in most parts of East Texas. Don't get me wrong, there's corruption aplenty there too, but (yes, I am making a rather sweeping generalization) that neighborhood isn't exactly known for a high average IQ. In your dream (real) world, judges are typically very well educated and possessed of a keen sense of right and wrong. One or the other is clearly missing here.

Good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30456936)

This is good. Our politicians are far too fucking stupid to establish how misguided our current patent and copyright system is without being intellectually bludgeoned. The more egregiously bad consequences of the current system we have to endure, the better. In the long run.

Re:Good (1)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457014)

You are assuming that the politicians will get it if they are bludgeoned. Given our politicians -- current, former, and anyone electable in the foreseeable future -- I don't think that's a reasonable assumption.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

MillenneumMan (932804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457190)

They are NOT stupid. They are corrupt. The voting positions of politicians are based almost entirely on campaign contributions, not on any moral or logical consideration. That is why I feel that modifying campaign finance laws so that you can only give money to a candidate for whom you can cast a vote would go a long ways toward cleaning up this mess. This would mean that corporations and unions and foreign individuals could no longer contribute to any candidate because those entities cannot cast a vote.

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457260)

But.... The very ones that have the power to change the law are the ones that are corrupt. So what is the chance that this will happen any time soon? Sigh.....

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457740)

That would not stop the owners of corporations from making campaign contributions with the "understanding" that the recieving politician act and vote in their favor. Stopping that would require an upper limit on the size of individual campaign contributions, say $ 5.000, and a law to prevent straw man contributions.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457754)

This would mean that corporations and unions and foreign individuals could no longer contribute to any candidate because those entities cannot cast a vote.

It's already illegal. Corporations are barred from donating to any specific candidate... BUT they can donate all they want to a party fund.

That doesn't prevent it from happening....Members of those organizations can donate, so corporations tent to find a way to make sure their members "volunteer" to donate all that money. It's been done before, it'll be done again.

Example [wtopnews.com].

Any sufficiently advanced corruption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457856)

... is indistinguishable from stupidity?

(Sorry, Robert Heinlein)

Not campaign contributions alone (1)

chfriley (160627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457894)

Campaign contributions are small potatoes compared to the power of disbursing trillions of tax dollars taken from one group to another group. This gives the politician power over both the group they are taking from (some minority of voters, typically some small minority of 'the rich') by hitting them up to get the burden reduced and power over the group getting the money for fear of cutting them off. Dependence on the largess of politicians and government makes everyone beholden to them which is the goal.

This is not about money alone or even primarily, it is about the power that control over tax dollars brings. You could eliminate all private funding of elections and you would be in no better shape because campaign contributions are only a very limited part of the problem.

Until people realize that this is about power, the wrong issues will be tackled. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. - Acton

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457900)

They are NOT stupid. They are corrupt. The voting positions of politicians are based almost entirely on campaign contributions, not on any moral or logical consideration.

They are not corporate puppets, they are party puppets. The old canard about votes being bought makes good press, sells newspapers (and karma apparently), but show me the evidence.

You don't have to know a damn thing to get elected, you only need to regurgitate party talking points. It's the political parties that get politicians elected, not corporations. It's the political parties that are responsible for the dumbing down of civil discourse. It is political party affiliation that determines how congressmen vote. Vote against a few corporate sponsors, and you'll be just fine. Vote against your party and you will be squashed.

Show me anyone in congress who can extemporize intelligently on the pros and cons of copyright and patent law. Find a scrap of evidence, any evidence at all - a scrap of writing, a news report, anything - that indicates just one person on the hill knows anything at all about these issues. I'm sticking with "stupid", until someone can provide some evidence to the contrary.

Re:Good (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457942)

Just to be difficult, I'd like to point out that you'd see the same correlation of voting records to contributions if the system were working exactly as intended. That is, companies are more likely to support politicians whose views are in line with their business interests. People often assume that the correlation automatically implies causation the other way, that contributions buy votes, but that isn't *necessarily* the case. I'm not saying that it never is the case, just that the correlation can lead to more than one conclusion which are both equally valid. The exception to this argument is when a new issue comes up and companies dump money into campaign funds and the congress-critters suddenly see the other side of the issue. It's that kind of behavior that we should be watching for and it;s shocking to me that it isn't pointed out during the campaigns (probably because 'everyone' does it, so don't rock the boat).

As for your plan of getting rid of corporate and union contributions, they are already significantly limited. These limitations are worked around by setting up Political Action Committees, which employees/members are 'encouraged' to donate money to. And in theory it makes sense, a person often wants to support politicians that will help the company they work for succeed, but in reality it ends up being the same old system that was in place before they had limitations on corporate contributions.

Not the same thing. (3, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30456946)

The registration process that was patented involves transferring over new features to the registered user. Most shareware programs simply ship the whole shebang and the registration is just entered in as data. Conditional checks in the application then handle the data.

This patent isn't even relevant.

Re:Not the same thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457170)

The registration process that was patented involves transferring over new features to the registered user.

Like web applications do?

Customer pays for something, vendor delivers it over the network. Holy goat-fuck batman, that's what I call innovation! How unobvious!

We're going to see a few more of these patents weilded as the recession bites. I'm not sure if ultimately that'll be a good or a bad thing for those of us who'd like to see the patent system reformed.

Re:Not the same thing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457286)

Most shareware programs simply ship the whole shebang and the registration is just entered in as data.

Go back to the 80's, grandpa.

Re:Not the same thing. (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457736)

Yea i noticed that too in the abstract

" a tamperproof overlay program is constructed at the registration computer and transferred to the personal computer. The tamperproof overlay includes critical portions of the main program, without which the main program would not operate and also contains licensee identification and license control data."

while someone could say that the activation code COULD be the tamper proof critical portion - the fact that they broke that out into an overlay of the mail program and licensee identification and control means it is not.

So while the activation code would be the control data there wouldn't be any "overlay" so this patent is only half passable at current activation schemes.

i doubt this will make it that far other than where they filed it.

Re:Not the same thing. (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457932)

Yea i noticed that too in the abstract

Well, it says in one of the Harry Potter books that the choices we make are more important than the talents we have, and that's as relevant to the patent as what's in the abstract, so why are you quoting what's in the abstract rather than J.K. Rowling?

Seriously: the claims are what matter, although in this case the claims do happen to be reflected in the abstract, which is true about half the time. The other half of the time the abstract appears to have been written by someone else, on another planet.

Re:Not the same thing. (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458194)

to be honest the reason i trusted the abstract was if you look the filing date is in 1991.. and to be honest it has been my experience when reading and dealing with patents that the older ones are written better in that they are more precise and accurate to what they where doing.

I agree that the abstract vs. claims is important to check but it's just and age/quality thing for me.

patented in 1993 (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458294)

This was patented in 1993. Presumably the patent was filed for earlier. While innovative in that time period I seem to recall that there were many licesnce servers back then. So I don't think it will stand up.

The mostest (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30456956)

And of course, this was filed in our favoritest of favorite places: Marshall, TX

So this is the mostest patent-trolliest of companies? Yay!
When are they going to patent "patent trolling"? It would be nice to counter-sue a patent troll with a patent trolling patent.

Re:The mostest (1)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457040)

Good idea. Why not have all interested slashdotters form a 501(c) to patent patent trolling and countersue everyone.

Re:The mostest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457794)

Hell, why not get generic trolling while we're at it?

Actually good. (4, Funny)

WetCat (558132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30456970)

You know, free software doesn't need any "activations". So it'll hurt a bit some proprietary makers...

Re:Actually bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457544)

You know, free software doesn't need any "activations". So it'll hurt a bit some proprietary makers...

On the other hand, it further validates the concept of software patents.

So, actually bad.

WOL previous art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457000)

Um, BIOS is software. WOL wakes up a computer, thus starting the BIOS.

Thus WOL violates this patent.

How long has WOL been around again?

Re:WOL previous art? (0)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457020)

Jeez at least RTFS. How remote is a PC BIOS when it's always local to the PC it's booting? My answer: not very.

Re:WOL previous art? (1)

wtfamidoinghere (1391517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457306)

WOL is Wake-On-Lan. It involves waking up a remote (read:in the network) computer BIOS by sending a "magic" packet to its net address.

Jeez at least learn what you're talking about!

countersuit (5, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457034)

I think any software company that wasn't named in this suit should sue for defamation. Since this is a "Who's Who" of software developers, being left out implies that they aren't important.

Re:countersuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457318)

Let's prove that they intentionally picked "important" companies and then let's prove that we are also an "important" company and sue them for not suing us! Who's with me?

IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457058)

. . . they have a mighty frighteningly patent portfolio. If someone crops up, and slaps a ten page patent on their desk, claiming infringement . . . IBM slams a stack of patents the size of 50 Manhattan telephone books on their heads, and says, "Well, let's take a look at YOUR infringements."

It's all part of the patent game that corporations play today. Patent trolls can shake down small companies, but not the big ones.

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457134)

Ahhh, but these patent trolls don't actually produce anything. They can't be violating anyone else's patents, unless a business method patent for patent trolling has been granted by the USPTO. They have nothing to lose but the time of their (presumably on-staff) lawyers. It's a speculative cash generation business for lawyers, and nothing more. They buy a few patents (or as many as they can for the capitol they raise from their investors), then turn around and sue everyone they can find. The payouts are so large that they need only hit once every few years to make a profit. There is no down side, except to come up completely empty and lose the investor's money. That's fairly unlikely when you take a shotgun approach, especially if you can hit small companies first with enough to pay back your initial investment.

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457354)

Sounds like the USPTO is running a casino with a Keno game that uses patent numbers and the player bets by buying some numbers then filing a few lawsuits. The house would be the defendants but unless they counter-suit, they win nothing for playing. Better yet, the house is really the lawyers because they always win regardless of the outcome for the client and cash come from the second player known as the defendant.

It is sad that the US legal and financial systems have devolved to gambling due the half-baked and misguided efforts by our political critters.

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (0)

vekrander (1400525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458114)

"unless a business method patent for patent trolling has been granted by the USPTO"

It's a shame that there's prior art for:

Step 1: Patent every idea you have, however minuscule and unprepared you are to implement it

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Profit.

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30458142)

Unless a business method patent for patent trolling has been granted by the USPTO.

I think IBM are still covered [slashdot.org].

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457148)

Yes, IBM is certainly a beast that you do not want to wake up.
IBM doesn't tend to stir up trouble,
but if you go looking for it the dragon will definitely bite your a**

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457240)

If they don't actually sell a product then they're not infringing anything, and they can invest everything on litigation. Great business model, really.

Re:IBM has an excellant defense strategy . . . (1)

ben_white (639603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458190)

NO, this is exactly why the patent trolls can get away with this. You are correct about the patent game between "real" companies. But the patent troll companies aren't real. They don't produce anything except for lawsuits, so IBM can't counter-sue them!

Filed in Nov., 1990 (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457140)

Filed in Nov., 1990, and they're just noticing these alleged "infringements" now, 19 years later? So, they waited until just before 20 years were up in order to submarine this and collect big. This is the kind of douchebag move is exactly why the laches defense exists. The execs of BetaNet deserve to have their collective asses handed to them.

Re:Filed in Nov., 1990 (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457398)

Does that apply in patent cases?

Re:Filed in Nov., 1990 (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457858)

Does that apply in patent cases?

Laches? Oh yes, given that there appears to have been no attempt to deal with this matter before now, but it's different if they've been in negotiations over this for a substantial amount of time. It's entirely possible that the court will dictate the terms under which BetaNet offers licenses, but only if what we have here is a matter that's been rumbling on for years between sets of lawyers rather than being sprung upon the defendants like a particularly unpleasant gatecrasher.

Of course (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457440)

That's always what goes on with these kinds of patents, and it is how you know they are bullshit.

Personally I think a "Use it or lose it," provision needs to be added to the patent system, and would fix a large number of the problems we have. Basically I'd have it work as such:

If you have a patent, and a product comes out on to the market that uses its technology, you have one year from the time you should reasonably be aware it is for sale (more or less meaning when it is on the mass market) to contact the company about licensing. Failure to do so means your patent is invalidated. This does not apply if you sell a product that makes use of your patented technology, or if you license it to others that do. However if the patent was previously unused in any product, you've got 12 months to contact them about licensing, or it is assumed that you do not wish to collect fees and your patent is now null.

In this way, patent holders still have their rights protected for legit patents. If you have a patent and sell a product that uses it, you can stop others from doing so as long as your patent is in force. Likewise if you license your tech out, you can make sure that only those you wish to license it to can use it. However, if you aren't currently using the patent and someone starts to, well then you either have to start actively using it, or you lose it.

That would make it so companies couldn't sit on patents until the technology is very popular and widespread and then try to use the patent as a weapon to extort people, because it is too late to go back. Someone rolls out a product, you have to contact them for licensing. If they don't like your terms, then ok they have to stop selling the product that infringes but it is still in the early stages. They and others can make sure to develop products that don't infringe on your IP without massive financial harm. If you tried to sit quietly on the patent and jump on people years later, all they'd have to do is show that their product was widely available more than a year ago and you never contacted them.

I think patents are necessary, for a number of reasons, and I think this would be a good balance between them protecting rights and not being abused.

Re:Of course (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457722)

That's exactly how I think patents should work! I'm actually amazed that patents don't work this way, while it's really rather simple. I do feel that 12 months might be too short for some software, and too long for others, so that might need some tweaking.

Unfortunately, since our governments are run by corporations, this will never happen... :(

Re:Filed in Nov., 1990 (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457628)

Filed in Nov., 1990, and they're just noticing these alleged "infringements" now, 19 years later? So, they waited until just before 20 years were up in order to submarine this and collect big. This is the kind of douchebag move is exactly why the laches defense exists. The execs of BetaNet deserve to have their collective asses handed to them.

You're off by six months. Prior to 1995, patent terms were 17 years from issue. This issued in June, 1993, so it's up in June, 2010. Not a big change, however.

Also, no, the laches defense requires an affirmative action on the patent owner's part - I send you a notice of infringement, you reply back with a request for a license, and I... disappear. If I never put you on notice, I haven't started the clock ticking.

Re:Filed in Nov., 1990 (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457890)

Also, no, the laches defense requires an affirmative action on the patent owner's part - I send you a notice of infringement, you reply back with a request for a license, and I... disappear. If I never put you on notice, I haven't started the clock ticking.

On the other hand, if you have a patent and don't make any attempt to prevent infringement for many years even if notified of such activity, it does reduce the level of damages that you can claim. Courts don't mollycoddle lazy dumbasses.

Re:Filed in Nov., 1990 (1)

chfriley (160627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458070)

My understanding of laches is NOT that it requires an affirmative action on the patent owners part. It could be a different defense in patent law, but if so I am not aware of it.
And IAAA (I am an attorney) who took a number of IP law classes but does not practice in that area. My understanding is that in US Federal Courts submarine patents may have a good laches defense. As I said though, this is not an area of expertise.

Patent doesn't apply to a lot of software (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457160)

The patent specifically mentions that the registration server has to create and send down a customized app that contains "critical portions" of the software that's being registered - presumably, so that without registration, it's impossible to crack the protection scheme as vital parts of the code are simply missing. Most software today doesn't use activation in this manner. We have trial periods, even with MS Windows, so all critical portions of the software must be present for these full-featured trials to work. Even when the trials are functionally limited, in most cases the extra functionality is still there, but locked out until the software considers itself to be registered.

I for one (0)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457252)

... welcome our new monkeys welding patents of mass destruction overlords. The more they come, the closest we are to the point that is evident for really everyone that software patents (and probably not so software ones) are technology's suicide pill.

Qualification to be on Jury for patent case (2, Interesting)

atchijov (527688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457268)

To be allowed to do most of the things in this world, you have to meet some qualifications. How come that people can sit on Jury which sometimes deal with multi $100Ms verdicts without understanding anything about problems involved? Most of patent cases are based on "prior art" or luck of it. You have to be able to understand a LOT of things to be able to see that something was (or was not) prior art. I am sure that Marshal, TX is wonderful city, but I have serious doubts that it has many citizens who are up to speed with all modern technologies to be able to serve efficiently on Jury bench in all these patent cases. Andrei

Re:Qualification to be on Jury for patent case (2, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457654)

To be allowed to do most of the things in this world, you have to meet some qualifications. How come that people can sit on Jury which sometimes deal with multi $100Ms verdicts without understanding anything about problems involved? Most of patent cases are based on "prior art" or luck of it. You have to be able to understand a LOT of things to be able to see that something was (or was not) prior art. I am sure that Marshal, TX is wonderful city, but I have serious doubts that it has many citizens who are up to speed with all modern technologies to be able to serve efficiently on Jury bench in all these patent cases

Because the Constitution doesn't require a jury of skilled experts. In criminal cases, do we require everyone on the jury to have a conviction on their record?

Re:Qualification to be on Jury for patent case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457960)

Because the Constitution doesn't require a jury of skilled experts. In criminal cases, do we require everyone on the jury to have a conviction on their record?

I don't know about experts but they should be knowledgeable. Your "criminal cases" example doesn't make any sense as that covers a broad spectrum of cases. If you're talking specifics, lets say a murder case, then these cases often involve physical evidence, eyewitnesses, etc. All things that everyday people have experience with.

Re:Qualification to be on Jury for patent case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457688)

After all these patent cases, who knows, maybe they are starting to get an extensive, in court, education on the matter. Fortunately this education is at the hand of lawyers, who we all know can be trusted implicitly.

Im tired of this (1)

Lazypete (863757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457350)

We should burn those patent trolls on the stake and rejoice in having rid the world of such evil.

I say we... (3, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457420)

Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Or we give Texas back to Mexico with a no backsies clause.

Re:I say we... (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457970)

If we could find a way to force patent troll proceedings to be held in uncooled courtrooms in August, that would be punishment
enough - Marshall gets HOT.

I believe the current weather record is 112 F / 44 C.

RTFP (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457466)

(read the fucking patent)

Actually, it's not that straightforward, and I'm not certain there will be much prior art. The patent doesn't just say "call here to verify your registration number".
First, it's from 1991. Remember that year? That's 4 years before win95 came to the market without a TCP/IP stack. A network-based software activation was certainly a couple years ahead.
Two, it isn't your "set a flag in config.ini" type of activation, either. The patent speaks about the construction of a tamperproof overlay program containing core parts of the actual application. In other words, you actually bought a car without a steering wheel and activation not only gives you a wheel, but also in a way that you can't mess around with it and they can take it away again after, say, your subscription period ends.

That's pretty advanced for 1991, "software as a service" didn't become a buzzword until 10 years later.

Disclaimer: Doesn't mean I like software patents. I don't. But some are more obviously trivial nonsense than others.

Re:RTFP (3, Informative)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457696)

That's 4 years before win95 came to the market without a TCP/IP stack. A network-based software activation was certainly a couple years ahead.

Just because Windows is backwards, doesn't mean various UNIXes didn't already have this feature.

Re:RTFP - mod parent up, please (3, Informative)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457872)

Thank you for pointing out that computers and software existed before "dub-dub-dub" became a household word.
It seems to be forgotten a lot and not only on Slashdot.

Re:RTFP (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457842)

That's 4 years before win95 came to the market without a TCP/IP stack

When Windows 95 was in very early Beta I was on the phone with Microsoft tech support trying to get SLIP to work with a proprietary system - with Microsoft's TCP/IP stack. I don't remember having had to install anything extra to get it.

Re:RTFP (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458084)

tamperproof? Ha! Does this not invalidate the claim as most activation schemes can be bypassed by a sufficiently determined hacker (or anyone who can follow directions of said hacker)?

Re:RTFP (3, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458092)

(read the fucking patent)

I did. There are two independent claims (1 and 9) both dealing with the generation of an "overlay" (shades of RT-11) that contains the actual program code based on information the user provides through a "shell" program that they run initially.

On my reading, this is irrelevant to any activation system that deals solely with the data segment, so almost all conventional licence management systems are not covered. Some stuff MS does might be, but I've never used a license manger that does anything remotely similar to what's described in this patent: these days we deliver the full program, and unlock it based on data, whereas the patent covers delivering a partial program and generating a new program based on user-supplied data. That's unrelated to software-as-service implementations because there is no new "overlay"--whatever that might be construed to mean in this context--being generated by the delivery process: when I run something in my browser it isn't a custom copy newly compiled from source incorporating information I've provided. It's a bog-standard copy that may have restricted functionality based on data that is downloaded with it, a totally different thing.

So yeah, there's not that much prior art, but there's not that much "posterior art", either.

Some idiot on the bench in Marshal, Texas may of course disagree with this view, but that's based on how corrupt they are, not on how the patent reads.

Re:RTFP (1)

kbg (241421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458120)

If you think this is advanced then you obviously aren't a software engineer. There is nothing complex about this, this is basic stuff, it isn't like computers and software engineering was suddenly invented in 1991. If you have a computer and some type of connection to another computer you can do this, you don't need a TCP/IP stack. Like all software patents this is trivial nonsense.

Re:RTFP (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30458124)

In other words, you actually bought a car without a steering wheel and activation not only gives you a wheel, but also in a way that you can't mess around with it and they can take it away again after, say, your subscription period ends.

And I haven't seen many products that still use that method of activation.
Certainly no products from any companies in their list, except IBM.

These days you get the entire car with a lock on your steering wheel, and the activation code removes the lock for the feature that was already there.
No need to obtain a steering wheel during activation like this patent covers, so (other than maybe IBM) none of those companies are violating it.

And IBM even was doing this with mainframes decades before 1990.

Re:RTFP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30458152)

UK Acorn BBC magazine "A & B computing" from 1987 contained a demo disk version of the
puzzle game "Xor". You could play the first few levels to see if you liked it. If you wanted to buy
the game, you rang a phone number (the NETWORK), gave the unique serial number of the disk
and credit card details - and in return they calculated a rather long registration string, which actually
comprised of hex 6502 op-codes (the OVERLAY program). This patched an incomplete decryption
algorithm in the game - based on your unique serial number, unlocking the full version.

Non-tech lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457496)

What's interesting in this one is that you got a bunch of lawyers that are clearly not techies, that possibly got some bad advice and then ran with it.
If you read the patent, nobody does it the way claim 1 and 9 say anymore. If you don't violate the independent claims then you're generally good.
The patent is worthless.

Marshall, TX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457846)

Someone please explain to be how a court like that one in Marshall, TX can legitimately continue to exist, when it's fairly obvious that it's a biased patent trolling court? By now, I'd have expected government intervention of some sort!

Yo0 fail It (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30457910)

fanatic known personal rivalries in 4osting a GNAA
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