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Microsoft To Pay $200M In Patent Dispute

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the check's-in-the-mail dept.

Microsoft 81

Pickens writes "eWeek reports that Microsoft has announced it will pay $200 million to settle a patent-infringement suit against it by VirnetX, which alleged that the software giant infringed on its patents related to communications, virtualization and collaboration technology. This payment represents a substantial markup from the $105.7 million that a Texas jury awarded in March when it found that Microsoft had infringed on two US patents held by VirnetX. Microsoft will license VirnetX technology for its own products. 'We believe that this successful resolution of our litigation with Microsoft will allow us to focus on the upcoming pilot system that will showcase VirnetX's automatic Virtual Private Network technology,' says Kendall Larsen, VirnetX Holding Corp.'s CEO. East Texas courts have a reputation as a good place to pursue intellectual property suits against larger corporations. While many of these cases seem to be settled out of court — or dismissed as totally frivolous — recent lawsuits such as those leveled by i4i and VirnetX are notable for at least extending to the Big Judgment phase."

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81 comments

Awww what a shame (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32244376)

Companies like Microsoft patent anything they can but eventually they'll realize they cant think of everything
and this kind of thing will happen more and more often.

Re:Awww what a shame (4, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244424)

Even if they have to pay out a few hundred million here and there, I'm sure they make a lot more money
because of the barriers these patents cause to their opponents.

so how many times MS been caught stealing now? (2)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 3 years ago | (#32247646)

seriously is there like a count somewhere?
how many times do you get caught stealing and goto jail for life?
perhaps that supreme court ruling could also apply to Microsoft as a bad corporation

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

cntThnkofAname (1572875) | more than 3 years ago | (#32251050)

Yea, is it just me, or does microsoft seem to constantly be getting caught for stealing code? It's almost as if they could care less what the license says and just include it in their products because if they get caught they can afford to settle the dispute, but if they don't they get away with stealing and making a profit.

perhaps there should be someone (not a MS employee) hired to review code to see just how many infringements their are...

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32255300)

It's just you. What does a patent dispute have to do with stealing code?

Software patents, as practiced in the US, are a farce. It's practically impossible not to infringe them, unless your software does nothing non-trivial.

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

logixoul (1046000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32266196)

I am a free slashdotter. I will not be modded, blogged, DRM'd, patented, podcasted or RFID'd. My life is my own.

This is such a horrifically annoying statement.

Re:Awww what a shame (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244550)

They patent everything because the system requires them to. You should blame the whole patent system instead.

Re:Awww what a shame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32244698)

And Ballmer's cock jockey rides to the defense of M$ once again!

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244700)

Requires them to? They could keep the technology under wraps as a Trade Secret, only disclosing the details to those who are willing to sign NDA's for it. This is, incidentally how software companies worked for literally decades and how many companies still work today. You won't find a patent application for the Coca-Cola recipe for instance.

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244720)

Yeah well, for that to work, it would require companies to actually productize their inventions. Insanity!

Re:Awww what a shame (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244732)

Keeping a technology as a trade secret doesn't make you immune to patent litigation. This is why many companies have a defensive patent portfolio.

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

avilliers (1158273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32249382)

Requires them to? They could keep the technology under wraps as a Trade Secret, only disclosing the details to those who are willing to sign NDA's for it. This is, incidentally how software companies worked for literally decades and how many companies still work today. You won't find a patent application for the Coca-Cola recipe for instance.

I'm not loving your business plan. The problem with trade secrets is that prior art doesn't apply to non-public inventions. If someone else invents & patents it, I lose my right to do business selling my own invention, just because you came up with it second but decided to use the evil patent system while I remained pure.

Patenting everything gives you direct defense against someone else trying to trump you, plus the ability to counter-sue or threaten other companies who harass you, plus the ability to harass the competition. The last one is optional; the other two are essentially required for a large tech company.

If software patents weren't issued at all, then the trade secret approach would work fine. Hence the "blame it on the system" comment.

Re:Awww what a shame (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244756)

I wish you weren't right, but you hit the nail on the head. The system is broken and despite how it gets my blood boiling I find it difficult to blame corporate entities from taking advantage of the situation. IMHO the solution is to start recruiting people to the patent office that have a background in software. Maybe I'm a dreamer but I'd also like to see the patents written in plainer English rather than in the convoluted techno-jargon that makes swiping a screen to unlock a phone seem as complicated as rocket surgery.

Re:Awww what a shame (2, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32248436)

Blame and punishment is part of why the patent system is so awful.

The interrelated quality of ideas makes it very difficult to draw boundaries. That combined with the absolutism of this "winner take all" award system where one entity gets all the rewards while everyone else who was working towards similar or identical ideas not only gets nothing but may be forced to abandon years of effort makes for very ugly, expensive fights. It makes the stakes unnecessarily high. The thought behind the patent system is so individualistic and discrete. It's as if they thought invention occurs in a vacuum. Maybe in the days when the population of the world was 1/10 what it is now, it was less likely that people would be independently working on the same ideas. But it still happened. The thinking behind the system does not fit how many developments really come about, with layer upon layer of incremental improvements from many diverse and unrelated groups. So much advancement, possibly most advancement is seeing that an idea from one field can be applied to a problem in a seemingly unrelated field, or that 2 ideas from different areas can form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Even when we can draw clear lines, it doesn't stop ugly, expensive fights breaking out over these monopolies. We tend to let the issue of whether there is prior art be settled in court, later, hoping that it never comes up at all. And the punishments discourage checking. We've also taken a destructive rent seeking approach to the granting of patents, seemingly to raise more money through the collection of more fees. Certainly generates more business for lawyers.

To design a product requires the application of not 1 or 2 or 10 patented ideas, but easily hundreds. The burden of negotiating terms with so many holders is so great that it isn't done. A horrible aspect of these monopoly grants is that holders don't have to deal. They can deny everyone the use of some idea, refusing to sell rights at any price whatsoever. Another possibility is holding a massive project to ransom, extracting not what an idea is really worth, but a big portion of what the massive project is worth, which may be far more than the idea. Imagine if on the eve of the first trip to the Moon, NASA had suddenly been forced to put the project on hold because some patent troll surfaced and got a court to issue an injunction. Millions of dollars of equipment sitting idle, thousands of people hastily assigned makeshift work or furloughed, windows of opportunity missed, and the public horrified by a delay over a trivial legal issue. Think that couldn't happen? Maybe because NASA is government it couldn't happen to them. But it nearly did happen to the Blackberry. SCO tried to hold Linux users-- users, who were not properly part of any alleged patent violations-- to ransom. That's like trying to sue drivers and owners of a particular model of car over something the manufacturer put in the car. Insane! Why does the patent system grant such extreme "remedy" power to the courts, and fail to consider the impact the application of a remedy can have on 3rd parties?

The entire tone of a patent lawsuit is that someone is trying to cheat patent holders by knowingly using their invention without permission. This assumes that patent searches can be done quickly and cheaply, which is not the case. Even after finding patents that may be related, considerable effort must be expended analyzing them to see if they really are related. The system acknowledges the impracticality of this by making damages for unintentional infringement much lighter. But they aren't zero. This further assumes that patents are fairly granted, and can be fairly granted, and don't have any other issues.

Cruel to routinely blame and punish the players to cover up the shortcomings of a bad system.

Re:Awww what a shame (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32245144)

They patent everything because the system requires them to. You should blame the whole patent system instead.

Yes, but who is this "you" that you speak of?

When nobody with the voice in the software industry is speaking against the patent system, it is hard to be heard. In fact most are speaking for it not against it.
Maybe the "you", and the blame that goes with it, should also be directed towards the big players that keep feeding the system.

Re:Awww what a shame (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245968)

Let's blame the people who lobbied for it too, like the ones who work for Microsoft. Let's also blame the groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that push US-style patent laws on third-world countries in exchange for medicine.

Re:Awww what a shame (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32248978)

They patent everything because the system requires them to.

The "system requires them to" part is true, but, nonetheless, Microsoft (together with many other large corps) has filed several amicus curiae briefs in support of software patents in relevant court cases in U.S.

The bigger you are (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244390)

The bigger you are, the less likely you are to see that every tiny thing you do is free of someone else's IP.

Re:The bigger you are (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244828)

Microsoft are patent trolls, so it's likely they either thought they'd already got a patent on the idea or that nobody else took patents seriously either.

Re:The bigger you are (2, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#32246130)

To be a patent troll one would have to actually litigate against someone. Microsoft doesn't (it occasionally threatens to, but never actually does). By definition, they aren't a patent troll.

Re:The bigger you are (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32249858)

For someone who's been around as long as you have, you sure are ignorant. Microsoft has indeed sued other companies for patents [wikipedia.org] . It was covered quite a bit on Slashdot at the time. Don't go spreading the misinformation that Microsoft is a benign patent owner.

Re:The bigger you are (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#32258650)

Yes, and in that wide discussion, it was noted that TomTom was hardly blameless as well (apparently TomTom had been rumbling over something else as well- presumably what they attacked back with).

Being that defensive purposes is why these patents (supposedly) exist, that kind of makes sense. Doesn't make it right, but that's not what's under debate.

Re:The bigger you are (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#32260790)

And I eat my hat over today's news.

Still not a patent troll though, as the defining point of a troll is that they have no products.

Re:The bigger you are (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32246464)

As far as I can tell, Microsoft don't actually patent troll. They have a large patent portfolio that is only used defensively. And Ballmer might have made an ass of himself in a casual comment once that has become the touchstone for patent FUD, but there's no actual trolling by any definition of patent trolling I'm familiar with.

Re:The bigger you are (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#32252596)

Microsoft IS. Not ARE. Microsoft IS a singular corporate entity that employs many people. Microsoft is NOT legion. Yet.

This unsolicited pedantry were brought to you by Muphry.

Re:The bigger you are (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#32252580)

The bigger you are, the less likely you are to see that every tiny thing you do is free of someone else's IP.

With v6, that will change. You wait and see.

Shock and awe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32244394)

Interesting. I was not aware that Microsoft had a way to establish a secure connection between computers. Too bad they have to pay for the privilige to use it.

Money (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244536)

Personally I wouldn't push for money if I won a case against them, I would ask that Microsoft displays my company's name (if I had one) in big letters next to the product name. Free advertising and makes the point that it wasn't Microsoft's idea originally.

Re:Money (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244588)

Yeah, because we all will go buy our things from patent trolls...

Look at the VirnetX website and look at the products http://www.virnetx.com/products.php [virnetx.com] it has very little other than patent licensing! While they do have a few real products, VirnetX is more or less a patent troll.

Re:Money (1)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244644)

I would demand money. I sincerely doubt that VirnetX could possibly make more than $200M from the patents in question. They also get free news advertising anyway. I'd never heard of them before today.

Clarification (5, Informative)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244582)

It may be worth nothing that 200M is not *in addition to* the 100M from an earlier lawsuit: From TFA: "In a joint statement Monday, VirnetX and Microsoft announced that both lawsuits would be dismissed as part of the $200 million settlement. Microsoft will also license the VirnetX patents, the companies said." The summary doesn't seem intentionally misleading, but I did not gather this to be the case.

Not real money (1)

Sosetta (702368) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244612)

Microsoft was walking across the street in a hurry and accidentally dropped $200,000,000.00 on the ground.

It didn't notice.

Re:Not real money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32245232)

Yep, it's round-off error in their book keeping.

Why wont big companies learn (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244712)

Microsoft, and IBM and everybody else who is in any kind of position to be IP-trolled should _really_ be arguing that all software patents are invalid. So what if it thus invalidates their "investment" in software patents. They only spent that money to "repel boarders" in the IP wars anyway.

Funny thing that, the more you talk about patent trolling the more you get to analogies like "repel boarders". It's almost like "IP" stands for "Intellectual Piracy".

Hey big companies! Stop skirmishing and fight the war. Outlaw the Intellectual Piracy that matters. Outlaw the USPTO (at least in your bailiwick.)

Re:Why wont big companies learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32244872)

They dislike the idea of sharing anything more than they dislike the idea of having to hand out chump change (to them anyway) like this to the little people. Not only that but the people in suits might have to imagine the world in a different way.

Because MS LOVES patent trolls (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245416)

Remember who was and is behind SCO? Remember who has been constantly threatening to sue Linux for infringing on its patents?

200 million is PEANUTS for MS, a very low price to pay for making sure nobody else can afford to enter the market. Wanna bet that 200 million goes to pursue further lawsuits?

MS will call for patent reform roughly at the same it stops with FUD and breaking standards. Software patents work for Microsoft. The occasional payoff is just the price for their way of doing business. If software patents are removed ANYONE can go into the software market. Not something MS would enjoy at all.

Re:Because MS LOVES patent trolls (2, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#32246392)

You bring up a good point. I see the settlement as Microsoft validiating the enforcability of patents. They get to go on record as being okay with paying to license patented technology. In the future when they go after other companies for patent infringement, they can say something to the effect of, "We didn't make the system, and in fact it hurts us too. Remember when we paid $200 million?"

Re:Why wont big companies learn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32247108)

Weird how you know how to run their business better than they do, yet they are infinitely more successful at it. It's almost like you're talking out of your ass using freetard talking points instead of anything meaningful.

Invalidate Trivial Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32244804)

From the article, it's hard to tell if these are patent trolls or not. The i4i law suit is XML related - which I suspect falls into this category.
Trivial patents are bad for Industry and the community in general. Come on Obama, do something about it.

Just imagine if the hyperlink patent had been successfully defended - the Internet would be screwed ( http://news.cnet.com/2100-1033-955001.html ).
Your Friendly Neighborhood

AC

Re:Invalidate Trivial Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32258452)

Trivial patents are bad for Industry and the community in general. Come on Obama, do something about it.

He's doing the best that he can with the mess that he inherited.

Never thought THIS would happen (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244834)

I'm actually on the same side as Microsoft about something. I mean, given the choice between MS and a bunch of IP patent trolls, I'll side with the company that actually produces product every time.

Re:Never thought THIS would happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32245578)

I'm actually on the same side as Microsoft about something.

Microsoft gives legitimacy to patent trolls by settling with them and feeding the system that breeds even more patent trolls. In addition, they issue general threats of patent lawsuits without giving out any specifics just spreading FUD towards competing technologies. They also engage in "foggy" patent cross-licensing schemes that create further confusion and help spread the FUD to related areas.

Maybe you also strongly believe in these things - I just didn't know if that's what you meant by "the same side".

Re:Never thought THIS would happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32246568)

If you don't settle, you don't just have to pay damages, you also have to stop selling.

Re:Never thought THIS would happen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32246820)

Sure, you could settle, proclaim victory of "IP" (whatever than means), and move on to the next patent troll lawsuit.

OR, alternatively, you could bring out the issues publicly, critique the way the system works, use your political weight to improve the environment, call lobbyists, recommend changes in legislation, and proactively make it better for everyone. When people see one of the biggest players in the industry raising these issues, they'll catch on. Legislators will notice, lobbyists will take up those issues, media will cover it, general public will notice, etc., etc.

For some reason, I don't think the latter has entered Microsoft's mind.

East Texas (2, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244908)

East Texas courts have a reputation as a good place to pursue intellectual property suits against larger corporations

It is not actually that good. [patentlyo.com]

See also this comment [slashdot.org] on a previous story.

Re:East Texas (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245050)

Their analysis doesn't work because a patent suit filed in district X is not likely to be the same as a patent suit filed in district Y. If I have an open and shut case, I'll probably file my suit wherever it is most convenient or cheapest for me to do so. If I have a case that I feel I may or may not win, I'll shop around for the district that balances my chances of winning with the additional expenses. If I intend to make my entire enterprise out of suing other people for patent infringement, I'll set up my business in such a way that the expenses are minimized in the district that gives my the best chance of winning.

In other words, a district with a reputation for being friendly to patent trolls will attract patent trolls and the win loss record of that district will change as a result. It's like finding out that a nearby highway is the safest road in America, and as a result everyone starts driving 100mph down it. It messes with the statistics.

Re:East Texas (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245682)

IANAL, and I don't get why a regional court gets to decide national matters. Is this working as intended?

It is a Federal Circuit Court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32250038)

> IANAL, and I don't get why a regional court gets to decide national matters. Is this working as intended?

While you're correct that patent (and copyright) law is a federal matter, this court is not a state court, it's a branch of the federal court system that serves a certain region (the federal courts are divided into circuits that serve a group of states). The Wikipedia article describing how US courts are divided up [wikipedia.org] may provide more information if you're interested.

Nice (1, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 3 years ago | (#32244932)

Nice to see Microsoft being bitten in the ass by the same patent troll strategy they are adopting.

The much-needed fix to the software patent problem will only happen after the big companies repeatedly pay out more through patent enforcement than they gain from it.

The real problem is big companies, especially Microsoft have invested so much in filing millions of non-innovative, frivolous, obviously prior, stolen and open-ended patents, and have enough lawyers, lobbyists and paid-off politicians in their pocket that there's no hope of getting the patent law fixed until Microsoft want it to be.

Re:Nice (0, Troll)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245710)

Microsoft so far are one of the few companies that don't patent troll. They tend to use their portfolio as defensive patents.

Re:Nice (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32246010)

That depends on your definition of troll. They don't demand money for many patents (VFAT being a notable example), but they definitely use the threat of patent infringement suits to discourage competitors.

offensive Microsoft patents (4, Insightful)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#32247598)

Microsoft so far are one of the few companies that don't patent troll. They tend to use their portfolio as defensive patents.

Bullshit. Microsoft of course uses their patent portfolio offensively. The reason you don't see these things go to court is because they are so good at it. They have patent cross-license agreements with all the big players, and none of the little players have the resources to fight them. Microsoft has a huge patent portfolio.

If Microsoft wants money from you, they can come with a huge stack of patents and an army of lawyers and say: "Look, we think you violate this patent, but if you think you don't, here are another two dozen you probably violate. And these are the dozen lawyers that are going to tie your company and your employees up in knots for the next ten years with depositions and court dates, keep you from shipping your products, and give you bad press. Now, for just 5% of your revenue, you can save yourself all this trouble. Do the math: even if you eventually win it's cheaper. Any questions?"

The only people moderately immune from this are open source developers, because they can basically tell Microsoft to put their cards on the table or go f*ck themselves.

Re:offensive Microsoft patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32249848)

yeah I have questions, if they are so aggreeively doing this where are all the press articles about it? or are you another one of those tin foil hat lunies that believes that it all happens but somehow everyone is silent about it and MS somehow hushes them all up.

Re:offensive Microsoft patents (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32250342)

yeah I have questions, if they are so aggreeively doing this where are all the press articles about it?

NDA. Not everything a company does is in the public record.

not nice at all (2, Interesting)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#32247562)

Microsoft doesn't really care much about the $200m; yeah, it's going to dent their income a little, but they get something back for it: the technology cannot be used by open source software.

And in this case, that might matter. The patent is on a simple way of establishing VPNs. There are lots of applications for VPNs, but establishing them in the past has been pretty tough, so people haven't been using it much. I don't think the method described in the patent is particularly deep, but as far as patents go, it is more innovative than the average crap that gets patented.

If this becomes a widely-used standard and can't be worked around, it's a big problem for Linux because you might not be able to connect securely to much of anything.

Re:not nice at all (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 3 years ago | (#32252000)

>> they get something back for it: the technology cannot be used by open source software.

They are only a licencee of the technology. They have no control over the technology itself or if the owning company sells it to anyone else too.

They're faking it (5, Interesting)

emoreau (1247650) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245028)

What they are doing is creating a weapon. They won't go after Red Hat directly, so they will loose a bunch of lawsuits against patent trolls, and let the trolls try to go after Red Hat in hope that Red Hat won't survive the multiple lawsuits. Then they will have convince the word that Linux is fragile because stupid software patents.

Re:They're faking it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32246032)

Then they will have convince the word that Linux is fragile because stupid software patents

No, they'll have convinced the USA that Linux is fragile because of stupid software patents and they'll have convinced software companies in the rest of the world not to do business in the USA.

Re:They're faking it (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#32248768)

you man like they tried with sco and that troll got murdered by ibm. microsoft hopefully learned there lesson. and redhat was rdy then to finish them off but ibm did it in 1 sweep. the trools can try but i dont think it would be a good outcome for them.

Re:They're faking it (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32250152)

Correction: they are funding the trolls to go after Red Hat (et al). $200 million buys you a lot of lawyering. Heck, it buys you a lot of judges.

Will license the "technology" (4, Funny)

NeumannCons (798322) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245290)

I've always loved how at the end of a patent dispute, the company who's lost to the patent holder, agrees "to license the 'technology'. After the money is paid out, I wonder if there's really anything that gets passed back... Code samples? Flowcharts? Theory of operations? Punch cards? I would guess in most cases zip gets transferred - and not the compression algorithm...

Company1 - "Yeah, hi, this is Bob at company X - we recently licensed your technology that allows people to use a mouse to interact with a computation unit in a way that allows the computation unit to perform a useful task. We'd like to get the relevant documentation?"

Company2 - "Um, docs. Huh - never thought of that - I mean it's never come up... Wow, I guess you could read the patent application - that's the only docs we got. BTW, would you like to purchase rights to allow the mouse to instruct the computation unit to perform a useless task? We got a special going on this week for that..."

Re:Will license the "technology" (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245942)

I wonder if there's really anything that gets passed back... Code samples? Flowcharts? Theory of operations? Punch cards? I would guess in most cases zip gets transferred - and not the compression algorithm...

It's IP. If you were thinking about anything tangible, or even sensible (as in, detectable to the senses), UR DOIN IT RONG (to quote Ceiling Cat).

The only thing that passes back is permission. And perhaps the opportunity for a little revenge.

MS: "Here's your $200 million."
VirnetX: "Great, I now give you permission to carry on doing what you were doing earlier."
MS: "Oh, by the way, part of that $200 million means I'm your boss. Pick up my dry cleaning and detail my BMW. And get Ballmer a new chair."

Oblig. head explosions (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245536)

Microsoft=evil
Software patents=evil

Commence obligatory head explosions as we all realize that it's us, the average joe, that's losing in this battle.

These Patents Should Now Expire (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32245948)

Patents are granted only on the basis that the inventor's investment must be protected from competition by competitors who have money to compete without the burden of paying to invent. There's no way the inventor spent over $200M to invent their invention. Now they have recouped all their investment, and a lot of profit.

So they don't need a patent to protect them from unfair competition anymore. Their patent should expire, and they should compete solely based on their product's superiority in the market.

Re:These Patents Should Now Expire (1)

IsoQuantic (17626) | more than 3 years ago | (#32249032)

Er, no. I am a wireless communications intellectual property forensic analyst.

Patents are granted for something novel, non-obvious, filed in time, and useful. A patent grants the right to the owner to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing the claimed invention. Contrary to popular belief, a patent does not grant the owner the right to practice the invention. Why? Simply because this might require the use of technology patented by someone else!

Re:These Patents Should Now Expire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32249322)

...wireless communications intellectual property forensic analyst.

Wow, I'd love to see what your job description says. :P

I hate software patents, but... (1)

merc (115854) | more than 3 years ago | (#32247986)

Live by the sword, die by the sword (or, in Microsoft's case, get a bunch of small cuts due to holding the sword wrong).

MS is not dying $200M is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32251190)

I would say that software are overwhelmingly beneficial to MS.

For MS it's all about controlling the standard. Often that means killing smaller upstart companies.

Feeding patent trolls... (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 3 years ago | (#32248834)

Before you condemn Microsoft for stealing someones IP you might want to look at both the companies current web site and the patents they are claiming to have been violated (689759, 6502135, 7188180)

How do you get away with including Windows XP in a suite when it was released BEFORE the earliest patent date?

The company even claims to hold the patent on "secure DNS"... Feeding trolls does not help society or advance technology even when it hurts a technology company you hate.

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