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Coder Accuses IBM of Patenting His Work

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the do-your-own-work dept.

IBM 249

ttsiod writes "Back in 2001, I coded HeapCheck, a GPL library for Windows (inspired by ElectricFence) that detected invalid read/write accesses on any heap allocations at runtime — thus greatly helping my debugging sessions. I published it on my site, and got a few users who were kind enough to thank me — a Serbian programmer even sent me $250 as a thank you (I still have his mails). After a few years, Microsoft included very similar technology in the operating system itself, calling it PageHeap. I had more or less forgotten this stuff, since for the last 7 years I've been coding for UNIX/Linux, where valgrind superseded Efence/dmalloc/etc. Imagine my surprise when yesterday, Googling for references to my site, I found out that the technology I implemented, of runtime detection of invalid heap accesses, has been patented in the States, and to add insult to injury, even mentions my site (via a non-working link to an old version of my page) in the patent references! After the necessary 'WTFs' and 'bloody hells' I thought this merits (a) a Slashdotting, and (b) a set of honest questions: what should I do about this? I am not an American citizen, but the 'inventors' of this technology (see their names in the top of the patent) have apparently succeeded in passing this ludicrous patent in the States. If my code doesn't count as prior art, Bruce Perens's Efence (which I clearly state my code was inspired from) is at least 12 years prior! Suggestions/cursing patent trolls most welcome."

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249 comments

ludicrous (5, Insightful)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34341934)

Can I drop a hint about the patent office having no credibility any more?

Re:ludicrous (4, Insightful)

ebbe11 (121118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34341968)

Can I drop a hint about the patent office having no credibility any more?

Actually , the Patent Office does have crecibility in a few places. Unfortunately, courts of law are among them...

Re:ludicrous (5, Informative)

networkconsultant (1224452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342026)

Unless you sue IBM and have very deep pockets once someone has stolen your idea and had the theft accredited by the rating agency (patent office) you are essentially screwed. You may file an appeal, but then the burden of proof is on you.
Tesla and Marconi had similar ideas around the same time but the patent office ruled in favor of Marconi, you my friend may be a Tesla at this point.

Re:ludicrous (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342590)

Wow, that's increcible. You're good at spelling. Patent lawyer? :)

Re:ludicrous (4, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342004)

Didn't the USPTO some years ago stop checking the validity of patents completely, leaving it to the courts to decide whether a patent is actually valid?

That means in this particular case, the patentholder just wasted a lot of money, as the submitter's code is clearly prior art. It also raises the question why patent applications are still so expensive if the patent office doesn't actually do anything anymore. (Answer: to increase profits, of course!)

Re:ludicrous (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342790)

Probably, I suspect that might be the sort of thing that resulted in Facebook being granted the trademark to "Face." Back when MS was trademarking for their new GUI, they had to include Microsoft in the name to get the trademark because windows is eponymous. I don't think they would've bothered even trying to get Windows.

I know that ISO is apparently no longer a standards organization preferring to let the markets make the selection. Which begs the question of why do we need ISO if somebody else is choosing the standards.

Re:ludicrous (2, Funny)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342012)

Courts still find it credible enough to accept patent lawsuits. Even trolls have credibility in East Texas.

Re:ludicrous (3, Insightful)

splutty (43475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342066)

Yeah. Trolls have credibility in East Texas, but that's only because the bridges there are so damn cheap!

1s/bridges/judges/

Re:ludicrous (2, Funny)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342078)

Ah I miss the days when a troll was a giant mythical character causing havoc wherever it went :)

Re:ludicrous (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342368)

And when they turned to stone if exposed to sunlight.

Re:ludicrous (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342774)

That may explain why I get all itchy when I get out of the basement.

Re:ludicrous (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342036)

Seems the PTO are in desperate need of skilled programmers who speak geek

Re:ludicrous (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342180)

Pretty sure the patent office is accepting applications for examiners right now, lol. They like people with Master's degrees.

Re:ludicrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342548)

NO! That would cause them to decrease their revenue by not granting non-grantable patents. But have no fear, we've got a long history of granting patents to the wrong people.

Re:ludicrous (1)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342926)

NO! That would cause them to decrease their revenue by not granting non-grantable patents.

Yes! Down with the blood-sucking capitalists and their insistence on profit before responsibility!

What's that you say? The PTO is not a private company, but rather a branch of our omnipotent benevolent government, who doesn't profit off the backs of the laborers but rather defends them from the evil corporations?

Well, in that case they can't possibly be concerned with revenue... if they don't want to reduce the number of patents granted, it can only be because patents are one of the few ways that the common man can defend himself against the evil corporations! Yeah, that it!

Probably not patenting your exact work (1)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34341946)

Most likely, they're patenting a particular, specific extension of what was done before.

Re:Probably not patenting your exact work (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342046)

"The shortcomings of the prior art are overcome and additional advantages are provided through the provision of a method of facilitating management of dynamically allocated memory. The method includes, for instance, having a dynamically allocated memory buffer; and determining in real-time that an invalid access of the dynamically allocated memory buffer has occurred."

I'm no expert on HeapCheck but that doesn't sound far removed from its basic functionality.

Re:Probably not patenting your exact work (5, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342114)

As with all patents read Claim No 1. It should contain the novel element, you cannot leave it for later. The "novelty" in this one is that you do not need to recompile the program the way original efence worked.

However, times have changed since the days of the original Efence and things are linked dynamically at runtime on all OSes which in turn means that any LD_PRELOAD-ed Efence like debugging library which relies on OS R/W page management to control access is prior art. It satisfies literally the requirements of claim 1.

I do not recall off the top of my head what valgrind uses, but I would not be surprised if it fits the bill. The original Efence does not - it has to be linked in.

Re:Probably not patenting your exact work (4, Informative)

wmelnick (411371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342690)

Not at all. It is standard in the patent world to make the thing that you actually want to patent be the middle claim. The reasons are many and varied, but you can jump right to the thing that any company actually wants to get the patent upon by checking the center claim. There are 20 claims here, so it is likely this one: 10. The method of claim 1, further comprising: detecting that another allocation mode is to be used to allocate one or more buffers for the process; and dynamically deactivating the allocation mode that enables the determining in real-time, wherein the dynamically deactivating includes turning off an indicator in the process to deactivate the allocation mode, and wherein another dynamically allocated memory buffer for the process is allocated based on the another allocation mode, said another dynamically allocated memory buffer being allocated without additional memory as a guard.

Re:Probably not patenting your exact work (2, Informative)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342136)

It seems their patent covers doing it on a per process bases plus the ability to turn it on or off in real time. Either way MS does have a similar thing in windows 7

Re:Probably not patenting your exact work (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342426)

Indeed. Their extension uses the IBM logo.

Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34341960)

what should I do about this?

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer; this isn't legal advice. But you've got a few options. All or none of which you can pursue.

The first option is to simply contact IBM and ask them how their patent is novel or different or disjoint from your work. This could result in one of two things: no response or a response. If you are satisfied with the response, you might change your mind about your situation and congratulate them on putting some novel innovations on HeapCheck, patenting it and listing you in the claim references (do you own any patents related to it?). Now, assuming that it does not satisfy you as an explanation, you could indicate that you are going to pursue legal action (the I in IBM stands for International) but you are willing to settle and sign away your rights for some relatively nominal fee. You could choose to reveal you're not interested in a lengthy expensive court battle with them or you could make it sound like you are angry and this is all you have to do with 100% of your time. Either mentality will send them a message, that's up to you.

The second option is to get litigious. Judging by your ccTLD (and awesome name), I'm guessing you are from Greece. Which means that you would probably have to hire a patent lawyer in your home country who can work with the Greek or European Patent Office in order to discuss your options. There should be channels through the WIPO [wipo.int] that allow things like these to be resolved almost exactly like they're on a local level. I'm guessing your options are going to amount to two things. Either pursuing your own patent on the technology in order to invalidate IBM's patent or presenting your evidence of prior art to invalidate IBM's patent. The former probably more expensive than the latter.

Normally patents are only valid in the country they are granted but lately there have been intellectual property laws that have tried to extend patents on a global scale. Normally on this site people seem to be against this, often applying the logic of following their local laws when it suits them. Example: Pirate Party. But now we're so concerned if suddenly this is American company gets an American patent on a foreigner's work.

cursing patent trolls

Um, that phrase has a particular meaning, one that I cannot find in your story. Who did IBM sue with your patent? Did they sue you? Did they wait for everyone to adopt HeapCheck and then sue them? If anyone in this story is considered the patent troll, it's going to be you if you waited a decade before ligating against IBM.

I would take Bruce Perens' approach and try working with IBM first. It's the cheapest, most sensible way to resolve this. You're angry but you just said you had forgotten about that work for seven years. Was your intention to leave that concept in the graveyard until you died, getting angry should anyone try to profit from it or license it?

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (1)

Konsalik (1921874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342024)

Excellent post! Agreed that getting angry is a very bad idea. Cool down and have a calm non-hostile conversation with them. Afterward you can be more aggressive.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (3, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342040)

Now, assuming that it does not satisfy you as an explanation, you could indicate that you are going to pursue legal action (the I in IBM stands for International) but you are willing to settle and sign away your rights for some relatively nominal fee.

What rights does he have to sign away? He didn't patent anything. He just published prior art under an open source license. So everybody already has the right to use this technology for free. IBM acquired a useless patent.

At least, that's as far as I understand patent law. Maybe someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (4, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342058)

Patents (like registered trademarks, and unlike copyright) are assumed enforcable unless proven otherwise. They're not supposed to be granted in the first place if they're invalid.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (2, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342216)

Patents (like registered trademarks, and unlike copyright) are assumed enforcable unless proven otherwise.

Wouldn't prior art prove otherwise?

They're not supposed to be granted in the first place if they're invalid.

I seem to recall that some years ago, the USPTO stopped checking the validity of patents, simply approving pretty much every application. It would certainly explain the flood of ridiculous patents.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (2, Informative)

Darfeld (1147131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342346)

Patents (like registered trademarks, and unlike copyright) are assumed enforcable unless proven otherwise.

Wouldn't prior art prove otherwise?

Assuming someone is sued and find the prior art, the patent would be nullified. But the patent exist until then, and is still dissuasive for someone to use the technology.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342826)

Generally speaking you want to prove that the patent isn't patentable, and only if it is do you want to go with prior art. Particularly for somebody like the OP who doesn't necessarily want to make money off of it that's probably the way to go.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (4, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342534)

Wouldn't prior art prove otherwise?

As I understand it (and IANAL so I could be way off base) the process goes something like this:

You're sued for infringing X.
You assert that Y (which they failed to cite or differentiate) is prior art for X.
They file a modification to X adding a citation for Y and explaining the difference between Y and X.
Rinse, repeat.
If the patent on X is still broad enough to cover your use, you either settle or lose in court.
If the patent on X has been narrowed enough that it no longer covers your use, they settle or lose in court.

Generally, one or the other of you decides to settle once things are fully fleshed out. The matter becomes pretty obvious and there's no point in either of you continuing the expense. You're not going to succeed on process-related counterclaims; they had a reasonable belief that you'd infringed the patent when they sued.

Occasionally the mistaken party gets stubborn and goes to court anyway. When that happens, it's about 50/50 whether the court rules in favor of the plaintiff or defendant. The court rarely invalidates the patent; when ruling in favor of the defendant, it's usually because the defendant's use was enough different from what the patent has become by the time of the actual trial that it doesn't infringe.

Generally speaking, the patent office is not your friend in this situation. When you submit a claim of prior art, they rule more carelessly than a court and once they rule the court is loathe to reconsider.

Weight your contact to IBM with prior art risk (1)

La Gris (531858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342206)

While gently and politely contacting IBM, notify them that: by the event they intend to challenge this patent in court, you will be requiered to document your prior art reference and their case will not stand up. So, not cleaning up the issue now may constitute a financial risk for them.

My random/dumb guess is: As usual, bureaucracy though their attoney/legal department, preceeded in the systematic registration of any new listed technology to the PTO. That's stupidity at work. Nobody to blame.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (5, Insightful)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342218)

You're angry but you just said you had forgotten about that work for seven years. Was your intention to leave that concept in the graveyard until you died, getting angry should anyone try to profit from it or license it?

If he didn't take a patent on it, then there's nothing stopping IBM from using the same techniques. The problem arises when IBM patents it as if they were the first to invent the technique, then restrict everyone (including the OP) from using the OP's invention. If IBM just used it without patenting, no problem. Of course, it's entirely possible that IBM's invention is slightly different from the OP's - patent claims are rather hard to read for a layman after all.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (3, Informative)

dataminator (1447053) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342274)

Now, assuming that it does not satisfy you as an explanation, you could indicate that you are going to pursue legal action (the I in IBM stands for International) but you are willing to settle and sign away your rights for some relatively nominal fee.

Ok, you said you are not a lawyer, but you could at least try to know what you're talking about before writing such a post.

IANAL either, but even I know that being granted a patent doesn't magically make you own all prior art in the domain. The patent examiner even noticed HeapCheck as related work! The author has no claims whatsoever against IBM, and the idea to push for a settlement is ridiculous. What can there possibly be to settle?

Since the examiner approved the patent, while knowing about HeapCheck, they must have thought that the patent claims (only the claims count, the description is worthless in that regard) are not fully covered by prior art. I doubt they could be wrong on this, so the prior art defense is pretty much out. They must also have thought that there is significant non-obvious innovation in relation to the prior art. That part is more subjective and thus may be debatable.

In any case, the only possible outcome would be that IBM loses the patent, which changes exactly nothing for anybody unless IBM starts to sue people based on that patent. In any case the author has absolutely nothing to gain, and no basis whatsoever to negotiate with IBM.

There are no rights to sign away, the author can do nothing to help IBM maintain the patent if it is invalid, and has no benefit from invalidating it. And if the patent is valid, as it probably is, he's just going to lose a lot of money and look like a fool (as opposed to losing a lot of money but without looking like a fool if he wins).

No, I did not look at the patent, and am not going to. It would change nothing about the above.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342654)

Fucking twit.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (5, Informative)

ttsiod (881575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342296)

I only take an issue with your last paragraph - I certainly didn't leave the code in a graveyard, I released it with an open source license, so that anyone could use it and make his life a bit better. The fact that 10 years later, someone else has now patented the ideas in Electric Fence and HeapCheck, and can now sue me and everyone else using it, is what got me mad (hence the "trolls" comment).

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (1)

mynion (866618) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342594)

Reading the patent it has a bit of blurb about how it overcomes some issues with the prior art. Patents are evil yes - and I can understand the annoyance but I fail to see how you or anyone could possibly be sued using heapcheck via a patent that lists heapcheck as a reference. You could just list the patent as evidence of your prior work which it acknowledges! The patent states it was submitted in 2005, it also lists your work with a date of 2002. I don't see how they could possibly sue.

Now if heapcheck was expanded to cover the alleged new/alternate methods the patent claims to address things could get more messy.

(insert not a lawyer, in my opinion, multiple legal disclaimers here).

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342750)

The fact that 10 years later, someone else has now patented the ideas in Electric Fence and HeapCheck, and can now sue me and everyone else using it, is what got me mad (hence the "trolls" comment).

Well, then you can stop being mad. Both Electric Fence and HeapCheck were invented before the invention in the patent ( I'm assuming it would be relatively easy for you to prove that the code was written 10 years ago). This is an absolute defense to patent infringement. This is true even if IBM's patent is valid. In fact, their contention that it violates the patent (if they were to make one) would be pretty good proof that HeapCheck is prior art and that, therefore, the patent is invalid. IBM's lawyers know this, I'm sure.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342436)

yay! Old slashdot is back!! I was just reminiscing sadly about how good slashdot used to be years ago. And now this! Mwah. I love you man, thank you for making my day.

Re:Answers and Suggestions and Further Questions (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342760)

The first option is to simply contact IBM and ask them how their patent is novel or different or disjoint from your work. This could result in one of two things: no response or a response. If you are satisfied with the response, you might change your mind about your situation and congratulate them on putting some novel innovations on HeapCheck, patenting it and listing you in the claim references (do you own any patents related to it?). Now, assuming that it does not satisfy you as an explanation, you could indicate that you are going to pursue legal action (the I in IBM stands for International) but you are willing to settle and sign away your rights for some relatively nominal fee. You could choose to reveal you're not interested in a lengthy expensive court battle with them or you could make it sound like you are angry and this is all you have to do with 100% of your time. Either mentality will send them a message, that's up to you.

There is a problem here. The only situation where his code would affect IBM's patent is if he has published prior art that would genuinely make their patent invalid. But in this case he has no rights that he could sign away. Patents are not like copyright. If you illegally copied my code, I could say "give me $100,000 and I give you the rights to this code", and maybe you accept and we are both happy. If you use my patent without a license, I could say "give me $100,000 and I'll give you a license". If he has prior art that makes their patent valid, then it is out of his hands. _Anybody_ can invalidate the patent. He could say to IBM "give me $100,000 and I'll forget about my prior art". But even if IBM pays, I could then say to IBM "give me $100,000 and I'll forget about this guy's prior art". What makes it prior art is that it has been published. If this guy can prove that it has been published, then so can I, and everybody else. He doesn't get any rights from having created the prior art. The right to invalidate the patent is something that _everybody_ has.

Of course he can spend a lot of money to invalidate IBM's patent, but even if he wins, at an enormous cost, all he gets is that IBM's patent is invalid. There is no money to be had from this. The only way to make money is to carefully collect evidence for the prior art (collect evidence that the invention was available to the public), and if he hears that IBM sues anybody for patent infringement, then he can go to the defendant and say "give me $100,000 and I give you clear documentation that proves beyond any doubt that their patent should be invalid".

Cited by examiner (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34341998)

Re:Cited by examiner (3, Funny)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342010)

You mean patent examiners actually examine patents? Wow, that's news to me! Maybe they just pick a few and auto-approve the rest?

Just like slashdot "editors" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342392)

Now I get it. This site is just a Patent Clerk training college. Nice work, Malda, you moron.

Re:Cited by examiner (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342126)

Hmmm. It would seem that the patent is for an operating system memory management feature. Note in claim 1:

wherein setting the allocation mode for the process to enable determining in real-time an invalid access is performed in real-time, and wherein the setting sets the allocation mode for an application executed by the process without requiring recompiling, linking or loading of the application to set, in real-time,

So you don't have to modify your source or link against a certain library, either statically or dynamically. In fact, it *sounds* like you can turn this on for a process as it is running. An argument might be made that the existence of techniques for the programmer to compile and link his program with relative transparency makes putting this capability into the operating system an obvious step, but I think reasonable people might disagree.

Re:Cited by examiner (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342704)

The ability to configure a program's settings without recompiling it is not some earth shattering idea. Patents shouldn't be for obvious, incremental improvements that are getting done to most or all things in the field already.

No substantive difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342712)

i.e. the call moves from his lib to the OS lib.

And he could link with his lib and have the trace feature turned off, which would be the same as he had.

Re:Cited by examiner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342858)

Windows has had dynamic selection of an allocator since NT4 and possibly earlier. Google Image File Execution Options [bing.com] .

HeapCheck, the subject of the article, uses guard pages for real-time detection of buffer overflows.

As you say, the claims suggest that the allocator can be changed while a process is running but the invention says otherwise:

If the default heapcheck setting is altered in the system, existing processes continue to operate with the original heapcheck setting, while newly created processes inherit the heapcheck setting of the system.

This is behaviour Windows has had for over a decade. "The claims are all that matter in a patent" is a common Slashdot meme, but can you really claim something you blatantly haven't invented?

IANAPL, but everything in this patent has been done before. The only novelty is in putting existing functionality into an OS library where similar functionality has already been incorporated, so the idea is completely obvious. IBM and the patent office should be ashamed.

Dude. Sue in Britain? (1, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342008)

Dude, try to sue in Britain under their libel laws. You'll be rich!

Oh, why libel - the fact that IBM linked their invention with yours caused you irrevocable damage to your reputation; not only as a F/OSS developer but as an honest human being.

old, old, old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342014)

Neither Electric Fence nor valgrind were new ideas either; they just did for open source what commercial and mainframe software had been doing even longer.

Unfortunately, by citing your work and getting it past the examiner, it's now much more difficult for you to claim that your work is prior art. The presumption (idiotic as it is) is that the examiner must have looked at your work and determined that it was sufficiently different from IBM's that he would grant the patent.

How to solve patent problems in 3 easy steps (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342030)

Step 1 - Be a large company.

Step 2 - Afford the world's best lawyers

Step 3 - Sue

No luck for the rest of us.

Re:How to solve patent problems in 3 easy steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342568)

i still like my idea of mixing people, shotguns and lawyers (in that order) better.

anyways, the only people profiting from patents are lawyers, nobody else. the way patent holders counter sue each other in a round robin way just drains money. it slows down human technological advancment. common sense would ... (its impossible to finish a sentence with 'lawyer' and 'common sense' in it)

Sympathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342082)

Hi there,

I can sympathise. Being a South African Engineer I've had a local patent copied (blatantly) and filed separately in the USA. This USA patent has subsequently been used to file a PCT and register the work throughout the EU and even in China.

A commercial decision was taken not to produce a product and so the patent was just there "squatting" on IP.

Given the decision above and the cost of litigation (although I did have a meeting at WIPO in Geneva) I just had to deal with the fact that some moron stole my stuff.

From your post I figure you had made a similar (commercial) choice, and so I hope you can find solace in UNIX.

Cheers.

Prior art... (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342088)

To claim prior art, it's not enough to have a program that has most of the functionality of the one that is patented: you must have a program that does "everything" that's stated on the patent. If there's a single feature that is stated on the patent, but is not implemented on your prior art example, then it doesn't count. That's why prior art is not the best course of action on litigations.

I saw a good article on the intertubes that explained this very well, but I lost the link. Other slashdotters may deliver...

Re:Prior art... (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342258)

To claim prior art, it's not enough to have a program that has most of the functionality of the one that is patented: you must have a program that does "everything" that's stated on the patent. If there's a single feature that is stated on the patent, but is not implemented on your prior art example, then it doesn't count. That's why prior art is not the best course of action on litigations.

Actually, you can kill a patent's claims one at a time, if you have prior art that does *everything* that's stated in a single (independent) claim. Also, I think killing a claim automagically kills all of the dependent claims that depend on it. So if you can kill claim 1 you can usually throw out a big part of the patent (but there may be further, more specific independent claims further down, specifically to defend against this.

read the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342100)

It might look like IBM have patented your technology but what they have actually a patent on is what is given in the claims, no more and no less.

And what is given in the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342464)

And what is given in the claims is what *looks* like the submitter has produced as prior art.

The statement is that IBM has done something innovative.

They should prove that statement.

Currently, what is patented INCLUDES in certain claims what Valgrind does, where the patent should be on the EXTENSION of what Valgrind and the submitters' work does. If that turns out to be the null set, there's no patent. If that turns out to be trivial, there's no patent. If that turns out to be novel, then ONLY that innovation is patented, NOT what the claims say is patented.

TBH, this is the problem with software patents.

Source code marking WHAT is the patented work MUST be put there, much the same as you have to have technical drawings of a new screw thread you wish to patent.

Do not try to sue IBM (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342104)

I had to give a deposition on the IBM / SCO case, since I had access to AIX source code, and also worked for their Linux Technology center. Damn good folks! The lawyer worked for a law firm with a 5th Avenue address in New York City. Although he talked very polite with me, I had the feeling that he could skin me alive, if necessary.

Hey, sue IBM! No, bad idea.

Re:Do not try to sue IBM (4, Funny)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342384)

The IBM laywers are also known by the term of Nazgûl. It has been said they can blacken the sky with their legal arguments, if IBM so desires. So don't mess with them unless you either have a certain ring in your posession, or at least a bunch of enchanted swords.

Re:Do not try to sue IBM (3, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342688)

or at least a bunch of enchanted swords

I hear Stallman has a few [xkcd.com] .

Re:Do not try to sue IBM (3, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342520)

Hey, sue IBM! No, bad idea.

+5 Insightful.

I've worked with our corporate lawyers on various issues over the years. These are some of the nicest people I deal with. Off work they're soccer moms, volunteers, pilots, geocachers, just ordinary people.

On the clock, though, they are seriously unnerving. When I'm having that conversation about the real topic, they listen to me with such intensity that it's frightening.

I'm a bit slow to pick up on stuff like this, but eventually came to understand that they work 100% for the company, and are defending only the company's interests. That leaves 0% for concern over what happens to me. If they hear just one word that sounds like I acted without corporate approval, the tone in the room drops by 25 degrees, and the questions get a lot more personal until they satisfy themselves that there's nothing further to pursue; or at least they leave me with the impression that it's over.

After the interviews I feel like someone's going to slip in behind me like a buttered ninja, and end it all without my saying another word.

In contrast, I've worked with external lawyers brought in to work specific tasks. There's definitely a different dynamic. External lawyers seem to be more interested in completing the paperwork, and less interested in what I'm saying. Or maybe they're just that much better at staying on task and not pursuing side issues unless they hear something that sounds actionable. Perhaps I'm not as scared as I should be!

What to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342162)

Step 1: Go to http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair [uspto.gov]
Step 2: Pass CAPTCHA
Step 3: Select "Patent Number" among the radio buttons, enter "7552305" as the number, click search
Step 4: Click "Image File Wrapper"
Step 5: Tick the box next to each line saying "(Non-)Final Rejection" and "Applicant Arguments/Remarks Made in an Amendment"
Step 6: Click the "PDF" icon towards the top right of the page
Step 7: Read the arguments between the attorney and the USPTO
Step 8: Discuss on Slashdot

Doesn't Sound as if IBM Really Patented his work. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342164)

I am busy this week and have not been able to look at the patent. However, if IBM referenced this person's work in the prior art section of the patent, they are admitting that his work IS prior art, and is not subject of the patent. The issue then becomes, do any of the PATENT CLAIMS (not the summary) claim art that is exercised in his program.

Electric Fence is listed as prior art in two ATT patents. When they saw it, they refrained from including two claims they otherwise would have, because I had precedence. The ATT patents should have expired by now.

I doubt there's anything to worry about in this specific case. However, software patents in general are a problem.

Much prior art. (5, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342166)

Back in 1990, I redid the Borland Pascal memory allocator so each block was given its own hardware-protected segment descriptor and length. Worked magnificently, as any reference outside a valid block would immediately fault. Only prob, you could only allocate about 4000 blocks as there were only 4,096 entries in the hardware segment table. So the next refinement was to allocate each block with short pre and postambles set to $12345678 and check thee for overwriting periodically. Worked almost as well, if not so immediately finding the errors.

And no, I did not try to patent this, as I knew the Burroughs machines, since 1961, allocated a fresh memory-protected segment for each array, and using pre and post safety zones sure sounded like an "obvious" thing to do..

Doesn't Look as if IBM really patented his work. (4, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342188)

I am busy this week and have not been able to look at the patent. However, if IBM referenced this person's work in the prior art section of the patent, they are admitting that his work IS prior art, and is not subject of the patent. The issue then becomes, do any of the PATENT CLAIMS (not the summary) claim art that is exercised in his program.

Electric Fence is listed as prior art in two ATT patents. When they saw it, they refrained from including two claims they otherwise would have, because I had precedence. The ATT patents should have expired by now.

I doubt there's anything to worry about in this specific case. However, software patents in general present a severe problem. [Oops - previously submitted this as AC. Sorry]

Re:Doesn't Look as if IBM really patented his work (4, Informative)

KamuZ (127113) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342232)

Actually in another post by Sockatume pointed the USPTO examiner is the one mentioning his website and not IBM.

(for some reason I cannot link the article)

Re:Doesn't Look as if IBM really patented his work (3, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342302)

Wow, an examiner actually found prior art! Of course, that's what they're supposed to do... I'll have time to decompose the claims next week. If anyone wants to do it this week, go ahead.

Re:Doesn't Look as if IBM really patented his work (1)

flanders123 (871781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342754)

(for some reason I cannot link the article)

Unfortunately, Slashdot already has a patent for "Disabling copy-paste in certain browsers (e.g. Chrome)"

Find a lawyer and split the gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342224)

companies tend to settle rather than fight.

Novelty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342240)

Obviously if the examiner cited HeapCheck, then he/she new of the art and the IBM patent is somehow novel in light of HeapCheck. You should order the prosecution history to fully understand the dialogue between IBM and the patent office over novelty.

They aren't claiming your invention. (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342270)

They are claiming an improvement on your invention. That's why they reference it.

Re:They aren't claiming your invention. (3, Informative)

ttsiod (881575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342350)

I am a coder, not a lawyer - and from reading the patent's claims, I can see only one thing that was not in HeapCheck, but which DID exist in Electric Fence: the ability to enable heap checks at runtime, without recompilation. Electric Fence allowed one to do that via LD_PRELOAD, so I am sorry, but I stand by what I said - I can see nothing in there that didn't exist in either Efence or my HeapCheck.

Re:They aren't claiming your invention. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342422)

Yes, in fact the first action in the patent office was to reject the application because of his reference, and then the IBM people came back and explained why theirs was different. I don't have time to look at this any more deeply, but it looks like this is a case where the patent system actually worked as it was supposed to.

Your art cited, applicant amended around it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342278)

If you check the prosecution history on public pair,

http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair

you will see that the examiner cited your prior art in the 8/30/2007 office action (CTNF) and that the applicant amended the claims in a response on 1/30/08 (CLM) and argued that the amended claims were not anticipated by your art (REM).

USA Patents: First to file, not first to invent. (1, Informative)

MROD (101561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342334)

Remember that US patents are given to the first to file for a patent and not the first to invent, as can be demonstrated by the US patent for the incandescent lightbulb: http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/edison.asp or the telephone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention_of_the_telephone

Of course, the first one shows that the US patent office can issue a patent for something already patented elsewhere in the world.

Backwards: US is really first to invent (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342822)

Your post is entirely backwards. The US is actually a first-to-invent country, and one of the very few. The majority of the rest of the world uses a first-to-file system, but because the Constitution references "inventors", Congress decided that it would be unconstitutional to grant patents to someone who merely filled out paperwork. This is why, in the US, the applicant is the inventor while in Europe, for example, the applicant is usually a corporation.

You reference Edison for proof that the US is a first-to-file system... But did you read your link?

Edison fared no better back home in the U.S., where the U.S. Patent Office already ruled, on October 8, 1883, that Edison's patents were invalid, because he based them upon the earlier art of a gentleman named William Sawyer.

I think, based on your links to the lightbulb and the telephone, that you don't actually understand how patents work... Patents cover the claims, no more, no less. As a result, there are frequently new inventions that are improvements on earlier work that are valid because the claims claim the improvement. For example, there have been literally thousands of patents relating to lightbulb technology, but they don't all say, "I claim, 1. A lightbulb." Instead, each claims specific improvements, such as this one from 1998:

1. A light bulb, comprising: a housing configured to fit at least one of a halogen, incandescent and fluorescent light fixture; an illumination source including a plurality of light emitting diodes (LEDs); a processor coupled to the illumination source and controlling current to the plurality of LEDs to generate color within a color spectrum, wherein the illumination source and the processor are disposed within the housing; and, at least one of a receiver and a transmitter coupled to the processor for respectively receiving or transmitting a data signal from an external device.

If you just look at the titles of patent applications, you wouldn't realize this, however. That claim is from a patent titled "smart light bulb", so not understanding that the titles are legally irrelevant would lead to complaints that the patent office was allowing someone to patent things that had already been invented before.

Re:USA Patents: First to file, not first to invent (1)

johnm1019 (1070174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342842)

Remember that US patents are given to the first to file for a patent and not the first to invent, as can be demonstrated by the US patent for the incandescent lightbulb: http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/edison.asp [coolquiz.com] or the telephone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention_of_the_telephone [wikipedia.org]

Of course, the first one shows that the US patent office can issue a patent for something already patented elsewhere in the world.

This is blatantly WRONG. Unlike most of the world, the US is a first to INVENT system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_to_file_and_first_to_invent [wikipedia.org] http://inventors.about.com/od/firsttoinvent/First_to_Invent_Rule.htm [about.com] and I could keep going with google results 3, 4, and 5.

Re:USA Patents: First to file, not first to invent (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342930)

This is not informative, it is in fact wrong. The United States is one of the few countries that imposes a first-to-invent rule. Most other countries with patent system use first-to-file. What being the first to file in the U.S. gets you is what amounts to a rebutable presumption that you were first to invent. The later-to-file person who claims to have invented first has to file interference proceedings.

That there are counterexamples where someone who invented first lost the patent to the first filer does not change what the law is or the way it is typically applied.

Some Options (1)

Nailer235 (1822054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342354)

File a "Citation of Prior Art." It's very easy to do, and anyone can do it. Next, file a Request for Reexamination. There are two kinds of reexaminations: Ex Parte (which means you submit the request and the fee, and then your personality responsibilities are terminated), and Inter Partes (which means you have a say throughout the entire re-examination). The latter is more expensive. Here is a link that may help you get started: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/2200_2210.htm#sect2210 [uspto.gov] Since your work was listed as prior art, you are going to have a very tough time ahead of you. That designation means that before the patent was granted the examiner looked at your work and said "IBM's invention was not obvious from the prior art." If you are unable to cite your own work due to it already being cited in the patent, you could try citing the work that predates yours by twelve years (and also mentioning your previous work as well). [Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, and I am not a patent agent. I'm not giving you any legal/non-legal advice, just some ideas that you might want to talk to a patent attorney/agent about.]

Read the Claims, ONLY the Claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342358)

They are 20 of them in this patent ; you have to start reading with claims #1, 12 and 16 that are independant claims, and continue with the other claims that refine one of those 3 main claims.

If at the end of your reading you can answer that "Yes, my work does this" for ALL of them, then yes your work is prior art and can be used to refute this patent "novelty".

If ANY of the claim describe something your code did not implement, then no, it cannot be used as "prior art" as the patent describe an "enhancement" from your code and hence can be considered as a novelty.

Read the Claims, *ANY of* the Claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342604)

Fixed that for you.

If claim #12 states something that is in HeapCheck, then that claim is voided. EVEN IF claim #1 is valid.

If claim #1 is invalid from prior art, then all dependent claims are invalid, EVEN IF independent ones are still valid.

HE DOES ***NOT*** have to disprove ALL claims.

If some of the claims are invalid, then the patent needs to have those invalid claims stricken.

E&OE, remember.

In a patentable domain, publication is dangerous (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342366)

In a domain where all the practitioners are big companies (pharma, car manufacturing), this isn't a big problem because all the practitioners have the resources (time, manpower, cash) to contest this sort of abuse. In software where many practitioners are unpaid individuals, hobbyists, and employees whose pay is for something other than directly writing software, the checks and balances don't work.

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Publishing_information_is_made_dangerous [swpat.org]

Alright. que the idiots who were still defending (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342370)

the patent system just 2 articles ago, calling me a 'moron' for saying it could not work. where are you now ...

Re:Alright. que the idiots who were still defendin (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342878)

the patent system just 2 articles ago, calling me a 'moron' for saying it could not work. where are you now ...

Right here. And I was calling you a moron because, in an article about trademarks, you were whining about the patent office.

And here, I'll call you a moron again. As noted by the submitter, the patent includes his work in the list of references, and it was even cited by the Examiner. That means that the Examiner did a search, found submitter's work, looked over it, and decided that the patent claims recite an improvement that is not anticipated or obvious over his work. In fact, if you look over the comments to this article, you see many people noting that the patent's claimed ability to enable heap checks at runtime without recompiling didn't exist in submitter's work. So, the patent system worked just fine - they searched, they found the closest prior art, and they realized that it doesn't teach everything in the patent.

Also, it's "cue" (0, Offtopic)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342880)

... and "all right" is two words, Moron.

Stimulating innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342394)

I don't see why you are complaining... software patents are stimulating innovation. In this case they stimulated innovation by stealing someone-else idea, patent it and now they can start sueing the asses of the original inventors... that's innovation... what part don't you get? Hail innovation, hail software patents. My name is Steve Ballmer and I approve this message.

FSF (2, Informative)

snookiex (1814614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342398)

You could contact the FSF [fsf.org] . They have a legal department that can help you with this.

Sorry to bust your idealism, but... (-1, Troll)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342432)

If you're stupid enough to open source monetizable code under any license, it will be stolen, possibly patented, or otherwise monetized by people NOT stupid enough to give away their work for free in the name of...[insert random sophomoric principle here].

Re:Sorry to bust your idealism, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342488)

You're saying there's people who steal those kind of things even if such things are under a binding license.

Now, what makes you think the same people would not steal/patent/abuse non-opensourced monetizeable code too?

If he was using a BSD license, I would agree with you. But this guy used GPL. And I'm sure you know the difference. If you don't, then why don't you look it up.

First off -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342440)

Don't simply look at the title and/or abstract and conclude "that is my work". The title and abstract are not what is the legally protected invention. The legally protected invention is only that which is described by the claims of the patent, nothing more.

So, first, read the claims. Read them very carefully, and with an open mind. Do they include at least one part that differs from your work? If they do include something that differs from your work, then the claims protect something that is different from your work, and not your work itself.

The only reason for you to do anything more is if what the claims describe is the same thing as your work (and your work has to have been public before the filing date (in this case, October 25, 2005)).

If it is the same, then you have a few choices.

Most involve lots of lawyer fees.

But there is one that does not involve lawyer fees, if you are willing to do the footwork yourself:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/appxl_35_U_S_C_301.htm#usc35s301

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/2200_2205.htm

If you are willing to follow all the fine points of the second URL, you have have your own detailed explanation of why you think the patent claims are invalid put into the patent records. Now, while this will not likely result in invalidation of the patent, it means that if IBM were to try to use it against anyone else that you've already given that anyone else ammunition with which to shoot the patent down.

A few thoughts (1)

Biswalt (1273170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342444)

Let it pass buddy, let it pass. If you wanted to Patent your work, I hate to say it, but as the voice of total logic if you wanted your work patented you should have done it whenever you were finished writing your code. On your own HeapCheck disclaimer page you say "I am releasing my humble efforts to the public so that some programmer's life gets a little easier." You can't then file for a patent on that work, because you put it out and stated that you were releasing it to the public. Essentially you waived all exclusive rights to your work when you released it for free to the public. You can't suddenly decide that because IBM used it that you want to cash in. You said you released it to the public. Now I know you have it under the GPL but if you state elsewhere on the same site that you're releasing your efforts to the public I'm pretty sure the courts are going to see that in very lenient terms for IBM. They have every right to think they are free to use it if you state that you are releasing it to the public. Your best bet, I would think would be to contact a patent attorney and run your case by them. Realistically given your statement that it's been released to the public the only grounds that I can see you challenging their patent on is that they aren't following the terms of the GPL. But the even with the restrictions placed by the GPL if the work IBM did is substantially new they'll still be able to patent their work. For example you say they are accomplishing the same goal, but if their means of execution are substantially different than yours then your patent doesn't apply. Additionally a patent lasts only 18 years, and you haven't brought any other previous claims, even when you found Microsoft to be doing the same thing IBM is now. That will hurt your case big time. Ultimately though my advice isn't based on the law. I'm not a lawyer and I think when it comes to patent law NO ONE really knows what's going on because so much of it is just winging it. But I think most patent lawyers would probably tell you that legally it would be hard to pursue your case because you said you were releasing it to the public, you never issued a patent claim about anyone else using your work, it's not even clear (since we don't have the code) if IBM used your code or if they just liked what your code did and figured out a different way to accomplish the same goal. But ultimately all those things are irrelevant, because I'm pretty sure if you run this by most patent attorneys they'll probably tell you that suing IBM is virtually impossible. IBM made $2.6B the first quarter of 2010. IBM can and does afford the best, and I'm sure one of the most ridiculously abundant legal teams, of any company in the world. Talk to a patent attorney see what they tell you, but don't be surprised if it gets into the simple logistics of suing a company that has a regular cash flow of nearly $20B dollars per quarter.

Tag: Jews? (2, Insightful)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342516)

I'm not Jewish, but do we really need a tag for this story that says "Jews?" Stereotype much?

Re:Tag: Jews? (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342600)

So a few minutes after I post this, the tag is changed to !jews. Nice touch.

Re:Tag: Jews? (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342744)

And now the tag is gone.

Re:Tag: Jews? (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342762)

The first inventor (and probably the only one, the rest are usually just added to get the corporate patent bonus) of the patent in question is Dryfoos, Robert O.

Maybe it is the beginning of the new Dreyfus affair [wikipedia.org] ?

Listing References as Prior Art (2, Informative)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342570)

If a reference is listed in the prior art section of a patent, that means that a patent examiner felt that the reference was pertinent, but that the *claimed invention* was sufficiently *different* from the prior art reference so as to be patentable. God was the only one who ever created something from nothing. Everyone else has had to build off what was already here - including previous versions of software. The phrase *claimed invention* is key here. To properly evaluate a patent, you must focus on the claims at the end. If a patent issued over prior art, the general rule is that there is some feature recited in the claims that is not disclosed in the prior art. You can argue whether the examiner was wrong, but it is virtually never the case that someone saw someone else's invention and then decided to get a patent on the exact same thing.

I Bet What Happened (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342702)

IBM pays its employees a bonus for patents. I bet one of their enterprising and less ethical employees needed a new TV or some quick cash for a vacation, swiped your stuff and patented it. The guy's name might even be on the patent.

As to do about it, well if you load up that sling shot, just remember to aim for the 'I'.

Re:I Bet What Happened (2, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342804)

You clearly have no idea how any large engineering company works.

First, no employee can just go out and file a patent, they sign that right away when they join a company like IBM.

Secondly, it's the legal department of IBM that would file a patent, the employee would just submit a proposal. The legal department meticulously goes through the proposal claims just as a patent office would to avoid scenarios like what the OP is implying.

Thirdly, the employee only makes a bonus once the patent is granted, not on the submission of a proposal, such that there is NO incentive for submitting stolen or invalid patent proposals.

What is happening here is that the OP doesn't understand what IBM patented. IBM patented an improvement of the OPs invention and specifically claims that they are NOT patenting the OPs invention.

You won't manage to break the patent (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342732)

So I say, ask for money. Go to the company that owns the patent, say that you clearly have a case as you are mentioned in the patent itself, so prior art is recognized. Threaten slightly, ask for a pay. Depending on your inclinations you may want to give this money to the EFF or keep it for yourself.

Alternatively, you can contact the EFF and ask them if they have any idea on how to use this situation in the battle against software patents. You clearly have the legal high grounds on this one and the EFF has the muscle to make a case out of it. Maybe it can add to the stockpile of arguments they prepare in the case patent war is declared on OSS.

Contact the EFF or sue them (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34342756)

So I say, ask for money. Go to the company that owns the patent, say that you clearly have a case as you are mentioned in the patent itself, so prior art is recognized. Threaten slightly, ask for a pay. Depending on your inclinations you may want to give this money to the EFF or keep it for yourself. Alternatively, you can contact the EFF and ask them if they have any idea on how to use this situation in the battle against software patents. You clearly have the legal high grounds on this one and the EFF has the muscle to make a case out of it. Maybe it can add to the stockpile of arguments they prepare in the case patent war is declared on OSS.

IBM's patent is probably different (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342768)

The Examiner cited your work. He also used it as the basis of a rejection for three office actions. It was only after IBM included "without requiring recompiling, linking or loading of the application" that the Examiner allowed the patent. It looks like the Examiner gave full consideration to your work.

OT: stupid ad widget on slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34342920)

For this article it shows me all the IBM ads. Previously when I was reading about Korea it was hawking cheap tickets to Korea.

Annoying as Heck. So today I'm download an ad blocker for Chrome, which I'd previously put off doing.

Before starts advertising kiwi fruit as I'm reading about dead miners.

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