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Microsoft, Google Sue Troll Who Sued 397 Companies

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the only-we-can-do-that dept.

Google 176

FlorianMueller writes "Microsoft and Google have teamed up against a company that holds a geotagging patent and sued 397 companies last year in Texas, most of them in mid December. ... Now the two tech giants have entered the fray together and want the patent declared invalid and seek an injunction to prevent further lawsuits over it. Since the patent holder has already filed for an initial public offering, this intervention may come at just the right time to prevent the worst. Google and Microsoft say that there was prior art when the patent on an 'Internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information' was applied for in 1996."

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176 comments

Temperatures plummet in Hades (4, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371686)

Microsoft and Google working together for good?

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371730)

*head explodes*

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (4, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371742)

Yea, certainly unusual to see these the Big "G" and M working together ...

Makes me wonder if something about the patent might actually worry 'em?!?

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372014)

Yes, what worries them is someone else harming their ability to make money.

Microsoft/Google/Apple/Whoever will quite happily work with each other when it suits their money making schemes then
think nothing of stabbing everyone in the back 5 minutes later.

I'm sure M or G would rather buy the troll then use it to delay/cripple their opponent's web offerings but they probably wouldn't sell.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

SimonTS (1984074) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371746)

Would the suit be filed under "Moogle" or "Gosoft"?

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371832)

Mi-Go, of course. That'll get even more companies into the litigation mix.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372030)

What do fungiform extraterrestrials from the planetoid of pluto [wikipedia.org] have to do with companies being litigious?

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372074)

The correct name is Yuggoth, not some Disney character name. (Dog or God, take your pick.)

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372612)

Might as well make it MiiGo.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372162)

It would be filed under "Microgoosoft".

The corporate slogan is:

"Our passion, our evil".

Thats nothing (-1, Troll)

ubuntufan5 (2007436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371764)

Once Microsoft and RedHat teamed up [tinyurl.com] against a patent troll

Re:Thats nothing (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371856)

WARNING above link is to goatse.ru. (thank you, wget)

Re:Thats nothing (2)

CFTM (513264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371972)

Yes, Ubuntufan5 has been spending his/her time over the past few days posting pictures to goatse for fun.

Re:TiniUrl has a nice preview feature as well (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372172)

I have tinyurl preview enabled and this links to:
http://gw001.dyndns-blog.com/ [dyndns-blog.com]
view-source:http://gw001.dyndns-blog.com
indeed redirects you to view-source:goatse.ru

The shock image must be hello.jpg because new is commented out in the css. The names of the other links are bizarre as well.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371818)

Ballmer: "I'll fucking kill mother fucking Google! Oh, wait, we've got a common enemy??? Get my good friends Sergey and Larry on the phone!"

Re:I'd love to be a fly on the wall... (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371904)

Get my good friends Sergey and Larry on the phone!"

A hotline has been established between Mountain View and Redmond ever since the Cuba browser crisis.

Re:I'd love to be a fly on the wall... (5, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372516)

A transcript of Ballmer's side of the conversation (with apologies to Peter Sellers):

"Hello?... Uh... Hello S- uh hello Sergey? Listen uh uh I can't hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?... Oh-ho, that's much better... yeah... huh... yes... Fine, I can hear you now, Sergey... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?... Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine... a-ha-ha-ha-ha... Now then, Sergey, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Patents... The *Patents*, Sergey... The *software* patents!... Well now, what happened is... ahm... one of those patent trolls, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his lawyers... to sue your company... Ah... Well, let me finish, Sergey... Let me finish, Sergey... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Sergey?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... *Of course* I like to speak to you!... *Of course* I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Sergey. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a *friendly* call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it..."

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (5, Funny)

Ancantus (1926920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371840)

Pigs, frightened by the near freezing temperatures, take to the skys.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372098)

In unrelated news, that girl from high school has finally agreed to go out with me.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372502)

Hell yeah! Man, I wish Slashdot had a "Like" button!

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

GravityStar (1209738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371882)

The good news for GeoTag is that the Nazgûl are still behind the Black Gate of Armonk.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371898)

Don't get too excited. Microsoft and Google both have hundreds of dubious patents to their names, so it's not like they're doing it to strike a blow in favor of sane patent reform. They're probably just doing it because once this patent trolling firm goes public, they'll have access to enough capital to start suing the big dogs (like Microsoft and Google) under these same patents instead of just going after the little fish who can't afford to defend themselves properly.

I'm sure they'd rather spend less now to smother the company than spend a lot more later defending themselves against it.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372522)

Say what you will about Microsoft, but Google has come out repeatedly against software patents saying they hamper innovation. They hold them mainly as defensive measures against other sue-happy companies.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372830)

So has Microsoft, repeatedly. But then they turn around and sue someone over software patents anyway.

Shocking, I know... (5, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371970)

Microsoft and Google working together for their own self-interest, which incidentally is beneficial to us too.

FTFY.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

human-cyborg (450395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372290)

Ooh! ... I almost fainted ... but then I didn't.

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372394)

All I can say is "Hold on tight everyone! THE UNIVERSE IS EATING ITSELF!"

Re:Temperatures plummet in Hades (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372618)

Duke Nukem Forever? Is the Cake a TRUTH?

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371694)

Was Apple sued? Will they team up with Microsoft and Google against this patent troll tyrant?

Tune in next week for the next episode of "Patent Troll Saga 2011"!

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372266)

Well, TFA doesn't say, but I'm sure they were. I mean, I use Apple maps all the time...

Of course prior art (4, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371738)

It's called an atlas + gazetteer

Re:Of course prior art (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372020)

But this is on a computer, which makes it totally different!

Re:Of course prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372096)

They should try to prove that microsoft did the same thing with the start button.

Re:Of course prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372104)

Or better yet it's called naming your painting "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" (and thereby giving time and location) which happened long before photographs were common. And then people wrote locations on the back of their photo prints. Digitizing this isn't non-obvious.

Two things ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371770)

Two things ...

We need the USPTO to stop giving out obvious patents that aren't really anything more than "with a computer".

We need to stop letting everybody start legal proceedings in Texas just because it's a favorable venue. Way too many of these stories by patent trolls seem to be out of that jurisdiction.

Re:Two things ... (4, Funny)

turbclnt (1776692) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371824)

We need to stop letting everybody start legal proceedings in Texas just because it's a favorable venue. Way too many of these stories by patent trolls seem to be out of that jurisdiction.

are you advocating...messing with Texas?!

Re:Two things ... (3, Funny)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371874)

I say let Mexico have Texas. Half the Mexicans are there anyway.

Re:Two things ... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372044)

But the other half are here in California. Is there noone left to live in Mexico?

Re:Two things ... (1)

d'fim (132296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372292)

Resort owners and drug dealers. Will this make spring break safer or more dangerous? Either way, don't use the water as mixer.....

Re:Two things ... (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372088)

And 90% of the Texans...

Re:Two things ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371920)

are you advocating...messing with Texas?!

No, I'm advocating they stop letting people mess with everybody else using their court system.

Re:Two things ... (2)

Whalou (721698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372090)

are you advocating *puts on sunglasses* messing with Texas?!

YYEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH.

Re:Two things ... (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372814)

Litter has nothing to do with it.

That phrase was created for a litter control advertisement in the 70s/80s. It doesn't mean what people think it does.

Re:Two things ... (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372854)

That district in texas is to patents what china used to be for spam... and sadly it's probably about money for more than the patent trolls. I wonder just how much money court fees etc bring into that district from the gobs of patent suits filed there every year? They must have an army of judges and a campus of courtrooms, and I get the impression they're about on par with those "wedding chapels" in las vegas, practically with a drive-thru window.

Re:Two things ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371926)

We need

Yes we do. How about you get started and the rest of us will catch up in a minute.

Since you seem to be the most motivated part of "we", what all have you done so far except complain on slashdot?

Re:Two things ... (1)

Jenming (37265) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371940)

We need the USPTO to stop giving out obvious patents that aren't really anything more than "with a computer".

Neutral experts, or a neutral judge and competing experts, don't come cheap.

The current system is to have a low standard at an outset and then a high standard if it turns out there is actually disagreement.

You could put the high or a higher standard first, but you would have to fund it and its not clear that it would reduce the overall expense or justness of the patent system.

Let the inventor pay (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372076)

You could put the high or a higher standard first, but you would have to fund it

OK: have the applicants pay for the needed experts. After all, the idea of a patent is to let the inventor profit. The inventor cannot afford it? That's what banks are for. If the idea is good, he can get a loan based on his future profit. Or get a venture capitalist to fund him.

Re:Let the inventor pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372684)

And just who is supposed to decide that the loan is for a good reason? Oh, the same experts he needs the loan to hire in the first place. The patent system is set up so that its easy (relatively) and not costly for an inventor to get a patent on something. The alternative is that you come up with something, a rich guy sees or hears what it is, the rich guy screws you over because he doesn't need the loan to patent the thing. Or better yet, what if you just have really bad credit but you suddenly realize the physics behind faster than light travel! Should you get screwed out of the idea of a generation just because you couldn't get your finances straight or should you have to sell it to a corporation for a song when it could be worth trillions!? The current system may not be great but its set up the way it is for good reasons. Reforming it isn't that simple or they would have done it already. The patent system is being abused right now because technology is the bleeding edge of innovation. An innovation that people want to cash in on.

Re:Let the inventor pay (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372700)

You could put the high or a higher standard first, but you would have to fund it

OK: have the applicants pay for the needed experts. After all, the idea of a patent is to let the inventor profit. The inventor cannot afford it? That's what banks are for. If the idea is good, he can get a loan based on his future profit. Or get a venture capitalist to fund him.

You realize the most VC's are just loan sharks of the startup world, don't you?

Another possibility would be to have those who have successfully obtained a patent and are not actively licensing it under reasonable terms pay an annual penalty. This penalty would be used to fund the expert assistance required to maintain a manageable patent system. This has three advantages: it ensures fewer garbage patents are allowed into this system; it discourages people and companies from sitting on patents; and it encourages availability of the patented technology.

Further - it wouldn't make a process that's already too expensive for the independent inventor even more so; or unreasonably burden their future income as with VC funding.

Re:Let the inventor pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372780)

OK: have the applicants pay for the needed experts. After all, the idea of a patent is to let the inventor profit. The inventor cannot afford it? That's what banks are for. If the idea is good, he can get a loan based on his future profit. Or get a venture capitalist to fund him.

That's what a patent troll and contingency fee law firm are - venture capitalists. They put thousands of hours into the case for free with the hope that settlement/verdict will compensate for the risk.

Re:Two things ... (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371954)

We need to stop letting everybody start legal proceedings in Texas just because it's a favorable venue. Way too many of these stories by patent trolls seem to be out of that jurisdiction.

Oh no! Somewhere that laws are not uniform and/or uniformly enforced? Why do you think so many companies incorporate in Delaware?

Re:Two things ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372360)

Oh no! Somewhere that laws are not uniform and/or uniformly enforced?

So, you're in favor of something like Libel Tourism [wikipedia.org] where you shop for a jurisdiction that will let you do what almost every other jurisdiction would laugh you out of court for? Or is this special because it's Texas?

From the number of stories I see where Texas is the venue for such a law suit, I find it hard to believe that either party has much, if any, actual presence in Texas. At which point, it's hard not to conclude they have really lax rules about who is allowed to use their court system.

Re:Two things ... (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372564)

IIRC, A lawyer, in a previous article where Texas courts are being used, posted the Texas courts are preferred because they have lots of experience in highly technical matters. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, it doesn't appear to be a case of Libel Tourism; rather shopping for true legal and technical expertise.

Re:Two things ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372662)

IIRC, A lawyer, in a previous article where Texas courts are being used, posted the Texas courts are preferred because they have lots of experience in highly technical matters. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, it doesn't appear to be a case of Libel Tourism; rather shopping for true legal and technical expertise.

I sorta get the impression that it's because they've got rules that make them a favorable venue, and because they'll let any lawyer, from anywhere file a suit. Here's what wikipedia [wikipedia.org] says.

So, if they're taking law suits from any jurisdiction, then I would say this is a lot more like Libel Tourism than any actual 'expertise'.

Re:Two things ... (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372846)

Those rules need not be mutually exclusive. Now that you mention the favorable rules, I seem to remember that all being part of the package. I don't have a problem with favorable rules which lead to speedy trials and/or resolution in combination with technical prowess.

Seems like a win-win.

Re:Two things ... (1)

Magnus Pym (237274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372250)

We need to stop letting everybody start legal proceedings in Texas just because it's a favorable venue. Way too many of these stories by patent trolls seem to be out of that jurisdiction.

I never understood why it is that this particular jurisdiction is so favorable to patent holders. Could someone with some perspective on this please comment?

Re:Two things ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372824)

We need to stop letting everybody start legal proceedings in Texas just because it's a favorable venue. Way too many of these stories by patent trolls seem to be out of that jurisdiction.

I never understood why it is that this particular jurisdiction is so favorable to patent holders. Could someone with some perspective on this please comment?

Two reasons:

1. Its the Rocket Docket -- nick name of the court in legal settings because the judges there don't put up with BS requests for continuances. The schedule gets set and basically doesn't change unless the presiding judge gets sick enough that he can't sit through the proceedings.

2. Most of the jury pool is educated with a fairly large distrust of larger governments and corporations, as a result every patent troll firm country maintains an office in the jurisdiction

Re:Two things ... (3, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372322)

We need the USPTO to stop giving out obvious patents that aren't really anything more than "with a computer".

That depends.

If you have a methodological process for, say, reading your location off a GPS, checking it against a map, and tagging it manually to a piece of data... then with a computer, this is nothing but "a computer program to do what I was doing anyway."

If however you are sighting up things by hand and manually tagging them, the integration of a GPS with the system may be quite novel.

Patents are about novelty. Unfortunately, all novelty is incremental. Small incremental steps are obvious, though, if they come in the common sphere or they package up what's common. Say you take a picture, check your GPS, put the location into the picture... putting a GPS in the camera to tag the picture doesn't suddenly make geotagging photographs a new invention, because you're automating what people did anyway. But if nobody thought to geotag pictures before, or they never thought to use a GPS, or they always tagged with the LOCATION ON A MAP and you integrate a system that tags the GPS coordinates and looks it up on a map as needed, you've done something nobody's thought of yet.

Novelty is subtle. There is a lot of "This is just X done with Y" and "I could have done that..." coming from people who really, really like this idea that nobody seems to have done before. There are also cases of "everyone does this with the exact same fucking tools; you just told a computer to make it user-transparent" going on, which need to be shot down.

Bread machines didn't pioneer the making of bread, or any individual step; but they did provide the novelty of a machine that mixes, rises, and bakes the bread in one sweep, with tools that all existed before. Note that nobody put a paddle in the base of a baking pan, stuck it in the oven, cranked it several times, let it rise, cranked it again, and then heated it up; the actual process was completely different, but using the same tools (a pan, bread ingredients, an agitator, and a heating element similar to those found in an electric oven). This was not "a traditional bread machine, but with a motor instead of a hand crank."

The same goes for a computer: is this a traditional manual process (take picture, enter GPS information into picture) done with two computers, but we put the components together and did it manually? Or is this a traditional manual process done via other means which we recognized was possible to automate by plugging a bunch of other tools together and using a new methodology that correlates to but doesn't strictly automate the original steps?

Re:Two things ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372448)

We need the USPTO to stop giving out obvious patents that aren't really anything more than "with a computer".

Let me fix that for you:

We need the USPTO to stop giving out patents.

Tolkien (5, Funny)

SimonTS (1984074) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371784)

You can't use the word 'Troll' or the Tolkien estate will be after you all.

Re:Tolkien (2)

LordEd (840443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371864)

You can't use the world 'Tolkien' or the Tolkien estate will be after you.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/02/27/1940241/Tolkien-Estate-Censors-the-Word-Tolkien [slashdot.org]

Re:Tolkien (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371914)

*whooooosh* That's the sound of it going over your head.

Re:Tolkien (2)

SimonTS (1984074) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371948)

That's OK - they'll be after you twice as badly as after me - you used the 'T' word twice.

Re:Tolkien (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372094)

You can't use the world 'Tolkien' or the Troll estate will be after you.

FTFY

Re:Tolkien prior art for word "Troll" (2)

cboslin (1532787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372280)

You can't use the word 'Troll' or the Tolkien estate will be after you all.

Nope, prior art....lol...

troll (n.) [etymonline.com]

"ugly dwarf or giant," 1610s, from O.N. troll "giant, fiend, demon." Some speculate that it originally meant "creature that walks clumsily," and derives from P.Gmc. *truzlan, from *truzlanan (see troll (v.)). But it seems to have been a general supernatural word, cf. Swed. trolla "to charm, bewitch;" O.N. trolldomr "witchcraft." The old sagas tell of the troll-bull, a supernatural being in the form of a bull, as well as boar-trolls. There were troll-maidens, troll-wives, and troll-women; the trollman, a magician or wizard, and the troll-drum, used in Lappish magic rites. The word was popularized in English by 19c. antiquarians, but it has been current in the Shetlands and Orkneys since Viking times. The first record of it is from a court document from the Shetlands, regarding a certain Catherine, who, among other things, was accused of "airt and pairt of witchcraft and sorcerie, in hanting and seeing the Trollis ryse out of the kyrk yeard of Hildiswick." Originally conceived as a race of giants, they have suffered the same fate as the Celtic Danann and are now regarded in Denmark and Sweden as dwarfs and imps supposed to live in caves or under the ground.

I am pretty sure, without looking...I know very very brave of me - not to look..., that Tolkien (oops violated that one...Good one LordEd) was born sometime after 1610. Either that or he lived to over 300 years old...or there abouts.

On a more serious note, yes hard to believe that any of us would get serious about this topic..., if you enjoyed Tolkien's Trilogy, "Lord of the Rings" [wikipedia.org] . I know I did back in the day, you need to visit your nearest book source and read:

Good luck putting them down, assuming of course you enjoyed Lord of the Rings.

And if they make those into movies, I sincerely hope they do them justice! How about 6 movies from 3 books, hint, hint...

Re:Tolkien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372658)

You can't use the word 'Tolkien' or the Troll estate will be after you all.

1996 (3, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371786)

The patent was applied for in 1996? 15 years in internet time is like 5 decades in other fields.

Back then, you were likely running Windows 95 and had to launch Real Player 1.0 to listen to audio online. IE and Netscape were both products you had to pay for (IE came with MS Plus!)

Should a patent from that era really still be valid?

Re:1996 (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371852)

Should a patent from that era really still be valid? Irrelevant. A patent is as good for as long as a patent is legally good. 20 years. It's not an arbitrary number.

Re:1996 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371956)

Thats whats up for debate though. currently the legal duration is 20 years. But in the tech world, particularly software, is that not far too long for a sector that can adapt and (profit) many times quicker. Point of the patent system was to provide researchers (etc) with some benefit of making a 'discovery' or invention. Normally this is because traditional R&D takes years, even decades. But in software - R&D is often limited to a few months, just weeks. Deployment too is many times faster, the giants of today have all risen and fallen within the duration of a single patent. If apple was to fall as fast as they rose back again, their patents would still not even have gone even half way through expiration.

Re:1996 (4, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372002)

A patent is as good for as long as a patent is legally good. 20 years. It's not an arbitrary number.

I'm pretty sure 20 years was an entirely arbitrary number.

Re:1996 (2)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372174)

Not when they set it, it was a reasonable period of time to allow a creator to benefit from his invention with a mandated monopoly while still being short enough to benefit the public with it's eventual ending and spur the inventor to continue inventing because he won't be raking in the bucks for the rest, or even most of his life.

(Unlike copyright, which was initially shorter than patents, and now are up to something stupid like life + 90 years someone keeps up on the paperwork. That's a monopoly for the creators life, their kids, and probably their grandchildrens as well.)

Note that a generation (not a lifespan) is considered to be 20 years. Do you see the relevance? They gave the inventor an entire generation to try and get rich off of that one thing. You want more money, create something else, or go find a new enterprise.

Re:1996 (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372424)

Not when they set it, it was a reasonable period of time to allow a creator to benefit from his invention with a mandated monopoly while still being short enough to benefit the public with it's eventual ending and spur the inventor to continue inventing because he won't be raking in the bucks for the rest, or even most of his life.

IOW some people got their heads together and one of them pulled a number out of his ass and they all finally said "yeah, that sounds fair enough".

Note that a generation (not a lifespan) is considered to be 20 years. Do you see the relevance?

No, I don't see the relevance. The length of one's career seems more relevant than the length of a generation, and most people work 40 or 50 years.

Any inventor would want, at the very least, to be allowed to profit from his invention until he was able to retire. Note that a patent isn't even directly profitable: to profit from it you have to actually produce and sell the product, or license the invention to people who will. So it's not like having a patent just allows you to sit on your laurels and watch the money rolling in. Unless, of course, you're a patent troll and your profit comes entirely from suing people who had the same bleedingly obvious idea, but instead of sitting around they actually made it profitable.

Finally, even once the patent expires, that doesn't mean you can't get rich off the idea anymore. The patent is just to give you a monopoly on the idea long enough to give you an opportunity to establish a monopoly in the market. An up-start who's trying to copy you will have to be either much better or much cheaper to make any headway against your monopoly, once you have 20 years under your belt as the only player in the game. If in those first 20 years you made a profitable business off the idea, you'll likely still be raking in the profits even after the patent has expired.

Re:1996 (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371866)

I remember Windows 95... it was useless until you torrented MS Plus.

Re:1996 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371930)

Torrented? Really?

Re:1996 (1)

DocZayus (1046358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371982)

I think he meant that you went and got it through IRC... or Russian download sites...

Re:1996 (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372032)

Project establish 16 years of nerd history has failed. Damn you and your tireless attention to detail.

Re:1996 (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372064)

He only just upgraded from Windows 3.1 a few months ago.

Re:1996 (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372122)

Indeed. Wikipedia says the first implementation of Bittorrent came out in 2001, only months before XP.

Re:1996 (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372296)

Why on earth were you downloading MS Plus via bittorrent in 2001 or later? Let alone still using Windows 95?

Re:1996 (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372640)

Really? The joke of me using 95 far too long was that hard to grasp?

... perhaps... oh god no.... I'm just not funny. :-(

This is good? Are you sure? (0, Flamebait)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371800)

Oh like Microsoft and Google wouldn't do the same if they owned a legitimate patent that could potentially bring them a lot of money? What's disturbing is this.....
Since the patent holder has already filed for an initial public offering, this intervention may come at just the right time to prevent the worst.
Why is it "the worst" exactly?
Seriously if they have a legitimate patent then they ** SHOULD ** sue the hell out of everybody who infringes on it. What's the point of having a patent if you don't defend it and go on the offensive?

Re:This is good? Are you sure? (1)

Vetruvet (1639267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371858)

Did you forget this is ./ ??? Or are you just looking for a virtual beating for sounding supportive of a patent troll on ./ ??

Re:This is good? Are you sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371946)

Did you forget this is ./ ??? Or are you just looking for a virtual beating for sounding supportive of a patent troll on ./ ??

What's './'? Do you mean '/.' - in other words the site we're on?

Re:This is good? Are you sure? (2)

Dunega (901960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372474)

'./' also means here, so either work.

Re:This is good? Are you sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35371886)

Careful with that language. The Slashdot hive-mind is not too fond of using patents offensively. God forbid patent-holders get what they applied for: a 20 year monopoly on the use of their invention.

Re:This is good? Are you sure? (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371934)

Being quiet about it for YEARS while people infringe on your patent is not what they should be doing, thats not defending the patent, it is as you said, going on the offensive. Patents are supposed to be defense only. Also, you keep saying legitimate, but it isn't as there is prior art and does not meet a rational judgment of being novel.

It would be "the worst" if a bunch of people put their money in a pit that is about to get their patent revoked.

Pot calling the kettle black. (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371830)

I would agree with this if Google and Microsoft lose all of their patents. Otherwise they should shut the hell up and accept that what goes around comes around.

Re:Pot calling the kettle black. (2)

Angostura (703910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371894)

So you're against - you know - looking at the merits of the individual patent case then?

Re:Pot calling the kettle black. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372212)

Agreeing to look at the merits of each individual case gives legitimacy to the process that allowed the creation of so, so many unmerited cases. And it certainly gives legitimacy to the concept of software patents as a whole.

Forum shopping (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371844)

How many of those defendants were joined to GeoTag's lawsuits solely for the purpose of getting jurisdiction in the Eastern District of Texas? The irony, of course, being that they would end up having to defend their other suit in Delaware anyway because they neglected to sue Google and Microsoft straight away.

Nice to have deep pockets (4, Insightful)

return 42 (459012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371908)

Gee, it's nice to be a multi-billion dollar corporation. You can defend yourself against this crap. A small start-up? A free software project? Not so easy.

Re:Nice to have deep pockets (2)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35371942)

Just like the criminal justice system. It helps the rich, screws the poor.

Re:Nice to have deep pockets (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372390)

That is not a bug it is a feature. This is purely intentional in both cases.

Re:Nice to have deep pockets (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372396)

You people don't seem to understand that lawyers are hackers exploiting the rules of the legal system. The legal system is not and cannot be airtight; it's not possible. When your girlfriend is loose, she will get fucked by everyone; when your legal system is tight, it will fuck everyone. Unfortunately, a loose legal system also gets fucked by everyone.

Prior art is not the problem (4, Insightful)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372112)

The problem is not that a patent was given when there was prior art. Are we supposed to think this would all be fine and dandy if only this abusive patent troll company had filed for this patent a little earlier so that there wouldn't be prior art? The patent system was supposed to be this deal: you tell the world how you did this amazing thing, and the world allows you to control your idea for a limited time. The patent system has instead become a competition to come up with an idea before anyone else does, so that those other people can't use their own idea to compete with you.

The premise that gives the patent system value is that the world just wouldn't have the idea available if the patent holder hadn't come along. In such a case perhaps a patent is called for. If we give patents for 20 years, the standard for giving a patent should be that no one else is likely to come up with that idea for the next 20 years assuming no patent system to motivate them. Then a patent makes sense. I doubt even one patent in a thousand could live up to that standard. The 999 other patents in a thousand are a drain on humanity.

Re:Prior art is not the problem (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372520)

Modify parent insightful, please.

Re:Prior art is not the problem (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372818)

...The patent system has instead become...

No, it has not degenerated. It has always been like that. Read about the patent fights between Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers attempts to run Henry For out of town way back in 1900s. Think about the patent fights over ailerons vs wing warping between the Wright Brothers and the Curtiss aircraft company (Wrigts were wrong). The bitter personal feud between Edison and Westinghouse, Westinghouse poaching Tesla from Edison. Tesla getting to huge fights with Marconi. I have read about some patent office clerk being bribed/blackmailed into time stamping one application ahead of the other, (may or may not be the Marconi vs Logdge, not sure).

There were thousands of patent disputes, angry personal feuds, and quite a lot of underhanded dealings in the patent system. Just that in the internet age there was a mad rush and these disputes have exploded in number compared to previous decades.

Have you seen the list (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35372636)

I mean really, what the heck is this patent for? They're suing McDonald's, Levi's, Hospitals, Lowe's, Auto parts stores, grocery stores, heavy machinery companies, and even Build A Bear...Oh! The humanity!!!....What the heck?

FlightPrep? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35372686)

They're suing FlightPrep? No? Oh, oh well... :-(

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