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Bittorrent and uTorrent Sued For Patent Violations

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i'm-patenting-patents dept.

Patents 182

dutchwhizzman writes "Bittorrent and uTorrent have been sued for using certain techniques in their clients and the bittorrent protocol. From the article it appears technologies are being used that were submitted in a 1999 patent that was subsequently approved in 2007. This itself is not uncommon, but given the technologies involved, HTTP could very well be prior art, or it could violate at least part of the same protocol."

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182 comments

Why is this still news? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36498848)

Software patents need to die. End of story.

Re:Why is this still news? (0)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499142)

The world is such a simple black and white place. Why hasn't this been solved from someone's armchair? I can't understand...

Re:Why is this still news? (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499274)

It has been solved, in many countries where software patents are not accepted. In this case it really is black and white.

Re:Why is this still news? (0)

RobDude (1123541) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500076)

I've been told (perhaps incorrectly) that the countries that are willing to forgo laws that protect intellectual property are the ones that benefit most from allowing it's citizens to copy/steal/imitate others.

Are there any countries that don't allow software patents that have a history of regularly introducing ground-breaking/game-changing software (at the global scale)?

Re:Why is this still news? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500182)

Well how about the largest European countries? The trouble is that we have to adhere to US patent law if we want our software distributed in the US, so it doesn't matter much.

Re:Why is this still news? (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499162)

In certain countries software patents aren't accepted. In my country there is a particular clause which says that you can't patent software.

However, in a country which is in the pocket of large corporations, do you think anyone is going to try to change that?

Re:Why is this still news? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499362)

This patent is so "generalized" that sites like TuCows and Fileplanet could be sued.
Both examples of sites that existed before 1999 using this "patent".

Re:Why is this still news? (5, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499438)

"In two-three countries, software patents are accepted". Everywhere else, they're not.

Specifically USA, South Korea and partially Japan. That's it.

Re:Why is this still news? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499574)

Thanks for the info. I was doing an assignment on this, and I found a lot of references to some EU patent discussion in 2005 or something like that, but I couldn't find out how it finished.

Re:Why is this still news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499840)

For some stupid reason (corporate lobbying?) our politicians want to be more like the US. Software patents are coming to the EU.

Hundreds of millions of refugees (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499770)

But which country in "everywhere else" has the wherewithal to accept 300 million refugees from the U.S. software patent regime?

Re:Hundreds of millions of refugees (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500152)

Canada probably could. Certainly have the space, the similar climate, the same language, and the food capacity to feed that many refugees.... but you'd have to learn to be polite, and to make fun of Americans for their silly backward laws.

In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499164)

Software patents need to die. End of story.

I can't access the article but, if I'm understanding this correctly, the part about the protocol is worse than a software patent. Protocol patents are very bothersome to me because in my mind they totally destroy the chance a competitor has to interface with your product. And in doing so it really hinders innovation and integration. It's very easy to see how a simple ploy can result in people being "bought in" to a line of products even though a better competing line may come along. This vendor lock-in or competitor lockout (whatever you want to call it) is a very serious problem in my line of work (ever had your boss demand that you "decrypt" .doc files from years ago?).

Now, the common counter argument is that people would simply just buy products without patent laden protocols ... but I think there have been many examples where this simply hasn't happened. Even now people don't realize/recognize this problem when they look for a solution to their needs. Massive companies seem fine with using proprietary protocols because they are of higher quality than the more open competition. I've seen cost/benefit studies where openness (protocol or software) doesn't even factor into the final scores of the products.

I think a good concrete example would be if Samuel Morse had patented not only the telegraph machine (his particular device design) but also the Morse Code protocol and sued anybody using that alphabet to send messages. Do you think telegraphy would have progressed as quickly if that had been the case?

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499278)

if Samuel Morse had patented not only the telegraph machine (his particular device design) but also the Morse Code protocol and sued anybody using that alphabet to send messages. Do you think telegraphy would have progressed as quickly if that had been the case?

Or that his name would still be so well known? Just imagine if what's-his-name - you know, the web guy - had attached his name to HTTP. I'd remember who he is without having to look it up via the web.

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (2)

Whalou (721698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499428)

Just imagine if what's-his-name - you know, the web guy - had attached his name to HTTP. I'd remember who he is without having to look it up via the web.

Timmay!

Ah Yes, Remember Gopher Protocol? (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499458)

Or that his name would still be so well known? Just imagine if what's-his-name - you know, the web guy - had attached his name to HTTP. I'd remember who he is without having to look it up via the web.

I think I comprehend your point but I must be missing your joke. I know who Sir Tim Berners-Lee is and every time he postulates about the future, it's a Slashdot headline. If you're referring to the licensing of the Gopher protocol (a topic I've often commented on [slashdot.org] ) I can assure you nobody remembers nor cares who it was that attached their names to the Gopher protocol. All that's left of it is a torrent archive (that my recent findings picked out three hilariously old trojan/dialers from).

Perfect example of the futility and backwardness of patenting protocols. Quality debates aside, it would have been nice to get an earlier start on the early growing pains of the web.

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499354)

At the same time, if you want a strong security model, you make hte software and you make the hardware and lock everyone else out. This si the entire Apple model and quite frankly, if they opened up their architecture there could be problems don't ya think?

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499762)

eldavojohn: "...because they are of higher quality than the more open competition."

me: "Objection! Subjective opinion, move to strike."

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (2)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500144)

It's easy to keep the proprietary stuff at a higher quality when you shut open source out in the cold by not playing ball.

It's also easier to stay rich when you don't share the wealth.

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499936)

It's a vicious circle.

Better proprietary stuff attracts more business, development dollars add polish, proprietary stuff keeps improvements locked in and won't play ball with open source, open source left out in the cold and rusts, etc etc etc...

Re:In My Opinion, Protocol Patents Are Much Worse (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500004)

Formats also should not be patented. Back in 2000, I worked for a company that tried to patent their particular XML schema to prevent a competitor from making a product that consumed the same schema. The patent filing was written so broadly that even the developers of the format could not recognize it. Fortunately, the patent filing was rejected and the company gave up. If I had my name on that monstrosity it would haunt me.

Re:Why is this still news? (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500448)

Better yet, make the PTO put some skin in the game. If a patent is denied in court due to prior art or not being novel or some other useless reason, every PTO person that signed off on it gets fired. Then allow anything and everything to be panted all people want.

patent violation (1, Funny)

slashpot (11017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498856)

I have a patent violation in my pants.

Re:patent violation (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36498910)

I have a patent violation in my pants.

I have a torrent... never mind!

Re:patent violation (-1, Offtopic)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499416)

Ew, that's p, not cum!

Blizzard Updates (5, Insightful)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498908)

Would this not also include Blizzard and their new way of updating/downloading games? They would seem to have far more wealth to go after than either of the two torrent providers.

Re:Blizzard Updates (4, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498958)

They are also VERY large and might actually have the resources to fight back long enough to get the patent overturned.

Suing people who are likely to settle because they cant afford to fight is a common tactic of patent trolls.

Re:Blizzard Updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499260)

they also have more money to sue. but it's a bit interesting, why the fuck is utorrent trademarked and belongs to bittorrent incorporated? and their home page is actually full of spam for b-grade movies? they shouldn't have gone through that route - the sw is what it is by itself already, why the need for corporating? it really isn't a thing someone should be using to pump enough cash to buy a house... not very lulzy of them.

Re:Blizzard Updates (1)

MareLooke (1003332) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499084)

Blizzard has been using Bittorrent to distribute patches since forever (for World of Warcraft at least and it can be turned off). So yeah, I would guess they could be sued, but Blizzard also has lots of $$ so suing them might not be the best of ideas.

Re:Blizzard Updates (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499534)

But if this goes through, Blizzard would be next as it would give the trolls a prior case.

Re:Blizzard Updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499222)

Probably not. Every claim must be violated, and this isn't nearly as broad as some would have you believe. Remember to skip everything before the claims. None of that actually matters. You might be able to build a https streaming server to violate this patent, but you can't just violate part of it, you have to violate every single claim. IANAL

Re:Blizzard Updates (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499472)

AFAIK, you only have to violate ONE claim in order to infringe. You know, that's actually the reason why patents have multiple claims, rather than just one huge dump-all. IANAL, but I prefer ORAL...

Re:Blizzard Updates (2)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499620)

Blizzard is rolling in cash. For all we know they just paid these guys a licensing fee instead of fighting it. Going to court is actually rare in patent disputes.

Re:Blizzard Updates (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499782)

No, it wouldn't. The patent clearly states it provides a "highly compressed, user-selectable, media file distribution" while Blizzard Update is a push system in which the user does not have the ability to select any files.

Patent trolls (1)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498924)

When will we stop putting up with all this prior art nonsense. We'll be sued for breathing methods and the way we click our mouse next.

Sounds to me... (1)

Tonyd0311 (2287226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498946)

....like someone has a patent on the internet.

Re:Sounds to me... (1)

InShadows (103008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499060)

From reading the patent, it could pertain to IRC or a BBS. Those would definitely be prior art. Let's hope the judge has some common sense and denies the lawsuit. Although with how technologically savvy judges appear to be, it will be a long drawn out court case with a plethora of experts trying to explain the technologies involved.

Re:Sounds to me... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499308)

From reading the patent, it could pertain to IRC or a BBS. Those would definitely be prior art. Let's hope the judge has some common sense and denies the lawsuit. Although with how technologically savvy judges appear to be, it will be a long drawn out court case with a plethora of experts trying to explain the technologies involved.

Hmm... I don't see it. Here's the independent claim from the patent:

1. A media distribution system, comprising:

a media file database configured to store media files, wherein one or more of the media files have been compressed prior to storage in the media file database;
a computing device configured to receive user requests for delivery of the one or more of the media files stored in the media file database, the computing device further configured to:
identify average network throughput between computing device and the requesting users; and
route the user requests for delivery of the requested one or more media files to a distribution server capable of servicing the user requests based upon at least the average network throughput; and

a distribution server coupled to the media file database, the distribution server configured to simultaneously deliver a single copy of the requested one or more of the media files identified in the routed user requests to the requesting users in less-than-real-time, wherein the distribution server automatically adjusts delivery of the requested one or more media files to the requesting users based on current average network throughput between the distribution server and the requesting users.

While an IRC server or a BBS could meet the media file database part, or be a "computing device configured to receive user requests," I don't believe I saw any BBSs in the 80s or 90s that would identify average network throughput and route user requests accordingly. IRC certainly doesn't do it.

Napster. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499658)

Napster however was releases in june 1999, and this patent is from april

Re:Sounds to me... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499836)

"I don't believe I saw any BBSs in the 80s or 90s that would identify average network throughput and route user requests accordingly."

So, you never ran a multi-node BBS, then?

Yes, this patent is pure bullshit with prior art existing back to the 80s.

Re:Sounds to me... (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500082)

Not prior art. The patent requires a media server hosting one or more files, and one or more distribution servers set up to mirror those files. The media server, upon receiving a request, directs that request to the distribution server best able to satisfy the request, based on current network throughput. (That is, probably it just sends it to the least busy server.) In a multi-node BBS, what is the media server, and what is the distribution client? Is the phone switch the media server? Because it's the one deciding which computer to connect you to. Or is the computer your modem is talking to the server? Because in that case it doesn't direct you to a free distribution server, it sends you the file directly. Now, if there were multiple network file servers and the BBS servers were load balancing between them, then it MIGHT apply, except that it's not redirecting the client to them, it's redirecting itself to them. So no, even in situations like that the patent does not apply.

To be clear: You need a media file server. That file server must respond to requests for file downloads from users. You need one or more distribution servers. The media server must redirect download requests to a distribution server, and the decision of which one must be based on network throughput. Load balancing web servers meet these requirements. So if they were around prior to 1999, they are prior art. BBSs do not meet these requirements, because, for one, you can't just redirect a modem line to a new server on the fly. And there's no reason to, because modem lines are boolean. You are using all of the line, or you aren't using it at all. You can't load balance that. And besides which, the redirection must be on a file-by-file basis, or on a frame-by-frame basis if the file has been split.

Re:Sounds to me... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500272)

"You need a media file server. That file server must respond to requests for file downloads from users. You need one or more distribution servers. The media server must redirect download requests to a distribution server, and the decision of which one must be based on network throughput."

BBS meets all of those. We've had internet-based (not dial-up) BBSes do the exact same thing. Why, yes, you CAN redirect a modem line to a new server on the fly. Once it's connected to the main server, that internally-assigned IP address can be dynamically changed. And in fact, you don't even have to change the modem line, just switch which server the main one is retrieving information from depending upon other server loads.

Network topologies - mine are strange, but essentially I've been doing exactly what has been described in the patent since 1995, when I was 13.

Been running Nucleus BBS since I was 8. I'm almost 29.

Demanding a jury trial? (2)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498968)

They must be pretty confident that they'd win.

Re:Demanding a jury trial? (3, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499104)

That, or they think a judge would see through the evidence more quickly than a jury of "peers" who would be more easily flim-flammed by a fancy lawyer.

Re:Demanding a jury trial? (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499178)

"If you're innocent get a Judge, if you're guilty get a Jury"

Re:Demanding a jury trial? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499194)

"If you're innocent get a Judge, if you're guilty get a Jury"

Unless it is a traffic violation.

Re:Demanding a jury trial? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499316)

Except in cases where the jury can clearly see you're guilty and ignores legal technicalities that should, in theory, result in a verdict of not guilty even though they shouldn't.

Or cases where the judge is unreliable and you don't trust him not to further either his own agenda or the agenda one or more of his country club buddies has and give a guilty verdict even though he knows you're innocent...

Data formats are the biggest problem (5, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498988)

This is a real problem - much bigger than the usual story we hear about some big corporation maybe having to pay some amount of money.

Software, to be useful, *has to* be compatible with other software - exactly compatible for data formats, and a degree of similarity is needed in terms of interface and behaviour.

This is the real problem, and it can't be fixed by "reform" or higher standards (which are much talked about but never come).

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Harm_to_standards_and_compatibility [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Interoperability_exceptions [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Harm_with_neither_litigation_nor_threats [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patenting_around_what_will_become_essential [swpat.org]

Re:Data formats are the biggest problem (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499854)

And, what if someone wants to keep their software from being compatible with someone else's software for security or profit reasons?

Compatibility, while nice, is not necessarily the goal, nor should it be the goal, of every piece of software. If I want my servers to only talk to my software so I can guarantee the behaviors involved, I want to patent my protocols and, if possible, software. I don't want your half-assed knock-off client talking to my servers.

Really, your statement is false. To be useful, software must do what it is designed to do. It does not need to be compatible with any other software to be useful.

Re:Data formats are the biggest problem (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500258)

The software with the most usage and that becomes the most popular are the ones that can be interfaced with freely. Look at an HTTP server, the web exploded because the protocol was out there for anyone to interface with any server implementing it. Let's move down further, you have a program that generates a data set your program will be more highly desireable if more programs can read and use the data you generate. Or reverse the situation, say your program interprets and analyzes data, if you can only analyze and use your own data then your program isn't as useful as one that can analyze and interpret data from many different sources.

It's not a question of being "useful" (in that i disagree with GP. software can be useful without interfacing with other software) it's a question of how useful it is. Something that can interface with many different data sets (a video player that can play many different formats) is much more useful than something that can only interface with a single type of data. Not only that, but when software is able to interface with many different sources, innovation happens quite frequently because it creates competition.

In the world of software, compatibility with other software is what generates innovation, progress, and is great for both consumers and developers. If your software is very compatible, it will be in high demand. It will be in even higher demand as people take advantage of it's compatibility to create more software to interface with yours.

And, what if someone wants to keep their software from being compatible with someone else's software for security or profit reasons.

Security reasons are pointless, if you have a security problem then it's not from being compatible with someone else's software it's from your software being insecure to begin with. As far as profit reasons, unless you're creating a vendor lock-in type situation where you're creating an entire ecosystem of products all relying on each other as the sole way to interface with each other, then you'll make much more profit by being compatible. If you are going for that vendor-lock-in then you still want to be compatible with everyone else's software (just not let them be compatible with yours) so you can subsume and replace the software that people are using to get them into the ecosystem. In both situations you can see that there is only a benefit when make your software compatible with another piece of software.

Re:Data formats are the biggest problem (3, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500452)

Dave 1.0 says:

> what if someone wants to keep their software from being compatible with someone else's software for security or profit reasons?

If you want your servers to only talk to *your* software, then the hi-tech answer is: passwords.

"Security by obscurity" is the term for your proposed abuse of incompatibility :-)

(If you want to block compatibility for profit reasons, you either use passwords, or you're asking for a legalised monopoly and the answer is sorry, but just no.)

There can be only one solution to this (2)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36498990)

Every company and community sued needs to follow a simple manta: WWLD?

That is What Would Larry (Ellison) Do (if sued over bullshit)?

He'd probably grind the patent troll into the ground until the CEO's family personally suffered for three generations.

The only solution to this behavior is to use the courts in such a way that patent trolls become personally afraid that someone is going to go so hard after their throat in court that even after they want to settle, they'll keep litigating until the troll is bankrupt and then go after the management's families and pick their bones clean in court.

Re:There can be only one solution to this (2)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499298)

Every company and community sued needs to follow a simple manta: WWLD??

Most companies and communities don't have 20 billion dollars in Net Current Assets just sitting there waiting to be thrown away on frivolous lawsuits.

Re:There can be only one solution to this (1)

grizzifus (2021406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499342)

You'd think Anonymous would be up for it. Not suing trolls, but grinding them into the ground through crowdsourced annoyance. And now that LulzSec seems to have taken over the hacking, Anon needs a new game.
Win-Win!

True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500354)

There is a reason IBM isn't sued by small fry patent trolls. Or medium fry, either.

Re:There can be only one solution to this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500472)

That is What Would Larry (Ellison) Do ? He'd probably grind the patent troll into the ground until the CEO's family personally suffered for three generations.

And this again illustrates the old joke: "Q: What is the difference between Larry Ellison and God? A: God does not think he is Larry Ellison."

Problem with patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36498994)

If you're writing software and get into trouble with patents, bad luck. You're screwed. But here is what I'd do:

1.) Immediately release the software under GPL.

2.) Deny any responsibility for the software; claim some unknown software company in an East European country develops it and you just distributed it. Halt the distribution, but make sure that some strawman in besaid country continues to distribute it.

3.) Publish every letter sent to you about the alleged patent infirngement on blogs, tell your customers that they might have to pay patent fees and should ask the suing party about that.

4.) Move to another country, continue to produce a commercial variant of your software but silently distribute good versions of it on every torrent site in the whole world.

5.) Write bad product reviews about the products of the suing company on every fucking blog you can access or register using TOR.

Re:Problem with patents? (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499264)

That might work if the trolls actually made any products...

Secretly Backed by Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499000)

The Canadian Microsoft, that is, so once removed and much harder to notice. After all, what happens in Canada stays in Canada.

It is legally impossible ... (5, Informative)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499042)

... to infringe ("violate") *part* of a patent claim. Each claim at the end of a patent is separate. You either do everything one of the claims describes or you are missing something. If you do everything, you infringe the claim. If you are missing even one piece, you do not infringe.

HTTP may be prior art, but it is only *invalidating* prior art if it does everything that is described in the claims. New inventions necessarily build on old ones. There is nothing legally improper about claiming an invention that is based on something old. It is called an *improvement.*

The only one who created something from nothing was God. Everyone else has to work with what is already here.

Re:It is legally impossible ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499166)

Interesting, so as long as I use different widgets to do the same task, it's legal to perform the same functions as defined in a patent?

Refactoring to the rescue!

Re:It is legally impossible ... (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499612)

That is the theory. Patents are for devices, or at the very least, methods of achieving a goal. If you figure a different way to achieve the same goal, theoretically, you are not infringing.

Of course, the US legal and patent system is currently so gamed as to make the original intent of the patents meaningless. Now the system is primarily a method of enriching trolls and lawyers.

Re:It is legally impossible ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499638)

The only one who created something from nothing was God. Everyone else has to work with what is already here.

Who created god?

Re:It is legally impossible ... (0)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499778)

The only one who created something from nothing was God.

In our universe, maybe.

Re:It is legally impossible ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499868)

The only one who created something from nothing was God. Everyone else has to work with what is already here.

Why did you have to bring stupidity into the discussion? Jeez.

Re:It is legally impossible ... (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500276)

There is nothing legally improper about claiming an invention that is based on something old.

As long as you aren't trying to claim that the something old is part of your patent, you're right.

Could also threaten MFT, WAN Opt, and others? (2)

ftexperts (2042636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499044)

If this case is successful, I would think that many "managed file transfer" vendors and "WAN optimization" vendors might find themselves served next. In these industries, it is quite common to "serve up media files" using a file system, an optimized protocol and a separate database full of file information.

By... whom? (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499082)

Next time, please at least say who is suing them in the summary.

Re:By... whom? (2)

sosume (680416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500100)

Some googling revealed that BitTorrent is being sued by Tranz-Send Broadcasting Network from San Francisco, CA . They also have a public listed phone number and web address.

Its CEO is Scott Redmond, http://www.scottredmond.com/ [scottredmond.com]

His personal page is kind of LOL... this guys really thinks he is a genius who solved all the world's problems. What a douche.
He is also making an ass of himself in this article http://gizmodo.com/5737088/the-greatest-scam-in-tech-scott-redmond-would-like-us-to-clarify [gizmodo.com]

From his site: (lolquotes incoming)
Few may know who Scott Douglas Redmond is, but his client's and
employers know he is the engine behind their most spectacular innovations
and projects.

+ According to the U.S. Patent Office and industry press; Scott Douglas Redmond's
efforts are always first-to-market with designs & products that are decades
ahead of the competition.

+ Mr. Redmond hold's an extensive issued patent and pending patent portfolio
of historically seminal patents.

+ Mr. Redmond has project managed or executive led projects with multi-million
dollar budgets and hundreds of thousands of end-users, for his client's and
employers.

+ Mr. Redmond's developments have become industry standards:
    First to develop, patent & demo particulated file media delivery. Now the global
standard for large file delivery.
    First to develop, patent & demo integrated VR, wearable simulation & immersive
network PC-based simulation/visualization.
    First to develop, patent & demo mobile media device PDA form factor and architecture
and to demonstrate VOD on HP IPAQ PDA.
    First to develop, patent & demo Internet movie/music-on-demand system for personal
computers.
    First to develop, patent-author & demo online green home building design-to-build
technology.
    First to show iPhone wearable VR headset.
    First to present Internet VOD to the largest film studios in Hollywood.
(see product documentation & client references on this link)
+ World leader in conceptual blockbusting & innovation contracts.
+ Ricipient of multiple White House & Congressional commendations.
+ Awarded over 200 project contracts by Fortune 2000 & Government 100 leaders
since 1978.

+ Recipient of hundreds of letters of reference and acclaim (as shown in the
attached links) from industry and government leaders (Multiple
administrations), Mayors (multiple administrations), Fortune
1000 leaders, Government Agency heads, Community organization executives,
State assemblies, and many more...
+ Over 2000 radio, TV, newspaper and other media items have been generated
by our client's press offices to positively document our past projects for them. While
Few may know who Scott Douglas Redmond is, many have seen the successful projects
he has helped deliver for his client's and investors.

Nazi Grammarian Reporting in (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499086)

Bittorrent and uTorrent are sued for using techniques in their clients and the bittorrent protocol

I'm constantly using this technique called "breathing". Please don't sue me.

Crazy Patent (2, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499122)

This is even worse than the usual bad patents I've seen. They have 20 pages of a very detailed description of their "preferred configuration". However, they say that it shouldn't be taken as a literal description of the system and that their patent is intended to be very broad. The claims are ridiculously broad and don't even reference the description of the system (apparently they were serious when they said that the description wasn't intended to be illustrative of their claims). The claims don't even make up half a page of text.

Look, I don't know much about patents, but surely there's no way such a bad patent can stand up in court... Can it?

Re:Crazy Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499374)

Depends. Who has more money?

Re:Crazy Patent (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499394)

This is even worse than the usual bad patents I've seen. They have 20 pages of a very detailed description of their "preferred configuration". However, they say that it shouldn't be taken as a literal description of the system and that their patent is intended to be very broad. The claims are ridiculously broad and don't even reference the description of the system (apparently they were serious when they said that the description wasn't intended to be illustrative of their claims). The claims don't even make up half a page of text.

Look, I don't know much about patents, but surely there's no way such a bad patent can stand up in court... Can it?

Yes, with all due respect, you don't know much about patents. This patent is actually pretty decent. The detailed description is quite detailed, sufficient to enable one of skill in the art to make and use the claimed invention. The boilerplate line about "shouldn't be taken as a literal description" simply says that when they talk about, for example, removable media that could be an Iomega Jazz Disk, a memory disk, hard drive, etc., that it could also include thumb drives, flash memory, a CD, etc. Not a real concern.

That the claims "don't even reference the description" is also not important. I'm not sure what you expect the claims to look like, but if you were thinking they'd say "a media server, such as the ones described above in cols. 5-7," then, no. This is what they look like - a numbered series of single-sentence claims reciting one or more limitations, defining the bounds of the patented material.

Now, if you've only ever looked at patents from the 1800s, you might have expected to see an omnibus claim instead, such as "I claim the invention as described above." But those aren't legally valid anymore.

Re:Crazy Patent not so Crazy (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499424)

Yes, there is lots of waffle in the Patent - this is actually good as it is often unusual for patents to offer this level of detail.

No, it has no reference to HTTP itself, which is a point to point data transmission system.

The claim to break/ challenge is the first one; all the others are dependent claims and moreover the dependent claims would all be regarded as obvious to someone with ordinary skill in the art (of IT).

1. A media distribution system, comprising: a media file database configured to store media files, wherein one or more of the media files have been compressed prior to storage in the media file database; a computing device configured to receive user requests for delivery of the one or more of the media files stored in the media file database, the computing device further configured to: identify average networkthroughput between computing device and the requesting users; and route the user requests for delivery of the requested one or more media files to a distribution server capable of servicing the user requests based upon at least the average networkthroughput; and a distribution server coupled to the media file database, the distribution server configured to simultaneously deliver a single copy of the requested one or more of the media files identified in the routed user requests to the requestingusers in less-than-real-time, wherein the distribution server automatically adjusts delivery of the requested one or more media files to the requesting users based on current average network throughput between the distribution server and the requesting users.

One way of breaking the claim is that the patent is only for 1 media file database and one distribution server in claim 1, and a second media file database and distribution server in claim 14. None of the actual claims are for 'n' media file databases and 'm' distribution servers where n != m or n equal to m and greater than two. If this idea is novel I've just published it and officially open source it ;-)

Incidentally, saying in the description that their patent is intended to be very broad don't make it so; only the specific claims matter, so you're right in that the initial waffle is not helpful to their patent.

Re:Crazy Patent (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499852)

Look, I don't know much about patents, but surely there's no way such a bad patent can stand up in court... Can it?

I know such patents get written and accepted. My name is on one... (employer filed, I don't believe in the means to prosecute them). There are some really elegantly-written patents out there (they read like a nice academic paper) but the quality appears to vary widely in the field.

Re:Crazy Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500446)

"However, they say that it shouldn't be taken as a literal description of the system and that their patent is intended to be very broad. "

This is the problem, a patent should describe in minutiae the exact invention, precisely and concisely, it should be reproducible, after all that is the purpose of a patent, not to prevent copying but to open up your invention for copying by others who will pay you per unit for doing so, any patent which is composed of waffle or imprecise details or is designed to try to be a "broad" catch-all should be thrown out because it's basically being used like a drag net.

Such things as network protocol stacks should not even come under the 'can be patented' umbrella because they merely describe the communication between two devices, not the actual workings of those devices.

I'm Confused (1)

bwalzer (708512) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499212)

The things mentioned are just programs ... a description of a process. Wouldn't they have to sue the individual users? After all, you can't be sued for having a copy of a patent. You have to have some sort of implementation to infringe.

Re:I'm Confused (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499474)

The things mentioned are just programs ... a description of a process. Wouldn't they have to sue the individual users? After all, you can't be sued for having a copy of a patent. You have to have some sort of implementation to infringe.

Under US patent law, you can be liable for infringement for using the claimed invention (like the individual users), or for making or selling the invention, like the BitTorrent company.

Also, no, they aren't mentioning just programs. The claims recite "a media distribution system" including a media file database, distribution server, and computing device configured to perform specified functions. So there is an implementation there.

Incidentally, that also suggests a way out for BitTorrent: while they may provide a media file database and distribution server software, they don't provide a computing device... the user does. And joint infringement is really difficult to prove.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

bwalzer (708512) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499706)

Under US patent law, you can be liable for infringement for using the claimed invention (like the individual users), or for making or selling the invention, like the BitTorrent company.

That is interesting in that it seems to fail basic philosophy. A description of something is not the thing itself.

Whatever. I doubt I will ever be able to think like a lawyer. That might not be a bad thing...

Re:I'm Confused (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499878)

That is interesting in that it seems to fail basic philosophy. A description of something is not the thing itself.

Not quite sure what you mean. The BitTorrent company makes and sells a client... That's why they'd be liable for infringement, even if it's the users that actually run the client.

How does basic philosophy handle recipes? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500236)

That is interesting in that it seems to fail basic philosophy. A description of something is not the thing itself.

A computer program is a description of a process written in a programming language. But the program also embodies the process, as a computer can perform the process by executing the program.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499884)

The patent presumably includes the standard boilerplate for describing software: a long series of claims that modify the base claim by describing all of the ways that computer software could be implemented.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500422)

Actually, the patent requires that the file database be used to store at least one file that is compressed. That's part of claim 1. If you don't meet everything in claim 1, you don't violate the patent. Since BitTorrent is often used to share compressed files, but does not REQUIRE it, then the software itself doesn't violate the patent, ONLY the users who share a compressed file. I don't know if you can argue that since that's an easy piece for the users to add, that it still violates the patent even though it doesn't satisfy all of the claim. That's for a lawyer to answer ;)

Re:I'm Confused (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500510)

Actually, the patent requires that the file database be used to store at least one file that is compressed. That's part of claim 1. If you don't meet everything in claim 1, you don't violate the patent. Since BitTorrent is often used to share compressed files, but does not REQUIRE it, then the software itself doesn't violate the patent, ONLY the users who share a compressed file. I don't know if you can argue that since that's an easy piece for the users to add, that it still violates the patent even though it doesn't satisfy all of the claim. That's for a lawyer to answer ;)

It's not necessary that the software requires it... it's just that it's not an infringing use when sharing non-compressed files. If it can be shown that the software is used for sharing at least one compressed file, then the software was used to infringe.

I wish I could (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499346)

file a patent for "patent filing" process. Then I could sue anyone filing patents...
This thing of patenting is getting more and more annoying now.

Re:I wish I could (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499544)

There is prior art...

Re:I wish I could (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499972)

The eighties called, they want their bad jokes back.

Re:I wish I could (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500322)

Did you tell them about Bhopal? Chernobyl? You asshole!

(http://xkcd.com/875/)

Tranz-Send Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499434)

Tranz-Send Broadcasting Network Management: Scott Redmond [linksv.com] (President/CEO)

'Redmond, Scott D Patent Owner [patentbuddy.com] `

'Patents by assignee ` [patentgeist.com]

VCs include: ING Barings; Trans Cosmos USA; Bay Angels; CrossFire Ventures; FatPipe Partners link [linksv.com]

Re:Tranz-Send Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500344)

This Scott Redmond? [gizmodo.com]

I'm assuming it's a big-media backed attack given who the targets are. It would be interesting to see who's behind the VC companies.

Anyone remember XMODEM/YMODEM/ZMODEM? (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499508)

Yeah, all file transfer protocols developed in the '70s that do exactly what this patent claims. This is the reason why patents and software need a divorce.

Smells like MAFIAA (2)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499568)

This suit isn't about money, exactly. Bittorrent, Inc. are not your typical "deep pockets", so it's not as though the troll hopes to make a lot of money by suing them. In fact, the only way this makes business sense is as an obstructive competition tactic. Let's see... who would stand to benefit by tripping up Bittorrent, Inc.? Hmmm...

If someone were to follow the money, it wouldn't surprise me much to find out that our good friends in the old-fashioned media offered to pick up the legal tab to prosecute this. That's about the only thing that makes sense.

Re:Smells like MAFIAA (2)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499904)

This suit is EXACTLY about money.

"Tranzsend Broadcasting Network is developing the BlockBuster of the Internet, by electronic transfer to computers which are conected to the TV, for the same cost of rental plus a dime."

Looks like Netflix is going to be their primary target and they're using Bittorrent as the scape goat to make it an easy win.

Re:Smells like MAFIAA (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500324)

You don't go directly to the big ones, they have enough money to defend themselves. Go after a small company, win a case, and point to that case as you work your way up to the bigger fish.

70s YMODEM/XMODEM protocol prior art (1, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36499572)

a comment from the torrentfreak article is worth repeating here.

"Nothing to see here, move along. This patent describes the YMODEM/XMODEM protocol nicely, which was developed back in the '70s, and could be very easily refuted by this example of prior art."

The patent is not applicable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36499954)

It describes a "server/client" media file transfer system, NOT a Peer to Peer file transfer system such as bit torrent.

No Server, Must acquit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500040)

“A server/client media file distribution system is provided in which the server system is adapted to receive transmission requests from clients, status information from a network, and protocol information from each client,” company writes in the patent abstract.

“The server, based upon this information, adaptively transmits a given media file stored therein to one or more clients using the optimal transmission speed and/or network protocol based on the network status information and protocol information,”

I don't see a server here. So, nothing here. Move along.

Inventor turned troll? (1)

jlutes (1971840) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500498)

Hey look, it's another patent troll. I did a bit of research about the guy behind it (Scott Redmond) and it appears he has gone from a failed innovator to get-rich-quick troll. Sad. http://www.trademarkia.com/company-redmond-scott-3344589-page-1-2 [trademarkia.com]
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