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B&N Pummels Microsoft Patent Claims With Prior Art

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the beware-the-wrath-of-patent-attornies dept.

Android 332

itwbennett writes "As Slashdot readers will recall, Barnes & Noble is being particularly noisy about the patents Microsoft is leveraging against the Nook. Now the bookseller has filed a supplemental notice of prior art that contains a 43-page list of examples it believes counters Microsoft's claim that Nook violates five of Microsoft's patents. 'The list of prior art for the five patents that Microsoft claims the Nook infringes is very much a walk down memory lane,' says Brian Proffitt. 'The first group of prior art evidence presented by Barnes & Noble for U.S. Patent No. 5,778,372 alone lists 172 pieces of prior art' and 'made reference to a lot of technology and people from the early days of the public Internet... like Mosaic, the NCSA, and (I kid you not) the Arena web browser. The list was like old home week for the early World Wide Web.'"

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First post! (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101304)

This post is prior art to everything else in this discussion!

Re:First post! (1, Funny)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101338)

I wish I could go back in time and patent, copyright and trademark the concept of "First Post!".

Of course it would be useless here. The volume on /. would triple just out of spite that such a thing was patented in protest.

Re:First post! (5, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101352)

Why worry about prior art? Just patent it and then sue posters who can't afford to fight your lawyers.

Re:First post! (2, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101364)

That would definitely change things. The meaning of "First Post!" would change to something more like "Ha ha, you gotta pay royalties!"

Re:First post! (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101798)

Royalties on zero $$ are still zero.

Follow up should be (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101330)

to pummel Apple with their patent claims and SOPA.

Re:Follow up should be (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101618)

I would love to see Google + Motorola + HTC + Samsung (or for that matter, anybody) shove it up Apple's ass. It has to be done for love of all that's good in the world.

MS and Apple are nothing but patent trolls, no matter how the apologists want to spin it.

*waits for apologists to show up with mod points*

Re:Follow up should be (5, Informative)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101848)

MS and Apple are nothing but patent trolls, no matter how the apologists want to spin it.

Microsoft and Apple both produce actual products, while the standard definition of a patent troll is usually a corporation whose entire business is licensing and/or suing others while producing no products of their own.

MS and Apple are trying to use their patents to make competing products prohibitively expensive. Also reprehensible, but a distinct activity from patent trolling.

Re:Follow up should be (5, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102030)

I don't think that Apple's using their patents on grounds of competition.

I think Steve was so genuinely butthurt over the Android backstab by Schmidt that's it's personal; not professional.

Re:Follow up should be (4, Funny)

certain death (947081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102056)

Correction - MS and Apple both PAY CHINESE to produce actual products. There, fixed that for ya.

Why did everyone else pay? (5, Interesting)

oic0 (1864384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101360)

If it was this easy to beat them and the prior art was that apparent, why did everyone else bow down and pay to troll his toll?

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

_recluso_ (2446622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101396)

time, money...

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101410)

I suspect in large part because most companies' lawyers basically tell them "Paying the licensing fee is cheaper and surer means to an end than fighting." So far as I can tell, it basically amounts to a vast conspiracy of legal departments on both sides of the fence.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Interesting)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101594)

Yeah because companies like Samsung and HTC never stand up to patent bullying. Oh wait, they do (see Apple countersuits).

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101652)

all microsoft wants is money.

Apple doesn't care about money from patent suits, they are out to see the their competitors burn.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101688)

That's only because Apple isn't interested in settling -- the only relief that Apple is seeking is to remove Android from the market.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101884)

samsung and htc both manufacture ms platforms.

they get the money fed back to them.

and htc in particular is an old friend of ms, they manufactured almost all windows mobile phones(even those that were sold under qtek, jasjar etc brands) and probably were in bed with ms in dev side to some extent.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Interesting)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101698)

Someone else suggested it's because they're handset makers that also have WinMo devices (or expect to, at some point).

B&N, otoh, wouldn't care. They're not in the business of making phones.

Though I admit that's a bit conspiratorial. And you'd think Google would've fired first...?

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

javakah (932230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101992)

Not necessarily. It sounded like there was a pretty strict NDA in place. I wouldn't be surprised if it was to keep Google from knowing what the alleged infringing patents were, so Google may not have had a chance to really fight this.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101782)

Do they not cover Kipling in law school? They should.

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
    And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101824)

It's a matter of leverage, really. I could kick your ass right now, that could get messy. How about we don't go down that way? Oh ok you want to be slightly less annoying ... bah, it's too much work to beat the shit out of you, and then the cops show up, and then I have to explain shit to make them go away. Fine whatever, here's a dollar now fuck off.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101434)

They haven't beaten them, they still need to draaaaag this through the courts, which MS will certainly ensure this is very very costly and last for years. I.e. even though MS are likely to be full of shit, they have a bigger cash pile than almost anyone else which will ensure most companies don't try to fight it, and take the easy licensing options. In legal terms, it's called a shake-down. The mafia used it rather well.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101508)

I just hope Google will stand behing B&N on this one and provide the much need help. Google could push MS down without putting much of a dent in their cash.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101640)

The issue always is time and money. Battling crap patents held by large companies like Microsoft will take years and cost a significant amount of money. Even if you win and somehow manage to get damages, they won't cover the whole bill, and you've spent two or three or even more years in a sort of limbo. You can readily understand why many manufacturers have just said "Fuck it" and paid Microsoft to go away. I'm amazed that B&N is fighting this, because I cannot imagine their lawyers were advising them that this was the way to go.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102000)

I can't imagine why people don't contract lawyers and insist on the lawyers recovering their legal fees. Shall you win I will pay you up to $X and then beyond that 10% of your legal fees only up to $Y, and you shall independently pursue the plaintiff for recovery of your legal expenses; shall you lose, you shall receive at most $a (less than $X, or maybe a very low rate). We shall provide documentation of agreed upon legal rates and all agreements related to said legal case; you shall supply justification of your rates, such as but not limited to comparison to your normal rate spread.

Reality becomes: Legal battles are back-breaking, legal bullshit raises hell, and shareholders dislike watching you try to dirty the game by lawroom bullshit. Eventually, lawyers don't want to work your cases--or when your lawyer sees this is going nowhere, he strongly recommends retracting the case parts way to inform you that you will need to bid up a new lawyer.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101716)

You do realize that Microsoft has nearly double the assets (108 billion vs 57 billion), 10 billion more in equity and 15 billion more in cash/cash equivalents/securities than Google, right? It would be even less of a dent to them.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101822)

Quick, does Barnes & Noble have anything Google can "license" when the going gets tough like MS did for SCO?

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101440)

It's possible that these are not the strongest patents Microsoft can bring to bear on the issue. They may just be testing the waters to see how far Barnes and Noble are willing to go with their (to Microsoft) dangerous brinksmanship.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Informative)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101874)

Not true. The rules of evidence in civil cases require both parties to bring everything they have to the table. They can't ramp it up later on in the suit. Although they may be able to start a different suit after this one is over. Watch closely and see how the judge enforces this. It's going on right now in Oracle vs Google.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101912)

Sure its possible but then again, what isn't? I hope they bring whatever they have. Barnes and Nobles' lawyers are blowing holes through the current ones like a crackhead chihuahua with a Gattling gun. Send more so we can either invalidate or code around those too. The last thing MS wants is real transparency.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102020)

The problem is if B&N wins, then everyone else who has had these bandied at them has a countersuit to recover the costs already paid under false pretenses. If MS brings NEW patents, then people will be inclined to look for prior art because fuck, it worked for B&N.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101462)

To me it seems that this patent campaign against Android and its OEM vendor is not only for Microsoft to get money. It seems that Microsoft also offered the companies something else we don't know. I bet that they offered access to their technology and a good deal to get Windows Phone and Windows OEM... or possible they threw some Office license on the agreement ;)

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101468)

Most of them were cell phone makers who were, while paying to make Android phones, getting a bigger stipend to develop Windows Phone 7 phones.
B&N has no interesting in making WP7 based tablet. They choose Android because it was a fairly mature, stable, and most importantly, FREE.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101482)

Probably because the other companies asked their lawyers, who looked at how my MS could spend in court and said 'it's cheaper to settle', while B&N asked their developers who looked at the patents and said 'haha! These patents are ridiculous!' I doubt many companies employ lawyers who have the ability to judge the merits of the patents, which is part of the reason why patent trolling is so lucrative: the people making the decision to pay are lawyers and CxOs who will assume that a granted patent means a valid patent.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101742)

The first software developer that can succesfully parse a software patent has not yet been born (nor written).

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101504)

Because they're device manufacturers. They're used to this sort of patent abuse; they pay the $10 or whatever and move on with life. I mean, they're doing it for their WP7 phones, it's not like $10 will destroy the handset's profit margin.

B&N, on the other hand, is a bookstore. They picked Android specifically so they wouldn't have to pay a license fee on every device they sell, especially not to someone who had nothing to do with it. They have a legal team that's used to dealing with IP issues; they're a bookstore, IP stuff comes up from time to time. They're not used to being pushed around like this; they're usually the ones doing the pushing around against publishers. They aren't going to just lay back and put up with it.

There is more, no MS license (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101784)

All the other tech companies are used to dealing with Microsoft itself as partner, either for a product or in commitee. B&N probably has no relationship with MS other then as an end customer of Windows. Now that alone is enough to fuel a bitter hatred.

But basically, B&N has nothing to loose. If they loose they have to pay the same fee as if they didn't. It is not as if MS can hurt them in any other way.

Meanwhile MS has in one move ruined ALL its attempts to appear as if it wasn't the old evil MS anymore. The MS apologists who claim MS is no longer against openess or unwilling to play fair... well... they got to crawl back under the rock they came from and claim that this time MS Mobile Windows Phone Gazillion will be it!

Re:There is more, no MS license (4, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101986)

But basically, B&N has nothing to loose. If they loose they have to pay the same fee as if they didn't. It is not as if MS can hurt them in any other way.

Well, they do have something to lose. If they lose, Microsoft will seek a more drastic action. I think the assumption is they feel confident they can win, and if other companies reached the same conclusion that they could 'win' in court, they would still 'lose' on their business relationship.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101614)

Most of them have licences to sell Microsoft software....

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Informative)

reimero (194707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101718)

Essentially it went down like this:
MS> Android infringes some of our patents, but if you pay our fee, you can use it.
Potential licensee> What patents does Android infringe?
MS> You'll need to sign an NDA for further discussion.

Companies sign the NDA, and then they're legally obligated not to comment on the specific patents. Microsoft likely doesn't actually expect to win this one. Microsoft expects to send a message that they're willing to enter costly litigation, which would likely be more expensive and more of a hassle than simply paying the licensing fee.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102072)

I'm not signing an NDA because I'm being sent a Cease and Desist about shit that I'm not being informed about. You can't C&D me without telling me what you want me to C&D. When you raise lawsuit, I will tell the judge that you refused to inform me on what was the problem, and so I declined to enter in legal contracts under vague threats.

Stability (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101764)

It has to do with stability. These other companies are willing to pay because they are stable enough to take the hit. It is not worth the risk of fighting it in court. B&N is not stable. B&N might not exit in 5 years. So B&N is going to take risks that other companies will not take.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101776)

MS is very generous with their license stuff, with a flat fee a year you can use all their patents, much like how they do technet subscriptions.
Companies like Samsung know that they need to some real patent license from them anyway so why complain about the dodgy ones that are more or less thrown in for free?

Easy... (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101876)

Think about the companies they went after to date. Samsung and HTC both partner with microsoft on endeavours outside of Android (laptops and windows mobile). For both of those companies, caving in may have been considered a safer move from a business relationship move.

Now B&N has absolutely no worries about being penalized on a business relationship they simply do not have. It's worth it for them to fight.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101966)

Because the others are not U.S. companies. The hoops B&N are going to have to jump through to get MOSAID (patent troll deeelux) to cooperate is nothing compared to what a company outside of the U.S. would have to do.

Re:Why did everyone else pay? (2)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102012)

Court lawyer fees.

That's how the legal system all too often works these days. The monetary cost of raising a case, even if you are on the side of right, is far more expensive than paying off the extortion.

Bill Gates, visionary (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101372)

Much was made of Bill Gates failure to recognise the prominent role the Web would play when he rolled out his book(!) The Road Ahead. Not to surprised the company seems to go around blinkered. Though much of the IP they're claiming is not used for visionary purposes, as this assault on Android illustrates, it's venal.

gates is the most overrated idiot going. (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101826)

Well, gates has a false legacy all around him. For starters, he was not the one that picked DOS. IBM did. Later on, Gates bought the rights to Unix, merged it with DOS and then sold Xenix on 286s. When it had zero performance, it was others that pointed out how foolish he was. ANother set of employees had to convince him to stick with DOS and skip Xenix. Then gates ran around screaming that 640K was more than enough. The net we all know about. I mean it continues on and on and on. The man was NOT that bright. Just in the right places at the right time, with the right ppl.

Sadly, since MS has such a dearth of talent (esp. with that idiot balmer), they have to resort to illegal tactics.

Fraud (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101380)

I find it inconceivable that Microsoft's technologists did not know of this prior art. Since patent law requires that prior art be disclosed at the time the patent application is filed, and not doing so is a violation of law sometimes turned patent fraud, I think the DOJ should go after these rat bastards for these violations.

Re:Fraud (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101486)

You mean except for the fact that the patent in the summary DOES mention a number of examples of the claimed prior art in its background section? For example, it specifically mentions Mosiac in it. So what fraud do you mean?

Re:Fraud (-1, Troll)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101662)

The problem is that USPTO has been hiring foreign born engineers that come over here, finish a PhD, get their citizenship and then get on with USPTO. They have little knowledge of state of the art, and more importantly, little to none of the PRIOR ART.

Re:Fraud (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101774)

But the point is that if the are mentioning proper art in the background and in the patent references where is the fraud? Just because they don't point it every example b&n throws at them (of which not all may be held as prior art by.the court) doesn't mean they were defrauding anyone.

Re:Fraud (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101902)

It is not fraud on MS's part if they mention the prior art and the inspectors did not have enough knowledge to decide intelligently. That is a fact. My point is that many of the engineers that USPTO hire are foreign raised and have no real knowledge of prior art. At this time, the bulk of prior art remains in the west. Over the course of the next 30 years, is when we need to have foreign raised engineers. But at THIS time, the majority should be Westerners, or even more so, Americans.

Re:Fraud (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101872)

Yeah, except workers at the patent office have been explicitly told that it is not their job to look at prior art, that it is up to the courts to decide. This was largely in an effort to get through their enormous backlog more quickly, but any idiot could have seen that it was going to lead to abuse. Incidentally, if you're an engineer looking for a good job, I know when I graduated USPTO was recruiting heavily, they'd even put you through law school if you specialized in patent law.

Re:Fraud (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101980)

Yeah, except workers at the patent office have been explicitly told that it is not their job to look at prior art, that it is up to the courts to decide. This was largely in an effort to get through their enormous backlog more quickly, but any idiot could have seen that it was going to lead to abuse.

Holy crap. That explains what I am seeing. In one patent that I will have to fight against, the diagrams were of something that was sold back in the 60-70's. You could tell that she had seen it and simply put it down as a patent. For the life of me, I could not image how ANYBODY would pass that, unless they had never seen it themselves (which was impossible since many homes had this). And in each of these cases, I saw that the engineers were likely foreign raised (china specifically). But an order like that, would make as much sense as well.

Thank you for the information. But what a fucking PITA. Now, I will have to deal with GD lawyers and courts. That is in NOBODY best interest.

Re:Fraud (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101542)

I find it inconceivable that Microsoft's technologists did not know of this prior art. Since patent law requires that prior art be disclosed at the time the patent application is filed, and not doing so is a violation of law sometimes turned patent fraud, I think the DOJ should go after these rat bastards for these violations.

Microsoft's early hires probably knew all about it, standing around the water cooler reminiscing the good old days when they used a mouse on a drafting board on some ancient single use computing device. Then the legal department showed up and told them to shut up about knowing such things as they were busy patenting them hand over fist, like they had just invented these technologies.

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101554)

I find it inconceivable that Microsoft's technologists did not know of this prior art. Since patent law requires that prior art be disclosed at the time the patent application is filed, and not doing so is a violation of law sometimes turned patent fraud, I think the DOJ should go after these rat bastards for these violations.

Oh, certainly, it's inconceivable that they wouldn't know of it. They were most likely fully aware of it.

They were also most likely fully aware that they are a very big company with lots and lots and lots of money and lawyers and this patent system is the US's patent system. Those facts clearly trump the prior art argument until someone challenges it. As evidenced, this has paid off for Microsoft until now. And most likely, the license fees they've extracted from others will be more than the legal fees they'll spend fighting B&N, and the licenses are most likely non-refundable even in the face of the invalidation of the patents thanks to Laywer Magic(tm).

Incompetence (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101604)

More to the point, anyone skilled in the art should have know of such things - including any competent patent reviewer.

Re:Incompetence (5, Insightful)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102032)

and there we find the problem. Competent patent reviewers (especially in the numbers needed) cost more than the PTO can afford, especially with Congress siphoning off much of their revenue (from patent applications). So you get either too few good ones or many not-so-good ones, and either way they can't handle the workload.

Re:Fraud (3, Informative)

Salamander (33735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101714)

It probably has something to do with the difference between claims and description in a patent application. Claims are the part that matter. Often the claims are constructed so they *just barely* pass the obviousness test, e.g. by taking two ideas that are too obvious by themselves, but combining them in a way that's less obvious. The description can then be far more general, and is often shared between many patents, but that doesn't affect the validity of the claims *at all*. To determine the validity of a patent you have to look very carefully at what is being claimed, and only refer to the description as background to understand the claims.

Disclaimer: IANAL and I don't give legal advice. I've just been through this nearly a dozen times.

Re:Fraud (3, Interesting)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101982)

I was having a similar conversation with one of our Patent Attorney's the other day. We wanted to file something, but the landscape analysis deemed there may be prior art. His advice, don't worry about it, it'll cost more for someone to challenge and highly unlikely that they'll waste their time. Sadly, we went ahead and filed and didn't worry about it, contrary to my request for a better legal opinion.

Re:Fraud (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102024)

While they are at it they should stomp on MOSAID. How in hell do they think they can open a U.S. base of troll then tell someone fighting back to go through Canadian courts.

Why were other companies so lazy? (1, Interesting)

HigH5 (1242290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101460)

Why on Earth nobody else had the guts to stand up against MS if prior art seems to be so easy to find?

Re:Why were other companies so lazy? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101590)

My guess is: Many patent disputes are settled with cross licensing deals. "Let me use your pantents and you can use mine." B&N is not a tech company so they don't have many chips to bring to this game. This gives them a stronger incentive to fight the patents.

Re:Why were other companies so lazy? (0)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101750)

Mod parent +1: Bullseye.

Re:Why were other companies so lazy? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101690)

Most people are cowards. Most people can't or won't lead. B&N is a company living on the edge of oblivion. 5 years from now they may or may not exist. They are not in the mindset of giving up.

Different corporate culture? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101474)

I have to wonder if because B&N are from a different field, where the BS of software patents isn't prevalent, that they're approaching this with a more reasoned perspective than traditional tech. companies do. That is, most software is pretty much the same fucking thing as 20 years ago, and letting people patent shit for tacking on the phrase "on the internet" or "on a tablet" is fucking ridiculous. Thus they have a huge laundry list of examples. Then again, it could be pure naiveté and a losing strategy, as judges are generally even more inept at making reasoned assessments of technology than the utterly incompetent and over-burdened patent clerks, and might do better with only a few examples.

Or perhaps this just stems from B&N not having the same paradoxical "we hate software patents because they hurt us but love them because they let us bully others" attitude of say Google or MS or Apple. Either way, fight the good fight B&N. You'll probably lose, but you're right.

Re:Different corporate culture? (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101528)

I don't know if there is anything beyond the fact that B&N doesn't want to go forward with someone perpetually having a hand in their pocket. I'll wager their lawyers are screaming bloody murder about this, and certainly as a short-term strategy, it's probably better just to pay Microsoft's extortion demands, but in the long-term, if you trash Microsoft's crap patents, you deny them any involvement in your affairs.

YOU SHOULD PATENT THAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101808)

Method for producing patentable ideas.

1. Locate currently circulating ideas. For methods, see our other patent applications "Trolling the database of existing patents to extract ideas" and "Observing the behavior of already existing software to extract ideas."

2. Append the phrases "on the Internet," the phrase "on a tablet," and "on an Internet tablet" to separate copies of the idea acquired in step 1.

The result is three new patentable ideas.

Perfect move by B&N (5, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101518)

Looks like they did their homework and so did their lawers. Even if they were not to win this is a HUGE way to attract customers to their hardware/online stores especially when they win. You couldn't get a more massive good will gesture then this especially before christmas shopping holiday.

Re:Perfect move by B&N (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101682)

except other than the people that read slashdot, no one fucking cares because it isn't newsworthy.

Re:Perfect move by B&N (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101804)

So what? People in the Slashdot crowd have money too and if that crowd can bring down servers, thats a big crowd. Most sane businesses don't care who you are as long as you are spending money with them.

Re:Perfect move by B&N (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101860)

with all the pointless bitching that goes on here, I'm going to feel safe in the assumption that /. is rife with talkers, not do'ers.

not to mention most of these idiots can't possibly have graduated from mom and dads basement to a self-sustaining lifestyle that includes disposable income.

-AC

Re:Perfect move by B&N (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101976)

I lost count how many people have asked for and taken my advice on which smartphone/laptop to buy. When they come to me asking which eReader/tablet do I recommend and provided they all more or less will meet their needs, which do you think I'll ultimately suggest?

Re:Perfect move by B&N (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101844)

Don't think this will have much effect. B&N strategy is to convert their customer base from books to ebooks and avoid losing those customers to Amazon. Their customers are not on groklaw or slashdot reading about patents. They are in bookstores, libraries, or book blogs. This will have minimal effect compared to what they do for Black Friday.

Please can we do this to Apple too? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101548)

Come on Samsung, and Google. Patents were supposed to spur innovation, not squash competition. The system is broken.

Re:Please can we do this to Apple too? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101622)

I wish that I had mod points. Yeah, method patents have ZERO value. What amazes me is that with the recent patent changes, that these were not wiped out.

Re:Please can we do this to Apple too? (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101952)

No. If they only had zero value, you could defend keeping them as 'maintaining current regulations'; changing the regs has a cost, both direct and indirect. (The latter in everyone trying to work out exactly what the new regs mean.)

Method patents currently have a negative value: They actively prevent innovation and reduce the growth of the economy. As such, the relatively small cost to revamp the regulations to remove them would be worth it. We will make back the cost.

What about the others? (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101580)

This will sound dumb, but what about the other companies that cut deals with MS? Can they back out of it and sue MS? It would be interesting to see law suits started against MS again, but this time, make it in multiple nations.

Re:What about the others? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101666)

I can't imagine any company going into a licensing agreement with any other company not having a clause that says "We stop paying you if the patent is invalidated."

Re:What about the others? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101758)

If the patents are rendered invalid, the terms of the license are broken. The licensee will be on the end of lawsuits for fraud. The issue here though, is MS are giving licensees backhanders and discounts, so no money is really changing hands. Not so for B&N. They aren't PC box shifters like those that have been paying the fees.

Re:What about the others? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101778)

Don't you think that the fact that they entered into these agreements speaks loudly about the ppl that run these companies and kind of shoots down your argument?

Re:What about the others? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102014)

You've said "I can't imagine" a couple of times in your posts here. Do you speak from authority? I almost always appreciate what you have to say and want to know.

Re:What about the others? (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102074)

Really, you can't imagine it, even if Microsoft wrote the licensing agreement?

If I were going around extorting people over bogus patents, the sign-this-or-else papers that I handed out would not have anything in them, saying things would get better for my victims if it turned out that some of my patents were declared invalid. If anything, if the agreement did have a clause covering what happens if any patents were invalidated, the agreement would say it makes no difference.

And then if they stopped paying me, maybe I wouldn't have good grounds to sue them for patent infringement anymore, but I'd have a piece of paper saying they agreed to pay, which they'd then by in violation of.

The agreement would also have an NDA, so that my victims wouldn't be allowed to tell the rest of the world what the agreement was.

This is Extortion 101 and if Microsoft fucked this up then some lawyer is getting fir-- a generous severance packa-- no wait, the premise is that the lawyer is comically incompetent -- he's getting fired.

Re:What about the others? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101916)

I'd imagine the best they can hope for is courts to order them to pay back legal fees and whatever they have collected.

Nooks for the Holidays (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101584)

That's it, everyone in my family gets a Nook this year.

Anyone care to recommend the Simple Touch, Color, or Tablet and the pro's and con's? Links to good reviews are sufficient.

Re:Nooks for the Holidays (4, Informative)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101796)

The Simple Touch is great if your primary interest is an eReader. My girlfriend just got one and it works great for that. Using Calibre i was even able to transfer over a little more than half the books she'd already bought from Amazon on her phone. (I'm still looking into how to handle the rest of the books.)

On the other hand if you want a more tablet like experience you should go with the Color or Tablet. Given the marginal price difference i think the Tablet is the best buy. It's probably a tough decision for those who already have a Color to decide whether to upgrade or not, but that doesn't seem to be where you're at. In both cases it seems like "rooting" it is a simple case of installing Cyanogen on a SD card and plugging it in, something i think most people on Slashdot can probably handle.

Here's one review i found [msn.com] though it's focused more on the differences between the Nook Tablet and the Amazon Kindle Fire, and gloomily predicting that the Kindle will overshadow despite the Nook's superior hardware.

Re:Nooks for the Holidays (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101906)

In both cases it seems like "rooting" it is a simple case of installing Cyanogen on a SD card and plugging it in, something i think most people on Slashdot can probably handle.

Sadly, it's unlikely Cyanogen will happen for the Nook Tablet as they've put in the effort to cripple the device with a signed bootloader and checksummed kernel. Much like all the crippled Motorola handsets, the best you'll be able to do is workarounds and half solutions.

Re:Nooks for the Holidays (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101978)

I love my Nook Color -- mostly I end up playing Sudoku while falling asleep, but it supports Pandora and web browsing too. I've read a bunch on it, and it's a very good experience; I especially like it when reading at night or on the couch. The e-ink screen is neat on the older Nook, but I can't read in the dark with it.

If you were choosing a Nook now, the Color is a very powerful cheaper option. If you're after the best toy, the newer Tablet looks better, but you mainly get things like HD video and netflix streaming. (oooooh. I do want that.)

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/Compare-NOOKs/379003181 [barnesandnoble.com]

The Nook Tablet is like the Nook Color, but adds:
- Same size screen
- faster processor (it's never seemed slow)
- double the RAM
- HD video, better battery life while playing video
- A bit more battery life while reading, but not enough for me to care. (11h vs 8h)
- Hulu/Netflix integration.

The greyscale Nook (Touch) doesn't have the bells and whistles, but for READING is likely better. It's lighter, and has a six month battery life, which is practically forever compared to the Color/Tablet. If someone in your family really likes reading, and not so much on the other stuff (or already has a laptop), you might get them the cheaper reader.

I mainly use my Nook Color for Sudoku right now, as I really like their app for it (bundled with it for free), and do most of my reading in the dark, so I am glad I got the Color last year.

Re:Nooks for the Holidays (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102008)

If you are serious then there are plenty of resources.

B & N [barnesandnoble.com] has a pretty good comparison on it's own page of the devices as well as a comparison of the Kindle Fire. [barnesandnoble.com]
Cnet has a good review of the Nook Tablet [cnet.com] and you can pick up a refurbished Nook Color [barnesandnoble.com] for around ~$149

Re:Nooks for the Holidays (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102068)

I haven't used the tablet yet, so no opinion there per se; but my wife has a classic and I have a Color. I've used both pretty extensively. Long story short, the classic and simple are e-ink. They're going to better for reading e-books, assuming you plan to do so in normal reading conditions (well lit). They're less good for magazines, textbooks, computer manuals... anything with a fair number of pictures, especially color pictures. The Color and Tablet are (obviously) color and better for low light conditions besides. I tend to read for a while after my wife has already gone to sleep. Not needing a second light source is nice. Some people find reading straight text on the LCD screens uncomfortable, it doesn't bother me.

Of course the Color and Tablet are also both limited function tablet devices. You can get e-mail, surf the web, play some games, and use a limited selection of apps. You don't have access to the full Android Market by default (you can either root the device or boot to a Micro-SD to get it, but the default UI is rather nice for the stated purpose of "e-book reader"), but the store isn't empty either. The Color is, in my opinion, not the greatest tablet. It wasn't meant to be. It can be used as one, and isn't complete crap like a lot of the really cheap Android devices out there, but it's definitely no iPad or GalaxyTab even with stock Android installed. The Tablet is a lot more powerful though, so it may well be a closer match to that use case.

With news from opera (5, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101600)

With news from opera that they have duplicated the faster than light neutrinos does that mean that future art is now as valid a defense as prior art?

Prior art, Who cares. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101658)

I thought with the new laws it was first to file. so prior art doesn't matter anymore.

Re:Prior art, Who cares. (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101692)

First off, not for another year. However, prior art STILL matters. You can not patent what you did not invent.

"Prior art" does not mean what you think it does (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101722)

Prior art is any publication (or product) that is in the relevant industry (i.e. "art") that is "prior". That's it... That something is prior art doesn't mean it invalidates the patent. To invalidate a patent claim, you need to find either one piece of prior art that anticipates the claim - i.e. discloses, either explicitly or inherently, each and every element in the claim; or find a combination of multiple pieces of prior art that, in combination, teaches or suggests each and every feature of the claim (thus showing that the claim would be obvious to one with access to the art that existed at the time of filing).

So, yes, everything listed by B&N is prior art, but it's not necessarily all art that anticipates Microsoft's patents, or even necessarily renders them obvious. This is merely a list of prior art generated by a keyword search... B&N hasn't yet said which piece or pieces of art, alone or in combination, teach or suggest each element of the claims. In fact, they explicitly note that some of the references Moreover, while the prior art references listed below are categorized by patent-in-suit, the references listed relate "to the general knowledge".

Basically, it's a bit premature to claim that the list counters the patents. It may, once they've been mapped to the claims, but until then, it's just a list of art.

Why isn't B&N in Europe? (4, Interesting)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101752)

My wife wants a e-reader and when I saw what the new B&N Nook Reader can do I wanted to buy two. But it appears that B&N doesn't do business in Europe..

So, sorry B&N, you would have gotten 2 new customers if you would just sell your books and stuff to Europe.

Creative effort: (2)

kixome (1636329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101832)

If only microsoft would put more effort either into new ideas (that are not stupid like metro) or into actually improving the performance of any of their products instead of wasting all their money, time, and effort suing people and incorporating drm into their products, well they just might stay relevant. I think as everything is going mobile microsoft is becoming obsolete.

The Android Patent Pool (3, Insightful)

TrueSpeed (576528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101922)

Google should make a change to their Android licensing terms. If you want a licence to the Google services or to even use Android commercially you must allow your patent portfolio to be used to defend the Android OS. With other companies in collusion and forming patent pools to attack Android this seems the best solution to smack down these patent trolls.

Glad B&N is fighting this! (2)

jishak (571556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38101954)

I am fed up with hearing how companies extort each other using NDA's and then litigate them into annihilation. I am glad Barnes & Noble is fighting this. I wish more companies would fight this type of patent and copyright abuse. I think a law should be passed to require companies to publicly identify which patents are infringing by a technology rather than fearmongering. Put up or shut up.

The eventual showdown (1)

TrueSpeed (576528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102046)

Their stock and their products have been stagnant for the past 10 years and I don't see that changing any time soon. It's pathetic that such a large corporation must stoop to this level considering all of the bad PR it brings along with it and the image it tags you with. Perhaps they'll come to the conclusion that they're better than this and focus on technology and innovation instead of using their position to try and crush their opposition in the court room.

But, they're fighting a war they can't win because they'll eventually need to face Google if they continue down this path. Although, I must admit it would be glorious to see Google shred through all of their frivolous and prior art ridden patent portfolio.

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