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USPTO Declares Invalid Third of Three Critical Rambus Patents

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the sssssstrike-three! dept.

Patents 113

slew writes "This is a followup to this earlier story about 2 of 3 of Rambus's 'critical' patents being invalidated. Apparently now it's a hat-trick." There's something that seems unsavory and wasteful about a business environment in which a company's stock value "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing." The linked article offers a brief but decent summary of the way Rambus has profited over the years from these now-invalidated patents.

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113 comments

Slashdot declares invalid split infinitive (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846643)

Up with this we will not put!

Re:Slashdot declares invalid split infinitive (2)

nadaou (535365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846715)

I think that the grammar police should have their own theme music.
or maybe just cue the minor key.

(due props to "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka")

Re:Slashdot declares invalid split infinitive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846795)

(due props to "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka")

Spoken like a true nigger.

Mad propz, yo!

In other words ... (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847385)

The way Rambus has profited over the years from these now-invalidated patents ...

In other words, Rambus is nothing but a scam

And the amazing part is that the America knowingly allows such a scam to exist for such a looooooooooonnng time !!

Re:In other words ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849049)

And the amazing part is that the America knowingly allows such a scam to exist for such a looooooooooonnng time !!

The U.S. government: Corruption, corruption, corruption.

Re:In other words ... (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849195)

Has nobody here heard the (in)famous quote by Churchill? All the grammar griping, and no attribution.

Re:In other words ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850223)

it is a lie.

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001715.html

All royalties should be returned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38851949)

Now that the patent has been overturned, all companies that paid royalties to Rambus should be fully refunded. Otherwise, there is no punishment for making invalid patent claims and profiting from them.

The corporate entity should not protect the individual owners and their lawyers from financial remuneration. This would chill the patent war immeasurably.

Re:Slashdot declares invalid split infinitive (3, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846835)

So you don't know what infinitive is, right?

Yoda? (1, Troll)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846969)

He right know what infinitive is, don't this need prove for criticizing grammar prescriptivist.

How sense this criticism make, another matter is.

Yet no proof there is of malapropism.

Re:Yoda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847063)

A bit more work and you could have a Yoda Haiku.

Re:Yoda? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848457)

I think it is deeply ironic and hilarious that you think he is speaking like Yoda and has been modded troll.

In this case Yoda is making less sense than usual, and I have absolutely no idea what he could be trolling for.

Should I be offended?

I think there should be a +5 Perplexed instead.

suck it (0)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846683)

rambus. EOT.

Any money back? (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846713)

So do Nvidia, Hewlett-Packard , et al have any chance of recovering any money they paid to Rambus, or are they simply out the entire amount, or has no actual money traded hands yet?

HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846797)

Must I continually remind everyone that Rambus technology was integrated in the 21464 Alpha processor design and it proved to be viable and fastest on the market, but for some reason Rambus is being run by patent trolls now.

It's kind of like how US has forced a Service industry onto Americans that all technology firms are looking at making more money on suing eachother for misusing their technology rather than actually using their technology.

All you need to do is look in US Code and you'll see the attitude of lawyers supporting this kind of behaviour.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846905)

Must we continually remind you that Rambus technology was never Rambus technology, but rather stolen technology? [wikipedia.org]

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847465)

Not to mention when they weren't patent trolls they were frankly shitty at business. RDRAM sucked, it cost too much to manufacture, needed dummy chips to fill empty slots, didn't scale well, it just wasn't a great design. Frankly after even Intel gave up on RDRAM patent trolling was pretty much all they had left. Good riddance Rambus, all of us will be glad when you are gone.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848449)

This quote is too good not to bring up when it comes to mentioning Intel and Rambus.

October 2000

Craig Barrett, Intel's president and CEO, tells the Financial Times: "We made a big bet on Rambus, and it did not work out ... In retrospect, it was a mistake to be dependent on a third party for a technology that gates your performance."

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848491)

Actually, the RDRAM architecture was excellent. It didn't have any problem scaling at all, in fact it scaled much better than what we have now. It just never went much further than the beginning stages. The really nice thing about RDRAM was that since it was a serial technology, it was dead simple to route traces to multiple banks of memory, unlink DDR3, which has so many pins that trying to accommodate anything more than 4 slots per processor is an amazing feat.

Hard enough that you didn't see more than that (ok, we had 6-chip versions for the X58 line) until Intel came out with a specific chip layout that balanced the pins on both sides of the CPU chip so you could place 2 or 4 slots on each side of the chip, and even then it wasn't simple. Take for example today's PC3-12800 RAM (DDR3-1600) has a maximum peak rate of 12.8GB/s. Rambus's XDR that came out in 2006 had a peak rate of 25.6GB/s per channel, and as I said before it is easier to include many more channels of RDRAM.

Granted, it was more expensive to manufacture, but performance wise there wasn't anything that could touch it until Intel basically pulled the plug on it and all the advancements pretty much stopped. I'm not defending their behavior or how they handled patents, but RDRAM was really good, and I was sad to see when bureaucracy killed it off.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848603)

Although RDRAM was good at providing high bandwidth, being serial and having more logic between row activation and the last data bit of the cache line propagated through the complicated deserialization logic on the way to the front side bus, it sucked at latency. Unfortunatly, what misses and evictions that dribbles out of the typical CPU cache are often pretty random, so although RDRAM generally had more banks than standard SDRAM of the time, for most use cases, the randomness of the access patterns cause it to have more average latency than DRAM.

This probably would NOT have gotten better over time even if intel had continued to invest in it as caches got bigger and the dribbles got even more random and regular DRAM grew more banks to catch up.

Even the i820 "camino" chipset from intel which used PC800 RDRAM, was slower than using the previous generation "BX" chipset which used PC133 SDRAM. Of course if you were working on a large data set with lots of cache misses, RDRAM was faster, but it would be a mistake to say that RDRAM was better for the average user in the average case.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847675)

"Stolen"? How so?

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847925)

"Stolen"? How so?

I don't know. Maybe you should follow the link the parent provided for you. If you don't want to do that, need I remind you about all the standards meetings that Rambus attended, and mysteriously patented the future standards shortly afterwards. At least, that's the rumor I remember. And I specifically remember Rambus suing everyone trying to get money for DDR patents, even though DDR had been around for ages. Being in every P4 machine wasn't enough. They needed to make money from every computer, whether they made the RAM or not.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848377)

I don't know. Maybe I did read the link you provided, which is why I was asking what you meant. Rambus's patent applications predated the JEDEC meetings. The sleazy behavior they engaged in was in their failure to disclose the patents and efforts to steer the emerging standard such that you couldn't implement it without running afoul of the RAMBUS patents. Definitely what they did was fraudulent and wrong, but "stolen" isn't the right word here.

fraudulent and wrong but not stolen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848505)

Corporations work by Murphy's Law, not moral law overlaid by charter law.

All that needs to be done is prove whether their use depends on another's IP and that they both didn't just borrow from a natural law not proprietary to either before they both privatized their own implementations.

It's people like you that would say that AIDS is a moral issue as well, but in-fact AIDS rents the planet to mankind not the other way around (atm). Though I guess I'm the only one that thinks it's pointless for making a law that says all criminaqls must write their names on their bullets so we know who did it.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848923)

Rambus's patent applications predated the JEDEC meetings.

Their amendments to their applications to match what they'd heard in the JEDEC meetings, on the other hand...

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849215)

Once upon a time I was in the thick of this, both working for a Rambus licensee on our implementation of their design, and later reading the patents, including the original 1990 submarine.

I don't see from your Wikipedia link where they say Rambus "stole" their IP from anyone.

As a fun aside, the original 1990 submarine patent application, was abandoned, but not before being continued, which I guess is part of what let it stay submerged for so long. I believe even the first continuation was abandoned as well, but not before it spawned the other patents that they actually used. That orginal patent actually described "Rambus-C", not "Rambus-D", the thing that they eventually brought to market with Intel.

It was an incredible job of mining the teachings to extract claims which just happened to match the JEDEC standards. I was also friends with several JEDEC members on that board, at the time.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846979)

Perhaps there should be greater incentivization for companies that are directly involved in making products based on patents, or at least on companies that have a reasonably large interest in companies that do produce products based on patents. Since we've all decided that Intellectual Property is Real Property, we've essentially allowed companies to use patents like they would apartment buildings, if we're not going to redefine what constitutes property, then at least there should, say, tax incentives for companies that patent and then produce products, are take ownership stakes in companies that do produce products based on patents. Or, we could just simply set the tax rate extremely high on licensing income, and then if you can demonstrate that you are in any substantial way responsible for making products based on patents you hold, then you get a break on those taxes. So let's say a company that makes its money purely from acquiring and licensing patents has to pay 95% of said income in taxes, but where they actually are involved in production that uses said patents they get an increasingly greater cut up to what we would currently consider normal corporate rates, so that companies like Apple (though I have my own issues with their using patents to bludgeon, but at least they do actually manufacture products based on their portfolios) are not penalized. I think you could make it very fine-grained, based upon each patent, so that there is no incentive to patent lots of things and then strategically use patents that one has no intention of making products from to attack competitors.

It wouldn't be a perfect solution, and still leaves open questionable patent suits like Apples', but perhaps we might also look at rules to require that licensing fees plus some level of interest be returned to the licensees, thus making it far riskier for a company to use dubious patents slipped past overworked examiners to bludgeon or force licensing fees from competitors. How willing would Microsoft be to go after Android manufacturers if there was a law on the books that would require them to return those fees plus interest if the patents got overturned?

I still stand firm on the matter. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847321)

Hey MM. I like your writing style.

Rambus piped it's labors in a patented style to secure those improvements it did independently for 21464 Alpha under HP's incorporation of it. Just because someone else has a patent on it doesn't mean that other works in parallel owe any kind of royalties when none of the COMPETITORS have evidence of unpayed consultation. Rambus is a competitor not an infringer.

This is my RAM. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I'm selling it to someone else and if anyone follows after my likeness of this sale then I will sue the similarities if I can ever prove that they were consulted instead of vested in parallel as a competing solution.

Re:I still stand firm on the matter. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847625)

What's with trying to make Rambus sound like a hardworking bunch. Yes, in the day they did practical things, but then they stole an entire group's process. Now, fortunately, they're reaching the end of the tether. If there was justice, their principles would be taken out and shot.

Rambus stole nothing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847837)

They implemented a COMMON IDEA into a proprietary optimized specialized form-factor.

Rambus used in 21464 Alpha was faster than conventional RAM because of it's bandwidth regardless of latency.

Sun Microsystems was holding onto that Rambus flame for a while too.

I bet you get angry when you see an aisle of Organic non-GMO'd apples sold next to more-expensive Hybrid animals. But this was not the case in Rambus but they were actually the cheaper hardware sale in terms of Performance they offered to more expensive competitors.

Re:Rambus stole nothing. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847973)

I'm amazed. A Rambus astroturfer. The SCO checks bouncing now?

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847329)

Nice view of the process.

Makes me wonder if the market is failing here due to the issue of patents (which are a privilege granted by the government to create artificial scarcity) being so profligate that we have some sort of patent boom fuelled by lawyers?

If so, it's due to head for bust any time soon - I wouldn't want to be holding stock in any company with that business model.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847425)

Or, we could just simply set the tax rate extremely high on licensing income, and then if you can demonstrate that you are in any substantial way responsible for making products based on patents you hold, then you get a break on those taxes.

I like this idea, because the original intent of patents was to allow the inventor a certain period of exclusive use of his patent before it became available for others to use. Its not at all clear that licensing was ever contemplated.

The theory was that the inventor could make more money selling a product incorporating a new invention than a competitor could make without it. But the money came from the selling of the products, not the licensing of the patent.

If you do not want to use tax law, (and there is certainly reason enough not to do so), then you could use the term (duration) of the patent itself. If you make a product using your invention, you get a longer patent term, but if you license it you get a much shorter duration patent.

The theory being the total return on your patent was meant as a temporary monopoly as an incentive to invent. You can choose to achieve this total return in 5 years by licensing the patent to others, vs 15 years by using it yourself. In the first case you multiply your earning power, while assuming no costs and taking no risks, so your period of reward is lessened.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848247)

First, the length of patents should be significantly shorter. If you get your product out there, and get people buying it, 5 year should be enough of a head start for you to get brand awareness built, get the bugs worked out, and grow enough to be able to fend off competition.

Along with that, I would overturn the current 'obvious' test. Instead, give a description of the invention. If anybody can come forward in three or six months with the same idea, then your idea was obvious enough to not warrent protection. On the other hand, if nobody comes close, and your invention is in a completely new category with no alternatives and you have to build a brand new market for your product from scratch, then you qualify for a longer protection.

Also, somebody must be able to take your documentation and build your invention without assistance from somebody involved in submitting the patent.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (3, Informative)

Epimer (1337967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849181)

First off, patents don't protect "products" per se. They protect inventive concepts, of which a given product is but one embodiment (usually). In any case, a patent can comfortably take 5 years from filing to grant, and if you want to decrease that you're going to have to accept a lower standard of examination. Secondly, most jurisdictions have a mechanism wherein the renewal fees on patents (because you have to keep paying every year to keep it in place) rise quite sharply for the latter half of the term of protection. The effect of this is that the average length of patent terms for the majority of cases is actually quite a bit less than the 20 years maximum possible term, because it becomes uneconomical for the proprietor to keep up the renewal fees when the patent's subject matter has ceased to be profitable for them. Also, 5 years might be plenty for technology products, but consider other fields; pharmaceutical products - for whom the "incentive to invent" justification for patents is perhaps strongest - will still be undergoing the regulatory approval process by the end of 5 years.

The "obvious" test isn't really there because of competitors, it's to stop trivial inventions being patentable. Your solution would remove that barrier, and also ignores the fact that there are many possible reasons why a good, solid patent idea may not yet have been filed. With your system, you could end up with trivial patents being granted due to no-one else wanting to work in that field, or extremely solid patents being refused simply because there were multiple people pouring huge amounts of effort and inventiveness into the same field.

Finally, your final criterion already exists. It's called "sufficiency of disclosure", and in most jurisdictions (patents being national rights and hence requirements varying from place to place), if the ordinary skilled person cannot work the invention described to the full extent of protection sought by the claims, then that is grounds for refusal or revocation of the patent.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847461)

Say goodbye to ARM processors then. ARM Holdings doesn't make anything, they just license out processor designs.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847613)

No solution is perfect, and every change will make winners and losers. That's life. I fail to see why we should prop up a badly malfunctioning IP system just so ARM can keep making money.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847915)

Because ARM is fucking awesome, and they're one of the few low-power chip manufacturers that makes tools freely available. Toshiba et. al suck because you have to pay to license the compiler for the chips you just bought from them.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848617)

You could use that reasoning to abolish the entire patent system...

If you can patent something that someone with the same problem/task could independently come up with in a day or less, and thus make them spend weeks in patent negotiation or litigation, that slows down progress.

Does it encourage more innovation? I think many of the people and companies actually trying to make stuff will still do so in the absence of patents.

Anyone seriously think that Apple wouldn't be making money from the iPhone if there were no patents at all? They can still prevent fakes and copies with trademark and copyright laws.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848979)

Anyone seriously think that Apple wouldn't be making money from the iPhone if there were no patents at all? They can still prevent fakes and copies with trademark and copyright laws.

Which also applies to ARM. The primary protection of a processor design is copyright, and by the time you have gone away sufficiently from the design to no longer be covered by copyright you would probably be easier to start over. There's definitely plenty of extra difficulty in starting over caused by patents, but getting rid of them definitely doesn't rule out a business like ARM.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849019)

Does it encourage more innovation? I think many of the people and companies actually trying to make stuff will still do so in the absence of patents.

One of the upshots of this whole discussion is that the pattent system works better or worse depending on the context. For software it is a disaster. The chemical industry seems to be quite comfortable with it.

For some inventions, like drugs, one can make the argument that patents are the wrong vehicle to start with. I once attended a talk by an exec where he essentially said that if you wanted to make sure a new drug never came to market, all you had to do is publish its formula without patenting it. There I would say that patents are a hindrance in many respects, and a concession model would be better (exclusivity licence granted by the government to cover for medical study).

So maybe we should reframe the whole discussion in terms of contexts.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849171)

we've essentially allowed companies to use patents like they would apartment buildings, if we're not going to redefine what constitutes property, then at least there should, say, tax incentives for companies that patent and then produce products, are take ownership stakes in companies that do produce products based on patents. Or, we could just simply set the tax rate extremely high on licensing income

You're taking away the ability for companies to specialize. Let those that are good at R&D do R&D, and let those that are good at production do the producing.

  [Obligatory Car Analogy] If I invent an awesome new spark plug that gives 10% more power for 15% less fuel consumption I have to build a factory and run it (which I know very little about) to avoid your stupid tax? That'll delay it from reaching the market for years, when it could be out in months if I license it to Bosch or Champion. Who gains from that? Not the environment. Not drivers. Not me. Not the economy as a whole. Not you either, hopefully.[/OCA]

Would you tax an architect more because he doesn't pour the concrete himself on the buildings he designs?

So it's a dumb idea in principle, but I suppose it sounds good to those who think it's not real work if you don't get your hands dirty.

It's a dumb idea in practice too. What about joint ventures? What about dealings between semi-autonomous divisions within companies? Are they in scope or not? It'll keep plenty of lawyers busy, that's for sure.

Re:HP got it's money-worth of Rambus in Alpha. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849641)

I have a real counter-example. I came up with a great new technology for improving digital camera sensors. The increase in image quality is huge. I quit my job (in an unrelated field) and spent 2 years developing and patenting it. I was self financed, burning up most of my savings. I now want to license my technology to camera companies. I do not have the means to manufacture cameras myself.

Are you saying 95% of my income should be taxed away? Are big companies who actually manufacture cameras somehow nobler or more deserving than me? Is there something sleazy about me?

There are problems with the patent law but they are better fixed by tightening novelty and unobviousness requirements.

Re:Any money back? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847045)

Most licences are in fact in return for indemnity from suit; this isn't quite the same as saying that the patent is being violated. Rambus hasn't sued them post-agreement, so there it is. There's an arguable misrepresentation claim though.

Re:Any money back? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847551)

Fuck THAT. What about the money I had to pay because those businesses licensed the technology and then passed the costs on to me?

Re:Any money back? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849173)

So do Nvidia, Hewlett-Packard , et al have any chance of recovering any money they paid to Rambus

Depends on the exact wording of the agreement they signed ... but probably not.

Patent agreements usually start out "we accept that the patent is valid...", I never saw one with an "If this patent turns out to be invalid..." clause.

Re:Any money back? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849209)

So do Nvidia, Hewlett-Packard , et al have any chance of recovering any money they paid to Rambus

NAS, but I believe the legal principle of caseus durusapplies, and rightly so.

There's zero incentive to fight patent trolls if you can roll over (which encourages them to seek further victims) and then press the big reset button when someone with more principles makes a stand.

A long, long path to justice (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846717)

And it ain't over, yet, because they can still appeal - considering the loss of revenue, you can bet they will.

Can't really call this a victory, because Rambus received a cut of memory sales for years, which every PC buyer ultimately paid.

ARM holdings? (5, Insightful)

bartoku (922448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846757)

There's something that seems unsavory and wasteful about a business environment in which a company's stock value "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing."

If ARM holdings licensing came into question it would probably destroy the company's stock. I am loving the way the ARM architecture is handled, a lot more competition than x86, and it seems to be advancing quickly now that it has becoming popular.

I was trying to imagine today if ARM holdings could survive in a world without IP laws. I think yes it could. It seems that getting a hold of ARM holdings processor plans, from something like bittorrent, would not be super useful even to Texas Instruments, Samsung, or Nvidia engineers. ARM works with them to implement the design, so the payment agreement would probably just be altered slightly and ARM would have to protect its disclosure of ARM architecture details a little more closely. Perhaps ARM would morph more into a standards body and not be as profitable though? I am curious what someone with more info on the topic can share please!

Re:ARM holdings? (5, Informative)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847459)

I don't think anyone has ever made a particularly strong argument for eliminating hardware patents. The reason why people so very loathe Rambus was not the quality of their patents (although they did, as it turns out, happen to be invalid) -- it was that they went to the JEDEC standards meetings and encouraged the standards body to adopt their technology, without saying a word about it potentially infringing their patents, and then proceeded to sue everyone in the memory industry after the standard was set in stone and shipped on millions of motherboards.

It was the troll behavior that got everyone up in arms: Nobody whatsoever minds if you come to them and offer a license for your validly patented hardware technology before they ship it in their products. If the amount you're asking is less than the value of the technology to their company, you have yourself a mutually-agreeable deal. The problem is when someone (like Rambus, but unlike ARM) waits until you've unknowingly committed to ship several million infringing units before jumping out from under a bridge and flinging lawsuits in every direction.

Re:ARM holdings? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847521)

I don't think a world without IP laws would hurt ARM at all, look at the Zilog Z80. the Zilog corp made only a tiny fraction of the Z80s and many were made without a license from Zilog but the abundance of Z80 chips at insanely cheap prices and the huge piles of code that were written for that chip keep Zilog selling chips to this very day. i mean think about that for a minute, a chip made when Reagan was president and everyone listened to music on cassettes is STILL selling. Because so many engineers and programmers know that chip its still used quite a lot in embedded applications, why just the other day a customer handed me a dead MP3 player after i helped them load their tunes onto their nw one and for the hell of it i cracked it open and yup, Z80.

As for TFA sadly you are right, like SCO they will lumber for years in a zombie state, getting VCs to throw them some more bucks every time they can get a judge to even hint he might agree with them, only to finally peter out and die. And after their patenting of the things they heard in the DRAM meetings I say couldn't happen to a shittier company, die Rambus you suck. I wonder how many companies and how much tech could have been offered under RAND but the corps were afraid they'd get "a Rambus pulled on them' if they collaborated?

Re:ARM holdings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847667)

You do realize that ARM doesn't manufacture anything. So any "halo" affect of having their design being popular wouldn't help them at all. ARM is wildly successful because their CPU designs are so low power and were available and waiting for the portable device explosion over the last 20 years. Their licensing model makes a lot of sense as well.

Re:ARM holdings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849949)

a chip made when Reagan was president and everyone listened to music on cassettes is STILL selling

Actually, it's better than that- Gerald Ford (before Carter, before Reagan) was still president when it came out in mid-1976, so we're talking about mid-1970s technology still being around(!)

Re:ARM holdings? (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849475)

I can tell you that seeing the logic design for an ARM microcontroller would be extremely useful to TI, Samsung etc (if they'd be willing to ignore corporate ethics). Not only could they copy some of the design strategy for their own parts, they could literally implement the thing no problem (although I doubt they'd go that far). ARM provides support, but they don't have that much to do with the implementation. Even an amateur (read: foreign) IC design company could easily take the RTL and turn it into something that works. From personal experience I can tell you that ARM cares a great deal about leaked architectures. Their money comes from the R&D, not the support. It's easy to cry "patent troll". However, exclusively selling IP is not the easiest business, and I'm sure you'd agree that ARM is one of the good guys in the computer world.

Re:ARM holdings? (1)

bartoku (922448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851139)

ARM Holdings does seem like one of the good guys from what little I know, especially compared how Intel seems to horde the x86 architecture rights and keep others out. With your knowledge and experience, do you think ARM Holdings could survive in a world with no patent or other IP laws? I would still imagine companies could enter into contract license agreements, like ARM could say to TI: we will give you the latest ARM design for some upfront money and a cut for each piece of silicon you produce. Now TI could find a way to get the ARM designs, perhaps Samsung would leak them, or they could reverse engineer a Tegra chip; but most likely they would be behind already and the competitors who pay for them would protect the design documents from ARM from leaking. But the damage to ARM could come from a competitor advancing the ARM architecture, using what would be protected by patents today, and selling it. Or could ARM be open source and survive, would there be an advantage to them in anyway?

Re:ARM holdings? (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38852697)

ARM could not be open source and survive. They sell proprietary logic designs that no one can use unless you pay them. They could not make a business just selling a design once to TI for the first-to-market profits alone. IP laws are important for ARM, and they're important for R&D in general. This is especially true in the USA where manufacturing keeps getting outsourced. IP laws and patents are ideally a good thing as long as you don't allow abuse of the system.

What's wrong... (5, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846759)

It's not that a company's price fluctuates with the state of its patent portfolio. The problem is that 3 patents, which should have never been issued in the first place, terrorized inventors and suppressed innovation for multiple years. This is squarely an indictment of the USPTO and of the Congress.

Re:What's wrong... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38854571)

This is squarely an indictment of the USPTO and of the Congress.

Or if you go in for root-cause analysis, the State mechanism.

Re:What's wrong... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38856947)

What do you mean by that?

Of course Stock costs fluctuate. (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846781)

Patents are a property; changes to the scope of existence of a property right change the value of the property governed by that right.

The market should estimate the possibility of a company's winning or losing a patent case; once the decision is made, the actual value of the company has changed because of the new determination of whether the company has the right.

The only alternative would be to split the patent right King-solomon style. But that only happens if both parties are willing to settle.

Parties are sometimes not willing to settle. They may know or mistakenly believe that they are in the right, or they may expect they can force the other side to settle for more later.

In addition, mucking up their estimation as to whether they will win--and thus whether it makes sense to settle--is the fact that empirical research demonstrates that lawyers are more attractive to clients when they project a higher chance of winning. Thus it is in the interest of the lawyers to artificially inflate the chance of winning by at least some margin--whether done subconsciously or deliberately--and this means parties have biased information when they decide whether to settle.

Finally, occasionally a court will do something nobody expected, either legitimately for reasons people did not anticipate would motivate them or out of stupidity.

Re:Of course Stock costs fluctuate. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849005)

Patents are a property;

What I really like about your comment here is that you begin by using grammar to make it clear that the word "property" means something completely different to you from what it means to the average Slashdot reader. I would normally say "patents are property" but I have this horrible feeling that you are legally right :-)

Other than that your comment is completely sensible in the context of patents as they are. However, I think what most of us are arguing is that patents are simply too powerful. If someone has developed a product which is later discovered to have been subject to a patent they shouldn't be at risk of losing the whole development costs. It's totally wrong that a person who has come up with an invention independently is completely limited by the patent that they have had no benefit from. There are plenty of ways of making patents softer; e.g. enforcing patent licensing and making a maximum patent license cost for all patents together of 5% of the product sale price. These would make patent rights much less of a direct "property" and more valuable as an incentive for real innovation.

Compulsory Licensing (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849877)

True--a compulsory licensing scheme is one option that could make more sense. IIRC, courts have sometimes awarded compulsory licenses in the past in patent cases, but it is relatively rare. It may have to do with those cases where there is a strong public interest in allowing the infringing party to continue to infringe, but don't quote me on that--I'd have to look it up.

One problem with it is that it leaves courts to figure out after-the-fact what "fair" royalty would have been negotiated between the parties. One thing that would be a problem with it as applied to software patents is how to deal with free software when a company would not have been willing to license its patent for free.

Re:Compulsory Licensing (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850881)

One thing that would be a problem with it as applied to software patents is how to deal with free software when a company would not have been willing to license its patent for free.

I don't really see that that's a problem. If you limit licenses to 5% of sales price, then 5% of nothing is nothing. If you are talking about free software companies that are selling software for money then I don't see that it's much more of a problem for them to pay 5% than for another proprietary software company to pay 5%.

The real problem comes, and this is one of the things which shows why patents should never apply to software in the first case, when you start to apply fixed costs per patent. If there was just one patent in a software product, as is typical for a normal physical product, that might work. When you start to add five patents with every library you use it becomes totally stupid. That's the trouble with having software lumped in with a system which is designed to guarantee funding for pharmaceutical companies.

Re:Compulsory Licensing (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38852667)

The problem is that if you limit licenses to 5% of nothing, and make licensing compulsory, then free software is competing unfairly, and you have the problem of commercial software using free software that uses patents. The purpose of the patent system is to incentivize creation, and if you are going to have software patents, then letting free software ignore the patents really defeats that purpose by giving the licensee a major disadvantage over free solutions.

I agree that the proliferation is a problem.

Re:Compulsory Licensing (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38855591)

The problem is that if you limit licenses to 5% of nothing, and make licensing compulsory, then free software is competing unfairly,

That is like arguing that the atmosphere competes unfairly with commercial suppliers of breathing gas. It's 100% true, and it's 100% missing the point. The right to use free software with the source code is a matter of fundamental freedom of speech and should be allowed no matter what. This is also the only way that things can work since most free software authors simply don't have the resources to hire lawyers to check if the patents exist. If patents, as a system, can't cope with that, then patents, as a system, must be eliminated.

and you have the problem of commercial software using free software that uses patents.

That was what I tried to address in my previous post. I don't see it as a problem if the total maximum license fee is limited. It's a commercial product, they can pay for the patents.

The purpose of the patent system is to incentivize creation, and if you are going to have software patents, then letting free software ignore the patents really defeats that purpose by giving the licensee a major disadvantage over free solutions.

I agree that the proliferation is a problem.

Free software is a better creation; available for anyone, rapidly Freely and normally for free or low cost. It also helps other creation by being directly available for use in other products and by being examinable so that even commercial products can easily use all of the ideas embedded in software that they can't use directly. Much of free software is created by volunteers or as a side issue by firms that get no benefit other than a good name from it. If the patent system interferes in any way with creation of free software, even by making a free software author think for an extra few minutes during creation of that software, then the patent system should be reviewed and considered for elimination.

There is one crucial and dominant situation where free software must be commercial software. Where companies need a guarantee. At this point, there is a commercial entity involved in the free software and the license should be assessed as a percentage of the fee for the guarantee. Fortunately this exactly matches with the point at which there is no longer a need to protect the freedom and working practices of volunteers delivering software for no cost.

Nothing unsavoury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846853)

There's something that seems unsavory and wasteful about a business environment in which a company's stock value "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing."

No, there's not. Do you see the bulk of silicon made in the USA? Thought so. Buy any consumer-grade electronics, and it will say Made in China. Made in Taiwan is already higher-end. I've been given some Christmas candy that was friggin' made in China. The only thing left is R&D. Research should lead to inventions, which should lead to patents.

The problem is of course, overly broad patents, obvious patents (*), etc. But that there are companies doing the research, creating products, then license out the manufacturing and everything else, nothing strange about that. And their only assets are their people and their patent portfolios.

(*) in this case: patents for stuff that any engineer, put in a room and given a problem, would come up with before the day is over. I'm not talking about old patents for something, then more recently "the same thing, but on a computer" and nowadays "the same thing, but on a mobile device".

Re:Nothing unsavoury (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849043)

There's something that seems unsavory and wasteful about a business environment in which a company's stock value "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing."

No, there's not. Do you see the bulk of silicon made in the USA? Thought so. Buy any consumer-grade electronics, and it will say Made in China. Made in Taiwan is already higher-end. I've been given some Christmas candy that was friggin' made in China. The only thing left is R&D. Research should lead to inventions, which should lead to patents.

In the end, if you are not doing your own manufacturing to some level you are in deep shit. To the extent that patents work as you described they are making the problem worse by putting of dealing with it. Innovation and R&D largely (though not completely) come from being inspired by practically involved in making, building, designing and manufacturing. For some time, people who used to be involved in those will be able to put out patents, but that is already slowing down (China is already starting to produce more patents than the US; within a few years they will start to produce better quality patents than the US). In the meantime, the "pure R&D" companies push the proper manufacturing companies out of the economy and mean that in the medium term, when those R&D companies begin to lose contact with real innovation, there will be a large collapse of the US.

This is an unhealthy environment, even for people in China, because the US still has the most massive military and the idiot politicians might start throwing that around more and more as a way of distracting from their serious problems at home. Serious wars have often been started by bad economic situations in countries with large armies.

Parser error. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846895)

Parser error. Third of three is 1 patent, not 2. Editors, slashdot, etc.

Re:Parser error. (4, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847141)

1 and 2 were already invalidated.

The third of 3, i.e. the last one, has now also been invalidated.

You're welcome.

I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846951)

I was given a very nice Compaq Deskpro series computer with about a 1.5G P4 (this was a while ago!) and it used their awful RAM. Apparently Compaq designed motherboards for a short time with their product, then rapidly moved away from them because I shortly thereafter got the same exact series computer with about a 2.0G processor and it used normal RAM. Thankfully, they got away from using it quickly.

I had to purchase a RAM upgrade to bring it from 512K to 1G RAM, and felt absolutely disgusted about HAVING to channel any money at all their way, but I really had no choice, I: wasn't about to throw away a perfectly good system just because it was low on RAM, but the memory cost me about 3x what the average DIMM of DDR cost at the time, absolutely obscene.

I hope they can go away and die now, I'm just sorry they were able to collude and extort the industry for as long as they did.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847011)

You didn't *have* to buy it.
It was the most convenient path, or you didn't really care about that which you care about now, or you didn't feel like working with a larger swap space, or you didn't feel like shelling out for another computer, or...

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847937)

You didn't *have* to buy it.
It was the most convenient path, or you didn't really care about that which you care about now, or you didn't feel like working with a larger swap space, or you didn't feel like shelling out for another computer, or...

Actually, he HAD to buy it. When the P4 first came out, it only supported Rambus RAM. DDR was not supported in the early days of the P4.

So, if was going to upgrade his RAM on an early P4 system, yes, he HAD to buy from Rambus.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847073)

Where I work we ended up with a number of motherboards that used it (asus p4t's). My experience was that it was dog slow. When the motherboards died we used the same cpu on a different motherboard that used other ram, those computers would be significantly faster, though only difference was motherboard and ram. Imaging one of the rambus motherboards: 4 - 6 hours. Imaging non rambus motherboard: 1 - 2 hours. Same cpu and hard drive.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847517)

I think it had to do with the chipset on the board. if I remember right, some chipsets weren't really native RDRAM, they did some kind of translation. Also, the non rambus board probably had uata66 or 100, while the older rambus board might not have. I remember seeing a new Compaq Professional workstation back in the day, with a full gig of rdram and scsi drives, install windows nt4 (or 2000?) really, really fast. Practically an order of magnitude faster than anything I'd seen previously.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847181)

I was given a very nice Compaq Deskpro series computer with about a 1.5G P4 (this was a while ago!)

Is the reference to time based on the fact that it was a 1.5G P4, or that it was a very nice Compaq? For the later, it must have been a very long time ago indeed!

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847457)

I was given a very nice Compaq Deskpro series computer with about a 1.5G P4 (this was a while ago!)

The 1.5GHz P4 was never very nice, even a long while ago. A late model P3 of the same time frame would handily outrun it at half the power consumption.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847941)

Yeah, I know, I just used it for email and to play Quake II...

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847577)

Uhhh...you DO realize that most likely for the price you paid for that RDRAM you could have just shitcanned the board and put a MUCH nicer board in its place? I had a similar situation about a year and a half ago, I just Craigslisted the board under free stuff, slapped in a cheap socket 775 along with a $15 Pentium D and a gb of RAM and it was STILL cheaper than buying that POS RDRAM and i ended up with a much nicer system. hell if you don't want to go to that much effort you can buy those AMD E-350 system boards starting at like $80 and that has a dual core CPU and HD6310 GPU, just slap a $15 DDR 3 stick and you got a dual core that'll play 1080p and is small enough you can drop that sucker into even the SFF cases. I did that with some office boxes the customer didn't want to have to buy whole new systems to replace and it worked like a charm, quiet as a churchmouse and does any task your average SMB is using floor PCs for.

So trust me friend, as a born packrat i know how it hurts to shitcan functional gear but you gotta know when to hold and know when to fold and RDRAM is a fold situation. if you don't want it going to the dump offer the parts on freecycle or CL and let someone have it for spare parts, don't throw good money after bad friend.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847933)

Not back then. I paid about $250 for the RAM upgrade IIRC, and a new MB, RAM would have been about $350-400 or so. Things were a bit more expensive back then, and that was a nearly state of the art machine at the time. Nowadays, yeah it would be a no-brainer, but believe me, I did the mental arithmetic about a dozen times before begrudgingly shelling out for the RDRAM's.

Oh, yeah, another annoying thing; they were only 16 bit I guess, because you had to have two of everything, and had to have a bus terminator "fake" RAM SIMM's inserted if there was no memory in that socket. I guess you had to keep the 'trons from leaking out into the ether, that was what my grandmother thought about empty light sockets!

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849035)

You should have tried your local mom and pop PC shop. You wanna find weird shit WE are the place to go, and we usually have plenty of boards and will be happy to cut ya a deal. At my shop i have everything from a PITA old Compaq Deskpro SFF 733Mhz sitting in the closet (I really need to chunk the bitch, but its doing this weird beep code and dammit i want to know what it is but none of the usual lists cover it) to several athlon and Pentium 4 (I'll get rid of those on CL) to just about every kind of part and board and card, all piled in boxes. hell i even got some old Matrox PCI cards in one of 'em somewhere. We are the world's worst not to chunk if it works because ya never know, I sold one of those Matrox cards last year to a guy that didn't want to give up his Win2k office box and the matrox worked perfectly with it and I ended up selling my circa 1996 gamer PCs to a local lumber mill a few years back for a nice profit because they have a $85,000 C&C lathe that only takes commands from an ISA board and DOS 3.

So before you get shafted paying full price again next time give your local mom and pop shop a holler. We love guys that DIY and actually talk the talk as we get so damned many clueless users every damned day its nice to have someone who can talk turkey. hell bullshit with us a little while we'll cut ya a good deal. hell I sold the last of my RDRAM to a former teacher for like $30, you'd have thought he won the lotto the way he was jumping up and down when i told him what i'd let him have it for but I didn't want the crap and i figured anybody dealing with RDRAM had a big enough cross to bear without me trying to stiff 'em.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851241)

Man, you are preaching to the choir - you sound like you are describing my house! I just got rid of my Matrox and TARGA cards on e-Bay a few weeks ago,,, I have a whole house full of old computer shit dating back to TRS-80 Model I and Apple II days. And I do mean FULL. I'm in the process of e-Baying anything I think may have some value, the rest is hitting the curb. Unfortunately my stupid state (IL) just passed a law and now I can't throw out ANY electronic devices or risk a $7000.00 fine. Needless to say that's putting a dent in my house-cleaning project!

I have a lot of Ham radio projects and older dedicated systems that I have to maintain for local Amateur Radio repeater systems and a lot of that require dedicated hardware with ancient things like *gasp* SERIAL ports! I also have a shit-ton of VME stuff too, a lot of radio systems use them.

Back when I needed the RDRAM, unfortunately it wasn't a Ma and Pa shop-type item, it was still state of the art (relatively, anyway) and expensive, the PC I got given at the time was basically a brand new machine that fell off a truck, so that type of memory wasn't exactly scrounging material at the time, but yeah, I will consult my own junk pile first, and that of several friends before actually using the "B" word (eek!)

That said, it's good to know that you have a big pile too, if I need something strange, I'll ask! By the way you don't have any MC145406P IC's, perchance? It's a non-standard RS-232 driver chip that Motorola used instead of normal 1488/1489 transceivers in some police-type console systems. I would be very happy with even a board that used them, I can extract the IC - I have complete Metcal rework and SMD reflow systems in my basement lab!

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851881)

Well if you happen to come across a used C128 that isn't assraping priced holler would ya? i got an ex NASA engineer that has some killer code and specs for a robotic arm he built using one of those as the brain but his got stolen at a trade show in Dallas years ago and i told him i'd keep an eye out. I'm "lucky" in that I've gotten to be buddies with the building super who also does a LOT of work for the city and local colleges so he keeps an eye out and is constantly bringing me free loads of off lease desktops and laptops. Sometimes they are missing the hard drives but other than that most of them are intact and easy peasy to refurb, just pulled a 300gb Seagate SATA for my personal pile and replaced my slowly dying Plextor with a brand new LG burner out of the last batch.

Ever since i Frankensteined the best parts of the bunch into a new box for Keith the super, who i swear to god was using a circa 1997 Pentium II 400Mhz as his office box I'm officially on his "cool" list and he goes out of his way to load me up so I'm never at a shortage of parts, got two late model P4s done ready for CL and another i'm just waiting on a drive for. I put him together a nice socket 775 3.06 GHz P4 with HT along with an 80Gb HDD and an old Geforce 7600GS so he could hook it to his widescreen and watch movies with it so he's a seriously happy camper. He's supposed to bring me another big load of laptops and since his GF wants one (and I told him like the desktops i'd slap him together the best of the bunch and hand it over for free) so i'm sure i'll be getting another load of the good stuff, again for a whole $0 and just letting Keith have a good one for his gal. i can't complain as i took the money i made off the last load and built my GF a sweeeet AMD quad, i was upgrading my quad to a Thuban 6 core anyway so i used my old quad and a new board and case to make her a truly beautiful win 7 HP box, 4gb of RAM, 600Gb HDD, 16x DVD burner like new i got out of the last load along with one of those 24 in 1 card readers that replace the floppy slot, and had enough cash left over to get her a wireless keyboard and mouse, new stereo speakers, and a webcam.

As for weird ICs i'll have to ask my NASA engineer bud, he has a ton of ICs in his workshop. he builds bots and rocket for the local college to compete in NASA contests, way cool. have you tried BGMicro [bgmicro.com] yet? if they don't have it you can shoot them an email and if they come across they'll shoot you a heads up. my engineer bud buys a ton of TTL chips and all kinds of ICs from them, great company with cheap prices. if you like to do your own protoboarding and stuff like that check out their specials like the "big bag o' chips" as my bud has bought several of those and come out with some seriously rare and expensive ICs and chips out of those. Basically anything they don't have enough of to offer in their catalog they'll throw with a bunch of other stuff in a big bag and sell cheap. last one he picked up had a ton of sweet TI chips that were just perfect for stepper motor controllers along with some excellent timing circuits and he got the whole bag for like $8 with shipping. Their LEDs are also dirt cheap and kick ass, REALLY bright. they even sell bundles harvested from state street signs and MAN are those suckers bright!

But get to know you're local mom & pops because ya never know when we'll have that weird part. When RDRAM was cutting edge I was the head guy at Doug's PC Service plus and we had a slot in our RAM bin just filled with RDRAM, it turned out one of the shops in the next town had an owner that was cranking out sat descramblers and fake copies of Windows so good they even had the hologram (I found this out when i had stopped in the shop to ask the kid running the place if he had any whitebox cases as i had a rush order and the next thing i know the FBI in full BA kicks in the door and i'm staring at an M16, not fun!) and when the guy evaded capture (and it turned out had sold all the local cops PCs, ha ha!) the cops sold all his inventory at auction and Doug literally got a semi load of gear. That was how I ended up working there for nearly 7 years, Doug was cursing up a blue streak when I walked in to see if he had a PSU cheap because part of that load was nearly 60 Gateway Astros (remember those? Little old ladies loved that thing) and he couldn't get the damned things to take the restore disc. I told him "So don't use the restore disc, use bog standard Win98" and when he showed me one that he had tried it on and all the drivers were missing he said "See, it don't work kid!" and i just said "You just don't know the trick" and took the restore disc and threw a couple of commands in a batch file and tada! Windows loaded all the drivers from the restore disc and rebooted. he said "Here is that PSU you wanted for free and $50, now have a seat because there is a whole load of them in the back' and I ended up there until his wife got a job in another state making $300k and he decided to be the housewife. if I'd have had a brain I would have just taken the shop like he wanted instead of going to ITT and finding out I hated corporate work, but the landlord was a douchebag that was always hitting on any females that walked by so i passed. Just as well because i'm happy with my little shop and its downstairs from my apt so all i have to do is pad downstairs to go to work.

But just because something is closer to cutting edge don't mean we might not have it, we ended up with this huge memory bin from bankruptcy auctions of every kind of server and desktop memory, another bin filled with every kind of CPU at Doug's you named it we had it. We ended up with so many high end SCSI drives that Doug and I took this dual 400Mhz server board, stripped one server tower down to a skeleton and spot welded that sucker to the first tower and ended up after we got done installing SCSI drives and cards something like 16 SCSI drives running on the network with Win2K Server, that thing had like 2Tb of spac when drives were still considered big if they were 80gb and the 120gb drives would break your wallet, and we had every single driver for every single part and every single variant going back to DOS all loaded on that thing and at our fingertips. Luckily now you don't really need to do that with driverpacks but at the time it was seriously cool.

Oh be sure to shoot an email if you are looking for gear and i'll put out a heads up but here is a few tricks that you might not know that makes new builds butt simple. First is WSUS Offline [wsusoffline.net] which makes it beyond simple to have any machine updated to current without wasting any bandwidth, it'll even let you build a thumbstick with all the updates for the OS and Office version of your choice but i just keep it on the network and update it once a month, i have everything from XP 32 to Win 7 X64 all loaded into WSUS so no matter what box or laptop i get its as simple as "Install OS, point towards WSUS, go have a sammich" and let it do its thing, and for third party software i highly recommend Ninite [ninite.com] which gives you all the most popular third party software like Flash and Avast, all the latest versions and all automated with NO toolbars or crapware. just check the boxes and let it do the work. finally i use Comodo Dragon [comodo.com] with ABP as their default (which you can uncheck if you like) Secure DNS is faster than most DNS servers while blocking malware and phishing and once I have everything set the way i like it Comodo Time Machine [softpedia.com] set to make a snapshot daily makes a machine pretty much unbreakable. I've had customers have kids get on their machine and leave them so screwed they wouldn't even boot but with CMT all you have to do is push the Home key on boot and you can turn back the clock as far as you need. I find a 30gb CMT hidden partition gives the average customer nearly 4 months of restore points and I have the original pristine condition saved in a locked snapshot so if nothing else they can restore back to the way they got it from me. Since i always partition and put the Docs and downloads on a data partition and have Dragon set to sync with their gmail they literally can't lose their data no matter how far back they go, but if you don't want to partition you can tell CMT to auto-restore any folders like my pics so it'll pop up if they restore and ask them what they want back.

sorry about the length but we DIYers need to stick together and i thought some of this might be useful. check out BGMicro and any problems or weird parts give a holler and i'll see what i got in the bins. Ya never know when we mom & poppers might have a simple solution, like that stupid "Windows says no sound device" error you get on new install sometimes that i have a 50Kb reg file that will instantly fix. and when it comes to parts who knows what your local guy has, hell i don't even know for 100% surety what I have in all these boxes LOL!

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847951)

Uhhh...you DO realize that most likely for the price you paid for that RDRAM you could have just shitcanned the board and put a MUCH nicer board in its place?

Not in a Compaq system. Compaq systems were very proprietary and probably would not accept any other boards. He would also have to buy a new case, power supply, RAM, motherboard, and video card (probably on board in the Compaq).

I think he would have broken even price wise, but he would have spent an awful lot of time to simply salvage the processor, HDD keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Re:I HAD to buy it... Once... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851355)

Actually, the later Deskpro's and Evo's from about PII-450 through P4-2.0G had nearly ISA or ATX standard form-factor motherboards. They had the chassis wiring harness arranged for whatever board they made runs of, so for most of the Deskpro's you could use a generic MB, you might have a bit of a time getting the LED's and reset switches wired up, but the board/slot/chassis form-factor was the same as the generic PC motherboards of the day.

Not so much for the early machines and server products (and of course laptops!), they were completely custom designs as you say, but the later desktop and tower systems were actually fairly generic.

The original name for RAMBUS (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847009)

Was RAMBUTTS, as that is what they did with their bogus patents. However the Board of Directors though the name might be to telling so they dropped the T's.

Many PC builders and customers are still sore today.

Fraud (5, Interesting)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847119)

USPTO: "Yeah, we approved these totally bogus patents that resulted in billions of dollars of litigation and now we're affirming our own malfeasance. What's your problem?" The USPTO needs to be sued into the stone age for this fraud.

Re:Fraud (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847677)

That's a stupid idea. If you do that they'll never bother overturning a patent again as it just invites another lawsuit.

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849453)

No, it's a good idea because their activity as a whole is called into question, which allows for a third party evaluation. In this case they become demonstrably liable for both the original act of granting the bogus patent and any subsequent act of not overturning said patent. Definitely the way to go. Let the lawsuits begin.

Re:Fraud (1)

martyros (588782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849535)

The USPTO doesn't overturn patents; courts do.

Re:Fraud (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849581)

The problem isn't with the USPTO. Their job is to do a fairly superficial review of the application and approve it if it seems legit. The long and expensive battle happens if someone challenges the patent and the inventor fights the challenge; you can't have that kind of battle over every application or nothing would ever move through the system.

The problem is when the inventor uses litigation as a club to force licensing on those who "infringe". Once they collect a royalty they can keep it, and use it to fund more litigation. If patent trolls had to return those royalties and reimburse legal fees when a patent is invalidated this whole industry would go away.

Of course that would cause the pendulum to swing in the other direction; well funded companies could infringe on a valid patent and dare you to sue; but if the patent is a good one and the infringing party has to reimburse the legal fees of the inventor defending it, market forces will make things work out. There won't be an incentive to file for questionable patents, only the really good inventions will be worth the trouble. And venture capitalists will be willing to back inventors with legitimate IP.

Not unsavory or wasteful (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847213)

I don't think it's an unsavory or wasteful business environment when a company stock price "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing."

Think of a university research group which discovers a new drug candidate, and forms a company to pursue its further clinical trials and licensing. The financial health of this company will be wholly determined by its ability to patent and license.

Think of a pharma company which spends $200mil research on each drug candidate, and every four years it gets one $10bil success for 50 failures. The financial health of this company will rest solely on its ability to protect (through patent litigation and licensing) the $10bil revenue that makes up for the $10bil expenses.

These both seem like cases where the market is operating as intended.

Re:Not unsavory or wasteful (2)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847689)

Think of a pharma company which spends $200mil research on each drug candidate, and every four years it gets one $10bil success for 50 failures. The financial health of this company will rest solely on its ability to protect (through patent litigation and licensing) the $10bil revenue that makes up for the $10bil expenses.

These both seem like cases where the market is operating as intended.

Pharmacutical companies spend more on marketing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmaceutical_marketing [wikipedia.org] than they do on research http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm [sciencedaily.com]
As a result there is a strong in-built bias towards existing players.

This is supported by aggressive patenting, which is one aspect of rentier capitalism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rentier_capitalism [wikipedia.org] - A mechanism for generating wealth when capital holders "... make money not from producing anything new themselves, but purely from their ownership of property..."

Re:Not unsavory or wasteful (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848503)

I don't think it's an unsavory or wasteful business environment when a company stock price "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing."

That, and millions of gamers around the world financed these lawsuits. And I doubt Rambus will be going out of business anytime soon, as millions more gamers will continue to finance Rambus.

(The PS2 has 32MB of RDRAM, back in the days when RDRAM DIMMs were horrendously overpriced. The PS3 has 256MB of XDR-DRAM, it's successor). I'm guessing the stock will shoot up again should Sony again pick Rambus technology for the PS4.

Could it be? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847373)

A sudden outbreak of commonsense at the USPTO?

Whatever it is, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving company.

It's a shame that the terms of the past settlements probably have clauses keeping the paying party from getting anything back.

Re:Could it be? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848227)

Whatever it is, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving company.

NOTREA~1.TXT

3 down.... (2)

spikestabber (644578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847405)

3 down, many thousands to go.

Seal team 6 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847559)

Calling in Seal Team 6 on the board of directors would have been a preferable solution.

A hint of invalidating patents ? (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849021)

Well does this mean that if a company takes out a bogus patent it runs the risk in the future of damages?
This might be a fair mechanism to slow down patent trolls because the act of taking out as patent is also a potential risk as well as a reward.

Re:A hint of invalidating patents ? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849907)

Sadly, probably not. The ones behind this likely cashed in their stock options and left long ago.

Stock still has room to drop (1)

ChefJoe (808832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849431)

RMBS 52wk Range: 4.00 - 22.20 Currently around 7.8 I hope they drop like thermite tapping a lake for ice fishing. /Micron Technologies stockholder
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