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Texas Jury Strikes Down Man's Claim to Own the Interactive Web

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the man-who-didn't-own-the-world dept.

Patents 151

ackthpt writes "Sir Tim Berners-Lee traveled to a courtroom in East Texas to give his testimony on how, if upheld, the Eolas Technologies & University of California patent on Web Interactivity could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today. The Jury deliberated only a few hours before invalidating the patent in question. In a victory Tweet Berners-Lee said, 'Texas jury agreed Eolas 906 patent invalid. Good thing too!' Google, Amazon, Apple, Adobe and a host of other companies, with representatives present, must have given a Texas-size sigh of relief."

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151 comments

Simpsons Kid... (5, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994769)

Cue that kids from the Simpsons laughing... Point at Eolas laughing:

Ha Haa!

Re:Simpsons Kid... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994935)

You know when someone explains something funny, like a joke or a riddle, and it becomes less funny. That's what you did, just now. You took something that was funny, and you made it not funny. Just by explaining it, it wasn't funny anymore. Because it started out with the potential to be funny, and you made it not funny, you've wasted a great opportunity for a funny first post. Most first posts get modded down, but you had one that could have been modded funny if you hadn't explained it. By explaining it, you made it not funny.

See how that works?

You could have just said:
Title: HA-HA
Message: Signed - Nelson

We would have "got it"

Re:Simpsons Kid... (-1, Redundant)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995157)

You know when someone explains something funny, like a joke or a riddle, and it becomes less funny.

Like you just did?

Oh, and are you aware that questions are supposed to be completed with question marks? Just curious.

Re:Simpsons Kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995437)

You know when someone explains something funny, like a joke or a riddle, and it becomes less funny.

Like you just did?

whoosh

Re:Simpsons Kid... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994943)

He's called Nelson, although Mad Magazine afectiously calls him Smelson. Hand in your geek badge at the door, please.

Re:Simpsons Kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995217)

Smell you later!

Re:Simpsons Kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38997379)

Smell you later!

Please explain.

Please don't really explain - that would just validate my trolling and possibly encourage it further.
-Anonymous troll

Re:Simpsons Kid... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995263)

Though I don't read MAD much any more, I'm familiar with the Nelson Muntz character and the mimicking of his laugh as a meme... it's called Nelsoning.

And I agree wholeheartedly with the OP, Ha - Ha!

I'd also like to tell Eolas pondscum to "Suck it!"

Re:Simpsons Kid... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997345)

Suck it? Dude, you live dangerously. I wouldn't touch any of their relatives with my, or my worst enemy's peter. There's to high a chance of helping the scum to replicate!

AL should have patented it when he invented it (1, Funny)

gearloos (816828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994811)

AL should have patented it when he invented the dang thing! Then we wouldn't have these issues. I guess it was too "inconvenient " for him at the time..

Re:AL should have patented it when he invented it (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994923)

maybe he thought that just showing it to world was enough to make it unpatentable.

like it should.

Re:AL should have patented it when he invented it (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995461)

maybe he thought that just showing it to world was enough to make it unpatentable.

like it should.

Somewhere in all the proceedings of this case and its coverage in the press I read a fascinating and disturbing tidbit - Just because something has been done before does not prevent it being patented. That's what this case was about, in a nutshell. Something was done before then repeated, with whatever modifications these people believed they had invented, so they applied for patent. Goof by the USPTO? You could say that, but the reality was "Internet", "Web" were unknowns and unfamiliar ground. Simply extrapolating earlier computer network, which the good old ARPANET was part of for collaboration with university people could have given some idea, but USPTO processors likely didn't look in that direction or even consider some of the old Wang systems, which could be argued as being an Internet, albeit more limited, as more than one person could work on the same ledger from various locations.

There's no end to bad patents and there's likely no end to them being trolled. At least this big one was sorted. Really, this would have been the short hairs of the world.

Re:AL should have patented it when he invented it (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996227)

That's why WD40 has never been patented [wikipedia.org]. If they applied for a patent they would have to reveal the formula.

Re:AL should have patented it when he invented it (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997395)

I believe that one of the main ingredients is DMSO. I use veterinarian quality DMSO for my knees. A nice dose of the stuff keeps my knees working pretty well for several days, sometimes for weeks.

I met a guy in Houston who uses WD40 for the same thing. He has the stuff in all his toolboxes anyway, so he just uses WD40 instead of DMSO. It hasn't killed him yet!

What? East Texas Jury? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994825)

Satan, satan, please check your realm. Is it frozen over or what? Some East Texas jury found for the defendant in a patent law suite. Wondering what happened and how a random act of sanity struck East Texas. I know those guys were upset about their main Rick Perry being laughed off the national stage. Are they taking the first baby steps to acquire some kind of respectability?

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (5, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994851)

I got it. They all believe Al Gore invented the internet. That is why. Now it makes sense.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995109)

Tired old joke

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (3, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995169)

Indeed. Ironic how someone who actually did get the national focus on the 'net and did a substantial amount to help fund the original hubs that grew into the 'net gets so much mockery from so many folks who's careers depend upon it.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996849)

Tim Berners-Lee, yes, you are right. Totally ripped off by Gore.

Seriously though, its too bad Gore didn't actually do something with the 'net. Give him something to do instead of driving the rest of world crazy with his global warming shtick.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997429)

Irony? I guess in some alternate reality, it would be ironic. Like, some reality in which Gore actually contributed something that no one else was capable of contributing. Here, in this one reality that you and I happen to share, there were thousands of people already working hard to make the net work, before Gore hooked his talons into it.

Remember, we're talking about the same parasite who is profiting off of other people's guilt, by selling "carbon credits".

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38997507)

Absurd. There is literally nothing any human does that "no one else [is] capable of contributing".

What matters is actually doing something, and he deserves credit for it.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997585)

The whole "I invented the internet" bullshit came straight from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh, so that should tell you why you see this endlessly parroted, nearly 20 years later.

The crooked judge retired (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995061)

The crooked judge (Ward) who ran the Eastern District of Texas recently retired:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._John_Ward

Ward steered cases towards the plaintiff since his son was the major plaintiff's lawyer in town. The new judges are less crooked and do not have their children practicing before the court.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (4, Informative)

Necroman (61604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995099)

From what I've heard (I recommend listening to NPR's investigation into IV [npr.org]), the district has become one of the best places for patent litigation as the judges are extremely familiar with the topic.

East Texas started being used as it was one of the few federal districts not backed up with drug related cases. Since then, that courtroom has become one of the defacto places to handle patent lawsuits.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (3, Insightful)

PickyH3D (680158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995557)

If they are so familiar with the topic, then why do they side with crazy so frequently?

This appears to have been a case of luck--not experience--that ended Eolas' current tirade through the industry. It's only a matter of time before they appeal the decision, and before the next stupid patent result coming out of East Texas.

Just to be completely fair, a lot of their decisions may simply fall on the side of stupidity because much of the system is broken, but there have been numerous patent cases running through East Texas that have had proven-prior art that was ignored for whatever reason.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (4, Insightful)

flanders123 (871781) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995989)

If they are so familiar with the topic, then why do they side with crazy so frequently?

One theory I've heard is this "industry" is a huge boon for the town. All the local businesses (false fronts and not) setting up shop, all the lawyers flying in and out of town...this puts big $$ into the local economy. The region knows they own this niche market, and want the customers to return.

Its no different than locals supporting regional activities that could be questionable to the big picture....such as for argument's sake, big oil, coal mining, big corn, improper fishing, etc.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997547)

If they are so familiar with the topic, then why do they side with crazy so frequently?

This appears to have been a case of luck--not experience--that ended Eolas' current tirade through the industry. It's only a matter of time before they appeal the decision, and before the next stupid patent result coming out of East Texas.

Exactly my thoughts.

This is bound to be an unpopular post, but if Eolas's patent was invalid due to prior art, THAT ALONE should have been the deciding factor.

On the other hand, TBL arguing that the patent, if valid, would be a problem for the web, amounts to further evidence that the patent was unique, inventive, non-obvious, non-trivial, and fully patent worthy. He essentially made an impassioned plea for something akin to Jury Nullification.

  He set the grounds for appeal.

There is nothing in patent law that allows invalidating a patent simply because it has become essential.

A patent may be commandeered by government for national security reasons, as was done by the US Government when the US entered both world wars. The government seized funds and patents held by German firms [eh.net], completely ignoring the 5th Amendment: (“nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”).

But baring that, simply because a patent has become essential seems insufficient reason to invalidate it.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38997599)

If they are so familiar with the topic, then why do they side with crazy so frequently?

Crazy likes company.

This is not a surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995831)

We have an individual inventor with a patent against a host of large corporations. We see the large corporations won again.

People think that patents provide protection for independent inventors. They do not.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (4, Informative)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996347)

The reason East Texas is popular for patent litigation is because its the one place in the country where any lawyer from any state bar can practice, and it alone has a set of rules that govern how patent cases are to be run that favour the plaintiffs.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (0)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995123)

You bet. Next thing you know they will be as great as states like California.

/sarcasm

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995377)

You bet. Next thing you know they will be as great as states like California. /sarcasm

If you had said Los Angeles Your jibe might have been 217% more effective than other leading brands, as it was it left me feeling unfulfilled and listless.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996501)

You guys and your "my state is badder!" pissing contests... sheesh. Reminds me of an old joke (and no, I'm not from Alaska).

A Texan, a Californian, and an Alaskan are in camp, and the Texan brags about Texans. "We ride BULLS!"

The Californian laughed. "We ride WHALES!"

The Alaskan didn't say anything, he just stood there stirring the fire with his dick.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (3, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995127)

Really, can we get rid of the legal gimmick of cherry picking where you want the trial held because you know certain areas in the country are biased?

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995631)

I was actually kinda hoping Eolas would win, and start demanding insanely high license fees, effectively shutting down the internet, at least in the USA. Then maybe the rest of the world would finally turn their backs on us until we fix our broken IP laws.

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (1)

knifeyspooney (623953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996219)

If the lawsuit had succeeded, the effects would have been so widespread and so damaging. With so many powerful corporations affected, perhaps the government would finally be forced to promulgate some authentic patent reform. (In other words, this lawsuit was so crazy, it just might have worked!)

Re:What? East Texas Jury? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997409)

Note, that it was a jury trial. Had it been a non-jury trial, the judge probably would have been paid off. "You find for me, Your Honor, and it's worth tens of millions to your favorite charity IN YOUR NAME!" Or, something similar . . . .

Common Sense Rules (5, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994833)

I was originally going to submit the story yesterday with the comment "how could they consider this patentable? We had windows with full 3D manipulation going on prior to 1991. We ran Patran via X11 and to the layman that would appear as a "super" browser window. It covered all aspects of any interactive patent by having full 2-way communication, visualization, and interaction. The only thing it didn't do was run over HTTP."

But it looks like common sense ruled and the jury did the right thing for once, even in Tyler.

Re:Common Sense Rules (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996447)

Thanks for the reminder. When I read this patent initially, I was stuck in the "browser" as gateway for interactivity mindset. Slowly I began to think about how an operating system's registry does the same kind of things that were in the patent. Same thing with what your group was doing in 1991.

The thing is, this invalidation, might unravel a lot of "software patents" because of the idea that we're just re-using old patents in new places.

Re:Nothing to do with Common Sense (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996569)

The summary suggests the jury based their decision on the patent's validity determining the existence of our internet. This is a terrible idea, and most likely not what happened. The effect on a patent validity decision should not be a part of the process, and based on the article's description Tim had no business there giving any opinion. Only facts about what was in place at the time, as it pertains to prior art.

Also, the company only wanted money according to the article. It did not want to shut down the internet. So in this specific case, the same is true. It's irrelevant, and the 'what if' case should not be considered.

The question is simply, is the patent valid? And it obviously isn't. But that should be the story - why it's not valid. Not that it *might* kill the internet that we know and love today if it were valid.

Common sense is not a part of this - just the facts.

Re:Nothing to do with Common Sense (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996817)

well put. the logical fallacy of "X must be true, because if it isn't the result Y would be unpalatable" should have no place in determining patent validity. It should most definitely be part of defining patent law, because you'd hope they are creating laws to produce acceptable results. But given current law, if I patent something and in the process of trying to license it everybody and their mother starts using it, a court had better determine that I get paid by those who used it without license. 'Oh, it would inconvenience too many people' is no excuse to invalidate a patent unless you're proposing to work that into the actual patent law.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_consequences [wikipedia.org]

What? (3, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994849)

A frivolous patent troll's suit is stricken down in a Texas court?

What is the world coming to??

Re:What? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995309)

A frivolous patent troll's suit is stricken down in a Texas court?

What is the world coming to??

Despite their reputation as a back-roads people (who are now depended upon for a number of Patent Trolling cases), they got it. Does this restore some faith in mankind? I'd certainly like it to. Suggests to me these people are a cut above. Well done them. May diminish Tyler, Texas as a place to set up 1 room offices with a sole employee, placed there so Patent Trolls can try their luck at suckering judges and juries for really big zorkmids.

Re:What? (5, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996691)

I know that /. loves to paint Texans, especially those in East Texas, as backwards folks with backwards ways, but the trope has gotten old, and I'd even suggest that it's harmful. We're using East Texas as a scapegoat to vent our frustration, but that only serves to draw attention away from the real threats that should be the targets of our ire. It's time /. moved on from blaming East Texas for patent cases gone awry.

In case you want some more though, the facts simply don't line up with your snark. The percentage of patent cases where the plaintiff succeeded at trial was, over the period from 1995-2009, in line with the national average [pwc.com] (66.7% trial success in East Texas vs. 66% nationwide), and by all indications it hasn't changed from that in the last few years (as a point of comparison, Florida Middle District Court had an 80% trial success rate for plaintiffs over that same period). Admittedly, East Texas did have a blip for about a year in the mid-2000s where the plaintiffs won more frequently, and that's when it deservedly earned its reputation, but its rates have since then returned to levels that are in line with other district courts.

Despite that, there is still a mistaken perception that the East Texas courts are plaintiff friendly, but that's all it is now: a perception. In fact, for NPEs (i.e. non-practicing entities, a.k.a. patent trolls), the Florida Middle District and the Delaware District courts had overall success rates (i.e. including summary judgments) that were about 11% and 7% higher, respectively, than East Texas over the period from 1995-2009.

That said, the East Texas courts do make for an ideal venue for trying patent cases, even if they're not as one-sided as people here seem to think. The district has faster turnaround times than many other federal districts, the judges are well-versed in patent cases and have indicated an interest in handling them expeditiously, and there are local laws permitting lawyers from any bar association, not just the Texas bar, from trying their cases there, making it easier to use than some of the other districts. The fact that the judges are knowledgeable is especially important, because many of the corporations being sued prefer to have their cases tried there, rather than getting them transferred to their home district where an ignorant judge can add a major level of uncertainty to the equation (in fact, in one case involving 112 defendents a few months ago, the East Texas judge was able to dismiss 99 of the defendents immediately because they weren't infringing and didn't request transfers to other districts). As a result, more cases that start in the district tend to stay in the district than you might otherwise see, creating a larger volume of cases that reach a conclusion.

Any court will make rulings we disagree with, but the rulings we disagree with make big headlines every time, get brought up frequently, and linger for quite awhile in our collective minds, while the ones we agree with tend to disappear and not be brought up over and over again. Since East Texas has so many patent cases, they naturally have more cases that we hear about, but we latch onto the ones that we disagree with and use them to confirm our past belief - now mistaken - that East Texas is a plaintiff's playground.

They have a term for that: confirmation bias.

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994881)

would like to see this guy win the patent. That would tell the rest of the world how stupid the patent process is, and possibly bring SOME sanity back to the patent awarding process.

Also, I for one welcome would have welcomed our patent wielding overlord.

Re:I for one (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995655)

That's kinda what I was hoping too. This decision just delays things; we need someone to get a patent that basically shuts down civilization, and have them wield it that way too.

Judge's finding: (5, Funny)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994931)

Sir, I've met Al Gore, and you're no Al Gore.

Re:Judge's finding: (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995189)

Re:Judge's finding: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996551)

Yeah, we know.

It's funny as hell because people get in such an absurd huff over it. Oh my GOD, someone blatantly mocked a politician on the Internets!!! I must set them straight, and cure them of their obvious ignorance!

Thanks for playing, by the way; it's people like you who make trolling work!

A major threat to the internet - In The USA (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994977)

Since US patents have no validity outside US borders the rest of the world would have just collectively rolled its eyes yet again at daft US patents and moved on if he had have won.

Re:A major threat to the internet - In The USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995037)

Wel, the infamous ACTA is trying to change that.

Re:A major threat to the internet - In The USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995081)

Since US patents have no validity outside US borders the rest of the world would have just collectively rolled its eyes yet again at daft US patents and moved on if he had have won.

Don't some countries have patent agreements?

Re:A major threat to the internet - In The USA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996159)

Only when those patents would meet the criteria for a reasonable patent of those countries. An excellent example of this would be the RIM vs NTP patent dispute. In Canada NTPs patent was determined to be non-valid by Canada's patent criteria, and thus never went to trial, however in the US they were found valid enough to proceed to trial.

If the US goes out to there way to allow more breadth in patents, then more of them will be determined to be invalid by countries that have more restrictive patent processes. Now so long as the US represents somewhere in the realm of 25+% of the electronics buying power of the world this is a non-issue, you make sure your patent works in the US because the US represents 1/4 of your sales, but if this were to be tipped for some reason (more buying power in other countries, less buying power in the united states, getting a device through a US patent costs more then the revenue from its sale in the US, etc)- then the US having a far more restrictive patent standard then the rest of the world could simply cause it to not see new devices released there.

Which is why the US is pushing so hard for the rest of the world to adopt its more restrictive patents: All the manufacturing is already taking place in other countries, if there is no US market due to patent encumbrance, why use US engineers/programmers to build the products, and why do any final construction/sale there.

Re:A major threat to the internet - In The USA (3)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995389)

Since US patents have no validity outside US borders the rest of the world would have just collectively rolled its eyes yet again at daft US patents and moved on if he had have won.

But any multinational with a toehold within US would have been subject to the outcome, no matter how odious. It is by these means US law may be employed to guide business and government beyond US borders.

CORRECTION: A major threat to ALL of the USA (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997053)

But, then they would just pack up their bags and abandon that toehold. Only corporations with significant USA holdings would stay. If the patent extortion lasted long enough and was onerous enough, they too would leave.

Jury Deliberation went something like this: (5, Funny)

IMarvinTPA (104941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995159)

Juror 1: "If we say this patent is valid, they'll take our internet away!"
Jurors: "Hell no!"
Juror 1: "I guess we should shoot the breeze for a couple hours so they will think we thought hard about this."

Re:Jury Deliberation went something like this: (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995281)

I know you're joking, but your post hits on a point.

The internet was created and thrived as a free and open environment. That the jury could see this lawsuit as a threat to that is commendable.

Now the next thing that needs to be explained is how something set up by congress to "Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," is currently being wielded as a weapon of technological mass destruction.

It is obvious to anyone paying any attention at all that software patents are evil and do not promote progress in any way.

Re:Jury Deliberation went something like this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995325)

Supreme Court Justice 1: "Even though this is valid, if we agree, they'll do something we don't want to happen!"
The Rest of the Supremes : "Hell no!"
Supreme Court Justice 1: "I guess we should shoot the breeze for a couple hours so they will think we thought hard about this."

Not so much a FTFY as much as it was a "Yeah, it seems to happen there too."

(captcha "liberty")

Re:Jury Deliberation went something like this: (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995497)

Not sure if this is so much as funny as more like close to what they really said.

Re:Jury Deliberation went something like this: (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996505)

That's a good point. I wouldn't be surprised if the verdict came down to perceiving the threat to Facebook (or, more specifically, Farmville).

If Sir Tim said anything in his testimony that might wink-and-nod hint at the END OF THE INTARWEBS as we know it, the jury could have decided out of pure self-defense.

If that's true, Eolas was doomed before they started. Once the road is a popular 12-lane superhighway, it's a little late to try to stick a tollboth on it.

Re:Jury Deliberation went something like this: (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997199)

Nonsense, it threatened internet porn...a force mightier than, well, everything.

Google, Amazon, Apple, Adobe sigh of relief ? (1)

krouic (460022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995193)

Maybe not - all these companies are using the commercial weapon of frivolous overbroad patents. They should be worried that a court has finally had the guts to start drawing the line as to which kind of patents are acceptable or not.

Leave off the "Sir" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995199)

I, like most Americans, find the title "Sir" to be highly offensive. Please do not include such profanities in future slashdot stories.

Re:Leave off the "Sir" (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995765)

Agreed. And can we stop referring to judges with the mandatory "honorable". US military officers still expect to be referred to as "sir" by their enlisted counterparts. It's about time that these terms be abolished. A simple "comrade" should be sufficient for all citizens.

Hey I'm from Texas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995233)

I really don't appreciate all the Texas bashing.

But I'm glad about the ruling, because the internet is really _my_ invention.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995615)

The problem is that they ALWAYS take these cases to East Texas because they know the juries there are biased. Either East Texas needs to wise-up or the system of picking and choosing where to take your case needs to be changed.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (2)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995913)

Are the juries in East Texas biased, or do the petitioners know that most East Texans are simple, shoot-from-the-hip, straight talking, honest, hard working, family oriented men and women who aren't going to be easily bedazzled by some legalize gobbledygook that Ivy League Yankees like to throw over the heads of their working-class inferiors?

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996249)

Probably that first one.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996653)

Actually, it is the first one. Texans, esp. east Texans, are pretty much east coasters anyways. The west texans are nothing like them.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997117)

Are the juries in East Texas biased, or do the petitioners know that most East Texans are simple, shoot-from-the-hip, straight talking, honest, hard working, family oriented men and women who aren't going to be easily bedazzled by some legalize gobbledygook that Ivy League Yankees like to throw over the heads of their working-class inferiors?

Wow, that's some serious Poe's Law action, right there.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995747)

I really don't appreciate all the Texas bashing.

Hey, I'm from Texas as well, and it does get old to be lumped in with the crazies. But there are enough crazies in Texas, I fully understand the impulse of people unfamiliar with the state to use the mental shorthand of "all Texans are nuts". Rise above it and continue to work for sane policies. That and demographic shifts will eventually bring the state to a more mainstream position.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996281)

Well, at least they grant *you* the dignity of a stereotype. I'm from Massachusetts. When Republicans bash us,they just say our name in a funny, nasal voice, as if people are supposed to know why. It's like they can't even be bothered to try.

So if you want bash MA, let me show you how to do it:: "People from Massachusetts are like America's version of the French. They think they're better than everybody, but nobody else can see why."

See that you guys? You want to insinuate (suggest without actually coming out and saying it) that Bay Staters are patronizing (PAY-TRUH-NEYE-ZING).

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996365)

When Republicans bash us,they just say our name in a funny, nasal voice, as if people are supposed to know why.

I thought everyone just called it Taxachusetts.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996655)

My wife's from Texas, and we still have a lot of connections from all over that state.

My impression is that most of Texas looks down on East Texas. Kind of like "Arkansas on the wrong side of the river."

Of course, most of Texas looks down on a lot of other parts of Texas. For instance, Dallas isn't really Texan enough to be Texas.

Re:Hey I'm from Texas (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997137)

Doesn't Ron Paul represent parts of East Texas? If not, he's not too far away from there. They have some strange ideas in those parts of Texas.

Temporary setback for Eolas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995333)

The patent suit Eolas filed against Microsoft took around 8 years to litigate? The case even went to the Supreme Court, though it refused to hear the case. This is just a temporary setup back for Eolas, they'll appeal, unfortunately. I wouldn't say its over until they lose their appeals or the companies offer to settle. BTW, a big fuck you University of California who's also being a patent troll here. Hope all your Silicon Valley alumini boycott you.

Relevance (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995537)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee traveled to a courtroom in East Texas to give his testimony on how, if upheld, the Eolas Technologies & University of California patent on Web Interactivity could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today.

That's very nice, but is it actually relevant to the case? I'd have thought the case would be decided on its own merits, rather that the consequences.

Re:Relevance (2)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996333)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee traveled to a courtroom in East Texas to give his testimony on how, if upheld, the Eolas Technologies & University of California patent on Web Interactivity could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today.

That's very nice, but is it actually relevant to the case? I'd have thought the case would be decided on its own merits, rather that the consequences.

The validity of a patent may depend on ones interpretation of the law.

One might be arguing that congress or the constitution never intended to give a private party the power to wreak havoc on the entire telecommunications and thus any interpretation of law which ends in that effect must be erroneous somehow. Perhaps you are demonstrating the possible harm that an over liberal interpretation of "non-obvious" could cause.

you might also be going for jury nullification.

In any case the opposing side has the right to object to the introduction of this evidence, if they believed it was irrelevant. The burden of establishing relevance is on the side wishing to introduce it. The court is responsible to ensure the trial proceeds efficiently and the judge would also question the introduction of any seemingly irrelevant evidence, even if the opposing side didn't. Occasionally testimony is given, only to be excluded AFTER THE FACT due to non relevance as well, because sometimes it is impossible to gauge the relevance until after the evidence is actually heard.

the interesting part of Berners-Lee's comment (3, Insightful)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995677)

It seems odd that the testimony was 'could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today'. If we are going to have a patent system it seems unreasonable that the argument that the technology in the patent in question is too critical to the way society operates and is so central should be a reasonable argument for invalidating the patent claim.

I'm not intending to make any claim about this particular patent. I only wish to say that that seems like a stupid reason to invalidate a patent based on the patent framework that we seem to have.

Re:the interesting part of Berners-Lee's comment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996257)

I disagree. The US patent system, in theory, is to promote innovation. Having someone chime in that this patent does not promote innovation and will instead cause irreparable damage to it should be, and evidently IS, a valid point.

Re:the interesting part of Berners-Lee's comment (1)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996263)

The constitution explicitly says that congress can only allow patents to further progress.
So a patent that blocks critical progress in our society would mean that the law that allowed the patent is unconstitutional, no?
So when you interpret the laws, look at the patents, you need to check that you are not interpreting in ways that would violate the constitution.

So taking into account the effect on society doesn't sound that stupid to me...
 

Re:the interesting part of Berners-Lee's comment (2)

David Chappell (671429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996361)

It seems odd that the testimony was 'could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today'. If we are going to have a patent system it seems unreasonable that the argument that the technology in the patent in question is too critical to the way society operates and is so central should be a reasonable argument for invalidating the patent claim.

I'm not intending to make any claim about this particular patent. I only wish to say that that seems like a stupid reason to invalidate a patent based on the patent framework that we seem to have.

It is not a decisive legal argument, but it is not without weight. In this case, the patent holder was claiming to have a right to a share of the profits from a huge range of Internet technologies. At the same time, the claimed invention was basically just some minor tweaking of the way the parts of an information browser were integrated. This is a strong indication that the patent is defective (too broad).

Interestingly the plaintif tried to use the argument you mention. It didn't work because they hadn't actually invent this technology, they just used some of it and slapped a patent on it. So no, the fact that the technology to which a a patent troll lays claim does not in and of itself strengthen his case.

Re:the interesting part of Berners-Lee's comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38996637)

I have heard from patent examiners that they won't grant a patent on something like a cure for cancer. So in some cases, a patent may not be granted in critical cases. But in this case, it seems like an odd way to overturn a patent.

Did Microsoft already pay? (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996287)

MS plays loads of games with patents now. No doubt they were hoping that this would be used against a number of their enemies (pretty much everybody else). So, did Eola get this wrapeed up so that if the patent was lost, that they did not have to pay back MS? Otherwise, there is a LOAD of money that has to go back to MS.

I was going to say... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996473)

News: Crazy guy... does something crazy... news at 11!

However when I read into it a bit the same company of paid off by Microsoft for 500m (that's HALF A BILLION!) for a patent.

With incentive like that, can't blame a guy for tryin'!

Hmmm.... (0)

delkaz (758813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38996721)

Anyone else think if it was Apple or Google filing this patent the judge would have passed it without taking a second look?

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997155)

This was a Jury decision. Apple and Google are involved in plenty of patent lawsuits. Even that bogus Facebook owner was able to keep his case in the courts for over a year. Our judicial system loves taking second and third looks.

Appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38997281)

Three patent trolls should band together to appeal on technical grounds. The outcome might be scary, is not a basis to invalidate a patent more specific than most that are actually upheld. This is about keeping the internet "free as in beer" even though no part of the internet is actually "free as in beer".

JJ

Enforcing patents on the internet..a bit late, no? (1)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38997371)

Anyone claiming to have patents on fundamental aspects of the internet, even if said patent were valid, would and should not be given any benefit. If their patent is indeed valid, it would have had to have been given well before the internet ever came into being, so most of those patents would have to be well over 10 years ago. That is way too long to be sitting on a patent and not enforcing until now, after everyone has well been using it.
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