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How Linus Torvalds Helped Bust a Microsoft Patent

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the wondertux-powers-activate dept.

Patents 103

New submitter inhuman_4 passes along this quote from an article at Wired: "Last December, Microsoft scored a victory when the ITC Administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex found that Motorola had violated four Microsoft patents. But the ruling could also eliminate an important Microsoft software patent that has been invoked in lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and car navigation device-maker Tom Tom. According to Linus Torvalds, he was deposed in the case this past fall, and apparently his testimony about a 20-year-old technical discussion — along with a discussion group posting made by an Amiga fan, known only as Natuerlich! — helped convince the Administrative Law Judge that the patent was invalid."

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typo in summary (1, Funny)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506621)

>along with a discussion group posting made by an Amiga fan, known only as Natuerlich!
That'll be the 'Amiga' fan posting in comp.sys.atari.st about the ST's OS options will it?

Re:typo in summary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506847)

Also, "known only as Natuerlich!"?

The post has a complete e-mail adress from somebody at the computer science department of the university in Darmstadt attached to it.

Could be both?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507553)

Nothing saying that he couldn't have been an Atari ST owner who is an 'Amiga fan' - Not mutually exclusive ;)

Ahh good old days....

Re:Could be both?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507991)

He did post on an amiga advocacy board [google.com] as well.

Re:Could be both?? (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508881)

Considering that the Amiga vs Atari flamewars were of a magnitude even Emacs vs Vi will only ever dream of reaching, I find it hard to believe that claim :p

Re:Could be both?? (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39509333)

I think that's it. And the Amiga owners are now Android Users, the Atari ST users are now drooling in a corner somewhere, and SNES owners now use iOS.

Re:Could be both?? (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510177)

Nah, us Amiga users are a diverse bunch, using a bit of this, a bit of that. Many of us tend to be on the high-end side of things, not having settled for mere routine work

Re:typo in summary (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508335)

known only as Natuerlich!

It's 2012 and we still can't use umlauts in email addresses?

Natuerlich! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39510077)

It seems that you can find "Natuerlich". His E-Mail was wallmann@... . If you search for that you come across a NASM copyrite [sic] file with that e-mail address and full name and (former?) address. With the address you find atari documents of Georg Wallmann (aka Mulle KybernetiK). From there a fosdem_2006 GNUstep meeting note with Georg Wallmann aka Nat! (Mulle kybernetiK). And if you go on you will eventually find "Georg Wallmann Codeon GmbH nat@multiflo-simulator.com", notice the "nat@".
If you search for that company "Codeon GmbH" you even find a document (in german) , which is a list of companies against software patents! GREAT!

Re:WHO IS "Natuerlich!"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39513369)

So he is Georg Wallmann, Codeon GmbH "nat@multiflo-simulator.com"?

Amiga? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506635)

Since when do Amiga fans talk about operating systems for Atari hardware?

OK. I admit they did it all the time. Let me rephrase.

Since when do Amiga fans talk about operating systems for Atari hardware without flaming?

Re:Amiga? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507393)

When we make an atari emulator on the Amiga using the Atari ROM.

Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506693)

Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead?

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506723)

That's what I would like to know! It was unfortunately upheld in Germany, citing that it takes effort to come up with technical software solutions (i.e. having ideas is hard), that's why there should be software patents. Perhaps I remember incorrectly [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506821)

Except that in the light of the discussion submitted by Linus Torvalds, the exact way Microsoft is using for long fat names was done BEFORE Microsoft even thought about it...

In case of a retrial in Germany, this will be brought on the table and the patent will also be invalidated there (well, IANAL but it's common sense).

Looks like that stupid patent is dead...

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (2)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508727)

the patent will also be invalidated there (well, IANAL but it's common sense).

Yeah, do you honestly believe common sense factors in anywhere when it comes to this kind of blatant patent garbage?

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506823)

That's what I would like to know!

From TFA: "the ruling could also eliminate an important Microsoft software patent that has been invoked in lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and car navigation device-maker Tom Tom", so yes, that particular extortion racket will be busted.

I sincerely hope all those Android makers who've been bullied into paying are able to sue to get their lunch money back.

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508311)

I suspect that Android vendors like HTC and Samsung were sued over patents other than just the FAT patent.

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508601)

I think the scenario went " Here's the TomTom result and you have a Windows licence to protect". I also presume as they waived the TomTom scenario in front of them , they didn't have to show any more patents.

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (1)

SadButTrue (848439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508915)

But, since those publicly available patents were so important to Microsoft's business they required an NDA. So, we will never know.

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39510625)

it probably will not because Microsoft made sure they went after companies who licensed other things from Microsoft. That is they would likely bundle lots of other things in the "licensing agreement" so that the one invalidation does not effect the whole of the "licensing agreement". BTW, it's in quotes because it was more of an exercise in extortion than an agreement.

Most of those who have agreed with Microsoft to something which included Android or Linux were vendors who also sold Windows and/or other Microsoft software. Barnes & Noble does not and Motorola stated a few years ago they were not going to make any more Windows CE/PocketPC/Mobile/etc phones.

Re:Does it mean the FAT longnames patent is dead? (2)

nothousebroken (2481470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510259)

No. The ITC is an administrative body that only rules on trade issues. It does not have the authority to invalidate a patent. That is a job for the district court.

Microsoft sued at the ITC because they want to block imports. If the ITC believes the patent to be valid and infringed, then it will block imports of the accused devices. If it believes the patent to be invalid or not infringed, then it will allow importation of the accused devices. In either case, the parties will then go to the district court to get an actual decision on validity/invalidity and infringement/non-infringement.

Microsoft started at the ITC because it works much more quickly than the district courts. A favorable decision at the ITC is almost as good as winning in court.

Atari ST & Amiga (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506707)

Oh, c'mon don't try to start old flamewar. Atari ST is not Amiga...

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506881)

I agree. Let it drop. We all know the Atari ST sucks, while the Amiga still kicks $ss!!!!

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (5, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506991)

Be sure to let us know when you've managed to get your Amiga to boot from a hard disk...

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507093)

ummm lets see every Amiga after the 1000/500 ie 1500-3000 and even the 500 with a conversion could boot from a hard drive.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507285)

Sure, but the Amiga was dead by then...

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507513)

You don't know what you are talking about. The A500 was what put the Amiga brand into homes by the million and the second model released. The harddrive plugged into the left of the machine and booted fine with a ramp shaped box to match the Amiga's profile. It was nothing more than a SCSI board, you could replace the drive for a bigger model. Many of us did this. GVP with a quantum drive was the best at the time for performance, 50MB was the main offering, then cheaper options started to appear. We also upgraded the MC68000 to 68030 with ease too.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511039)

Nope. Most A500 machines only had Kickstart 1.2. You needed Kickstart 1.3 to boot from hard disk.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508639)

The A500 could boot from hard disk starting from Kickstart 1.3 (released in 1988). No conversion necessary, just a SCSI controller.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507181)

Huh? I booted my trusty A1200 always from HD. Those were the times... *sigh*

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507199)

Seriously? It was a 40MB SCSI drive in my Amiga 2000 in the early 90s. Amiga's booted just fine from hard drives. Even the Amiga 500 had the option. You must be an Atari ST fan! (They aren't very smart.) lol

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508847)

My Amiga 500 had a 40MB hard drive and 2Mb memory expansion box on the left side. It cost me $700 and was worth every penny.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39510053)

My A500 boots from a 116MB SCSI-disk, my primary A1200 boots from a 80GB IDE-disk and I plan to upgrade my secondary A1200 to a 10GB solid state soon.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512383)

Strange, I achieved this feat in 1989. Perhaps you did not get the memo.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39508909)

Amiga or Atari ST is not anymore. Some gizmos, emulators, new hardware - no this is just a lie.
But I remember that in those days we had a lot of feud comming from Commodore Amiga fans.
They had to be better at everything. But the fact is that ST/TT prevailed much longer in hands of skilled musicians with Cubase (Jean M. Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Fat Boy Slim) while Calamus (DTP) held the gound on the graphics front. This is probably the problem why even now Amiga has to be the best. Well... It was not, it died first.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (2)

Ktek (2551840) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510147)

As I recall the Amiga and the ST had different specialties. The ST excelled at music and the Amiga at video. While I can't speak for the ST, I saw many Amigas with Toasters still being used for video far into the Windows era.

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519823)

Since when has Jean M. Jarre been considered a skilled musician?

Re:Atari ST & Amiga (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520139)

But more hardcore hackers and cool people used Amigas, at least where I was. Atari was just a puke ugly, and nothing kewl about it.

The Atari programmer should get the money (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506739)

Well if patents are really to reward innovation, and if the patent office was right that this is an innovation, presumably Microsoft will be stripped of the profit it made by stealing his invention and the money given to him?

No?

Ahh, I thought so, patents are just a game. The USPTO believed it could create IP assets by simply issuing more patents and did a huge load of damage in the process to everyone except lawyers.

Part of the 20 year old discussion... (4, Funny)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506743)

Linus: (b) do the long filenames by fooling around with several consecutive minix-type directory entries. Depending on how you do it, you can make old binaries see only th first characters of a extended filename, while new binaries see them all. Besides, this means you won't waste a full 64-char direntry for short files, but instead use several entries only when necessary. The downside is that it's a bit more work in the kernel.

Reading about saving bytes and caring about storage... um, gave me a semi...

Re:Part of the 20 year old discussion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507755)

colon?

Re:Part of the 20 year old discussion... (2)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508303)

No, it's an ellipsis.

Re:Part of the 20 year old discussion... (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508467)

I so wish I had mod points now. +5 funny.

Deposed? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506767)

According to Linus Torvalds, he was deposed in the case this past fall

Isn't deposing when a monarch gets replaced forcefully?

internet vs lawyers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506789)

I can imagine the Laywer vs Torvalds.

Lawyer: Are you sure this alledged discussion happend before the MS patent
Linus: Yes, I'm sure, in fact the timestamp is right there: Dec 23 1992, 8:34 am
Lawyer: 20 Years is a long time ago, how can you be so sure?
Linus: the timestamp is right there: Dec 23 1992, 8:34 am
Lawyer: So there is no doubt you might remeber the date wrong.
Linus: No.
Lawyer: Really, So when did this discussion happend?
Linus: Dec 23 1992, 8:34 am
Lawyer: I see, are you sure about the date? ...

Internet 1, Lawyers 0
Thank you internet news groups for documenting these old discussions.

Re:internet vs lawyers (5, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507179)

>Thank you internet news groups for documenting these old discussions.
And another good reason we should stop relying on web boards and get back to Usenet. You can bet if a discussion like this happened 5 years ago on a forum, it's gone now. We're such a throw away society, we even throw away stuff like this.

Re:internet vs lawyers (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507469)

So if old forums were converted to plain static html files that can be easily copied/indexed, then that means that all this fancy pants highend database stuff is all a big wank and long term useless as its not portable data.

Re:internet vs lawyers (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508627)

Off topic, but ...

So if old forums were converted to plain static html files that can be easily copied/indexed, then that means that all this fancy pants highend database stuff is all a big wank and long term useless as its not portable data.

What are you talking about? Gmane was/is(?) presenting Usenet groups as web forums. It's portable data (ASCII/text), and it would be just as easy to take it the other way (forum --> newsfroup format). All it takes is a db programmer with time to do it. It's hardly rocket science. You do know what the "ht" in HTML means, yes?

Re:internet vs lawyers (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512705)

Gmane was/is(?) presenting Usenet groups as web forums.

No. Gmane is presenting mailing lists as Usenet groups (at nntp://nntp.gmane.org [gmane.org] ) and as web forums (at http://gmane.org/ [gmane.org] )

Re:internet vs lawyers (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513615)

So, what, you're just assuming the lawyer is a moron?

Your point about documentation is valid, but then again a cancelled stamp would have the date on it, too. It's not like news groups are the only thing ever that are datestamped.

PHOSITA (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506803)

A major problem with the way courts have analyzed software patents is their low-balling the skill level of a "Person having ordinary skill in the art". This is significant since anything such a person can do given the prior art is considered "obvious" and non-patentable. Basically, judges don't understand software well enough to distinguish true invention from routine solutions to problems.

In the case of software patents, many of them (the long-filename patent, the BCD patent [invalidated by the Supreme Court on other grounds] and so on) are for solutions that a typical developer will propose given the problem. But, because PHOSITA is basically taken to be an idiot the "obviousness" limitation on patentability has no effect unless by some chance an actual person bothered to write down this solution in the past.

Re:PHOSITA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506891)

I'm bookmarking this comment for all future arguments about how software patents are ridiculously overreaching.

Re:PHOSITA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39506989)

My bet is that'll just result in bucketloads of replies claiming that it only seems obvious in hindsight. Non-programmers just don't get it.

Re:PHOSITA (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507693)

My bet is that'll just result in bucketloads of replies claiming that it only seems obvious in hindsight. Non-programmers just don't get it.

The problem is that some things really are only obvious in hindisght, requiring lateral thinking. The thing is that only someone who knows the field will know whether something is only obvious in hindsight or a solution that anyone is likely to reach.

Re:PHOSITA (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39509081)

Some things are obvious as soon as you hear a description of the problem. Any student is capable of whipping up psuedocode on the spot that deals with the basic "invention".

Problems in software can be solved with a wide array of ready made tools that make a lot of impressive sounding problems really pretty trivial once you break them down.

Sometimes, the necessary parts just happen to become commonplace and cheap enough at a particular time to make something viable beyond a proof of concept.

Re:PHOSITA (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508509)

Doesn't the discussion highlight the meaning of "ordinary skill in the art"? I might argue that the person asking the implementation question has such ordinary skill, and they are asking Linus, who I posit has greater than ordinary skill in the art, for direction because to them the answer is not obvious. The counter argument is that another person had already done an implementation and I think Linus may have been recalling the other implementation, but Linus offers some good insight on compatibility issues in his post. Again this shows beyond ordinary skill.
The real value of the post is that it makes abundantly clear that at that point in time the issue had been solved and published, which shows prior art rather than I think ordinary skill.

Re:PHOSITA (2)

l2718 (514756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39513683)

Here's a problem: you have a data structure intended to be kept in an array and would like to extend it (say by adding a field) in a backward-compatible way.

Here's a standard solution going back to the first days of computers: chain successive entries in the array, with the first entry being kept roughly the same as it was before while the succeeding ones are made "invalid" in some way so that the legacy programmes ignore them while the new programmes know how to deal with the extra data. A twist on this is putting a "magic cookie" in one of the fields for the "legacy entry" making it easier for the "new programmes" to know to look at the succeeding entries.

What Linus is saying is: hey -- your problem is of this type (the data structure is the directory entry and the array is the directory file), and the standard solution applies to it. I don't think Linus is showing extraordinary skill here.

Of course for this patent Linus's discussion serves are prior art. But I want to draw a more general lesson. This patent is for the natural solution to a trivial problem. It should be invalid on obviousness grounds even if no-one has documented the solution. In fact, the current system fails in that the more trivial the problem the less likely it is that someone had bothered to publish a solution, hence the harder it is to locate prior art. Obviousness is supposed to fill this gap but it doesn't because the PHOSITA used by the court is too stupid relative to the actual skill of actual programmers.

Re:PHOSITA (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508983)

Yes. Quite.

This reminds me of wide eyed "consumers" that are in total awe of some consumer electronics device. They think that just because "they are impressed" that some company should have a 17 year long innovation stiffling excuse to sue anyone that produces something similar.

It's the "rube on the street" standard versus the "person skilled in the art". Although some of these things come off as fodder for university homework assignments.

Of course the "rube in the street" acting as a corporate shill has no interest in being contradicted by any "person skilled in the art".

Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (5, Interesting)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506843)

Microsoft recently got this patent:
http://www.reghardware.com/2011/09/23/microsoft_contemplates_mobiles_with_interchangeable_accessories/ [reghardware.com]

Now, go to http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/26/how-would-you-change-sony-ericssons-xperia-x1/2#comments [engadget.com] and do a find in page for the word "bottom" or "pop out" ... ok read that description .. now if you scroll up to the top of the article you can see a photo of the Xperia X1 which is being talked about .. notice that a combination of the Xperia X1 and the comment exactly fit the patent of microsoft? If you read the actual patent it becomes even clearer they stole the idea from that engadget comment.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (2)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506897)

If you read the actual patent it becomes even clearer they stole the idea from that engadget comment.

Because "stealing" is the only logical explanation for two people coming up with similar ideas at different times, right?

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507111)

Because "stealing" is the only logical explanation for two people coming up with similar ideas at different times, right?

It depends on who you ask and in which context. I don't think that it is, but plenty of people claim that it is when they are trying to get one over a competitor who has a similar idea.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (3, Insightful)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507215)

No, stealing isn't the only way. But then again, when you apply for a patent it should (in principle) be for something novel and non-obvious. If random Joe (whomever he is) can think of it, then maybe a patent shouldn't be granted to such a thing.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (1)

Chozabu (974192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39535923)

Can you give a few examples of patents you think should have been granted?

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507515)

Maybe not but in this case it's only because it's so obvious that shouldn't be patentable and this forum comment might be prior art.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (2)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508159)

Because "stealing" is the only logical explanation for two people coming up with similar ideas at different times, right?

Yes, "stealing" is the only explanation for someone using force (government patent) to deprive the other person of the ability to use the idea.

Some things are independently invented, and all the inventors get to use it, and other people get to copy them.

And some things are stolen, taken away from everyone else. It's not even an accident; the filing for a patent shows intent to take away from others.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39509141)

A bad patent allows large corporations to steal from me personally. They allow a corporation to deprive me of the product of my own intellect. Patents allow corporations to sue me for "re-inventing" something trivial. This happens without the benefit of me ever seeing their patent because their patent is total nonsense.

This is a far greater harm then having different companies all re-invent the same thing.

Re:Another example of Microsoft copying ideas: (1)

SuperSlacker64 (1918650) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510049)

Because "stealing" is the only logical explanation for two people coming up with similar ideas at different times, right?

According to the patent office, it sure seems to be.

Technology and software patents are different (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39506909)

Microsoft may have gotten the idea from the comment, but in principle a patent should require actually putting the idea to practice -- to actually make it work. Patenting the implementation (how do the connectors work? how do you make parts fit together snugly?) is not so absurd.

If the patent really is for the idea "mobile phone with interchangable parts" then it's wrong, but if it's merely for "this particular design of a mobile phone with these particular interchangable parts, with this particular method of fitting them together and connecting them" then there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, the Engadget commenter could still also patent his idea as long as his method for connecting the pieces and so on was different from Microsoft's.

Re:Technology and software patents are different (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508411)

There's still the problem of using patents as a way to prevent interoperability. E.g, a cellphone manufacturer wants to prevent competitors from making accessories to their phones, so they patent the connector.

Re:Technology and software patents are different (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510277)

You seem confused. Patents can be used one of two ways. 1) They can be used as revenue, via licensing. 2) They can be used to prevent competition. These are not mutually-exclusive (witness 3rd-party iPod/iPhone dock accessories), but either alone is a valid and intended use of patents.

And if you were indeed referring to Apple, you are confused on another point. If Motorola or Samsung want to make dock accessories for Apple devices, Apple would be happy to let them. What Apple doesn't want is for Motorola and Samsung phones to work with existing dock accessories.

Re:Technology and software patents are different (2)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512733)

The purpose of patents is to promote the publication of useful technical solutions. An inventor describes their solution in their patent application, which then becomes public, and in return for making it public gets a time-limited monopoly on it.

When someone constructs a special connector to prevent interoperability, the connector itself isn't valuable. Patenting (and publishing) it doesn't make society richer, since its main purpose is to *prevent* devices from working together. Once the patent has run out and the connector becomes available for anyone to manufacture, it becomes useless, since it can no longer be used to prevent competition. Patenting it only has a cost for society (decreased competition), not any benefit.

Linux doesn't copy ideas too? Beg to differ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39528537)

If you think not? Here goes in things like:

1.) SMP, & thus, ENTERPRISE READY SERVERS for Linux couldn't happen until things very like Windows NT-based OS' had in completion ports + re-entrant kernelmode code.

2.) True usermode threads (instead of a single 'round robin' to a single kernelmode thread as Linux had due to process fork type structuring in process mgt.)

3.) Lastly but FAR FROM LEAST? What the NSA "bolted on" to Linux via SeLinux, in MAC (mandatory access control) which IS a copy of what Windows NT-based OS had LONG before Linux ever did, in ACL (access control lists) @ the filesystem, & registry levels...

APK

P.S.=> Would you like more? Yes, MS did that too! In:

A.) http.sys being moved to kernelmode for faster processing of webrequests for servers

B.) Plug & Play IP stack initialization (which MacOS X had before Windows did)...

In any event on YOUR end though? Please:

Quit being "the pot calling the kettle black"!

Simply since there is 1 fact of life in software: YOU WILL GET COPIED, it's inevitable, & just enough to evade patents, happens every time... apk

Importance of mail-list/blog/.... archives (5, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507139)

This shows how important it is that mail list (& similar) archives of very old discussions are kept on-line. They are not just a matter of academic/historic interest, they can have real benefits.

So: if you do host something like this and are thinking of removing it because it is old, out of date, ... please think again. Thanks.

Re:Importance of mail-list/blog/.... archives (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39508823)

So: if you do host something like this and are thinking of removing it because it is old, out of date, ... please think again.

Which reminds me of the guy in the Niven & Pournelle Lucifer's Hammer [wikipedia.org] who was spraying his books with insecticide, double bagging them, then dropping 'em down a well. Thanks.

Septic Tank..not well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39509589)

A disused septic tank in the back yard in Tujunga, where sewers had recently been installed. (and where I used to live..)

Do I have to get my copy of the book out and cite page numbers?

Re:Septic Tank..not well (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510085)

Do I have to get my copy of the book out and cite page numbers?

Not everybody on /. is a douche, ya know. :-) I think when I read it, I didn't even know what a septic tank was, so wouldn't have been able to differentiate between the two if I'd tried.

Hedged Bets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507193)

The EU is against software patents vs The US which is for software patents

The ruling class or capitalists as we might like to know them as have the fingers in both pies.
And as this thing draws out, and the capital shifted between the continents to keep the capitalists in control, the demise of one of these continents in an industry or two will eventuate.

In order of appearance on the world stage of modern era world-wide dominance.
It's Anglo-European VS Anglo-American VS Sino-Arab VS The Rest

Anonymous Coward

long filenames no longer patentable? (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507331)

So ... does this mean that the infamous "long file name patents" are now officially busted?

Re:long filenames no longer patentable? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510347)

Seemingly, though I would've thought that MS could've argued they never touched on the '~1' '~2' name collision coping in those discussions. They didn't really say anything one way or another on any of those. It seems an obvious extension of that thinking if they proceeded and ran into that, but not explicitly documented.

Well, is there anything Linus can't do? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507343)

Write a kernel. Bust a M$ patent. Leap over tall buildings. Stop speeding locomotives.

Because there's nobody else in the world who could have explained the prior art?

So we use celeb devs, because the judge would never believe it if Joe Moakadotz from Schenectady were to explain the exact same thing.

Yeah, go ahead, mod me down. You'll just prove my point even more.

Re:Well, is there anything Linus can't do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507579)

You forget git! :)

Who said Amiga? (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39507443)

Its clearly an Atari thread that was discussed in court. If the attorneys were incorrect, they jeopardized their case out of ignorance, if it was the guy who wrote the story, he should be taken out back and shot.

I don't care if its been decades since both camps lost the fight with IBM/Microsoft, but they deserve to be represented properly.

Re:Who said Amiga? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39507569)

Irrelevant. The machine and OS doesn't matter in this situation. All the courts need to see is Torvalds's technical response to the long file names question, and how they can be implements, made over 20 years ago.

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512523)

You must have been a commodore guy back then. If you had been an Atari guy you would know it was relevant. :)

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

evilandi (2800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39511003)

Screw the court case, I'm still harbouring resentment from Amiga owners looking down on my decision to buy an ST. That's a battle as big as Confederates vs. Unionists! Tudors vs. Plantagenets! Roundheads vs. Royalists!

If we ST owners defeated Microsoft in court, then by Jingo we Atarians deserve the credit! Screw you and your fancy graphics chips, Amigans, bow down before my vastly superior raw CPU megahertz! Not that I'm bitter, or anything.

Good Lord, I'm old. But a four-digit Slashdot ID will never be enough to heal the scars of the Amiga vs. ST battle.

(I did have the good sense to own a Commodore 64, though, so at least I won the 8-bit wars. 10 PRINT "SPECTRUMS SUCK" 20 GOTO 10 )

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512559)

We had better sound too.. and a better OS.

Oddly enough, in the 8-bit world i was still in the Atari camp, but all my friends were in commodores ( but i found that was a highly regional thing.. ).

Re:Who said Amiga? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39515861)

You poor Americans, who never got the chance to own an Acorn Archimedes. O:-)

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520165)

Amiga mhz was tuned to be in sync with the TV frequency screen updates.

ie, n nanoseconds represented X pixels on screen, 140 was 8 I think.

Re:Who said Amiga? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39539419)

Except for the built-in MIDI port, there was no other compelling reason to buy an Atari ST over a Commodore Amiga.

The only person you have the right to be upset at is the one who convinced you to buy the ST in the first place.

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512109)

Funny, they /are/ being represented properly. Atari never got any respect in the day, either, and whined about it.

(Disclaimer: A1000, Workbench 1.3, 2MB Micron expansion. ;) )

Re:Who said Amiga? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39512595)

All these years later, that's funny.. But back then them be 'fightin words'. :)

usenet gone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39508407)

of course, now that usenet is gone....such a thing can never happen again. email is simply not as persistent as usenet discussions.

SFN and LFN (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39509823)

The odd thing is, I don't really see how these discussion relate to the patent in question. You see, the real beauty of MS's solution was having two separate filenames associated with a file, allowing for a great deal of backwards compatibility. The solutions offered by Linus and others amounted to effectively showing LFN-unaware programs only the first n characters of a long filename; the obvious problem with this is filename collision. It also does nothing to support things like UTF-8 or other encoding schemes--and for Windows, just having more common characters as valid. At least thankfully for *nix, their solution doesn't run into the likely main reason MS went the path they used: filename extensions have to be known for DOS/Windows executables.

Of course, the real point of issue is that what MS's solution amounts to is using a limit version of hard links with a clever association and backtracking scheme in the case of renaming/moving, but that's not fundamentally different than the intent of Mac's alias files. To that end, I'd argue that MS's solution might be patentable as a novel, clever hack, but then that'd seem to hold to the extent of any other self-created problem that one finds a work around too, which seems ridiculous.

Re:SFN and LFN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39512051)

Well if you want to get technical, LFN uses 16-bit Unicode... UTF-8 wasn't around then. I have to give them credit for having foresight at the time to use Unicode at all in those days. The so-called "ANSI code page" survived for some time after this - hell, even some people compiling C code on Windows today are still using it, unaware of its limitations.

Really I would argue though that for utf-8 the filesystem shouldn't give a crap about what encoding the filenames are in. There are some issues with Unicode normalization (accurately comparing for equality and case-insensitive string compares) and truncation (can't truncate in the middle of a multi-byte sequence) but IMO that's reasonable to put in user mode. I'm all for keeping complexity down in places where it doesn't belong - inside the kernel filenames ought to be something close to a binary blob, with small exceptions for characters like '/'. From this perspective you might argue that Linus's 1992 suggestion is UTF8-safe. :-)

In terms of what Microsoft added to this, they also did that "checksum" feature, so that if a DOS program renames a file the stale LFN entry will not be considered, unless there is a checksum collision... That was a good call. They also have sequence numbers so that multiple dir entries can form part of an LFN, in a way that "garbage" entries from DOS renames don't need to be considered.

But reading Natuerlich!'s post (first one in thread, not necessarily the comment that /. links to), in my opinion as someone who's written a FAT driver, he's pretty much got it. It's eerie seeing constants like 0x80 and attribute 0xe5 here. You'll see the same constants in Microsoft's implementation.

...not an Amiga fan... (1)

Hobart (32767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39510179)

An Atari ST fan. Calling them an Amiga fan is just about the most egregious trolling you could do! ...IIRC, Linus was an Amiga hacker before he got his 386 to work on Linux. The Atari community had TOS [wikipedia.org] (GEM gui, GEMDOS disk/filesystem, and other syscalls).

Um, no. (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39515835)

An ITC finding of invalidity does not "bust a patent," it merely prevents relief through the ITC. An Article III court, e.g., a federal district court, does not have to give any weight to the ITC's validity finding, meaning the patent is still valid for "normal" law suit purposes.

Just that one? (1)

Ramin_HAL9001 (1677134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519703)

Well done. Now, what about the other 200 patents that cover that exact same algorithm?

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