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Oracle Sues Lodsys For Patent Trolling

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the rocket-docket-reverse-course dept.

Oracle 119

RWarrior(fobw) writes "PJ reports at Groklaw that Oracle has sued well-known patent troll Lodsys, asking for declaratory judgement in the Eastern District of Texas that Oracle and its customers don't need Lodsys licenses, and that Lodsys patents are invalid anyway. 'It seems that Lodsys has been going after Oracle customers, and they in turn have been asking Oracle to indemnify them. Lodsys, methinks, has made a mistake. One doesn't go after Oracle's money. No. No. Never a good plan. I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled, and all their expenses, legal fees, etc. when this is over.' PJ also points out that which companies are the good guys and which are the bad guys depends on which case you're looking at. "

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119 comments

confused (4, Funny)

dmitrygr (736758) | about 2 years ago | (#40223097)

Whom do I cheer for now?

Re:confused (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223151)

The lawyers. If you're going to cheer for someone, you might as well cheer for the guys who you know always wins.

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223173)

The murderer who happens to kill a rapist is still a murderer.

Quite simple, Oracle does whatever is best for itself, whether it's "evil" or not. When two "evils" go after each other, the best result is mutual destruction though obviously that won't happen. In any case, the lawyers always wins.

Re:confused (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#40224663)

the best result is mutual destruction

No! The best result is a precedent that weakens imaginary property law.

Re:confused (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40226535)

Yeah and pull my left leg, it plays jingle bells. lets face it NOTHING will change one way or another by this or frankly any other case on the docket because THE CORPS LIKE IT THIS WAY as it lets them lock out the little guys and own good sized chunks of the market. As it is you either sell out to a big corp with a large patent warchest or they will fucking bury you in lawsuits until you go broke..THEN they'll buy out what you made for pennies on the dollar.

You can vote all you want, the corps simply cut a check to the winner, since FDR basically held a gun to the head of SCOTUS and turned the commerce clause into "anything you want it to be" the courts have been more and more worthless, and of course big business likes things the way they are because it gives them all the power.

I hate to say it but the whole damned system has just gotten too damned rotten to be affected by the little guy or common sense anymore. the corps will keep buying the laws and tilting it ever more in their favor until nobody will do shit in the USA for all the legal bullshit and then it'll all collapse. Maybe when the whole thing falls apart we can build something better from the ashes but I seriously doubt either the courts or congress are gonna do anything more than to continue tilting things in favor of the megacorps. We just have too much money in the hands of too few for anyone to fight them. No matter who wins oracle will keep raking in cash and suing, Lodsys will keep on trolling, SSDD.

Re:confused (5, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | about 2 years ago | (#40223383)

Whom do I cheer for now?

That's easy: neither.

Oracle is an evil company suing another evil company, but neither one is the good guy. Oracle's interests just happen to align with The Right Thing to Do on this occasion, so they are on the side of good by pure coincidence.

Don't cheer for Oracle, but cheer for the good thing Oracle just happens to be doing at this fleeting moment in time, for Oracle will still be evil at the next earliest opportunity.

Re:confused (4, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#40223717)

So, ideally, they engage in a long and drawn out battle that culminates in their mutual annihilation?

Re:confused (4, Insightful)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#40224679)

Ideally, the battle also results in a precedent that weakens patent protection for algorithms.

Re:confused (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 2 years ago | (#40225991)

I had to reply to undo misapplied moderation, but this is indeed the desired outcome.

The endgame of business-method or software patent wars and non-state players (ie, NPEs aka trolls) and the "invention" of submarine patents really undermines any sort of "peace"... either we devolve into patent-based feudalism or the whole system becomes needs to be re-formed so we can "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

Re:confused (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40223743)

Can't I just boycott all of them?
Goodbye to:
- Lodsys
- Oracle
- Microsoft
- Apple
- Google (except youtube)
- GM
- Toyota
- Comcast
- Syfy
- .....

Boycotting all companies in a particular market (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40224353)

I noticed you mentioned Comcast. You can't really boycott both the cable company and the phone company without losing Internet access entirely, and a lot of people aren't willing to move to another city just to live within the last mile service area of an ISP that isn't the boycott target of the week.

I noticed you mentioned Microsoft, Apple, and Google. What other company makes pocket computers (or operating systems for pocket computers) that are sold in the United States?

Re:Boycotting all companies in a particular market (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 2 years ago | (#40224535)

I noticed you mentioned Microsoft, Apple, and Google. What other company makes pocket computers (or operating systems for pocket computers) that are sold in the United States?

RIM :)

Re:Boycotting all companies in a particular market (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40224859)

He said pocket computers, not something that pretends to be one. BBOS10 may fix that

Re:Boycotting all companies in a particular market (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225325)

a lot of people aren't willing to move to another city just to live within the last mile service area of an ISP that isn't the boycott target of the week.

You act like Comcast hasn't been hated and reviled for many years now. I've been using Cox Cable for many years, and while they're obviously not saints, I've never had all the problems I've heard of with Comcrap. It's one of the few things I really appreciate about living where I do, and I do worry that when I move somewhere else, I'll get stuck with a shitty ISP like Comcrap. These companies don't get this way quickly; they develop their reputations through many years of bad behavior.

Re:Boycotting all companies in a particular market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40226483)

Or more likely they'll just buy Cox, that's how my folks ended up with Comcast in the first place. It's astonishing to me how the regulators ever approve those mergers as the customers pretty much never end up with better service or a lower price as a result. The mergers wouldn't be proposed if they weren't expected to lead to bigger profits for the companies merging.

Re:Boycotting all companies in a particular market (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40227119)

>>>You can't really boycott both the cable company and the phone company without losing Internet access entirely,

I don't have a problem with Verizon. The DSL rarely goes down, the phone never does, and the price is cheap ($15). BUT if I had a problem I would attend the county government meeting & ask them to repeal the monopoly given to Comcast or Verizon, and explain to the politicians how Choice is better for the customer.

Re:confused (2)

hbar squared (1324203) | about 2 years ago | (#40224103)

It's like Hitler vs. Stalin. You don't really want to root for either, you just hope somehow it ends with fewer genocides.

Re:confused (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | about 2 years ago | (#40224163)

I guess cheer for the lawyers. They seem to be the only ones doing good in these situations.

Re:confused (1)

tattood (855883) | about 2 years ago | (#40225051)

I guess cheer for the lawyers. They seem to be the only ones doing good in these situations.

They seem to be the only ones doing well in these situations.

FTFY. Lawyers never do anything good.

Re:confused (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225343)

That's not true. Once in a while, they actually do something good, like when they get some evil company punished for dumping chemicals in peoples' water or something like that. The problem is that it's so ridiculously rare, and only a very tiny percentage of lawyers actually try to do anything good like that (usually, the do-gooding work like going after evil companies doesn't pay very well).

Re:confused (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225277)

"Evil" isn't a binary state. Oracle is evil, but patent trolls are pure evil, so it makes sense to root for the lesser evil here, though of course the best outcome is either mutual destruction or better yet, as another poster pointed out, a legal precedent that weakens IP protections so we don't have so much of this crap.

Re:confused (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40225311)

Lois: It doesn't have to end this way.

Diane: Oh but it does.

Lois winces, waiting.

BLAM!

Diane falls into the ocean.

Lois, looking aound: Hello? Whoever you are, thank you.

Camera pulls back and zoms in on a smoking barrel. Pulls back and...

Stewie: If anyone's going to take that bitch out, it's going to be me.

Re:confused (1)

ais523 (1172701) | about 2 years ago | (#40226285)

Oracle may be evil, but they're lawful evil. So they'll end up helping other people out if it's also in their own interests.

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40228439)

Don't cheer for Oracle, but cheer for the good thing Oracle just happens to be doing at this fleeting moment in time, for Oracle will still be evil at the next earliest opportunity.

I'm not cheering for any side. I just happen to enjoy watching a good skullfucking, you insensitive clod!

Re:confused (3, Funny)

NotBorg (829820) | about 2 years ago | (#40223593)

Whom do I cheer for now?

You don't have to cheer at all. You can simply resort to booing, which is just as fun and you get to throw things!

Re:confused (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#40224191)

And you don't have to aim at one side or the other. They're both legitimate targets!

For my own part, I hope Lodsys manages to at least tire Oracle out a little, and maybe draw a small amount of blood, before being squashed into troll paste. Actually hurting elephantine Oracle is a task beyond any besides maybe Oracle itself (witness Oracle v. Google), but giving Oracle scars it will remember on a cold winter's night would be a worthy goal.

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223617)

Whom do I cheer for now?

Same way you vote - for the lesser evil!

Re:confused (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223685)

Whom do I cheer for now?

If Oracle wins this case, the precedent will hurt their ability to patent troll in the future too, so...as painful as this is...cheer for Oracle.

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40224267)

This whole thing reminds me of the "coalition of the willing".
One day you're my enemy, the next day your the enemy of my enemy. And so on....
Nuking patent trolls is alwatys a good thing, so for once lets cheer for Oracle.

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40226301)

For whom do I cheer now?
-or-
Who do I cheer for now?

Re: Whom do I cheer for now? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 2 years ago | (#40226713)

ORACLE (One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison) occasionally makes actual products that people can use to get stuff done. The other guys are just pure parasites, they produce nothing except lawsuits.

And see the previous answers about legal precedent and imaginary property.

Who's the bigger troll here? (5, Insightful)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about 2 years ago | (#40223101)

I mean, Oracle did just basically lose a huge patent troll case over a freely available API implementation...

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223263)

I'm glad they lost, but when I think patent trolling, I usually think of a bogus shell company that hasn't actually created anything. They're just paper companies dumping cash into legal action to turn a profit, designed to shield the players behind it from any kind of retribution.

So it might be a bit of a stretch, but at least I'll give Oracle some credit on for doing what they were convinced was legitimate protection of their own work... even if it was a shitty thing to do and failed miserably.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (3)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40223355)

Given that their 'APIs are intrinsically copyrighted, even if implementations are entirely distinct' theory was both novel and potentially wildly dangerous to the entire software industry, I say fuck 'em.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (2)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about 2 years ago | (#40223357)

Yes, that's traditional patent trolling, but on the other hand, to take something that your company and the ones before it had freely granted people to use in an effort to shut out and shut down competitors - is that not quite trollish as well?

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225485)

It's certainly bad behavior, but it's very distinct from patent trolls. The entire business case for patent trolls is to get a patent on some obvious BS, written in a nebulous way that it'll certainly apply to upcoming work (I hesitate to use the word "inventions" here), and then when that technological development comes into widespread use, sue. It's just like how mythical trolls under bridges demand payment from passers-by even though the troll isn't providing any service at all; the patent troll doesn't actually do anything useful; their patent isn't even useful, it's so vague and nebulous and doesn't have any details to actually describe how to do anything.

Oracle with their Google/Java case was a little different. They actually provided a useful product, Java, and were mad that Google made their own work-alike version of Java and made a lot of money with it, without paying them anything for it. It would be a lot like some Linux distro including WINE, somehow improving WINE greatly so that it actually works well with ALL Windows software, and then selling computers with this new Linux/WINE distro as a fully-compatible replacement for Windows, and becoming wildly successful, and then MS suing because WINE uses Windows APIs, even though everything underneath is totally different and there's no code copied from Windows OS.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40223359)

Well, this is a semantic argument.

The fact is that Oracle was trying to clobber competitors with the "Intellectual Property" card. This time it happened to be a company that has made something in the past. It's just a matter of degree from an outfit like Technicolor [gizmodo.com] which made stuff in the past but is now a full fledged patent troll by any definition. If Oracle stops producing stuff and does the same thing then they'll be a patent troll too.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about 2 years ago | (#40224743)

The fact is that Oracle was trying to clobber competitors with the "Intellectual Property" card.

Yes, that is the precise reason for intellectual property. What's your point?

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#40223623)

I'm glad they lost, but when I think patent trolling, I usually think of a bogus shell company that hasn't actually created anything. They're just paper companies dumping cash into legal action to turn a profit, designed to shield the players behind it from any kind of retribution.

Doesn't that description fit Oracle nicely, when it comes to their suit vs Google? Not saying Google did anything right, but, best I'm aware, Oracle primarily purchased Sun for the potential to sue over Java-related patents. Their attorneys were reportedly drooling all over the patent portfolio.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40224043)

... but at least I'll give Oracle some credit on for doing what they were convinced was legitimate protection of their own work...

Just a quibble, but I'm not sure I'd go that far. Just my opinion but I think that any reputable IP lawyer would have told them that API specifications are not copyrightable.

On the other hand, I believe they believed they could convince a judge and jury that API specifications were copyrightable. Why else would they hire Boies?

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225519)

Stupidity I guess. The guy briefly looked good when he worked on the Microsoft antitrust case, but then he proved to be a has-been when he joined the SCO case and that went nowhere.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#40227873)

He may have been ordered to join it by his boss.

Just because you work at a lawfirm doesn't mean you get to call the shots.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40228031)

I may be wrong, but David Boies is old enough and has been around long enough that I'm pretty sure he's his own boss. His law firm has his own name listed first; usually that means he's the highest-ranking partner. Lawyers have terrible pissing matches about the order of names in the firm name.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (3, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#40224305)

The Oracle vs. Google case was not about patent trolling, that was about Oracle trying to get money from Google any possible way they could. It turns out that they couldn't, but you can't really blame them for trying (it's their nature). That is distinct from a patent troll, where they go and acquire patents specifically for the sole purpose of extorting other companies. Oracle at least makes legitimate revenue doing legitimate engineering work.

I believe that case wasn't even about patents though, it was about copyright.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#40224493)

Yeah, except saying API's are copyrightable is about as far from legitimate engineering work as you can get. If the engineers still had any say in the company the lawsuit never would have happened because just about everyone knows the kind of thermonuclear warfare that would have occurred in the IT industry if Oracle had won.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#40224733)

Thankfully, asserting that APIs are copyrightable isn't the only thing Oracle does. Hell, the name "Oracle" is even synonymous with one of their products, in context at least. "I'm working on an application that uses C++ and Oracle."

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about 2 years ago | (#40225195)

Who knows, maybe Oracle went into that expecting to lose with the primary goal of settling the case law on the subject?

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225555)

If the engineers still had any say in the company the lawsuit never would have happened because just about everyone knows the kind of thermonuclear warfare that would have occurred in the IT industry if Oracle had won.

Wrong, unfortunately and as hard as it is to believe. James Gosling went on the record supporting that idiotic lawsuit and bashing Google, and he's the engineer who co-invented Java. He even complained that Google "stole" his ideas, when he himself stole all the ideas for Java from previous programming languages.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#40224985)

but you can't really blame them for trying (it's their nature).

Yeah. And you can't blame killers for killing people (it's their nature). With that kind of argument, we could as well eradicate the whole 'good and bad' categories. Let's go fully moral-relativistic and make this planet an evil madhouse for good.

Of course you can blame them. And of course the people responsible for that action deserve shit and then some.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225741)

You can blame people for bad actions, but what is that going to solve? It's like blaming rabid animals for attacking people; they can't help it. Punishing the animal isn't going to undo the attack. A better course of action is to take steps to prevent the bad action from happening in the first place. For rabid animals, that means finding them and putting them down in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease, and hopefully eradicate it. For murderers, you lock them away for the rest of their lives so they can't do it again (assuming they're a cold-blooded killer, not just someone who committed manslaughter, crime of passion, etc.), but more importantly, you try to figure out how to find these people before they get like that, perhaps by identifying them in elementary school, and doing something so they don't develop into a killer later. And finally, for big evil corporations, it's simple: you change the laws so that they can't do evil things (at least not legally), and make the penalties for illegal things extremely high (e.g., break up the company, the top shareholders all lose their shares and go to prison, etc., the "corporate death sentence"). One thing that'd help a lot is fixing the utterly broken IP laws in this and many other countries. Unfortunately, at least here in the USA, the government is totally corrupted by these same corporations, so getting the laws changed is nearly impossible.

Re:Who's the bigger troll here? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#40226437)

Yeah. And you can't blame killers for killing people (it's their nature). With that kind of argument, we could as well eradicate the whole 'good and bad' categories. Let's go fully moral-relativistic and make this planet an evil madhouse for good.

That's exactly my point. Oracle is an evil company. You can expect them to try and squeeze whatever they can out of anyone else. Maybe I didn't use the right terminology, you can't really excuse that behavior, but you can expect it.

As a LodSys Target ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223117)

We cheer for anyone who is hurting LodSys!

The enemy of my enemy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223301)

If we are to believe that out of the Google Android API case that Oracle is the enemy, then Lodsys is the enemy of my enemy, or my friend.

That old addage just doesn't hold up here. Patent Trolls deserve deep, dark, painful fiery deaths.

Here's cheering for Oracle that they obliviate Lodsys into a billion pieces!

Re:The enemy of my enemy ... (4, Informative)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about 2 years ago | (#40223471)

From the groklaw article.

See why I always tell you that to avoid whiplash, don't look at the parties in litigation and decide who you like, but anaylze the issues involved and plant your flag accordingly? Hence, here we are, on the same side of this issue, Groklaw and Oracle. Who'd-a thunk it last week?

Re:The enemy of my enemy ... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225763)

No, you're confused. Oracle was the enemy in the Google case, however Lodsys is an even bigger enemy, so Oracle now becomes an ally as they're the enemy of our greater enemy. However, as with all alliances like this, they easily fall apart when the immediate threat has passed.

Bad Guys (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#40223307)

PJ also points out that which companies are the good guys and which are the bad guys depends on which case you're looking at.

I somehow doubt you'll ever find a case where a patent troll is the "good guy."

Re:Bad Guys (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223449)

Oracle vs Google: Oracle bad

Oracle vs Lodsys: Oracle good

Re:Bad Guys (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40224161)

Oracle is not "good". They are the victim.

Justice should prevail so that the victim is not punished.

The rules apply to everyone.

Re:Bad Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223485)

I know one, Apple. They are so adorable that they can never be considered bad guy.

And before some says, they do produce tangible goods and cannot be called a patent troll, they do have a large division allotted for trolling companies using trivial patents. Even, though other parts of the company do produce tangible good (some even using these patents), they are as good as patent trolls.

Re:Bad Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223741)

I somehow doubt you'll ever find a case where a patent troll is the "good guy."

Maybe if they hired a special-needs child lawyer. I hear they're nothing but good.

Re:Bad Guys (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | about 2 years ago | (#40223919)

'Patent Troll' is kind of becoming a slur, and it can almost be attributed to any tech company that becomes big enough. Even the good guys occasionally have to buy up patents and use them for counter-suing. They don't want to, but the way our court system works, those who don't engage in this behavior will lose.

A perfect example of this is when Yahoo! acquired Right Media and Microsoft acquired aQuantive, both within April of 2007. Immediately, Google responded and acquired DoubleClick. It doesn't matter which one you think was the good guy, but all three quickly saw the need to sure up their advertising patents and did what was necessary to prevent losing to the others.

Of course, there are still real patent trolls, which I define as companies that exist solely to sue others. I hate to defend them, but they've taken notice of how the system works, and decided to do what is necessary to get a piece of it. But even the best companies have to be resort to patent troll tactics occasionally.

Damages? (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#40223445)

Forgive me for being dense, but "I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled" seems silly - can you sue for damages in a preemptive lawsuit, giving that you are technically the defendant?

Re:Damages? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40223563)

If you pay the right attorney then yes...yes you can. And I suspect Larry knows a couple of the right attorneys.

Re:Damages? (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#40223599)

Forgive me for being dense, but "I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled" seems silly - can you sue for damages in a preemptive lawsuit, giving that you are technically the defendant?

Even if you are the defendant, you can make counterclaims and requests for damages on the basis of those counterclaims.
Oracle is claiming that Lodsys is damaging their business throught their allegedly bogus patent claims against users of Oracles products.
I'm not quite sure where the tripled damages come in, but I suspect that frivolous or bogus claims may be subject to some form of financial sanction.

Re:Damages? (2)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#40223825)

If they're suing Oracle's customers over a product the customer legitimately purchased from Oracle, then it's not a stretch to say that Oracle's reputation and customer relationship was damaged by Lodsys' suits. And, Oracle could potentially include anyone Lodsys sued over Oracle products as a co-plaintiff in this suit, thereby adding those legal costs and/or business interruption to the damages.

Lodsys stepped it it big time, they better hope they are correct, because you know Oracle won't give up.

Re:Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40224459)

That depends. What's the size of your legal budget?

Where are we regarding software patents? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40223669)

I was under the impression that U.S. law was still unsettled regarding the ability to patent software.

But if that were true, I would have expected at least *one* patent lawsuit in recent years make headlines by claiming that software patents were invalid, and getting a ruling on that issue.

Anyone know where we're at with this?

Re:Where are we regarding software patents? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40223897)

I was under the impression that U.S. law was still unsettled regarding the ability to patent software.

But if that were true, I would have expected at least *one* patent lawsuit in recent years make headlines by claiming that software patents were invalid, and getting a ruling on that issue.

Anyone know where we're at with this?

The Supreme Court has implied that software patents are valid, if they're not directed to an abstract idea. In some contexts, that can mean that they transform matter from one state to another, in others it can mean that they're tied to a machine. In still others... well, we don't know. That's where we're at.

Basically, they're tiptoeing around, trying to figure out how to say what they really want to say, which is that patent claims can't be valid if you can infringe them purely by thinking, because that creates a thoughtcrime. It's like back when they said that you can't get a patent on a law of nature, such as E=MC^2, or A=GM/r^2: what they never came right out and said, but seems to be hinted at by all sorts of decisions, is that if you could, you could get an injunction to make people stop being bound by gravity, or not use energy, or whatnot - or, rather, that you could require every person in the world to pay you royalties. Similarly, if you got a patent on thinking that 2+2=4, or realizing that an elevated level of compound A indicates a patient has disease B, then you could force someone to pay royalties simply for thinking. It's the old "don't think of a pink elephant... too late." So, currently, they want to see some affirmative actions, performed by a machine at the direction of a user, in the patent claims. You can't infringe just by thinking, you actually have to take some steps.

This says nothing about novelty (35 USC 102) or obviousness (35 USC 103). Those are different statutes... The above is just about whether a claimed process - even the most novel, nonobvious process in the history of the universe - is patent eligible or not.

Seems like a pattern (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40223677)

Lodsys is the troll that went after iOS developers for in-app purchases, even though Apple had already licensed the rights to that patent on behalf of their developers. It's not exactly surprising to see that they'd try the same thing with Oracle, nor is it surprising to see that Oracle is following Apple's lead in trying to intervene on behalf of the smaller guys [arstechnica.com] . After all, taking on the big companies is hard, but if you can target their customers or users, you can oftentimes win. Lodsys seems to have made a business of doing so.

Re:Seems like a pattern (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#40223777)

Lodsys is the troll that went after iOS developers for in-app purchases, even though Apple had already licensed the rights to that patent on behalf of their developers

Something that needs to happen is a ruling that says you can't sue the customers of the people you claim violated the patent.

This is the same tactic SCO was using of trying to shake down for the $699 Linux license or whatever it is.

If I bought a product in good faith, the patent issues between Lodsys and Oracle should stay between them.

This sue the crap out of everybody who is using the software has to go.

After all, taking on the big companies is hard, but if you can target their customers or users, you can oftentimes win. Lodsys seems to have made a business of doing so.

Nuke 'em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

These kind of lawsuits should be treated as tortious interference [wikipedia.org] , which I suspect is the source of the triple damages claim.

Re:Seems like a pattern (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40225515)

When Apple, or Oracle in this case, licensed the patents, didn't it include derivitive products of its customers?

How could giant, patent-experienced companies be so stupid?

Re:Seems like a pattern (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40225795)

You've assumed that those clauses don't exist in the licenses, which I believe is a faulty assumption. Apple has been claiming all along that the terms of the license they have with Lodsys extends to their developers, which is why Apple has been working to intervene on behalf of their developers. I'm assuming the same is true with Oracle too. As you said, these companies know how the system works. If we apply Occam's Razor, we can say that it's much more likely that those companies didn't forget but that Lodsys is suing anyway since they know they can make some settlement money.

Pot calling the kettle black (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40223699)

Oracle is upset over patent trolling?!

Hypocritical and braindead. Sadly that describes most corporations today. They only support something if they can do it but if someone else does it boo hoo. You can't have it both ways.

Well, unless you are Elison. This guy is nothing but a whinner. He whinned over Bill Gates with Microsoft in the 1990s. He whinned with the IBM PC and how we all needed network computer terminals, he whinned over Andriod using Java and became a patent troll, he now whines because someone else is a patent troll and life is soooo unfair.

Good grief.

Re:Pot calling the kettle black (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40223783)

There is no consistent philosophy to American life right now. It's all exactly like this... change your philosophy at the drop of the hat to whatever benefits you at that particular moment.

So the assholes complaining that were hurting the "productive class" with rules are all of a sudden FOR rules when it benefits them.

We're screwed if this continues. There is currently no integrity in our leaders (Democratic, Republican, Corporate) or our institutions right now. It's simply win at all costs.

Re:Pot calling the kettle black (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40224271)

That is pretty stupid.

If I were Larry I would stop and think and ask my lawyers what would happen if I went after Google? Could IBM sue me for using SQL if copyright standards are interpretted this way etc? If the answer is yes do not SUE.

Assuming Larry won and IBM went after them for using copyrighted SQL I bet Larry would be crying foul, meanwhile he brought it unto himself by twisitng things to be interpretted that way. That is not a good way to do business or common sense.

Re:Pot calling the kettle black (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40225849)

There is no consistent philosophy to American life right now.

Don't be ridiculous; there certainly is a consistent philosophy to American life right now. It's "I got mine, so fuck you".

Not a suit for "trolling" (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40223999)

A suit for "trolling" would be a suit over malicious prosecution, or harassment, or extortion, or something like that. This is a suit for noninfringement and declaratory judgement, saying that (i) Oracle doesn't infringe 4 Lodsys patents; and (ii) even if they do, the patents are invalid. These are the same claims that every defendant files in their response when they get sued. Oracle is simply taking a preemptive shot, presumably because Lodsys sent them a letter asking them to take a license.

The only odd part is that when accused infringers take this preemptive shot, they usually don't do it in the Eastern District of Texas. It's actually one of the reasons to file first when someone hints at a lawsuit - you get to choose where to go.

Re:Not a suit for "trolling" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40225523)

> when accused infringers take this preemptive shot, they usually don't do it in the Eastern District of Texas.

Unless they are called ORACLE AMERICA, that is.

Good dog, Bad dog (1)

Sarusa (104047) | about 2 years ago | (#40224967)

If you see a vicious rottweiler fighting a vicious pit bull I don't think you have to decide that one of them is the good dog and one of them is the bad dog.

Yeah, I know a good owner can raise either breed right... these obviously weren't. A gigantic raging a#$hole like Ellison is exactly the sort of guy who would raise a rottweiler that rips the faces off toddlers.

Common enemies. (1)

Apothem (1921856) | about 2 years ago | (#40225103)

Everyone here is confused, but to me this makes sense. After all, "The enemy of my enemy, is my friend". Either way, it's beneficial to everyone. Hopefully they'll end up annihilating each other in the process.

Wrong District Cited (1)

UrTax$AtWork (593660) | about 2 years ago | (#40225589)

The blurb says the case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, but Groklaw cites Eastern District of Wisconsin documents.

Just because Oracle was wrong... (2)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 2 years ago | (#40225661)

Just because Oracle was wrong doesn't make them a troll, by most common definitions of a troll anyway. Even though Oracle's case was idiotic for so many reasons that have already been beaten to death, at least they actually make stuff. They lost their idiotic case, so at least to some degree the system sorta-kinda worked. From their prospective, they did what they did to protect their own stuff.

Lodsys, on the other hand, doesn't make anything. They do what they do, not to protect their own stuff, but for the sole purpose of suing people. Worse yet, they go after the users (at least Oracle went after Google, not everyone with a phone) who they know don't have the resources to defend themselves. They are using the so-called justice system for extortion. That they even exist is a clear sign that the justice system is horribly broken. Oracle is like the mentally retarded Lenny who happens to murder somebody who was in his path out of uncontrolled stupidity (still an evil act), while Lodsys is like Freddy Krueger, whose sole purpose of existence is to murder people in their sleep.

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