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Meet the Lawyer Suing Anyone Who Uses SSL

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the mine-all-mine dept.

Encryption 347

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Since 2008, Dallas, Texas attorney Erich Spangenberg and his company TQP have been launching suits against hundreds of firms, claiming that merely by using SSL, they've violated a patent TQP acquired in 2006. Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented. So far Spangenberg's targets have included Apple, Google, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, every major bank and credit card company, and scores of web startups and online retailers, practically anyone who encrypts pages of a web sites to protect users' privacy. And while most of those lawsuits are ongoing, many companies have already settled with TQP rather than take the case to trial, including Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil. The patent has expired now, but Spangenberg can continue to sue users of SSL for six more years and seems determined to do so as much as possible. 'When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it,' says Spangenberg. 'I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'"

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So (5, Interesting)

Ultra64 (318705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955753)

Who's up for forming a lynch mob?

Re:So (5, Funny)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955791)

Who's up for forming a lynch mob?

I'll bring the torches if you bring the pitchforks...

Re:So (2)

BSAtHome (455370) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955839)

Although I am on the other side of the pond, I'd gladly send you rope and bashing articles.

Please be sure that the target digs a hole deep enough beforehand. You wouldn't want the worms to come crawling up and arrange for a whack-a-mole session.

Re:So (4, Insightful)

mSparks43 (757109) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955895)

What's the point?

Its a patent for a symmetric key algorithm done in hardware.

Just tell them you'll see them in court.

Re:So (4, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956141)

What's the point?

Its a patent for a symmetric key algorithm done in hardware.

Just tell them you'll see them in court.

That's if you can afford to go to court. They may be asking very reasonable fees to make the ROI of such a case overly in favor of settling. By going to court you would have to advance large amounts of money where settling might be cheaper. So even if you win the lawsuit, you might end up losing money in the end.

Of course, you'd have done "the right thing" (patent pending) but who cares in the 21st century?

Re:So (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955927)

Who's up for forming a lynch mob?

Depends. Who are you going to lynch? The scumbag lawyer? The patent official(s) who granted this patent? The politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform? I mean, are we out to change the system, or just to vent on a shrewd individual who is exploiting it?

Re:So (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955981)

Yes.

Re:So (5, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956055)

How about "all of the above"?

Re:So (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956251)

Actually, wait a second. Lynching all "the politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform" is a revolution, not a lynch mob.

The motion has been made to transition this lynch mob to a revolution. Does anyone second the motion?

Re:So (3, Interesting)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956059)

Who's up for forming a lynch mob?

Depends. Who are you going to lynch? The scumbag lawyer? The patent official(s) who granted this patent? The politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform? I mean, are we out to change the system, or just to vent on a shrewd individual who is exploiting it?

Note to self: Invest in companies that make rope.

Re:So (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956229)

Note to self: Patent rope.

Re:So (2)

servies (301423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956067)

All of them?

Re:So (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956071)

Depends. Who are you going to lynch? The scumbag lawyer? The patent official(s) who granted this patent? The politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform? I mean, are we out to change the system, or just to vent on a shrewd individual who is exploiting it?

All of the above sounds pretty good to me.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956089)

He's the root cause of the problem, but the others need to go too.

Re:So (2)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956155)

Depends. Who are you going to lynch? The scumbag lawyer? The patent official(s) who granted this patent? The politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform?

Yes

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956177)

politicians who have been dragging their feet on patent reform

Are you kidding me? The politicians CREATED the patent system. They are the ones who hold the keys -- NOT the lobbyists who come to them with bribes. The final decision is made by the business of government, for the business of government.

If the business of government -- and the elite who run it -- didn't benefit from an absurdly complex, unjust, and exploitable patent system, then it wouldn't exist.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955971)

I'm an aging pro-choice lib-tard who's against the death penalty and who voted to re-elect the current US President. With that bias on the table, I want to say that in general people should not take such drastic actions upon themselves. Really. It's not a good idea. Slippery slope, bad precedent, etc.

On the other hand, anybody who pulls this sort of dipshitishness should not be surprised to wake up one morning a few inches taller with a free jute necklace donated by his fellow citizens. With the exception of the loss of some otherwise good rope, it's hard to claim a down side.

So, yeah, er, no. Probably no.

Re:So (-1, Troll)

pastafazou (648001) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956213)

sorry, just to clarify, you support killing unborn babies, but you're against killing murderers and rapists?

Re:So (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956233)

you never know if that baby is gonna be the next hitler, better to knock it off before it has the chance, At least thats how I assume they think

Re:So (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956259)

That surprised me too!

Re:So (4, Insightful)

swalve (1980968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956333)

And acorns are oak trees. Imprison all women who have had miscarriages!

he's not the problem (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955975)

there's always some asshole like this

the problem is an intellectual property legal status quo that actually empowers these douchebags

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956007)

Count me in

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956017)

Better idea

Drown the goat-roper in paperwork bankrupting him and his company with legal expenses.

Re:So (1)

cvtan (752695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956139)

OR: Where are the drones when you need them?

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956267)

Or, going back a few memes, "Where's my rocket launcher?"

So... (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955765)

Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is patent trolling at it's absolute worst, but what exactly is this quote supposed to mean? We (rightly) complain all the freakin time how people shouldn't be granted patents just by adding "on the internet" or "on a computer", we can't have it both ways. If there is a valid patent to provide secure communications through USPS and the key steps of that patent are being performed as part of secure communications online, why shouldn't that be considered to be violating the patent?

Re:So... (2)

RandomFactor (22447) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955805)

"we can't have it both ways. I"

No, but we should a least have it one way or the other.

As it stands, if you add "on the internet" to it, you get a patent, or as in this case, even if you don't, you can still enforce your patent "on the internet"

Re:So... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955809)

Agreed; the guy is exploiting the patent system in one of the most horrific mis-uses I've ever seen (applying an expired patent that was bought from another organisation to retro-actively sue people who had no idea they were infringing), however the use of a technology in a new scenario is not a new patent. While the references to old technology (for example modems) in the patent seem mildly comical from today's point of view, in terms of the patent itself personally I find it refreshing to actually see a well thought through implementation.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955875)

According to the article, Bruce Schneier would disagree with you. Considering his comments in the article, it is clear the patent troll in question is exploiting technophobia... because Bruce says even a patent granted for this stuff in 1989 has prior art. The "handshaking" weasel bit the TQP asshat claims is the infringing part is to get around the prior art Bruce mentions.

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956159)

We need some reductio ad absurdem on the part of the courts here. Side with the lawyer, outlaw all uses of SSL without a license from him, and have all companies using SSL remove the facility for one day. He's after a little bit of money but he's claiming to want to protect the patent. OK, call his bluff, no money and a protected patent, then let's see how the rest of the world responds when they see what's happening. No more internet banking? No more online trading? No more secure internet sessions? Go on, call his bluff, let's open Pandora's Box Of Patents, it's the only way to bring this nonsense down once and for all.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956263)

Aren't you only liable for damages after you've been charged with infringement?
Accepting the "facts" above (not that I'm disagreeing, I just haven't studied it, but stipulate the scenario as an interesting one) I think the infringement's real. We should hate the lawyer for doing something so obviously immoral, and we should change the system, because it makes that act legal. Plenty of people find it Just Fine to do anything that's legal, however reprehensible. At some point (some enormous quantity of dollars) wouldn't we all succumb? That's a tough ethics question to ask yourself in the mirror sometime. So I think our legal code should represent what we believe, and I think we all believe you should be rewarded for your inventions and that this is a good one. In my opinion, the problem lies in our over-inflated view of what things are worth. Something between the cost (subsistence wage for the engineer) of invention and value of the utility (what everyone who ever used SSL would have paid for it) is the clear answer? Now, with the SSL cat out of the bag, that value was sold cheaply and can't be recovered. I suggest, Spangenberg, "fairness" won't let you sue somebody for gains they didn't make or know you deserved, but of course you don't care about that. Back to the right price, maybe it should be more towards the low end.

Another very interesting question is whether it was really innovative. I got sued once for a patent so unimaginative that, well, let's just say you'd figure it out in a split second if I described the problem. Couched in pseudoscience, it partly bamboozled, partly just wore down the poor examiner trying to defeat it. As a result, a bad patent was created. How to stop that? I think there should be some proportionate response available to both sides. Meaning, if you attempt to support a bullshit patent and it gets invalidated, you should pay the legal fees and maybe all the royalties ever collected and maybe get your nuts put in a vise for the lifetime of the improper patent.

All this is why I, and probably most people on slashdot, rarely ever get on a jury.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955851)

Personally I think the point there is that if someone files a patent, and doesn't enforce anything about it, then someone else buys it 17 years later by which time due to lack of enforcement around it such that everyone has used it it's become part of essential every day tools, then some dick shouldn't then be able to start suing over it.

In this respect patents should act like trademarks - if you don't defend against illegal use of it at or near the time of infringement and as a result everyone starts using tools built upon it, then it should be invalidated.

This idea that you can file a patent, sit quietly on it, and wait until something related to it has become massively widely used and THEN you sue everyone left, right and centre, is fucking absurd.

The other point is that patent terms are supposed to expire after 20 years. As such can anyone tell me why this guy has another 6 years to sue? Is this about legal limits and he is effectively suing for past infringement even though the patent should've expired 3 years ago? If so then that's another change that needs making to the law - you either sue when the patent is valid, or you don't sue at all.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955941)

THIS

You should have some minimum time to file a suit against someone for using your patent or it should be invalidated. I see this all the time. Sony used a game controller for 3 years on their playstation and then somebody comes along saying they have a patent that Sony is infringing on. Why wasn't it brought up a couple months after the release? It's not like the playstation was some unknown product in some very small market that the patent holder couldn't have been expected to know about. If you have too many patents that you can't keep track of them, and don't even realize that somebody is infringing on them until years later, then it should be invalidated.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956041)

Because most inventors have other things to do with their time then comb through every new technological application, and because your suggestion would make big time manufacturers stop caring about patents of small guys and just obfuscate their technology to stop identification of patented features for long enough.

Let's not forget, patent laws aren't made to allow big incumbents to rape small inventors. They're made to allow small inventors to get money from their inventions. Just because laws have been perverted doesn't mean that it will help to demolish the original reason for existence of patents and essentially empower the party that is already the biggest abuser of the current legislation - the large incumbent tech companies.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956191)

You're right. Instead of letting the small inventors who maybe own 1 to 5 patents take a little responsibility and keep track of how their patents are being used, we should make the people/organizations producing products (big and small) be responsible for wading through millions of patents to ensure they don't infringe on these patents before they release a product. Even if said patent is just sitting in a filing cabinet, and no product has ever been realized.

I'm not saying that all patents should be invalidated after some set period after some product has been released and no complaint has been filed. But there should be some expectation so thousands of companies can't go about using your "patented techology" for over a decade before you decide you are going to start complaining that they are violating your patent.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955905)

He and his wife Audrey, also an IP lawyer, live in a six-bedroom, seven-fireplace mansion worth $9.3 million, according to public records, and bought two half-million dollar condominiums in Las Vegas in 2010.

It would be if baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Re:So... (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955963)

in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented.

I clearly recall that I was surfing a lot of Gopher sites in 1985, and there was even something new: hypertext. Doesn't that count as the world wide web?

Re:So... (1)

slim (1652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955977)

I never saw a Gopher client with hypertext. Unless you count menus (I don't)

Hypertext certainly predates the WWW though.

Re:So... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955989)

I don't know why people haven't yet argued that adding encryption to a point to point communication is pretty obvious.
I mean, the patent isn't on the mathematical codes for the actual encryption anyhow?

which gets us to the point why isn't the guy suing blizzard and my bank?

World Wide Web (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955769)

I don't understand why the WWW was mentioned. SSL isn't tied to web technology. It makes me wonder if the submitter (and editors) have any idea what SSL is.

Re:World Wide Web (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955801)

It makes me wonder if the submitter (and editors) have any idea what SSL is.

As this is Slashdot, you can safely assume that neither do.

Re:World Wide Web (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955811)

I don't understand why the WWW was mentioned. SSL isn't tied to web technology. It makes me wonder if the submitter (and editors) have any idea what SSL is.

Oh, they're journalists and therefore infallible.

Didn't you know that?

Re:World Wide Web (1)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955833)

It's /., of course they don't.

Re:World Wide Web (2)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955861)

I don't understand why the WWW was mentioned. SSL isn't tied to web technology. It makes me wonder if the submitter (and editors) have any idea what SSL is.

You can add onto it that the submitter and editors likely don't understand patents or the legal system, as well.

That's why any patent-related article on here turns into a shitstorm mere seconds away from invoking Godwin's law.

Really? (0)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955773)

Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented.

Your sure about that are you?

Re:Really? (2)

Ultra64 (318705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955793)

"Your sure about that are you?"

Yes? The web was invented in '92.

Or are you saying the patent wasn't granted in '89?

Re:Really? (5, Informative)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955899)

"Your sure about that are you?"

Yes? The web was invented in '92.

Or are you saying the patent wasn't granted in '89?

And, more relevantly, HTTPS didn't appear until 1994. (Netscape originated it, as an extension to the HTTP standard -- you needed their browser, and their webserver to be able to use it.)

So, clearly this is all Netscape's fault.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956143)

I also blame Netscape for 2girls1cup, goatse and rick-rolling.

I never had problems like that using gopher.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956261)

ummmm, HTTPS != SSL and SSL != HTTPS. dumpkoff.

It's Too Useful For the Public (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955777)

Cases like this might be bringing the patent system closer and closer to some form of "Intellectual Property Eminent Domain," which would be very suitable for something as widespread and important as SSL.

Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (1)

frostfreek (647009) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955779)

Now I am in danger if I activate SSL on my website? Why didn't Apple grind them to dust? Are their lawyers too busy duking it out with Samsung?
C'mon Google, take aim and give 'em both barrels!

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955819)

It's not profitable for Apple or Google, or any other large company, to stand up to patent trolls that annoy their entire industry. Apple probably spent more to settle than they would have to defend, but they are probably happy that this troll will cost their competitors as well.

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955909)

If they legitimize this troll they can troll back later in the next 20 years for even more damages vs others. They consider it "the cost of doing business" and they (apple etc...) are glad that the cost is too high for you and me to engage in but they can just pay off the extortion fee. Infact this troll is a little like mob man they hire out to extort everyone and pretend to be victims too.

Organized crime at its best. But the problem is of course in a system that enables this behavoir.

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (2)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956103)

Actually, Google has a track record of doing exactly that. They just fought (and lost) a case this last week to a patent troll company. In it, the jury awarded a 3.5% royalty of (bear with me here) the amount of demonstrated revenue increase for the previous year of infringement for U.S. revenues, plus 3.5% going forward until the patent expires. This amounts to an estimated $700-900 million over the next 4 years. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/08/idUS136757+08-Nov-2012+HUG20121108 [reuters.com]

They could have settled for about half that based on the offers the patent holder made, but they went to the mattresses, and lost big time, even though the evidence was CLEARLY in favor of the patent inventor. (He was CTO at Lycos, who owned the patent before they went tits up and sold it back to the inventor, who formed the company which sued Google.)

So, even when Google KNOWS they're infringing on a valid patent, they still fight it to the end. Why would they start settling cases in which they know they are not infringing a patent?

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955871)

But what if they were to lose? Having case law on their side would open up an even worse fate for every SSL enabled website out there.

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955903)

Let me dissuade you of what seems to be a fairly common misconception in the tech world:

Businesses do not exist for your benefit. They exist to make money for themselves - period. Any benefit you may perceive is simply a by-product of their primary function. No matter how warm and squishy it may be.

Re:Thanks Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil! (2)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956001)

Now I am in danger if I activate SSL on my website?

No, because the patent has expired.
You are in danger if you enabled SSL[*] on your web site back when the patent was active. Then you can be sued now over it.

[*]: Or used any other of a wide range of symmetric encryptions facilitated by a handshake, web or no web.

Damned patent troll (3, Insightful)

Stachybotris (936861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955799)

All it would take is Google or one other company with adequately deep pockets to actually take this guy to court and that would be the last we'd hear of Mr. Spangenberg or his trollish little company.

Re:Damned patent troll (4, Informative)

Stachybotris (936861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955807)

Also, to clarify, this seems to not be over SSL itself, but rather over "using a shared seed value to generate pseudo-random key values at a transmitter and a receiver." RTFA on CipherLaw Blog [cipherlawgroup.com] .

Prior art (5, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956003)

Also, to clarify, this seems to not be over SSL itself, but rather over "using a shared seed value to generate pseudo-random key values at a transmitter and a receiver." RTFA on CipherLaw Blog [cipherlawgroup.com] .

Isn't CTR-mode use of a cipher block prior art? This was invented in 1979 by Dife and Hellman [nist.gov] and in effect turns a key into a series of pseudo random values which are xored with the plain text.

Not really (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955955)

Read the article, the guy has different companies for each patent. That is one of the signs to recognize a patent troll, create a shell company with no assets and no product so if you loose, you loose nothing and they can't counter sue because you have no product so nothing that can infringe.

Many big companies just consider this the cost of doing business and just pay up, thereby feeding the leech to become ever stronger. But fighting it would gain you nothing except a warm feeling.

mind you, most of the big companies are jealous they didn't think of it first. Apple sued by a patent troll? Awh!

Oh, You Mean Like Apple? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955967)

All it would take is Google or one other company with adequately deep pockets to actually take this guy to court and that would be the last we'd hear of Mr. Spangenberg or his trollish little company.

From the summary:

And while most of those lawsuits are ongoing, many companies have already settled with TQP rather than take the case to trial, including Apple

A company with deep pockets? $100 billion dollars [businessinsider.com] isn't "adequately" deep enough?

I don't know anything about this patent but if there was a company that thought they'd have the money to shut these guys up, it'd be the elephant in the universe with so much money they have a dividend and share repurchase program [slashdot.org] .

The real problem (4, Interesting)

dachshund (300733) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955803)

Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented.

The problem here is not that the patent was filed before SSL was invented (about 1995) -- that could be fine, if SSL was using a patented technology that pre-dated its own invention.

The problem here is that the attorneys are accusing the practice of 'sending network records over a wire and encrypting them with a stream cipher', where in this case the cipher is (I believe RC4). However RC4 was invented in the 1980s and should pre-date this patent. I'm certain that somebody used it to encrypt network traffic in an almost identical manner, so there should be prior art.

Moreover, stream ciphers in general have been around for much longer than that. Someone somewhere has published/deployed this idea before. It should not be a live patent. Note that the case has never been tested by a court.

Re:The real problem (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955917)

Spangenberg defends the validity of Jonesâ(TM) work by pointing to a failed challenge to the patent filed by TD Ameritrade in late 2010, which was rejected by the Patent and Trademark Office.

I don't know enough about the system to know if that means it went to court or simply was rejected by the USPTO itself.. but he says they spent hundreds of thousands and possibly millions on it, so that really sounds like it went to court.

A good few... (4, Funny)

aManofFewWords (2772755) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955817)

You must see the good in this man. He has set up well over 200 companies to make the point that software patents is a bad thing. He even tells this to all the companies and judges he can find. He will finally succeed and software patents will be abolished.

Lawyers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955823)

Lawyers... the peak of human anti-logic and stupidity after the belief that money is the best resource sharing technology ever.

Trademarks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955835)

Patents should be like Trademarks. Use it and protect it or lose it.

'New' SSL users 'safe' (5, Interesting)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955841)

According to TFA, the patent apparently infringed upon has expired, however this mob can still sue people who used it in the past for the next six years.

So, if you start a new company now that uses SSL you should be in the clear.

Maybe sometimes "prevalent" should mean "free" (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955863)

He may be on the correct side of the law as far as current patent law goes, but I'm of the opinion that, at least sometimes, the fact that it's prevalent means that it should be free. Particularly when it comes to computer software, and particularly when it comes to communications and the exchange of information. File formats should be able to be written and read without a license. You should be able to make your software communicate with others using network protocols that are unencumbered.

I don't know that I have an objection to software patents per se, but when it comes to file format standards and network communications standards, you should not have to pay in order to participate.

Re:Maybe sometimes "prevalent" should mean "free" (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956317)

This. IP is not a natural right; it is a temporary privilege granted by society. As such, I don't see a problem with revoking a patent in certain cases, especially when the patent covers something that has grown into widespread use without the patent holder ever bringing suit for infringement (i.e. submarine patents).

By the same token, the process for invalidating patents should be way easier than going through lengthy trials in court. For instance, if you have a well documented case of prior art, requesting a patent review from the USPTO should be enough to result in a speedy resolution (as well as suspending any court cases for infringement against you, pending the outcome of the review). If the patent is actually invalidated, then the patent holder can appeal in court.

Meet who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955867)

I already know plenty of douchebags. Why would i want to meet another one? And a lawyer one at that.

Pass.

How was this ever granted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955869)

The patent [google.com] was actually filed in 1992. It describes a very poor stream cipher. SSL seems to "infringe" the generic stream cipher parts of the patent. However, since stream ciphers pre-date the patent (e.g. A5/1 [wikipedia.org] from 1987 also used pseudo-random numbers) it's really not clear that the patent should ever have been granted.

See also Marconi being sued by telegraph companies (5, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955873)

Marconi was sued by telegraph companies that thought they had a fifty year monopoly on morse code. The communications IP legal situation has been a sick joke since at least then.

Their patent is not even broad enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955881)

I don't see how their patent has anything to do with it. SSL encrypts the stream, not the pages.

Patent Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41955893)

It's too bad that when corporations go to the expense of acquiring huge patent portfolios to be used as legal weapons against other patent wielding companies, that they don't hire some specialized "patent mercenaries" to take handle the cases where their opponent isn't a company, just legal firm holding some patents. I saw a corporate hit team like this in the movie, Michael Clayton so they've got to exist, right?

Err what? (3, Interesting)

kiriath (2670145) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955943)

'I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'

This statement is one of those really douchebaggy things that douchebags douche out.

All of that being said, SSL needs to be replaced with something better anyway.

Patent idiot here (1)

advantis (622471) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955947)

Sorry if this is totally off, but aren't patents supposed to prevent the manufacturing and distribution and/or selling of the patented items, and have nothing to do with the usage? That means this statement is at least misleading, if not down right lying: “When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it.”

To clarify: If I use SSL on my website, I don't think this patent applies to me. I didn't make SSL, and I'm not providing SSL for download. Go sue the OpenSSL guys, or sue Debian, Red Hat and Canonical for distributing your patented thingy, and hope the EFF doesn't chime in.

The big guys who settled are making and selling products that ship SSL within. Except Exxon Mobil - I have no idea what they could sell me with SSL in it, and appear to have settled just because the inconvenience of a lawsuit wasn't worth it. If he isn't asking for crazy amounts, the big guys may not even twitch and just pay up. As in "hey, I see your patent, it doesn't look like it could hold in court, but... you're asking for peanuts, so here you go, please go away". Because in that case the lawyers would cost a lot more just to throw the case out of court, and this guy's company doesn't have any assets that can be reposessed to cover the costs.

Conclusion: he's not going to sue anyone small, and he'll stop when all the big cows have been milked - unless he meets the wrong kind of cow before then.

Re:Patent idiot here (2)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956021)

Actually, patents were invented to force licensing of ideas, so that everyone can play. Somehow, in the past 200 years, we've changed that into "it's my ball and I'm going home".

Re:Patent idiot here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956047)

U.S. patent law prohibits mere usage as well.

Re:Patent idiot here (1)

codegen (103601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956065)

Sorry if this is totally off, but aren't patents supposed to prevent the manufacturing and distribution and/or selling of the patented items, and have nothing to do with the usage? That means this statement is at least misleading, if not down right lying: “When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it.” To clarify: If I use SSL on my website, I don't think this patent applies to me. I didn't make SSL, and I'm not providing SSL for download. Go sue the OpenSSL guys, or sue Debian, Red Hat and Canonical for distributing your patented thingy, and hope the EFF doesn't chime in. The big guys who settled are making and selling products that ship SSL within. Except Exxon Mobil - I have no idea what they could sell me with SSL in it, and appear to have settled just because the inconvenience of a lawsuit wasn't worth it. If he isn't asking for crazy amounts, the big guys may not even twitch and just pay up. As in "hey, I see your patent, it doesn't look like it could hold in court, but... you're asking for peanuts, so here you go, please go away". Because in that case the lawyers would cost a lot more just to throw the case out of court, and this guy's company doesn't have any assets that can be reposessed to cover the costs. Conclusion: he's not going to sue anyone small, and he'll stop when all the big cows have been milked - unless he meets the wrong kind of cow before then.

Actually patent infringment include use. Patent holders can choose to sue users as well. Its true that users are not often sued, but in situations where the patented invention is used privately without distribution, the user can be sued.

This should be illegal (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41955973)

a Proposed penalty is if you get convicted of being a "patent troll" and try to use a submarine patent (or purchase an otherwise inactive patent to use as a submarine patent) ALL patents held by you are rendered VOID and are now Prior Art as applies.

also to violate a patent you should have to hit each and every claim (no partial claims allowed) unless the claims form a complete set but have Common Sense branches (deploying a patent in a Fixed Mobile land Mobile Air Mobile Water manner would be one)

Poor americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956029)

We, in the rest of the software-patent-free world, can happily ignore this kind of counter-productive nonsense.

His mom must be so proud (4, Funny)

Genevish (93570) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956035)

When the democrats say, "you didn't build that", maybe they mean this guy?

Re:His mom must be so proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956285)

The core problem. This piece of shit gets rewarded by the system for his behaviour, while those who actually create and invent things are threatened with blackmail.

would it really be that had to put the pat # (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956075)

in the article, since you can look for free at full text
www.uspto.gov
www.patentlens.com

and of course all the loathsome companies that charge you (!) for pdf of a patent, in case you are to stupid to know that they are free

Suing for an expired patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956097)

Why should anybody be allowed to sue for a patent six years after it expired? Isn't the whole point of the patent expiring that you can't sue anymore?

Re:Suing for an expired patent? (1)

jackbird (721605) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956295)

They're suing within the statute of limitations for infringement that happened before the patent expired.

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956115)

TQP just got Pwned and wiped off the face of the Internets

Re:in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956325)

they already intentionally didn't even have a website

patent examiners should read wikipedia (2)

itmo (605864) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956133)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_cipher [wikipedia.org] apparently somebody has patented something related to stream ciphers in 1946 , so I assume there is prior art somewhere there..

Let him know.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956137)

erich@ipnav.com

Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956147)

“If you buy a hundred-foot lot in the middle of Manhattan, you’re not required to develop it[sic]”

The attorney is a Complete Moron. This is patently false.

Why shouldn't SSL be free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956163)

"I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'"
Why shouldn't it? By default knowledge is free for all. The only reason creators were given exclusive rights over the knowledge they produced was under the premise that without guaranteeing reward through such a temporary monopoly, further innovation will stifle.
This has nothing to do with prevalence. What we should ask is, has the rights that were given to the innovator facilitated to produce further innovation? And now, do they still?
I personally doubt the plausibility of a scenario in which, for the sake of further innovation, a software should be awarded protection beyond 5 years.

But not the golden goose (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956167)

"practically anyone who encrypts pages of a web sites to protect users' privacy"
but conspicuously not the U.S. Govt.

Location (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956205)

179 W. Front Street, Suite 244, Tyler, Texas 75702.

And... (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956227)

I don't see why patent troll lawyers shouldn't be set ablaze for free.

This guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41956231)

What a jackass.

Send in the SEALs (1, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#41956329)

Double-tap to the forehead, then exfil with the tango wrapped in a carpet. In unmarked ocean, give him a burial at sea.

This guy probably has a legitimate patent on handshaking that has the capacity to switch encryption keys. However, he's generating massive collateral damage in exchange for his personal profit, at the expense of industry.

That in itself is not an efficient solution, and means he's essentially taking from each of us each time he unnecessarily raises costs...

Which brings me back to the SEALs. Hoo-rah!

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