Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cisco Can't Shield Customers From Patent Suits, Court Rules

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the let-the-law-decide dept.

Patents 111

netbuzz writes "A federal appeals court in California has upheld a lower court ruling that Cisco lacks the necessary standing to seek dismissal of patent infringement lawsuits against some of its biggest customers – wireless network providers and enterprises – being brought by TR Labs, a Canadian research consortium. The appeals court agreed with TR Labs' that its patent infringement claims are rightfully against the users of telecommunications equipment – be it made by Cisco, Juniper, Ciena or others – and not the manufacturers. 'In fact, all of the claims and all of the patents are directed at a communications network, not the particular switching nodes that are manufactured by Cisco and the other companies that are subject of our claims,' an attorney for TR Labs told the court. The court made no judgment relative to the patents themselves or the infringement claims."

cancel ×

111 comments

American Exceptionalism and Moral Superiority? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838343)

Yes, I do! I find it quite amusing that America was schooled by Putin on exceptionalism.

For a country one who claims to boast its own national exceptionalism and moral superiority. Yet, forgets to mention they are the holders of the largest national debt known to man. If you ask me. I find this fact hardly exceptional or superior ... heck it's not even moral!

Re:American Exceptionalism and Moral Superiority? (0)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 10 months ago | (#44838351)

are you high or just an idiot?, what does this article has to do with any of that shit?

Re:American Exceptionalism and Moral Superiority? (-1, Offtopic)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 10 months ago | (#44838687)

are you high or just an idiot?, what does this article has to do with any of that shit?

What you just did is called "feeding the trolls". It is discouraged.

I don't understand (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838353)

What prevents Cisco sell product with additional service: "in case of court case related to patents used within this device, our legal team will help free of charge"?
And simply provide lawyers anyway?

Re:I don't understand (5, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44838391)

The problem here is that the IP owners get to sue people with no knowledge or patents to fight back with. If Cisco gets sued, they have their own patents that they can use to fight back with. But, when a customer gets sued, they have to either settle, invalidate the patents or face losing the case.

This seems like bullshit to me as Cisco would be the ones actually infringing on the patents, assuming they are infringing, rather than the companies that bought Cisco equipment.

Re:I don't understand (4, Interesting)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 10 months ago | (#44838469)

Cisco may not have standing in court, but that shouldn’t prevent them from contributing to their customers’ defense. Lend them some high-priced in-house counsel.

You are joking surely! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#44839131)

Do you really think Cisco will help? Take a look at how the company has behaved over the last decade. They screw over customers as much as they can get away with and repeat business be damned.

Re:You are joking surely! (4, Insightful)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 10 months ago | (#44839497)

In cases like this, they kinda have to, or else no-one will buy Cisco again, or the customer who just had to settle will then sue Cisco for all their losses.

Tactical Change (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839623)

This decision is a 180 degree turn in logic from other court decisions on IP infringement. One example: file sharing sites being found guilty of providing platforms for illegal file sharing. But that's because RIAA and MPAA were in those cases specifically suing the creators of the platform, while at the same time pursuing other tactics against the users (file sharing individuals like Jammie Thomas).

TR Labs doesn't want to take on Cisco because Cisco is their cash cow. As long as Cisco keeps on selling products that infringe, TR Labs can sue customers that build networks offering services on those products. TR has no obvious business need to shut down Cisco. And TR probably considers their patents at risk if they sue Cisco directly, or they would have sued Cisco for very large amounts of money already. If Cisco thought their products infringed, they would certainly have spent some time negotiating and perhaps worked out a license. This route is lower risk for TR's alleged IP.

Re:You are joking surely! (3, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 10 months ago | (#44840029)

For a lot of things, Cisco is the only game in town these days. Well, unless you want to pony 10 times as much for carrier-grade Alcatel-Lucent stuff that has a lifetime warranty. The A-L stuff is great, but to use a car analogy, it would be similar to asking Ferrari to custom-design and build a minivan that is used for taking kids to school and back.

I might be wrong, but generally, with the Cisco-only protocols in use, it is hard to get away from them.

Re:You are joking surely! (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#44840313)

Wouldn't the timescale on that be something longer than a quarter IE wouldn't that take WAY longer than most investors seem to be thinking? Couldn't they say "No, we don't want the stocks to dip this quarter. We'll sell all the profitable parts and make bank twice without any downsides. Except to anyone working at Cisco."

I don't know anything about Cisco, that's not a prediction, just saying this seems like a much longer view than anyone takes in business.

Re:You are joking surely! (2)

quacking duck (607555) | about 10 months ago | (#44840405)

In cases like this, they kinda have to, or else no-one will buy Cisco again, or the customer who just had to settle will then sue Cisco for all their losses.

I think we just figured out why the court ruled this way. As if there wasn't enough overpriced work for IP lawyers, their bros on the bench are determined to generate even more revenue for the IP legal "industry".

Re:I don't understand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838471)

Welcome to patent law "bullshit" is all it consists of.

judges said Cisco products don't infringe (4, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44838553)

The multiple levels of judges have agreed Cisco's gear does not infringe. It can be used to infringe, or used in ways that don't infringe.

According to the rulings, suing Cisco would be like suing Xerox for copyright infringement. Just because a copy machine CAN be used by an infringer doesn'tmake Xerox liable.

I do wonder if Cisco products are DESIGNED to be used in the way that plaintiff claims is infringement. Cisco seems to be suggesting that.

Cisco's devices are DESIGNED TO ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838785)

I do wonder if Cisco products are DESIGNED to be used in the way that plaintiff claims is infringement. Cisco seems to be suggesting that.

Remember, inside each and every Cisco product there is an NSA backdoor pre-installed.

Re:Cisco's devices are DESIGNED TO ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44842959)

Great. Now on to prove those backdoors are infringing!

Captcha: stoned

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (5, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | about 10 months ago | (#44838791)

Xerox copiers would probably be used to infringe on copyrights, not patents, but ignoring that diffrerence, you can have two situations. In the first situation, the rights owner says that you are infringing by copying a particular book. In the second, the rights owner insists that the act of using a Xerox copier is infringing all by itself regardless of what you want to copy with it.

It would make sense that Xerox lacks standing in the first case, but it would make much less sense that Xerox lacks standing in the second.

According to the article, the company suing claims that Cisco's gear has substantial non-infringing uses and that it will not claim Cisco is a contributory infringer, which brings it a lot closer to the first case than to the second. It really would not make sense for Xerox to be able to intervene if some company is claiming that copying only one particular book is prohibited and other people could use Xerox copiers for other books without getting into trouble at all.

Furthermore, as other posts have pointed out, the custoimers that are being sued are organizations such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, organizations that can easily afford lawyers to fight back, so this is not the situation where a big company sues some guy who uses a Cisco router in his home because he is poorer and makes an easier target than suing Cisco. Of course the Slashdot headline is misleading in this regard.

So there's really nothing to get upset about here.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (5, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 10 months ago | (#44839363)

> So there's really nothing to get upset about here.

Of course there is. A dumb ruling sets a precedent that may not affect *you* in the instant case, but it could certainly set a precedent that another company could use to come after *you* later.

Judge any and all cases on the *merits* and the underlying principles, not on whether you like or identify with the defendant.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841037)

I don't see it that way... So people should be allowed to infringe patents and blame someone else? If the IP holder sued Cisco, then surely you would also expect them to also sue the microchip manufacturers, distributors, etc... After all, they are all just as involved with getting the product to the consumer. Just like Cisco, they are not violating any of the patents either. It is like going after the gun manufacturer for a murder committed by a consumer. The consumer didn't have to commit murder, the gun could have been used for self defense. The same can be said here, the consumer didn't have to infringe, they could have configured their networks differently.

In case you didn't read the article, they are suing customers who configure their networks in a way that they infringe on these patents. The devices can be used in many ways, they aren't built to specifically infringe those patents. It is not limited to Cisco either, they are suing all customers who configure their networks in such a way, either with a Cisco device or other. So really, there is no reason to involve Cisco.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#44841329)

> I don't see it that way... So people should be allowed to infringe patents and blame someone else?

This isn't patent infringement. This is using a product that infringes patents. It's a meaningful distinction and one that should have already been settled in favor of consumers a long time ago.

Patent infringement by "network configuration"?

Sounds like a feature of the device they bought from someone else.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#44842661)

I had never heard of TR Labs so I looked them up and they are a not for profit which would make me think they wouldn't be collecting on patents. {and recently changed their name}

This statement doesn't support the view that they would be collecting on patents either.

http://www.trlabs.ca/trlabs/about [trlabs.ca]

TRTech is an industry-driven, not-for-profit technology commercialization company that fast tracks ICT innovation to market by working with its 80 industry, government, and academic partners and clients to discover, develop and commercialize technology. Our mandate is to grow the ICT industry in Western Canada by supporting your success, while giving you full control over Intellectual Property.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (5, Insightful)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 10 months ago | (#44838917)

According to the rulings, suing Cisco would be like suing Xerox for copyright infringement.

Or Napster for copyright infringment. Or the Pirate Bay. Or.... Somehow judges have no difficulty at all with such a reasoning.

hence the evidence Napster intentionally designed (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44841307)

That's why the Napster emails showing that they intentionally designed features for the purpose of infringement and promoted it for infringement were so important. Cross referencing the Billboard Top 40 shows that it's made specifically for infringing. You don't see Dropbox using banners promoting "find hit music" for that reason.

The law distinguishes between a generic tool that _could_ be used unlawfully versus a business model based on facilitating and promoting unlawful conduct. Whether or not you LIKE that particular unlawful conduct is a matter of opinion, but the logical distinction is quite clear and well-founded.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839493)

The patents in question aren't about networking equipment design, they are about network topology design (how the equipment is connected). They are more math patents than anything else. Cisco/Juniper/Ciena/etc make boxes that pass packets, which isn't at all in the patents. If customers connect the boxes in a certain configuration, *that* can infringe the patent. After reading the patents, they are utter BS. Basic mathematical network diagrams and some sweat-of-the-brow calculations which aren't patentable.

So, Cisco and friends aren't at all liable, but the network operators are. Not that all of those operators are "helpless".... AT&T? Verizon? Level3? Many of the players in this field have just dandy legal departments. Wanna bet it's the mom-n-pops that TR is going after?

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (1)

negativeduck (2510256) | about 10 months ago | (#44840635)

Just adding, yes it's the Mom and Pops but the big guys also have the ability to generate a large amount of revenue from say a Comcast or a L3 so sometimes they will go after them. Look at the IVR patent cases that went around they started big and worked their way down. Now, where Cisco does become liable is that the "topology" aspects is often one of generally vague or generic design. Such that in many if not all cases the "examples" .ppt's and SE's of Cisco land often will help customers to deploy "infringing" network topology. This is where Cisco does start to have skin in the game I would think.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (0)

JWW (79176) | about 10 months ago | (#44840761)

Bullshit.

By definition any topology that can be executed with the Cisco hardware must be a topology that the hardware has been designed to handle.

Shit, whats next suing users of a programming language for making a program that violates a patent?

Oh, wait. And THAT is why software patents are absolute fucking bullshit. Code is speech, and code is copyrightable. This idea that programs and algorithms are patentable is an abomination.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841081)

Very simple answer: Software is proof that hardware can do a task and provides a set of instructions telling how it does that task. Thus, the patents on the hardware, which are always issued prior to any software patents that depend on said hardware, are prior art for any software patents. It seems that this also applies to many "business method" patents, which covers the use of the hardware without specific software customizations (which is the case in TFA).

gears are prior art for spaceships? (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44841455)

The same can be said for any device. Gears and levers were invented before spaceships. Spaceships are a configuration of gears and levers. Therefore no-one can invent a new type of space vehicle?

If you do something NEW with gears and levers, that's a new invention. If you do something new with wheels and suction cups, that's a new invention. If you do something new with silicon and copper, that's a new invention.
,
Many patents have been issued for software and other things that do not do anything new. Those patents should not have issued because patents are for new inventions. Many overly broad patents have been issued and shouldn't have because they are overly broad. If you confuse those issues with what material the invention is made of, somebody is tricking you into not thinking things through.

a hammer can be used for murder (0)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44841389)

A hammer can be used for murder. Therefore, according to your reasoning manufacturers of hammers are liable for murder?

That's precisely analogous to your assertion that: routers can be used to build an infringing network, therefore router manufacturers are liable for infringement.

Perhaps you will say hammers are designed to build things, and that is somehow different. Okay then:
Hammers can be used to build bombs. Therefore, hammer makers are responsible for bombings.

Sorry, your reasoning just doesn't work.

Re:a hammer can be used for murder (1)

JWW (79176) | about 10 months ago | (#44841427)

They're not suing people for murder with Cisco devices, they suing them for using Cisco devices.

That is EXACTLY like suing people for using hammers to build things.

no, it's not Cisco specific, and not all Cisco use (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44842375)

They are emphatically NOT "suing people for using Cisco devices", as evidenced by the fact that some defendants use other brands to do the same thing.

Whether or not their patent is any good I don't know, but it's not Cisco specific and they aren't claiming all Cisco users are infringing.

Their claim is more along the lines of "I'm suing you for building a bomb that blew up my car." They do not claim that using a tool is bad. They claim that doing X (with any tool) is bad.

Let's understand what their claim is before we decide if it's valid or bogus.

ps, the court ruled the CAN'T sue for using Cisco (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44842495)

PS the appeals court ruled that plaintiff is not allowed to change their mind later and say either that the Cisco devices infringe or that using the devices infringes. Plaintiff has claimed that it's only infringing if they are connected in a certain infringing topology and the ruling is that they have to stick to that.

Re:a hammer can be used for murder (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 10 months ago | (#44841485)

So I guess the question then, is does there exist a network topology that does not violate this troll's patent?

yes, most don't (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44842267)

Yes, nobody is claiming that all networks infringe. The plaintiff doesn't claim it covers all networks and in fact stipulates that it does not.

Re:judges said Cisco products don't infringe (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#44843075)

Can't Cisco submit a test plan for a product showing that the feature is used by Cisco, thus infringing, and that Cisco can then join as a co-defendant?

This is like someone patenting the wheel and going after every private car owner on the planet, but deliberately not going after anyone with money to fight back. Just like there are class actions for the small guys joining together, there should be the same for defendants to let many smaller defendants join to fight these harassing lawsuits.

Re:I don't understand (1)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about 10 months ago | (#44838575)

Did you miss the part about "Cisco's biggest customers", which in TFA have names like AT&T, Sprint, and the like?

I imagine, as in most of these cases, that this is more about going where the real big money is.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838607)

And what stops Cisco to in situations when their users are under patent attack to strike offender first and not wait? From what I understood, it was not a patent troll, so why not hit first? Either way, option to add to product a service that states that CISCO lawyers are to shield client in this kind of situations is still present I guess, same as offer to repay any losses from such trials?

Re:I don't understand (3, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | about 10 months ago | (#44838761)

From TFA the attorney for TR Labs, George Summerfield stated:

"In fact, all of the claims and all of the patents are directed at a communications network, not the particular switching nodes that are manufactured by Cisco and the other companies that are subject of our claims,"

If you read that as is without any a deeper explanation I get the idea that TR Labs can sue anyone who has a communications network.

Again from TFA:

The patents TR Labs is asserting are U.S. Patent Numbers 4,956,835; 5,850,505; 6,377,543; 6,404,734; 6,421,349; 6,654,379; 6,914,880; and 7,260,059.

Am I going to look at those patent numbers? No ! I don't want to get get a migraine headache since many modern IT patents are written in "legalese" such that someone with a Professional Engineering (yes a real one) background who is actually conversant with the field has a hard time understanding the words. Of course the opposite applies since most legal people can understand the words but not the context.

Ok I did look at patent 4,956,835 and it was just like I thought it would be which is basically an implementation and still requires hardware which manufacturers like Cisco provide. The following is an intro:

The present invention relates, in general, to a method and apparatus for rapidly effecting, in a communications network, the restoration of communications between nodes whose interconnecting spans have failed for one reason or another.

I particularly like fig 1c which basically a stylised drawing of the USA (well worth the LOL look) - see here [google.com] and click on fig "1c" of Images which is the second image from the left.

Re:I don't understand (2)

drakaan (688386) | about 10 months ago | (#44839271)

Trying not to have an aneurysm...*why* in the world do courts continue to view software as patentable subject matter. The communications nodes are general-purpose computers with networking hardware attached. They have an operating system that allows for the switching of communications lines. Now there's a rash of lawsuits because the courts are too dimwitted to understand that software plus computer != invention/new machine.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839351)

Trying not to have an aneurysm...*why* in the world do courts continue to view software as patentable subject matter.

Simple Answer: The US has hitched their apple cart to IP laws, and has set up a legal environment in which patents and copyright seem to trump pretty much everything else.

The US also pretty has tried to force every other country to recognize this in the same way.

Now there's a rash of lawsuits because the courts are too dimwitted to understand that software plus computer != invention/new machine.

Sadly, it isn't your courts, it's your lawmakers who are so beholden to these companies who made the laws in the first place.

If your lawmakers hadn't given indefinite copyrights and decided that everything can and should be patentable, the courts wouldn't be making these rulings.

Whether they knew it or not at the time, this is exactly what your lawmakers created. When the judges follow the letter of laws written by idiots who don't understand technology, this is what you get.

Re:I don't understand (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 10 months ago | (#44840547)

Trying not to have an aneurysm...*why* in the world do courts continue to view software as patentable subject matter. The communications nodes are general-purpose computers with networking hardware attached. They have an operating system that allows for the switching of communications lines. Now there's a rash of lawsuits because the courts are too dimwitted to understand that software plus computer != invention/new machine.

No, the courts are following the law. A new and nonobvious use of a known machine is a patentable invention. Specifically, 35 USC 101 [uspto.gov] says "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." and 35 USC 100 defines a process as "The term “process” means process, art, or method, and includes a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or material."

The law is quite clear - if you come up with a new and nonobvious use for a known machine, such as a computer, then you have invented a patent eligible process.

Re:I don't understand (1)

drakaan (688386) | about 10 months ago | (#44841607)

...The law is quite clear - if you come up with a new and nonobvious use for a known machine, such as a computer, then you have invented a patent eligible process.

Right. Except that computers have a single purpose...they do math.

This is not a new use of a known process. This is saying "you're not allowed to write a computer program that does something in a certain instance". The courts are (again) failing to grasp the way that computers function. Vulcanization (of rubber) is a process. A computer program is an algorithm...math. The fact that you can control computer hardware (like a network connection) with software is about as far from non-obvious and new as you can get.

Re:I don't understand (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 10 months ago | (#44842001)

...The law is quite clear - if you come up with a new and nonobvious use for a known machine, such as a computer, then you have invented a patent eligible process.

Right. Except that computers have a single purpose...they do math.

This is not a new use of a known process.

You mention vulcanizing rubber. Furnaces have a single purpose - they heat things. Therefore, vulcanizing rubber isn't a new use of a known process?
Also, "doing math" isn't what's claimed, but rather specific operations that haven't been done before. They are, by definition, new uses of the older technologies.

This is saying "you're not allowed to write a computer program that does something in a certain instance". The courts are (again) failing to grasp the way that computers function. Vulcanization (of rubber) is a process. A computer program is an algorithm...math.

You're apparently not a physicist. Vulcanization of rubber is an algorithm... math. Gear ratios are algorithms... math. Every process or machine in the physical universe can be described mathematically. But that doesn't mean that a patent on an engine is attempting to claim all math, any more than a patent on a software method is attempting to claim all math.

The fact that you can control computer hardware (like a network connection) with software is about as far from non-obvious and new as you can get.

Good thing no one writes a patent claim that says "A method, comprising controlling computer hardware, period, the end" then, eh?

But really, this shows that your understanding of the issues is confused. Patent eligibility under 35 USC 101 is different from novelty under 35 USC 102 or obviousness under 35 USC 103. They're three different, independent requirements. You're trying to claim that all software should be exempt from patent eligibility under 35 USC 101... because it's all obvious under 35 USC 103? That simply mixes up two different statutes, two different bodies of case law, two different logical tests, etc.
Here's a simple question - imagine the most novel, non-obvious bit of software ever. Like, some brand new algorithm that can losslessly compress even random data by 99%. Go nuts with imagining the details - point is, it's a revolutionary bit of code that no one has ever thought of, and it wins billions of awards and the keys to the city. Should it still be unpatentable, merely because it's software? That's the issue about patent eligibility under 35 USC 101: should software, as an industry, be ineligible for patentability, regardless of how innovative or inventive something is.

Re:I don't understand (3, Interesting)

dhrabarchuk (1745930) | about 10 months ago | (#44839573)

"In fact, I would expect that if we got into a (patent) dispute with Cisco and we conducted discovery, what they would tell us is that you'd have to go talk to our customers if you want to find out how their networks are configured because we can't tell you." - See more at: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/cisco-can%E2%80%99t-shield-customers-patent-suits-court-affirms#sthash.BD5PFArh.dpuf [networkworld.com] So, if the customers are "configuring" the equipment in an infringing way . . . In essence, the appeals court agreed with a lower court's acceptance of TR Labs' contention that its patent infringement claims are rightfully against the users of telecommunications equipment - be it gear made by Cisco, Juniper, Ciena or others - and not the manufacturers - See more at: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/cisco-can%E2%80%99t-shield-customers-patent-suits-court-affirms#sthash.BD5PFArh.dpuf [networkworld.com] So anyone could have been in the courtroom? It was just luck that it was Cisco?

Re:I don't understand (1)

frinkster (149158) | about 10 months ago | (#44840469)

Am I going to look at those patent numbers? No ! I don't want to get get a migraine headache since many modern IT patents are written in "legalese" such that someone with a Professional Engineering (yes a real one) background who is actually conversant with the field has a hard time understanding the words. Of course the opposite applies since most legal people can understand the words but not the context.

That's ridiculous. To be allowed to even take the patent bar exam, a person must have an engineering or hard science degree from an accredited university or can demonstrate that their combination of college courses and work experience are the equivalent. Having or not having a law degree is completely irrelevant.

I have read a large number of software, hardware and automotive patents and am convinced that any moderately smart high school student can understand perfectly as long as they pay attention to detail and can read. every. word. I am also convinced that calling a lot of this stuff an "invention" is being overly generous.

Re:I don't understand (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 10 months ago | (#44840617)

Am I going to look at those patent numbers? No ! I don't want to get get a migraine headache since many modern IT patents are written in "legalese" such that someone with a Professional Engineering (yes a real one) background who is actually conversant with the field has a hard time understanding the words. Of course the opposite applies since most legal people can understand the words but not the context.

Considering that most PEs are civil engineers and that while EE is a valid discipline for the PE, they tend to be electrical system designers, I'm not sure why you think that that's a helpful background here. For example, very few IT people are PEs, simply because (a) it doesn't apply; and (b) they can't hack the necessary math and physics. Additionally, while most legal people are not conversant in technology, all patent attorneys are - the proper scientific or engineering background is a requirement to sit for the patent bar exam.

I particularly like fig 1c which basically a stylised drawing of the USA (well worth the LOL look) - see here [google.com] and click on fig "1c" of Images which is the second image from the left.

Not sure why you think that's lol-worthy. The patent describes a system for self-healing networks such as the nationwide telecommunications backbones that go from major city to major city... Accordingly, any geographical network diagram of an example network will inevitably look like the country it's using for the example. Are you suuuure you're a PE?

Re:I don't understand (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#44841399)

> while most legal people are not conversant in technology, all patent attorneys are - the proper scientific or engineering background is a requirement to sit for the patent bar exam.

You're effectively trying to claim that ANY engineer is qualified to be an expert witness on ANY engineering discipline.

There are many types of engineer. Pretty much any of them are going to be completely unqualified to deal with anything outside of the very narrow discipline they were trained in.

The fact that some guy has an EIT certificate says squat about whether or not he has any hope of understanding the relevant Cisco patents here.

Although it doesn't really matter so much because each side will argue whether or not the relevant legal principles apply.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 10 months ago | (#44841459)

> while most legal people are not conversant in technology, all patent attorneys are - the proper scientific or engineering background is a requirement to sit for the patent bar exam.

You're effectively trying to claim that ANY engineer is qualified to be an expert witness on ANY engineering discipline.

Except for the fact that I never said that and it's impossible to read my words to say that, and the fact that my post was specifically arguing that most PEs would not be qualified to discuss networking, yes. You sure caught me.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841047)

Wow, they patented redundant networks with multiple paths. OoOoOoOo....I guess electricians should watch out now too. And phone companies, and anyone who has ever made a spider web and hooked up two tin cans. The people evaluating these patents should have been able to flat out say no to this patent.

Re:I don't understand (3, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 10 months ago | (#44841153)

I took a look at 4,956,835, the first thing I noticed is that it was published in 1988 and should no longer be valid, and quite possibly out of their sue capable window. The second thing I noticed is that it seemingly describes the already in use at the time ATM and TCP / DARPANET configurations. So, with those as prior art, wouldn't this particular patent already be invalid? I'm short of time, or I'd dig more deeply.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841221)

Google is making this too easy with pattent search and built in "find prior art"

https://www.google.com/patents/related/US4956835#c=0&d1&d2=10%2F19%2F1988&t=1nodes.1spare%20circuits.1restoration%20signal.0spans.0arbitrary%20number.0self-provisioning.1restoring%20communications.0self-restoring.0working%20circuits.0chooser.

https://www.google.com/patents/related/US5850505#c=0&d1&d2=11%2F01%2F1995&t=1restoration%20route.1span.1network.0digital%20cross-connect%20switch.0span%20failure.0anticipated%20failures.0adjacent%20spans.0withstand%20anticipated.0preconfiguring.0working%20links.

https://www.google.com/patents/related/US6377543#c=0&d1&d2=10%2F20%2F1997&t=1path%20restoration.1networks.1node.0tandem%20node.0spans.0spare%20links.0span%20pairs.0digital%20cross-connect%20switch.0adjacent%20spans.0span%20failure.

Expired patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841241)

So I looked at 4,956,835 too, because I figured a number that low it must surely have expired by now.

The patent was filed for 10/19/1988, issued 9/11/1990. That's 23 years ago. Patents don't last that long, how can they sue anyone over it? (Okay, the others might be problematic.)

Re:I don't understand (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 10 months ago | (#44839359)

If we follow your line of thought, that would make Western Digital culpable for people downloading / storing / using media and software they aren't licensed to use.

Just because a piece of equipment allows you to infringe, doesn't make the manufacturer the infringer.

(Note: this is what the court is saying. Not necessarily me.)

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839571)

More like using a harddrive to store data of any kind. want to save your Word Doc? You infringed our patent of manipulating bits! But don't worry, it's not the HD manufacturers fault you pressed save.

Re:I don't understand (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44839987)

Just because a piece of equipment allows you to infringe, doesn't make the manufacturer the infringer.

So, if I take a manufacturer supported set of configurations, and I end up configuring my environment so that I'm infringing a patent this has nothing to do with the vendor?

That makes no sense to me. If the Cisco manuals tell me how to configure the gear like that, then why am I magically infringing on a patent?

To me this sounds like saying if I twiddle the nobs on my car's heating system, if I end up with a configuration which violates a patent then somehow I'm legally liable. If the unique claims in a patent can be infringed by changing configurations on a device I bought which is essentially a black box, then the patent is either a joke, or this is an issue between the vendor and the patent owner.

"This device is fine, but if you put this knob to the left and this knob to the right, you are legally infringing on a patent".

To me, when I buy a product, the configuration options in it are part of the device. At which point I expect that the people who made the device made a legal, conforming product that I can then use.

If I was a company getting sued for patent infringement, I'd immediately sue Cisco on the basis that what they sold me was something they weren't legally allowed to.

This is just insane. (Yes, I know you're not defending it, I'm just totally baffled by this)

Re:I don't understand (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 10 months ago | (#44840533)

If you buy a gun, and read the manual on how to fire a bullet into someone's face, the firearm manufacturer is not responsible for the murder.

Just saying.

Re:I don't understand (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44840667)

If you buy a gun, and read the manual on how to fire a bullet into someone's face, the firearm manufacturer is not responsible for the murder.

And unless I plan on beating someone to death with a Cisco router, the two are unrelated.

It is illegal to shoot someone in the face, it shouldn't illegal to configure a device according to built-in functionality implemented by the vendor.

If by changing a few settings on a device (settings implemented and documented by the manufacturer) it magically becomes an infringing device, then either Cisco is selling something which infringes the patent, or the whole premise of patents has become untenable and fucked up.

If I buy a radio, I expect it to be a device which is legal to operate in any permutation I can do without altering the device. If I put the tuning dial to the left and the volume on full blast, are you seriously claiming I could have magically infringed on a patent and become liable? I would argue it was the vendor selling an infringing product from the get go, and since users can't vet the implementation to make sure it's not patent encumbered, the onus is on the vendor -- and that's where the liability should stay.

Yes, if I beat you senseless with the radio, I've committed assault, which is illegal. But saying I could infringe on a patent by adjusting settings that were shipped to me by the vendor is bordering on the irrational.

Either the patent is a complete joke and fails the obviousness test, or the patent system is a complete joke and fails the rationality test.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 10 months ago | (#44841335)

If I buy a radio, I expect it to be a device which is legal to operate in any permutation I can do without altering the device.

It's quite possible to buy a radio that has modes of operation that are illegal for you to use. It's more difficult with a receive-only radio like what you later clarified it more as, but it's possible to violate wire-tapping statutes if you buy the right one and use it 'wrong'.

Transmitters, well, due to various federal laws it's extremely easy to set up a non-compliant station - Just on the 5Ghz spectrum you have frequencies where the maximum legal power is 1 watt EIRP, the one next to it is 4 watts, etc... Because it's based on effective transmission power - if you use a dish you actually have to lower the power of the amplifier, etc... So it ends up being on the customer to select their radio, amplifier, and antenna and configure them in a compliant manner.

Cisco switches are extremely configurable in similar ways, I imagine that the argument is that you can configure any one Cisco switch any darn way you please and not be in violation, it's only when combined with other infrastructure bits like interconnects and cable that infringement becomes possible.

Either the patent is a complete joke and fails the obviousness test, or the patent system is a complete joke and fails the rationality test.

Probably still true though.

Re:I don't understand (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#44841509)

it's only when combined with other infrastructure bits like interconnects and cable that infringement becomes possible.

Yeah, because nobody anticipated hooking those up to networking gear.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 10 months ago | (#44841821)

See my comment about amplifiers and antennas. It's not like the makers of radio transmitters don't expect you to hook their product up to them. Which amplifier, at what setting, and which antenna, depending upon location, matters as to whether the end product is FCC legal.

Cisco expects you to hook their components together, which is why they tried to get into the suit. It's HOW you hook their networking gear up that makes for a valid or invalid product, somewhat independent of the configuration of the gear.

Re:I don't understand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840083)

This is one of the problems of patents.

You can infringe a patent by only using a product that uses the patent. Even if cisco has a license to manufacture equipment using a patent, it does not necessarily mean that you have a license for using that cisco equipment, those are licensed separately.

I good example is that Apple is being sued for using radio chips in their iphone. Those radio chips themselves are manufactured by another company under license. But since usage is seperatly licensed they sued apple. In fact the patent holder after they get Apple to license their patent for manufactoring can then turn around and sue the end-user because they also require a license.

Re:I don't understand (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44838557)

well perhaps cisco has licenses to the tech?

but this brings another aspect - how long till users of android phones, iphones and whatever will be getting sued instead of the guy who sold the phone to them.. for many patents are not being utilized unless the phone is connected to some other network equipment.

Re:I don't understand (1)

donaldm (919619) | about 10 months ago | (#44838809)

but this brings another aspect - how long till users of android phones, iphones and whatever will be getting sued instead of the guy who sold the phone to them.. for many patents are not being utilized unless the phone is connected to some other network equipment.

Basically a normal smart phone user would not get sued for implementing a method that is out of the ordinary although how the so called patent holder would find out beggars the question. If just one single user of a smart phone got sued for a so called implementation method that was covered by a patent that would immediately get 10's if not 100's of millions of users against the patent holder for a start and the bad PR is not something that these people want. Of course if a company did infringe then they are fair game.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840337)

Doesn't a patent enforcement have to be against someone actually engaging in business? I didn't think consumers not engaged in business could be sued for it?

Ruling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838357)

Virtual-Notary.Org hereby notes that on
    Date: Friday September 13, 2013 03:16.26 EDT (UTC-0400)

a random drawing in the range [1, 100000], inclusive, based on
a hardware source of true randomness, yielded the following decision.

    Random Value: 83734
---------------
portion with the unbelievers.

12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not
himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many
stripes.

12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes,
shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given,
of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of
him they will ask the more.

12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be
already kindled? 12:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and
how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 12:51 Suppose ye that I
am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
12:52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided,
three against two, and two against three.

12:53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against
the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against
the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the
daughter in law against her mother in law.

Re:Ruling (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838481)

Random Value: 83734

The probability of getting exactly this value is just 1:100000. But if the random number generator was manipulated to predictably give that number, the probability is 1. Since I cannot know whether the random number generator was tampered with, I certainly have to give prior probability of 0.5 to both of the options "it has been tampered with" and "it has not been tampered with". Now Bayes' formula tells me that the probability that your random number generator has been tampered with is 0.5*1/(0.5*1 + 0.5*0.0001) = 0.9999, that is, almost certain. Therefore I conclude your random number generator has been tampered with by the NSA, and you should not rely on that number.

My random number generator is much better. It draws a random number from the interval [1,1] (inclusive), and I can prove that each choice has the maximal randomness possible with this choice.

To demonstrate it, let me draw a random number for you.

The random number is: 1.

Patently Obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838367)

If it's something that's done by hundreds of people who haven't seen the patent, isn't that prima facia evidence that it was obvious?

Re:Patently Obvious (1)

sjames (1099) | about 10 months ago | (#44838743)

In a sane world, surely. But this is U.S. law so sanity need not have any part in it.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838375)

Why can't they do it? If the infringement is in something from cisco, why can't cisco be the one that deals with the lawsuit cause otherwise it just makes thingsmore expensive if every tech inside every component has to be licensed separately.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44838403)

Because Cisco has patents and a fleet of IP attorneys. In other words, the patent holders are looking to sue people that can't fight back.

Re:Why? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 10 months ago | (#44838417)

Because Cisco wasn't the one being sued? Let me put it this way, if somebody sues me because I sold shitty Chinese cars by a single company that company couldn't cover my behind by taking over the case.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838475)

In this case it's actually the opposite: It's them suing the people that BOUGHT YOUR SHITTY CHINESE CARS, and not letting you shield the folks that bought those cars from you, because their patents are covering a delivery-van company instead of delivery-vans specifically.

Re:Why? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 10 months ago | (#44839525)

This is pretty much identical to the "hooking a scanner to a network and sending an email with an attached PDF" infringment.

It works off the fact that Cisco's equipment doesn't infringe but when Cisco's equipment is used with X, Y, Z it creates an infringement of a patented process.

If a patent covers not the hardware but its use (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838401)

it shouldn't be valid.

Re:If a patent covers not the hardware but its use (3, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | about 10 months ago | (#44838473)

If the patent was for using some piece of hardware in a new and inventive way that the original manufacturer hadn't thought of, then maybe it would be valid. But using Cisco networking gear to set up a network in exactly the way described in the manual or training materials doesn't come into that category.

Re:If a patent covers not the hardware but its use (3, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | about 10 months ago | (#44839077)

If the patent was for using some piece of hardware in a new and inventive way that the original manufacturer hadn't thought of, then maybe it would be valid. But using Cisco networking gear to set up a network in exactly the way described in the manual or training materials doesn't come into that category.

Brilliant... new patent

Theory and Method for setting up a router

Claim 1. A method of configuring a router in which a serial port, default IP address, DHCP provided IP address, multicast DNS, dynamically registered DNS, or IPv6 stateless autoconfigured address is used to facilitate gaining initial access to the router.
Claim 2. A method in which the response to a DHCP or BOOTP request is used to discover a file server, such as a FTP or TFTP server, containing initial configuration data or instructions.
Claim 3. A method of configuring a router, in which a broadcast-based discovery protocol is used to discover a IP or MAC address to access an unconfigured router.
Claim 4. A method of configuring an IP-based router in which a non-IP protocol such as Ethernet is used with special purpose software to facilitate configuration of a device.
Claim 5. A method of configuring a router, in which special software is provided to install on a server, to establish communication with unconfigured devices.
Claim 6. A method where a wireless, USB, Serial port, or other dedicated interface is used to configure a router.
Claim 7. A method of configuring a router, in which media containing software or a download link for software is used to install software on a PC, for performing initial configuration of a router.
Claim 8. The method of configuring a router in which a book, manual, poster, card, piece of paper, or other written material accompanying the router is read, disseminated, and then steps from the document are followed.
Claim 9. The above, where steps are taken from digital media distributed with the router instead.
Claim 10. The above, where configuration steps are taken from an internet website whose URL was provided with the router instead.
Claim 11. The above, where configuration steps are taken from an internet website whose URL is the manufacturer of the device.
Claim 12. The above, where configuration steps are taken from an internet website whose location can be discovered using a search engine such as Bing, Yahoo, or Google search for the make, model number, or type of router.
Claim 13. The above, where some steps are skipped in the configuration process.
Claim 14. The above, where some pertinent details are collected from the documentation or website; such as default IP address, default username, default password, administration URL.
Claim 15. The above, where software is downloaded to automatically configure the device, instead of documentation.
Claim 16. The above, where a phone call is placed to a contact or support line provided the manufacturer.
Claim 17. The above, where a phone call is placed to a contact or support line provided by a reseller, retailer, consultant, or other third party contact instead.
Claim 18. The above claims, where an e-mail, IRC Chat, Instant messenger, Skype, VoIP service, Pastebin, or "Blog" is used instead of a telephone.
Claim 19. The above claims, where a written, visual or audio communication on a private or public social networking website such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or Google plus is used instead.
Claim 20. The above claims, where any letters containing configuration instructions or details are sent or received using postal mail.

Re: If a patent covers not the hardware but its us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840151)

Congratulations. You have won the internets. Literally.

The headline is misleading about the actual ruling (5, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | about 10 months ago | (#44838555)

The headline is misleading about the actual ruling; here it is:

"TR Labs’ concession that it is willing to grant Cisco an unqualified covenant not to sue, TR Labs’ concession that it has no basis for asserting direct or indirect infringement claims against Cisco, including the parties’ agreement that Cisco’s products have substantial non-infringing uses, and Cisco’s failure to identify any obligation to indemnify or defend its customers distinguish this action from others in which this Court has found declaratory judgment jurisdiction and support the district court’s finding that it lacked the same. We therefore affirm the district court ruling."
http://www.finnegan.com/files/Publication/810cf458-9bde-4f9b-a98f-d5293cafbaad/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/11d7000f-5c7b-47ae-ad7a-db503720b379/12-1687%208-29-13.pdf [finnegan.com]

So because Cisco has no contractual obligation to indemnify their customers, and TR Labs is willing to give an unqualified covenant not to sue Cisco for direct or indirect infringement by Cisco's customers, and it's in the outside realm of possibility that all customers are using Cisco products in a non-failover configuration (the subject of the patents is failover) because they're stupid and fail to follow best common industry practice, Cisco is not a party to the suits against the customers.

Cisco could have taken this bullet if it had been willing to indemnify their customers via an amended terms and conditions on the Cisco OS software on the devices; it chose not to do so.

Re:The headline is misleading about the actual rul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839197)

I have my doubts on the validity of the patents if the 'device' patented is a network configuration and not an actual pysical invention or a transformative device with an cleary defined input, process and output...

but then I'm not a patent troll, patent examiner or judge...

Re:The headline is misleading about the actual rul (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 10 months ago | (#44840249)

Cisco could have taken this bullet if it had been willing to indemnify their customers via an amended terms and conditions on the Cisco OS software on the devices; it chose not to do so.

That sounds like a great way to become exposed to massive unknown liability.

Re:The headline is misleading about the actual rul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44843485)

This is actually an extremely common thing to do. Most businesses will indemnify their partners and customers such that everybody is allowed (or is forced) to become party to a lawsuit -- it makes everyone play nicely, all the time.

The normal purpose for this though is more of a follow-up to the always included merchantability guarantee. For example, Apple indemnifies their customers against technology and patent infringement, which is why Samsung did not sue millions of iPhone owners directly - Apple was automatically enjoined to provide the defense due to customer-facing indemnification.

FYI -
Randal

Re:The headline is misleading about the actual rul (1)

JWW (79176) | about 10 months ago | (#44840673)

No, that sounds to me like TR Labs knows they could sue Cisco, they're just deciding not to. So from there TR Labs is extrapolating that because they're not going to sue Cisco, Cisco has no right to defend their customers.

Of course Cisco doesn't want to, and shouldn't, accept all liability for their customers, that's just legally really dangerous. But this wrangling by TR Labs is just being done to make sure Cisco is unable to find any way to help their customers.

Suing businesses that just use equipment is horribly wrong and TR Labs knows it. Anyone involved in or running TR Labs is IMHO evil with hearts as black as coal.

At least small businesses being abused by assholes like TR Labs are starting to go to their state legislatures to get this kind of shit stopped by force of law. I would not protest at all states passing laws saying that all executives at any companies that try to pull shit like this should go directly to jail.

So does anybody... (2)

unitron (5733) | about 10 months ago | (#44838583)

...have an idea just what this TR Labs outfit has a patent or patents on that are the ones supposedly being infringed?

It's got to be something a little less generic than "networking computers together with Cisco gear", doesn't it?

Because so far it's sounding like suing people who own automobiles because somehow you got a patent on the idea of using them to drive somewhere.

Re:So does anybody... (4, Insightful)

grahamwest (30174) | about 10 months ago | (#44838711)

The patents are about automatic failover when network nodes or spans break. The earlier patents are about having spare nodes and spans and deciding which to use when some part of the network fails (eg. having a node which broadcasts "who can help?" and available nodes broadcast back "i can help!" and a single node decides which available node to use). The later patents are about turning on and off routes between nodes to reconfigure the network, usually into some sort of mesh network.

I'm not a network engineer so it's hard for me to judge, but the earlier patents seem trivial to me especially since they're from the late 1990s. The latter patents might have some merit - the idea of changing the network to a mesh is interesting, but my gut feeling is they're mostly solutions that any decent engineer would come up with after a bit of head scratching.

Re:So does anybody... (3)

zbaron (649094) | about 10 months ago | (#44838797)

Compare Spanning Tree Protocol [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So does anybody... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 10 months ago | (#44841185)

And that says "The first spanning tree protocol was invented in 1985" which predates the earliest patent, therefore is prior art and invalidates the entire lawsuit. Why is this still in court?

Re:So does anybody... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 10 months ago | (#44841273)

And that says "The first spanning tree protocol was invented in 1985" which predates the earliest patent, therefore is prior art and invalidates the entire lawsuit. Why is this still in court?

Does the spanning tree protocol include each and every element in the patent claims? If you can literally make a table with each line of the claim on one side and a corresponding quote from the spanning tree protocol documentation on the other side, then it does invalidate the patent. However, if there's anything missing, then while it's relevant prior art, it's not anticipatory prior art.

Re:So does anybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839249)

So "asshole" patents "lights blinking from red to blue to red to red to blue". "Company" makes a device that has multiple lights: red, blue, green and yellow. Depending on what's happening on the device, each light will blink to alert the user that $THING just happened. If "customer" sets the device up, per instructions from "company", and results in the lights blinking in the order: "green, green, yellow, red, blue, red, red, blue, blue, yellow, red, red", then "customer" gets sued.

Am I correct?

Has anyone patented 'patent-trolling' yet?

Re:So does anybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840085)

Has anyone patented 'patent-trolling' yet?

Tried to, got smacked down with so much prior art that I got 5 college credits (useable as a history class) just reading the summaries.

Re:So does anybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840745)

Not quite. It's more like people getting sued for using the spare tire, and the judge denying the manufacturer the ability to defend because the manufacturer isn't obligated to change the tire for you when you get a flat.

Re:So does anybody... (1)

unitron (5733) | about 10 months ago | (#44841729)

Your car analogy is better than mine was.

There must be a good car analogy of how unfair that is.

Software Patents... Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838631)

In this particular instance, the Cisco customers being sued are behemoth telcos such as AT&T, CenturyLink, etc. We can collectively sigh that they have their own law resources to fight or negotiate or do whatever and continue on with their business.

Of course, we are worried for the time when a small business or individual is sued and forced into a settlement for this nonsense. I'm not sure what to do. The press does cover software patents and there appears to be some awareness that patent trolls are parasites, software patents stifle innovation, the USPTO is unqualified to award software patents, and that the patents, themselves, are intentionally vague and obvious. I've had enough and am ready to help. If you know of an organization whose goal is to end software patents in the US, let me know. Or any other ways an individual like myself can help for that matter.

You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44838689)

Win or lose.... 'some of ciscos largest customers' will be passing that cost onto the rest of us.. The consumer.

We lose.

And that's odd about this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44839013)

Because when corporate taxes being increased is totted up, it's always put this way as well: "They'll just pass the cost on to us!".

But if that cost is passed on to you, you will need higher pay (not merely want, NEED). Therefore those costs will be passed on to your employer.

Who will pass those costs on to you again. Who will require more pay. And that costs your employer...

Can you see now how this "But they'll just pass the costs on to us!" is complete and utter bullshit evasion?

So if the patents are valid and the research done requires repayment, if this company is forbidden from suing US companies, that company will have to pass on the losses to you, the consumer.

You lose.

So if you're losing either way, what's the difference?

Re:And that's odd about this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44841345)

You had me right upto 'you will need higher pay'.

Maybe so. But you won't be getting it.
Or havent you been paying attention to how flat wages have been for the last 30 years. While inflation has done it's usual thing and... inflated...

Al Gore (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#44840375)

It sounds like TR has patented something that is a basic property of the Internet (routing protocols) and its predecessor, the ARPAnet. So doesn't Al Gore hold the patent rights to all this stuff?

Seriously, one of the design principles of IP routing is that it 'routes around damage' (or censorship). So what novel innovation has TR contributed to this?

Re:Al Gore (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#44841429)

You have to wonder if it goes back even further than that. Do these techniques predate computer networks entirely? Were they being used for similar reasons in the phone networks that predated all of the computer networks?

Is this another example of adding "use a computer" to some old well established (even patented) method?

DEC's DDCMP (DECnet Phase 4) prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44840589)

Wouldn't the DECnet protocol (where each node maintained routing tables) be prior art? If a link went down, it would analyze the available links it had, hops to each node in the network, and compute a new 'next hop' to send packets to continue network connectivity. That was from the late 1970's.

Plaintiffs (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 10 months ago | (#44840965)

So who are they suing?

AT&T, CenturyLink Inc., Qwest Communications Company LLC, Qwest Corp., Windstream Corp., Sprint, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., TW Telecom Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

Something tells me they have plenty of their own high priced attorneys for this. I'm guessing TR Labs figures they will find it cheaper to settle.

This is one of those who do I hate least I'll root for them scenarios...

Re:Plaintiffs (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#44841125)

It's probably that the defendants, not being Cisco, will lack the detailed knowledge of how Cisco's products work internally to show that the products don't infringe the patents, and won't have the in-depth knowledge of the fields involved to uncover prior art or successfully demonstrate obviousness. If I were the defendants, I'd be moving to have the suits dismissed on the grounds that Cisco made the equipment and had a license for the patents and the defendants are merely using Cisco's equipment without adding anything to it, or alternatively if plaintiff claims Cisco didn't have a license to have Cisco joined as a co-defendant since plaintiff is accusing them of infringing on the patents.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...