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Can Lotus Notes R3 Prior Art Save The Browser?

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the ozzie-wan-kenobi-you're-my-only-hope dept.

Patents 522

theodp writes "Apparently stunned by the implications of Eolas vs Microsoft, Ray Ozzie of Lotus Notes and Groove fame offers up Notes R3 as prior art for the notorious Eolas patent. To bolster his argument, Ozzie used the Notes R3 feature set to recreate a scenario close to what was described in the patent. After the hard part of putting together a Notes R3 computing environment that included MS-DOS 6.22, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and a circa-1993 copy of Excel 5.0 obtained from eBay, it only took Ozzie about 15 minutes to knock out a demo without any programming using the out-of-the-box UI of Notes and Excel."

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wow (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953263)

That's cool.

comp.sys.amiga.games (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953358)

is dying. all people do in thdre is troll about piracy. Can some amiga people out there, start posting relevant stuff in there, and help drown out the trolls?

Re:comp.sys.amiga.games (0, Offtopic)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953454)

Ahh.. comp.sys.amiga.games..

Not that I ever read it, but the comp.sys.amiga hierarchy brings back some nice memories.

Why on earth are you brining it up here, and in this context? Surely it's off topic?

Re:wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953365)

Ha! Somebody wasted a mod point modding that down. You guys amuse me.

ASSWIPES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953440)

How can a first post be redundant???

You're all fucking idiots.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953264)

I love the first post of topic they rule. In russia, lotus notes you!.

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953380)

In Soviet Russia...

Get it right douchetard.

did i... (-1, Troll)

gummijoh (516218) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953266)

did i hear someone say first post?

Nuts (4, Interesting)

malus (6786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953267)

I was really hoping this suit would make for a better IE.

I agree (5, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953345)

People are going to mod you (and probably me) down as being flamebait, but I was surprised at the outrage surrounding this lawsuit.

Plugins have made browsers worse, rather than better. Some sites are unusable WITHOUT having Flash. That's not the way we should be going. Accessibility, backwards compatability, and speed, are all important issues. Demanding people use Flash doesn't help with that. Slashdot recently linked to a hardware site that used Flash for its benchmark graphs.. no animation there, just blatantly unnecessary use of Flash.

Plugins encourage people to just throw plugins into their old crappy non-standards compliant browser rather than get a new one. There are people using Netscape 4 with Flash who are still perfectly happy.. they're like the elderly drivers in their 30 year old 'danger on the road' Chevys.

Plugins are like offering 'plugin upgrades' for cars. When your car gets slow, plug in a 'turbo' upgrade.. sure, it makes the car fast again, but your engine was busted up anyway, and you should just get a new one.

Without plugins we can rely on more integral browser support for proper standards like SVG, CSS, and the DOM.

You might argue that Flash is an open standard, but it's not. Macromedia updates it at such a fast pace that new features and methods are thrown in every few months. And, worse, Macromedia's Flash plugins and player take over 99.9% of the Flash playing marketplace.. meaning you're forced to follow their standard.

Let's kill all these plugins, and have support for open standards within the browser. If SVG, DOM, and CSS2 were implemented fully and perfectly, we wouldn't need proprietary formats like Flash at all, and accessibility would be improved.

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

pyite (140350) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953378)

On my x86 machines, I choose not to install Flash at all. However, on my non-standard machine (PPC Linux), I don't even have a choice whether or not I'd like to install it. I can only place some fault on Macromedia even though I would consider Flash to be their worst product. Instead, I fault stupid web designers who are screwing over their clients by alienating potential customers.

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953423)

And how are they going to be implemented, pray tell? As plugins, perhaps?

Whoops.

Re:I agree (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953437)

Let's kill all these plugins, and have support for open standards within the browser

Unless your name is "Bill Gates", the chances of
"us" doing this is about zero. The "other" browsers have virtually no impact any more. Game over. Whatever "standards" that a 3rd party came up with are completely irrelevant. I've argued that they've been irrelevant for several years now, in fact. Whatever IE does is the de-facto standard, no matter what the /. zealots think. You might as well say, "Let's change the Earth's gravity". Sorry dude, it ain't gonna happen.

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953447)

Plugins, like just about every other technology, has just as many (if not more) good uses, as bad.

For instance, you could create a plugin for IE that fully supports PNG, or MNG. It's absolutely ridiculous that every single function of a browser should have to be statically compiled into it.

Sure, flash is completely evil, and I wouldn't miss java one bit, but that doesn't mean plugins are all bad, and it certainly doesn't mean the very idea of plugins should be outlawed.

Besides, make plugins illegial, and you'll only see Flash become a built-in browser feature, instead of a plugin.

Re:I agree (1, Insightful)

antis0c (133550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953455)

While we're at it lets just restrict all personal freedoms. Down with choice! Everyone must follow the standard, Zeig Heil!

Re:Nuts (4, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953363)

I was really hoping this suit would make for a better IE.


How? The suit said that a browser that allowed you to open a page that needed a helper program to render/show content was not possible without licensing the patent. That means any plugins would be not allowed. Ok, that stops a couple of security holes, at least somewhat, but it means Java, Flash, QuickTime, etc. are no longer available.

MS could do two things once they accept the patent as valid: they could strip out all possibility of plugins for IE, or they could license the patent. As a quick guess, I'd say the latter would be easier. (And would put projects such as Mozilla is a bind, since they are not likely to be able to raise the money to pay for a license.)

(Quick conspirisary theory: If you assume MS could have come up with prior art, they might 'agree' to loose, if it meant they would have 'minor' license fees but there would be no other licenses, thereby driving out all their competition. Slightly over-paranoid, but it is MS...)

Re:Nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953488)

You actually think a patent lawsuit will improve the quality of products? Just wait until the Mozilla team is sued.

Meh. (0, Flamebait)

dosius (230542) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953268)

I'd take anything that would serve as prior art. Software patents are teh sux and they have to go. FP?

-uso.

Re:Meh. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953284)

You fail it. Now kindly fuck off and die. Thank you.

Hmmmm, this could be good for microsoft. (1, Interesting)

TekReggard (552826) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953270)

This could be good for Microsoft, which in some ways is a bummer. But if Eolas was intending to carry over this suit to other browsers, than it could be good for everyone. Although in the end I was still hoping to see Microsoft crash and burn for something.

Re:Hmmmm, this could be good for microsoft. (4, Insightful)

stemcell (636823) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953289)

microsoft wouldn't crash and burn for this, they've got plenty cash to buy top lawyers to defend them.

We should be grateful that this protects other browsers - because that's who Eolas will be after next.

Stemmo

Re:Hmmmm, this could be good for microsoft. (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953322)

But if Eolas was intending to carry over this suit to other browsers, than it could be good for everyone. Although in the end I was still hoping to see Microsoft crash and burn for something.

I think it's the InterTrust [com.com] suit you want to be hoping for in that case.. I don't think Linux is vunerable to patents on DRM technology.

Re:Hmmmm, this could be good for microsoft. (2, Insightful)

frission (676318) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953379)

I actually don't think it would matter if the suit followed to other browsers...as you well know, a lot of the way companies work (that make plug-ins, or any other for that matter) would make sure that the new version of the plug-in would work in IE FIRST, and then maybe if they had time, they'd make it work for everyone else. So, in the end, the other browsers would probably have to change the way they accept plug-ins as well anyway, so that it'd be easier for plugin-makers to port it.

GNAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953275)

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Microsoft... (-1, Troll)

some1somewhere (642060) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953276)

Hum... how much did Microsoft pay to have this "discovered"?

No... not saying that Microsoft did this for sure, but did Microsoft offer a "bounty" for coming up with this? They should you know... this guy just saved Microsoft many many millions of dollars...

Re:Microsoft... (3, Insightful)

rdean400 (322321) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953381)

I don't think this is the right thing to be attacking Microsoft for.

Ray Ozzie's a bright man. He might be a bit too much into bed with Microsoft for my tastes, but he can see how Eolas getting its way here is a B-A-D thing. It'd be like someone holding a patent on HTML.

Ozzie Already Had His Microsoft Money (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953414)

Lots of it [com.com] in fact, from Microsoft's minority stake in Groove. With his old-school geek roots [thinkofit.com] , it's probably just the principle of the thing that's motivating him here.

Interesting... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953279)

But does it run linux?

w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953280)

w00t

Ray's trolling for a payoff from Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953281)

Not that I wouldn't do the same thing given the dollar amount involved...

Don't do it oz man (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953283)


A thousand or so of these half million dollar lawsuits are all that is needed to take down such a large corporation.

Given current trends, I wonder how unlikely this is...

Like the apes say, "oh shit, spaceballs, there goes the planet"

Re:Don't do it oz man (3, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953295)

Yes, because no matter how ridiculous the lawsuit is, if it's against someone you don't like, it's perfectly fine!

-- Dr. Eldarion --

Re:Don't do it oz man (2, Funny)

Cylix (55374) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953405)

I like your thinking...

You are most definately not new here.

Re:Don't do it oz man (1)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953418)

The result justify the mean?

Re:Don't do it oz man (0, Redundant)

naasking (94116) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953501)

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant
Then they came for me -- and by that time no one was left to speak up."
~ Pastor Martin Niemolle ~

You got the magnitudes wrong (4, Interesting)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953298)

It's a half BILLION dollar lawsuit.

$500M, not $500k.

Specifically, 521 million dollars.

Something tells me Eolas broke out the champagne after that verdict...

Re:You got the magnitudes wrong (5, Funny)

SILIZIUMM (241333) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953344)

yeah but why billions when we can have... millions ?

Re:You got the magnitudes wrong (0, Offtopic)

Cylix (55374) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953376)

You actually took the time to read the article?

You must be new here.

Re:Don't do it oz man (2, Insightful)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953310)

As much as I may not like Microsoft I have more of a problem with software patents. Do you think people looking to make a buck would stop at them? If you had thousands of cases like this going on it would be the end of the software industry.

Drat that Eolas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953287)

There always was something about Hercules' sidekick that rubbed me the wrong way.

Such a problem (4, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953299)

For you who hate Microsoft and hate the abuse of patents, do you know which side to take?


Keep in mind, that if Microsoft is screwed over with abuse of a patent, you might be next.


Same thing with the abuse of any right or law. Keep in mind when the law is abused or a right trampled on, even for a good cause, the next time it may not be a good cause or it could be you that is being abused.

Re:Such a problem (4, Insightful)

mukund (163654) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953420)

This is a very good argument.

I don't like the way they do their business.

Microsoft may have done a lot of bad things, but this patent applies to every browser out there. They are fighting, trying to find a way. It is a better idea to support this fight.

Re:Such a problem (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953456)

what's with this sidetaking?

is it really important to take sides on something you don't really have any part in?

the classical "with us or against us" argument? or is slashdot just a huge mtv yes/no sms text show??

i'm not going to take any sides, ms certainly isn't doing it for freedom of innovation and neither is the other party. and certainly my sidetaking isn't going to make a difference in this(and if it did, wtf, did i just become a judge in court of law)!

i can hope though that ms gets smacked hard and after that the patent is deemed ineffective in any other case.

Sad (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953300)

"it only took Ozzie about 15 minutes to knock out a demo without any programming using the out-of-the-box UI of Notes and Excel"

He really needs to get laid.

Re:Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953356)

"it only took Ozzie about 15 minutes to knock out a demo without any programming using the out-of-the-box UI of Notes and Excel"

He really needs to get laid.


Hang on a minute. Are you saying that getting laid reduces your intelligence?

Re:Sad (4, Funny)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953386)

No no. That was getting married.

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/11/183423 5&mode=thread&tid=99 [slashdot.org]

Re:Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953499)

before I clicked that link, I saw that you were linking to a /. story and this is what I was expecting to see

http://slashdot.org/articles/02/02/14/143254.shtml ?tid=166 [slashdot.org]


what's really sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953495)

...is that this kind of poor joke inevitably gets modded up.

Trial is over (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953304)

Only in a limited number of circumstances would a case be re-opened to present newly discovered evidence. The fact finding stage of this case is over. I doubt this information will be of any use now.

Re:Trial is over (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953341)

Appeals?

Re:Trial is over (4, Informative)

rdean400 (322321) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953351)

And this should be one of those circumstances. If newly discovered evidence clearly undermines the core of the plaintiff's case, then it must be reconsidered.

Re:Trial is over (5, Informative)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953382)

Only in a limited number of circumstances would a case be re-opened to present newly discovered evidence. The fact finding stage of this case is over. I doubt this information will be of any use now.

You clearly forgot the IANAL part. This is a civil case, Microsoft can easily appeal. This isn't a criminal murder case...

Re:Trial is over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953399)

This is a civil case, Microsoft can easily appeal. This isn't a criminal murder case...

Huh? In a murder case you would be able to appeal on the basis of new evidence. In a civil case that isn't usually the case, don't know about patent cases in particular though.

Re:Trial is over (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953407)

What it would definitely help is if there were suits filed against Mozilla or Opera or other browesers.

Re:Trial is over (3, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953470)

I think if someone else challenges the patent and it is found to be invalid, then MS could get let off the hook. It wouldn't make any sense to say that the patent was valid but suddenly became invalid, and people would still have to pay if they lost a case earlier.

Just a guess.

This will expose the danger of software patents... (4, Insightful)

pirhana (577758) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953305)

One thing good about this entire issue of Eola patent is that it is likely to expose the danger of software patents and more people would become aware of it. Since microsoft, not any free software project is the victim, even PHBs would find it easy to understand

Frivolous McDonald's lawsuit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953308)

The Eolas vs everyone lawsuit is 100% frivolous. It is almost as bad, but less humorous, as the "I spilled hot coffee on my lap. Time to go sue McDonald's!" frivolous lawsuit of a few years ago.

Re:Frivolous McDonald's lawsuit WASN'T (3, Informative)

Phong (38038) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953415)

I had a similar initial reaction to the hot-coffee suit (especially given the media coverage), but when I looked deeper, I discovered that there was more to the case than someone winning a "frivolous lawsuit". Summary: the coffee wasn't just hot (like we'd make it at home) it was so scalding hot that it caused 3rd degree burns. McDonalds knew that people had suffered 3rd degree burns before, and had refused to do anything about it (and yes, they required their restaurants to maintain the coffee at 185 degrees F). Also, the lady involved attempted to settle the case for a very reasonable sum (given the hospitalization and skin grafting), but McDonalds said no.

For a good summary of the case, check out this page [lectlaw.com] . Read the whole thing for a good summary of all the mitigating facts that make this a totally non-frivolous lawsuit.

Re:Frivolous McDonald's lawsuit (0, Offtopic)

zabieru (622547) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953448)

While I agree with your point, in fact the woman in question needed skin grafts, so bad were her burns. In addition, that McDonalds had been warned several times about the excessive temperatures of their coffee (you can get more out of the beans that way, but it's not safe to serve without allowing it to cool first).

Its all BS anyway. (2, Insightful)

litewoheat (179018) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953311)

There's prior art for a lot of what's been awarded a software patent. Besides that, a patent should only be awarded for a process or design that is non-obvious. The test for that is supposed to be a committee of highly credentialed people in the field to agree that its non-obvious. Few software "inventions" are non-obvious. The committee is filled with DeVry dropouts who donated enough to a campaign or two to get a committee seat. Hence the utterly stupid patents that have been awarded.

Re:Its all BS anyway. - Patent HOWTO :) (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953493)

Besides that, a patent should only be awarded for a process or design that is non-obvious. The test for that is supposed to be a committee of highly credentialed people in the field to agree that its non-obvious.

Maybe one could even demonstrate that an algorithm is obvious:
One could submit to a group of programmers the problem that a proposed patent is going to solve.
- If they can outline or even implement the very same solution to the problem, the patent is rejected because it's obvious.
- If they come up with a different solution, the patent can be assigned but the equivalent solution becomes unpatentable, because it's obvious. So if the patented solution has some peculiarities, the inventor can make the deserved money out of it, without posing a great danger, there is a free alternative.
- If they can't come up with a solution, the problem can be submitted to the committee of "gurus" (this way they are employed only when really needed): no solution, the patent is awarded.

Legal battles, and taking the high road (1, Insightful)

snkmoorthy (665423) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953315)

Well, what now, MS can try and invalidate the patent if this "discovery" is upheld in court, will that change MS for the better?. So morally what should we do?

1. The patent is outrageous, and demonstrate with a "GO MICROSOFT"

or should we wait until MS gives us a hint by replacing its index page with "in protest against software patents"?

I hope (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953320)

He has valid licenses for DOS 6.22, Windows 3.11 and Excel! Otherwise, he could be in some trouble with Microsoft.

No programming but Ray did do something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953321)

And it's that stupid little something in configuring Notes and Excel that they will argue IS the patent. It does not matter how easy it was.

The patent system must be abolished.
How can you have a system of law whereby both the patent clerks AND the judges are complete morons in their lack of ability to see obvious inventions.

The lawyers are the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953335)

"The patent system must be abolished"

If lawyers did not file frivolous lawsuits over violations of these "spoon and fork" type of patents, there would be no problem, would there?

Re:The lawyers are the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953436)

If lawyers did not file frivolous lawsuits over violations of these "spoon and fork" type of patents, there would be no problem, would there?

I see what you're saying. As an alternative to abolishing the patent system we could just change human nature in such a way that people don't try to abuse the system. It's just insane enough to work... no, scratch that, actually it's just insane.

not very good "prior art" (1, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953326)

I don't think a court would consider this a very good example of prior art. Consider that most any software patent would have been implementable in your favorite programming language ten years ago, if you'd thought of it. Whether the building blocks were lines of low-level code or statements in Notes is irrelevant. Now, if a copy of a Notes app that used that particular technique way back when could be found, it'd be a different story.

I strongly dislike software patents (I dislike patents, period), but that's no excuse to be sloppy in attacking one.

Re:not very good "prior art" (5, Informative)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953367)

You don't understand the issue, do you? I guess the people who modded you up don't either.

The whole patent was based around the idea of plugins. His methodology was to build a plugin, exactly as described in the patent, that fits into Notes architecture. He didn't modify the Notes base-code at all. This is perfectly legitimate.

Re:not very good "prior art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953439)

You are the one who does not understand the issue - Ray's tinkering and configuring basically amounted to PROGRAMMING! What is needed is an application already written for Notes pre 1993 that exhibits this plugin behavior.

Re:not very good "prior art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953483)

It does. Ray says "we worked with Microsoft to develop the method to contain Excel in Notes".

RTFA...

Did he build his "plug in" *before* the patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953459)

Umm, no.

It doesn't matter that he could have.

Re:not very good "prior art" (3, Insightful)

blcknight (705826) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953368)

Did you read the article? And the patent in question? We're not talking about the potential to implement something, but something that was used quite often. And we're not talking about building blocks, low-level code, or "statements". Maybe you should go back and read the article over again.

okay, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953481)

If this technique was indeed used quite often in pre-1993 Lotus Notes - show us an actual real-life commercial Notes application created before 1993 that is actually doing what is described in the patent! Not that it could be done, but that it was done. That's the point.

Re:not very good "prior art" (4, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953404)

What? He did exactly what the patent claimed, with a stock version of Notes using the features the way they were advertised. He didn't do any programming here, unless you call writing HTML (or its equivalent in Notes) programming. If you do, then the patent has *never* been implemented without the user doing programming.

He did the equivalent of writing a web page that required a plug in and showing that it worked. You would have to do the same with IE to prove it infringed the patent.

Re:not very good "prior art" (4, Informative)

qtp (461286) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953435)

if a copy of a Notes app that used that particular technique way back when could be found, it'd be a different story.

That is exactly what he did:
After the hard part of putting together a Notes R3 computing environment that included MS-DOS 6.22, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and a circa-1993 copy of Excel 5.0 obtained from eBay, it only took Ozzie about 15 minutes to knock out a demo without any programming using the out-of-the-box UI of Notes and Excel.


and from Mr. Ozzie's article:
First, let me describe the environment that we recreated. Since the filing date on the patent is October 17, 1994, I sought to obtain software that was clearly shipping to end-users before that date. I set about to assemble the following software to assist in the demonstration: Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22, Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Microsoft Excel 5.0, and Lotus Notes 3.0. In my personal archives, I happened to be in possession of DOS, Windows, and a freshly shrink-wrapped copy of Notes. I selected Microsoft Excel 5 because information on the Web indicated that it shipped 12/14/93, and I easily obtained a shrink-wrapped copy via eBay in a matter of days.


I first used VMware Workstation 4 to create a virtual machine environment roughly comparable to that of the era. Then, I installed MS-DOS 6.22 within that virtual machine, as well as Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Finally, I installed Excel 5.0 and Notes 3.0. I chose WFW because I felt it to be very important to create a configuration that could be used as a "client/server" network environment between multiple virtual machines. As such, I installed both the Notes 3.0 client and server programs, and set about to creating the demonstration herein.


I strongly dislike software patents (I dislike patents, period), but that's no excuse to be sloppy in attacking one.

I too dislike sloppy refutation of unfair claims, although I don't believe in the "baby out w/bathwater" school of dealing with the current patent crisis (it is a crisis), and as long as I'm dealing in cliche's today, I also think that one should follow one's own advice.

Re:not very good "prior art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953450)

I also think that one should follow one's own advice.

But if my own advice was not to follow your advice, would you advise me to follow it or not?

Commercial App part Re:not very good "prior art" (1)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953443)

One of the components of patenting something is that it should have a commercially valuable application or manifestation.

If Lotus had the capability to do this, but had no commercial app or app that could be used commercially, then it just existed as a theoretical possibility. The prior art doesn't nullify the patent, but the classification of the patent changes from something equivalent of new-method to something equivalent of new-use. But, the thing is still patentable.

Now, if an invento sees that theoretical possibility, and identifies it with a commercially valuable functionality, that manifestation of method or machine is patentable. I believe it should be, and believe that the Patent Office follows that guideline too.

So,if my understanding of the method and use patents is not flawed, Ozzie's work, if it holds up, merely says the concept is unpatentable under one classification - but, it can still be patented under another classification.

Re:Commercial App part Re:not very good "prior art (1)

real bio (97421) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953502)

I just didn't get the "commercially valuable" part. It was (and still is) an important part of Notes. We the consultants used embedding Excel into Notes in many projects for our customers.

Good news, good thinking (5, Insightful)

AceMarkE (154966) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953337)

I'll be the first to admit that I don't like a lot of what Microsoft does and that I have issues with a lot of their software, particularly Internet Explorer. With that said... this is very much a good thing.

Eolas could easily proceed to sue the Mozilla Foundation, Opera, and anyone else who writes a browser with plugin technologies. That would be devastating for developers, users, and web designers. The News.com article [com.com] linked in one of the previous articles on this topic points out that not only would the browser have to be revised, but far too many web pages as well.

Would I like to see Microsoft set back a bit, or at least forced to mess with IE some? Yeah. But this is a case that would affect all of us negatively, not just Microsoft. We owe Ray Ozzie some thanks for bringing this to light.

Mark Erikson

Perhaps a "Prior Art" effort/community is needed.. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953343)

I'm beginning to wonder..... perhaps a community "Prior Art" effort, somewhat comparable to the open source community, is needed.

Identify, research and debunk such absurd/greedy patents (and perhaps eventually much or all of the software patents nonsense) so as to get the patents withdrawn/cancelled.... and/or reassigned to some "open source" holder.

Might eventually be able to deconstruct much of the current software patent farce.

Or perhaps the "open source" community could get some showstopper patents of its own, to use as leverage against overreaching/absurdist patent holders holders to. Perhaps even get other altruistic patent holders to donate their patents to a pool of such patents held by an "open source" protector, so as to grow them and increase the leverage.

Yeeeehaaaw! (0, Redundant)

His name cannot be s (16831) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953348)

This is most excellent news.

Hey, as much as MS is a pain in the ass, they also tend to be a lightning rod for this sort of crap.

They at least have the ability to deflect some of the wrath of companies like eolas (which is not some small downtrodden either-- this is a company which specializes in buying patents from losers, and then using them to sue the shit out of companies.)

Microsoft needs to beat this, otherwise there may be hell to pay all over.

Damn Fine Job.

screw that activex crap (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953353)

Give me XML and the SSL protocol and screw the rest. Cookies, too! They just create privacy and security hazards anyway. Like I need Flash? I don't even have it installed and it's an annoyance that some sites don't have HTML alternatives or a dumb Flash menubar that could easily be HTML with, if truly necessary, a javascript drop down.

Java applets, too, need not be in web pages and I'd live fine tomorrow if I had to download them and run them as normal applications. Any worthwhile ones are too big to run in a browser anyway.

I wish dillo had better rendering otherwise I'd abandon Mozilla, much less IE which I have no reason to use now that I can copy over Firebird on foreign Win machines and use without installation.

Woo! Yea! (0)

qtp (461286) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953354)

If this were b3ta [b3ta.com] , Ray Ozzie and bro' jack would be getting plenty of "Woo! Yea!" right now.

A pantent such as this one could kill such a site (or at least make it seriously less fun)

This may help OSS (3, Insightful)

anomaly (15035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953360)

Even though the fact-finding portion of the case is over, these facts may be admissible in a new case when Eolas goes after the next guy.

As a result, MS may still have to pay the $500M, but Mozilla et al may be spared from similar judgement. Sadly this could go to court and could be expensive if Eolas wants to pursue it with others... has anyone from the OSS browser community contacted Eolas? As others have suggested, they might be amenable to licensing it to that community and then a court proceeding might be avoidable altogether.

PS - God loves you and longs for relationship with you. If you have questions about this, please email me at tom_cooper@bigfoot.com

ms better win (1)

SteveXE (641833) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953373)

If ms doesnt win we will not only have to recode tons of webpages, but we will have be shelling external viewers for every form of media on a website.

Hope it works (5, Insightful)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953374)

While I have no love for Microsoft, this will be a good thing if it results in the defeat of this patent suit.

Software patents have the potential for destroying the software industry.

In 1972, the Supreme Court of the US ruled that you couldn't patent an Algorithm, it had to be a "process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter." But then in 1981, they sort of reversed themselves to allow patent protection for algorithms that were part of a patented process.

I don't know who first came up with, say, binary tree data structures or A* tree search algorithms. I don't know who first came up with code for virtual memory, case-insensitive string comparisons, hierarchical filesystems, or text string templating. But say that in each of these cases, the inventor had patented whatever application they had, and the patents were to include the algorithms... where would computers be today?

Software patents could push the price of everyday software, even Open Source software, to astronomical levels. You think the SCO situation is bad? Imagine if all those ancient IBM, Burroughs, DEC, Sperry, NTT, AT&T, etc, patents got dug up and enforced. Try writing software without using some of the algorithms that were developed from the 1930s and on. But, on the other hand, imagine if those companies (or the companies who now own the rights to their work) were to use all that prior art to clobber companies like SCO or Eolas who want to scorch, burn, and pillage.

StdDisclaimer: I am not a patent attorney, lawyer, or legal professional. These are opinions and facts as I understand them.

expiration (4, Informative)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953461)

The only good thing about such patents is that they expire in 20 years, and you only have 1 year after you publish the idea to apply for a patent. So ancient stuff is fortunately rulled out.

software patents == teh gay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953394)

It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until wecopied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

Considering the exclusive right to invention as given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society, I know well the difficulty of drawing a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not. As a member of the patent board for several years, while the law authorized a board to grant or refuse patents, I saw with what slow progress a system of general rules could be matured. Some, however, were established by that board. One of these was, that a machine of which we were possessed, might be applied by every man to any use of which it is susceptible, and that this right ought not to be taken from him and given to a monopolist, because the first perhaps had occasion so to apply it. Thus a screw for crushing plaster might be employed for crushing corn-cobs. And a chain-pump for raising water might be used for raising wheat: this being merely a change of application. Another rule was that a change of material should not give title to a patent. As the making a ploughshare of cast rather than of wrought iron; a comb of iron instead of horn or of ivory, or the connecting buckets by a band of leather rather than of hemp or iron. A third was that a mere change of form should give no right to a patent, as a high-quartered shoe instead of a low one; a round hat instead of a three-square; or a square bucket instead of a round one. But for this rule, all the changes of fashion in dress would have been under the tax of patentees. These were among the rules which the uniform decisions of the board had already established, and under each of them Mr. Evans' patent would have been refused. [] But there were still abundance of cases which could not be brought under rule, until they should have presented themselves under all their aspects; and these investigations occupying more time of the members of the board than they could spare from higher duties, the whole was turned over to the judiciary, to be matured into a system, under which every one might know when his actions were safe and lawful.

Instead of refusing a patent in the first instance, as the board was authorized to do, the patent now issues of course, subject to be declared void on such principles as should be established by the courts of law. This business, however, is but little analogous to their course of reading, since we might in vain turn over all the lubberly volumes of the law to find a single ray which would lighten the path of the mechanic or the mathematician. It is more within the information of a board of academical professors, and a previous refusal of patent would better guard our citizens against harrassment by law-suits. But England had given it to her judges, and the usual predominancy of her examples carried it to ours.

From Ebay!?! (5, Funny)

christophe (36267) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953397)

>copy of Excel 5.0 obtained from eBay,

Does that mean that Microsoft did refuse to send any free copy of an obsolete software to anybody who may spare them half a billion dollars?!

Great! Now... (4, Interesting)

Sebby (238625) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953398)

Now can we sue the patent office for not having done its work in the first place, causing all this extra work by other parties?

Eolas is wrong - and the bad guy - no matter what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953412)

Eolas is just another dog and pony show - fly by night - interloper - with a scumbag lawyer who quickly patents commonsense public domain ideas and then extorts money.

Despite the fact that Microsoft is the first victim - keep in mind - Microsoft - on terms of Patents and Shit - is better than most.

Eolas claim to a patent on hyperlinks is absurd. The concept is at least 100 years old, and thank God that this developer is showing how ridiculous the original claim is.

Eolas should be ripped to the ground. This bullshit about "research" companies is just that.

If you engage in research, but build nothing - YOU HAVE NOTHING. Just because you can patent it, doesn't mean shit in the court of my sniper rifle.

I need some mod points, too... (2, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953421)

I hate MS, but hopefully this thing can be beat. (Did I sum up the first 50 posts properly?)

Any Windowing system is prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953425)

Consider the windowing GUI desktop from your favorite OS a hyperlinked document. Each icon represents an embedded link which, when clicked, runs an embedded control. So Windows 2.0 or the first Mac is prior art.

If that is not clear enough just use any mid-eighties Macintosh Hypercard application that has some animation activate via a different script when the mouse passes over different areas.

See now if he was smart... (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953434)

He woulda sold that to Microsoft (or let MS pay up and sold it to any other party he wanted to side with in the near-future).

Note capitalism eating capitalism.

How long to pull this. . . (1)

cra (172225) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953438)

Just how far should this be pulled? I wonder if I will ever again be able to drive any make of car with a radio, CD player, handsfree for my cell phone and a small refridgerator hooked to the lighter output in the back. Or will one make claim the right to such "plug ins"? Sheesh. . .

Freudian slip? (3, Funny)

un4given (114183) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953451)

From the article:

These documents, applications and solutions are hosed on a server analogous to today's "Web application servers".

That's a true assessment of Lotus Notes if I ever saw one.

Whats so hard about it? (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953453)

After the hard part of putting together a Notes R3 computing environment that included MS-DOS 6.22, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and a circa-1993 copy of Excel 5.0 obtained from eBay...

Heh.. I got all that on the shelf over the 'puter nicely sorted and in colourcoded diskette-boxes (DOS and WIN in the green one, apps in the red, games in the blue), and if I look in the closet, I got a nice, fast 486DX33 with a whopping 8Mb RAM to run it on. So if setting up a ten year old system is the hard part, the actuall programming must be really, really easy - as I could have that system up in ten minutes.

What the hell? (1)

Xenothaulus (587382) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953480)

You know what bothers me? Suits like this that just pop-up out of nowhere.

Eolas: "Internet Explorer uses plug-ins?! WTF?! When did M$ start doing that? I invented those things, dammit! I'mma sue 'em"

Apple_Corps: "Wait. Apple products have speakers now? When the hell did this happen? I thought we told them years ago that they weren't allowed to make noise with a logo like ours. Bastards! Let's sue 'em"

I'd say something about SCO here, but I don't know enough about it.

Now come on people. Really. How can you all of a sudden decide to sue someone over something that has been going on for years?

$$$$$$$$$ That's how and why, and it makes laugh and cry both at once.

/rant

All Hail Ray Ozzie (2, Interesting)

techsoldaten (309296) | more than 11 years ago | (#6953486)

...if this proves to be the thing that lets us keep plugins in the public domain.

As a Flash developer, the idea that users would have to take some convoluted route to access a movie I made just so some fat jerk can get rich really ticks me off.

The U.S. Patent Office needs to get up to speed and stop issuing patents on trivial systems features. I mean, using sub-programs in programs is something I have done in C++ since the late 80s. WTF Why is a Web browser supposed to be so special a thing that someone can issue a patent on a standard engineering process?

M

Ozzie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6953492)

not only can he front a metal band, but he can code as well - Rock n' Roll!!!
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