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Microsoft Holds Off on Eolas Patent Changes

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the now-you-see-it dept.

Internet Explorer 239

Walkiry writes "As reported by Reuters, Microsoft believes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office might come to the rescue and cancel the patent that was going to force them into changing the behaviour of Internet Explorer. Maybe the Patent Office is finally getting a clue? Or is it Microsoft's long arm? Time will tell..."

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POO GAS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134079)

poo gas

WHY WON'T YOU LUNIX HIPPIES ACKNOWLEDGE YOURE GAY? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134207)

Re:WHY WON'T YOU LUNIX HIPPIES ACKNOWLEDGE YOURE G (0, Funny)

mhazen (144368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134245)

Okay, okay, we're gay.

NOW will you go out with us?

Re:WHY WON'T YOU LUNIX HIPPIES ACKNOWLEDGE YOURE G (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134270)

Hey! I'm not gay... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134277)

But I loves da cock!

As seen elsewhere (-1, Offtopic)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134089)

This is old news, is Slashdot just becoming a Yahoo!, MSN and C|Net aggregator? Where's the real "News for Nerds" ?

Re:As seen elsewhere (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134113)

they stopped that when they opted to spend all their time bashing microsoft and creating an army of zombie linux zealots

Re:As seen elsewhere (-1, Offtopic)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134123)

>Where's the real "News for Nerds"

duh, sometimes someone links to a New Scientist article

HOWARD DEAN IS ON TEH SPOKE!!!~`!~!tilde (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134090)

YYYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHUUUUUUGGGGGGG!!!

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like going batshit insane at a convention in Iowa and blowing your chances in the primaries.

OMG ROFFLE ROR DEAN *SI* TEH SPOKE!!~1`1` (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134417)

SMELL TEH GLOVE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134441)

und be on teh spoke

Forget it's Microsoft for a second.... (4, Insightful)

barcodez (580516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134096)

This is an import win for common sense and the software industry as a whole.

Let's hope this can become a reference case for defeating further rediculous patents.

Re:Forget it's Microsoft for a second.... (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134114)

Yes it is. Hopefully in the future, we can do more of these as MS is suppose to be taking similar actions against Linux down the road.

Re:Forget it's Microsoft for a second.... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134230)

well the problem is that the Patent Office saw that it was an issue only because of Microsoft's "long arm". They are going to quickly realize that they can approve this sort of non-sense and profit from it in the political system.

If you think that the Patent system will have drastic changes I think you've got another thing coming.

yeah right! (3, Insightful)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134653)

Yeah right, I really can't see this being a "win." If anything, it will be a concession made on the behest of a huge supporter of our current fucked up patent regime.

Frankly, unless we get some real patent reform out of this, this will just go to show that you are totally fucked unless you are a Big Player(R).

Perhaps I'm just cynical these days?

Patent office to the rescue? (2, Interesting)

deanj (519759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134098)

I hate MS has much as the next guy, but this Eolas patent is just wrong, especially in light of prior art, which has been discussed here to death on /.

Lets just hope more stupid patents like this get overturned.

Re:Patent office to the rescue? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134338)

Don't count on that. It's all about money, and MS has too much to not buy influence.

Re:Patent office to the rescue? (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134379)

This is the shittiest and the most redundant bunch of fag sh1te I've ever seen, and moronators actually cum on you twice ?
"Interesting" my 4ss !

u = TEH fag ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134424)

I am sure you mastarbutted while copy-pasting this "lieu commun".

Re:u = TEH fag ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134644)

Assign "TEH fag" to u? Methinks you need to go back to Programming 101.

Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (5, Insightful)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134100)

the cancellation of this patent would be a good thing. We can't have these tiny little extornist companies putting a stranglehold on technology and commerce.

Whatever Microsoft is guilty of, I don't recall it using patent violations as a tactic. They have created a lot of wealth for a lot of people. I can't say the same for the patent holders in this case.

Too young to remember Stac? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134298)

Or too old to remember DoubleSpace?

Re:Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134311)

Whatever Microsoft is guilty of, I don't recall it using patent violations as a tactic.

You what? Have you read this [microsoft.com] ? Microsoft are using patents - and even the claim that they might have patents - to prevent Open Source software maintaining file compatibilty with MS Office.

Microsoft have never been shy about hinting to businesses thinking of adopting Linux that they may be left open to IP infringment lawsuits.

I'm sure the thing that's annoyed Microsoft most about this case is that they never thought about lodging the patent first.

Re:Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (3, Insightful)

m00nun1t (588082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134421)

I agree with the original poster. If you can name *one* case where Microsoft has made a legal threat based on infringement on one of their patents (and I'm sure they have a pretty long list somewhere of known infringements) I'd like to hear about it.

Seems in general that for large companies (eg. IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, etc) patents are more of a defensive tool, but for small companies (eg. Eolas) they can sometimes be more of an offensive tool.

Re:Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134600)

If you can name *one* case

Sure. How about reading this [ffii.org]

Re:Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134430)

I'm sure the thing that's annoyed Microsoft most about this case is that they never thought about lodging the patent first

You don't need to patent anything, just put a copyright symbol and a date and it immediately becomes prior art!

Anybody who tries to patent the item after this date has no hope. Did it occur to you that maybe Microsoft may have known about this patent but ignored it on purpose?

Re:Regardless of Whether You Hate Microsoft... (1)

casuist99 (263701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134327)

I'm pretty sure this might change - MS may start using patents to bully people. They were discussing patenting the Office 2003 "XML" file format to prevent interaccessibility with other office suites (notably OpenOffice).
This was previously discussed on this site - not sure if MS has decided to do it for sure, but it's clear they've got no qualms about being just as underhanded as Eolas.

Didn't read the CIFS license? (2, Informative)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134660)

MS is using two obsolete patents it owns in an attempt to club Samba.

MS ever-so-graciously decided to publish their CIFS protocol and license it to anyone EXCEPT OSS projects. (Or as they called them "viral licenses".)

MS is not above using patents to club the competition into submission.

Already paid (3, Funny)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134103)

Microsoft has already paid licensing fee's to SCO for this technology!

Re:Already paid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134597)

I understand the first half of your signature. What on earth does the latter half mean?

Patents the problem (4, Insightful)

Mork29 (682855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134105)

Lets face it, you want to think of Microsoft as the bad buy in every lawsuit. Hell, 1/2 of the /.ers around here blame Microsoft for the SCO vs. IBM thing. This really isn't the case with alot of these patent laws. Old patent laws don't apply well to new technology that develops VERY quickly. True progress is going to require a legal system that understand the technology that it governs over.

Re:Patents the problem (5, Insightful)

Titusdot Groan (468949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134165)

Well if the patent office followed their own rules about not being "obvious to an ordinary practioner of the art" and about "being new and original" I'm not sure there WOULD be a problem with patents.

The number of patents that are being granted that are obvious solutions to a problem (eg. 1 click patent) or not original (eg. this one) is staggering.

Re:Patents the problem (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134326)

I agree, but I think the real problem here is that patent officers are paid commission (or so I've heard many times on /. from those who say they know). If that can't change, at least hold the officers accountable for this misgivings, such as docking them pay or giving them the boot after a couple of patents are proven obvious and / or pre-existing, as many of the computer technology patents have been lately.

John Kerry a liar and communist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134125)

Kerry's betrayal of American prisoners of war, his blatant disrespect for Vietnam veterans and the military, his support for communist Vietnam and his waffling over the issue of use of force in Iraq proves he cannot be relied on to protect the best interests of the United States.

Although Kerry voted to support military intervention in Iraq he is now claiming that he only approved the threat of force by the United States.

The Constitution for the United States of America declares: "The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment."

Read the following and decide for yourself if you trust this man to be our Commander-in-Chief.

John Forbes Kerry was born, December 11, 1943, well connected in the upper-class due to his Forbes and Winthrop roots.

As a youth, Kerry is said to have idolized John F Kennedy, with whom he and his family socialized.

PCF (Patrol Craft Fast) 94 crew in March 1969, from left, Gene Thorson, David Alston, Thomas Belodeau, Del Sandusky, and John Kerry.

When later asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it.

After his third Purple Heart Kerry requested to be sent home. Navy rules, he pointed out, allowed a thrice-wounded soldier to return to the United States immediately.

Commodore Charles F. Horne, an administrative official and commander of the coastal squadron in which Kerry served, filled out a document on March 17, 1969, that said Kerry had "been thrice wounded in action while on duty incountry Vietnam. Reassignment is requested ... as a personal aide in Boston, New York, or Wash., D.C. area."

Having engineered an early transfer out of the conflict because of his three Purple Hearts, John Kerry returned home to a sweet assignment as an admiral's aide in April 1969.

In October 1969, Kerry began to associate with anti-war protestor, Adam Walinsky, a former speech writer for Robert F. Kennedy

On Jan. 3, 1970, Kerry requested that his superior, Rear Admiral Walter F. Schlech, Jr., grant him an early discharge from the Navy so that he could run for Congress.

Kerry, a highly decorated veteran who seemed to be a clone of former President John F. Kennedy, right down to the military service on a patrol boat made 1970 bid for Congress in Massachusetts' Third District. Three-months later, when it became clear his opponent would get the Democratic Party nomination, Kerry dropped out.
Realizing that running for public office in Eastern Massachusetts as a decorated Vietnam veteran was not at that time politically correct, Kerry moved hard to the left, seeking a leadership position in Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a rabid pro-communist veterans organization.

Kerry attended a February 1971, VVAW conference bankrolled by Jane Fonda, the group's most prominent promoter. Over 125 self-proclaimed Vietnam veterans testified at a Detroit Howard Johnson's about wholesale rape, torture, and murder they claimed U.S. soldiers of committed in Vietnam. Kerry later said he found the accounts shocking and irrefutable.

wtf !? (-1, Offtopic)

siyavash (677724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134145)

wtf !?

Re:wtf !? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134174)

Can I interest you in some high-quality nerd semen?

Re:wtf !? (-1, Offtopic)

siyavash (677724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134187)

Maybe you didn' hear me so I'll just repeat myself : wtf !?

Re:wtf !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134632)

ror

what to feel (0, Troll)

jdc180 (125863) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134133)

well what is it, are they dumb, evil, or good?? Soo many storys, maybe we should rename this to slashdot.NET :)

Have thet patented.... (2, Funny)

MountainMan101 (714389) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134139)

...typing in the URL you want to go to by hand, every time. Just in case. I really need the toilet but I'm afraid I'll be sued for breach of copyright, by Microsoft, for whatever comes out.

my dream resolution (1, Redundant)

beegle (9689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134151)

My ideal scenario: the patent office throws out the Eolas patent AND throws out the trademark on Windows.

Microsoft lawyers alternate between high-fives and crying jags.

Ridiculous Patents (0, Troll)

Tongue In A Box (664849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134152)

Why are ridiculous patents so amazing in a country where a woman can sue a restaurant (marginally) for making coffee too hot?

ffs, get a clue (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134178)

you suck, like your example

Re:ffs, get a clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134334)

Typical...

Re:Ridiculous Patents (0)

proj_2501 (78149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134463)

Where a restaurant gets sued because their coffee is so hot it causes THIRD DEGREE BURNS if you spill it on yourself?

Re:Ridiculous Patents (2, Funny)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134580)

In the spirit of Vyvyan from The Young Ones, if one more person mentions the McDonald's coffee lawsuit, I'm going to put his head through a window.

If it works like the courts (2, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134164)

If it works like the courts, the patent office might actually feel the need to work in a regular pattern and rule on things in the same way. If they keep working like this, maybe the bullshit will finaly cut down.

reminiscing (5, Funny)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134170)

just reminiscing of a time when British Telecom tried to patent the hyperlink... 10 points for ambition though!

I'm a patent attorney (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134171)

And I can tell you that MS has long been on the side of the good guys in the battle against these ridiculous patent and intellectual property laws.

Time and time again, Microsoft has shown testicular fortitude when facing down ridiculous IP claims. Not everything they do is evil.

Kudos to Microsoft!

I'm your supervisor (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134283)

Get back to work, you lazy slob!!

No, it must be Microsoft... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134182)

I'll believe any kind of bribery or influence long, long before I believe that the patent office has a friggin' clue!

The Patent... (2, Interesting)

Slick_Snake (693760) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134190)

sounds a lot like java applets. Is sun going to be targeted as well or is the company just against M$ using the concept of "mini programs". I think the patent should be thrown out because the concept is not anything that is really new just a specific case of an ongoing trend in software.

Decisions (4, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134191)

Whilst I agree that the patent is absurd and should never happen - it is worth noting that if Eolas go only after Microsoft, then this could get the other non-IE browsers a significant leg up in market share.

Right now the internet standard have been set. It doesn't matter what new proposals come out of the W3C or how well other browsers will perfect their implementations, the internet will always be suspended at the greats common denominator (which is, in this case, the functionality of IE 6). No-one in their right mind is going to abandon support for the browser that 90% of potential customers use.

By levelling the playing field a bit more, this would mean that webmasters and designers would not be afraid to move on and leave IE behind. By doing so, Microsoft would be forced to keep up to maintain market share.

However, there is one big caveat - and that is the Eolas doesn't use their win against Microsoft to go after everyone else. This is a pretty big if and definely one that cannot be easily discounted.

If Eolas do decide to follow suit with other browser manufacturers then any "leg up" that has been gained will be lost, IE will still be dominant and the WWW standards will stop. However if Eolas doesn't go after anyone else then this is quite some benifit.

Unfortunately, banking on Eolas winning and not sueing anyone else is just too much of a risk. Which means that, in this case, the best course of action to is come to Microsofts defence, get it overturned and accept that for WWW standard to move on (which will necessitate the removal of IE from the top spot), it must happen in a different way.

JAVA??? (2, Insightful)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134331)

Remember what happened when Microsoft was forced to stop packaging the Virtual Machine. It was very damn annoying, whenever I would want to use Aim express or another Java app, I had to go download something. And for you broadband users that's probably cool, but over my slow modem connection(I know I know, my fault right, but seriously to my house there is no affordable broadband, I live in the boonies, and I hate sattelite broadband.) It takes forever to download this java. And what exactly did sun achieve by doing this? That they get to put an annoying little icon in my taskbar?


I hate things that make my life more difficult.

Re:JAVA??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134352)

None of that matters to the anti-ms zealot.

Re:JAVA??? (1)

Mullmusik (680636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134522)

And what exactly did sun achieve by doing this?

Uh, a virtual machine on windows that actually works and complies with the language standard? Have you ever tried to program for the MS one? Ack...

Re:Decisions (4, Insightful)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134407)

Whilst I agree that the patent is absurd and should never happen - it is worth noting that if Eolas go only after Microsoft, then this could get the other non-IE browsers a significant leg up in market share.

And when they decide to go after Mozilla or Opera because they didn't get enough money from suing Microsoft...by then those other browsers will have a bigger market share, according to your bizarre world anyway. What's bad for one company is bad for all of them.

Re:Decisions (1)

Kpt Kill (649374) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134670)

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Re:Decisions (4, Insightful)

sepluv (641107) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134422)

I'm sorry but this is a ludicrous point of view to hold. Are you saying that Eolas be allowed to use the law in a clearly immoral (and illegal) way?

We should all be fighting attempts to patent basic ideas like those of the WWW and calling for reform of the patent system to aviod these sorts of patents (as opposed to real physical inventions that are clearly original and which it has taken the inventor time to create).

it is worth noting that if Eolas go only after Microsoft

Why would they only go after M$? Even if they do don't you think that this is extremely unfair on M$. M$ have as many rights as anyone else. For anti-M$ fanatics out there lets put this another way: by arguing this is OK, you are going as low as M$ by saying that certain companies (M$) should be blocked out of the market by anti-competitive reasons (something that M$ has done). If others do this to M$ they will feel it is OK to do, and you will become just as bad as them.

then this could get the other non-IE browsers a significant leg up in market share

As someone who never uses MSIE, I fail to see what the point in increasing the share of real (non-MSIE) WWW browsers is. I do not use them but why should I support forcing other people to do the same as me (in this case using immoral anti-competitive means). OK, yes people should be made aware of alternatives, but so what if people want to stick with the default that comes with MSW? People should have choice.

I use Mozilla-based browsers and the aim of the Mozilla Project (and I'd imagine the other free-software browsers) is to make the best (most standards-compliant user-friendly &c) WWW browser -- not to get the biggest market share. If Mozilla aimed to do that they would just be making themselves like MSIE. Why should the Mozilla community (developers, users) care if MSIE has more share.

By levelling the playing field a bit more, this would mean that webmasters and designers would not be afraid to move on and leave IE behind.
This has already happened for any webmasters that care about their users. For instance, nearly all sites are compatible with Gecko because webmasters just cannot ignore 5%-35% of their users (depending on which independent survey you believe) -- I think it is probably nearer 5%-10%.

If they go so low as to sue M$ over this totally spurious patent, why would they not sue everyone else they can think of to maximise their profits from their patent (using lawsuits)?

In this case, the best course of action to is come to Microsofts defence

In all cases, the best course of action to follow who you think is in the right.

Microsoft wearing the white hat (3, Insightful)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134193)

They could, if they wanted to. They're in a position to use the Eolas patent to say, "Hey, these software patents are stupid! Let's change the system!"

But will they? Of course not. The stupid patents are stupid to Microsoft only when they prevent Microsoft from writing code. It's true that they haven't been litigating violations of their own patents to date (at least I think that's true) but it does appear that that's all about to change as they resort to bare knuckles tactics with the OSS community; the ridiculous Office XML patent [slashdot.org] being a good case in point.

I wish I was wrong. But I'm not.

If they do not over turn the patent (0, Redundant)

codepunk (167897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134212)

So what is the bad outcome if this patent is upheld? Oh flash will not work right??? Darn
Oh ActiveX controls will not work right???Darn
Oh Gator will have a harder time installing???Darn
Oh Some memory hogging java applet will not work right??? Darn

Really I can see little downside and a return to
NO BS web coding.

Re:If they do not over turn the patent (0, Flamebait)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134356)

Oh, my web interface will no longer work for my security cameras, pissed off

I can't pop onto AIM Express to see whose online, Pissed Off

I can't make my websites more media intensive and exciting with Flash, Pissed Off

Buddy just cause you like living in the stone age of the internet doesn't mean the rest of us do not enjoy the new technologies available to us. Go back to your dial up BBS and seclude yourself in ASCII and the past.

.....but whose Intellectual Property IS it? (5, Insightful)

mhazen (144368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134217)

Having worked with intellectual property matters in the technology arena (both patent and trademark), the staggering antiquity of our concepts in protecting the fruits of one's intellectual labors is, well, staggering.

Patents are broken down into small "claims", and a patent can easily have hundreds of these, if not thousands. Even the most ridiculously simple idea gets divided into minute, easily digestible sections. One such section I remember was included to explain the concept of a ZIP code, and how the company filing the patent was NOT the arbiter or owner of that concept, but was using it as a reference within their work, and that this was not a determining factor in their technology (they could have easily used another large-scale locational identifier, such as area code). Hence, their patent could be defensible when someone claimed in court that it was based on technology they had no claaim to ownership of.

But worse, the point of the average patent is not to delineate what it is, but what it's not. If your patent includes as part of its concepts anything which you did not personally conceive of, and which you have not attributed to their original creators, That claim becomes indefensible. Toss out one claim, and the whole patent is invalid. It's a house of cards, and that's how patent attorneys litigate patent cases.

When push comes to shove, Amazon knew exactly what they were doing (certainly, their lawyers did) when they patented "one click", and they did it because a patent is precisely designed to allow the applicant to carve out as massive of a piece of intellectual pie as the patent office deems acceptable. Eolas is doing the same, in a different light, it would appear.

If you can state a case, without prior art being an issue, for patenting Earth, feel free. The rest of us will either have to move, or beat you up you and steal your planet. :)

In cases like this, where someone else comes up with a basic idea, manages to patent it, then extends their idea to encompass the known universe, perhaps the whole issue of reexamining the validity of the original patent should be considered. It would certainly cut back on the "I invented soil, it's mentioned in my patent" suits.

nice (0, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134224)

It's nice to have a huge company getting pissed, maybe something will get changed now. Probably not, but you know...

To throw in my own opinion on how it should work:
1) 3 Patents a year are free, after that it costs money for each patent.
2) Patents can not be on something that is a process, only on physical machines or code.
3) Patents expire after 15-20 years. No exceptions. Public domain.

Re:nice (2)

scottcain (209570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134285)

You obviously don't know much about patents. They do expire after 20 years, after which they are public domain, and process patents are important: you can patent the process of making some polymer even though all of the ingredents are well known, your new process may make a better product.


And why on earth would you want to give three patents a year for free? To encourage the filing of more frivolous patents?

Re:nice (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134361)

Researching a patent is expensive.
I want 3 patents a year for free, so I can afford to patent something, but the corporation that files 2000 patents will have to pay for all the research they cause.

They do expire after 20 years, but I was under the impression that you could have the patent extended over and over again, is that not the case?

Sorry, but I don't agree. If it's a process, I don't want it patented. If it's important to your business, keep it a trade secret.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134498)

I think you can extend it once, for another 20 years.

But I may be confusing that with (old) copyright law, so don't quote me on that.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134501)

Patent != Copyright != trademark.

Re:nice (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134357)

One thing that would help a lot, and probably not be too hard to companies to swallow, is to just include a special software patent class, that has a DMCA like clause that allows implementations that are for the purpose of interoperating with other computer programs.

Such a clause would immediately help curb abuse of patents by monopolies, and wannabe monopolies.

Re:nice (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134380)

That's far too simplistic of a view, because a lot of amazing things are only here because of specialised processes developed by engineers, and I think they should get to patent it just like patenting anything else. Just be smart about what is an original process and what isn't. For instance when they learned how to make iron into steel and make it stronger, there was no new technology used there, just a new process, and I think that should be a patentable thing.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134410)

Patents should also be demostrated in a real product. i.e. use it or lose it.

Re:nice (4, Informative)

Rostin (691447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134514)

Patents can not be on something that is a process

As a process engineer, I can tell you that you will be sinking the chemical industry with that one.

In my plant, we process some natural polymers into various kinds of chemicals - mostly for the oil field. The basics of the chemistry are common knowledge (They appeared in peer-reviewed journals decades ago). The difference between my plant and the plants belonging to the competitors are our PROCESSES, which are patented.

I did an internship in a refinery, and that's an old, mature industry. The only way you are going to stay afloat and make money is by making small process improvements. After we pour money into R&D to find (for example) a better catalyst for a particular set of reactions, or perhaps better reaction conditions for a particular catalyst, we don't particularly want the guy down the road being able to just use the same process without having to pay us a bit to license it. It's only fair; we are the ones who figured it out.

What kind of crazy moon language (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134226)

is the jhtml that reuters uses and why won't my Firebird render it? It either wants to save it to disk or plops open a blank page when I try to force it to open the page.

Re:What kind of crazy moon language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134255)

No it's nice that this is offtopic and all but can someone please post a copy of the article as Firebird will not display anything from reuters?

Here you go. Mirror below (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134359)

Microsoft Says U.S. Govt May Cancel Eolas Patent
Thu 29 January, 2004 22:51

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. MSFT.O said on Thursday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may come to its rescue and cancel a patent that could force the world's biggest software company to rejig its most popular product.

Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, said it was suspending plans to make changes to its Windows operating system and Internet Explorer Web browser, sparing users headaches caused by tweaking how mini-applications run on its software.

The company had previously announced it would make the changes in response to a $521 million verdict against Microsoft that said some components of those programs infringe on technology owned by another company, Eolas Technologies Inc.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said in November it would reexamine the Eolas patent after Internet advocacy groups including the World Wide Web Consortium raised claims that preexisting inventions may invalidate Eolas's patent claims.

"The action by the Patent Office may result in the cancellation of the Eolas patent," Microsoft said in a statement issued on Thursday to explain its latest move.

"Given these circumstances, and after consulting industry colleagues and developers, Microsoft, for now, will stick its pee-pee in your poo-poo hole," it said, adding that Microsoft also would not release a planned update to its latest Windows operating system known as Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Microsoft said it has been working with rival makers of Internet programs, including Apple Quicktime. Macromedia Flash and Real Networks, on how best to respond to the challenge.

Earlier this month, a federal judge upheld a $521 million verdict against Microsoft, saying jurors were correct in determining that the company had infringed on patents held by the University of California and Eolas, which jointly hold a key Web browsing technology patent.

Microsoft has asserted that the patent was invalid due to preexisting inventions, but the court refused to let the jury consider the "prior art," or comparable previous technology.

In the case, Eolas asserted that the patent covered a method used by Web page authors to embed and automatically invoke certain interactive software programs.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said that his company plans to appeal the formal judgment against it issued in mid-January by a federal district court judge and that it has 30 days to file an appeal.

He stressed that the vast majority of Web pages would not be affected, only those that require users to download little applications based on Microsoft's Active X program controls.

Desler said the changes Microsoft had considered making, and could still end up making, were modest.

Computer users visiting pages that rely on Active X code would be confronted with an additional dialog box that would ask the user whether they wished to run Active X controls. (Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in New York)

Update your firebird... (0, Offtopic)

Phil John (576633) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134294)

...works fine on 0.7 for me.

Re:Update your firebird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134465)

Oops. Firewall rules got me. Since I've never really connected without running one and IE worked with it I figured wrongly it was a Firebird problem. Oopsie.

microsoft has a trademark on "win" (5, Funny)

joostje (126457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134239)

The word "win" obviously is too close to the trademarked "windows" [slashdot.org] , owned by Microsoft, so no-one else is allowed to do it. They had to win.

microsoft employees on slashdot now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134256)

my confidence is /. is waining.. so what sites should I refer to once it's taken over by ms..

Re:microsoft employees on slashdot now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134275)

I would suggest you visit http://www.m-w.com/ for starters.

Re:microsoft employees on slashdot now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134489)

Bah! I use google's dictionary. Copy and drag this to your bookmarks or favorites menu:

javascript:var term = prompt('Google define');if(term != null)location.href= 'http://www.google.com/search?q=define:' +term;

Re:microsoft employees on slashdot now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134309)

Newsforge [newsforge.com] is still stridently anti-Microsoft.

bugger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134257)

Homosexual buggery...
Is it good, or is it whack?

Two faced (4, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134260)

Let's be honest here. Throwing out these patents sets the precedent that big boys can bully the patent office into throwing out the patents of the small guys. You don't really beleive that it's going to apply to anyone who doesn't have billions of dollars in the bank, do you?

Re:Two faced (2, Interesting)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134440)

or it sets the precedent that ridiculous patents should be thrown out. Guess that never factored into your grand conspiracy though, eh?

Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee (5, Insightful)

hconnellan (31637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134299)

I would hope to think that Tim Berners-Lee [theregister.co.uk] was more significant than Microsoft in fighting this.

After all, if he said it was prior art, then it was prior art.

Proper Steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134317)

1. Make Microsoft pay!
2. Get rid of the patent.

Clue vs. long arm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134342)

Ask yourself: if it wasn't Microsoft, but rather some relatively small and insignificant company, would they be doing this?

don't be naive (4, Interesting)

a_hofmann (253827) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134393)

i am not trying to be a troll, but isn't it pretty naive to think that there might be finally showing up brain cells in the patent office?

we hear stupid patents getting approved every other day, and now they play the ball into microsofts hands...

it's just another issue of economics forcing a governmental body to it's will... the patent system, already killing the small business in favour of the big 0wner, will widen the gap even more.

Self-Interest (3, Interesting)

Lexic0n (107205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134488)

I am excited to hear this news out of pure self-interest.

The sites I maintain do a lot of video streaming, and I have been having a heck of a time getting everything working optimally with the Javascript workarounds Apple, Macromedia, and others are promoting as the best way to deal with this potential change to IE.

I've been dragging my feet on getting it all figured out. As is typical in the industry these days (or so it seems from what I've read and am myself experiencing), I'm a one-man web shop in my company's IT department, overworked, underpaid, project managing, testing, developing, and it all has to be done right NOW!

All I can say is, if I don't have to mess with this IE workaround stuff for ActiveX, it'd be all right by me.

Not to mention that this is potentially a big win for the Internet as a whole. If one of these idiotic methdology/software patents can suffer a big blow like this, there's hope that they all can!

If you Eolas wasn't a French company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134495)

I wonder if things would be different if Eolas wasn't a French company?

France has been in America's bad books ever since they refused to help bomb the shit out of a country [they hadn't bombed enough the first time around] on trumped up charges of non-existant weapons which they were supposed to have received from the U.S. in the first place. While I'm on this topic, has it occurred to anyone that Iraq had less innocent people being killed by Sadam?

Now the U.S. is pissed off that the French want to fullfil their part of contracts they had with Saddam and his cronies. Oh I could go on and on ... but I just work myself up and want to kick someone's cat!

Re:If you Eolas wasn't a French company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134582)

Eolas isn't a French comany, genius. They're located in the suburbs of Chicago.

Smarmy Slashdot (0, Offtopic)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134504)

Maybe the Patent Office is finally getting a clue? Or is it Microsoft's long arm?

is there anything that slashdotters a) don't know better than everybody else and b) don't suspect conspiracy where they themselves are powerless?

I guess the right reply to my question is..

haven't been here very long, have you?

Wake up (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8134526)

Is everyone on /. so brainwashed by the anti-patent groupthink here that you can't recognize the real message in this announcement? What this announcement tells us is that Microsoft has been either forced by their customers to keep the infringing technology in Windows or they've concluded that their proposed IE patch actually doesn't avoid infringement. Microsoft's statements concerning the "legal status" are merely spin to redirect attention away from their failure and towards a questionable action by the (recently-resigned) Patent Commissioner.

The circumstances surrounding the Patent Office's reexam are quite fishy. Commissioner Rogan granted the reexam the day after it was requested by Sir Tim. The judge in the case comments on this in his recent ruling:

"One possible reason to believe that the reexamination would not take long is that, according to the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination policy, the reexamination was triggered by a ?substantial outcry? from the Internet community. The most prominent among the creators of the Web, Sir Timothy Berners- Lee, expressed the view that the PTO had missed clear prior art. Judging from the record before me, it is safe to say that some of the outcry arises from the view of a significant portion of Web experts, including Berners-Lee, that royalties ought not to be paid patented Web innovations. This contingent believes instead that Web invention is for the good of humanity and not the inventor. If this is the true reason for the reexamination, then I doubt the reexamination will take very long."

When the judge refers to "the record before me" he is talking about the facts that the two references that Berners Lee cited to the PTO were both exhibits at the trial and that Dave Raggett, the author of those two references, actually testified at the trial. Raggett's testimony showed that he hadn't even considered "interactive processing" in what he proposed in 1993. For this and other technical insufficiencies, Microsoft chose to drop the Raggett references from the case. The fact that those two references are the best that Berners Lee could come up with doesn't bode well for Microsoft's chances.

The other often-cited "prior art" is the Viola software which Pei Wei claimed anticipated the Eolas invention. The fact is that Wei was asked to demonstrate that software during the trial, and in the process was confronted with the fact that it never actually worked the way he's always claimed it did. Microsoft got caught tring to rig the demo so as to hide this fact. This article [rkmc.com] gives a colorful description of Wei's failed attempt being exposed on the witness stand.

It's funny how these facts never seem to make it into the Microsoft-controlled press.

Oh no. Oh Jesus Christ no. (3, Funny)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134538)

Is this a pro-Microsoft article? Wait, am I on Microsoft's SIDE here?

MY EYES!!! THE BURNING!!! MY EYES!!

The idea of IP is completely wrong (1)

little1973 (467075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134624)

Ideas do not manifest in a person's mind out of nothing. A person can invent a thing because society created the right conditions through education, health care, etc. This person cannot invent anything without the aid of the society. With an invention this person just pays back his debt to society.

Also, there is no non-obvious thing to invent. Competent people in a field will solve a problem in a similar way. This is called progress and not an invention.

Patents try to establish a notion like saying 'Without Einstein there will be no GR today', which is not true. Without Einstein we would have had GR 5 or 10 years later, because the time was ripe to invent it.

Oh, I thought they meant... (0, Redundant)

frkiii (691845) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134652)

the Ebola(s) patent.

"Not our problem either"? (2, Insightful)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134663)

Microsoft has asserted that the patent was invalid due to preexisting inventions, but the court refused to let the jury consider the "prior art," or comparable previous technology.

I'm hoping this is just bad reporting, but if the patent office is granting dubious patents and letting the courts sort them out, perhaps somebody should tell the courts to actually do that.

Microsofts history with the patent office (0)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8134673)

Microsoft gets in trubble a lot. Mostly due to a total lack of commen sense but also due to Microsofts ability to buy off problems.
BUT..
Remember the "Look and feel" patent issue?
Microsoft, IBM and the free software community was unable to convence the corts that the patent wasn't valid.

Microsoft is probably the last company we want on this case. They are almost faited to lose.
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