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Five PC Vendors Face Patent Lawsuit

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the up-periscope dept.

Patents 337

Combuchan writes "This article from internetnews.com caught my attention: While Linux lawsuits gobble up the IT community's mindshare, a lesser-known legal action is being fought seeking billions of dollars from five PC vendors. Patriot Scientific, a small, San Diego-based seller of embedded microprocessors for automotive and scientific applications, is suing Sony, Fujitu, Matsushita, Toshiba, and NEC, alleging infringement of a Patriot patent for what it calls 'fundamental microprocessor technology.'"

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337 comments

Batman touched my junk liberally (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216924)

Batman touched my junk liberally. he strapped me in to his batmobile and he couldnt keep his offensive hands off of me. he was performing many red flag touches. i couldnt believe what the fuck was going on. i told batman the city would not approve of a millionaire touching an underage kid for free.

Can you believe it? Batman did all this. He picked me off the street, strapped my arms and legs down in the batmobile's passenger seat, and just wouldn't stop fondling my cock'n'balls.

They definately were red flag touches. the goddamn referee he had in the back seat kept on raising up this red flag every time he touched my junk but did batman care? NO WAY! He just kept on doing it. I couldn't believe what the fuck was going on, indeed. I pleaded with Mr. Wayne but to no avail. I told him the city would not approve of such a wealthy man touching an underage kid like me (at the time I was 13) without at least compensating me for the trauma and the use of my body as his own personal plaything.

This got to him, worrying about his image. He continued to fondle me, all the while ignoring the referee's red flags. Then he drove the batmobile to my house and *ejected the seat I was in*! It was amazing. But surprisingly, after I woke up the next morning, my bank account had $150k in it! Can you believe it?

I'M IMAGINING VAL KILMER BATMAN TOUCHING MY JUNK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216983)

Whereas Michael Keaton is a good actor, he's a bit old and busted for me. George Clooney can't act for shit. But Val, what a hottie :) :) :) I'd suck those latex nips off that costume and get to the REAL stuff real quick :) I got a Bat Signal, but it's more in a white squirty form.

Excellent troll, btw. Now I'm off to wank to Val...

Re:Batman touched my junk liberally (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217013)

what a bunch of bullshit. if this really happened, can you at least substantiate it with some facts, like what night was this? what city? otherwise, it just seems like bullshit to me.

WHAT CITY? GOTHAM CITY YOU DIPSHIT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217024)

Grow a clue you anal tounger!

GAAARGH! (0, Flamebait)

Malek the Damned (694215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216926)

When will it end!!!

It should be legal to kick the living crap out of anyone that wants to take out/enforce patents this downright dumb.

(First post too, I think) *ding*

Re:GAAARGH! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216942)

(First post too, I think) *ding*

Better think again, pheg.

Re:GAAARGH! (3, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216955)

This could all be solved by a careful and considered destruction of the current US Patent Office, and it's replacement by something that actually works.

Kierthos

Re:GAAARGH! (1)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216988)

I suggest we nuke it. After all, we have plenty of them sitting around doing nothing, and what better use?

Re:GAAARGH! (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217112)

I say we take off, and nuke the site from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

(This gratituous Aliens reference was brought to you today by boredom.)

Huh. (-1)

Pres. Ronald Reagan (659566) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216928)

Look at that. No suits against European computer makers. I wonder why?

Perhaps because their inefficient socialist system isn't good to make computers under.

this shitty modem must be blessed! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216931)

another FP?

Re:this shitty modem must be FUCKED! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216956)

no, this shitty modem is indeed shit.

I'm sorry - I have failed.

Join the Simoniker Fan Club! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216932)

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Well that's one way... (2, Insightful)

filtur (724994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216933)

I guess suing is one way to make money, but not always the fastest.

Im in the wrong business (4, Insightful)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216961)

It seems the only people making serious money from high tech are the lawyers.

Re:Im in the wrong business (4, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216987)

Replace "high tech" with lawsuits and you've got it. Seems every time I read about some multi-million dollar class action suit getting settled, the lawyers end up with millions, and the people affected end up with a buck and change each.

"First, kill all the lawyers."

Kierthos

Re:Im in the wrong business (4, Funny)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217077)

"First, kill all the lawyers."

smart. who's going to defend you on that murder rap then?

Re:Im in the wrong business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217086)

Who's going to prosecute?

Re:Im in the wrong business (2, Funny)

vivian (156520) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217104)

For sure. Time to give up a career as a programmer and go back to school & join the Dark Side (IP law) - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

At least they won't ship *that* job ofshore too quickly.

SCO's motto (4, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217130)


For sure. Time to give up a career as a programmer and go back to school & join the Dark Side (IP law) - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

It is "if you can't beat them, sue them.

Yum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216940)

Anyone paying attention? Perhaps you'd like to suck on this?

. ____
.// ..7
.(_,_/\
. \ .. \
. .\ .. \
. __\ .. \__
. (,,, \ ,,,)
. \_____\__/

I know your mom does! And she loves it! Not as much though, as your dad

Hahaha! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216964)

First Penis!

Maybe things like this will help patents change? (5, Insightful)

wmshub (25291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216941)

Look, who has the clout in congress to get the patent mess cleaned up? Big companies. Thus, the fastest way to clean it up, have big companies get harassed with expensive lawsuits like this. A lot. If Intel, Microsoft, IBM, etc., waste enough money fighting stupid patents (note - I know nothing about the Patriot patents, they may or may not be stupid), then you can bet that things will change.

Just a thought. Of course, laws would probably change in a way that makes it harder for anobody to sue big companies, but leave it just as easy for big companies to patent "one click instead of two to buy an item" type idiocy, but we can hope, can't we?

Re:I doubt it (4, Informative)

Bastian (66383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217008)

Considering that even all the huge companies have business models based around patents. At least, I assume they do, considering that IBM has ~25,000 active patents (Including a record of about 3,400 awarded in 2001), and numbers I've heard for other huge companies are also astronomical.

To these companies, owning lots of patents on lots of sometimes crazy things is a way of protecting their turf and a good way of putting potential competitors out of business. If they try to tighten up U.S. patent law, they'll only be making their job harder. Besides, I imagine that the amount of money they lose off most these lawsuits is chicken-scratch compared to their coffers.

Re:Maybe things like this will help patents change (5, Insightful)

S.Lemmon (147743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217016)

Yes, they'll change so only big companies can file stupid patents. :-)

big companies like it this way (5, Insightful)

ajagci (737734) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217088)

For big companies, the current patent system is great: big companies have big patent portfolios that they cross-license. So, they don't generally have to worry about each other. That arrangement keeps new competitors out of the market. And patent application and prosecution costs are high enough that the number of stupid patents filed and prosecuted by small companies are negligible in comparison. Occasionally, something like this slips through. But by and large, stupid patents are filed by the big companies themselves and then cross-licensed in an arrangement that helps big companies.

Why do you say that? (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217128)

I mean, don't you think it's possible that those companies really are infringing their patents?

And anyway, why would big companies care? They have the legal resources to fight off bogus patent cases (just like the patent office intends), and the benifit probably outweighs the cost.

That said, if patent law were changed, say to charge far more money and do more research it would be a huge benifit to large companies who could afford the filing fee. If patent law were scrapped totaly, it would be a big benifit for large companies who could get products to market quickly.

oh for fucks sake (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216947)

these guys are idiots. Here's the patent:

San Diego, CA - August 7, 2003 - - Patriot Scientific Corporation (OTCBB:PTSC) developer of key microprocessor technologies and scalable Java solutions for mobile products, today announced that it has received an additional patent for fundamental microprocessor technology currently in widespread use. United States Patent #6,598,148 B1 has been granted for PTSC's variable speed clock acceleration technology for RISC and CISC processors. The patented technology not only bolsters PTSC's licensable microprocessor IP portfolio, but further strengthens the company's patent rights.

Future patent grants are expected that will further expand PTSC's rights within these fundamental technologies.

Jim Turley, editor of Silicon-Insider and previous editor of Microprocessor Report and a member of the company's Scientific Advisory Board, said, "After analyzing PTSC's patent, I'm certainly impressed with its range of coverage, basically representing the dominant means of accelerating internal microprocessor clock speeds."

Jeff Wallin, president and CEO of PTSC stated, "This is an important patent grant as it further validates our early innovation of key processing technologies that are ensconced in our IP portfolio. It not only gives our customers an extra measure of certainty in terms of our virginity and the technology but it substantially strengthens the validity and scope of our patent enforcement efforts."

Because of the breadth of the company's patent portfolio coupled with the size of the market benefiting from the company's protected technologies, the company is pursuing an intellectual property compliance program targeted at hundreds of companies using microprocessors with internal capabilities greater than 120 KHz. This is estimated to be in excess of a $200 billion market. Beatie and Osborn LLP, one of America's most prestigious law firms, represents the company's licensing and enforcement objectives.

This is starting to get ridiculous. (5, Funny)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216950)

Does any company actually have a business plan that isn't based around suing people any more?

Pay Attention (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217063)

Does any company actually have a business plan that isn't based around suing people any more?

Pay attention to who they are suing. Japanese companies are famous for folding at the least sign of litigation (remember Rambus, anyone?) thus a likely first target to raise capital to start suing others. It would be rather nice if the Japanese sent some Yakuza over to negotiate.

Re:This is starting to get ridiculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217089)

...the RIAA? - they just sue IP addresses these days

Re:This is starting to get ridiculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217146)

IP (intellectual property) vs IP (Internet protocol) .... whats the diff ?

Re:This is starting to get ridiculous. (0, Redundant)

sl0wp0is0n (708422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217120)

Wait a moment! Long back, I patented the idea that one could make money by suing somebody. Hehe... I can already see the $$$$$ and you can't ever sue me for money... 'coz guess what.... you'll be violating my patent by doing that!

Prior art? (3, Interesting)

Bastian (66383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216951)

It says in the article that Patriot's patent was issued last summer.
Pentium chips have been around since the mid-90's.
Doesn't this make for a ridiculously clear case of prior art?

Re:Prior art? (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216968)

When the patent is approved is not as important as when it was filed, which in this case appears to be 1998. Moves the date-to-beat back a little, but I don't think it's enough to save this joke of a patent.

Screw this patent crap. (1)

dubdays (410710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216958)

This crap is getting out of hand. The patent office is really starting to just give out any and all patents applied for. It's almost getting to the point where we need to have some kind of IP court that determines whether or not a certain idea/algorithm/process deserves a patent to begin with. If not, no patent. Period. If there's prior art, no patent. Period. This garbage needs to be burned before people/companies/criminals (take your pick) have the opportunity to sue.

Re:Screw this patent crap. (3, Insightful)

dubdays (410710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216970)

And, on top of all this, this company has the nerve to go after Intel's CUSTOMERS, instead of the company itself. Personally, I think all of these lawsuits should, by default, be dismissed, since there has been no lawsuit against the "potentially" infringing company to determine the validity of the claim(s).

Re:Screw this patent crap. (4, Insightful)

digitalvengeance (722523) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216982)

From the parent: "we need to have some kind of IP court that determines whether or not a certain idea/algorithm/process deserves a patent to begin with. If not, no patent."

Isn't that precisely what the patent office is supposed to do? The problem is that they are inundated with so many requests that they don't have the resources (or desire for that matter) to adequately analyze and process each application.

I think the IP court you suggest would be subject to exactly the same problem, but with the added detriment of procedure in our never-ending legal process.

Though I haven't read the patent in question, it's possible that Intel's work in the 90s reflects prior art - but the patent office doesn't have time to find out one way or the other.

Re:Screw this patent crap. (2, Interesting)

dubdays (410710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217019)

So, instead of having IP patents go through the same office as everything else, why don't we set up some kind of office that only deals with this type of patent? Obviously, it is very different from the types of patents the patent office is accustomed to dealing with. The people who approve or deny these patents really need to be knowledgable in IP rights as pertaining to computers. While there are definitely some patents that have somewhat of a point, some are just completely outrageous, and these should be caught before any patent is issued. Hell, for the cost of patenting something, I feel that there should be some checks put in place to protect others, as well as the potential patent holder.

Re:Screw this patent crap. (1)

dandelion_wine (625330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217073)

digitalvengeance is right. The patent office does not have the mandate to judge whether a patent is valid or not. They also don't have the resouces. If they were going to have a specialized office, it wouldn't be compsci, it would be biotech, and even then, for them to "judge" your patent would be beyond the pale. They have no right to tell you that you can't patent your invention, unless it clearly can't work, you don't supply sufficient details of the design, or the design has already been patented.

Re:Screw this patent crap. (1)

digitalvengeance (722523) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217038)

I like that idea, but I still find it questionable that the USPTO or some subset thereof could afford the type of experts necessary to properly handle the wide range of IP patents applied for everyday. Can the USPTO really have a resident microprocessor expert on staff to handle all of Intel/AMD/Patriot's stuff? Probably not. Why not make companies such as this pay for the USPTO to hire an independent expert (to be selected by the USPTO) to review any particular patent. Moderation committees or eventually the courts could ensure that such private experts didn't act out of private interest. Basically, an "expert witness" function for the USPTO.

WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216959)

Why sue the consumer (meaning the five manufactors) rather than the producer and distributor (Intel). Other than this being another BUY ME, BUY ME case. Meaning SCO.

Re:WHY? (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217106)

Because the manufacturers are more likely to settle. The producer of the OEM parts, whose entire business is based on the technology, is more or less obliged to put up a hell of fight.

These suits, although not legally, are basically extortionate. Nobody wants to actually go to trial, least of all the company bringing forth the claim. Said company just wants someone to mail money to their post office box in order that they be left alone.

Once one person buys a "license" they can then use this to spread FUD that said purchase "proves" their case. See SCO/Sun/Microsoft.

One possible defense approach is to argue that since the parts are purchased you are not the primary litigant at law. Plaintiff must first prove their case against the manufaturer of the part before you can be held liable for infringement. You may or may not be financially liable, but it isn't your job to defend the IP if you are not its genesis. If the argument is accepted by the judge this does not dismiss the case, but holds it in abeyance until the primary claim is settled.

Then the plaintiff must decide if they want to go up against the big gun or not. If they do not then the pending case will eventually be dismissed. If they do then at least the smaller fish has the big one as its ally, and if the big one prevails than the orginal suit may be dismissed as groundless.

If big fish loses then the settlement may be held to have sufficiently compensated the plaintiff and the suit against the smaller fish may be dismissed so long as they no longer infringe. Which they're not likely to do because the OEM source will have licensed the technology in order to continue to sell it.

While all of this is going on the legal issues become a bigger and bigger tarball encompassing more and more companies who are more and more likely to just settle and get it the bloody hell over with.

It's basically stealing the nerdy kid's lunch money.

KFG

Avoiding the big fish? (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216960)

Why is it that they're suing Intel customers but not Intel itself... seems like they're afraid to go after somebody who might challenge them rather than settle...

Re:Avoiding the big fish? (2, Insightful)

doormat (63648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216997)

Intel is actually being proactive in this situation. Patriot sys. is just trying to establish a weak case against relatively weaker companies. Plus system integrators are a lot less likely to be knowledgable regarding intel's patents (less equiped to deal with microprocessor details) than intel themselves.

Patent info (5, Insightful)

Amigori (177092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216963)

Its funny how they decided to go after Intel's clients and not Intel [intel.com] or even AMD [amd.com]. This is similar to suing the local car dealership over a manufacturing issue, which only the auto manufacturer would have control over. Intel isn't resting on its laurels with this case either, as they have filed "a motion in the Northern District of California seeking a court order stopping Patriot from suing any additional Intel customers."

Here [uspto.gov] is the official patent from the USPTO. It was originally filed in 1998, but IC's have been around much longer than that, so I'm sure there's some prior art somewhere. This next quote could almost have come from the depths of the SCO complex:

"'Our Main focus is the IP [intellectual property] business now,'" he [CEO Jeff Wallin] said."

Kinda sounds like Rambus [rambus.com] and look where they've gone.

Amigori

Re:Patent info (3, Insightful)

cesspool (258640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217037)

From the state of their site, it looks like the company is still viable. It's an indictment of the US system that Rambus wasn't involuntarily dissolved and its officers punished, either by the courts or by their shareholders

Re:Patent info (2, Informative)

rs79 (71822) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217083)

Yeah well, Intel did the right thing at the right time. They giggled at the patent for about 8 seconds then filed for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement. As soon as they can get this they can sit back, wave it and say "bogus!" whenever anybody mentions this silly patent.

This should be non-news by, say, tuesday.

IANAL. IAAP.

Assholes. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8216972)

Although Patriot has plans to move forward with its 32-bit processors and application-specific integrated circuits, Wallin said that product revenues were currently "negligible."

"Our main focus is the IP [intellectual property] business now," he said.


They don't actually make anything. They are a perfect example of why patents should be abolished - consumers and manufacturers all loose because of higher prices that support legalized protection rackets run by these thugs.

Sound Familiar? (4, Funny)

KillerHamster (645942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216977)

Although Patriot has plans to move forward with its 32-bit processors and application-specific integrated circuits, Wallin said that product revenues were currently "negligible."

"Our main focus is the IP [intellectual property] business now," he said.

Gee, this really reminds me of someone... can't think of the name...

Recipe for legal victory (5, Funny)

filtur (724994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216978)

Intel should outsource their legal team to a foreign country. Just imagine a team of high priced lawyers with heavy accents all using the wookie defense! They'd unstoppable!

Deja SCO (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216979)

The difference is, these guys are smart enough not to attack the gorilla. If they really had something, they'd name intel.

Re:Deja SCO (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216994)

Yeah, but it seems like Intel's trying to get standing in the existing lawsuits so that they can put an end to this quickly...

Re:Deja SCO (1)

narkotix (576944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216999)

Sony, Fujitu, Matsushita, Toshiba, and NEC arent bigger gorilla's? last time i checked they were damn huge!

litigation... (0, Redundant)

ophix (680455) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216984)

... if ya cant beat em, sue them! i swear this is getting stupid. anyone know what patent they actually have? the article didnt say what the patent actually was (or if it did, i missed it)

Why is this a FPP? (-1, Flamebait)

harriet nyborg (656409) | more than 10 years ago | (#8216995)

Big company steals idea from small company, refuses to pay.

"Patriot says the Intel processors used by Sony and others are violating its 5,809,336 patent. Granted in 1998, the patent describes a microprocessor with a variable speed system clock."

Small company seeks redress through the courts.

Big companies file countersuits to intimidate smaller rival.

Looks like a serious, non-trivial patent, so what's the problem?

Silly me, this is slashdot. Last bastion of Leninist ideology where the belief that there should be no private property and everything should be free for the taking is held as a sacred truth.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217012)

The problem is, this would appear to be at best a submarrined patent. You can't hold a patent on something that was a key to the tech boom of 1999-2001, and then show up in 2004 claiming you deserve royalties on it all. There comes a point where if a patent owner doesn't stop the theft of their technology, they forfeit their right to go to the courts...

Re:Why is this a FPP? (2, Informative)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217048)

Actually, no, they don't. That's trademarks and trade secrets. Someone needs to learn a little more about IP law before posting as if they were authoritative.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217071)

i think he was saying thats how it should be.

and i agree.

if you actively allow everyone and their dog to use "your" technology, then i think you should forfeit the patent. ala the jpeg thing a couple years ago.

the real problem with patents is that they take the stance that only one person can come up with a unique idea. but remember, two people invented the telephone, one didnt hit the snooze button that day and got there 45 minutes earlier. although i cant think of a real remody that can be trusted, because someone could always "show evidence" of the originality of the invention, but still the patent system needs a lot of work and njeeds to be brought into the 21 century.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217108)

Technically, the patent right belongs to he who first invented, not he who first filed. Gray could have taken Bell to court if not for the fact that Gray wasn't rich enough to hire an army of lawyers...

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217097)

Actually, no, they don't. That's trademarks and trade secrets. Someone needs to learn a little more about IP law before posting as if they were authoritative.

No, IP law needs to make sense, and have some relevance to the average Joe (not just megacorps).

I don't doubt your accuracy, on the legal side of the equasion. But when we piss and moan about the state of IP laws in the US (and the EU seems to have similar ideas), we don't espouse any "Leninist" ideas (as such)... We just want laws that can at least see "fair" from their lofty corporate towers.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217100)

No, there's a common law concept called "submarine patent" that does in fact exist. "Common law" means there's no formal law on the books, but it's something that judges accept as being there anyway.

When you are legally wronged, you do not have the right to just throw your hands in the air while the problem gets worse. You have a responsiblity to mitigate, or limit, the damages as best you can. Just because the other person started a fire, you can't let it burn the whole place down and blame it on them if you had the chance to stop it as a small fire.

So, a company that is being wronged by having their patent violated has an obligation to assert that they have a patent as soon as they realize what's going on. They can't just sit back and watch the other venture, then claim the profits if it suceeds and disavow involvement if it fails.

The penalty for not mitigating when you can is having your damaged knocked back to the point where you could have stopped them. Which, in the case of a submarined patent means "Yes, they did infringe... but you're not geting anything close to the damage award you thought you were geting."

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

ajagci (737734) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217102)

You can't hold a patent on something that was a key to the tech boom of 1999-2001, and then show up in 2004 claiming you deserve royalties on it all.

Well, yes, you can. It's entirely legal, and six years is not an unreasonable period for detecting patent infringement and preparing a lawsuit.

There comes a point where if a patent owner doesn't stop the theft of their technology, they forfeit their right to go to the courts...

No, they don't forfeit their right by not prosecuting, even if they were aware of infringement. Their argument to recover past damages may become somewhat weaker, depending on the exact circumstances, but the patent remains valid and fully in force.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217148)

The problem is, this would appear to be at best a submarrined patent. You can't hold a patent on something that was a key to the tech boom of 1999-2001, and then show up in 2004 claiming you deserve royalties on it all. There comes a point where if a patent owner doesn't stop the theft of their technology, they forfeit their right to go to the courts

Uh, except patents generally take a couple years to get passed. And anyway, you can wait as long as you want to exercise your patent rights if you want to. Unisys waited until two years before their GIF patent expired to ask for royalties, and they got them.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217041)

variable speed processor? come on you dont beleive thats nontrival?

hell my 386 did that, ala the turbo button.

yes imsure there are more sepecifics to it. but still the idea is not exaclty that unique.

the reason slashdotters beleive patents are stupid, is because an aweful lot of them are.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217091)

What has Lenin got to do with anything?

Why is that whenever people question the rules our so-called free market operates under anti-communist nutcases immediately pipe up?

A clue: The free market is a myth. Every market has rules, written or unwritten. A truly free market is warlordism, might makes right. I don't want that and if you're sane neither do you.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (1)

cprincipe (100684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217136)

Silly me, this is slashdot. Last bastion of Leninist ideology where the belief that there should be no private property and everything should be free for the taking is held as a sacred truth.

This has to be one of the more idiotic statements I've read here. Why this got modded as "Insteresting" I'll never know.

Re:Why is this a FPP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217144)

Then why didn't they go after Intel? The "big company" that "stole" the idea would be them, yes?

Intel stepped up to the plate voluntarily. Clearly, you can get more from Intel's clients than you can Intel (collectively).

Doesn't this seem more than a little like SCO's threats about suing Linux users?

This is nuts. (4, Interesting)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217005)

I think what would help more than patent reform though is tort reform. For one, making the losing party pay is a start. Also, finding a way to reduce lawsuits or using arbitration more often will contribute significantly. Reforming the patent system would be nice too though.

Re:This is nuts. (1, Redundant)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217046)

I don't know if loser pays changes much on these things. Afterall, if the SCO Group's claims on Linux are found to be worthless, the company has no other real assets left. They'd already be bankrupt, so where would the money to pay for all of the trouble they've caused come from?

I think what this calls for is some way to pierce the shield of a company so that executives become criminally responsible personally for schemes this far out of bounds. Reckless use of the courts as a business plan should not be tolerated. It basically amounts to a fraudulent claim by a whole company...

Re:This is nuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217121)

Take the ceo's house

Re:This is nuts. (4, Insightful)

Qrlx (258924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217075)

if you make the losing party pay, you can pretty much guarantee that people like you or I will never, ever go up against a big corporation and their hordes of lawyers. If you lost, you'd be bankrupt.

Stupid idiots at USPTO (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217014)

The claims enumerated in patent 6,598,148 describe nothing more than an SMP system where the cache ram takes up at least 51% of the core and where the clock is variable. This is nothing unique and any idiot trained in the arts would have seen it as a trivial invention (SMP, variable clock, and large caches have all existed for quite some time) and therefore not worthy of a patent. Furthermore I don't see where Intel or their clients could be violating it except for the speed throttling overheat protection in the P4 and family processors. I know it's been said many times before but as far as the IT industry is concerned the USPTO needs to be scrapped or seriously funded because the way things work now are NOT acceptable, it's too easy for a bogus, stupid, or overbroad patent to slip through.

Re:Stupid idiots at USPTO (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217021)

I think where things are going wrong is that tech has becomed so complex that the USPTO is having a hard time determining what's a trivial patent anymore, and is just plain mailing it all in. Afterall, the USPTO is just a registry, their mistakes can be invalidated by a court.

Re:Stupid idiots at USPTO (3, Informative)

servoled (174239) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217064)

This is nothing unique and any idiot trained in the arts would have seen it as a trivial invention (SMP, variable clock, and large caches have all existed for quite some time) and therefore not worthy of a patent.
Triviality is not considered in the tests for whether a patent is valid or not. Neither is whether all of the components in the invention separately existed. The two mains tests are whether the invention itself previously existed (in the form specified in the claims), or whether the invention would have been obvious in view of the existing prior art at the time the application was filed (or at the time of the earliest priority date).

Note that the obvious requirement (as interpretted by the courts) has nothing to do with whether one thinks that the invention would have been obvious, but rather whether the prior art of record shows that it would have been obvious.

bad faith? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217025)

I am not a lawyer, but shouldn't there be some kind of law prohibiting this stuff. The tech used in the processers has been around for a while, and I doubt that the patriot company has only recently learned of this violation.

Seems to me that once a patented thing like this has become fairly ubiqutious, then the company that held the patent has been negligent im its duty to protect its patent. Purposly allowing patent infringment to continue in order to make money off some lawsuits should not be allowed in my opinion.

Your mine now bitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217026)

'Our Main focus is the IP [intellectual property] business now,'" he [CEO Jeff Wallin] said."

I own the patent on being a IP business only. Thank you for stepping forward so my lawyers can get ahold of you. Anyone else?

As Per Usual.. (4, Informative)

servoled (174239) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217031)

no patent numbers were given. Here is a list of microprocessor related patents assigned to Patriot Scientific:

6,598,148 [uspto.gov] High performance microprocessor having variable speed system clock
5,809,336 [uspto.gov] High performance microprocessor having variable speed system clock
5,784,584 [uspto.gov] High performance microprocessor using instructions that operate within instruction groups
5,659,703 [uspto.gov] Microprocessor system with hierarchical stack and method of operation

All of these patents appear to be divisional patents of another patent:
5,440,749 [uspto.gov] High performance, low cost microprocessor architecture
which was filed in August of 1989 (for the most part, this date should be taken to be the effective priority date of all the above applications) and assigned to Nanotronics Corporation.

Please remember that titles, abstracts, and descriptions from the patent mean nothing legally. The only section which has any legal weight is the claims, so please don't start complaining about old microprocessors as "prior art" unless they actually do the same thing as is stated in the claims.

Mod parent UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217061)

The parent of this post is the only person so far who has any clue what a patent is, how to read one, or knows what is going on.

Everyone else is just mindlessly ranting about things they know nothing about.

sheesh. typical.

Good Grief (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217033)

They filed the patent in 1998 and were just granted it. The original Pentium was already out by that time, so I don't see how its design could be impacted, unless they are trying to say the patent covers something newly introduced with the P3/P4.

I predict Intel will meet with grand success in their case.

Re:Good Grief (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217047)

I take that back - I predict 100% certainty for Intel. I couldn't even read the whole patent application. It was simply laughable. Anyone who knows anything about microprocessors should have recognized that what they had was done before AND not an idea that is patent-worthy.

They basically patented an improvement upon the microprocessor, whereby the clock speed is variable, the pin count is low, and the processor has on-board DRAM controls.

None of these things are new as of 1998, when the app was filed, and none are patent-worthy.

"Five PC Vendors" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217035)

Interesting, all of the manufacturers "happened" to be major Japanese PC vendors, and they are sued by a company called "Patriot Scientific?" Is this some sort of retaliation acts for Pearl Harbor?

PROFIT! (4, Insightful)

chadamir (665725) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217049)

I think that I have finally realized the missing part of this infamous formula:

1. Do X
2. ????
3. Profit.

The missing variable has been right in front of our eyes all along. It's sue everybody.

variable processor speed???? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217054)

my 386 did this with the turbo button.

maybe that particular patent has more specifics that make it unique, but come on, the idea is pretty old and it was lame then (for a desktop that is hehe. control the speed of dos games :)

Japanese Companies Only? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217060)

Does anyone notice that ALL 5 companies are originally from Japan?
Coincidence?

Give Jeff a call... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217074)

(858) 549-4232

Let him know how you feel.

Yahoo [yahoo.com]

Company Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217085)

Patriot Scientific Corp.
10989 Via Frontera
San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: (858 ) 674-5000
Fax: (858 ) 674-5005

Officers:
Donald R. Bernier, Chmn.,
Jeffrey Wallin, Pres./CEO,
Lowell Giffhorn, CFO/Exec. VP/Secy.

Number of employees: 8

Chuck Moore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8217080)

There's already the standard lot of knee jerk comments re. "stupid patents" and "who are these guys". Well given the state of the /. community its no real surprise but does the name Charles (Chuck) Moore ring any bells? Do a little work and see what he's been doing over the last, oh, thirty five or so years before crapping on. Although going after the customers is a little odd there's a chance the patent is actually about something useful. Chuck did some fancy chips many moons ago . I read it but h/w isn't my field so I can't judge the novelty. Iis the latch with differently clocked in and out that novel? Sounds useful but did someone do it first?

chill, people (5, Insightful)

dandelion_wine (625330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217087)

Seller sues vendors for microprocessor patent infringement. Not news.

Seller wins lawsuit against vendors for microprocessor infringement. News.

Let me know how it turns out.

It's Moore's old Forth machine (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8217115)

I actually saw one of those once, back in the 1980s. Very cute. A dead end, but cute. More crunch power with fewer gates than anybody else. In the first implementation, divide didn't work right for odd divisors.

Claim 1 does have some breadth. Arguably, though, this only covers systems with on-chip main memory (not cache) using more than half the real estate, some cache, and a variable-speed clock. Some microcontrollers fit those criteria, but they're not the most common ones. Bigger CPUs have off-chip memory, and low-end microcontrollers often have no cache system at all.

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