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Xerox Patent Ruled Invalid, palmOne Exonerated

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the not-so-inventive-after-all dept.

Patents 154

An anonymous reader writes "palmOne has issued a press release, that a court has found that the patent that Xerox was using to sue Palm for its character entry method, and was developed in house, didn't infringe because the patent was invalid." The case was first brought against 3Com Corporation back in 1997 before they spun off the Palm brand name.

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154 comments

Bad Patent Error (5, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224562)

Error! Your patent is invalid. Press the any key.

Re:Bad Patent Error (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224634)

Hey, thats no fair.. Advertising a journal entry in your sig that is closed for comments. Post something new.

Convince me to try Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224563)

I consider myself to be an above average PC user. I currently use Windows
XP Pro and find things easy to use and fairly stable.

What advantages does Linux have over Windows?

What can I do with Linux that I can't with Windows?

About 4-5 years ago I messed around with Red Hat 6.1 (I believe...forget
which version exactly). While I found the new environment kind of
interesting to screw around with, it seemed rather pointless. I never did
get my modem, or my sound card to work with it. Apparently they were not
supported (or I need to create my own drivers??). After an hour or two, I
was finally able to mount my zip drive. I was clueless over many of the
choices I apparently had, for example Gnome vs KDE? How do you determine
what desktop to use? I bet most on here don't even use a "windowish"
environment. It seemed setting up most things required the editing of text
files in random directories. I eventually grew frustrated at what seemed to
be a lack of basic functionality and went back to Windows 98 and haven't
touched Linux since.

Have things with Linux changed? Will I still need to edit random text files
or write my own drivers to get my sound card or network card to work?

I understand what the whole open source and Linux community are trying to
accomplish, but I'm not convinced it will ever come close to the popularity
of Windows. The learning curve seems too steep and most people (myself
included) do not have the time (or patience) to spend hours and hours a day
trying to figure out how to setup hardware or do simple tasks that would
take less than 5 minutes with Windows.

--
Dan

Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (5, Interesting)

Insideo (171350) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224569)

I can't stand Graffiti 2... maybe its just because I spent so long using the original Graffiti, but it would make my day if it came back.

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (3, Interesting)

los furtive (232491) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224637)

Hear hear! I've been going nuts with my Tungsten E, having owned a Palm IIIe for the longest time before. Even after five months I still make the same mistakes. I refuse to be forced to learn yet another alphabet.

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (2, Informative)

Cyberglich (525256) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224743)

i have upgraded from a IIIc to a t3 and i hated it. Tealscrip (shareware) dose a pretty go job hacking it back till Palmsource cooks up a new firmware (perhaps when 6.0 comes out :) )

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (5, Informative)

jomas1 (696853) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224722)

You can probably put Graffiti 1 on your Graffiti 2 Palm device. See this link for one method:

http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_stor y.asp?ID=5830

Howto: Replace Graffiti 2 with Original Graffiti (5, Informative)

jomas1 (696853) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224747)

Don't know how to make my link work.

Here is the meat of the graffiti switch article from Palminfocenter if you want to use graffiti 1 instead of graffiti 2:

Step 1
Use a handheld that has the original Graffiti system installed , Use a handheld file manager, such as FileZ, to locate the following files (You will need to check the ROM box, as the files are stored in the device ROM):

Graffiti Library.prc, size: 30k, creator: grft
Graffiti Library_enUS.prc, size 22k, creator: grft

Step 2
Beam or copy the above 2 files to the target handheld you want to install original Graffiti on.

Step 3
Preform a soft reset (simply press the devices reset pin), and you're set to start enjoying original Graffiti again.

PIC tested this procedure with a Tungsten T and were able to successfully install Graffiti over Graffiti 2 on a Tungsten T2, Zire 71, Tungsten C and a Sony Clie NX80V. Other models that run Palm OS 5 should also be compatible. Even after the replacement the write anywhere on screen feature of Palm OS 5.2 still function as normal, even on the Tungsten C. The on-screen Graffiti reference also reverts back to the original guide.

Re:Howto: Replace Graffiti 2 with Original Graffit (1)

Bob Zer Fish (568540) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225346)

I think that you want to do this: go to palminfocenter.com [palminfocenter.com]

You use the a href tag: [a href="http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_stor y.asp?ID=5830"]blah blah [/]
where you swap the [] for the less than and greater than signs. hth

Re:Howto: Replace Graffiti 2 with Original Graffit (1)

jpmkm (160526) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225475)

To make the link work, take the space out of story. Slashcode puts it there so that people can't widen the page.

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (0)

eyrich (33605) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224864)

I agree, I hate g2! I want a patch to put G1 on my T3

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224906)

see http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=108499&cid=922 4747

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (4, Interesting)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224904)

You either love Graffiti 2 or hate it. I too used Graffiti for along time. I always thought some characters were weird, and I never managed to make my letter 'e's such that they'd be recognized as 'e's the first try.

It took me only about a week to switch my brain to using Graffiti 2, but I like it much better. All of the alphabeting characters can be written "normally" and in lower-case. (Grafitti was a weird mix of upper- and lower-case.)

My only complaint about Graffiti 2 is that the "puntuation shift" is too involved what with the leading and trailing upstroke. But overall, I like Graffiti 2 much better.

Re:Does this mean Graffiti will make a return? (1)

edbarrett (150317) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225424)

I thought Graffiti was neat in 1995 [google.com], but after using the Newton 2.0 HWR from later that year on until I retired my 2100 last year, going to the Graffiti-alike on the Zaurus is really, really primitive. From what I've seen of TabletXP, that HWR looks like what I'd really like to use, but then I'd be stuck running XP :)

About time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224571)

I hate fuckin' graffiti 2.

Good news / bad news (4, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224572)

The good news, I guess, is that a dumb patent got invalidated. The bad news is, it took 7 years. How many small companies could keep up a legal battle that long?

Re:Good news / bad news (5, Interesting)

dereklam (621517) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224645)

The good news, I guess, is that a dumb patent got invalidated.

I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

My understanding of the algorithm is that Xerox devides the Graffiti area into 9 ``blocks.'' The recognition algorithm tracks which block the stylus starts in, the end block, and the blocks through which the stylus travels. The recognition is fast and accurate, because each letter is simply an encoding of (start, end, intermediate blocks).

This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious. Palm copied PARC's Graffiti alphabet because the algorithm was so elegant.

Have you tried Graffiti 2? It's slower and less accurate.

Re:Good news / bad news (4, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225127)

This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious

It's not "dumb" maybe.

But obvious? The trouble is that to one not skilled in the art, everything seems non obvious.

A good test for obviousness is:

Can you think of a more obvious method?

Re:Good news / bad news (3, Insightful)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225128)

That algorithm is fairly obvious. Similar algorithms are used all the time in computer science. I even wrote one about 3 years ago, without ever being told anything about such algorithms. If you think about the problem at hand, the solution makes sense. I could have easily made a commercial product using something similar with no knowledge of Xerox's patent. Now if Xerox's source code was stolen and copied, that would be one issue, but simply using an idea and then making it yourself with your own source code, there should be nothing wrong with that. I didn't RTFA but the my understanding is that they didn't steal the source code. Ideas shouldn't be patentable.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Good news / bad news (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225291)

I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

My understanding of the algorithm is that Xerox devides the Graffiti area into 9 ``blocks.'' The recognition algorithm tracks which block the stylus starts in, the end block, and the blocks through which the stylus travels. The recognition is fast and accurate, because each letter is simply an encoding of (start, end, intermediate blocks).

This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.

It's obvious, e.g. the graffiti area can discern the position of the stylus with a resolution of, say, 45 along the vertical axis and 90 horizontally. Now, trying to come up with a quick, low processing requirement method of mapping characters leads directly to the question of "how fine a resolution do we need to track?" This then leads to the answer, "if we come up with our own simple alphabet, we can cut it down to as low as a three by three grid". It may not be obvious to YOU, but anyone trying to solve the problem of handwriting recognition would think of it based on the first rule of solving ANY problem: SIMPLIFY.

The reason graffiti2 sucks so badly is that they were forced to use a decoding method that was neither simple nor elegant, as Xerox claimed a patent on the obvious solution to the problem.

Re:Good news / bad news (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225300)

"I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?"

Gee, I don't know, perhaps the fact that the patent has been ruled INVALID? Which indicates that it should never have been applied for (and granted) in the first place. Based on this information, I would be willing to go out on a limb and call it "dumb".

Obvious, and prior art too (4, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225576)

This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.

The "dumb" part is that such an obvious algorithm with prior art was granted a patent.

Palm copied PARC's Graffiti alphabet because the algorithm was so elegant.

Er, no.

Graffiti was invented by Palm. Xerox was developing Unistrokes around the same time, and giving lectures about it, and generally not keeping it a secret.

The patent is not specifically about Graffiti. Xerox basically patented the whole idea of a handwriting recognition alphabet where each letter is a single stroke. And that idea is obvious.

How can I claim it's obvious? Well, think about it. What's the #1 problem in character recognition on a PDA? Figuring out which stroke is part of which letter. Did the user want to write a 't', or did he want to write an 'i' followed by a '-'? Gee, life is so much simpler with the letters like 'c', 'z', 'o', etc., where there is just one stroke. Hang on... what if all letters were just one stroke? Then we don't need to figure out which stroke is part of which letter!

Entirely because of the Xerox lawsuit, Palm rolled out Graffiti 2. It's major difference from Graffiti is... not every letter is one stroke. Some are two strokes. It's dumb that they had to do that; there is zero benefit to the consumer here.

According to the PalmOne press release, the appeals judge ruled that a) this idea is obvious, b) there was prior art, so therefore c) the patent is not valid and PalmOne doesn't have to pay Xerox.

steveha

Re:Good news / bad news (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225734)


This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.


If the patent [uspto.gov] was only for the algorithm you describe, then I might agree.

But claim 1 essentially claims any form of reading "unistrokes", converting them to letters, and then displaying them.

Would someone skilled in the art find it easier to build such a device after reading claim 1?

I don't think so.

-- this is not a .sig

Re:Good news / bad news (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225770)

I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

Allow me to clarify this, what's dumb about it is that it's a software patent. There are some people who have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of thing, especially since the length of time it takes a patent to expire in the U.S. poses serious problems for software development. Also, software patents encourage a game in which only monied interests can play, which excludes the majority of open source tinkerers.

Re:Good news / bad news (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224674)

How many small companies could keep up a legal battle [for 7 years]?

True (and outrageous) ... but of litigation in general, of course, and not solely patents.

Re:Good news / bad news (2, Insightful)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224712)

Ofcourse, palm was bought out during the litigation, so you could argue they didn't survive the legal battle.

The only ones who can survive patent lawsuits are the truly gigantic corporate behemoths like microsoft and ibm. They have the patent portfolio to ensure that they can crosslicense their way out of most of the litigation, and the deep pockets to drag out the court case long enough that the other side gives up, regardless of the merits.

Re:Good news / bad news (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224818)

How many small companies could keep up a legal battle that long?

Well, 3com could.

Ok, so it's a small company now though :-)

It's not a stupid patent, but overly general (2, Informative)

perkr (626584) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225499)

The recognition part is not the "core" of the patetnt, the core is a specialized alphabet that 1. allows faster text entry and 2. easy to recognize since it's "unistroke" e.g. one single stroke per character. However the patent is riddiculously general, the recognition part IS 1. obvious and 2. known in the science since the 60s, it's really not novel. And specialized simplified alphabets like Unistrokes have been known since the 17th century in various shorthand alphabets in UK and Germany. So in summary, it's excellent that the patent is invalidated.

Prior Art (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224573)

The original patent was assigned to a Sumerian scribe. I guess any license fees should go to Iraq.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224574)

Was this patent a bad one? I havn't RTFA, but I would think the specific Graffiti method might be somthing that would be good to patent...

Good! (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224577)

I hated Graffiti 2... long live the original graffiti. Actually, I never stopped using Graffiti because I never upgraded my PalmOS beyond 4.1

Re:Good! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224655)

Note that you mean, literally, 4.1. I was unlucky enough to get an m130 with 4.1.2, which is 4.1 "upgraded" to Grafitti 2.

Text (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224579)

palmOne Wins Summary Judgment Invalidating Xerox's Unistroke Patent

MILPITAS, Calif., May 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- palmOne, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLMO) announced that summary judgment had been issued in its favor dismissing Xerox Corporation's claim that palmOne's former text-entry system, Graffiti(R), infringed a Xerox patent. In a decision released today, Judge Michael A. Telesca of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York held that the Xerox patent was invalid.

The summary judgment ruling will result in the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Xerox in 1997 against Palm, Inc. and its former parent, 3Com Corp. Palm, Inc. has since spun off PalmSource, Inc., maker of the Palm OS(R) platform, and acquired Handspring, Inc. to form palmOne, Inc. palmOne had retained liability for the Xerox matter.

"We firmly believed that the broad interpretation of the patent, as it evolved in this case, would render the patent invalid," said Mary Doyle, senior vice president and general counsel for palmOne. "We are very pleased that this court has agreed."

"This is a terrific outcome," said Todd Bradley, palmOne president and chief executive officer. "We've persevered for years to achieve this result and the vindication palmOne deserves."

The Xerox patent in question is U.S. Patent No. 5,596,656, which covered unistroke symbols. The court held that the patent was invalid because, "The prior art references anticipate and render obvious the claim," or that the unistroke system was not a unique invention.

About palmOne, Inc.

palmOne, Inc. delivers what matters most to customers -- whether a single consumer or company of thousands -- enabling users to improve their personal lives and professional productivity through mobile devices and solutions.

palmOne is the name adopted in October 2003 by Palm, Inc., when it spun off PalmSource, Inc., maker of the Palm OS(R) platform software, and acquired Handspring, Inc. Uniting the Zire(TM), Tungsten(TM) and Treo(TM) subbrands, the creation of palmOne launched a new, stronger market leader in handheld computer and communications hardware and software solutions.

More information about palmOne, Inc. is available at http://www.palmOne.com .

NOTE: palmOne, Zire, Tungsten, Treo and Palm OS are among the trademarks or registered trademarks owned by or licensed to palmOne, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other brand and product names are or may be trademarks of, and are used to identify products or services of, their respective owners.

SOURCE palmOne, Inc.

The ancient family curse! (5, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224589)

Man, some of these lawsuits get handed down through the generations (computer time). I bet 3Com/Palm/palmOne is glad to see the end of this. In each year's company report, they had to keeping listing it in the Oh Yeah, We're Being Sued section.

Ttis i2 qrent? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224593)

! st1l. hann/t gof us3d to grattit! Z yet,

Re:Ttis i2 qrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224620)

lol

Graffiti (5, Interesting)

someguy456 (607900) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224594)

Now what is Palm doing to do about Graffiti?

They had previously let go of Graffiti and developed their own Graffitti2. and made everyone learn new keystrokes. If they go back now, everyone who learned Graffiti2 is not going to be happy However, I'd be willing to bet that not everyone has upgraded, and many, if not most, are still using Graffiti1. Maybe they will include both, and have the user decide?

Re:Graffiti (4, Insightful)

magsilva (59637) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224669)

They could offer both options, Graffiti and Graffiti2, so you could select the one that best fit you. I'd love that, Graffiti works much better for me.

Re:Graffiti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9225443)

This is definitely what they should do. I can't stand Graffiti2, but I know others who love it.

For now I've made do with the hack to get G1 onto my Zire 71 (no clue if it works with newer T3s or 72s), but it'd be nice to not have to resort to unsupported hacks just to choose my recognition system.

Depends on the Jot license (1)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224683)

Grafitti 2 is based on Jot. If the license is fully paid up, I don't see Palm going back to the original Grafitti.

Re:Graffiti (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224711)

If they're smart, they'd piss off that small group of people who like Grafitti 2 and go back to G1. I always hear the same thing: G2 is easier to learn for people who've never used a PDA, but G1 only takes a little longer and is much faster and more accurate for the rest of the life of your device.

I will not buy another G2 Palm. Right now, there are viable options (such as TealScript [tealpoint.com]) to give owners of newer units G1 capability, but as with any closed source application and OS combination, it will only continue to work for as long as it's updated to work with new systems. As soon a TealPoint gets tired of supporting it, the product dies, and I lose the possibility of updating to newer hardware and actually being able to use it.

I've tried and tried to get used to G2, but I just can't. If Palm re-adopts G1, I will continue to buy their devices. If they don't, I'll go back to using a DayRunner (which accepts any handwriting style and has a place to put my checkbook).

Re:Graffiti (4, Interesting)

DdJ (10790) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224714)

I had Graffiti when it was a separate product for Apple's Newton and General Magic's Magic Cap systems. I had a Palm III, Visor DX, and Visor Pro, running PalmOS. Now I've got a Palm Tungsten T3.

The Tungsten T3 ships with Graffiti 2. It's IMHO awful.

Here's an example of how: The letter "t" is done by a vertical top-to-bottom stroke followed by a horizontal left-to-right stroke. You can do them in either order. The letter L is done by a vertical top-to-bottom stroke. A space is done by a horizontal left-to-right stroke. What happens when you want to begin or end a word with the letter L? Bad things. There are habits you can learn to avoid problems, but it's much more difficult (for me) than Graffiti 1 was.

There's a set of files you can install on a Tungsten T3 or other Graffiti 2 handheld to make it start using Graffiti 1. I've got it installed. It makes the system usable for me.

Now, some of the Graffiti 2 patterns are actually better than Graffiti 1. For example, I can more reliably write a "G" with Graffiti 2 than with Graffiti 1. And some symbols were entered by writing something other than numbers in the numeric area, which was faster than the normal "dot prefix" method from Graffiti 1, and wasn't unreliable or aggravating.

Having a global preference to switch between Graffiti 1 and Graffiti 2 would be a good thing. It's even what the Newton was doing near the end there -- there were multiple recognition systems and you could switch between them.

But even better would be if it could be done on a character-by-character basis. For each letter, give me a list of strokes and let me put checkboxes next to the ones I want to enable.

Re:Graffiti (2, Interesting)

mattdm (1931) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224798)

I had Graffiti when it was a separate product for Apple's Newton and General Magic's Magic Cap systems.

Which was *before* any date associated with the Xerox patent. I remember checking that when this first came up on slashdot several years ago. I don't understand why this case wasn't over in five minutes -- all they would have needed to do was bring in the box for the original software, show the copyright date to the judge, and everyone coul go home....

Re:Graffiti (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225528)

Incidentally Graffiti was also a product released for the Tandy/Casio/GRiD Z-PDA 7000/GRiDPad 2390, and you can use that version under GEOS on other devices, like the GRiDPad 1910.

Re:Graffiti (3, Interesting)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224760)

Personally, I like the way other systems, including my Sharp Zaurus, do handwriting input. First, they offer several single or multiple stroke inputs for each letter, then they give you the option on making you own.

The Zaurus even has a utility that lets you draw a stroke and it will tell you the three characters it most resembles, and the percentage of ressemblance. I used to think the keyboard on the Zaurus was the best input method, but I find a customized hand writing input just as effective.

Re:Graffiti (1)

phillymacmike (445518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225058)

Is it likely that Palm, right at the end of one 7-year curse for patent infringement, will copy someone else's handwriting input system?

The Zaurus system sounds very powerful and flexible, but the chances are very good that parts of that system are protected under various patents too.

It would take a lot of user feedback to get Palm to license ya third-party system, even if it works better especially since they've already paid for a second system.

Re:Graffiti (2, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224781)

They'll start offering both. Maybe they drop G2 the next time their licensing from Jot comes around, but I can't imagine thats costing them that much money. In truth there is very little difference between G1 and G2. T's, I's, V's, and making punctuation are the major ones. Long time Palm users had a lot of fun bitching about the change, but realize these are the same people who throw a shit-fit every time the size or shape of the stylus changes by more than a millimeter.

What happens now? (1)

lga (172042) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225212)

I'm hoping that the new PalmOne will release a software update to put the original Graffiti back on all the palms that don't have it. Perhaps future Palms can have a choice at first boot, Graffiti 1 or 2.

The real question, is are they going to sue Xerox for all the lost sales when they couldn't offer Graffiti 1?

Invalid Invalid Invalid (4, Insightful)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224595)

It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

When Edison patented many of his inventions they were as new and as alien as anything could be. Patent examination on these must have been pretty easy, even considering the entire process was manual.

I wonder how many patents would stand up to a further examination.

This deluge of bogus patents would seem to me to effect even the valid ones. If I tommorow came up with say a TRUE Anti-Gravity machine it would seem that everyone and their brother would try to get it invalidated for their own use. And I'm sore some people have patented Anti-Gravity machine that dont actually work, would these invalidate a patent that did actually work ?

I dont belive patents are bad, quite to the contrary I belive them neccesary, I think its their enforcment and their use in bullying that is wrong. If I come up with a whole new concept I would sure as hell want it protected. But as I said before the deluge of bogus patents would seem to put the whole process in question

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (4, Interesting)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224677)

Many of the parents wore just not possible before someone came up with a easy way to produce and store electricity. Many of the "inventors" wasnt the ones coming up with the ideas, just the first to patent them. Take Marconi as a nice example of how "good" patents worked back then.

Patents have always been a mess and i dont think any groundbreaking inventions can be said to stem from the patenting system. Military has been the biggest driving force behind new inventions.

The older the better or just selective history?

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224756)

Ah yes, Marconi, the guy who didn't invent the radio. His patent has failed to win against Nickola Teslas prior art 3 times in the courts. (It hasn't won against Tesla once that I know of.)

Seems that Teslas paper on wireless telography was published in Italy (and in Italian) 3 years prior to Marconi's device. (It was published in several European countries in native languages.)

Tesla even demonstrated the application of wireless telography at a worlds fair by using it to make a light go on/off. Though he didn't try morse code with it, or if he did, none of the fairgoers watching it noted it as such. (They probably couldn't read morse code if you hit them upside the head with a morse signal manual.)

Patents have been a screwy thing since a week after they started, maybe before. The only real difference is the level of stupidity of the new patent laws and examiners.... (I still think it's total BS that companies can patent something everyone knows they didn't create, and we have prior art going back thousands of years at least. Aka, Human DNA.) (Oh well, it's not as bad as US Copyright laws have gotten in a number of ways. yet...)

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224930)

Patents have always been a mess and i dont think any groundbreaking inventions can be said to stem from the patenting system.
Uh... the transitor was patented by AT&T. The almost immediate groundbreaking thing developed with them was cheap, portable radios. Companies sold lots of them. Pocket-sized radios were the iPods of the day.

patented invention != invention caused by patents (2, Interesting)

Adam J. Richter (17693) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225191)

Uh... the transitor was patented by AT&T.

But that doesn't show that patent incentive caused or even contributed to the invention of the transistor.

Evidence of patent incentive contributing to the invention of the transistor might be memos from Bell Labs executives saying that they would kill the project were it not for the potential of patent royalties. (I'm not saying that that is the only form of evidence that you could find. I just want to provide an example.)

Although I have not tracked the claims down, I've heard it said that Bell Labs's funding was largely the result of the phone company's profit being legally limited. So, if the phone company thought they were going to make too much money in a given quarter, they'd dump it into Bell Labs, which worked on things that were of potential benefit to the phone company, rather than things that were useless to the phone company but could provide substantial patent royalty revenue.

Even if you show that the patent incentive caused or substantially contributed to the invention of the transistor, that still does not show that patents were worthwhile in this case. To do that, you have to estimate when someone else would have invented the transistor in the absence of patent incentives or with reduced patent incentives and show that the net benefit to society was probably greater with patent incentives of that magnitude.

To go from the question of whether patents were worthwhile in this positive example to the question of what the patent law should be, you have then measure the benefits in the positive cases (if you do show that they are examples of net benefit) against the costs of the negative cases (things that are patented that would have been invented anyway, patenting of non-inventions, litigation costs, etc.).

Obviously, this is a big empirical question. When I try to do the "math", I generally find that there are almost no examples of inventions where the patent incentive appears to have brought the invention about substantially faster or better than I think would have occurred without patents, and I see lots of examples of costly negative effects of patents.

Given that patnets are a deprivation of liberty, I think the benefit of the doubt should be made in favor of having less patent restriction. Adding that factor in, my belief at this time is that patents don't seem to be worth it for the public, in practice.

Re:patented invention != invention caused by paten (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225242)

I generally find that there are almost no examples of inventions where the patent incentive appears to have brought the invention about substantially faster or better than I think would have occurred without patents
The big example for patents being incentives are for drugs. Drug companies invest millions to develop a drug and they do it with the full knowledge that they'll be able to recoup their investment due to patent protection.

Re:patented invention != invention caused by paten (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225310)

Drug companies was a bad example since they mostly spend their money on antibaldness and wood enhanching. Most serious developing occur on universitys and institutions. The drug companies dont spend much money on basic research, theres no profit there.

Drugs are specifically an example of problems (1)

expro (597113) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225720)

Drug companies waste huge amounts of money trying to find alternative ways to solve already solved problems so that they can monopolize a drug. Between that and unreasonable FDA requirements, a free economy would seem to have to spend far less to achieve a better result than the current government-granted monopolies.

My doctor is wined and dined regularly by drug companies pedaling their monopolies. Why would that occur if they really had something new and worthwhile that sold itself.

I know of numerous cases of carefully scientifically verified alternative treatments that are not sold by drug companies because they are publicly known and cannot be monopolised, and when an existing drug monopoly goes out of patent, they make patentable modifications without improving the drug at all so they can put their marketing muscle behind another monopoly.

While the research benefits the companies, any help it provides for consumers is grossly overstated and underperforming because the emphasis is on monopoly, just like Microsoft.

So then we get lots more government regulation to control the spiraling costs of health care and make sure people don't buy drugs from Canada, etc.

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (1)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225060)

Hmm, lets see Edison patented the phonograph, his patent specifically stated it was side to side vibration of the stylus/needle. Path and some others lisenced this patent, others like Victrola decided a run around on the patent, they maded it an up and down motion of the stlus, circumventing the patents and it still carries through to the Vinyl pressed today.

MANY Major innovations have been not only a result of the patent but finding a way around the patent and actually coming up with a BETTER way to do it as a result

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (2, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224730)

It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

With the number of patent applications coming in, it is hard to validate every single one of them completly, not to mention costly. Also remember that things that shouldn't be patentable, IMO, such as software and business models are. The patent clerks don't know everything that is going on in the world, so won't always find prior art in the time allocated.

For the government it is cheaper to let the patentee and the 'infringing' party to fight over it in court.

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (2, Interesting)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224733)

It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ? ... I wonder how many patents would stand up to a further examination.

There are those who would see this as a vindication of the current system. What's the harm in issuing bad patents when they are inevitably invalidated? I do not share this veiw. Palm has obviously been damaged by Xerox's patent aggression: the cost to license Jot, the R&D and marketing to incorporate it into the product, and the consumer confusion, to say nothing of the effort to actually invalidate the patent.

Until its incentive structure changes, the patent office will continue to hand out patents like leis at a luau. A recent Slashdot article [slashdot.org] notes that Microsoft is applying for ten a day [eweek.com]. That's called working the system (or, as those who have already worked the system say, catching up). I'm willing to believe that a few tens of thousands of the world's highest paid engineers can come up with a few novel ideas, but I also believe that Edison was too liberal in his assessment that genius is only 99% perspiration.

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224975)

I'll bet that if the USPTO was made liable for the legal costs of successfully invalidating a patent, they'd be a LOT more careful about granting bad patents.

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (3, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224859)

It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

Its simple. The guidelines the patent office works with say that they are to assume a patent is valid unless clear evidence to the contrary is presented. If its invalid, the courts will sort it out. This maximizes their revenue, which is based on patents approved.

Juries in patent cases, OTOH, are (or possibly were) given guidelines telling them to, if there was any doubt, assume that the patent was valid. As if it was invalid, the patent office wouldn't have granted it, right? This is why the vast majority of bogus patent challenges go to the patent-holder in the first round and the inventor (*) on appeal.

(*) - Inventor as the person who actually designed and built the device is almost never the patent-holder these days.

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (1)

JohnQPublic (158027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224978)

Its simple. The guidelines the patent office works with say that they are to assume a patent is valid unless clear evidence to the contrary is presented.

Then again, maybe not. From last Sunday'sWashington Post Style section [washingtonpost.com]:

LIFE IS SHORT | Autobiography as Haiku

Sunday, May 16, 2004; Page D01

Like sifting for gold, patent examining can be a scrupulous activity. I mutter my mantra . . . find a way . . . find a way . . . there must be a way. My eyes scan documents and reference books with a determined fluidity. My brain wheels churn in frustration. Pausing for a moment, I gently massage my right wrist with my left thumb. In the background, I can hear the steady beat of my clock. Tick. Tick. Tick. Finally, as 12 strikes, I see it. A sly smile grows on my face, and my eyes gleam. Smelling success, I reach for the stamp. REJECTED.

Sindya Narayanaswamy

Re:Invalid Invalid Invalid (1)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225042)

It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place?

Because the USPTO gets revenue from patent applications. The whole system is set up to encourage volume and not quality. I'd say that a smart way to show the damage done by junk patents is to show that the cost of the court proceedings is at least as much as the revenue generated. I'm not saying that this is the case, but I suspect that it eventually will be, and the point can be made that even though they both cost the taxpayer, one of the ways clogs up the courts and costs people jobs (because company finances are being allocated to fight unnecessary legal battles).

Re:Invalid Invalid ... not yet necessarily final (1)

waterbear (190559) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225558)

The party's not necessarily over yet.

A summary judgment could get overturned on appeal, the case could be remanded back for trial, then trial judgment or verdict could be questioned on appeal, there could be more remands and appeals after that ....... just in case you thought 7 years to summary judgment is slow ..... :-(

Whether any of this happens depends on how the patentee and its lawyers view the reasons given for summary judgment, and either carry on or drop it.

-wb-

Cowboy Kneel is a massive asshole (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224597)

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Dear god.. (5, Funny)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224604)

The summary judgment ruling will result in the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Xerox in 1997 against Palm, Inc.

1997?! Thats 7 damn years ago. Please God, don't let this SCO thing go on that long. Finish them off with a bolt of lightning right now.

Re:Dear god.. (3, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224783)

Thats 7 damn years ago. Please God, don't let this SCO thing go on that long. Finish them off with a bolt of lightning right now.

That bolt just struck. IBM requested Summary Judgement this week. If it's granted, Linux will be in the clear, and IBM will have a field day with some of their Lanham-act counterclaims.

Not to mention the DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone cases will fall like the houses of cards that they are. Red Hat should have an easy time with their case. And the Novell case is already not-unlikely to be dismissed.

The question is, who is going to go on propping up SCO once Linux is out of the picture, and there's just a Kamikaze attack on IBM, hardly likely to leave a dent, left.

Re:Dear god.. (1)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225823)

The DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone cases have nothing to do with LINUX. Those cases are about those companies taking the SCO library and running that library on another OS (which just happens to be linux). The two cases are over a possible breech of contract and not about linux directly. (I do think this is part of an anti-linux campaign, but legally it has nothing to do with linux directly.)

Re:Dear god.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9225135)

lightining bolt! lightining bolt! death! death!

Graffiti2 to Graffiti1 fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224617)

Is there a fix for devices like the Clie to return it to using the original Graffiti pen strokes?
Graffiti2 is bloody awful - especially the letter 'i' which requires 2 strokes instead of one and is misinterpreted over half the time as another letter.

Re:Graffiti2 to Graffiti1 fix? (5, Informative)

Trongy (64652) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224713)

Is there a fix for devices like the Clie to return it to using the original Graffiti pen strokes?

Yes there is a way. You have to get the Graffiti1 files from a Palm OS 5 device such as the Palm Tungsten T.

This article explains how [palminfocenter.com].

The letter i in Graffiti2 is really anoying, also k and t are a pain. Making x a two stroke character is acceptable only because it occurs so infrequently in English.

Re:Graffiti2 to Graffiti1 fix? (2, Informative)

timcrews (763629) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224952)

The program TealScript (www.tealpoint.com [slashdot.org]) lets you create any set of strokes you want, including the original Grafitti. When I originally heard about the Xerox suit, I became intrigued by the real unistroke alphabet, which is drastically and obviously different than Grafitti. See http://sandbox.parc.xerox.com/parctab/csl9501/node 4.html [slashdot.org]

I used TealScript to create a profile that allows me to write using the Xerox unistroke alphabet. After years of use, I have become more proficient. It is indeed faster than Grafitti and much less error prone, because each character is very easily distinguishable from all other characters.

I personally find the FITALY keyboard (www.fitaly.com [slashdot.org]) to be far faster than any handwriting recognition (5x-10x). I do have accuracy problems, but even taking the time for error correction into account, I would estimate I am 3 times faster with FITALY than with unistroke character recognition.

There's obviously something I don't know about how to create a hyperlink in a slashdot post, since all of the above three links are pointing to slashdot somehow. Sorry about that. The displayed text of the URLs is correct. I used the A HREF tag to create them. I did not find any info in the FAQ on how to do this.

OS Call To Arms (2, Insightful)

LaBlueCow (768184) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224735)

Do I hear an open-source movement in the making? Art and math geeks devising a new free-as-in-beer method of defining strokes -> letters/numbers/symbols, then creating a tiny footprint massively portable OS for palm devices that can be flashed in over the existing palm OS?
Sounds like a plan to me.

Re:OS Call To Arms (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224946)

Art and math geeks devising a new free-as-in-beer method ...
I don't know what open-source method you're talking about, but the one most people know and love is free as in speech, not beer. (Whether it's free as in beer is largely irrelevant.)

You start - post some code, jackass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9225464)

PalmOS()
{ // erm, I dunno - I was hoping someone else // would write it
[ CODE GOES HERE ]
}

What is it with Xerox ... (5, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224779)

It seems that a lot of really nifty things (the mouse, the desktop, and apparently Graffiti) were developed at Xerox, and never produced. Then someone else says "wow, that's stunning" and makes millions off of it. Its not like Xerox lacks the resources to go after these things, more like the ambition. It seems like a perfect case of "we want a monopoly on this, not because we have any intention of even trying to produce it" patents, as opposed to the "I've got this cool idea, but my lottery investment strategy has yet to pay off, would someone like to license it" patents.

Re:What is it with Xerox ... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224927)

Xerox spent a fortune on R&D in the early eighties. A huge volume of the ideas behind modern computing came out of their Palo Alto Research Center. The problem was, the place was managed by researchers, who didn't have the vision on how to commercialise the products. So the actual engineers started quitting and building their own companies to produce the stuff they'd designed.

Re:What is it with Xerox ... (1)

JohnQPublic (158027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225030)

Xerox ran some of the last remaining pure-research corporate labs, and the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was one of them. IBM Research was another such outfit, and like Xerox it is a major generator of patents. Pure research isn't about producing commercial products (that's applied research), it's about investigating interesting stuff and increasing the world's knowlege base. They payoff to a sponsoring company for that (in the USA, anyway) is the exclusive ownership of some of those results for a limited period of time.

You could say the same thing about Hewlett-Packard, at least in the old days. While it didn't have a pure-research operation, it did frequently grant rights over on-the-job creations to the staff who made them, when the business turned out not to be interested in commercializing the result.

Re:What is it with Xerox ... (3, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225037)

It seems that a lot of really nifty things ... were developed at Xerox, and never produced.
I've heard similar things about IBM Research. While they've not patented everything they've invented, they've invented lots of stuff. But a lot of that stuff never made it to market as products.

My theory is that this sort of thing tends to happen with large companies that have research divisions. (A notable exception is AT&T which I'll get back to in a bit.) My theory as to why this happens is that management either doesn't "get it" for a lot of the things developed, or is too afraid to take action.

For the "failure to 'get it'" part, they fail to see how many inventions, as novel as they may be, will be a success in the marketplace. Management in large companies tends to be very short-sighted and often bad predictors of where the market will go.

For the "too afraid" part, a lot of managers like to keep the status quo because it means low-risk both for the company as a whole and the own careers. No manager wants to sign off on a new product only to have it fail miserably in the market.

There needs to be a few managers with both vision and guts. If they either sufficiently high-up in the company or have enough convincing power, new products come to market. Sometimes what happens, however, is that they get disgusted with their company's inaction and quit to form start-ups.

As for AT&T, the reason they've been an exception is because, back in the good old days before divestiture, their research division was focused on doing pure research without any concern for bringing their research to market. They patented lots of things. Indeed, the Bell Labs motto was, "A patent a day," and it was pretty much accurate. However, AT&T never bothered to enforce its patents or sue anybody back then and pretty much gave away their inventions. Why? Because they viewed it as "giving something back" for being allowed to be the benevolent monopoly for the phone company. Of course once divestiture happened, all that changed. It's kind of sad, really.

If anybody wants to try out Xerox's Unistrokes (1)

voodoo1man (594237) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224897)

If anybody wants to try out Xerox's Unistroke alphabet, a simple text editor that's trained to recognize Unistrokes is part of the demos that come with Garnet [cmu.edu] (source comes under a public domain license). Personally, I'm not too impressed, but then again, I find the whole notion of pen computing more of an annoying throwback to the 60s than anything else.

Re:If anybody wants to try out Xerox's Unistrokes (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224966)

I wrote an implementation of a Unistroke decoder back in that late nineties. Its a nice alphabet, a little faster to use than Graffiti, although much harder to learn. Graffiti could be seen as a compromise development on it, which I guess is what this was all about.

Use in Open Source projects (3, Interesting)

sfraggle (212671) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224900)

Does this mean it would now also be possible to develop an Open Source version of graffiti and use it on Linux-based palmtops for free?

Re:Use in Open Source projects (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224955)

Unless Palm have their own patents on it, I guess so.

The Xerox patent was on "unistrokes", a system that was _very_ similar to Graffiti, but is a little simpler to implement, faster to use, and harder to learn.

Unistroke uses only three types of stroke, a straight line, a curve through 90 degrees and a curve that crosses back over itself, which makes the recognition much easier than graffiti. The system was designed to be quick to use: common sequences of letters alternate in direction, so that you have to reposition your pen less frequently. The drawback is that these two factors mean that a lot of the strokes are non-obvious, bearing little or no relationship to the letter they encode.

all your patent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9224907)

all your patent are belong to us.

For those who don't know... (3, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9224936)

...here is how bad Graffiti 2 is. Why you write 't' the first stroke is an 'i'. When you make the horizontal stroke it sends a 'backspace' followed by a 't' to correct the incorrect 'i'. You can imagine how many applications are messed up by this. But it's worse: 'i' followed by a space (a horizontal stroke) is a 't'. So you have to wait between the 'i' and 'space' to make sure it doesn't come out as 't'. Please, please, pretty please, Palm bring back Graffiti 1. Graffiti 2 is like phoning people by rolling dice and pressing a button every time a digit you want comes up.

Grafitti 2 has bugs (1)

laing (303349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9225535)

If you turn on "autocomplete", it doesn't interoperate well with grafitti 2 when entering characters that require two strokes. I noticed this bug right away when I puchased my T2. Palm support knows about the problem but has no solution other than the "unsupported" one of installing the grafitti 1 libraries from a T1. That's what I did and I've been happy ever since.

Maybe now Palm will include both entry methods and give the user a choice of which one they want to use.
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