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Fallout From Japanese Patent On Help Icon

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the interesting-times dept.

Patents 372

MeridianOnTheLake writes "The Tokyo District Court has ordered the destruction of Ichitaro, a software product that is the only serious competitor in Japan to Microsoft Word, and has been on sale since 1985. The ruling is based on the claim of a competitor, Matsushita, that the use of a help icon to invoke a help function infinges on one of their patents. "We are a global enterprise and we are just following international practice to enforce our IP rights," Kitadeya (Matsushita) said." Here's more on the story, as covered by Bloomberg and The Japan Times.

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Obvious Question (3, Informative)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594672)

How about Microsoft? Is it too big to sue?

A surprising thing is Justsystem shares fell 3 yen, or 0.5 percent, to 600 yesterday - As if nothing happened?

Re:Obvious Question (2, Informative)

blackomegax (807080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594695)

thats still roughly SIX DOLLARS. i wonder how openoffice is viewed...

Re:Obvious Question (2, Informative)

forceflow2 (843966) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594727)

3 Japanese Yen is roughly 3 American cents...

Re:Obvious Question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594732)

thus 600 is roughly 6 dollars. get his point? its a CHEAP SHARE :p

Re:Obvious Question (2)

forceflow2 (843966) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594753)

Ah, thought he was referencing the 3 yen, my mistake.

Re:Obvious Question (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594783)

Because this is Slashdot, so it's old news.

I saw this on the cover of the Japan Times print edition the other day, which means the ruling came down weeks and weeks ago...

cross licensing (4, Interesting)

jeif1k (809151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594908)

Microsoft probably has a patent cross-licensing agreement with Matsushita, or at least they may have already forged an agreement (maybe as part of another deal). It actually stands to reason that Microsoft initiated all of this.

Where have I seen that before? (5, Funny)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594678)

Matsushita declined to say whether it thinks any other software vendors may be infringing its patent.

Gee, do you think there might be any other software out there that uses a help icon? *cough* *coughwindowsmacoswordexcelaccesspowerpointwordper fect--* *sputter* *choke*

Now if only someone had patented "Clippy" (3, Funny)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594681)

If only someone would sue Microsoft for Clippy, we could finally be rid of the biggest annoyance in Microsoft Office.

Re:Now if only someone had patented "Clippy" (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594703)

Clippy may be liable under EPA guidelines, as it certainly pollutes desktops.

Re:Now if only someone had patented "Clippy" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594779)

Not with Chimpy McFlightsuit in the white house he ain't.

Re:Now if only someone had patented "Clippy" (3, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594902)

If only someone would sue Microsoft for Clippy, we could finally be rid of the biggest annoyance in Microsoft Office.
  • Personally I think the biggest annoyance by far in Microsoft Office is it's inability to open older versions of it's own .doc format properly, and the fact that Microsoft seems to make sure the current version of the .doc format won't work in older versions nearly every release. Meanwhile you have Wordperfect's .wpd format that hasn't changed since version 6 and works just fine.
  • It's pretty sad when software can't even handle it's own proprietary format properly.

Re:Now if only someone had patented "Clippy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594914)

Close, but you fall short.

The biggest anoyance is that it's not using a standard format for those files. If it were, not only would you have compatability within the product family; but with other families (Adobe, F/OSS, etc) as well.

It's not the thing, it's the method (5, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594682)

If Ichitaro would have just used the standard Microsoft (that's the software platform they target) context-sensitive help, none of this would be an issue.

Instead, they hired on an ex-Matsushita employee and he went on to use the Matsushita patented method for the help system. So they sued, as is their right.

This is not a problem with the patent system. However what it does bring up is "How much knowledge can you take away from your previous employer, even if all that knowledge is just in your head?" As we gain ground in technology, such to the point that Johnny Bnemonic-style memory expansion is possible, how can patent holders and companies owning "trade secret" IP be protected from information pirates?

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594705)

...how can patent holders and companies owning "trade secret" IP be protected from information pirates?
They can't.

That is why this is a problem with the patent system.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (4, Insightful)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594710)

More to the point, as more and more of the things in the world become patented how are we to protect the people from the patent holders.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (5, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594750)

I hate to be the one to defend software patents, because I really despise them, but in this case, as in most others, it's the infringing company that's getting hurt, and not "the people".

p.s. Of course, the people are getting hurt indirectly, as they are thus deprived of a choice in the marketplace.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (3, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594907)

I hate to be the one to defend software patents, because I really despise them, but in this case, as in most others, it's the infringing company that's getting hurt, and not "the people".

p.s. Of course, the people are getting hurt indirectly, as they are thus deprived of a choice in the marketplace.

  • So ultimately software patents screw over the public no matter what. While Matsushita may be in the right here, software patents are what created the mess and the public still loses. Just even more proof that software patents are bad ideas.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594921)

It seems like every user of that software is being hurt. Imaging training on a piece of software since '85 only to have it discontinued.

Feels like when Exluna killed BMRT thanks to Pixar IP concerns. It sucked. Thousands of my man hours went to waste.

watch your language! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594723)

If Ichitaro would have just used....

If Ichitaro had just used....

This post brought to you by the letter 'P' and the number 6.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594735)

If Ichitaro would have just used the standard Microsoft (that's the software platform they target) context-sensitive help, none of this would be an issue.

It seems a little too convenient that the company being sued is Microsoft's only serious competitor.

Does anyone else smell the hand of Bill Gates, or is it just me?

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594868)

Does anyone else smell the hand of Bill Gates, or is it just me?

If you wish to spend the weekend smelling the hand of Bill Gates that is up to you. But you don't need to share it with all of us ;)

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (1)

scriptie the kid (856931) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594738)

"As we gain ground in technology, such to the point that Johnny Bnemonic-style memory expansion is possible, how can patent holders and companies owning "trade secret" IP be protected from information pirates?"

Corporate assasins armed with laser whippy light saber thingies maybe? That or we could always just kill off all the dolphins.

Re:It's not the thing, it's the method (5, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594760)

IIRC, it depends a lot on how obvious the method is (you're not supposed to be able to patent things that are trivial), whether the solution is in the public domain (you can't patent public knowledge) and when the patent was filed with respect to the alledged copy.


It also depends some on the reason why the patent infringement is coming up now. For example, since the company affected is a competitor to Microsoft, did Microsoft pay Matsushita to launch the lawsuit? IANAL, but there may be a case for appeal, if it turns out that the lawsuit was in bad faith, and/or is an attempt by Microsoft to gain further control of the Japanese office market by paying Matsushita to eliminate the only serious competitor.


In general, the courts tend to frown on being used subversively as the "enforcers" of a protection racket.


I'm not saying that this is what is happening. What I am saying is that there are enough suspicious circumstances to warrant a closer look at this, and that the Japanese courts might be persuadable that this isn't as innocent as it appears.


As for the "what you know" problem - since any work "could" be tainted by any prior experience, it would be impossible for any technical person to be re-hired within the lifetime of any patent they may have come into contact with. AT&T argued a similar line, against the BSDers, arguing that since they'd come into contact with AT&T proprietary knowledge, they were tainted and therefore so was any/all their subsequent work.


This is one reason I don't agree with the existing concept of IP. Nobody could ever have more than one job, and once they quit/leave/get sacked, they could NEVER be re-employed. IMHO, that is not protecting anybody and is clearly excessive.


Therefore, it should not be possible to "taint" work with IP, merely by being exposed to it. There has to be a far more material breach, and one which isn't protected against IP claims in some other way (such as being obvious, public domain, etc).

Patents must be published (4, Insightful)

brunos (629303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594778)

You are forgetting that if you patent something, it is not a trade secret anymore. You don't need Bnemonic style memory: all you need to do is read the patent, which is your legal right. How would you otherwise know what you are not allowed to copy?
Software patents are just ridiculous.

it has nothing to do with who worked where (2, Insightful)

jeif1k (809151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594895)

how can patent holders and companies owning "trade secret" IP be protected from information pirates?

Patents are not trade secrets. The fact that someone moved between companies doesn't make the patent claim any more valid.

Furthermore, the ossified Japanese economy needs to encourage mobility of workers, in particular, high-tech workers. The kind of exchange of knowledge and ideas that brings is essential to a high-tech economy. Even if your argument were valid that this has to do with employees moving between companies, it would still be a bad decision from that point of view.

What makes this patent particularly vile is that it was filed in 1989 but granted in 1998; this almost certainly constitutes a deliberate abuse of the patent system by Matsushita.

Most of the "ideas" that companies generate (in particular Japanese companies) were almost entirely developed in academia anyway; it is only companies that can afford to do carpet patenting in order to snare others in their so-called IP. Let's hope that universities will be fighting back aggressively by patenting themselves; once companies face huge patent portfolios without the ability to cross license, then maybe things will change.

Infinges (-1, Redundant)

hereschenes (813329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594683)

Tose supid paent pusers!! Wen wil thy larn??

Re:Infinges (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594774)

Learn how to spell homo.

Re:Infinges (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594793)

The grandparent can't help it, he is American and, therefore, very poorly educated.

Re:Infinges (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594869)

Flamebait!? Mod is obviously a YANKEE IMPERIALIST BASTARD!

Read it carefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594685)

Based on the patent-infinging use of help buttom, word-processing software is ordered to be destroyed...in Japan!

unfuckingbelievable (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594691)

this world has gone absolutely fucking insane.

I'm seriously considering moving to the wilderness. If there's any of that left.

Re:unfuckingbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594744)

yes, there is plenty of wilderness left, hippie. contrary to what you think, it has not been destroyed by "THE CORPORATE MACHINE!"

Re:unfuckingbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594790)

STFU you conservatard, imperialist bastard.

Re:unfuckingbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594875)

umm... not really. most of what's left is inhospitable to humans.

zerg (2, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594692)

Open Source the offending software, then let them try to take down SourceForge!

Re:zerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594838)

Quit fucking saying zerg!

as if more proof were needed (4, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594694)

This is all the more reason to order the destruction of software patents.

Also from TFA: Does the Japanese patent system have no concept of "prior art"? The patent in question was granted in 1998, but the products in "violation" has been on the market since 1985 and 1987.

Re:as if more proof were needed (4, Insightful)

stephenisu (580105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594716)

Were the infringing features added before 1998?

Re:as if more proof were needed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594724)

The patent in question was granted in 1998, but the products in "violation" has been on the market since 1985 and 1987.

The patent was applied for before 1985, it was only awarded in 1998. I'm not sure with the U.S., but in Japan the patent process is notoriously slow, that "Patent Applied" is mentioned on all new items. It seems to work pretty well as a deterant, as no one wants their ass sued off once the patent IS awarded.

That said, Just System WAS insisting that the exact same keyboard function which is not patented is prior art, while Matsushita insists that the same implementation in the GUI required a jump of inspiration, thus justifying the patent.

Re:as if more proof were needed (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594797)

I'm sure there is an example, so could anyone provide one where a software patent was indeed a good thing for an inovative feature?

Re:as if more proof were needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594878)

Good for whom? The inventor? The competitors? Society?

Anyway, RSA is the prototypical example of a "good" software patent.

For those wondering... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594696)

This is relatively old news in Japan, and the makers of Ichitaro (Just System) have appealed to a higher court. Until a final ruling is made, Ichitaro will be on sale as usual. The court refused to make a preliminary injunction against the Ichitaro software, which Matsushita had requested.

That said, the patent itself isn't regarding a Help Icon. It is the function where you first click on the help icon/button, and then on the particular function you need help with.

In court, Just System insisted that the Matsushita Patent was for a help ICON, which is usuall an item on the desktop, much like a file or folder, whereas the Just System Ichitaro used a button. The second point was that the "help" key on a keyboard already performed said function, and taking the keyboard to a GUI analogy did not require any insight, but was rather an obvious move as more and more keyboard functions were moved to the GUI.

The lower court found that the "icon" was used loosely and would be found to include the buttons-with-pictures as found in Ichitaro. As for the keyboard-to-gui concept, the court found that it would take more than obvious insight to make the leap, thus it was a valid invention.

Quite obviously, Matsushita was quite pleased that the court bought their story, while Just System was quite pissed off. By appealing to a higher court though, they did not need to immediately follow the ruling.

Whether you think this was fair game or not, keep in mind that this is pretty much what Microsoft did too with Win95 and IE. Keep the court case going long enough that the Win95/IE bundle was no longer relevant.

Re:For those wondering... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594709)

I forgot to mention.... Matsushita DID offer Just System the right to purchase a patent license to continue using the help feature. The price I am not aware of, but Just System pretty much told Matsushita to shove it.

That sounds a lot like... (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594721)

That said, the patent itself isn't regarding a Help Icon. It is the function where you first click on the help icon/button, and then on the particular function you need help with.

That sounds a lot like that [?] button in the toolbar in certain Microsoft programs and dialog boxes in Windows. It's pretty rare -- the feature didn't really seem to take off -- but it does exist here and there. When clicked, the mouse cursor gets a '?' next to it, and clicking a widget will pop up a tooltip-like description of what the widget does. I haven't used Windows for several years, so I can't be more specific or give any details. Maybe someone else knows more?

Re:That sounds a lot like... (2, Informative)

F13 (9091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594745)

Its contextual help. Applications can also have it in the help menu and on toolbars.

See msdn [microsoft.com] for more information

Re:That sounds a lot like... (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594763)

It's context help, and is used in many desktops, not just Windows. The icon only appears when the window can make use of it. Usually this is when the window is a dialog. KDE is one example. If the window sets the context help flag (it's a standard X11 WM hint), then the window titlebar will have that icon, and the appropriate message sent to the application when it is used. Right now as I type this my Konqueror window has this icon and it's fully functional.

Re:That sounds a lot like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594772)

It also is in kde applications. I don't know if others toolkits/independient aplications also uses the contextual help

Re:That sounds a lot like... (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594856)

Yeah, it does sound almost exactly like that. Almost every dialog Microsoft makes uses it. (Although I suppose they could have licensed it or just disabled the feature in the Japanese version.)

Easiest way to demo this is to bring up the Desktop properties window. The little [?] will be in the righthand corner next to the X. You can also right click on most of the items to see a context menu with "What's This?" on it.

It's also used in Microsoft Office applications and IE. In fact, I can't really think of any application that uses it that Microsoft didn't write. (Well, it turns out Nero 6 does, but it forgets the "What's This?" context menu and shows the context help immediately on a right click.)

Can anyone find something that explains exactly what they're being sued over? Microsoft has made something very similar a part of the standard Windows dialog controls for quite a while now.

Re:That sounds a lot like... (1)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594911)

In this Ichitaro's case, a '?' mark is accompanied with a relevant small image (or icon). In the standard context help of Windows, it's only a '?' mark and considered as a character, not icon. By adding an icon to the context help button, it was judged that it infringed the patent of Matsushita which was granted for their word-processor computer back in 1980's.

Ichitaro is here to stay (3, Informative)

pario (675744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594801)

I really don't think Ichitaro would disappear from the market anytime soon. Ichitaro used to dominate the word processor market back in the days of MS-DOS, just like Word Perfect did in the United States, and still remains a very important player. Major companies and a number of government branches still rely heavily on Ichitaro because it can produce documents in forms that are specific to the Japanese corporate and governmental culture, which is not possible with Microsoft Word. Just System is a major software company famous for their ATOK kana-kanji conversion system. Kana-kanji conversion systems are essential for Japanese input, and ATOK, with its smart lexical recognition AI engine, has been the unparalleled leader for over a decade.

SDRC (now UGS) I-DEAS CAD Software has this and (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594881)

it's called "Help On Context".

You click an icon, the cursor changes to question mark, then you click something else of interest.

A browser appears with whatever relevant information happens to be on hand for that particular item.

Of all the help systems, I like this one the best. Beats looking through indexes, of things you may or may not actually know about, to maybe sort of find the information of interest. (Assuming it exists in the first place.)

1 taro down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594697)

Many more ecchi taros to go!

we're not alone (3, Funny)

ianmalcm (591345) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594702)

Proof that the US patent and court systems arent alone in their noncompetitive lunacy.

Hopefully Nintendo does not sue /. for use of that Linux penguin icon, which is an obvious ripoff of Super Mario 64's snow level character.

Re:we're not alone (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594867)

uhem, the linux penguin has been around more well over a year before Super Mario 64. Sorry Nintendo, no case.

Re:we're not alone (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594887)

sorry retract that. It was less than a year, but it was still beforehand!

Dear Godzilla (5, Funny)

stephenisu (580105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594704)

In the enclosed envelope is a map of all Japanese Patent Offices.
They told me to tell you that your mother is a dishonorable dirty woman.

attatchment [jpomap.png]

Re:Dear Godzilla (1, Funny)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594726)

Godzilla's mother is a woman??? Uhm, it's not Ripley by any chance, right?

Openoffice? (1)

ricochet81 (707864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594706)

Openoffice isn't a serious competitor to MS Word?

Re:Openoffice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594719)

Nup.

Re:Openoffice? (0, Flamebait)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594913)

Nope. Running on a marginal OS doesn't make a product a serious competitor to anyone, but marginal software.

Don't take marginal in the bad sense. Just means low market penetration. That's all.

Wait a sec (2, Funny)

deusexcrottsma (700855) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594708)

Those bastards probably stole Clippy, too. Not that I ever tolerated Clippy's presence on the screen. In fact I hated him with a passion. But it's the principle of the the thing. Can't have Clippy ravaged and transmuted into a multitude of Japanese variants. He's the American Satan, not some overseas, sandal-wearing, fish-monger.

Re:Wait a sec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594764)

In Japan, Clippy is Anime-Clippy

Just you wait!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594924)

Someday someone is going to do something really clever with Microsoft's agent API, and you'll all still hate it out of habbit but everyone will use it.

That is so insane... (1, Interesting)

TheOnlyJuztyn (813918) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594711)

Is this kind of petty moneymaking really what the fathers of patent law intended? When is a court going to take a stand on this crap? We're talking about the legal ownership of common ideas here. I can see some places where it is useful, like velcro and the shape of a coke bottle, where the idea is actually unique - but being able to patent the use of an ICON to access a HELP page? - Both very common computer terms stiched together by an uninspiring and unoriginal idea. What's next, someone patenting the use of a 'Submit button' to pass data through a form? Whoops, slashdot's gotta a cease and desist notice knocking.

Where do we draw the line?

Re:That is so insane... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594876)

Maybe you should read the fucking article before posting righteous rantings.

Prior art (0, Redundant)

GtKincaid (820642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594713)

Oh come on , this is just silly . didnt this exist back on the early versions of the mac OS.

not to mention Gallerys with spoken tours on a button push .. that may be pushing it but this is so obvious

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594918)

RTFA, bub.

Not enough caffine... (1)

HeliumHigh (773838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594725)

Did anyone else read this as "Fallout Japanese Patent Needs Help?"

Really? Well, back to fallout2...

Even more filler? (5, Informative)

rafael_es_son (669255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594731)

By gosh the summary's innacuracy is comparable to Microsoft marketing propaganda. The article does not state clearly "that the use of a help icon" was the cause of the dispute. It does say

The dispute centered on the way that a help function works in the Ichitaro and Hanako software. The way the software presents information violates Matsushita patent number 2,803,236, which was registered with the Japanese patent office in 1998, according to Matsushita.

The Gnome pics, now this? filler for nerds, stuff that doesn't happen?

MOD PARENT UP (1)

X (1235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594785)

Here here! I wish at least those summarizing the article would bother to read it!

Heck, the "ordered the destruction" bit was pretty misleading as well. The product wasn't ordered destroyed, just existing stocks of the product. The company still has the product, and I'm sure if they win an appeal or if they change their product's help system, they can put the product back on the shelves.

Re:Even more filler? (1)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594926)

The Gnome pics, now this? filler for nerds, stuff that doesn't happen?
  • You must be new here, that's normal.
  • Give the thread a few more minutes and the "In Soviet Russia" and "Step 5: Profit" jokes will show up. The GNAA trolls have probably already shown up but got modded into oblivion already.

    Just /. as usual. :)

Destroyed? (2, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594739)

Good to see we're still finding reasons to destroy content just like the warmer moments of various regimes throughout time. What a waste.

Re:Destroyed? (0, Offtopic)

rafael_es_son (669255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594748)

And the warmer moments of this fart

some interesting ideas on patent law (1)

wakejagr (781977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594765)

One of the editorials on this story mentioned an interesting patent law rant located here [hasslberger.com] .


One of his ideas: "In order to collect the inventors' royalties, an association representing the inventors' interests should be established and affiliated to the patent offices. This would be an association similar to the associations that collect royalties for musical performances and pay these to the composers."


Because what we really need is another RIAA!

Re:some interesting ideas on patent law (4, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594858)

"...the associations that collect royalties for musical performances and pay these to the composers."...

Because what we really need is another RIAA!

RIAA != ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.

RIAA are evil bastards who exploit musicians, degrade the art of music, and will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

ASCAP et. al, while flawed in execution, are based on a good idea: songwriters should get a cut when someone makes money off a song they wrote. If I sell a CD with a cover of "Tangled Up in Blue", or play it at a gig at my local tavern, these are the guys who make sure Dylan gets his nickel out of the profits. (Google for "songwriter royalties performance mechanical" [google.com] .) However - and this is key - if I'm playing for fun not profit, Bob doesn't get a penny.

For years I've been suggesting that royalties for copying recordings ought to work the same way - share for free, but if you're selling the artist gets a cut.

The Japanese (2, Insightful)

classh_2005 (855543) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594766)

The Japanese are known for their ability to copy an idea and then "make it better", in their own unique style (e.g. the VCR, automobile, etc.). Let's hope they can break away from that paradigm when it comes to patent law. From the sound of this article though, it looks like that might give the U.S. a run for it's money in regards to IP fascism. *sigh*

Re:The Japanese (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594882)

Wow, thanks! While we're are it, Blacks have a good sense of rhythm. Indians smell like curry. Filipinos wear flashy clothes.

Modders, -1 the parent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594925)

why is it insightful?

Fallout (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594775)

The only fallout the Japs should be worrying about is NUCLEAR FALLOUT. (lol hiroshima gettit????)

Re:Fallout (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594791)

ick. mod this crap down.

reincorporate in the EU? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594776)

Hmm, couldn't they try something like this: open a subsidiary in the EU, sell them the software for a penny, and let the subsidiary sell the software internationally over the web, but advertize heavily in Japan? Do Japanese software patents apply to goods legally purchased overseas?

Follow the Money.... (4, Informative)

cliffiecee (136220) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594796)

Just a moment of googling "kitadeya microsoft" and bingo [panasonic.co.jp] . Here's a snip:

"Matsushita Electric, in close cooperation with Microsoft, will develop a high-performance personal computer suited to the advanced image-processing demands of the 21st century," said Dr. Yoshitomi Nagaoka, vice president of Matsushita Electric's AVC Company..."



Who stands to profit if this software is knocked off the market?

The smoking gun! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594816)

Holy smokes! Pana and Microsoft were plotting this back 4 years ago... Oh man...

Re:The smoking gun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594854)

Microsoft is clearly some kind of cartoon super villain. Wherever this sort of shenanigans goes on, Microsoft is somewhere nearby. What's missing is some sort of cartoon super hero who defeats the super villain every time.

Re:The smoking gun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594860)

Well, there is a big dinosaur and a flaming fox pushing back against Bill's IE squad, clad in gear with a big blue lowercase e. Now we just need something to take on that damn paperclip...

Re:Follow the Money.... (1)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594873)

"Matsushita Electric, in close cooperation with Microsoft, will develop a high-performance personal computer suited to the advanced image-processing demands of the 21st century," said Dr. Yoshitomi Nagaoka, vice president of Matsushita Electric's AVC Company..."

Ah, yeah. You found proof that a large (perhaps the largest) electronics manufacturer on the planet is doing something together with the largest software manufacturer on the planet.

Quite something. Who'd have thought?

Another Patent Case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594798)

Along the same lines, the EasyMoney fund was ordered to close down by court order because it had infringed a patent of a global brokerage firm. The patent reads: buy low and sell high.

Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594802)

I think that after slashdot posted some compromising photos of b.g a couple of weeks ago(low blow), MS will no longer except the /. annoyance and will start offing some of us.

News Flash! Paul Thurrott is STILL an IDIOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594811)

Paul Thurrott is STILL an IDIOT.
As a matter of fact, Paull Thurrott has offended all idiots in the world for being an idiot. Idiots of the world demand Paul Thurrott to classify himself and to be classified as much lower than an idiot in the IQ ratings.

OH COME ON (2, Funny)

Tab is on Slashdot (853634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594817)

Did it have to be "fallout"?

let me be the first to say (0, Flamebait)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594829)

ror

gooks

Japanese Tongue Twister About Patents (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11594831)

Tokyo tokkyo kyoka-kyoku kyou kyuukyo kyoka kyakka.

Translation: The Tokyo patent office hurriedly rejected the permission today.

Prior Art? (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594842)

"Matsushita patent number 2,803,236, which was registered with the Japanese patent office in 1998, according to Matsushita." -Article

OK. Click on icon then click on items on the screen seems like that has been around for a while. They are saying they had it patented in 1998.

What are some earlier programs/OSs that had this feature?

Re:Prior Art? (3, Interesting)

jeif1k (809151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594912)

It was filed in 1989, which is what counts. The fact that it floated around in the patent system until issue in 1998 shows how good the company is at playing the system.

This Statement: (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594844)

"We are a global enterprise and we are just following international practice to enforce our IP rights"

And somebody just criticized my opposition to IP laws because "the rest of the world has adopted the American model"...like that meant something...

Well, here you go...

Re:This Statement: (1)

lokedhs (672255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594884)

That's the argument the pro-patent-lobby in the EU use.

MacOS 7 as prior art? (4, Insightful)

jeti (105266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594852)

The short description of the patent sounds very much like the help system that appeared in several incarnations on MacOS.
AFAIK the bubble help gave context sensitive information on GUI elements after activating it with a button.
Apparently MacOS 7 came out two years before the patent was filed. Here's a screenshot [emuunlim.com] of MacOS 7 with the help icon and a copyright notice.

Re:MacOS 7 as prior art? (0)

Jkames (726364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594909)

That is not MacOS 7... It's a window blind theme with a program called WINMAC. MacOS doesn't run on pentium systems as the screenshot says "PENTIUM MMX". It makes you look like an idiot to have a mocked windows system as a display of a different os even though the same icon may have been used. Try harder next time...

Ichitaro and JustSystem (4, Insightful)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11594862)

I hate to say it, but this really is a minimal event for the overall market-- no one I know has used Ichitaro for years. MSWord is fully entrenched here, and will be for the forseeable future.

In regards to Open Source alternatives such as OpenOffice, they are sorley lacking in Kanji conversion, dictionaries, and layout flexibility. I know that Turbo and Others put effort into this, but progress is slow...
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