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Microsoft Found Guilty of Patent Infringement

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Patents 342

Spy der Mann writes "Microsoft has been found guilty of patent infringement and ordered to pay a Guatamalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado almost $9m in damages. The US District Court of Central California court ruled that Microsoft had infringed on his intellectual property and ordered it to pay him $8.96m. The patent in question is a method to transfer data between Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access using a single spreadsheet."

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In other news... (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764663)

In other news, Guantemala's gross domestic product tripled today...

Re:In other news... (1, Informative)

sholden (12227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764759)

Guatemala's GDP is $60 billion or so, and that doesn't include all the P from drug trafficing, so your joke is a little too far from reality to be funny

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764773)

No, it's still funny, you just have no sense of humour.

Re:In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764842)

And you're Un-American, with your crazy spellings.

Now THAT'S a riot!

Re:In other news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764797)

Grover Norquist called - he wants his sense of humor back. Now if you'll excuse me, the 80s is calling, and wants its insult format back...

Re:In other news... (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764809)

Actually, I think your reality is too far from the joke to be funny.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

MynockGuano (164259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764826)

Oh darn, I laughed at it. See, I thought the poster was being facetious, and it therefore struck me as humorous in that it exemplefied the irony of a huge American megacorporation being sued by a small Latin American business on basically their own turf by exaggerating the extent to which Microsoft's own GDP tends to rival entire nations. I feel so dumb now.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764833)


Actually in US dollars the GDP is more like $25 billion or so. Using PPP, which is a somewhat artificial measure it comes to $60 billion.

Re:In other news... (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764902)

And for comparison, Gates is worth about 40B$ (as of 2003) according to Forbes (and that's a low-end number, from what I've seen elsewhere). In the first quarter of 2004, Microsoft had revenues of 10B$, and had a total market capitalization of around 250B$.

Re:In other news... (1)

AlphaJoe (798014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764852)

Whatever you say Miss Guatemala...

David vs Goliath (0)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764665)

and with one small stone, the giant fell...

Re:David vs Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764707)

You mean a pebble?

Re:David vs Goliath (3, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764715)

Well, the giant isn't exactly falling. I'm sure that to the winner of the lawsuit, it felt great to get paid loads of money for his patent.

To Microsoft and the billions upon billions of dollars under their control, however, it's like trying to drain a lake by siphoning it through a straw.

Re:David vs Goliath (2, Interesting)

Janitha (817744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764757)

it's like trying to drain a lake by siphoning it through a straw.

Giving any action enough time, it will succeed.

I am sure this being somewhat a large hit to MS's horrible record, it would cause other patent holders to reconsider bringing up cases against the Microsoft.

no (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764913)

Except the straw is much smaller than the waterfall pouring into the lake, so no, it wont succeed if given time.

Re:David vs Goliath (4, Funny)

kayen_telva (676872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764720)

doesnt bill have that much in his couch ?

Re:David vs Goliath (1)

KaptNKrunchy (876661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764755)

I think at this point, fell might be a little strong of a word.

Re:David vs Goliath (5, Funny)

BarneyRabble (866644) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764800)

Sorry, the giant tripped over a giant turtle and spilled some cash.

Re:David vs Goliath (2, Funny)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764972)

"and with one small stone, the giant fell..." ... to his knees laughing.

Does this mean patents are good? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764676)

So wait, does this mean patents are good now?

I'm so confused!

Like little children... (3, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764903)

Like most things at Slashdot, there is a double standard at play here. In other words, the Slashdot fanboys are not as pue as they like to think of themselves as. If it's bad for MS, it's good "just because". Pay backs, you know? Like little children...

Re:Like little children... (0, Flamebait)

nathanh (1214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764976)

Like most things at Slashdot, there is a double standard at play here. In other words, the Slashdot fanboys are not as pue as they like to think of themselves as. If it's bad for MS, it's good "just because". Pay backs, you know? Like little children...

Take your smarmy pseudo-intellectual "I'm so much smarter than all the plebs on Slashdot" attitude and shove it.

Here's the reason ... (3, Insightful)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764677)

that MS is firing a few thousand patents a year at the USPTO - protecting themselves.

You gotta have some sympathy for MS about this.

Re:Here's the reason ... (1)

Tarcastil (832141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764705)

If ~9 million changes people's sympathies about Microsoft, that's probably the best 9 million they've ever spent.

Re:Here's the reason ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764857)

Uhh.. no. There is no such thing as a defensive patent.

Read that again: There is NO SUCH THING as a defensive patent.

It's unlikely this Guatamalan "inventor" had any technology on him that Microsoft could sue him for patent infringement.

Re:Here's the reason ... (1)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764932)

Yes, but they are protecting themselves only against people who actually make something. If you don't make anything (ie, you just try to exploit patents), you can't be sued for patent infringement. The only thing good about this is that perhaps some lawmakers will see how harmful the whole concept of software patents is and reign it in.

and in even more news: (0, Troll)

UberGeekEdward (857976) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764680)

today satan declared war on guatemala. He is quoted as saying: " I have to protect my investment in Microsquish"

I bet he's thinking.... (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764684)

"Damn! Should have settled. They were offering me $10 million."

Re:I bet he's thinking.... (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764763)

Assuming M$ is a $30,000,000,000 company and they make .01 percent interest in the bank this month. That easily takes care of that $9 million.

Judges need to figure out how to put a dent on these guys. Like take excel out of the office suite.

Re:I bet he's thinking.... (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764867)

No, they don't need to figure out how to put a dent in these guys. Aside from the issue that this is over a software patent (something railed against so often, but since this is against Microsoft it must be OK), actual damages, and perhaps some punitive damages should have been applied, but the Supreme Court has in a way limited advised damages to nine times the actual damages in guidelines from the last few years (a case about a scratched BMW, IIRC).

Getting back monies lost is fine. Getting some additional monies to make a point is fine. There's no reason to push that out to billions in damages.

Re:I bet he's thinking.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764910)

The courts (in this instance!) didn't find that Microsoft were violating anti-trust laws, they found that Microsoft violated copyright laws. $9 million seems to be a worthy sum paid to an individual in this instance for compensation. And how would taking Excel out of the office suite make any sense at all? *shakes head*

Oh, wait, you must support open source, right?

Poetic Justice. (2, Interesting)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764686)

'Nuff said.

Re:Poetic Justice. (5, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764794)

Poetic justice?! Hardly!

The only good that could come of this would be the remote chance that it could convince MS that software patents are a terrible idea and prod them into backing Red Hat and Oracle's push to reform patents in the US [yahoo.com] and Europe [reuters.com] .

Unfortunately if you look (4, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764894)

Unfortunately if you look you'll notice that as the number of frivolous patent lawsuits against Microsoft has gradually increased over the last few years, Microsoft's response has been... to suddenly start filing a whole bunch of patents. Lots of patents. Even more than before. And making a big deal in the press about patents and how important they are. And making a big deal to Europe about why they need software patents. Whereas before software patents was something they didn't really give much public indication of caring about one way or the other.

Microsoft obviously isn't doing this for protection, since the only people who've been suing Microsoft have been tiny parasite IP companies-- the kind of people who a patent shield is useless against. Instead it almost kind of seems to me like Microsoft is brushing off the patent judgments like an elephant swatting flies with its tail, but meanwhile going "wait... you mean patents can be used for evil? Interesting...", as if even though the lawsuits may sting a little they don't mind so much because it's given them some ideas of their own.

I hope to whatever Gods may or may not exist that this is just my overactive paranoid imagination.

umm... no. (5, Informative)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764687)

Patent infringement is not a crime, so they were not, in fact, found "guilty".

Re:umm... no. (5, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764736)

Patent infringement is not a crime

Yet.

Re:umm... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764768)

Correct. They were found liable for certain amounts of money in the form of actual damages and punitive damages.

You need a look in the ol' dictionary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764940)

1. Responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act; deserving of blame; culpable: guilty of cheating; the guilty party.

The cost of waging war on your own terms (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764690)

Not that MS cares, or anything, seeing as no one can push them around at their own game.

7.5 days (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764830)

seeing as no one can push them around at their own game

If I ran the numbers right, based on their third quarter earnings this will set Microsoft's profits back 7.5 days. That's profit, not revenue.

That worked out to $329/second, or about $40 grand by time Slashdot will let you post another comment.

WHAT? (3, Insightful)

halo8 (445515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764691)

So.. he patented a way for Microsoft Excel to work with Microsoft Access.. both products that Microsoft makes.

Then he sued Microsoft???

I know.. i patent a way for Apple Intel to work with Apple PowerPC, no one would ever think of that.

Re:WHAT? (1)

Quantam (870027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764835)

Yeah, I'm also dumbfounded that the guy managed to patent the intermixing of two MS products, then sue MS for using them. It's pretty unusual to even see MS defy logic that strongly.

I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (4, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764693)

As much as I hate Microsoft, I hate people who think they can use patents to cash in on something after the fact. Rambus did this in its ambush of memory makers. Eolas did this to Microsoft. Intertrust is doing this now to MS.

These companies sit around and brainstorm ideas without ever coming up with anything tangible, then they receive patents on their broad ideas. With the patent in hand, they can then sue anyone and anything that looks to be infringing. It's really sad.

At least when IBM or Microsoft or Sun patent something, they have some tangible product they look to implement. The patent leeches just look for traps they can set for big payoffs later on.

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (3, Insightful)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764727)

Software patents suck. I don't care who is trying to use them, they suck. Microsoft is the victim today, tomorrow it could be you.

It is like patenting how I make my breakfast in the morning. It's just stupid.

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (1)

thegamerformelyknown (868463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764744)

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft changes their mind on Patents after this.

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (1)

Johnny Doughnuts (767951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764912)

What if you run a bed and breakfast, and your main attraction is how you make yours, along with your guests' breakfasts?

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764966)

Then you need to be more creative to survive, lobbying the govt. to legally restrict others from making eggs on toast is moronic.

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (2, Funny)

CliffH (64518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764929)

Note to self: Send in patent for procedure of applying butter to burnt, toasted, or warm bread for consumption in the a.m.

Indeed. (5, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764777)

I'm afraid of making any sort of software, even for fun. If it somehow leaves my PC goes public, someone could notice I made it, dig up some old patent, and sue my ass to Hoboken, New Jersey. [google.com] This leeching is far worse than file leeching, and it's always sad to see that something intended to advance science and the arts [house.gov] (see Sec. 8, Clause 8) is impeding it instead. If it can happen to "M$" with their many IP/etc. lawyers, it can happen, and cause far worse damage, to us. That's -1, Scary to me.

Re:I hate Microsoft, but I hate these guys more (4, Informative)

the gnat (153162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764900)

At least when IBM or Microsoft or Sun patent something, they have some tangible product they look to implement.

Um. IBM was infamous for filing patents like crazy and then using these to shake down competitors. The worst as called the "fat lines" patent; I think it essentially covered drawing a line twice with a pixel offset. There was a story in Forbes (posted on Slashdot) a few years back about how IBM decided to extort money from Sun for violating the patent. Sun's engineers gave them a lengthy explanation and told them "see, we're not infringing." IBM's lawyers just shrugged and said "We're just going to find something else you're infringing, so you might as well pay us now."

Gates once remarked (back in 1990 or so) that if the patent situation had always been this bad the computing industry would have been stillborn. He also said that Microsoft needed to get patents purely as a defensive measure. As far as I'm aware, despite Microsoft's generally sleazy business practices they've generally been one of the least vicious and exploitative patent holders.

new business strategy (5, Funny)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764694)

i like this idea you are trying to sell us. but it reminds me of something we are already working on. you may leave now, no need to take your folder with you.

Re:new business strategy (2, Funny)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764899)

Well thats no joke, but they word it differently...investors will give you some money, but not enough to make your product successful... your company folds eventually, investors take your product and make 100-fold their initial pittance.

You would agree too, since you'd say to yourself "well if it folds, then I don't need product rights anyway..."

There's only one way to make big bucks...luck. Hard work, intelligence, and preperation are meaningless - everyone has that. So play the lottery if you want to hit the jackpot, at least thats low stress.

Let me be the first to say (-1, Flamebait)

donnz (135658) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764696)

old news. [theregister.co.uk]

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764883)

Oooooh. Gee, you got us. The register had it yesterday. Yaaaay. Good job.

MS, good stuff? (1)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764697)

I know people always point out how bad Microsoft is, but, I'm seeing plenty of advertising about all kinds of research sponsorship Microsoft does, and wondering if I should enroll (at least try) in some of them? I also have few new algorithms that people pointed out to me "try selling that to Microsoft".

Can anyone tell me more about their good/bad experiences regarding IP and Microsoft ? And I'm not talking only for the bashing part, Microsoft is a big company and plenty goes on with them, anything positive?

Re:MS, good stuff? (5, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764756)


Can anyone tell me more about their good/bad experiences regarding IP and Microsoft ?


Dear rd4tech

I've had a good experience, and I definitely look forward to future business with them.

Sincerely

Carlos Armando Amado

Re:MS, good stuff? (3, Insightful)

zerbot (882848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764765)

As I pointed out in another comment to another story, among software developers the standard wisdom is, "Get in bed with Microsoft, and expect to get screwed." They have repeatedly managed to extract whatever they want from collaborations or licenses and left the other party wondering how it is that they got nothing.

Re:MS, good stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764815)

Cite any examples? They sure as hell pay their employees well...I heard a statistic of 10,000 millionaires. Why would I think they would treat partner companies any less well?

Oh... (0)

sedyn (880034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764698)

And Bill was just about to buy that ivory back-scratcher that he wanted.

Re:Oh... (1)

Ziviyr (95582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764754)

Now he'll buy two.

Little Guy (0)

ppcvidz.com (732109) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764700)

It's nice to see the little guy win every once in a while.

Re:Little Guy (1)

cicho (45472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764850)

It's not ince at all. If software patents are wrong, they're wrong regardless of who sues whom. You know, that guy may have a similar parent for Open Office.

Good for them (1)

xmgl (641825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764704)

serves them right :->

Actually, that's in Guatemalan Quetzal (3, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764710)

That isn't American dollars. He "only" got $1,166,448 [oanda.com]

Re:Erm, actually, it's not (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764856)

(Don't know if OP was trying to be funny, but mods characterized it as "+4 informative," so...)

No, we use U.S. Dollars, even for civl awards here in Ahnuldh's Cal-eee-fonya.

Coming up later in this newscast... (5, Funny)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764712)

Jackson found innocent, invites school bus full of children to his ranch to celebrate.

Yahoo decides to give up fight against Google and shifts all it's resources to making small toys for the quarter machines at grocery stores.

Gnome and KDE finally resolve differences and merge, new name to be KnomE

Secluded inventor in Guatamala buys entire country a round.

Disappointment? (3, Funny)

Halcyon-X (217968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764718)

Microsoft expressed disappointment at the verdict

Why, aren't they usually happy when software patent rights are recognized?

Microsoft gets sued for using Microsoft products (3, Interesting)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764840)

Microsoft invents Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft invents Microsoft Access.
Guatamalan inventor patents method of transferring data between the two programs.

Does that make any sense to you? Guy didn't invent either program. He's not some disgruntled ex-Microsoft programmer out to get his just dues. He's not some super, uber-leet programmer who came out with "Carlos's Excel" or "Carlos's Access" years before Microsoft did and simply didn't succeed due to lack of marketing. This is some Joe Nobody who filed a broad, vague patent that the courts were stupid enough to uphold.

Classic! (2, Insightful)

metalmaniac1759 (600176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764719)

Microsoft sued over a patent concerning *its own* products! CLASSIC!

Nandz.

9 million??? (0)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764739)


Isn't that about what Bill Gate's recycled snot is worth??

I'm surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764748)

that someone sued and won Microsoft for patent infringement, but I'm not surprised that Microsoft is infringing patents. What did this guy do to be able to afford that?

Also in the article there is a mention of a possible infringement of the JPEG patent. This patent was filed in 1986 and was worthless before JPEG came along. In those cases where the patent is not valuable and actively used for a certain number of years, I think it should be revoked. I think I'll start inventing stuff no one use , patent it, wait and profit!

Just my 2c

wow.. silly patent (1, Insightful)

pavera (320634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764750)

Ok,
so transfering data from an excel spreadsheet to an Access table is patented... Hmmm I've been using copy/paste to do that since forever. What "technology" is this? You've been able to export a spreadsheet to comma delimited and import to Access since forever as well... How do you get a patent on importing a comma delimited file?

Re:wow.. silly patent (1)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764791)

Can I mod your title as redundant?

*ducks*

Re:wow.. silly patent (2, Funny)

MynockGuano (164259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764887)

Well, you can't anymore!

MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764811)

Parent admits uses M$ products!

Re:wow.. silly patent (1)

corvair2k1 (658439) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764827)

Yeah, I kind of feel the same way. But, even so, MS should have a better way of doing it than a 3rd party programmer should. They make the APIs! Why can't they access the spreadsheet directly?
---
http://www.inchoate.net/ [inchoate.net]

Re:wow.. silly patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764861)

Who says they didn't? The patent covers ANY technique involving the transfer of data from excel into access.

Re:wow.. silly patent (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764971)

they do have APIs to do this, I don't know when they were developed, but I used them in Office 95.

Line them up and shoot them all. (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764771)

Let the rest of us get back to work.

hurray for patents, next sure them for this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764783)

f M$ [shinyfeet.com]

WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (5, Interesting)

keepper (24317) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764784)

Carlos Armando Amado devised a way to connect Excel with Access using a specially crafted spreadsheet during his tenure as a graduate student at Stanford University. After applying for a patent in 1990, Mr. Amando approached Microsoft to license the software, but was denied.

Microsoft then used the same exact method.

Now, while i totally disagree with the idea of patents like this... It changes the story a bit doesnt it?
Heh, after all this is slashdot.

No it doesn't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764819)

I mean, really just because he had an idea to connect a different data view to do the underlying data doesn't mean that the idea was origional.

I doubt the method was identical to his. It might have had similar elements, but I bet microsoft's was implemented in a much different manner.

Also, I believe that Microsoft began development of the idea in 1989 like they claimed. Its unlikely that anyone who delt with Armando had influence in the design plan.

So I think this is just an example of pattent misuse.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (4, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764877)

How does it change anything?

Microsoft built a suite of integrated Office applications with built-in functionality that allows seamless transfer of data between the apps. Amado uses the built-in functions to do exactly what those features are designed to do, receives a patent from the braindead patent office, then tries to present his "discovery" to the people who invented the thing in the first place.

There's nothing to understand here except that Amado's idea was exactly why Microsoft put those features into the applications in the first place.

If this doesn't push Microsoft to patent every single thing they ever do or plan to do, I don't know what will. How can they protect themselves from these fleas? The only way is to hold those patents.

These types of lawsuits are what is leading to the demise of intellectual property, not the other way around. It is when people abuse the system by applying for things that are either obvious or developed by someone else that this type of lawsuit occurs.

I hope Amado is happy with that money because he doesn't deserve it.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (1)

cicho (45472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764921)

"If this doesn't push Microsoft to patent every single thing they ever do or plan to do, I don't know what will."

Exactly. Moderators, take note of parent.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (2, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764958)

It is when people abuse the system by applying for things that are either obvious or developed by someone else that this type of lawsuit occurs.

Yes, now every asshole CS student in the country is going to start patenting any tweak to MS software that they think might possibly be worthwhile.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (2, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764898)

He couldn't have done what the text says. Access 1.0 was released in 1993. Basically the Register stories boil down to goo. Does anyone have a link to a story with come actual content and information?

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (1)

justins (80659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764901)

First, what the fuck are you quoting?

Second, no, it doesn't change the story at all. The notion of a Stanford grad student trying to license a trivial technology to Microsoft is just as silly as the notion of "stealing" a trivial technology.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (3, Insightful)

cicho (45472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764905)

It does, but only superficially. What about that "specially crafted" spreadsheet? Exactly how did he "craft" it? By entering a bunch of formulas or macros? They may have been complex and they may have been non-obvious and they may even have been ingenious. But unless he hand-hacked the bits of the 'sheet, it seems to me he just used existing features built into the software. Even as software patents go, this is sick. He should never have been granted a patent for this.

Re:WAIT WAIT READ WHAT HE DID, THEN SPEAK (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764916)

NO IT DOESN'T. IT MAKES IT WORSE! Look over the last year we've seen microsoft patenting what seems to be really stupid things like that not statement in basic. Why is that? Because it could have been an idea they've had for a while, some idiot goes out and patents it then when ms implements it lawsuit! So every stupid thing they can think of now they patent, just so joe blow can't do what they just did right now.

How Microsoft Sees This Fine (2, Insightful)

ArchAngel21x (678202) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764813)

Just another cost of doing business. Put it down in the books as a business expense for a tax write off.

Would they notice it? (2, Insightful)

bollucks (450288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764821)

And does anyone think Microsoft would even notice a $9 million bill? Their phone bills are probably larger than this.

Re:Would they notice it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12764917)

And does anyone think Microsoft would even notice a $9 million bill?

In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2004, Microsoft posted an annual profit of $30,119,000,000 ($30 Billion). At 365 days a year (ignore the leap year, wiseguy), 24 hours / day, MSFT generated $3.4 Million profit per hour.

So, yeah, they'll feel this!

For about 3 hours...

Sad state of affairs. (4, Insightful)

ArielMT (757715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764824)

As much as I hate the company and its products, and believe me I do, this is a case that should've either been thrown out or used to nullify the patent. Instead the judgement strengthened the concept of software patents and non-novel patents, which in turn strengthens Microsoft's position as a monopoly, for a sum of money that's just barely half a single day's take.

Great idea! (1)

xeon4life (668430) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764845)

1) Invent something
2) Sit on your invention and never plan to market it
3) Let someone else use your invention and keep quiet
4) ???
5) Profit!!!

Patents (2, Interesting)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764855)

Now I like Microsoft as much as the next IT geek (ie. not at all) but I no longer have a clash of conscience over patent issues. The patent system is completely out of control and is causing terrible damage to the industry. As a small developer, patents terrify me. And who are patents supposed to protect in the first place?

Now I don't know the specifics of the case, but given the current rampant abuse of the patent system I'm going to side with the Evil Empire here by default, until I see a decent argument over why this is a fair patent. Most are not. Mind you, MS probably do deserve this sort of thing given their support for software patents.

MS is still the devil, but... (1)

spoonboy42 (146048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764858)

As much as I like to see Microsoft lose one, I'd say this case is actually, on balance, a bad sign. Let's review: A patent is awarded covering data portability between two microsoft products, Microsoft is sued when they actually implement this pretty obvious idea. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking maybe I should grab a patent on the idea of using a PSP to wirelessly control a home game console (the PS3) and suing Sony just in time for Christmas 2006 so that I can afford to buy one of each.

Anyway, the end result of this is that yet another frivolous patent is financially rewarded, at a cost which is a mere pittance for a company the size of Microsoft. The damage that is done is that software patents which are both general and trivial have another piece of judicial precedent to bolster them. In the end, companies with stores of thousands of patents (companies just like Microsoft) can exploit this imbalance in the judicial system for a quick buck (pretty trivial on the balance sheet, though) and, more importantly, to force much smaller potential competitors straight out of business by offering them the choice to go to court and have their coffers drained by legal fees and possibly by damages awarded, or to settle under terms which require them to cease their competitive activity.

Sorry folks, but this is not a win.

Carlos the time-traveller! (2, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764860)

In 1990 Carlos Armando Amado filed a patent for software which helped transfer data between Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft's Access database

Wasn't Microsoft Access 1.0 released in 1993 or so?

This really sucks. (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764888)

I hate to write in sympathy for MS, but this exploitation is something that I personally wouldn't wish on anyone.

It seems to me that this guy just thought of something that he knew Microsoft had to implement on their own sometime and then blackmailed them for it. This tactics of explicitly mentioning someone's products in a patent and demanding that they pay to simply add an obvious feature is something that not even MS has stooped to yet. I really hope that this teaches Microsoft that patents are not their friends, rather than simply learning a new trick out of it.

I hope this guy spends his new money on cigarettes and hookers with VDs.

Hoist by they own petard (2, Insightful)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764897)

I guess that's what they get for being ubiquitous.

Kind of ironic and strange that they can be sued for patents on interactions between their own software packages.

Could I patent, just as an example, methods for converting between PDF and PSD files, and then sue Adobe for infringing when they do the obvious?

Something not right about this; I guess it's just showing up yet another problem with copyright law. Pretty thorny one if you think about it.

"The patent in question" (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12764931)

So, we know what this guys invention accomplished, but did he actually get a patent on moving data from a database to a spreadsheet? Or did he patent some method for doing this? The link doesn't lead to the patent or mention the patent number.

This is a really annoying habit in /. patent stories. Yeah, we all hate them. But the patent at stake is seldom described very precisely. In fact, it's usually mis-described to make it sound even worse than it is.
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