×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Sued Over Patent Infringements

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the at-it-again dept.

The Courts 162

Foobar of Borg writes "The Associated Press is reporting that Microsoft is being sued over alleged infringement of three patents held by Visto Corporation. The patents in question relate to the handling of information between servers and handheld telcom devices. Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, has not commented on the case itself, but has simply stated that 'Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

162 comments

WOW (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271064)

I gotz it!!! Phrist Ph0st!

Re:WOW (1, Funny)

SysSupport (872059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271165)

Does any one else notice that these kind of posts increase whenever junior highschool is on a vacation?

Nnnnyes.... (4, Insightful)

Veneratio (935302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271066)

TFA: "Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights." Well they do, im sure. Right until they buy the company. "Heres , keep the change. All your IP are belong to us."

Re:Nnnnyes.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271354)

Well they do, im sure. Right until they buy the company. "Heres , keep the change. All your IP are belong to us."

Hey, can't blame M$ here. If that's the most expedient way to handle these BS patents, then more power to'em. Of course, I'd prefer they fight, but since our patent laws are so screwed up, it probably wouldn't do much good.

Patents (5, Insightful)

pryonic (938155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271070)

I just don't get how this is meant to work. I don't blame Microsoft here, how are they to know an idea they comeup with has has already been patented? Or is this just the way modern business is going - money is made my sueing other people. I rarely stand behind MS, but i think this is all getting a bit silly now.

Re:Patents (4, Interesting)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271108)

how are they to know an idea they comeup with has has already been patented?

There are these things called "Patent Libraries" that contain (now follow me here, it gets tricky) "patent information"...

Where I used to work, we had a site license that allowed everyone to conduct searches against an online Patent Library - you could type in a few keywords and within seconds it would show you patents related to your keywords.

I had a boss who was obsessed with getting his name on a patent, even if it had nothing to do with the companies core competencies, so any time anyone would blurt out something during a brainstorming session, he'd do a quick patent search and say "nope, someone already owns that idea".

Re:Patents (2, Interesting)

pryonic (938155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271137)

That's kind of my point though. If I invent a new product such as a wind up radio, I would think to do a patent search to see if a similar patent exists. That's a tangible product with defined search criteria.

Now, with software the boundaries are blury. What can you patent as in invention? The ability to skin an app? The ability to click a button on a website to initiate a purchase? The ability to increment a variable?

Pretty soon we'll have to check every applet, function, line of code we write to see if anyone has patented what we're trying to do. As I live in the EU I'm not lumbered with these worries, but the day will come when I am.

Re:Patents (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271593)

Now, with software the boundaries are blury. What can you patent as in invention?

This also has a little to do with who is suing them as much as the patent itself. I submitted this story (rejected) with a bit more info - the patents in question are similar to those which NTP is using to put down RIM.

As it turns out, the Slashdot posting [slashdot.org] regarding NTP licensing its patent library to start a RIM competitor was to - Visto.

NTP, along with the licensing "agreement", also then bought an equity stake in - Visto.

This is NTP [telecomweb.com] , being spurred on by its successes in the Blackberry case, now going after bigger guns. Just as they did with RIM, which was on the verge of completing a giant licensing deal with NTP that NTP then rejected, doesn't want money from MS, but a permanent injunction against them.

Make no mistake. Visto might be the one listed on the suit, but NTP has equity ownership in Visto, and I'm damn sure is probably running the operation here.

Re:Patents (1)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271744)

I'm amazed (sort of) that the "ability to read eMail on an hand-held device" is patentable... I can read/write mail on my cell phone, PDA, laptop, etc. Similar abilities have been available since well before the Blackberry, the BB only made it more convenient. I seriously hope RIM's appeal about NTP's patent validity goes to RIM... AFAIK, simple aggregation is not patentable.

Software patents are harmful and these cases are only the tip of the IP-warfare iceberg. Those jokes about IP enforcement creating milions of new jobs - mostly lawyers - will not be so funny in the near future if things keep going the way they have been headed for the last few years and particularly since software patents.

Software and similar patents are almost like patenting oxygen.

Re:Patents (5, Informative)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271202)

There are these things called "Patent Libraries" that contain (now follow me here, it gets tricky) "patent information"...

You are oversimplifying. First, there can be patents filed but not yet issued -- you don't have access to them until the issue. Second, doing a "real" patent search is an expensive proposition (I'm not talking about your boss doing a 2 minute google search on a few key phrases). No company can do that type of search on every little thing that comes along.

Regarding submarine patents, I believe there have been changes made to the law to address this problem. Apparently the way submarine patents worked was the filer would stall the patent before it issued -- sometimes for many years. Then, once another company (with money) was clearly infringing they would push ahead to get the patent issued. There was no time limit on how long they could stall the process, and since the date of the original filing was the date used to decide first invention, the second company got "torpedoed" with no way of protecting themselves. The law change, as I understand it, is to now give the filer protection for 20 years from the date of filing, rather than 17 years from the date of issue.

Re:Patents (1)

parodyca (890419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271233)

There was no time limit on how long they could stall the process, and since the date of the original filing was the date used to decide first invention, the second company got "torpedoed" with no way of protecting themselves. The law change, as I understand it, is to now give the filer protection for 20 years from the date of filing, rather than 17 years from the date of issue.

And this works better how? The second company is still going to find themselves modeling a very fasionable torpedoe up their back side.

Re:Patents (4, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271273)

Submarine patents were worse than that. They'd file, then they were able to change the patent before it was issued.

So...

  1. You file a generic patent on some new tech which is on the horizon. E.g. securely replicating web applications for mobile users. You don't know your own implementation, that doesn't matter.
  2. You wait for somebody to come up with a working implementation, filing "continuations" to your patent, stalling the issuing
  3. Somebody implements the idea
  4. You file continuations to cause your patent to match their working implementation
  5. You stop filing continuations
  6. The patent office issues your patent
  7. You sue the orignal inventor for rights to their own creation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_patent_app lication [wikipedia.org]

Re:Patents (2, Insightful)

back_pages (600753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271322)

You are oversimplifying. First, there can be patents filed but not yet issued -- you don't have access to them until the issue.

But of course, we all know that under AIPA all patent applications will be published within 18 months of filing, except in special circumstances where the inventors waive the right to claim priority in a foreign country to the US patent application. And of course, we all know that, because this is an extremely basic and well-known fact about patent systems around the world.

Second, doing a "real" patent search is an expensive proposition (I'm not talking about your boss doing a 2 minute google search on a few key phrases). No company can do that type of search on every little thing that comes along.

This is true, but any serious company can afford an accountant to handle their taxes. This keeps them out of trouble with the IRS. Any serious company can likewise afford to a) purchase litigation insurance, or b) invest some money into researching its IP liability with legal experts before taking a product to market. This keeps them out of trouble with the patent system. Pleading ignorance about patents is akin to pleading ignorance about taxes. Hire an expert or expect problems.

Re:Patents (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271748)

Hire an expert or expect problems.

You're seriously suggesting that every commercial software and IP developer on the planet should be employing a patent lawyer? You're insane.

Great way to put the economy in the toilet.

Pleading ignorance about patents is akin to pleading ignorance about taxes.

No. It's akin to ignoring patent parasites. The patent mafia are trying parasitise the rest of society. Large parts of society are, quite reasonably, ignoring them.

---

Scientific, evidence based IP law. Now there's a thought.

The changes to US patent law... (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271360)

Regarding submarine patents, I believe there have been changes made to the law to address this problem. Apparently the way submarine patents worked was the filer would stall the patent before it issued -- sometimes for many years....

IANAPL but AFAIK...

The US has fixed its laws to match the rest of the world to stop this "aquatic" practice. Once a patent application is filed there is an 18-month period before the application automatically becomes public. It may still take some number of years, however, before the patent is granted.

Re:Patents (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271723)

There are these things called "Patent Libraries" that contain (now follow me here, it gets tricky) "patent information"...

Good Point! Years ago I worked for a company developing medical equipment. Some really cool stuff was being designed. They had a couple of Patent Lawyers who worked on this sort of thing all the time. They would research (or have an intern do it) various patents and discuss what was already protected. I'm sure Microsoft has more than the Lion's share of Patent Lawyers. My guess is either they missed it (could happen) or they simply ignored it (not like that can't happen either).

Re:Patents (2, Insightful)

lixee (863589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271124)

That's what results from patents being legal for software. You people should really try to reform the system there. Europe got the point and luckily refused the proposal to legalise software patents. More info on http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/ [nosoftwarepatents.com]

Re:Patents (1)

algodon (933104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271151)

You know what though, I prefer this to Microsoft suing smaller companies who can't defend themselves over questionable patent infringements. Yes, it is silly, but I'm glad to see the door swings both ways, so to speak.

Re:Patents (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271182)

Has Microsoft sued anyone for patent infringement? When?

Re:Patents (1)

algodon (933104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271207)

I think so. A specific instance was on slashdot a while ago, it was some software called window washer or something.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271566)

Uh don't you remember them trying to licence there fat patents and threating law suites? I do....

Re:Patents (1)

unapersson (38207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271415)

Didn't they use the threat of patent enforcement to get the developers to remove ASF support from VirtuaDub?

Re:Patents (1)

trezor (555230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271166)

I rarely stand behind MS, but i think this is all getting a bit silly now.

Now, now. We all know that the patent system is working 100% as intended. If the patent system tells us MS is bad, it can't possibly be wrong.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271349)


........ and if mega corps like MS and others cannot spare the resources to do such a search how can the smaller ones ?
besides its just the cases where infringements are identified that come to light. The way things are shaping up almost every non trivial technology/implimentation is infringing on a whole lot of patents. Being closed source and the non documentation of every single step is the only reason more infringements are not found....

Re:Patents (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271597)

Or is this just the way modern business is going - money is made my sueing other people.

You hit the nail on the head, there. Just as the US economy transitioned years ago from an agrarian to manufacturing, then manufacturing to service-based industry, the new economy is moving from service-based to litigation-based.

You can tell this is happening in my home town (Richmond, VA), as the old 42-floor "Wachovia" bank building had the signs pulled down and is now the "McGuire Woods" (law firm) building. You can tell if you watch TV commercials, too, as the advertising dollars now paying for this (old) media is dominated by the lawyers looking for accident victims and users of certain prescription drugs ("even if you have had no problems from taking them" they say. WTF!?!?).

There are even ancillary businesses springing up. There are now places you can go to get an "advance" on money you think you're going to get from a pending lawsuit, sort of like a tax refund advance. Only these guys claim if you lose your case, you don't have to repay the money...

Re:Patents (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271710)

It's called patent search, they have tons of lawyers that are hired specifically for that purpose.
If the patent is valid, there's bound to be a few heads rolling amongst the swine for missing it.

"intellectual" property (4, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271071)

'Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights.'

Correction: this sentence lacks the second "its" (just after "respects").

Re:"intellectual" property (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271086)

I expected it to say,

Microsoft stands behind its products and lobs chairs over the barracades.'

Re:"intellectual" property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271101)

In other news, Bill Gates loves puppies!

Permanent injuction? How likely is that? (2, Informative)

Escogido (884359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271072)

Somehow I have a feeling Visto is just trying to "cash in" their patents by making out-of-court agreements to settle the deal.

Well duh, it's a software patent (1)

hug_the_penguin (933796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271169)

The only purpose of software patents is to cash in. Patents were originally there to prevent ideas theft because it was expensive to develop ideas and manufacturing a product was expensive. In the digital world, it costs nothing to refine an idea and a mere half an hour to develop all but the most advanced software that you are patenting. If it's an idea you have, it will have been patented, especially with things like scrollbars patented, and not forgetting the patent on the idea of a menu. They're used by everyone and there is always going to be patent action against people who use them. I would feel sympathy for microsoft for once, if it weren't for the fact they've been suing for software patent infringement on equally ridiculous things. The US patent office is a joke. One-click shopping should be unpatentable, and patenting an algorithm in the year 2002 that was implemented in the linux kernel since 1992 (i think that was the year?) really beggars belief (a method of detecting whether a 2 digit year was in the 20th or 21st century - checking if it was above 70). Patents were there to make people innovate more, but in software, they stifle innovation because there arent a thousand ways of doing things and when they're all patented (usually by one or two companies), you're a bit buggered as a software dev.

Re:Well duh, it's a software patent (2, Interesting)

temcat (873475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271264)

Patents were originally there to prevent ideas theft

Sorry, but this is wrong, because:

1. Ideas can't be stolen. Period.
2. Actually, patents were originally there to promote disclosure of useful ideas instead of keeping them forever as trade secrets.

BTW, 2. really should be used as one of the criteria of patentability: the thing should be patentable only if it can be successfully kept as a trade secret. Trivially reverse-engineered or analysed things should not be patentable. If by looking at the thing I can easily tell what is the essence of the patent, this thing doesn't deserve to be patented - because disclosure does not add anything useful to my observation. (The "ease" has of course to be somehow quantified, but this is a solvable technical question.)

Re:Well duh, it's a software patent (1)

odourpreventer (898853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271410)

Unfortunately, this does not work for tangible objects. A very trivial example: Some ten years ago, I bought a newly patented orange peeler. It was just a piece of molded plastic, but it worked like a charm. But since a any kid could "reverse-engineer" it, you say it shouldn't be patentable?

Re:Well duh, it's a software patent (1)

fomhoire69 (869874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271652)

A patent ""should"" be for the method not the application. So unless the peeler did something new like turned the peel to jelly it shouldn't have been patentable.

Re:Well duh, it's a software patent (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271831)

BTW, 2. really should be used as one of the criteria of patentability: the thing should be patentable only if it can be successfully kept as a trade secret.

Excellent idea. If it can't be kept secret then the thing they're trying to patent is probably a minor variant of something copied from elsewhere anyway.

This BS where parasites can get monopolies on ideas that require no investment has got to stop.

---

Scientific, evidence based IP law. Now there's a thought.

Re:Permanent injuction? How likely is that? (1)

zelphi (622531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271179)

It's what the bottom feeders always do. As much as I hate Microsoft, I really hope they win this case. Companies sit on crappy patents and then pull them out when a product is doing well. How's a developer supposed to know it's safe to continue? He can only wait till a product is successful to see if he'll be sued. - Free stuff without getting the referrals? http://referralaccelerated.com/ [referralaccelerated.com]

When will... (-1, Offtopic)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271074)

I saw this article on space.com a few days ago. Now that we are able to spot white dwarf stars that are the size of earth in Detail, I am hoping that SOON we will be able to directly observe rocky worlds that are the size of this planet. While the hubble is a small telescope, it would be interesting to see telescopes put into space that are say... the size of Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea (I was there a few weeks ago, the observatories are ... well... awesome!).

Anyway, with knowing that there are over 100 star systems out there with planets that we have found, I hope we find something much like our own soon. I know they exist, we can't be it...

Too Many Patents (2, Insightful)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271080)

The small guys try to get rich with patents suing the big guys, so the big guys get further patents to protect themselves.

The system is fucked.

__
Funny video clips for Adults only! [laughdaily.com]

Re:Too Many Patents (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271114)

Except that doesn't always work. It's possible for a licencing company to have no products, but simply a portfolio of patents. As such, they can't be sued for patent infringement. Seems counterproductive for MS to lobby for patents since they are more likely to be sued than to sue.

Re:Too Many Patents (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271164)

Microsoft can stand some parasites milking it for patent money; the benefits of having a big stick against the competition and Free Software far outweight the costs Microsoft has to pay due to patents.

Re:Too Many Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271221)

Microsoft have lost millions in patent fights, and have never ever used them to attack open source software. Are you aware that the company also has objectives that don't involve attacking Linux.

Microsoft shut down ASF/WMV support in VirtualDub (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271266)

Microsoft have lost millions in patent fights, and have never ever used them to attack open source software.

O rly? [advogato.org]

Oh so the truth finally comes out (1)

chadamir (665725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271082)

They thought they were going to pull a fast one on all of us Visto customers by calling their new product Vista. Microsoft must have figured if you cant beat the bootlegers, join them.

Visto's press release (3, Insightful)

tpgp (48001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271085)

From Visto's press release [visto.com]
"Microsoft has a long and well-documented history of acquiring the technology of others, branding it as their own, and entering new markets," said Mr. Bogosian. "In some cases, they buy that technology from its creator. In other cases, they wrongfully misappropriate the intellectual property that belongs to others, which has forced them to acknowledge and settle large IP cases with companies like Sun, AT&T and Burst.com. For their foray into mobile email and data access, Microsoft simply decided to misappropriate Visto's well known and documented patented technology."
Frankly, my take on it is that the more large comapnies that are sued over patents (especially submarine patents - although that doesn't seem to be the case here) the better.

Nothing like a little pressure from industry giants to speed up much needed reform of the patent system.

Re:Visto's press release (5, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271183)

I said it yesterday, and I'll repeat it - the patent system (bureacracy) needs to be, not fixed, but neutered.

Bureacracies always reach out and try to take more power - once patents simply protected implementations - now the patent office is reaching out to get a stranglehold on stuff like "business methods" and algorithms (math) and essentially ideas - many of them common sense to the problem being solved.

Patents are for society, not the individual. It's supposed to push progress forward by opening non-obvious ideas for everyone for a limited time. Not MONOPOLIZE obvious ideas for the benefit of one person against the rest of society.

To fix patents, we don't need more patent clerks (federal employees), we need to:

1. Go back to old way patents were done - which includes working implementation upon application. Thus ideas become unpatentable. Same with business methods. It will also render 90% all the unreadable legalese to obscure what you are patenting obsolete.

2. Punish non-English application. No, I don't mean application in a foreign language, just the ones that read like they are. Plain english is a must. Jail time in Gitmo otherwise.

3. Raise price to apply for patent to $10,000-50,000 (refundable only on recieving a patent) - while it may seem to screw the "little guy" it actually will kill corporations trying to patent every little thing. Even a little operation will be able to afford to patent 1 WORTHWHILE application, but will corporate America still be able to afford to apply for 10's of thousands of trivial patents?

THE KEY
4. Part of application fee (say 1/2) will go as a bounty to anybody who can disprove it - in other words show prior art, etcetera. This could be anybody - college students, professors, employees of another company.

Why hire clueless clerks when you could flocks of knowleable people examining patents because of a profit motive to turn them down? They won't have the power to deny a patent, they bring the case against it.

5. No renewable patents. Lower patent length from 17 years to 9 years or so. Back in the 1700's, business and the pace of life overall was slower, let's reflect that.

Re:Visto's press release (1)

Gryle (933382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271665)

I know this is slightly off-topic so bear with me. When you say patents do you mean registering copyrights as well? I did some digging the other day and found that once you create a work you automatically own the copyright. However to register the copyright, and obtain the legal benefits that come with it, costs about $30. This is one case where I think lowering copyright registration fees would be beneficul to the the mid-size and little guy.

Re:Visto's press release (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271817)

Copyrights are not patents and patents are not copyrights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright [wikipedia.org]

I have my own problems with copyrights or actually perpetual copyrights ala Disney (who happened to take most of their ideas from the public domain - Grimm Brothers) but they can't nor shouldn't be dealt with the same way.

BTW, even if you don't register your copyright, it's still copyrighted to you by the Berne convention (?) - registering it is for extra safety.

Re:Visto's press release (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271666)

Patents are for society, not the individual. It's supposed to push progress forward by opening non-obvious ideas for everyone for a limited time. Not MONOPOLIZE obvious ideas for the benefit of one person against the rest of society.

But what if your society is based around the idea that if you have more money than your neighbour, you are more/better/have larger gender defining bodyparts than he does? That if, historically justified, you "beat" society, you are deemed a "winner"?
If you look at the situation in that light, it all makes sense. The problem, if you want to call it that, is more fundamental.

Re:Visto's press release (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271715)

Here's a better alternative: as patents are inherently unfair (two people can independently invent something, spending the same amount of time and resources, and patents means the one who gets to the patent office first can use the fact this happened to destroy the second - and this isn't a bug, this is the fundamental definition of patents. We've always limited (until the early eighties) the scope of patents to machinery specifically because of this unfairness), let's get rid of them altogether.

The aim of patents is to encourage the creation of new inventions by rewarding someone who comes up with something new. However, it's notoriously bad at determining whether someone who created that "something-new" has created something that would have been come up with anyway.

We can fix this. Create a fund. Propose inventions that'd be genuinely useful. Use the fund to reward people who make these inventions (as long as they disclose them, of course.) If they want, they can wait up to twenty years before disclosing what they did (but they'll have to wait twenty years for the money too - but as long as they were first to invent and make their invention available, they'll get it.)

And I hate to sound like a free-market libertarian nut, but I seriously suspect that you wouldn't even need government to fund such a thing. Charities could put up the rewards for, say, important and necessary drugs. Computer companies - for the few algorithms we actually need - will be more than happy to contribute to funds for new and important algorithms. It's hard to see what useful inventions we need that invention reward funds would never come out for.

Patents, at least applied to machines, computer software, and business processes, are far from an ideal. They're not fair. They're no longer practical as a useful disclosure mechanism (when was the last time anyone tried to solve a programming problem by searching old patents?) They're used, time and time again, to create artificial barriers to interoperability and to leech off innovators. They need to go.

Re:Visto's press release (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271812)

Part of application fee (say 1/2) will go as a bounty to anybody who can disprove it - in other words show prior art, etcetera.

Argh, you were doing well until that. You just doubled or tripled the cost of applying for a patent. In many cases there will be extremely fine differences between an actual patentable device, and a prior existing device. This will inevitably lead to court, since what is at stake isn't your five or ten grand, its the patent and the business that could grow from it. Also this could be used by large companies to nail smaller companies by bogging them down with complex disputes for years (more than enough to drive them out of business) as well as frivolous time wasters by the bucket load who are chancing their arm in the hopes they might score it lucky. It would only take four or five patent denials a year to make a pretty decent living out of that.

Except that.... (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271241)

Somehow big companies preffer to just deploy a fleet of lawyers, try to dodge the attack, and if not, just pays up and forgets about it.

I've more hopes for the RIM case making a change since lots of government people use those. We all know that government guys are all about respecting the law, except when it affects THEM in a negative fashion.

How things change... (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271087)

I remember a time -- I think it was around the release of Windows 95 -- when the dream of every little startup was to get bought by Microsoft.

Now, they have strangled the competition so much that the dream of many little startups is to fold, hold onto their 'Intellectual Property' for a while, then sue the heck out of Microsoft.

Which, by the way, is not a bad strategy at all, since Bill Gates & Co. have billions and billions of dollars in the bank and are very willing to buy their way out of legal troubles (monopoly problems with DoJ and all that).

Quick Solution (0)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271092)

1. Microsoft is sued by Visto Corporation
2. Microsoft buys Visto Corporation, inheriting all their patents
3. ?????
4. Profit as usual

The real step 2... (0)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271478)

GATES: Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what, if anything, CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet does, so rather than risk competing with you, I've decided simply to buy you out.

...edited for brevity...

HOMER: I reluctantly accept your proposal!

GATES: Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys!

Bill Gates thugs start trashing Homer's "office".

HOMER: Hey, what the hell's going on!

GATES: Oh, I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks!

Bill Gates laughs maniacally. Homer and Marge huddle in the corner of the room as Bill's thugs continue trashing the office.

Its the game... (4, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271100)

According to what I read YESTERDAY (but the story was rejected on /.) Microsoft seems to be being targeted in a preemptive way. In order to protect its IP, Visto is asking that MS Mobile 5.0 simply be prevented from being bundled with other MS products. They apparently have IP to back this up, and I hope that Visto manages to hold their own, whether that is toe-to-toe until out of court settlements are made, or in just filibustering their way to leadership position on mobile email. By keeping Microsoft out of the game (so to speak) that leaves room for other options. One thing I know for certain, Microsoft will never be kind to a F/OSS option in terms of IP licensing... perhaps Visto will.

Re:Its the game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271152)

By keeping Microsoft out of the game (so to speak) that leaves room for other options.

Reducing the number of players is usually the way to get more options for the consumer right? Personally I'm looking forward to Verizanoagerintbell Core

Re:Its the game... (2, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271237)

Microsoft will never be kind to a F/OSS option in terms of IP licensing... perhaps Visto will.

NTP (the patent trolling company suing BlackBerry), just got recieved an equity stake in Visto (cannot find how much) like the same day Visto sues MS. OK, MS may not be the nicest to F/OSS, but you seriously think think a patent trolling company now owning a stake in Visto boads well for its contributions?

Also, here are the patents Visto says are being infringed on. OK, I haven't read the patents in detail, but just the titles make my head spin at patents being granted for this stuff:

* U.S. Patent No. 6,085,192 titled, "System And Method For Securely Synchronizing Multiple Copies Of A Workspace Element In A Network"

* U.S. Patent No. 6,708,221 titled, "System And Method For Globally And Securely Accessing Unified Information In A Computer Network"

* U.S. Patent No. 6,151,606 titled, "System And Method For Using A Workspace Data Manager To Access, Manipulate And Synchronize Network Data"

Re:Its the game... (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271330)

One thing I know for certain, Microsoft will never be kind to a F/OSS option in terms of IP licensing... perhaps Visto will.

There is nothing to license; you ought to be able to do push/pull E-mail without licensing anything.

Even if there were anything to license, a patent shark and one of its allies aren't going to be favorably disposed towards FOSS either. However, they may simply not bother to sue FOSS because there is no money tomake.

what a bunch of sleazeballs (5, Insightful)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271139)

Neither NTP nor Visto have contributed anything of importance to mobile E-mail technology; they have simply taken out patents on some of the obvious and trivial ways in which devices can get notified of server updates.

Visto's argument that it is good to beat Microsoft with patents because of Microsoft's monopolistic practices is wrong. It is true that Microsoft is behaving monopolistically with Exchange and Windows Mobile, but that's an issue for regulators and the market to worry about. Allowing Visto's and NTP's bogus patents to stand only replaces a big monopolist with a little one.

Bad karma (0, Troll)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271192)

Microsoft should be sued over patents simply because they are lobbying and sneaking patent-laws here in EU. In spite of democratic elections in the EU parliament rejecting the idea, the EU commision, which is not elected, is trying to force the laws through all the time in an unprecedented coup in the history of EU.

There's no evil in this world. Just alot of ignorance, by which selfishness is the root.

Re:Bad karma (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271348)

Yes, perhaps microsoft will drop their support for software patents if they start biting them in the ass too much.

Re:Bad karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271451)

Even better if they truly start understanding they reap what they sow.

Re:what a bunch of sleazeballs (2, Insightful)

sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271696)

While you may consider it a bogus set of patents the good news your opinoin matters not. The patents have been issued and thus they have every legal right to defend them.

Respects intellectual propery rights? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271142)

Remember that this is the company that copied Stac Electronics' disk compression software, infringed on their patents, and lost the resulting lawsuit. The whole debacle ended up costing Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars.

Microsoft stands behind its products... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271158)

...and is pissed that they didn't patent this one before anyone else.

wild. (4, Insightful)

CDPatten (907182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271161)

It seems the new craze for companies is that when they are struggling, just sue a successful company for patent infringement. Look at creative suing apple over the iPod... they didn't care until apple kicked their ass in the market. Look at RIM.

My point is that our corrupt politicians have allowed what should have been copyright law become patent law. Your code is a parallel to writing a book, not a parallel to creating the electric engine.

The irony is that big corporation like Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot here. They pushed for this type of patent law out of fear that their software would easily be duplicated, so It is funny to watch them get slapped by so many frivolous law suites.

Visto and NTP (5, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271163)

I read this the other day and posted on a comment on the story about NTP signing a patent licensing deal. The small company involved was Visto and Visto has several patents (25 total). It is quite possible the two companies are cross-licensing, but NTP may not have any patents worth sharing when the re-examination process at the PTO is complete.

Basically, Visto and NTP announced their deal Wednesday, the same day Visto filed suit against Microsoft. It also appears that NTP acquired a stake in the company as well, so they seem to have an invested interest in this case now as well. For those who have been hiding for the last while, NTP is the company who has become famous (or infamous) from their suit against RIM.

Re:Visto and NTP (1, Funny)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271174)

NTP is the company who has become famous (or infamous) from their suit against RIM.

Ah! Thanks for explaining that.

Who is RIM?

Re:Visto and NTP (1)

saxman57 (132496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271204)

Was it dark under that rock?

RIM is Research in Motion. The Canadian company that makes the Blackberry and runs the Blackberry network.

Re:Visto and NTP (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271258)

RIM is the company who has become famous (or infamous) from their suit against Handspring.

Re:Visto and NTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271613)

There suit against Handspring was for valid reasons. The initial popularity of their devices was in part because of their innovative keypad design(s). Anyways after Handspring saw how much people liked it they went out and copied it. That lawsuit had to do with an actual product and actual infringement.

Re:Visto and NTP (1)

Perfesser Einstein (906572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271693)

A new development on the state of the NTP v. RIM case is mentioned in this article [theglobeandmail.com] . Another of NTP's patents has headed south, thanks to the Patent Office, so they may have started looking for some new artillery. The patent law, which many have declaimed against on /., or spoken with great certainty on, is actually in great flux right now. There is a case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, EBay v. MercExchange, having to do with small companies who don't currently manufacture anything shutting down big companies by using court injunctions. It hasn't been decided yet. Congress was considering the issue, passed the ball to the Supreme Court, but is still contemplating other important changes [loc.gov] to the patent system. There was some discussion about submarine patents. Symbol Tech v. Lemelson Foundation was the case that laid those to rest, though as one /.er pointed out, a change in the rules about patent terms has just about eliminated the possibility that new ones will arise in the future In the meantime, Microsoft has given and gotten some in the patent litigation wars. The Supreme Court [supremecourtus.gov] refused to take up their loss against Eolas Technologies for basic browser patents. Eolas was a small firm holding patents developed by the University of California. The case has gone back to district court for further proceedings. This kind of case, like the Visto case, hinges on whether the courts and/or the Patent Office will uphold or invalidate the patents at issue. This co$t$ $ome time and effort to re$olve, a$ everyone know$.

zero-sum? (1, Funny)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271217)

I hope somewhere a bean counter is totting up two columns: "Revenues from patent litigation" and "Losses from patent litigation". Hopefully this will be roughly a zero-sum and will make people realise that everyone except patent lawyers loses from patent litigation.

Oh come on.... (1)

duffer_01 (184844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271222)

Won't somebody please put a stop to these NTP vultures!

Re:Oh come on.... (1)

duffer_01 (184844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271232)

Maybe we should boycott all of the carriers that purchase Visto software until they agree to smarten up!

Re:Oh come on.... (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271262)

Better yet! I say we go directly after NTP.

From this point on, I swear I will never buy a single product from NTP! ..... oh, never mind.

May I interest you in some... (1)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271261)

...Microsoft Intellectual Property Protection? Get the Facts.
Perhaps SCO can now fantasize about some obscure SCO IP protected code making its way into the Windows kernel. Oh the irony, Oh the sweet, sweet irony!

scox's parent company has already sued msft (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271482)

Canopy used to own 40% of scox, canopy bought dr-dos, used it to sue msft, then canopy threw dr-dos on the scrap heap. Arguably, canopy wanted to do the same thing with UNIX.

SCOX's flagship product, OpenServer, is built on Xenix - which used to be owned by msft.

Sad day when patent lawyers are Tech. Co. Founders (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271317)

It seems that unless you have a patent lawyer founding a company, nobody will make any money. The case of NTP will pave the way for every lawyer in the land to stake a claim on a concept and squeeze the ligitimate inventor/investor who actually creates something, for their pound of flesh. Imagine how society would be better off if all of the smart people went to create real products instead of becoming a lawyer and launching a suit over an idea that they never brought to market.

Who's Visto? (1)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271320)

Visto's well known and documented patented technology."

Until I saw this article, I have no idea who Visto ever was. Well-known my ass. These little ninjas patent me and you farting, and they just wait for a fish big enough.

They are useless.

Please!...Stop!..... you're killing me!....LOL (0)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271356)

"Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights."

I needed a good laugh this morning :) Thanks for making my morning.

Steve Ballmer (2, Funny)

zaguar (881743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271375)

Meanwhile, in Redmond, a sound can be heard from the CEO office, along with the sounds of chairs crashing.

"I'm going to Fucking BURY Visto Corporation! I've done it before, and I will do it again. I am going to FUCKING KILL Visto Corporation!"

RIM Nemesis NTP Funded "Startup" Visto (1)

davemabe (105354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271382)

NTP, the company that has so far successfully brought suit against RIM for its patents on "wireless messaging" (can you imagine a broader term?) bought an equity stake in Visto just days before this announcement. Sounds like a pretty lucrative business. More on my O'Reilly blog [oreillynet.com] .

Conspiracy Theory -Use RIM money to take on 'Soft (1)

nigel_q (523775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271460)

Remember, these are the guys that just struck a deal with NTP about the RIM patents (the ones NTP is suing RIM about)... As part of the deal, didn't NTP get an equity stake in Visto? They're probably almost effectively partners... Perhaps this is all part of a master plan to go after Microsoft, using the $bin NTP is trying to extort from RIM? $1,000,000,000 will feed the lawyers for a good long while, especially if the payoff is almost certainly orders of magnitiudes more from Microsoft...

Re:Conspiracy Theory -Use RIM money to take on 'So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271640)

NTP has not won against RIM, and they wont either. The US Patent office has sent the NTP patents to their highest level of its review board; the previous two levels threw out NTP's patents as trash already. RIM will not have to pay them a dime if the slow-ass patent office finally throws it out for good. NTP bought Visto this week specifically to sue Microsoft. NTP is just a patent company... they make no product and offer no service... all they due is sue to make money and buy patents.

Re:Conspiracy Theory -Use RIM money to take on 'So (1)

nigel_q (523775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271821)

We both know that RIM is right... But it looks like they'll have to cough up the cash, then NTP's patents will be invalidated... The judge seems to be intent to stick it to the Canadians... And on another level, he's probably trying to highlight that the patent and justice system is broken... I kind of hope that the patents are invalidated, then RIM counter-sues NTP and ends up owning them... Then Visto can be dismantled... Its funny that companies like NTP exist... Makes you wonder what the CEO says he does for a living when people ask him at family dinners... "So what do you do, anyway?" -> "Well, I hold ideas and sue people when they get the same ones... I didn't come up with them myself, they're not real because they're only ideas..."

What crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14271531)

'Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights.'

As for standing behind their products, just read any Microsoft EULA; you'll find that Microsoft is responsible for nothing.

The Web is littered with cases of Microsoft inappropriately taking IP. Everything from signing non-disclosure agreements to see code then dragging negotiations out Microsoft product release to entering development agreements with companies then killing the combined effort in favor of a Microsoft-only product. Google for it, I am not even going to waste my time providing links.

Now they come out with a statement like this? Puh-leeeeze!

The only reason "respect for intellectual property rights" is any concern for Microsoft right now is the spectre of FOSS breaking their current monopoly position. Having sowed FUD with the recent SCO debacle about Linux IP, they hope to come off as champions of intellectual property rights while sullying FOSS in the same area. The only close social parallel is a whore who marries up in society then spends the rest of her life chastising others about their sexual mores.

Hasn't this biz plan ... (2, Funny)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271539)

Hasn't this biz plan already been pateneted by EOLAS?

Do they know about this?

On aside note, its Good to see lawyers have work during this Holiday season. I always worry about them during the cold months.

Re:Hasn't this biz plan ... (1)

Gryle (933382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271680)

This winter's gotten so cold I saw a poor lawyer that had to put his hand in his own pockets.

Bull (1)

Teresh (911815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271672)

'Microsoft stands behind its products and respects intellectual property rights.'

I'm sure Xerox PARC agrees.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...