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USPTO Rules Fogent JPEG Patent Invalid

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the burn dept.

240

fistfullast33l writes "Groklaw has reported that the USPTO has ruled the broadest claims of the JPEG Patent held by Fogent to be invalid. PUBPAT, the organization that requested the review, released the news earlier today. According to PJ, the ruling will be hard to overturn as the 'submitters knew about the prior art but failed to tell the USPTO about it.'"

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Good (3, Insightful)

fitten (521191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410646)

Wow... it's nice to know that they are at least looking at things better.

Re:Good (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410682)

Yeah, it seems like they had a good picture of the situation.

Re:Good (5, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410759)

So, would you say this represents a lossy day for Fogent, since such a harsh judgment has now been rendered?

Thanks folks. I'm here all week. Try the veal.

Re:Good (1)

Billhead (842510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410850)

How in the world does the first post get modded redundant?

Re:Good (0, Redundant)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410909)

How in the world does the first post get modded redundant?

Recursion?

/. coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410929)

hey, here is a thought; start looking for a pattern esp. where the same person is modding somebody down. It should be obvious that fitten is being chased and modded by a personal deamon. There is NO way that the first post is modded redundant.

Yes, the meta moders should work, but there is way too much politics involved. Instead, put do simply check over the mods that notices if somebody is targeting another.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15411055)

It's Forgent.

Hard to overturn but... (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410652)

According to PJ, the ruling will be hard to overturn as the 'submitters knew about the prior art but failed to tell the USPTO about it.'"


Even if they didn't know about the prior art, why should it affect the ruling if prior art was involved? Since they knew about prior art but didn't report it, they should be fined.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (5, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410685)

Since they knew about prior art but didn't report it, they should be fined.

I vote for jailed. Fines are just a part of doing business, and do not appear to be much of a deterrent these days.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

archen (447353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410706)

Judging by the current overflow of prisons, jail isn't much of a deterrent either. The punishment should fit the crime. I think a fine would be the best option. If you REALLY want to punish them, then jack up the fine.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (5, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410733)

Or revoke their corporate charter and bar the executives from doing business again. I'm all in favour of invoking this sort of punishment - it beats the hell outa fines, and ensures fewer repear offenders. Call it a corporate "death penalty", and I'm sure that it'll find support in the conservative parts of the US :-)

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410979)

... and bar the executives from doing business again...
While that might sound good, it deprives them of the the right to seek and secure work in their chosen field. Unless they did something that was actually against a specific law, it makes no sense to deprive a person of their livelihood. If they DID break a specific law, then they should be personally accountable for it, regardless of any corporate shielding. Corporate shielding I can see protecting a person from being personally financially responsible for debt incurred by the company, but it should not protect individuals from the consequences of actual criminal activity.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411063)

The proposal you're arguing against was a suggested Punishment to be levied once Convicted of a crime...what are you arguing for?

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410754)

If you REALLY want to punish them, then jack up the fine.

All things considered, I'd rather jack them where it hurts a bit more.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410813)

are you saying you would like to sadistically jack them off? you sick, sick individual

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (2, Funny)

MooUK (905450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410859)

I really don't think I want to know how a handjob would be punishment.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410906)

sandpaper gloves. sandpaper gloves, MooUK.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (5, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410777)

Don't forget that the primary purpose of corporations is to avoid personal liability and responsibility. It is both difficult to jail a corporation or jail individuals working for a corporation for corporate misbehavior.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (4, Informative)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410895)

Don't forget that the primary purpose of corporations is to avoid personal liability and responsibility. It is both difficult to jail a corporation or jail individuals working for a corporation for corporate misbehavior.
The primary purpose of a corporation is the shield the owners from liability and responsibility. Individuals working for a corporation are still responsible for any criminal offenses they commit or conspire to commit.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

cmacb (547347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410954)

"Don't forget that the primary purpose of corporations is to avoid personal liability and responsibility. It is both difficult to jail a corporation or jail individuals working for a corporation for corporate misbehavior."

Talk to Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling about that, I'm sure they'll be glad to hear.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411073)

The difference there is that certain corporate offices have a specific personal legal responsibility for the corporate information that goes out over their signature. That was one of the core arguments against Lay and Skilling and it appears to have stuck.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411015)

Don't forget that the primary purpose of corporations is to avoid personal liability and responsibility.

The primary purpose is to encourage entrepreneurism. They are extremely good for the economy.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411075)

"The primary purpose is to encourage entrepreneurism."

Actually there were far more individuals (proportionaly) running their own businesses before the rise of corporations than after, so I guess they failed.

Re:Hard to overturn but...Not Enough! (1)

teasea (11940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410882)

The overflowing jails are in large part filled with those who can't afford quality lawyers. (Oxymoron? You get my gist.) The college educated crowd loses houses, cars, wives and children when they get sent up so, it would be a deterrent.

Another poster mentioned that the purpose of a corporation was to protect risk takers from liability: this is true but, it only refers to civil liability. Criminal behavior is NOT protected. Admittedly, failure to report prior art seems minor if compared to Ken Lay or a serial killer, I would still try to prosecute.

Re:Hard to overturn but... (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410923)

It has been a while since I have read patent law, but part of the oath or declaration they sign states that they understand a duty to disclose. Usually if it is proven they have failed to disclose prior art, then their patent can be ruled invalid without any argument. The director (and maybe some other individual or body with the power) can revoke the patent outright. I am pretty sure by failing to disclose they technically broke the law since I am pretty sure that it is a part of or hinted at in the actual law.

Re:Hard to overturn but... (4, Interesting)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411078)

Considering that they knew about the prior art and have been trolling with the patent against software-makers using the jpeg format, I vote for them being tried for extortion. Why is it that in cases where some company claims they have a patent or copyright on something and its later proven that they don't that they're not charged with extortion (yeah, I'm thinking of SCO too)?

USPTO (5, Funny)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410654)

These days you could probably get a patent for a "process of expelling excess gas generated by metabolic processing of protein and accumulated in the large intestine and colon."

Re:USPTO (1, Redundant)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410679)

I'm sorry, I've got a patent on Fart Jokes. You'll be hearing from my lawyer!

Re:USPTO (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410799)

Off-topic? Obviously the mod didn't get it.

Re:USPTO (1)

ByteGuerrilla (918383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410823)

Indeed. Hopefully the meta-modding will catch that. Reminds me, I've not done my slashdot duty today.

Re:USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410688)

ummm...prior art?

Re:USPTO (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410734)

No, prior fart. (Or posterior art?)

Re:USPTO (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410694)

I'm going to sue you for giving away the trade secret behind my hit product, Fermented Aerial Rectal Taints.

Re:USPTO - Even More (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410704)

These days you could probably get a patent for a "process of expelling excess gas generated by metabolic processing of protein and accumulated in the large intestine and colon."

Especially if you promote it as a new Energy Source.

Heck, you can probably get VC funding for it as well.

Re:USPTO - Even More (2, Funny)

lazarusdishwasher (968525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410797)

After we convert our cars to run on this new energy source will there be a public outcry each time the price of a slider goes up at whitecastle?

Re:USPTO - Even More (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410901)

Especially if you promote it as a new Energy Source.

That may get you an all-expenses-paid trip to Gitmo, though. Only terrorists use non-oil-based energy sources!

Re:USPTO - Even More (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410940)

Does VC still stand for Viet Cong in the US or does it mean something else?

Re:USPTO - Even More (4, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411003)

Stands for Venture Capital or Venture Capitalists. Though similar in practice to the Southeast Asian guerillas of the same name, these are native mostly to California.

Having worked with a few, I can understand the confusion.

Re:USPTO (1)

Bravoc (771258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410884)

These days you could probably get a patent for a "process of expelling excess gas generated by metabolic processing of protein and accumulated in the large intestine and colon."

Well, maybe or maybe not. Work the phrase "with a computer" into that and you'd have something!

Re:USPTO (1)

Paleomacus (666999) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410996)

I've been doing it "at a computer" all day. I wish someone would patent a "process of bludgeoning a human, or human-like, being to a non-living state with a lead pipe", because then my cube-farm mates would have fewer options of relatiation...

Re:USPTO (1)

UltraAyla (828879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410893)

that's such a load of crap

Re:USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410905)

hahahahahaha

Re:USPTO (4, Funny)

mickwd (196449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410943)

Re:USPTO (1)

StopSayingYouSir (907720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411029)

It's much easier if you include the word "internet" somewhere.

A start (1)

jimktrains (838227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410656)

Now we can look at the many other invalid patents and have them overturned. Just wish I had more time to research them and present why they are invalide the the USPTO.

Why Oh Why (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410662)

the USPTO has ruled the broadest claims of the JPEG Patent held by Fogent to be invalid.

Why does it take them so d@mn long to accomplish this in the first place? Even when a patent is finally ruled invalid -- and should have never been granted in the first place -- it seems it happens only after years of legal damage. No one is served well by this, except the lawyers.

Re:Why Oh Why (5, Insightful)

Otter Escaping North (945051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410711)

Why does it take them so d@mn long to accomplish this in the first place? [...] No one is served well by this, except the lawyers.

Question asked, question answered.

Re:Why Oh Why (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410963)

It's pretty obvious too, most politicians are lawyers. When they make laws, they make them in such a way that it's completely self-serving.

Re:Why Oh Why (0, Offtopic)

Mahou (873114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410824)

since when did slashdot get a language filter? "damn" wait, no they didn't. what the hell? don't censor yourself, it's wrong and annoying. this is the internet, you can cuss here. and if you don't want to because you find it too vulgar, then just don't.

Re:Why Oh Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410855)

Yeah, I've never seen the point of censoring language when you know damn well what was said anyway. F*** is not less offensive than fuck because F*** IS fuck and anyone with a schoolyard education knows it.

Re:Cussing (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410878)

Heh, I thought he was just being a little creative, though I use that in the sense of "A Small Talent for War [wikipedia.org] "

Re:Why Oh Why (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410887)

It's not that Slashdot got a language filter - rather, the original poster may have wanted to make a statement but felt awkward about using strong language - nothing wrong with that.

RD

Re:Why Oh Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410941)

yes there is. he shouldn't use it even in a modified form if he has problems with being vulgar. people should come up with a statement that expresses their anguish or what have you, without relying on vulgarity. if you like the simple route of using cuss words to express your anger or excitement, then that's fine too. if he wants to say 'damn' then why did he say 'd@mn'? it shows that he did in fact want to use the word, but for some reason felt pressure not to actually write it as a regular word. this kind of self censoring due to bullshit social pressures of moral decency is recognized for being bullshit in everything but cussing, which i find sort of baffling.

Re:Why Oh Why (3, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410828)

Because patent examiners are incredibly overworked and understaffed. (sound familiar?) Patent review attorneys can make more in the private sector, and are evaluated by how many patents the approve not the quality of the patents the approve (which is almost impossible to metric, so managers don't bother reviewing by it), etc, etc.

They're not inherently evil or lazy...they're just in a very bad place.

Re:Why Oh Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15411065)

No one is served well by this, except the lawyers.

Quit your whining boy, and get your a55 into law school!

Excellent timing (4, Interesting)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410672)

Considering Microsoft's new graphics file format, an unencumbered JPG format is a rather handy thing to have out there.

Yeah, but is it enough? (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410872)

Far as I know, this only affects the basic JPEG. JPEG2000 is still encumbered, as I believe that's a different set of patents. However, that's largely moot - PNG is lossless and often compresses better than JPEG, but JPEG is still the format of choice for, say, digital camera makers and websites. If freedom was sufficient, in itself, the format would have been dead and buried within 60 seconds of the patents being filed. It's not "necessary", there were superior, unencumbered alternatives that most OS' can display well or, at least, equally well to JPEGs.


No, the core problem wasn't with the patents, although those were bad enough. The core problems are ignorance (most people don't know what options exist), inertia (those who do often won't take advantage of them because it requires change) and stagnation (sufficient inertia kills all incentive to further develop alternatives). I would not be against compulsary education on how to be versatile, for this reason.


It is hard to blame Fogent alone, when the entire national attitude is based so firmly on milking every old idea for what it's worth, whilst the populace make no effort to avoid being bilked. As with those in Dilbert who have met the "world's most desperate Venture Capitalist", it becomes hard not to just take the money and run.


This isn't to say such conduct is good or acceptable - it isn't, in my opinion. Rather, it is to say that we should be addressing the whole problem, not merely a selection of the symptoms.

Re:Yeah, but is it enough? (4, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410960)

"However, that's largely moot - PNG is lossless and often compresses better than JPEG, but JPEG is still the format of choice for, say, digital camera makers and websites"

PNG was not made to replace JPG, so I wouldn't call anything moot. PNG is not made for photographs, which make up a decent percentage of pictures out there. I actually don't know of any competing formats to jpeg other than this new microsoft one - how come no one has built an open format like PNG for photos?

Re:Yeah, but is it enough? (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410975)

You are correct that JPEG2000 is a new set of patents, despite the name, it's vastly different technology.

However PNG as good as JPEG, are you out of your damn mind? PNGs are MASSIVE, they aren't as big as RAW files, but that's it. They don't even approach JPEG sizes for photos.

For example, I have a photo here of a cute kitten loaded in Photoshop. According to PS, it's about 791k raw inside PS itself. If I tell it to save it as a PNG 24-bit, the sizes goes down to 317k. Good bit of compression, but still large for the web. However if I switch it over to JPEG compression and set it to use the maximum quality profile, it is only 69k and is subjectively the exact same quality on my monitor. Medium is the first level where there's noticable degradation, and it's down to 37k there. Even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant using 8-bit palettized PNG (which is lossy since you lose colours) it's still 172k, over double the largest JPEG.

PNG is great for lots of things, but JPEG it ain't. You don't want to try using PNG for large pictures on the web, it'll screw over anyone on dialup. With sizes as much as 10x a JPEG file, it's just not feasable.

Re:Yeah, but is it enough? (2, Informative)

k98sven (324383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411071)

However, that's largely moot - PNG is lossless and often compresses better than JPEG

PNG rarely ever compresses better than JPEG. In particular for photographs. You're probably thinking about GIF.

If freedom was sufficient, in itself, the format would have been dead and buried within 60 seconds of the patents being filed.

Nonsense. The Forgent patents haven't stopped anyone from using JPEG. The free software libjpeg library from IJG has been out there the whole time, Gimp and similar programs never dropped JPEG. Again, I think you're thinking about GIF.

The core problems are ignorance (most people don't know what options exist), inertia (those who do often won't take advantage of them because it requires change) and stagnation (sufficient inertia kills all incentive to further develop alternatives). I would not be against compulsary education on how to be versatile, for this reason.

Again, you're thinking about GIF. There was never any "problem" with JPEG because noone ever though the Forgent patents were valid. The FSF themselves use JPEGs all over their web site, and always have. You won't find a GIF there, though.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

Toba82 (871257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410880)

Considering that MS used the patent trouble they had with JPEG to justify needing a new format, I'd be inclined to agree with you. Too bad they'll force WMP into widespread use anyways...

Strategic Error (4, Funny)

Trails (629752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410707)

What they should have done is patent "Web 2.0"....

Do they have to refund (3, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410713)

all the money they've been paid in licenses, plus interest?

Re:Do they have to refund (1)

debest (471937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410778)

Nope, I'm sure the licence agreements are carefully worded to exclude this scenario.

Now, there's nothing stopping someone who paid the licence fee from suing Forgent if they believe that they acted fraudulently in demanding the licencing fee in the first place, but that's a different action.

Re:Do they have to refund (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410784)

that depends on the license agreement that they signed. If they had good lawyers, and the licensee didn't, then they probably would have got away with a clause such as 'the fees agreed under this agreement will not cease to become payable even in the event of one or all of the licensed patents being rejected and/or cancelled'. If a party was stupid enough to sign an agreement like that, or their bargining position was so weak that they _had_ to sign such an agreement, then they are pretty much, to use the technical legal term, screwed. In leet-speak, Forgent 'owned' them.

Well this was a stupid summary (4, Informative)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410718)

The patent has not been completely ruled invalid. Some of the claims have not been addressed by the USPTO according to Forgent

Re:Well this was a stupid summary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410749)

You mean "Fogent" don't you? I mean, Zonk couldn't have missed it twice.

Im really confused now. (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410815)

You mean "Fogent" don't you? I mean, Zonk couldn't have missed it twice.

Yeah. Freudian slip. I was thinking about forgery and how the name forgent is aptly suited for such company. Anyway, Im really confused now. The patent office said they should not have granted the patent in the first place. Is it just the fact that the other claims haven't been examined yet or do they stand on their own merits? Is this patent still dangerous with the parts that havent' been rejected yet or is the patent nerfed?

Re:Well this was a stupid summary (1)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410789)

The summary stated "broadest claims of the patent", not "entire patent".

What is the problem?

Re:Well yours is a stupid comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410875)

Maybe you should read the summary again and pay attention to phrase "broadest claims", dipshit.

News headlines! (4, Funny)

Gavin Rogers (301715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410719)

US Patent office makes competent ruling! News at 11!

Re:News headlines! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410962)

At the cost of only 100,000 tax dollars! Man am I glad I have the choice of how much money to donate to government!

Crap... (4, Funny)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410720)

I just burned all my JPEGs...

Re:Crap... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410775)

to dvd?
Then buried a chest with the disk under a tree in the garden?

In my best Nelson voice... (-1, Troll)

kuwan (443684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410724)

HA HA!

OT: freepay websites (-1, Offtopic)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410877)

Regarding the free mac minis - your sig claims "it works". Have you LOOKED at the freepay website recently? There's now a 3 month time period in which you need to obtain all of your referrals, have them approved, and mail in a paper form. For the 10 referrals needed for a mac mini this is nearly impossible. Just a week ago I finally got my ipod from freepay - my referrals were completed LAST YEAR, and my account was approved in late january. That's almost five months for them to fufill THEIR end of the bargain, yet you only have three months to complete yours.

Freepay is now a scam. I suggest checking out the anything4free.com forums to see which companies are still legit.

Of JPEGs and PICs (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410741)

Speaking of image file formats, what has ever happened to JPEG2000? Wasn't that supposed to sweep away everything before it with a much improved format? It doesn't even seem to have made a ripple, and now Microsoft is coming out with PIC to replace everything that came before. How about it?

Re:Of JPEGs and PICs (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410758)

It was. Except the licensing was a little too strict and the format died without interest. Who'd invest in making it their primary format if next day the owner of the format could charge them money for using it?

Re:Of JPEGs and PICs (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410814)

>> now Microsoft is coming out with PIC to replace everything that came before. How about it?

They were actually pushing Windows Media Photo at WinHEC.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps/wmphoto.mspx

Another proof that the system is broken (4, Insightful)

pcause (209643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410766)

How many times do we need to go through this before it is clear that the patent system, wrt software, is broken. I am *NOT* necessarily against patents for software, but it is just about impossible to do prior art, becuase there is so much out there for a few years and then gone. Worse, the examiners don't have enough background to do the job, etc.

The peer review system that is being discussed sounds like a step in the right direction. There also needs to be some significantly less costly way to deal with claims of infringement and the ndefense than the Courts. Small companies can't afford to defend their patents or to challenge someone with deep pockets trying to enforce a patently bogus patent!

And it will remain broken. (3, Insightful)

v_table 0 (974659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411052)

How many times do we need to go through this before it is clear that the patent system, wrt software, is broken. I am *NOT* necessarily against patents for software, but it is just about impossible to do prior art, becuase there is so much out there for a few years and then gone.

We will always have to go through this. As far as business interests are concerned, patents are simply assets, and sometimes extremely valuable ones. I doubt that such interests would risk the loss of such valuable assets.

For the record, I am against software patents. I'll give you an example of why.

I have the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta. The new "Ribbon" interface is perhaps the most brilliant thing to come out of Microsoft in quite a long while. It alone will likely drive sales - read upgrades - of Office if only because it exposes functionality that has been there since Office 97, but has been hidden behind a bewildering array of menus, toolbars, and dialog boxes.

Is it entirely new? No. I have seen similar interfaces on web sites.

But here is the problem: there are several programs that I could think of that would benefit from the "Ribbon". Adobe Photoshop comes immediately to mind. Imagine having a tabbed toolbar, with a tab for "Home" containing the basic tools, a tab for "Masks", one for "Channels", etc.

Of course if - or more likey, when - Microsoft patents the "Ribbon", only users of Microsoft software will benefit from it. Regardless of how much users of software from other brands might be able to benefit from it.

Copyright should be good enough for software. Patents truly stifle innovation.

Zonk's on a roll. (2, Informative)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410787)

It's Forgent, not Fogent.

Re:Zonk's on a roll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410879)

They must have forgotten!

Check out the actual communication from the USPTO (5, Informative)

ffflala (793437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410805)

This thoroughly details which claims of the patent have been rejected (page 5) and which claims were found patentable (page 26). http://www.pubpat.org/672OA060525.pdf [pubpat.org]

So what's left? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410818)

If the broadest claims of the patent are invalid, do the remaining claims have any teeth?

Re:So what's left? (3, Informative)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410868)

They very well could. Broad claims are harder to sustain than narrow claims.

Three Things To Think About (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410841)

1. Yes, the patent system is severely broken, and it's flawed. Yes, the European version is better. Yes, patents (my grandfather had a few) should only last 17 years period, as the intention is to force publication of such information/concepts/executions so that everyone may gain from such public knowledge through a time-limited license, and the extensions we currently grant work against such concepts. But, let's face it, unless you have a few billion dollars, they will ignore what we say on this matter, for they are corrupt.

2. We need more public patents - and we need places like universities and colleges and publicly-funded institutions to file them, or at least on renewal reclassify the patent as a public patent but administer it, with a portion of revenues being used to reform the patent system.

3. Software is not, nor should it every be, patentable. Copyright? Sure. I published freeware and shareware at the dawn of public computing (70s/80s). But not patentable, nor should business processes nor conceptual methods be patentable. It is just plain wrong.

I don't expect you to agree with me, but I think this latest USPTO ruling brings up the issue on the public JPEG usage. JPEG is from the publicly-funded Jet Propulsion Laboratories - which we pay for with taxes. Open source depends on public patents, or at worst private patents signed over to OSF and other groups to administer.

Forgent says... (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410865)

Re:Forgent says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15411077)

Here is part of their press release, as linked from forgent.com

AUSTIN, TX, May 26, 2006 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX News Network) -- Forgent(TM) Networks (NASDAQ: FORG) announced today that on May 25, 2006, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued its first office action, a non-final action, confirming a majority of the claims in United States Patent 4,698,672. The action upholds 27 of the 46 claims of Forgent's patent. Forgent will vigorously defend the remaining claims that were not initially upheld in this first office action.

"We understand this is an extended process and we are pleased with the progress of the patent reexamination," said Richard Snyder, CEO and Chairman of Forgent Networks. "We believe the remaining claims are also valid, and we will work directly with the Patent and Trademark Office to clarify and defend our position."


Sounds like good news for Forgent, eh?

BTW, their stock price hasn't done so well today, either...

-greg

I'm an idiot (2, Insightful)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410894)

so it's Forgent not Fogent. I managed to do it in the title and the summary. [pats self on back]

Re:I'm an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15410949)

[pats self on back]

Hey, don't take all of the credit. Zonk got an assist on that goal.

Re:I'm an idiot (1)

coop535 (813230) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410955)

Are you kidding? Fantastic. It's a RTFA pop quiz. Lots have failed it (Zonk included), and it's good to see.

Does this mean that Linux can now support JPEG? (2, Interesting)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410897)

Does this mean that Linux can now support JPEG, since it's now unencumbered by patents? Hurray!!

Use social networks (1)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410937)

What we need is something similar to Digg Spy, but for patents. An interface which would allow you to view patent applications as they come in. Anybody could then pick one based on their expertise and start hammering away at it. If prior art exists, add a comment which highlights the fact.

This would take a huge burden off the patent office, which could then focus solely on (in)validating the claims.

I'm not too sure if the social networking side of things would work (i.e bunch of geeks doing it for the greater good), but you can bet that large corporations would start playing the game. They could hire entire departments whose sole job would be to invalidate competitor's patent application.

DAMMIT, EDITORS, DO YOUR JOB (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15410985)

PJ did not say anything about prior art. She said "PubPat's Executive Director, Dan Ravicher, says that the submitters knew about the prior art". Please at least try to pretend that Slashdot is a credible news source.

Re:DAMMIT, EDITORS, DO YOUR JOB (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411028)

Please at least try to pretend that Slashdot is a credible news source.

Who said anything about "credible" news? Get your facts straight before you blow a gasket. Hey, it's just the internet.

Is this the same company as Forgent? (0, Redundant)

subterranean (22331) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411007)

The company is Forgent, not Fogent.

release the puns (1)

kbob88 (951258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411040)

If I decode this correctly, I guess you could say their claims have been 'compressed'. Get the picture?

Har har... yeah they're bad but hey it's Friday, cut me some slack. I gotta go decompress...

so (1)

nFriedly (628261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15411070)

I figured the Microsoft alternative to jpeg [slashdot.org] wasnt going very far, but this seems like the final nail in the cofin.
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