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Microsoft Admonished by U.S. District Court Judge

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the tsk-tsk dept.

178

An anonymous reader writes "The Seattle Times reports that the judge in the z4 'product activation' patent infringement case has increased the jury's original $115 million verdict against Microsoft by $25 million. Both Microsoft and Autodesk (another defendant) were admonished by the judge for misconduct. The judge wrote 'The Court concludes that Defendants attempted to bury the relevant 107 exhibits ... in a massive pile of decoys' and called one failure to disclose evidence 'an intentional attempt by Defendants to mislead z4 and this Court.'"

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178 comments

Microsoft acting unethically? (5, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962059)

MS acting unethically? Willfully infringing on the patents of a small company? Engaging in litigation misconduct? Attemping to mislead the court?

I think Microsoft needs to read their own Put it in writing: Your business has ethics [microsoft.com] - particularly point 8:

Live it from the top down. It's critical that no one person in a company ever appears to be above a code of ethics. That means it's particularly important that executives and top managers also adhere to the guidelines of an ethics code. If managers say one thing but do something else, that's nothing more than a license for the rest of the company to follow suit. "Good role modeling by top managers is a must," Swanson says. "Without it, ethics codes can be seen as mere window dressing."

You ever read that Steve or Bill?

Mind you - I'm not exactly on z4's 'side' here - I don't like software patents (and it doesn't look like z4 have a product, but rather are an 'IP' company). That said however, live by the sword, die by the sword hey MS? Want to enforce your FAT patents? Expect more of this sort of shit in the future.

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962146)

You're misreading it...

It's critical that no one person in a company ever appears to be above a code of ethics.

Maybe MS's code of ethics doesn't cover lying and theiving...

Or maybe they're planning on adding it in MS Ethics 2.0.

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (5, Funny)

struppi (576767) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962271)

After installing update 919951 which patched a critical vulnerability in MS Ethics 1.0 service pack 1 some customers have reported problems when MS Ethics fails to detect lying and/or theiving. Microsoft has announced a new version of security update 919951 on August 22, 2006. This new version was to address this problem for customers who use MS Ethics 2.0 Service Pack 1.

Microsoft is also aware of public reports that this issue could lead to a buffer overrun condition for customers who use MS Ethics 2.0 Service Pack 1 and who have applied security update 918899. We are not aware of attacks that try to use the reported vulnerability at this point, nor are we aware of customer impact at this point. Microsoft is aggressively investigating the public reports.

-- original source: Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 unexpectedly exits after you install the 918899 update http://support.microsoft.com/kb/923762/en-us [microsoft.com]

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962433)

Or maybe they're planning on adding it in MS Ethics 2.0.

Now you're just being silly.

Everyone knows that you should always wait for version 3 of any Microsoft product.

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962462)

Maybe MS's code of ethics doesn't cover lying and theiving...

That's not a bug in their code. It's a feature.

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962674)

It's critical that no one person in a company ever appears to be above a code of ethics.

You're both misreading it. The rule stipulates that a company may not have one person acting unethically; there are no restrictions on several people doing so.

New software from MS: (1)

Burlap (615181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962781)

I can see it now...


NEW Microsoft Ethics 2.0! It's fully featured with an all new "don't lie" format, and add those little extra touches with the "don't steal things" toolbar.

And to make your ethical decisions simpler... use Clippy, the Ethics 2.0 help agent!

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (5, Interesting)

rizole (666389) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963082)

I read it like this:

It's critical that no one person in a company ever appears to be above a code of ethics

It's okay to have no ethics, as long as no one notices.

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962181)

I think those ethics apply only to MS business persons. These are lawyers we're talking about here; they have no ethics regardless of which company they work for.

Ethics? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962452)

Ithn't that thomewhere thouth of London?

Re:Microsoft acting unethically? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962470)

I'm sure they read their own code of ethics on a daily basis....when they open the window shades to let the sun in.

"Without it, ethics codes can be seen as mere window dressing."
"

if you do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15963026)

if you do it... you don't talk about it... msft talks about it...

Microsoft small business? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963162)

You ever read that Steve or Bill?

Did you miss that this article is directed at the leadership of small businesses?

Bill and Steve have nothing to do with it.

software patents are just a bad idea (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962075)

Even if MS gets burnt by them doesn't make them good.

Plus "product activation" must have been reinvented a million times or something.

That said MS deserves to get smacked if they try to mess about with the courts.

Re:software patents are just a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962640)

Plus "product activation" must have been reinvented a million times or something.

Is it just me? i didn't even think this was patented because it's so obvious to me. It was filed in 1998. Wasn't there product activation before then?

Microsoft - you need to bust this patent with prior art, or get some laws fixing the patent system. You have been hit with that stupid Eolas patent, and now this.

Surely you can crush these guys. At least throw some chairs their way.

Re:software patents are just a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962872)

Being reinvented-- that is, thought of independently-- only protects with respect to copyright, not patents. Copyright is about copying-- patents are about the thing or process. The thing or process is protected no matter how you came about producing it or thinking of it.

Can chairs be thrown in court? (5, Funny)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962085)

I bet they can.

Snakes in Court? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962196)

I just had a great movie idea.

Re:Snakes in Court? (1, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962261)

What's the tag line going to be?

"I'm tired of these motherfucking chairs, on this mother fucking stage . . . . DEVELOPERS!"

Re:Can chairs be thrown in court? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962869)

That reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters 2 where some chairs get thrown at a nasty judge by some ghosts.

So yeah, I guess chairs CAN be thrown in a courtroom :)

Pile of decoys? (5, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962090)

"judge wrote 'The Court concludes that Defendants attempted to bury the relevant 107 exhibits ... in a massive pile of decoys'

I see that Microsoft is still retaining Elmer F.U.D. for his legal services.

Re:Pile of decoys? (5, Funny)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962159)

"I would like to introduce into the evidence, your honour, this wooden ducky. Let the wooden ducky be known as Exhibit FUD. See the ducky dance? Dance ducky, dance."

Less "activation"? (1)

mallardtheduck (760315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962094)

Hopefully these sorts of legal problems will discorage other companies from using annoying anti-customer "activation" schemes...

For a few dollars more.... (5, Insightful)

pottymouth (61296) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962116)


I'm sure with for a few extra bucks MS can buy whatever legal resources (including judges, prosecutors, congressmen, lobbyists) it needs to make it all better. Ain't it great living in a society where money rules all....

"Money's like honey, my little sonny, and a rich man's joke is always funny"

Re:For a few dollars more.... (0, Flamebait)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962254)

Ain't it great living in a society where money rules all....

By what other means would you have our society ruled?

Money, at least, has the virtue of flowing automatically to those who labor and innovate and create pleasure for others.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962341)

Money, at least, has the virtue of flowing automatically to those who labor and innovate and create pleasure for others.

Then how do you explain the RIAA?

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962416)

flowing automatically to those who labor

Ahahahah

Thanks, I was looking forward to a long dull business trip this afternoon, you've brightened my day considerably...

oh wait, you were serious, weren't you?

Re:For a few dollars more.... (4, Insightful)

IIH (33751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962478)

Ain't it great living in a society where money rules all....

By what other means would you have our society ruled?

Money, at least, has the virtue of flowing automatically to those who labor and innovate and create pleasure for others.

That is only true for small amount of money, for larger amounts of money, it is not labour that makes money, but money itself.

Take for example, landowners in the past. Even if a non-landowner worked hard, it was very difficult to become a landowner due to the power of landowners over their tenants.

Or, if a person/group own a sufficent amount of the businesses in a particular area, it's very difficult for a new person to challenge that, as the existing group can raise their prices to supply the new business, resulting in the existing group profiting off the work of someone else, which is why monoploys are harmeful.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962797)

>> That is only true for small amount of money, for larger amounts of money,
  >> it is not labour that makes money, but money itself.

Untrue. It is the intelligent management of money that makes money. Without the intelligent management, the money does not make money but instead disappears. Try Googling on the phrase, "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."

Chris Mattern

Re:For a few dollars more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962906)

It is the intelligent management of money that makes money. Without the intelligent management, the money does not make money but instead disappears. Try Googling on the phrase, "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."

While this is quite true, unfortunately it tends to be generation 2 that enters politics.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962597)


By what other means would you have our society ruled?


Justice would be nice. Perhaps also the lawful upholding of our constitution.


Money, at least, has the virtue of flowing automatically to those who labor and innovate and create pleasure for others.


Not in corporate America. Most of the money tends to flow to those in the org chart who are far above the actual producers.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963156)

Money, at least, has the virtue of flowing automatically to those who labor and innovate and create pleasure for others.
Hahaha, that's a good one. Money has the virtue of flowing to those who labor to accumulate it. It has the virtue of flowing fastest to those who innovate ways to take advantage of political systems.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962374)

I'm sure with for a few extra bucks MS can buy whatever legal resources (including judges, prosecutors, congressmen, lobbyists) it needs to make it all better. Ain't it great living in a society where money rules all....
Funny how this system is so similar to the political/economic situations of nations of post-Colonial Africa, down to the massive trade imbalances, dependence on foreign loans, and abuse of power to make more money. The monied interests in the US are taking the money while they can, because there will be nothing left to take in 10-20 years... hell, even mainstream economists are estimating that US Treasury Securities will be considered junk bonds in the next 20-30 years.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962610)

hell, even mainstream economists are estimating that US Treasury Securities will be considered junk bonds in the next 20-30 years.

Can you share anything to back up that statement?

Re:For a few dollars more.... (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963017)

Here's (pdf) [stlouisfed.org] a tidbit. HTML version [64.233.187.104]

Believe me, Kolitkoff is not alone in his predictions, though of course the US could take action to forestall the bankruptcy and reneging on its debts.

Look to Anjan Thakor (Olin School of Business) to discuss Kotlikoff's paper in the next Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962829)

hell, even mainstream economists are estimating that US Treasury Securities will be considered junk bonds in the next 20-30 years.

Great! I always had a historical interest in Weimar-era Germany. Now, I get to experience it first hand!

Seriously, though, I would be interested if you could cite an article or two. I actually agree with you from what I can see myself, but I would like to know what others have written on the subject.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962886)

So, you subscribe to the Pie Theory of Economics, i.e., the Pie is fixed and after eaten, gone. Well, I guess we can all relax and wait for the end.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963061)

So, you subscribe to the Pie Theory of Economics, i.e., the Pie is fixed and after eaten, gone. Well, I guess we can all relax and wait for the end.
'Gone' is used metaphorically. To continue the comparison to post-Colonial Africa, when the bottom fell out of most of these nations, what happened? Cancellation of debt... there's a reason investors (including the World Bank and IMF) are hesitant to loan funds to central African nations. War. Famine. Economic collapse. It's hubris to believe the US can't fall into the same trap, though we have the political infrastructure to weather it better.

Re:For a few dollars more.... (2, Informative)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962926)

in this case it looks like $25M is the amount of money that "makes it all better", members of congress might charge more than that anyway

Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

in2mind (988476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962125)

Product activation over the internet has been having some success with regards to checking piracy. Its quite natural that most software companies would adopt this method to check illegal copies of its software.

So for every company that wants to use this 'Product Activation',they should pay royalty to 'z4' ?
Is that what z4 wants? or Is it that no one else should use 'PA'.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (3, Insightful)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962191)

I agree, why is everyone against software patents except when the judgement is against Microsoft?

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962301)

I agree, why is everyone against software patents except when the judgement is against Microsoft?

Because anything, at all, that hurts Microsoft is good for the rest of the industry. Period.

Look, I despise software patents; I think they're one of the worst hindrances to technological progress ever devised in modern times.* But one of the main reasons these bullshit patents are so prevalent is because the 900 lb. gorillas of the industry always have thousands of them, and aren't shy about using them to threaten competitors. If the largest and strongest of those gorillas (the 1000 lb. gorilla, let's say, which is currently Microsoft) can be forced on occasion to, um, slim down a little, that makes things just the teeniest bit easier for the rest of us. And it brings us closer to a truly competitive marketplace in which, just maybe, we'll see the conditions for the growth of a significant lobby, made up of companies that have suffered from the absurdity of the current patent laws, to try to do away with the stupid things entirely.

*Qualifier added because software patents, as onerous as they are, don't compare to, say, burning people at the stake. It's important to keep things in perspective.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962627)

"Because anything, at all, that hurts Microsoft is good for the rest of the industry. Period."

You mean like a sort of "Think Of the Children" applied to /. ?

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15963297)

IBM is the 1000 lb Gorilla

Microsoft Patents 5418 [uspto.gov]
IBM Patents 43891 [uspto.gov]

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962456)

Because we love to see Microsoft slapped down regardless of the reason. We're still against software patents, we just want to spent a few minutes shouting "ha-ha" at Microsoft. Maybe even shout a few "If you'd done a better job of stopping software patents, this wouldn't have happened!" at them.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (2, Interesting)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962561)

I agree, why is everyone against software patents except when the judgement is against Microsoft?

Not just Microsoft, but all large companies with enough money to actually change the patent system. See, here in the USA our crooked politicians only bow down to one master. The mighty US dollar (or not so mighty). Mega-corps have enough money to bribe politicians to actually get laws made and/or changed.

I personally hope to see tons of software patent suits against Microsoft and other big corps with a lot of software patents. If these big corps pay out enough money, they might just send some money to our crooked politicians to buy some laws.

The only negative to my "theory" is that I wouldn't put it past the mega-corps to try to "reform" software patents by making software patents available to big corps, but make it real hard for small/medium companies to get them.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962227)

Microsoft are claiming that this is a bad patent because of prior Art. Is this really the case?

I remember an encrypted CD back from the mid 90s containing all sorts of expensive software where you paid to get the various encryption keys. Someone cracked it. I suppose that approach was different enough to the sort of activation scheme XP uses as to not be covered by it.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962274)

Early 90's... Quake CD. You could go out, buy the quake demo for $10 and unlock EVERY id game there was at the time. I think tehy deserved it though, $10 for a DEMO CD?

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962334)

Early 90's... Quake CD. You could go out, buy the quake demo for $10 and unlock EVERY id game there was at the time. I think tehy deserved it though, $10 for a DEMO CD?
Eh, while a ripoff you have to remember that back then broadband wasn't really in unless you had connections. I think the most I could get in my town at the time was ISDN. On top of which, a large percentage of "internet users" were still AOL users and many of them were still paying for x hours per month (ie, not unlimited).

So for some, paying $10 was worth it. The Quake demo was probably the largest demo at the time (which took a WHILE to download on a 28.8 modem) and you'd use up some of your "minutes." All you had to do was drive to a nearby store and pay for the CD.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962526)

I remember this now-defunct store, possibly called "Media Play" that sold shareware on floppy disks for $5 ea. One of the games was Wolfenstein 3D... in 1996.

While it seems like Media Play went out of business recently, that store closed at least eight years ago...

No, no, no... "on the internet" (3, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962298)

You mised the part of the patent application that specified "on the internet." That makes it both unique and non-obvious, because doing anything on the internet is completely different than doing it off the internet. Hasn't /. taught you anything about the USPTO this past decade? ;-)

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962391)

Ya, the original Quake demo cd with all of IDs software unlockable on it was cool.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962475)

in reply to your questions and also other replies made already:

two wrongs do not make a right.

software patents is bad
patent violation is bad
lying in court is bad

none of these things can cancel another out.

It would be hilarious if MS was taken out of business due to patent violations, but the eventual fallout from such an event would be disastrous for absolutely everybody.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962476)

Product activation over the internet has been having some success with regards to checking piracy.

No, it isn't. There's not a single activated product I can think of that hasn't been cracked and made freely available to software pirates.

Where activation has been extremely successful is in forcing honest customers to buy the same product over and over again as their hardware fails or is replaced. That's its real function - to artificially obsolete software so developers can get more money for less effort.

Re:Everyone has to pay Royalty Eh? (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963233)

There are instances where obscure Star Force titles haven't been cracked - because it's too much work for little gain with smaller titles, but anything you or I have heard of in any form of mainstream game press has almost certainly been cracked. And it only takes one cracker to get it cracked for good.

Can't help but think of SCO (4, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962203)

He cited several examples in which the defendants failed to fully and promptly disclose evidence, calling one instance "an intentional attempt by Defendants to mislead z4 and this Court."

Ok, so if this is an actionable item - why hasn't SCO been nailed with something similar? They've been doing the smoke and mirrors thing for years now.

What gives? Why can a judge nail MS with this, but not SCO?

Re:Can't help but think of SCO (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962260)

IANAL, but I think it might have something to do with "added on to the judgement". Are these kind of things usually done at the end of the case instead of during where it would prevent the deep pockets from running up the leagal bill, and hope the little guy can survive long enough to be reimburst?

Re:Can't help but think of SCO (3, Informative)

nickfrommaryland (793020) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962951)

There are provisions that can restrict what the big guy can do during discovery, but these mechanisms are rarely used, mainly because it is difficult to see what is and is not a decoy. Judges prefer to wait until it is clear, and that usually means at the end of the case. These are covered by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(g). It seems to me, however, that the judge added a bit more, just because it was Microsoft.

Re:Can't help but think of SCO (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962507)

Apparently SCO is much better at the smoke and mirrors game. Also, Microsoft actually did infringe on the patent (regardless of the value of the patent) so it's much easier to get a judgement for specific claims that are trivially proven true, than to get one against nebulous constantly-shifting claims that are individually difficult to disprove. SCO should have a rather large slap down coming. I expect no less than "pay the defendants legal costs" which at this point may be more than the judgement against Microsoft.

Re:Can't help but think of SCO (2, Informative)

jackbird (721605) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963273)

Roughly 2/3 of SCO's claims were recently thrown out by the magistrate judge for lack of disclosure - they have been nailed for something similar.

And when IBM's Lanham Act counterclaims start being litigated, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Lindon. For now, the judges are bending over backwards and then some to make the case appeal-proof.

Long Trial (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962222)

The defendants marked 3,449 exhibits, but only admitted 107 of them at trial.

Does the defendant have to say "Your Honor, I'd like to admit exhibit X into the court records as evidence" for each one? That would be a long trial, even if only 107 were admitted!

Re:Long Trial (1)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962895)

Does the defendant have to say "Your Honor, I'd like to admit exhibit X into the court records as evidence" for each one? That would be a long trial, even if only 107 were admitted!

Typically yes. The attorney will also have to lay foundation for the exhibit, asking questions of the witness to establish what the exhibit is and why the witness would know something about it. Putting an exhibit into evidence might only take a minute or two. For 107 exhibits would probably be as little as 2-3 hours total. Not a short amount of time, but since patent trials can last weeks, it's really not that much.

Re:Long Trial (2, Informative)

kilgortrout (674919) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963129)

In federal court, each side submits a pretrial statement to the court listing, among other things, the exhibits they intend to introduce at trial. Most of the time, the parties stipulate to the admissibility of most exhibits, or at least to the authenticity of the document exhibits in order to streamline the proceedings. These things are generally not in dispute and the court leans pretty heavy on the parties to enter into these stipulations unless there is a genuine dispute. Absent a stipulation, you must call a witness to lay the foundation for each document entered in evidence.

Ooh, the irony (2, Insightful)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962230)

So a large corporation has ripped off a small company's software, which was specifically designed to stop people ripping off software. Somehow I doubt individuals sharing software is as big a threat as corporations cloning it.

Re:Ooh, the irony (2, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962982)

So a large corporation has ripped off a small company's software, which was specifically designed to stop people ripping off software.

No, a large corporation has infringed on a small company's patent. The small company doesn't appear to actually produce any software or other tangible products; they just claim to own a bunch of ideas.

The software in question was written wholly by Microsoft, and probably without reference to anything owned or produced by z4 at all. Unfortunately for Microsoft, ignorance of an obscure patent is no excuse for daring to have the same idea.

Yet again... (5, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962283)

We see that MS (and they are not alone in this) regard the law as something to be circumvented, something to play games with. Law is not absolute to them -- any risk of punishment is exactly that -- a possible risk to be weighed against the potential returns of a strategy or action.

Props to the judge for calling MS on its shenanigans; jeers for the penalty being insignificant to them.

These actions by MS are indicative of the collapse of the rule of law in the US. Without meaningful punishments for attempting to circumvent the laws and/or undermine the legal process, it will not change. $25MM is hardly a disincentive for MS.

IMO, the lawyers who used the obfuscatory tactic should be disbarred... and personally fined for contempt of court. And the executive(s) who authorized the tactic (or were responsible for the law team) should also be personally fined. And production of MS products should be halted until they can prove they are not still abusing the patent (by providing their code, in entirety, for review by the justice system, with any relevant sections clearly denoted).

fines don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962474)

Only jail time for top crooks works, and even then just marginally. MS execs (whomever issues orders) haven't had to serve one day in jail yet for massive fraud, thievery, coercion, etc. over and over again. Time to switch to criminal prosecutions-same with the music and movie cartel crooks. Fines just shaft the shareholders and the consumers. There isn't a penny that has come out of high level execs pockets yet.

Re:Yet again... (4, Insightful)

deviantphil (543645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962489)

IMO, the lawyers who used the obfuscatory tactic should be disbarred.

At the very least they should be referred to the ethic's board in the jurisdiction. Another example of Corporate America (and their lawyers!) getting a slap on the wrists. Any other company sued by MS for infrindging patents would probably end up bankrupt by the fines (no less the court costs). $140M is a drop in the bucket for MS...much like $140 would be to me.

Re:Yet again... (1)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962670)

I agree that there is an imbalance in the treatment of "offenders" (civil or criminal) but that has always been the case. A black man who holds up a liquor store for $200 gets 5 years in jail, but a corporate executive who robs his company's shareholders for $40 million is likely to get no punishment at all.

However, depite that, what we do not want is a rigid legal system in which "offenders" are "reliably" punished. It is supposed to be a highly flexible system that thwarts the potential tyrrany of both Congress and the Executive. Yes, that means some defense lawyers will use this flexibility to wiggle their clients out of a tight spot, but that actually works to our general benefit. Getting a judgment against someone should be all kinds of difficult, even in a civil case.

Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers (3, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962342)

Software Patents should never have existed in the first place.
They're basically patenting logic and Math equations.
All it's doing is making patent law more profitable.
Imagine how many lawyer would be out of work without Software Patents.
Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers

Re:Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962373)

They're basically patenting logic and Math equations.

So why is this any worse than patenting physical and chemical effects?

Re:Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962605)

Or machines? Gears are just physical manifestations of equations and math, as is amply pointed out by any book Stephenson has ever written.

Re:Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962672)

I believe because you (used to) be able to only patent a specific implementation. Software patents is or comes too close to patenting the idea itself. Someone used to be free to build a better mousetrap, just not working exactly like the one you patented. Now the very idea of the mousetrap is effectively patented when we pursue software patents.

The US has started to rest to much of its laurels on "Intellectual Property." Some intellectual property, you used to be able sell (books, music) and make money off it that way. This property was protected by copyright. So someone can make a book with a world like "Lord of the Rings" (and many have) or a game like Doom or music like (in same genre) Michael Jacksons - they just can't reproduced the original and claim it as theirs. Ideas and culture freely circulated around this way.

Some intellectual property (University research, public domain data) you used to be able to share freely and it enriched the whole economy -- helped your company manufacture better things or things cheaper, etcetera.

Patenting ideas themselves does nothing but stifle all innovation as ideas get owned. Common approaches to problems are now infinitely patentable to every new medium. Ad infinitum.

The US (and the West) will perish under a burden of its own making if we continue down this path. Patents of this type punish the innovative companies and breed hyenas that do nothing but litigate the rest of us into submission and poverty.

Re:Software Patents = Welfare for Lawyers (1)

mcc36 (974531) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962833)

I'm sorry to inform you that I own the patent on that mathematical equality. You now owe me ten cents.

Book 'Em (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962353)

Now that the z4 case is wrapped up, can we get that judge to take over the blatantly abusive SCO vs IBM case, and wind it up this weekend?

Enough already with the MS witch-hunt. (0)

Browzer (17971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962360)

The "evil" genius who created this "evil" company, does more good with the "loot", than most people or even states are able to comprehend. Too bad the evil genius is not petty enough to direct some of his funds going to some real causes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_&_Melinda_Gates_ Foundation [wikipedia.org] to put all these nickel-and-dime companies out of business/misery once a for all.

And just in case you wonder, I am also a non-MS products user.

Gates is no saint.... (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962513)

Bill Gates is no saint, and should not be treated like one. Using your logic, he could speed through a red light and squash Granny in the crosswalk. The cops stop him and sure enough "Sorry, did not know it was you Mr. Gates. Good work in Africa! You can go along now. Don't worry about a ticket or anything at all."

Re:Gates is no saint.... (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962837)

Gates, probably wouldn't squash the granny because he wouldn't go speeding through red lights because he can afford a driver (or even 100 drivers), and instead of avoiding grannies crossing the street, use the time to think what other world-wide causes are worthy of his loot.

Re:Gates is no saint.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15963147)

Actually, he drives himself to work.

Re:Gates is no saint.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962911)

straw man.

Re:Gates is no saint.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15963027)

i would be honored if bill gates ran over my grandma

Enough robber-baron worship (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962625)

Please, you act as if that money would not have existed if Billy hadn't of pulled it out of his ass. If Microsoft had never of existed, others would have stepped in. Perhaps there could have been real competition and we would all be better off. Perhaps we would all be just a little richer, with software that works better, if this man had never built his little empire on theft, coercion and deceit. So now that he's essentially stolen so much money that it doesn't matter how much he gives away, we're supposed to respect him for giving some to charity? When he never should have had that much to begin with? You know, Mafia dons occassionally give money to charity too.

Re:Enough robber-baron worship (0, Redundant)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962737)

I have mods points, but I couldn't find -1 Bitter

Re:Enough robber-baron worship (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962850)

It's not bitterness. It's a desire to live in a just world. There are plenty of people out there who have done something really positive with their lives. I just don't like to see Bill Gates confused for one. I also don't like the illogical line of reasoning that ignores opportunity cost. I'm more upset at the system that created Bill Gates than I am at Bill Gates himself. Sycophantic hero worship is part of that system.

Theft? (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962770)

I'm not sure there was ever any actual theft involved. Unauthorized / unapproved / disliked duplication? Yeah, sure. But theft?

Re:Enough robber-baron worship (1)

Browzer (17971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962960)

There are plenty of institutions/states that have been around for much much longer than Gates has been around, and I don't see them step in. The Catholic Church (most likely richer than Gates) is a good example, which has been around for centuries, goes to Africa and preaches about abstinence rather than donate money to HIV research, or provide condoms.

"...Perhaps we would all be just a little richer, with software that works better, if this man had never built his little empire on theft, coercion and deceit. So now that he's essentially stolen so much money that it doesn't matter how much he gives away..."

Considering the "little richer" part it almost sounds like you are just a tiny-winsy bit jealous.

Re:Enough already with the MS witch-hunt. (2, Insightful)

Venik (915777) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962629)

I think you are failing to see the problem here. We are talking about Microsoft's patchy business ethics; not about Bill's admirable charity work. These are two completely different subjects. I think the biggest problem most people have with Microsoft is the company's lack of innovation set against the background of its more than ample resources. We are talking about the world's leading software developer with a multi-billion budget. And the crap it produces.

Too bad... (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962372)

... this won't stop the practice of product activation using the internet. The whole process makes it a pain in the ass to migrate to new hardware and, it could eventually render the software you paid for today unusable tomorrow once these companies decide to cut support for it. I'm just waiting for the day large numbers of people find their software suddenly refusing to run because the activation server never responds, or fails to recognize the software/serial number due to the older versions' databases being dumped as obsolete data.

Judge still clueless (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#15962386)

$25m is like $0.25 to Microsoft. If he thinks it'll even matter to MSFT then he's not aware of Microsofts monopoly position and their profit levels. If he'd asked around, he would have known that $125 - $250 is the standard payoff for stealing someones tech. Playing 'games' in court is also SOP for these guys. And payoffs are probably even built into their budgets. You know, the Payola Dept. IMO.

LoB

Wanted: Old school judge (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15962749)

In sum, Davis wrote that the court was "greatly disturbed by the repeated instances where Defendants actions go beyond what can be dismissed as a mere appearance of impropriety and collectively appear to represent a pattern which is of disappointment to the Court and a disservice to legitimate advocacy."

Oddly enough, MS and others probably do this all of the time. This judge threw the flag while others assume that type of conduct is business as usual, no big deal. In the appeals process, MS will eventually find an old school judge that accepts this practice as normal and will not raise the issue and as almost always appears to happen, the one with the bigger pocket and connections will win.

MS (2, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 7 years ago | (#15963173)

MS is always causing problems. How is it possible that a "small" company (in comparison to MS) like Apple is able to produce an incredible operating system and entire suites of applications for home, work, and pro, and it is incredibly stable, while MS, with significantly more resources and market share, and a more powerful position in the industry, cannot make something half as good?
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