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Alan Cox Files Patent For DRM

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the counter-troll dept.

Linux Business 281

booooh writes "Alan Cox has filed a patent for DRM (Digital Rights Management). From the filing: 'A rights management system monitors and controls use of a computer program to prevent use that is not in compliance with acceptable terms.' According to the patent pledge of Cox's employer Red Hat, they will not license this technology if the patent is granted. And it can probably be applied to the DRM that is in Vista. This forum has a few more details.

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Illegal iTunes? (4, Funny)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612246)

I KNEW I should have kept using LimeWire instead of paying for songs on iTunes!

FrostWire (4, Interesting)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612374)

FrostWire [frostwire.com] - all the *ahem* benefits of using Limewire, but without the annoying "Upgrade to Limewire Pro" popups.

Re:FrostWire (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612572)

LimeWire to warez is like AOL to newsgroups [wikipedia.org] ("newsgroups" is something that us "grammer enligthned" used to enjoy before your shitty Web 2.0 bullshit and iPop iMusic).

Re:FrostWire (2, Funny)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612726)

> "grammer enligthned"

Spahling ignorant?

um (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612776)

Or was that deliberate? I *should* preview before submit.

Re:FrostWire (1)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613012)

LimeWire to warez is like AOL to newsgroups [wikipedia.org] ("newsgroups" is something that us "grammer enligthned" used to enjoy before your shitty Web 2.0 bullshit and iPop iMusic).
Calling LimeWire out in the P2P world is like saying your cancer is better than my cancer.

FWIW, I jumped on LimeWire in the early days when it was semi-open-source. As a Java developer, I gravitated to that one. When itunes came out, I started paying for my music and uninstalled all P2P clients.

Re:FrostWire (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613298)

Wow, that was stupid.

In the old days, we had CDs, which had no DRM.

Then we had P2P, which had no DRM.

Along came the iTMS, and we had DRM.

And you picked the DRM choice? Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

Wow! (5, Insightful)

noamsml (868075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612252)

Either the patent system will be proven rotten, or DRM will be halted! It's a win-win!

Re:Wow! (2, Insightful)

kurtmckee (870398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612296)

I think both of your outcomes hinge on the assumption that the patent is granted. Besides, do we really need anymore proof that the patent system is seriously b0rked?

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612308)

"Either the patent system will be proven rotten, or DRM will be halted! It's a win-win!"

Or the patent system will work and the patent won't be granted (prior art).
Or the patent system will work and the patent will be granted because it is narrow in scope (only covers a specific type of DRM) which won't hurt DRM in general because no one implements it in the patented way. (If they do, prior art kills the patent)

Claim 1 in the patent (1)

geeber (520231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612562)

From the disclosure:


What is claimed is
  1. A method of controlling use of a computer program, said method comprising the steps of: monitoring usage of said computer program for at least one instance of a rights violation event; saving, upon detection of said rights violation event, state information pertaining to said computer program; and suspending, upon saving said state information, operation of said computer program.


This is an awfully broad claim. I would think proving prior art here and invalidating the claim would be pretty easy.

*All* claims must be meet for patent violation (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612898)

Your product is only covered by the patent if it fits all the claims of the patent.

Re:*All* claims must be meet for patent violation (4, Interesting)

XLawyer (68496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613172)

This may be true somewhere, but not in the United States. In the U.S., you infringe a patent if any claim of the patent describes what you are doing.

Re:*All* claims must be meet for patent violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613240)

wrong.

*Any* claim is enough for a patent violation (1)

jjon (555854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613300)

Your product is only covered by the patent if it fits all the claims of the patent.

Nonsense.

The claims are alternatives; if you infringe any claim then you infringe the patent.

Typically there are a few broad "independent" claims (including claim 1), and a bunch of other claims that add extra bits. For example, claim 1 might say "a widget that does A", and claim 2 might say "a widget according to claim 1 that also does B". This means that there are nice broad claims (claim 1), but if the broad claims are invalidated by prior art then you can maybe keep a few of the more specific claims (claim 2 - maybe there's prior art for widgets that do A but not for widgets that do A and B).

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612566)

Or MS will pay undisclosed sum to patent office to stop it from patenting the idea.
Ummmm... stop they don't actually need to pay - they'll just say that filling that patent will stop their computers! 'Patent it and that will be the last thing you will ever patent!'

Re:Wow! (3, Interesting)

antek9 (305362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612716)

You gotta love that. DRM as prior art. Isn't it beautiful?

Re:Wow! (2, Insightful)

rujholla (823296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612736)

or Microsoft finds the patent officer who is considering the patent and pays them 10 Million under the table to deny the patent.

Re:Wow! (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613250)

or Microsoft finds the patent officer who is considering the patent and pays them 10 Million under the table to deny the patent.

Microsoft? They're not huge DRM supporters by nature, they just implement it because they think that's the only way copyright holders will use Microsoft networks/products to distribute their music/movies/whatever.

I know a guy who works there... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613274)

...I'll tell him to be on the lookout for any coworkers who show up with new Porsches, Corvettes, etc., in the coming weeks. I think it would stick out just a little.

Re:Wow! (1)

noamsml (868075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612814)

The patent system working? That would be a first.

Isn't it first to file? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612840)

rgds

Re:Isn't it first to file? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612894)

Not in the U.S.

And "first to file/first to invent" only covers when two people/companies file a patent at around the same time without any previous public disclosure of their work. (e.g. they both developed the same thing independently) Previous (patented or unpatented) publically disclosed work trumps a patent.

"First to invent" can often be hard to prove though, so in reality it's usually "first to file" unless you were VERY careful in documenting your invention process and have lots of money for lawyers.

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612552)

Neither.

Read the patent application.

It is actually an interesting take on the licensing paradigm. Most licensing programs either start denying you access which leads to loss of data if this happens in the middle of an operation. Alternatively, they kill your program altogether which is again loss of data. Alternatively they check for licensing only when the program starts. In the days of software suspend and 200+ days of uptimes neither one of these is a good idea.

What redhat is patenting is a three pronged approach - OS suspend, component suspend or application suspend when a license violation is encountered. The first one is obvious, the second one and third one are non-obvious until one consideres RedHat aquisition of Jboss. These actually make a lot of sense in a Jboss application.

Overall, I am not surprised that RedHat has no intention of licensing this commercially. If they provide the relevant support, this will give a Jboss based commercial application considerable advantage over BEA and Websphere.

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613208)

It may also be used in copies of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is often licensed on a subscription model. Once the subscription expires, many companies typically end up using it anyway. Perhaps Red Hat is interested in stopping this. Notice that the patent covers use by application program os by operating systems. Red Hat is, first and foremost, an operating system vendor.

While the individual packages of RHEL are GPLed, the integrated OS as a whole is not. One interesting thought is -- what happens when packages in RHEL move to GPL V3? Will Red Hat be forced to not include them if they implement this DRM for RHEL?

Peculiar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612254)

You should think that someone had thought of this before?

Re: Prior (Art?) (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612504)

Of course someone had surely thought of DRM before, and here he is.

The lovely part is using MS's own submarine tactics against them. If only Warren Buffett would sell short, then crank this patent suit and any cousins as far as they can go...

Oh gawd, if someone can actually land this and not "settle for $5000", EVERYONE has overcommited their 5-year business strategies to DRM. Come on, reel in all twelve of the eight-ton sharks polluting our media culture.

The captcha phrase is develops.

Hope this works (5, Insightful)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612256)

It might be something that reduces the threat of DRM completely making our computers useless.

Flamebait?? (5, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612764)

Flamebait? "The threat of DRM completely making our computers useless" is not a contraversial statement. Even if you really like DRM, you can probably think of some examples where it has been taken too far: think Sony rootkits, Starforce CDROM damage, and Jon Johansen and Dimitri Skylarov being arrested for hacking their own computers.

Read up on TCPA immediately. Consider how much of the design of Vista has been aimed at preventing access to high-quality copies of information protected by DRM. Should the film industry really have been allowed to design an operating system?

Re:Flamebait?? (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612874)

Mod parent up.

I think my post got modded down because the moderator dissagreed with something that I posted on another topic [slashdot.org] . You watch this will get modded as flamebait or offtopic.

Re:Flamebait?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613062)

DRM changes the computer into a limited appliance.

If I wanted a DVD player instead of a computer, I'd pay EUR 50-100, not EUR 500-1000+.

One Phrase To Say It All.. (-1, Redundant)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612258)

This Could Be Awesome!!!!!!!!!

It's not likely to affect Vista (5, Informative)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612266)

Re:It's not likely to affect Vista (3, Insightful)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612514)

That's a patent for a DRM-enable operating system.

Seems Alan is trying to patent a subpart of DRM which will render it useless if it cannot be used.

Re:It's not likely to affect Vista (4, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612528)

The fact that Microsoft also has patents on DRM does not "protect" it in any way from this particular patent owned by Red Hat. A "defensive patent" only works to the extent that you can assert it to someone who is threatening you. So unless Red Hat starts incorporating DRM stuff in its products which infringes on Microsoft's patent, it has zero defensive value against Red Hat's patent.

That said, Microsoft has a whole lot of other patents as well, and some of those are bound to cover code distributed by Red Hat. I just wanted to correct the misconception that holding a patent on something automatically protects your use of that stuff: it doesn't in any way, all it does is give you the right to prevent others from doing that. But it's quite possible you need umpteen other patent licenses yourself to be able to actually do what you describe in your patent application.

Re:It's not likely to affect Vista (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612544)

Based on the 2001 date of the M$ patent, it does look as if M$ has covered their butts, at least for the expiration date considerations. But rather than protecting the data, they would destroy the volatile copy in memory.

But this is a pretty good test of the patent system too, because Alan has probably some very similar methods claimed. The end result will probably be granted, but then disallowed on prior art grounds when it makes it to court. And while it may be to us, prima faci evidence of a broken system, but you can bet the farm it will be claimed by M$ as proof that the system works when they win. So we're (speaking as the public at large here) damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

OTOH, we need to give Red Hat and Alan a great big hand for making the effort and spending the $ to apply. We do certainly live in interesting times it seems. This I'll bet, will be at least as well followed in the FOSS world as the current scenario of making SCO go slowly broke paying the legals, or losing the scrap with Novell who has asked that all assets be frozen while there still is some left to pay the unpaid royalties. In that event the electricity will be off in parts of Linden UT the next day.

As for SCO, that must be some great stuff they grow in Utah if they thought for even a second that they could get a free ride and survive to fight another day. I want some of that. OTOH, I wouldn't be surprised if the court decides to liquidate all properties gained by officers of the corporation since the royalty payments went into arrears in an attempt to recover something for the plaintiff, Novel. That would certainly be fair, but I've NDI if its possible under corporate law, which usually insulates the people from the corporation monetarily.

--
Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
  soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)

Re:It's not likely to affect Vista (1)

akohler (997911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612560)

I believe that these patents are saying that they come out with the same results using different methods. I agree that this is unlikely to affect Vista, at least as long as MS sticks to its own patented methodology.

On the other hand, I don't think that that's what Red Hat is planning. My guess is that they:

  1. Want to give their corporate customers the opportunity of DRM, rather than having them switch platforms.
  2. Don't want to be locked out [theinquirer.net] of the "Trusted Computing" fun and games.

If they patent their own DRM, no one's going to leave them behind, are they?

He left a backdoor (2, Interesting)

LPrecure (835868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612906)

From the patent:

A rights management system monitors and controls use of a computer program to prevent use that is not in compliance with acceptable terms. The system monitors usage of the computer program for usage and activities that are not in compliance with the license or other use terms. Upon detection of a violation of these terms, state information pertaining to the computer program is saved and operation of the computer program and/or a portion of the computer system is suspended. The system maintains the suspension for as long as the violation exists. Once compliance has been reestablished, the suspension is terminated.

All Microsoft has to do to get around his patent is make it so that, once DRM breaks your computer, it stays broke. (Until you do something. Like, the infamous "format and reinstall".) (Which, BTW, you can only do once.)

This is good, but with caution (4, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612274)

Had it been any other sort of technology, filing a patent for it and then refusing to license it, thus crippling adoption of that technology, would be considered a terrible thing on /. But in the case of DRM and RedHat, I think most would make an exception.

But I'm still not that excited. Most on /. thought Novell was a fine upstanding company until recently.

Re:This is good, but with caution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612312)

...Most on /. thought Novell was a fine upstanding company until recently.

Uh? What? Novell?

Do you read the same slashdot I read?

Re:This is good, but with caution (3, Interesting)

rvw (755107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612702)

So what if Microsoft would buy Redhat in the future, can Redhat now make it so that this patent will never be used, no matter what?

Re:This is good, but with caution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612754)

Most on /. thought Novell was a fine upstanding company until recently.
Indeed, there's no such thing as a "fine upstanding company", and that applies to RedHat, IBM and Google as well. They're all mindless corporations and anyone who believes otherwise is incredibly naive. When a corporation appears "good" it only means they have a great PR department. In reality they are neither good nor evil, they're just mindless and calculating.

Re:This is good, but with caution (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613348)

I really don't think that's what's going on here, after all you can't patent something that has implementations on the market already.

Pointless waste of money and time (4, Informative)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612278)

He might as well try and patent the airplane. If he really wants to prevent further spread of DRM, he should use his energy educating people about it's true costs. The only people who are going to read about this already know about DRM.

Not really (5, Interesting)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612366)

You see, he's not trying to patent DRM as a concept, he's trying to patent the technology of DRM system state saving. While this patent may have little value itself, it might be a show-stopper for Apple, Microsoft and the like. IANAL, but I suppose that Red Hat lawyers have studied the piles of MS et al DRM patents and Vista license agreement, and have found a hole in it [i.e. something that they use in the license or in their technology but haven't patented]. And now that Vista is getting ready for launch, Microsoft gets this blow. Let's keep our fingers crossed and see what follows.

Re:Not really (2, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612568)

Ah how sweet. Slashdot readers supporting an OSS company in patent trolling to damage Microsoft and others. I'm sure the irony, and indeed the stupidity of this move is totally lost on you.

Clearly not the Intent (3, Informative)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612646)

The Red Hat statement on patents is such that they won't enforce it unless there's reason to retaliate.

Far from trolling, this is protection from trolling.

Re:Clearly not the Intent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613010)

I $ure hope they don't find $ome rea$on to retaliate.

Trolling (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613142)

I didn't say that my post was protected from trolling ;o)

Re:Not really (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613150)

I'm sure it makes more sense to you if you look at it as a fight against DRM and closed formats instead of a fight against Microsoft. If it harms the corporations, then that's just collateral damage, not unlike consumer rights have been under the corporations' war against copyright infringement.

Re:Pointless waste of money and time (1)

TheUnknown (90519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613356)

One of the possibility is that Red Hat wants to generate publicity for a reform patent. Once some major company begins to fight this patent, it will probably make its way in well-know newspapers (Wall Street Journal, NY Times, ...). If this happens, the general public will be (more) aware of the issues of DRM and patents. I know it's a long shot but it could work.

oblig. (1)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612284)

I for one welcome our cox overlord.

I would like to ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612286)

welcome our intellectual property owning masters, but I'm not sure if there is a patent on greetings or not?

Huge loophole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612298)

The system maintains the suspension for as long as the violation exists. Once compliance has been reestablished, the suspension is terminated.
Anyone see a loophole in this section?

Making DRM-aware applications even more annoying? (5, Interesting)

tfbastard (782237) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612300)

From this patent application [freshpatents.com]
The present invention provides a technique for preventing the unauthorized use of a computer application, operating system, or other program without causing the loss of any information or data.
And a bit further down:
When unauthorized use of the computer program is detected, any information and data is saved and the computer program and/or a portion of the computer system is disabled.

As patent law, legalese and such is not my area of expertise, I'm out on a limb here, but doesn't this sound like a patent for saving the state of an DRM-aware application before exiting if a DRM-breaking state occurs, thus making legal DRM-aware applications even more annoying to use?

Re:Making DRM-aware applications even more annoyin (4, Interesting)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612710)

It's quite clever, actually. Any DRM-aware application that doesn't save state before shutting down will be vilified as being broken the first time anyone loses important data because of a false positive, and any DRM-aware application that does is in violation of this patent. This makes any DRM-aware application either a) broken, or b) illegal. Very neat. Simple, but neat.

Re:Making DRM-aware applications even more annoyin (3, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613328)

Not if you unconditionally save state before checking DRM, so that it's already saved should it need to suspend.

Shot in the back (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612302)

Wow, that would be a good shot in the back! I can't imagine how there's no prior art, but it'd be really sweet to have DRM patented by someone in the OS community.

(Can anyone find who the patent is actually registered to? Is it Alan Cox, or Red Hat, or is "Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale And Dorr, LLP patents" the name it will actually be registered under?)

Re:Shot in the back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612788)

You've worked for Hale and Dorr?

Re:Shot in the back (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613366)

Looks like a method of implementing DRM at the application level (eg, "is this app allowed to be run?"). At the document level (eg, DRM music) it may not actually be that important.

The Irony (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612318)

Its like the one ring being destroyed in Mt. Doom

Re:The Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612778)

Me, I thought it was more goldy.
Or perhaps a bit peachy.

press (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612336)

Wont all this attention alert the patent office to the real reason they are seeking a patent?

Re:press (1)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612506)

I don't think the patent office is allowed to care about that.

In any case, many software patents are used "defensively", i.e. to counter claims of patent infringement from another corporation. These patents seem to have been taken out for the same reason. Let us hope they are never used for evil.

note to myself (2, Funny)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612342)

patent outsource of torture

How is this supposed to work? (1, Redundant)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612352)

Surely if this "can be applied to the DRM that is in Vista", then there is prior art, and the patent is invalid?

Re:How is this supposed to work? (1, Offtopic)

ChetOS.net (936869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612412)

Don't call me Shirley.

Re:How is this supposed to work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612724)

Why don't these idiot moderators get some culture?

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious, and don't call me Shirly."
Leslie Nielson in "Airplane"

Re:How is this supposed to work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613098)

You'd have to had answered the question too - "it can, and don't call me Shirley."

But frankly it won't be funny either way.

Re:How is this supposed to work? (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612420)

How, exactly, has prior art been stopping patents from being granted?

Re:How is this supposed to work? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612470)

It hasn't. However, the moment he tries to use it on one of the large companies, they'll haul the matter in to court, most likely bankrupting Mr. Cox in the process.

Or did you forget that these are filthy rich companies we're talking about?

Re:How is this supposed to work? (4, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612828)

'' It hasn't. However, the moment he tries to use it on one of the large companies, they'll haul the matter in to court, most likely bankrupting Mr. Cox in the process. ''

There are two possibilities how this could go to court:

1. Mr. Cox finds out that for example Microsoft does actually infringe on his patent, and he tries to do an Eolas on them. You can be sure that he would find lawyers who will happily support him for 60 percent of the proceeds on a no win, no fee basis. Mr. Cox would go down in public opinion quite a lot, but he might not care with $100mil in his pocket.

2. Microsoft starts attacking Linux with patent claims, and Mr. Cox's patent is used as part of the "assured mutual destruction" policy that patents are used for. It won't be Mr. Cox paying for the court case.

probably not... (2, Informative)

TheCoop1984 (704458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612354)

This probably won't be granted, due to the gobs of prior art around

That's stupid (in the sense of *really stupid*) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612370)

Two possible outcomes: The patent is granted or it's not. If the patent is not granted, which is very likely because there is a ton of prior art, then this just paints the Open Source crowd as leeches who need to latch on to someone else's inventions to get anything done. It's not like many people don't think that anyway. If the patent is granted then this obviously shows that the patent system is flawed, but rest assured that the issue will then be solved before courts in no time, which "proves" that there are checks and balances, so everything can continue as usual. Either way it will be proven that the patent system actually works, because a patent troll has been defeated, and on top of that it will be shown that the people who most adamantly argue against patents a) don't refrain from trying to use the system to their advantage (double standard) and b) file patents for other people's inventions, which we all know is STEALING (or intellectual theft or somesuch).

Re:That's stupid (in the sense of *really stupid*) (4, Informative)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613052)

If the patent is not granted, which is very likely because there is a ton of prior art,

Are you sure? This does not seem to be a patent for all DRM, but for a system that saves the state of the application when detecting a condition that violates the rules.

It's not like many people don't think that anyway.

What do you mean?

Either way it will be proven that the patent system actually works, because a patent troll has been defeated,

Red Hat is no patent troll. A patent troll is a company whose only business is patenting and suing for infringement. And that isn't a description of Red Hat by a long stretch.

on top of that it will be shown that the people who most adamantly argue against patents a) don't refrain from trying to use the system to their advantage (double standard)

So everyone that don't like the current implementation of the patent system should refrain from patenting things at all? Let's face it, patents exist and don't seem to be going away. As a corporation, refraining from patenting anything would be an invitation to competitors to sue, as you would have almost no defensive capability. Avoiding infringement altogether is about as easy as walking through a minefield, so in case you are sued, you need some defensive measures to fight off the attacker.

file patents for other people's inventions, which we all know is STEALING (or intellectual theft or somesuch).

A lot of patents cover the same or almost the same thing. It's a feature of the current implementation of patents, and whose patent is valid is left for the courts to decide.

One could suspect that the system is set up only to enrich lawyers, as lawyers in the patent office earn money proportional to the number of granted patent applications. Then their patent lawyer friends earn money when corporations battle it out in court. A different implementation might require the patent office to not issue patents that cover each other, but then the lawyers would not be able to enrich themselves as much.

What about the patents themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612416)

Has anyone patented patenting something yet?

Re:What about the patents themselves? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612474)

You could patent patenting something that doesn't exist and acknowledge every other patent that exists.

Milk (0)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612434)

For the record, I laughed so hard when I read the headline that most of the milk came out of my nose (I was eating breakfast).

Go go OSS humor!

Re:Milk (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613116)

You just violated my patent on nose milking. Please pay me $1,000,000 licensing fee. Thanks.

Lets publicize it! (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612448)

Good idea, lets publicize a patent that might have been able to slip past Apple, Microsoft, etc...

Except that, by bringing it to the public limelight, you've just guaranteed that the aforementioned companies will attempt to get the patent thrown out due to section 102 a or b of Title 35 of the US Code (Patents).

Re:Lets publicize it! (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612492)

For reference, since I forgot to go back and link them, Title 35 [gpo.gov] 102 [gpo.gov] a and b both deal with works that have already been known or patented anywhere prior to the filing, in or out of the US.

Re:Lets publicize it! (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612866)

Good idea, lets publicize a patent that might have been able to slip past Apple, Microsoft, etc...
Yah, because neither of those billion dollar corporations has anyone on staff who keeps track of irrelevant things like patents that might destroy their business models. Good thing they have Slashdot to catch these things /sarcasm.

Reminds me of a thought (1)

shish (588640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612468)

Why can't open source companies just go around patenting everything, then locking up the Evil(tm) ideas forever and releasing the Good(tm) ideas for free use by anyone?

Re:Reminds me of a thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612966)

They would have to be the first to invent stuff. This conflicts with their business model of making free clones of existing proprietary software.

Re:Reminds me of a thought (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613022)

Have you thought of the Fucking(TM) Costs?

Re:Reminds me of a thought (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613160)

Patents (fortunately) don't last forever. If you patent something which is unlikely to come during the patent grant period anyway, it's just wasted money. Even worse, for Evil(tm) ideas, you might have given people ideas for afterwards.

Also, patents cost money. Lots of patents cost lots of money. Who has enough money to patent everything?

Go ahead, license it! (3, Insightful)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612476)

But with totally obnoxious terms. Red Hat could enact some kind of fee whenever DRM-protected content is played, essentially turning the whole DRM world into pay-per-view. And then there would be the price increases, linked to the average price of cable TV. I even have a name for it: Digital Rights Restriction -- Genuine Annoyance Edition. It that's too long to fit in a banner ad, they could just call it "Revenue Assurance".

The key is not to make money, it is to drive home the high cost of DRM, making the downside totally obvious to all. Remember, no matter how ridiculous the terms might be, it really won't be any worse than the copyright industry will do all by themselves in a few years. But instead of using the salami-slice method, the all-at-once/in-your-face method forces everyone to confront the issue here and now.

I think the DRM patent is a really nifty strategy, and presented here on Martin Luther King day, no less!

?'democracy'? in its finest hour? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612530)

Bush: Congress can't stop Iraq troop increase: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/14/bush.60.min utes/index.html [cnn.com]

Can't rule out attack on Iran, White House says: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/14/iran.us/ index.html [cnn.com]

phewww. 'vote' with (what's left) in your wallet.

RMS ...... (1)

kmf (792603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612570)

Rights Management System or Richard M Stallman .... hmmm

Whatever (3, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612588)

A patent is only useful if you have the money to defend the patent in court. Same with a trademark or copyright. Without lots of cash a patent is an empty threat.

MS & SCO (3, Insightful)

UnRDJ (712762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612640)

Even if this is invalid, look how much of a fuss SCO and MS have created with BS IP claims. I'm sure if Mr. Cox has paid attention, he can make a few heads turn. Or at least provide us with some amusement.

Cute, but cannot work I think (2, Informative)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612694)

I shall not comment on the likelihood of the patent being initially granted. Let's assume it is. Cox is then proposing to prevent anyone using DRM by refusing to license it to anyone on any terms. The trouble with that is such an action is grounds to cancel the patent. There are conditions in patent law designed to prevent anyone taking out patents with the objective of preventing the use of the embodied inventions. These were designed to prevent unfair competition, but will still apply.

Let us suppose this patent is granted (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612834)

and Novell ends up with the power to block or license the technique of DRM to anybody it sees fit

Why exactly are we convinced that Novell will just bury the technique and shield us from DRM forever?

Novell is a publicly owned company and has a duty (legally) to earn money for their shareholders. I cannot see of a situation where they'd make more by sitting on it, than they would by licensing it - If I was a shareholder in a company that got this patent, I'd want them to make me money.

Whatever their intentions are going into this , unless they produce a cast-iron legally binding document promising otherwise, this just means that all DRM will have another kick-back to Novell on it.

What has this got to do with Novell exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613036)

Perhaps you meant Redhat?

Re:Let us suppose this patent is granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17613058)

I think you got your companies mixed up. It's Redhat NOT Novell.

Re:Let us suppose this patent is granted (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613154)

Last time I checked Alan Cox works for Redhat.

Redhat != Novell

It was applied for in 2003 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612850)

so this isn't new

Mr. Cox, you are brilliant (5, Insightful)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613108)

The current attack vectors on cryptographic based "DRM" schemes are (1) accidental key leakage, (2) the key exchange system or (3) the fact that the data must be eventually decoded.

Note that (3) is what makes DRM systems very dumb. It also follows that the Operating System must get involved in order to so hide the data.

If the Operating System allows a debugger to run AT THE SAME TIME as the "DRM", its attackable. If the OS allows "unsigned" drivers to run, its attackable.

The OS (for example, Vista) will (eventually) not allow unsigned drivers. It must also "kick out" or "suspend" all non-DRM (unsigned) software when DRM content is played.

This behaviour falls into Mr. Coxs patent.

Now, if (Vista) doesn't implement the scheme, it remains vulnerable. So, the problem must be solved another way.

My suggestion then is to ALSO patent (or disallow) by widely publishing the idea that a hypervisor (VM supervisor) can be used for DRM control as well, and can also be used to suspend, terminate or otherwise control applications that could be used to attack DRM software.

Got that? It's now published.
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