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Microsoft to Pay $1.52 Billion in Patent Suit Damages

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the coughing-up-the-dough dept.

Microsoft 170

An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. federal jury found that Microsoft Corp. infringed audio patents held by Alcatel-Lucent and should pay $1.52 billion in damages, Microsoft said Thursday. The news comes after reports that U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed doubts about whether Microsoft Corp. should be liable for infringing AT&T Inc. patents in Windows software sold overseas."

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Which way will /. go? (4, Funny)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116300)

Microsoft being penalized or software patents being eliminated? Its like torture! Which way will we go!

Re:Which way will /. go? (1)

cfoushee (803584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116344)

Definitely the patent being eliminated on this one since MS actually purchased a license for their mp3 encoding.

Re:Which way will /. go? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117168)

Yeah I know. When I get nailed by Microsoft for using the FAT filesystem under Linux, I'll just tell Ballmer's henchmen "Hey, I bought my license from Bob down the road!"

No problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118604)

If they bought a license, what's the big deal ? All they need to do is recover the relevant emails from their backups.

Black Books (3, Funny)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116358)

I dunno I just have to hope when I flip the coin it explodes and kills me

Re:Which way will /. go? (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116430)

Oh, that's easy! Ideally Microsoft pays the fine first, once again getting bit in the ass by software patents, and thus becomes an even greater force against software patents. Software patents are eliminated, and both MS and Free Software folks have a big party together with beer kegs and streamers and drunken install CD swapping.

Then Microsoft gets fined another $1.5 billion, for being jerks. Then another billion for being assholes. Then another billion for each chair Ballmer has thrown.

But seriously, I think them being penalized goes great with getting rid of patents. The more evidence that software patents are a hindrance to the software industry the better.

Re:Which way will /. go? (3, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118342)

both MS and Free Software folks have a big party together with beer kegs and streamers and drunken install CD swapping

I can picture the scene...
MS: Have some more beer... no more patents to file... all our IP goes down the drain.
Hippie 1: I don't drink branded beer.. only Open Source beer.
Bruce: I told you so... patents are like spitting in the wind. I've brought my own beer along, rejoice!
RMS : I only touch Free Beer. Make it GNU Free Beer and I'll drop plans for GPL3.
MS: No need to pay lawyers anymore... billions saved every year... some more beer, anyone?
Linus: I take back whatever nonsense I spoke about Patent Pools. Maybe RMS is right after all?
ESR: I think I'll start writing FetchBeer now...
Moglen: Patents may be gone, but copyright still remains.. and DRM, DMCA as well. Can I have some free beer?
Ballmer: I've brought a chair for all of you!

Re:Which way will /. go? (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116444)

In the other software patents article, I pointed out that MS had lost around a billion dollars to software patents last year. Looks like they're well ahead of that this year already.

Anyone still want to claim that it makes sense for MS to be in favour of software patents?

Re:Which way will /. go? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116726)

While $1.5 billion is a lot of money, even for Microsoft, if they can use patents to keep competitors from challenging their dominance it's still good for them.

Re:Which way will /. go? (1, Insightful)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116902)

The problem is, of course, is that Microsoft has *never* used patents offensively. If Microsoft did start using patents offensively it would almost certainly end up suing one of its own customers and technology folk the world over would start getting very nervous about their investment in Microsoft software.

Ballmer and crew are more than happy to talk about "intellectual property" issues with the press, but they know better than to actually start suing people. The question then becomes is it worth over a billion dollars a year for Microsoft to be able to threaten Free Software developers despite the fact that Microsoft knows that it isn't likely to ever take its complaints to court? The whole patent issue is little more than an elaborate bluff, and yet it costs Microsoft real money on an ongoing basis.

Re:Which way will /. go? (4, Insightful)

MaggieL (10193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117088)

If Microsoft did start using patents offensively it would almost certainly end up suing one of its own customers and technology folk the world over would start getting very nervous about their investment in Microsoft software.

Customers and technology folk who aren't already very nervous about their "investment in Microsoft software" either haven't been paying attention or don't have any such "investment".

Personally, I'd use the term "vulnerability" rather than "investment".

Re:Which way will /. go? (4, Informative)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117134)

The problem is, of course, is that Microsoft has *never* used patents offensively.

You and other slashdot posters can keep saying that, but that doesn't make it true. [advogato.org]

Re:Which way will /. go? (4, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117224)

Another case where Microsoft used patents offensively: FAT drive formatting and Long Filename FAT extensions. http://www.dpreview.com/news/0312/03120403microsof tisfat.asp [dpreview.com] Doesn't seem so defensive here.

Re:Which way will /. go? (4, Insightful)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117764)

As others have pointed out, it is not true that Microsoft has never used patents offensively. It is also a fact that the vast majority of patent disputes never end up in Court: licensing or cessation of infringement are the only economically realistic options for most alleged infringers. Finally, as Microsoft's VP of IP, Marshall "Father of the IBM tax" Phelps could tell you, a company with a large enough patent portfolio can gain more from the dysfunctional patent system than it loses. In fact it can derive a significant strategic advantage.

Re:Which way will /. go? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118100)

The question then becomes is it worth over a billion dollars a year for Microsoft to be able to threaten Free Software developers despite the fact that Microsoft knows that it isn't likely to ever take its complaints to court?
Yep. It is worth it. Look at howmuch it would cost in advertising campains, lowering product cost, and endless battles over who is the most economical compared to opensource of other alternalives.

MS is calculating the risk of how much more credit it would give to alternatives if they had to directly compete and actualy acknowleged alternatives as competition. As of recently, Microsoft has only went after small time targets who it can control the over all impression of the outcome when dealing with their big spenders. Now as this has worked out, they are picking on OSS develpers and resellers wich flows into their plan of "Pick microsoft because these guys aren't going to be around". And when they make deals with Novell then make statments, the OSS comunity went haywire trying to implode on itself.

So yea, Threatening others is all part of the marketing stratigy. And making deals to pit the alternative against each other is a big part. You couldn't by a better marketing campain that says "stay with Vista" then what happened after the Novell deal and the reactions to Balmners statments. I mean it costs were "the deal with Novell" which they intend to make money from and "Steve's salary for the day". And all he has to do is make a few more public comments to stir it up again. And the end reaction is a "stay away from this shit" to every bean counter who suddenly realizes that all then TCO studies showing MS as being cheaper have proven the switch to Vista is going to cost about the same as to linux or mac.

Re:Which way will /. go? (4, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117328)

$1.5 billion is a lot of money, even for Microsoft

Yup. Based on last year's gross profit they're going to have to save up for almost 15 days to pay that off. That's gotta hurt. That's like a whole paycheck right down the drain.

Re:Which way will /. go? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116496)

with the enormous waste of resources here due to a Micky Mouse IP system it really doesn't matter who it happens to - all the people involved would have been far better off doing just about anything other than playing games with a silly patent system. Time for the tinfoil hat people to say it's an effort to cripple the USA and make it economicly irrelevent - without manufacturing and innovation what do you have left?

Re:Which way will /. go? (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117372)

Services, all the way down.

Re:Which way will /. go? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116856)

Easy...

One is short term, the other long term.

MS will collapse on their own, eventually anyways -- I'd rather have better solution for the long term.

No more Mp3 (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117464)

Worse! it also means MP3 players are unlicensed and you'll now have to use AAC. Too bad for everyone who locked themselves in to a proprietary non_DRM format that will soon lack any new players. Seriously... Can you imagine that ipods are immune to this lawsuits consequences?

Re:No more Mp3 (1)

matrixhax0r (988785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118340)

Uhh. AAC don't inherently have DRM. AAC actually has superior audio quality against MP3 in quite a few stuides and is an open format. It's just the proprietary extensions of AAC add DRM. Heck, you could add a proprietary extension to MP3 to make it DRM'ed.

Re:No more Mp3 (4, Interesting)

Dan Farina (711066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118510)

That wasn't the point, as I read it. The point is that there may be a strong incentive to make players that don't support MP3 because it's encumbered and the owners doing the encumbering seem willing to exercise the ownership of their patent. In other words, there may be a shift to non-mp3 formats (AAC or say, ogg) for more players, and possible waning of MP3 domination due to incompatibility on players that don't support MP3 to keep cost down.

Good (0, Offtopic)

pohones (1067460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116302)


That's what happens to companies that vandalize copper cables from others!

Hmmm... (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116318)

Well, you know, patents are bad. So even though MS is "evil", supporting this ruling is the wrong way to go... Right?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Grinin (1050028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116966)

I'm officially stumped. I mean, I'm happy that Microsoft had to empty half of its pockets for a day.... so thats good I guess.

And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116320)

their shares are up. What a world we live in.

Just another nail in the coffin (5, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116348)

Lately it seems that Microsoft has been spiraling downward at a good pace. From the uneventful launch of Vista to lawsuits like this, I think MS is spending more time on litigation and PR than developing good products.

gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Just another nail in the coffin (5, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116512)

Well, sure. A company should focus on their core strengths.

Spiraling downward (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116666)

If you call this "spiraling downward" [yahoo.com] , I can only hope that my company could one day "spiral downward" at a similar pace.

Re:Just another nail in the coffin (5, Funny)

JonWan (456212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116680)

I'm waiting for thr RIAA or MPAA to sue them because "The Windows operating system facilitates copyright infringement".

Re:Just another nail in the coffin (2, Funny)

steveoc (2661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118222)

Im waiting for the RIAA to sue the MPAA for having a name that sounds similar.

(or is that the other way around)

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Playing devil's advocate (1, Interesting)

StrahdVZ (1027852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116812)

I HATE to play devil's advocate here, particularly in defense of (yeck!) Microsoft. But (for those who actually read TFA) if MS purchased licensing for mp3 from Fraunhofer, then they actually did the right thing. Fraunhofer, evil as they are, have had the stranglehold on mp3 since day zero.

IMO Alcatel-Lucent have just successfully scammed some quick $$ off MS.

Re:Just another nail in the coffin (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117068)

An almost perfect quote from the article:

The U.S. Justice Department has sided with much of Microsoft's argument and said the appeals court ruling "improperly extends United States patent law to foreign markets" and puts U.S. software companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Shoud have simply read:
The U.S. Justice Department said the United States patent law puts U.S. software companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Re:Just another nail in the coffin (1)

rmerry72 (934528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117900)

I think MS is spending more time on litigation and PR than developing good products.

This the Capitalist way. Litigation has far higher ROI than making good products. Notice how MS shareprice still went up even though the lost .

Keep the money flowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116374)

All the more reason to sue Linux users. Need to keep the software patent dollar redistribution cycle going.

Indemnification (5, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116388)

Yeah I offered them an Alcatel-Lucent MP3 patent Indemnification plan but they said I was just trying to shake them down.

Are Microsoft customers protected from Lucent now? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117658)

You were joking; but that's exactly the same kind of non-indemnification that Microsoft sells its customers:

It's very likely that now Microsoft has a license to use MP3 internally; but no right to sublicense it to end users who may still be liable.

If you think I'm kidding, they've done it before:
    http://www.oreillynet.com/cs/user/view/cs_msg/4306 7 [oreillynet.com]

ogg (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116434)

even big companies can benefit for adopting royalty-free open standards.

Bill Gates' response (4, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116456)

Bill Gates gets a call while he and his wife are having dinner out. Gates' response after hanging up:

"Honey? I'll be right back. Steve needs $1.5B so I'm going to go to the ATM across the street. He's waiting outs--I think that's him honking. Can you order the chocolate cake for me for dessert?"

Re:Bill Gates' response (5, Funny)

Glacial Wanderer (962045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116718)

"Honey? I'll be right back. Steve needs $1.5B so I'm going to go to the ATM across the street. He's waiting outs--I think that's him honking. Can you order the chocolate cake for me for dessert?"

Assuming that ATM distributed $20 bills Bill just carried 82 tons of cash from the ATM to Steve's car. I guess he's spent some his of change under his sofa on cybernetic enhancements.

Re:Bill Gates' response (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117604)

Yep, the whole point of Microsoft is to raise enough money to turn his family into the Bionic Six [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Bill Gates' response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118134)

Are you allowed to write checks in scientific notaton?

Microsoft argues that source code isn't patentable (5, Interesting)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116468)

The actual case is actually not half as interesting as Microsoft's and the Justice Department's arguments that source code isn't patentable [betanews.com] . "I think the reason that's not relevant here is that the patented invention in this case is not software," [Assistant Solicitor General Daryl ] Joseffer said. "It's computer that has software loaded into it. And the components of a patented invention do not themselves have to be patented." Justice Alito's next question indicated his astonishment. "If these computers are built abroad and are sold with Windows installed, the component is the electrons on the hard drive? That's your position?" Joseffer responded yes, that's the US' position, but no, that's not AT&T's position. "It's the physical embodiment of the software which in some instances is manifested by -- by those electrons," said Joseffer, perhaps broaching for the first time in history the topic of whether electrons are patentable. "Now AT&T's contrary view is that the abstract code in the abstract is the component. The reason that can't be, is that object code in the abstract is just a series of 1's and 0's. In theory I could memorize in my head or write down on a piece of paper. But that's not going to combine with other, with other parts to make a patented invention."

Re:Microsoft argues that source code isn't patenta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116598)

Code as such isn't patentable ... what's the news here?

Re:Microsoft argues that source code isn't patenta (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116722)

Full transcript [supremecourtus.gov] .

Microsoft and the Law (4, Informative)

Macka (9388) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116474)


What we have learned to date is that Microsoft will never have to pay anything like this kind of penalty. Even if they are guilty, they have already demonstrated their ability to heap appeal on top of appeal until many years from now, technology advancements will have moved the goal posts, effectively rendering the original claim irrelevant.

Their mastery of the legal system is so complete that were Eliot Ness alive today, Microsoft would be the principal nemesis in The Untouchables 2.

Re:Microsoft and the Law (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116872)

We also have learned that Microsoft may even be above the law [technologyevangelist.com] in some respects [technologyevangelist.com] .

Re:Microsoft and the Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116962)

Yeah, because Microsoft has always gotten away clean in the high-profile patent cases they've fought. Oh, wait. They've never gotten away clean as far as I know. Stac Electronics? Eolas?

Mod parent -1, Knee-jerk M$-bashing.

Re:Microsoft and the Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117628)

Microsoft will never have to pay anything like this kind of penalty.

*squirts zune milk out of nose* __never__ ? You mean that they didn't have to pay Sun $2B in settlement for Java? Have you been under a rock since getting that low slashdotid? Or are you simply trolling?
Meta comment: duh, informative? idiot mods...

1.52 Billion????? (2, Insightful)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116526)

Shit, I don't care how rich Microsoft is.. 1.52 billion? Thats gotta hurt!

Re:1.52 Billion????? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116646)

Not yet. They haven't paid a dime, and will likely appeal.

Tomorrow's headline (2, Funny)

defile (1059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116658)

Federal reserve system collapses on Lucent's deposit of Microsoft check.

Re:1.52 Billion????? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117014)

By the time they actually pay ( expect decades of appeals ) it wont amount to that much to them.

I'm scared (5, Funny)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116588)

Patents are evil. Microsoft is evil.

Therefore, Microsoft being slightly hurt because of a patent infrigement ruling == neutral and we can all go home and have a nice cup of tea.

PS I'm scared because my last post was modded "flamebait", possibly because I accidentally called Canada the "People's Republic of Canuckistan". That hurt.

Forget about the evilness of MS for a moment... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116624)

Does anyone know the details of this? I mean I always thought Fraunhofer would hold the mp3 patents, and it seems that MS had licensed them, as I guess many others. Does Lucent/AT&T really own mp3 and can go after everybody?

Re:Forget about the evilness of MS for a moment... (4, Interesting)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116796)

AT&T Corp. and Fraunhofer agreed in 1989 to develop MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 technology, now called MP3. Scientists from AT&T's Bell Labs collaborated with Fraunhofer before AT&T spun off the unit in 1996. Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies Inc., which Alcatel SA acquired last year.

Microsoft accuses Lucent of deceiving the U.S. Patent & Trademark office by having one of the patents reissued and backdated to 1988, removing it from the scope of the 1989 deal with Fraunhofer.

Re:Forget about the evilness of MS for a moment... (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116842)

Network equipment maker Alcatel filed two lawsuits on Friday alleging infringement of seven of its patents. The patents cover a range of techniques aiding user authentication, network address translation, setting up data communications and transporting video.

Alcatel refused to say how Microsoft had infringed its patents, and wouldn't say which products caused the infringement. Lucent, which is due to merge with Alcatel by November 30, was already involved in a patent dispute with Microsoft over video-decoding technology in its Xbox 360.

It's not over yet (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116628)

MS still has a number of appeals. Most importantly, the Federal Circuit has a 30-40% reversal rate in patent claim construction cases. It's too early to say that MS will pay.

Live by the sword, die by the sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116650)

I feel bad for MS losing a software patent lawsuit in the same way I feel bad about a rampaging psycho with a gun getting shot...

Fraunhofer (1)

kiswa (70271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116654)

Doesn't just about every piece of commercial MP3-related software also have the same deal with Fraunhofer? Does this case expose hundreds of companies to similar legal problems? Does not at all seem like a good thing at first reading.

Will this be the year of the OGG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116704)

More info here [bloomberg.com]

"Alcatel-Lucent's victory also may clear the way for legal actions against hundreds of companies that rely on MP3"

Hypocrites (1)

jorgepblank (976019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116700)

What pisses me off is how they can go around suing everyone for patent stuff when they do it themselves thinking no one will find out.

Re:Hypocrites (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116788)

Ummm.. who has Microsoft sued for patent infringement?

Re:Hypocrites (1)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116798)

Who have they sued for patent infringement?

Re:Hypocrites (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117408)

Replaced "sued" with "threatened to sue" and you're talking about every linux user on the planet.

Re:Hypocrites (1)

jorgepblank (976019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118294)

Yeah haha sorry, I guess that's what I meant. I'm not one of those hardcore anti-microsoft people, just some things really irritate me.

save that goddam chair (5, Funny)

GlitchyBits (1066840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116756)

Tough days for chairs ...

I'm gonna be rich! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116928)

Tough days for chairs .

Just last week I took my investment adviser's advice and put my money in Ikea chairs.

At least I think that's what he said.

Spelling nit (0, Troll)

dweller_below (136040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116822)

> "A U.S. federal jury found that Microsoft Corp. infringed audio patents held by Alcatel-Lucent and should pay $1.52 billion"
                ^^^^^^

You misspelled feral.

It ain't good (5, Insightful)

kocsonya (141716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116840)

Chances are, M$, instead of seeing the light and lobby against the patentability of algorithms/math/shapes of clouds/ways of combing hair/etc will just hire more patent lawyers and patent everything remotely connected to computers to build a very thick patent armor and a large caliber cannon too.

At the end of the day Lucent and Microsoft and all those behemoths will sort it out between themselves and the small players get eliminated.
The IP lobby gets multiple orgasms, extends patent expiry terms to that of copyright, then extends the copyright to be ahead of patents and generates a new class of IP, the 'unpublished thought'. Since that latter can not be effectively monitored (yet), they introduce a levy (indexed by the education level) to be paid by any cognitive being to the TCAA (Thought Control Association of America); those who can't pay can instead sell themselves to the TCAA, which will export them to Chinese sweatshops as extra cheap slave labour. Persons trying to hide their being educated will be prosecuted as thought terrorist and will be sent to secret CIA torture centres where they will be used for testing new methods of extracting one's innermost thoughts. Skipping school is considered a federal offense and offenders are sent to re-education camps (these can be cheaply leased from Gulag, Inc. a company run by the Russian maffia). People in coma (and thus with no income) but with measurable brain activity will have their organs removed and sold to pay for their thoughts, however, as soon as their EEG goes flat, no more organs can be extracted in lieu of the thought levy. Rather, all remaining organs can be taken by the TCAA as payment of punitive damages for depriving the TCAA of its income by the old trick of being dead.

Then the ants all go to the Père Lachaise cemetery and spit on La Fontaine's grave.

Re:It ain't good (1)

rcbutcher (952782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117638)

As a descendent of Aesop I've already sued La Fontaine. In fact I've already had your idea and am suing you too.

Re:It ain't good (1, Insightful)

PixelScuba (686633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118258)

Your response could have carried so much more prominence and weight, but you chose to start your reply with the 'M$' slur. It was an instant bomb that told me not to read any further (I did begrudgingly, only to find a quality post hidden below). Can we please stop using this ridiculous denotation for Microsoft. Yes they're a tremendously wealthy company who throw their weight around inappropriately... but we're adults. We should be able to discuss the (de)merits of Microsoft without resorting to the equivalent of "poopy head".

Yoda would say ... (2, Funny)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116882)

Has begun, the patent wars.

Re:Yoda would say ... (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117172)

Stop getting Yoda wrong!

Re:Yoda would say ... (4, Funny)

JoGlo (1000705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117790)

Begun, the Patent Wars, have!

There. Is that better?

This is not just an MS problem (5, Insightful)

MaxPower2 (976000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116930)

For those of you who are caught up in hating MS, open your eyes and see what this really means. Many other companies licensed the technology from Germany's Fraunhofer. The list includes Apple, Sony, Creative Tech., Napster, and many other companies. This means that if this ruling stands, you will see many other lawsuits in the future related to this technology.

Re:This is not just an MS problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117602)

Who cares? This is just another reason to avoid patent infected technologies altogether.

Re:This is not just an MS problem (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117684)

Great! All hail OGG! Good thing most of my collection is in it already.

Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117808)

It would really suck for everyone, but a massive patent war is probably the only way we'll end up with a sane patent system.

At this point I'd be surprised if it's possible to write a program more complex than:

print "Hello World\n";

and not infringe on at least one patent.

Hey, Ballmer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116952)

What were you saying about protecting intellectual property????????

Re:Hey, Ballmer! (1)

superangrybrit (600375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117674)

Intellectual property also includes copyrights.

These stories say nothing (2, Insightful)

rcbutcher (952782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117046)

Neither story actually tells us anything about the alleged issue. They mention MP3, Fraunhofer, speech conversion, Lucent, but zilch about Microsoft-MP3-Lucent-courtcase. Crap journalism.

Mmm exciting (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117450)

Morbo wants more patent suits. Make the whole system collapse in on it's stupidity.

Bonus points since MSFT just threatened to sue Linux users for violating MSFT patents.

mmm karma.

yawn (1)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117556)

Wall Street laughed at this news when it was released. If the street doesn't believe it, you can bet it's a non-event.

Even if MSFT does pay, which wouldn't be for quite some time, they have 26 Billion dollars in cash on hand, and revenues of 46 Billion per dollars year.

In other words this is not the end of MSFT as some alarmists are claiming.

Re:yawn (1)

BGate$ (953981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117992)

Do you believe what you wrote? They had more money than that 10 years ago with windows 95 and less computers in the world. Gee I think we should all hold onto this stock!

Patents are allowed for 17 years, then it's P.D. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117690)

Times up. If you haven't sued yet, you can't sue now.

This is a BAD thing (1)

BluhDeBluh (805090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117724)

Expect lawsuits all over the place. This really is the type of thing that the EFF should get involved in - they went after MS first, but expect Apple and fifteen million other companies to be attacked by this too. They've basically backdated a patent so the current deals don't apply and they can sue practically everybody for silly money - this is really a "BURN ALL MP3S"-type situation.

Re: Burn All Mp3's??!!! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118106)

Wait for it...

Do I smell the RIAA encouraging this? Wouldn't they LOVE to nuke anyone who uses an Mp3?

fuc4!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117752)

40,,00 comin6 We'll be able to

No! Bad Slashdot! (2, Interesting)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117768)

This was posted by an AC earlier, which apparently nobody saw; so let me attempt to be loud enough to get heard.

This is a bad thing. B-A-D.

Many, MANY companies have this same deal with Fraunhofer. MS is only the first to be sued. It's very likely that those companies large enough to be worth suing will also be sued in large numbers, after this. The fact that you guys hate MS so much you consider many, many companies getting sued a "haha" matter shows you have a profoundly sick sense of humor.

Re:No! Bad Slashdot! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117932)

No, this is a good thing. G-O-O-D.

Everyone will start sueing everyone else. And maybe, just maybe it will cause people get more interested in using open, free standards. And maybe, just maybe we'll take another look at software patents and the patent system in general.

Stupid-ass moderation on many of these comments (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118536)

In other news, in addition to fashioning crude weapons from pointed sticks, chimpanzees apparently have been granted mod points.

Could anyone explain this to me... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117880)

"AT&T is willing to concede that software isn't patentable, if the Court will conclude that the things that software does - the methods and procedures and instructions that a processor carries out once software is installed - are patentable."

Is not things such as "methods and procedures and instructions that a processor carries out" software?

From my perspective they are saying:

"AT&T is willing to concede that software isn't patentable, if the Court will conclude that software is patentable"

I'm confused.

Re:Could anyone explain this to me... (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118708)

They're trying to say that code is not patentable, but running software as part of a system functioning to accomplish some task is patentable, as it is part of a system.

The principle is the same as the venerable Method of exercising a cat [freepatentsonline.com] patent. It isn't required that the laser pointer, or the wall be patentable to violate the patent against using the wall and the laser pointer in that way.

Similarly, they are arguing that while the source code may not be patentable as such, executing the source with a processor to accomplish something is patentable. Another way to think of it is that a creative work, say a song or a novel, is not patentable (copyright != patents, remember). However, "Method of transcribing a communication onto paper" describing using any tool for marking paper to inscribe marks in a known or unknown language, is theoretically patentable. Hell, for all I know Harper Collins has it in it's vault ready to make a killing off every other publisher ever when the time is right.

Good (2, Insightful)

melted (227442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118110)

A few more of these and software industry will abolish patents on its own volition.

These are interesting times we've living in... (1)

Flipao (903929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118380)

For a start, this could shake MS into changing their stance towards software patents, it could also scare companies away from the Mp3 format, it could also have repercusions for Open Source apps, both good and bad, and of course... it's always great to see Bill Gates lose money, they've been dodging the bullet for so long, they're certainly due.

GYOAT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118704)

GAY NIGGERS from ballots. YoU could [tuxedo.org], NIGGER ASSOCIATION for election, I contact to see if a way to spend watershed essay, IS DYING LIKE THE documents like a
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