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Yahoo Patents Dynamic Page Generator

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the you-gotta-be-kidding dept.

The Internet 282

ecampbel writes "This patent should scare many, many different sites. Their specific invention is that they store the live data used to fill in their site?s templates in shared memory that the sub-processes that actually generate the page have access to. This method cuts down on the time it takes to generate their page since quering another server or process isn't necessary. What does Slashdot and the readers of Slashdot think of this new patent?" Thats it! Nobody is allowed to cache data in shared memory space any more! Slashdot actually runs really close to this, although I cache the custom Slashboxes in httpd child memory space, not in shared memory owned by the parent Apache (hey, is there a shared memory module for perl? :) The abstract is attached below, anyone have any opinions on this one?

Here is the abstract of their patent: United States Patent 5,983,227 (Nov. 9, 1999)

Dynamic page generator


A custom page server is provided with user preferences organized into templates stored in compact data structures and the live data used to fill the templates stored local to the page server which is handing user requests for custom pages. One process is executed on the page server for every request. The process is provided a user template for the user making the request, where the user template is either generated from user preferences or retrieved from a cache of recently used user templates. Each user process is provided access to a large region of shared memory which contains all of the live data needed to fill any user template. Typically, the pages served are news pages, giving the user a custom selection of stock quotes, news headlines, sports scores, weather, and the like. With the live data stored in a local, shared memory, any custom page can be built within the page server, eliminating the need to make requests from other servers for portions of the live data. While the shared memory might include RAM (random access memory) and disk storage, in many computer systems, it is faster to store all the live data in RAM.

cancel ×


Link? (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542798)

Is there a link to the patent database? I only trust spoon-fed info so far...

Uh. Definitely prior art. (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542802)

This is incredibly vague, but hell, even QLink on the C64 did stuff like this back in the mid-80s. And they got a patent on this?!
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

I guess Linda isn't considered prior art...? (1)

NickJacobs (22201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542805)

This is kind of unbelievable. This is such a standard technique -- used by many, many systems, including I'm sure ones written by the readers here.

I vote for oversite on all software patents!


First post!!! (1)

BootSpooge (61137) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542815)

Patents like this make you wonder about
our country. Even if the patent office is
using fresh-outs stuff like this should
never squeek by. Any one with a little
smarts in the patent field have any info
on prior use?


Oms (16745) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542877)

...Yet another US Patent Office Run Amok Story!

What next? A patent for bold and italic fonts?

The way they give out patents right and left, it ought to be pretty easy to patent the concept of shared memory itself. Then sue Yahoo for patent violation!

Standard module (5)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542878)

IPC::Shareable can (and is) used for this technique on mod_perl sites. I've used it myself. I haven't read the patent yet, I guess I'll go check it out.

See the modperl archives for many other people using this method for caching data (templates and other stuff). I guess it could be argued that anything using a <perl> section or in modperl is using a similar technique.

Yeek (4)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542881)

Hm. In trying to find the patent in question, I did a search on 'yahoo' in the IBM patent database... US patent 05896132 [] is even more unbelievable than this one. Apparently IBM tried and succeeded patenting using the word 'more' for flipping through multiple pages of text:

Scroll bars conventionally used in a graphical user interface are replaced with "more" bars at each edge of a display bordering a direction in which more information is available for viewing. Actuation of a cursor on one of the more bars scrolls the display in the direction of the more bar. The more bars provide an intuitive mechanism for controlling the display of graphical user interface.
That does it, I'm nuking the USPTO...
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Hey *I* came up with that idea too! (1)

Gurlia (110988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542883)

I don't understand why people are patenting such kind of ideas. I am working on a Web project as well, and I had a similar idea: filling out templates with live data to optimize server response time. This is so ridiculous. I mean, anyone working on Web projects who have a brain are likely to come up with ideas similar to this -- who gave them to right to patent it and deny other's right to use what they came up with? It's not like this is some "deep" and "sophisticated" technique that takes a genius to figure out. Anyone could have come up with a similar technique and they would be "infringing" the patent. I think patents like these are just sick. I might as well have gone and patented linked-lists and charged royalty to every university that teaches linked-lists. Disgusting.

Shared memory (2)

pvente (89848) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542886)

According to the last sentence in the abstract, shared memory includes disk storage, not just the "conventional" shared memory. This would include databases as well. Ouch. I wonder what would have happen if an artist were to patent their brush-stroke technique, or patent the fact that they used cubes in their paintings. As I see it, artists patenting these types of things are very similar to programmers/corporations patenting the way they develop apps. So sad.

Standard reply to patents... (5)

mindslip (16677) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542892)

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it, not that it would make much impact.

Any idea or expression which can be thought by more than one person by sheer coincidence should never be allowed to be protected.
Expression is not an entity to be hoarded. Implementation may have its merits in the varying methods used, but the thought processes which led to those methods are ultimately responsible, and come from varying sources of inspiration which law can neither protect, enslave, or induce.

Research which truly *is* research, could be protected, certainly, as one protects the fruit of any labour (although for moral reasons, medicine, science, etc. they often shouldn't be). But clever programming tricks, methods that are already taken for granted, or legal wording of common-place procedures written and submitted for the purpose of making a buck... that's not justice, that's not even moral.

Patents fall under law, law is imposed to promote justice, and a capitalistic greedy move like this on the part of a bunch of Yahoo's does no justice to anyone.


usa only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542895)

I hope this junk and other junk patents like it are usa only ones. But then again even if they are do you think companies will ask you if you are visiting a site from outside the usa and then will they use nifty 'cached pages' and '1-click-shopping' as features for only those people?

Ack, you know that most likely these patents extend to Canada too, if so that sucks. Anyone know if they extend here to Canada?

lawyers try to ruin yet another industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542897)

This is just the latest manifestation of the fact that we have too many god damn laywers in this country. Now they are cooking up ways to patent things that everyone is already doing in the software industry. This is a very scary trend. Lawyers suck.

that means absolutely nothing (3)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542900)

The abstract is a abrief description of what a patent does. Just because your system does what theres does does not necessarily mean you may infringe. What do the claims say? It is the patent claims that are what needs to be worried about. Does anyone have a patent number here?

Suggestion /. with all the patents coming out that deal with hardware/software like this one ie shared mem, maybe it would be a good idea that when someone submits an article for a patent, they are prompted to also send the patent number, and a link to where they got this info, and all that jazz. Rather than just the abstract.

I mean really the abstract is just that 'abstract'. IT is supposed to be a 1 paragraph summary of the invention in less than 150 words.

flames > /dev/null
moderate -1Million

send flames > /dev/null

Here's a Link (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542907)

the full patent is here []

Time to choose a different career? (1)

Rob the Roadie (2950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542909)

That's it. I think I'm going to take up rug weaving - or has someone already patented the process of taking strips of fabric and combining them in a pattern attached to a backing sheet in order to produce an item of floor covering?

The whole patent process has gone mad. It's got down to people just paying lawyers to produce patents for "industry standard" processes. Putting data into a shared memory space? Using it to rapidly generate pages based on user preferences either provided or randomly generated? Hang's this what the vast majority of portals do already using "industry standards"? This is just some plain english wrapped around some technical jargon and served with a large cheque to the Patent Office.

I think I ought to patent the idea of submiting stupid patents that are no more than dressed up "industry standards"

What the fuck am I on about - "industry standards". There don't appear to be many left now...

What about Netcenter, and what not? (2)

tweek (18111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542911)

Netcenter and t.o both have "themes" for web sites that customize based on user preferences. Im sure prior art would negate this anyway.
"We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece

Huh... (1)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542912)

Well, beyond the first posters who always get it wrong...
What will this do to me, the average geek? Or rather, to my friend at the University who has his own site that uses the now patented Yahoo technology? Will the Yahoo Police come beat down his door and kick his small dog? Will he spend twenty years in prison where he can write MORE code violating said patents? Who knows? And more importantly, who cares? A patent is a patent is a patent. If you call it by any other name, it's not quite as mysterious. Say good day to the patent life style. I'm sure that someone somewhere used it before Yahoo did.
That's the pattern of technology, isn't it? Nearly all of the whizzbang ideas of today are based on two or three not so whizzbang ones of yesterday. And isn't proof of prior existence all that you need to call a patent stupid and null it? Or am I just rambling because it's so early?


Patent the Wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542915)

I have a good idea. Why doesn't Slashdot patent the wheel? I mean, everyone uses it, it's not a new idea, Slashdot didn't come up with it, and there's lots of money to be made. We could then talk about it on Yahoo!News.

Beware TPB

Re:Yeek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542916)

Check out the sweet Windows 3.1 Notepad in the middle of their "More bars"...


How are they gonna find you? (2)

Ratface (21117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542919)

OK, I'm just wondering - how often are Yahoo going to be able to find out whether someone is using such a system? I mean, I could program a system to do that tomorrow - but unless I make the code available, nobody is gonna be any the wiser.

Of course - that is a real issue for the /.'s and other Open Source developers of the world, but for developers who are creating custom systems for clients, such a technique is surely impossible to detect.

Secondly - can they prosecute someone for using a program that contains such code, or does the patent only cover writing code to implement such a system in the first place?

Finally, can Yahoo use such a patent - originating in the US - against companies in other countries, or does the patent only cover US applications development?

Also intersting to note - Yahoo are currently being sued themselves over patent violation, Wired [] have the article.

Re:First post!!! (1)

spiffyboy (31591) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542920)

I only have pitty for you poor Statesmen (americans).
Though I would say it is a problem of your legal system, not the patent office. The rest of the world actually agrees on the fact that ideas/algorithms are not patentable...

Ingenuiusly obscure (3)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542922)

It took me a few times of reading it to work my way through the excess verbiage. Yahoo must have hired Sir Humphrey Appleby as a legal consultant.

As I understand it, what they're saying is that they pre-allocate a large chunk of memory per user (rather than dynamically allocate what's needed), and then fill it with whatever that user is doing.

In addition, live data is regularly polled from other servers and stuffed into shared memory, thus removing the need to access the servers at the time of request.

This would seem to give Yahoo a 2-tier caching system:

Servers --> Shared memory --> User Cache --> User

This may or may not be efficient, depending on how it's set up. It certainly means that the data from real-time data sources stops being real-time, and can be as old as the time-out on the shared memory cache.

As for being innovative, well, that is arguable. There is certainly prior art for cache heirarchies (nlanr, the makers of Squid, have an entire network of web caches, for example, and Squid is built for exactly that kind of work). Using shared memory as a caching system is a trivial derivative of traditional caching, and wouldn't pass muster on it's own.

Using a heirarchy inside a single system, to link multiple servers, is perhaps slightly more novel. I don't recall seeing that being done before.

However, the patent could be considered a non-issue. If you use a heirarchy of -dynamically allocated- cache spaces, you automatically have something that is distinct from the system described in the patent. Also, if you have an N-ary graph of caches, rather than a simple tree, you would avoid the patent by using a distinct structure.

Re:Yeek (1)

Edwin Oostra (99197) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542924)

Why does this immediatally cause the Monthy Python' silly walk sketch to surface in my mind.

Okay.... I'm off to patentize believing in a God at the religious patents office of the USPTO.


jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542927)

*Evil Grin*

How about this? Patent the idea of linking search engines to stock information. That should easily slip past the patent office. THEN sue Yahoo. :)

Re:that means absolutely nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542929)

It's US 5,983,227 as the article mentioned. The full text, claims included, can be found here [] in the US Patent Office database.

I agree with you that the abstracts don't do these things justice; far too often they just spark people to make dumb posts about how they should patent X or Y, because they don't understand that the real part is the claims.

Microsoft ASP engine does this and has for years (5)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542931)

ASP's Session and Application objects have done this for years. I use it to cache weather, stock quotes, news items, etc. Microsoft might do something good and sue the crap out of yahoo for this...

Death of the internet (3)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542933)

Alot of people over the years have predicted that the internet is a fad and will die out. Most of them people have already ate thier words, and maybe rightfully so. I think the internet will be around for ever.
What I doubt though is that it will continue to grow. We will never have a reality such as in Star Trek, or some of the worlds the Sliders go to. We will never have a world with terminals in every room of every building hooked up to the internet linking the whole world.
I say this because all these internet patents are scaring off lots of people that could be developing the websites that would make such a thing feasible. Linking the world together is nothing without the content that would be needed. Think about it, there is no more one-click shopping without a royalty be paid to Amazon, so E-commerce sites will have to do things the longer, harder way. If they do not do it the hard way they will have to develop a new concept which if history shows they will run out and patent and leave the followers in the same boat.
The bottom line is for all these internet businesses is all about the Benjamins, and the world has never benefited from greed alone. These people claim to be "innovators" of the internet, as far as I'm concerned they are all just a bunch of greedy bastards holding the world back.

Prior Art... (0)

Pulsar (4287) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542934)

I think the subject says it all...

new /. topic (4)

werd life (94886) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542937)

rob, you should add tents

but what would the logo be?

This is great news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542939)

Patenting something this generic and simple (and done many times before) means that it should be possible to patent most of the generic programming patterns and no one would be able to innovate or develop applications of any sort without going through the patent holder. Patents seem to cost around 15 grand, so it should be easy to construct a business case to patent most of the common programming patterns. Development as we know it would stop. Innovation would be halted. The patent holder would be richer than microsoft by investing only a few weeks of research. Woohoo! What's the number of that VC guy I new? If I don't do it now, someone else will.

Re:First post!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542940)

How about patenting first post? Should solve the problem once and for all.

Ok, sorry, couldn't resist...this is all sooo insane.

Chilli *sigh*

Re:Huh... (1)

smutt (35184) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542942)

Yes, the United States is one of the few countries
in the world that still has a proof of prior existence clause in its patent law. If someone can prove that they had this technology before Yahoo, then the Yahoo patent becomes irrelevent.

Software patents (3)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542943)

This just illustrates how inappropriate patents are for software. Even if this were an original idea (and as others have pointed out, it certainly isn't), it wouldn't be worth granting a patent on it, because it would restrict competition far too much and subject developers to legal harassment. It's also merely a combination of existing ideas - filling in templates, and caching data in memory - that would be obvious to any skilled programmer.

Of course Yahoo are free to copyright the code they are using, and that makes sure that they can get a good return from their effort. But allowing companies to patent particular ideas and then sue other developers is bad news both for the software industry and for consumers.

The paper Against Software Patents [] is slightly old, but a good introduction to why granting patent monopolies on software techniques is a bad idea.

It's not too late to stop software patents being introduced in Europe - check out [] if you live in the EU.

Does Jerry know? (2)

Ratface (21117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542945)

I tell you something that really bothers me about this - somehow I can't see Jerry Yang being really into the idea of broad software patents like this.

Does anyone have his email so folks can (politely) ask him about this policy? Maybe we can convince him to pledge to not use the patent, but hold it open for community use?

Patent Stupidity (2)

Alan Cox (27532) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542946)

See for the
anti USPTO T shirts. Also take a look at and join
the LPF ( If enough people
join it starts making a difference


Yahoo Patents (1)

Kevin223 (113440) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542947)

Well this is great! i think I am going to patent the use of the Penguin in Linux.

Shoot all Patent Attorneys & the Examiners too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542948)

OK, we as a society need to take a bold step here, by immediately executing everyone involved with patent law.

Any group of people that are so seriously out of touch WITH THEIR OWN PROFESSION need to be excised like a tumor.

I mean, come on! How stupid are patent examiners anyway?

New Joke:
"How many patent examiners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
-- None. The concept of installing a light-emitting device has been patented by Priceline, and the examiners wouldn't want to infringe on the intellectual property rights of all Americans.

Re:new /. topic (2)

gorilla (36491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542949)

This? []

Patents patents and more patents (3)

adimarco (30853) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542950)

It is becoming rapidly apparent to me that the Patent system as we know it is in need of serious modification. I'm open to argument about what exactly is wrong (IANAL), but if something like this can actually get patented then *something* is definitely wrong

I suspect the patent office clerks (or whoever actually reviews and issues these things) lack the technical knowhow they require to properly evaluate (or, hell, even understand) these things and look for prior art. This unfairly allows those with $$ to take advantage of their ignorance and engage in the kind of frivolous litigation we so love here in the U.S.

To my understanding (and again, IANAL. do we have any lawyers here on Slashdot? any care to comment on the basics of patent law?) patents are basically a legal monopoly for a set time period to allow the inventor of a particular 'technique' to profit from his labor, at least in an intellectual sense. Generally speaking, this is a reasonable idea, imho. I seem to remember that the time period allotted is 7 years (someone correct me please?), and while this may be fine for real world (meatspace) inventions, that's simply aeons in computer time. It's like a 200 year patent in the real world. Perhaps we should consider some modifications to our patent system to account for the rapid pace of modern technology?

Has this type of practice always been common in patent litigation? A lot of it seems blatantly sleazy and deceptive. I've only noticed it recently, but then again, I've only been paying attention recently...


Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Re:Time to choose a different career? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542951)

The Yahoo patent forbids you from keeping your rug design in shared memory and using that shared memory to fill in the motions for separate movement processes.

In layman's terms, the patent forbids your left hand from knowing what your right hand is doing. Rug weaving is out. Maybe you can become a Los Angeles delivery driver.

Long way to go in IP (3)

Sorklin (88002) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542952)

I think we will soon hit critical mass with patents. Couple of nights ago, one of the major evening news magazines (like 60 minutes or 48 hours -- side note, why do they always use a number as the first word in the title?) was doing a story on human genome patenting. They covered the fact that several institutions cannot even screen for Alzheimers or breast cancer, because the genes were patented. The doctor made it clear that the tests were not patented, just the genes, making *any* test that screens these genes subject to the patent.

Patents like that -- where there is a direct detrimental effect on people as a result (who are unable to even get a test done!) might push the patent reform to front and center. Perhaps then, we can push the absurd software patents to the forefront and try to get some good ole fashioned reform going ("Its a good ole patent lynching, mama").

The need for reform *is* coming to the consciousness of the mainstream. Lets make sure that software patents are not forgotten when that happens.

Arrrggghhhh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542953)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we, as an entire society need to gather together and exterminate everyone associated with patent law.

Everyone. That means everyone that's a patent examiner, all of the patent lawyers, any judge involved with patent issues, and everybody that works at the PTO (even the secretaries).

Just wipe the slate clean.

Breaking News: New Patent Filed (1)

mindstorm (105447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542954)

A very scary patent indeed, be very afraid!

Geek Industries LLC and CEO Mindstorm have filed a patent (# 666,666,666) on a biological process called "breathing". Developed in the precambrian era, this process is used by millions of organisims worldwide.

Is estitmated that if the patent is approved, Geek Indusries can impose a $5 per breath royalty fee. Mindstorm quoted as saying "One of my ancestors invernted this process. It has been passed down from generations. Unfortuately we're just getting around to patenting it. That's life in a start up."

When asked what would happen if people could not aford to breathe, he said "Well, your just going to have to hold your breath." does this (1)

emptybody (12341) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542955)

Hey vignette legal dept. care to comment?

new /. topic - DO IT (1)

Flippo (96577) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542956)

pls make that patents & trademarks

Patent Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542957)

Hi, Patenting algoritms is quiet stupid, for what purpose? I suggest that Donald P. Knuth takes his series of books 'The art of computer programming' and submit them to the patent office. He could take the complete IT world out of bussines. AC. Th

Re:usa only? (1)

nevets (39138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542958)

Isn't "usa" a city in Japan?

I didn't know that patents apply to that city alone? ;^}

They use to make products there and label it "Made in USA", until the US government made them stop. -- or is this just an Urban Ledgend?

Steven Rostedt

Let's DO IT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542959)

I'll support this. Let's start a fund that can support outrageously stupid patent ideas -- hopefully to embarrass the PTO.

If Slashdot wants to patent the wheel, I'll contribute $250.

Anybody at Andover know of a good IP lawyer? This would be great free advertising!

Re:First post!!! (2)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542960)

Unforunately for you poor non-Statesmen (non-americans), patents are usually respected internationally. So, it may be a problem of our legal system, but it affects everyone .

Cheerio and all that sort of rubbisn, eh mate?

Re:usa only? (1)

leitchn (96636) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542961)

This is where us non-americans will start buying up .co.wherever domains wholesale and then selling them on for huge sums to american companies that want to avoid the patents !!

Yeah, Right (1)

mholve (1101) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542962)

I did this some time ago already. Get with the times, Yahoo.

Re:usa only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542963)

I can't speak for Canada, but thankfully in Australia the U.S. patents are not automatically valid (as copyrights are); someone filing a patent in the U.S. would need to file separately in Australia to cover their patent - and in a strange twist of fate I can quote the Simpsons "Down Under" episode: "We don't take that kind of crap here." ;-)

Re:new /. topic (1)

tobias (87779) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542964)


Re:Prior Art... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542965)

Well, I've been using shared memory for status displays for years. When I converted Statnet to shared memory 2-3 years ago, it meets the patent claims 1 and 2 (user config info is stored in client display). It doesn't meet claim 3 because network packet activity is not stock quotes...although it might sometimes be called news.

The claim for over 1,000 servers also isn't met by Statnet to my knowledge. It has DIPC distributed shared memory support, so the memory could be shared across 1,000 servers. I just am not aware of any such installation yet.

Re:Microsoft ASP engine does this and has for year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542966)

it's (no surprise really) also used by IBM in its websphere application server...damn...this sucks! I hope M$ and IBM will oppose strongly...

Sounds like CGI::FastTemplate (1)

daniel-san (100185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542967)

"Inconceivable!" Patents are flying left, right, and center! And I'm getting quite an uncomfortable feeling from the latest patents news. Anyways, just reading from the Patent abstract, parts of it sound very similar to the perl module CGI::FastTemplate [] written by Jason Moore (Plug: which is absolutely solid, flexible, and fast). At the last company that I worked at, we employed FastTemplate in many of our projects. It's great that it allows both designers and the backend scripters/programmers can work concurrently on a site.

Technically, I'm not quite sure how it handles processes and if uses shared memory to store live data. Although I believe it is extensible to use shared memory. We've used it in many situations: for displaying "custom selections" of news, search results, etc. similar to what's described in the abstract.

I'm sure there are several more free-software solutions out there that are similar. Can anyone else concur?


*My first post! Woo Hoo!*

Re:How are they gonna find you? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542968)

Copyrights are automatically "valid" in all countries participating in the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention (I think I might have screwed up the second name, but anyway). Patents on the other hand, are not. U.S. patents are not automatically valid in most countries around the world - that's why only the U.S. has problems with LZW (GIF), RSA and other patents - elsewhere in the world, those algorithms are unencumbered (unless patents are explicitly filed).

Please, no more patent articles... (1)

festers (106163) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542969)

I..just..can' anymore. These things get me so fired up. Am I making myself sick? How long will it go on? Heh. You've made your point, /., and I don't need anymore examples: The US is truly the home of the stupid and the greedy. Ugh.

broad patents (1)

The Mad Hawk (16167) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542970)

Well. That's pretty broad. It seems to describe shared memory itself. Anyone know if I can still #include <sys/shm.h> without paying Yahoo royalties?

HELP: offtopic question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542971)

moderate this down I guess..... but SOMEONE PLEASE REPLY!: What does the "No Score +1 Bonus" option do in the post comment section? hmm wait I think I just got it, does it allow anonymous cowards to get a score of 1 instead of 0 (sacrificing a karma point) ???
(grr i hate when malda modifies /.)

Re:Long way to go in IP (1)

JohnG (93975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542972)

(like 60 minutes or 48 hours -- side note, why do they always use a number as the first word in the title?)

Because "C Minutes" or "Z Hours" wouldn't make sense? hehe :)

Re:new /. topic (2)

The G (7787) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542973)

Graphic ideas for a new "Intellectual Property" Slashdot section:

A brain with a padlock on/through it.

One of those zombies from Night of the Living Dead.

A rubber-stamp and a pair of handcuffs.


Time for a new Slashdot category (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542974)

Really, there should be a category just dedicated to stupid patents, so you can browse all the ones collected by Slashdot when you're bored. Would also make a handy reference when someone asks, "What do you mean, sometimes patents don't make sense?"

Oh wait... don't tell me. Someone patented article categorization?


Re:Patent Stupidity (1)

SL33Z3 (104748) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542975)

I tried that and it failed. I went to and that worked.
Don't mean to correct ya, just helping anyone else out that wanted to hit the site.


won't stand up in court (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542976)

one of the main requirements of any pattent is that it wasn't obvious to do it this way. This pattent won't stand up because we see that even slashdot worked this way before the pattent was announced. don't worry, the world isn't going to pay me royalties because i took out a pattent on spinning orbs. The world isn't going to stop spinning either. -red

Ridiculous patents and Al Gore (1)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542977)

I guess with all these silly patents being issued we are all lucky Al Gore didn't patent the Internet when he invented it.

Excellent patent article on /. (2)

raph (3148) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542978)

I am not a lawyer, although I've been known to play one in my consulting fees.

Slashdot ran an excellent article [] on the basics of patent law a few weeks ago. It's reposted on Advogato [] , the new community site I'm starting for free software developers. I'm hoping to collect a solid set of patent resources at Advogato over time, among other things.

Hope this helps!

Anyone enforcing it? (1)

DarkToast (18370) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542979)

We've seen many stupid technological patents, but while Wang's File->Open or UniSys's GIF patents could be enforced, I see no chance of anybody suing me for internal working of my web site. Nobody sees it, nobody knows and I'm not required to disclose my source code, so there's no actual danger. Am I wrong on that?

The way this is going... (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542980)

I wonder how long it's gonna be before someone patents the idea of collectong royalties. Uh, now if you'll excuse me, i have some forms to fill out.
^. .^

Welcome To The Precedent of Incompetence (2)

Effugas (2378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542981)

The worse the patents get, the better the odds of software patents being thrown out en masse.

Consider: Government powers explicitly derive from Constitutional assignment. Clause 8 of Article 1 grants the following:

Clause 8. The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Promote, eh?

The patent office has expressed gross incompetence in its assignment of software patents--indeed, it may not be possible, due to the rapidly iterative nature of software development, to correctly apply standard patent methodologies to software. (As I've argued before though, lots of unwarranted patents make for a rich Patent Office and very rich Patent Attorneys! So I don't particularly believe the overworked and underclued patent examiners are being overworked or underclued accidentally.)

For whatever reason Software Patents are completely failing their Constitutional mandate, there is widespread consensus that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has long since wasted away any shred of legitimacy when it comes to the realm of software patents.

Without a legitimate claim to the constitutional powers they derive their right to regulate from, all their powers dissipate, and the software patents already assigned become null and void.

Comments? I have more to say, but I'd like to hear what you think about this.

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research

Patents and stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542982)

Can I brute-force my way to all available patents?


Re:PhotoMosaic (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542983)

That is patented? Jeeze. Oh well, I have lots of ideas on improvements of the system (like adding in various dithering and resampling to improve the large-scale image quality), so maybe I could one-up that guy. :) Oops, nevermind, I just divulged that idea to the world at large - which means it can't be patented at all. How about that, folks. ;)
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Patent = New and original idea (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542984)

I though you could only get a patent for a new and original idea, not for something that is used many other people already. Does anyone know whether they patented the idea in other countries aswell, or only in the USA? If it is only the USA, then you could go elsewhere and create your website as currently you must patent the idea in each country, unless the countries have an agreement.

Re:Ridiculous patents and Al Gore (1)

Squid (3420) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542985)

He probably still could. Prior art apparently means nothing...

A possible workable solution? (2)

IIH (33751) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542986)

IMO, Patents, as a general concept, are a good idea. If done correctly, they reduce trade secrets, allow the inventors to profit from them, but after a while, everyone benefits. Patents were designed to promote free access to information, and the designers understood that businesses don't just give stuff away, they need a quid pro quo hence, the exclusive access for a time period.

However, the implementation has screwed up royally. It doesn't protect the small inventor, trying to challenge a granted patent, even if it is "obviously" wrong is expensive. They are now used as weapons, bargaining chips, and the time peroid in a fast moving industry is too long.

Many patents that get posted here for discussion on /. are torn to shreads, with prior art examples, obviousness, etc. But, at that stage, they are granted, it's too late. So, what about making all patent applications public upon filing? Then allow a time period where people can object, and send in examples of prior art etc. to the patent office. This would not require a court case to reverse the decision, and hopefully it would then make it less likely for stupid patents to get through. The PR for a company trying to patent obviously would also be harmful, acting as a deterrent.

Also it would eliminate the worst type (IMO) of patent - the submarine patent. Imagine what would happen if a new technology (eg XML) that was touted as "open" was massivly deployed, then it was discovered to be patented? Think of style sheets, and it's definitly a possibility.


Patent = New and original idea (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542987)

I thought you could only get a patent for a new and original idea, not for something that is used many other people already. Does anyone know whether they patented the idea in other countries aswell, or only in the USA? If it is only the USA, then you could go elsewhere and create your website as currently you must patent the idea in each country, unless the countries have an agreement.

What do projects produce? (1)

icing (94825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542988)

In my experience with bigger companies, a software project got to produce patents.

It's expected, planned in and budgeted for that a project produces a number of patents. Development managers' performance is measured by this. It's often more vital than the performance or maintainability of the produced code. (Well, everyone knows that that will be bad anyway, don't you?)

So, people write patent applications for something...anything, just to keep the monkeys off their backs.

Now, I don't know about yahoo. This patent presented is a least a Good Thing for performance. By reading /. more people know about it - maybe some websites get faster over the next months...;)

I've got one even better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542989)

I know of several people working for a company by the name of SAGE US. They create a time tracking application called Carpe Diem. Here's the kicker: They've got a patent on floating toolbars. Some of the people I've talked to even admit that the patent office made a mistake, but they were awarded a broad ranging patent on the floating toolbars concept. I'm just waiting for them to try and sue Microsoft... Hopefully, with all of these idiots getting bullshit software patents and then trying to sue everyone, the whole idea of software patents will eventually blow up, dry up, and go away. As I see it, trying to patent the particular order of a series of bits (which is ultimately what all software is) is very similar to patenting the particular order of musical notes on an instrument. We really should take up this whole patent idea (which has outlived its usefulness) with our "government" and try to get this shit stopped before it really, really cripples our industry.

do these patents apply in Europe,too?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542990)

this scares me... aren't we allowed to invent anything anymore? even in Europe???

Re:Time for a new Slashdot category (1)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542995)

But... What use is a slashdot category, if slashdot itself is outlawed? ;)

Actually, I think it might well be a good idea, as long as it doesn't open to claims of conflict with the patents themselves...

PhotoMosaic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542996)

I wonder what would have happen if an artist were to patent their brush-stroke technique

The technique of using small images as 'tiles' to create mosaics of other images is patented. PhotoMosaic is the name the patent holder uses, IIRC.


Re:Arrrggghhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542997)

Albert Einstein was a patent examiner, once.

Re:Yeek (1)

sandler (9145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1542998)

Why is this marked as Funny? It's actually true... and linked from that page, among other things, is Microsoft's 1996 patent of the scrollbar itself.

it's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1542999)

not just incase some people don't bother to remove the www and check

How long... (2)

Griim (8798) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543000)

...before we can plug lawyers into a Doom interface, and take out the bad ones? :) Maybe we could do this with patents?

Re:new /. topic (1)

yack0 (2832) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543001)

> but what would the logo be?

I'd be reasonably sure that Alan wouldn't mind. Especially if it made people buy the shirts. :)

Of course, that DOES make it 100% amer-centric a logo.

not bad (1)

alprazolam (71653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543004)

so if they are being sued for one riduculous
patent, maybe they are doing this just to make sure nobody sues them for this too

There is tons of Prior art: I've seen it (1)

the red pen (3138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543006)

Lately, I've been running into some eBusiness clients who are taking a burning interest in 64-bit architectures. Why? Because they keep tons and tons of data in memory (even across servers) and 2GB of addressable RAM is a limitation when their site expands.

My thought was "I used to write applications that ran pretty well on a 1MHz processor in 16K -- maybe you should tighten up your code," but they are adamant about it. Unless Yahoo's patent is too narrow to apply to anything beyond some special case that works only for them, it should bluescreen the moment it's challenged.

Patents don't mean much. (2)

meckardt (113120) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543008)

In this particular case, what does Yahoo!s patent really mean? Not Much 1) If another site wanted to use identical technology in their code to increase the performance of their access, how would anyone (including Yahoo! and the Federal Government) know? The only way would be if there was an inside informant who squealed. 2) If the other site was known to be using a similar set of programs, so what? Copyright law provides protection (supposedly) to prevent copying of code. There is some (very) limited protections against backward engineering a piece of software. But if someone wanted to develop, say, a new word processor that looked just like Microsoft Word, Bill Gates would have a really hard time seeking any recourse in the courts. "Look and Feel" cases haven't done well. As for the garbage that we see getting patents these days... don't get me started.
Mike Eckardt

What I gathered (2)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543015)

This is what I figure it's about.

It's all to do with portal type sites, not templates and not just shared memory. The idea is that when a user comes into a portal site for the first time his/her preferences are loaded not into the current (CGI?) process out of the database, but into a shared memory cache. The next page they view doesn't have to fetch them from the database - just from the cache.

Seems still pretty universal - although the patent does specifically talk about user preferences in portal web sites, so anyone whining on about using shared memory in their PDP-11 application can stop now. However anyone who's developed a portal-type (and yes, this applies to slashdot) web site that caches user preferences in shared memory then this affects them. I don't believe slashdot is affected - it calls the database every time for its user preferences.

Why Not a Software Patent Blackhole List? (2)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543016)

Yahoo's patent seems to be the work of, well, some dumb yahoo. The concept of caching content locally to cut down on server load (and network traffic) has been around for decades.

Slashdot, yesterday, carried an item about Hotmail joining the spam Black Hole list. It seems to me that one way to put an end to this patent silliness is to do the same thing: block email from known patent abusers. Block,, etc.--and give the software patent enthusiasts the option of continuing to abuse the system or be able to connect to the rest of the world.

I have already blocked from my network, due to the GIF nonsense. (Not without pain--a major client uses Unisys A-series and Clearpath servers.) I'll block too if it turns out that they have any dream of enforcing this.

As Arlo Guthrie once pointed out, if just one person does this they'll think he's crazy. And if two people do it they'll think they're both [well, we'll just skip what he said, since it ain't considered genteel these days]. But imagine, my friends, imagine if dozens of people, hundreds of people block domains that use software patents. Why, they'll think its a movement....

Write an HTML page that explains why you won't permit connects to Yahoo, post it, and redirect any Yahoo links to that page. The power of the boycott is the most effective weapon you have.

Re:Yeek (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543017)

God, I didn't intend for this to be moderated as funny... I had no idea I was making a joke, either.
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Ick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1543018)

Well good. I like to see this type of protection. After all, one must protect the intellectual rights of a corporation at the expense of progress. Nothing halts progress like a good lawsuit (or the hint thereof). Change is bad, after all, everyone knows that. Personally, I would like to go back to the Internet the way it was in 1994. HTML was in its infancy, and that was great. Perl? CGI? What? I must also commend the Patent Office's switch of policy from protecting a company's profits to the outright generation of them. This is Capitalism, right? The government should do everything it can to promote this. Heck, I've devised of a way of processing oxygen via natural biological processes, and I'm going to patent it. I will be so rich that I will be able to afford a fruitless attempt to patent a way of doing it artificially. The Patent Office will turn it down, stating that the idea is general and common knowledge. Meanwhile I will reap enormous profits from my Totally Natural (and Biological, too!) Oxygen Processing device. I almost forgot about my method of inducing a pressure differential of air that allows the device generating said differential to lift a centrally-mounted pod into the very air itself. Of course, Boeing's inability to keep these pods aloft may make my quest for a patent rather difficult...

Re:Arrrggghhhh (2)

Pascal Q. Porcupine (4467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543019)

Yes, and the things he examined the patents for were physical devices, not this current deluge of "well duh" things.
"'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

Re:Huh... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543020)

And isn't proof of prior existence all that you need to call a patent stupid and null it? Or am I just rambling because it's so early?

More or less, but since you have to present that proof in court, you'll need a truckload of money to go with that proof.

Silly patents and TM:s How *should* it work? (2)

guran (98325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543023)

Is it not time to really do something about the whole patent/trademark issue?
I lost count long ago over all "This should never have been patented"-stories. Every time there are the usual replies about how evil the system is and the "what if i patent _this_"-posts.

C'mon You are supposed to be more creative than this! Can we think of a system that:

  • Protects the guy who really spent years of research coming up with something novel. He/she really should have the chance to make something of it before he is overrun by the Big Evil Company.
  • Stops the same guy from blocking the whole market for decades if the invention succeeds.
  • Lets me protect the name of any product I might sell.
  • Doesnt sent lawyers on me when I happen to use a name similar to something the Big Evil Company has TM:ed
  • Doesnt require me to scan every business area in every country for names that might sound similar to mine
  • Somehow deals with the situation where two local businesses suddenly meets over the net.
  • Actually is more suited for inventors than lawyers
It is obvious that the system is not working right as it is. Please be bright!

Patent Research (2)

Evil Greeb (47931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543024)

OK, I know nothing about the US Patent Office (or whatever its called).

But don't they do any research in the area of the patent to find out if it is in fact a new creation?

Why can't they ask some computer body (IETF?) if this is in fact something that should be patented, or if everyone else is using it already?

And is this patent worldwide? (If it is, then surely other countries should have some say in the matter).

Patent fighting fund... (3)

sterno (16320) | more than 14 years ago | (#1543026)

I had an idea that I came up with when I discovered that apparently the concept of an on-line Auction is patented. What I'd like to see is a patent fighting fund. Basically you set up a website where a listing of really bad patents are available. If you see a patent you absolutely detest, you can whip out your credit card and donate a few bucks to a legal fund to fight it.

You bring in a few patent attorneys and having a standing arrangement that they give a price tag for the battle and when they get that much money in the coffers, they can go out and start taking down the patent. If not enough money is collected after a given period of time, then the money would not be charged to the credit card and the patent would go on its merry way.



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