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Sony Sued for Blu-Ray Patent Violation

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the how-shiny-is-too-shiny dept.

Sony 153

Jaidan writes "According to a Gamespot article, a California-based company named Target Technology is suing Sony over patents it allegedly holds for silver based reflective surfaces. The suit claims that products marketed under the Blu-ray name infringe on a patent it owns for reflective layer materials in optical discs. Target is seeking a permanent injunction preventing Sony from violating its patent rights in the future, as well as damages with interest, multiplied due to what it characterizes as deliberate and willful infringement. ' The patent addresses what Target called a need for specific types of silver-based alloys with the advantages (but not the price) of gold. According to the patent, the alloys are also more resistant to corrosion than pure silver. Target does not specify in its suit whether it believes all of Sony's Blu-ray discs infringe on its patent, or the suit applies to just a portion of the discs manufactured. The patent was filed in April of 2004 and granted in March of 2006.'"

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153 comments

Target? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269647)

In other news, Target Brands is suing Target Technology for trademark violations.

Think fast... (2, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269649)

Why is this a bogus patent?

It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.

Isn't this what patent protection should be for?

Re:Think fast... (3, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269689)

Why is this a bogus patent?
It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.
Isn't this what patent protection should be for?

Nowhere in the article or in the summary is there a reference to a bogus patent. Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?

Re:Think fast... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269801)

Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?
Because this is Slashdot.

Re:Think fast... (3, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270219)

Yes, it's slashdot. Which means that anything that's bad for SONY, is good for karma!

Re:Think fast... (5, Funny)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270351)

Yes, it's slashdot. Which means that anything that's bad for SONY, is good for karma!

However, every now and then, we get stuck in some sort of paradox, like when Jack Thompson and Microsoft are facing each other [slashdot.org] , and we have to take sides...

Next up:

  • Jack Thompson vs. Sony
  • Microsoft vs. Sony
  • ...
  • Jack Thompson vs. Soviet Russia
  • Profit vs. Microsoft
  • Sony vs. Step 2:...
  • Jack Thompson vs. Hot Grit

Re:Think fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271675)

In Soviet Russia,
Jack Thompson is violent to video games.

Re:Think fast... (3, Interesting)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271873)

You know, that whole Microsoft vs. Sony is probably the hardest question an informed consumer could choose.

On one hand you have a software company whose product's 'advanced' features only work with other software products from the same company.

On the other hand, you have a hardware company whose product's 'advanced' features only work with other hardware products from the same company.

Tough call. Obviously, many choose neither.

Re:Think fast... (1, Troll)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269817)

Probably because the GP doesn't need someone else to think for him? I realize that coming to your own conclusions can be a scary experience, but you ought to try it some time.

Re:Think fast... (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269881)

The point is he asks the question as if it were stated in the article, but way to take a personal bash at someone for little reason.

Mods plz mark parent as troll.

Re:Think fast... (0)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270049)

Subject: Think fast...
Question: Why is this a bogus patent?

I clearly understood that the GP was posing a question to the /. audience after RTFA, much like a teacher might ask a classroom of students "Why was Elmo sent to the Turkish prison?" after watching 'Elmo Visits Mininova'. He then followed up with his own opinion, and posed a follow up question to try and get people thinking. Obviously discussing TFA is beyond the GGP.

Mods plz mark parent as off-topic.

Re:Think fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270809)

What you said:

"I clearly understood that the GP was posing a question to the /. audience after RTFA, much like a teacher might ask a classroom of students "Why was Elmo sent to the Turkish prison?" after watching 'Elmo Visits Mininova'. He then followed up with his own opinion, and posed a follow up question to try and get people thinking. Obviously discussing TFA is beyond the GGP."

What Slashdot read:

" I was posing like a teacher sent to a Turkish Prison . Elmo then followed. With his own posed follow up."

Why would you pose in a Turkish prison? Sick bastard!

Re:Think fast... (1)

Evilest Doer (969227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270055)

Why is this a bogus patent?

It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.

Isn't this what patent protection should be for?

Nowhere in the article or in the summary is there a reference to a bogus patent. Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?
Well, this *is* slashdot. He probably just assumed that the article and half the posters will call it a bogus patent simply because someone was actually granted a patent.

Re:Think fast... (4, Informative)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269831)

Actually, this may end up being bogus for different reasons. You must realize the patent was filed April 2004 and was patented May 2006. I know that Blu-ray has been in development for quite a time and the specifications were announced in the year of 2004. If Sony can provide sufficient evidence in court that what is claimed by Target had already been conceived in some form by them they will be able to circumvent this lawsuit and nullify the patent.

Re:Think fast... (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269927)

IANAL, but isnt the whole 'Prior Art' thing can only be shown by...

a) A published work indicating how to do the patent BEFORE it was filed.
b) An actual example of the patent being done the exact same way before the patent was filed.

Now I dont know about you but published means publically published. I dont believe internal documents qualify as 'published'.

Re:Think fast... (4, Informative)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270019)

But the applicant can file a terminal disclaimer (37 CFR 1.131) and swear behind the date as long as they give evidence of their work before the date of filing. It doesn't have to be published, nor does it have to be a working example. They actually can use internal documents as long as the date can be certified. I'm sure Sony knows this well.

Re:Think fast... (5, Funny)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270329)

Don't argue with this guy! Patent is his middle, err, last name.

Re:Think fast... (1)

jnguy (683993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270031)

It sounds more like its an implementation specific patent. Having specifications doesn't necessarily mean that it already had implementation details. Of course, it also doesn't mean it didn't.

Re:Think fast... (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269885)

Why is this a bogus patent?
The key is that it might be a bogus patent. I've linked the patent [uspto.gov] in another post I made, but here's the summary:

A silver-based alloy thin film is provided for the highly reflective or semi-reflective coating layer of optical discs. Elements that can be added to silver to produce useful silver alloys include zinc, aluminum, copper, manganese, germanium, yttrium, bismuth, scandium, and cobalt. These alloys have moderate to high reflectivity and reasonable corrosion resistance in the ambient environment.
Ok, so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products. Does that seem right? Should you be able to patent an alloy? Should you be able to blanket patent alloys that are reflective and restrict their use to your 'idea'? Isn't that something mother nature made possible? I'm not a chemist, is this stuff common sense? I think that a lot needs to be analyzed before this can be an obvious or bogus patent but, you know, there are a lot of reasons this could be a bogus patent.

Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it" because what good does it do us if an idea is patented and the company just sits around waiting for a larger one to use it? The patent system is broken and so is the mentality of about half the patent holders that use it. It's no longer about protecting your intellectual property, it's about the tricks you can play to get insane sums of money. How long did NTP wait for RIM to expand and grow? A long time. It's not currently wrong but morally they've gotta be approaching some sort of evil.

Re:Think fast... (3, Informative)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269953)

basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products.
Not fully correct. The chemical compounds are patented for their specific purpose which in this case is as an optical storage medium. Just because they have the patent for silver used in a reflective products doesn't mean they have protection against anything shiny with silver in it.

Re:Think fast... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270113)

I agree with you, but you have to be careful about how you define "using it". Part of the point of patents is that they can be given to people without the ability (or money) to actually put the idea into practice. You're supposed to be able to go up to a large company (like Sony) and say, "Hey, I've got this idea, and the US government says I thought of it first. I'll let you use it if you pay me."

But to be able to set a market price for that idea, there has to be the option of not selling it. If the company can say, "Hey, wonderful. If you don't sell it to us you'll lose it. Here's a quarter. Don't spend it all in one place," then the whole point of the patent process has been subverted.

The patent owner has to be able to walk away. And while he's walked away, it's not fair for the company to go to the patent office and say, "Hey, we offered him a nice shiny quarter, and he wouldn't sell. He's not using it so you should take the patent away."

At least, that's the intention. These days, with the patent office failing to enforce the "obviousness" requirement or even the "novel" requirement, I'm not certain that the original intention has any force.

But if you're willing to go there, I'm sure there are ways to write the rules so that you must make a good-faith effort to put your patent into practice rather than sitting around waiting for somebody to violate it. That's not anywhere near fair, either.

Re:Think fast... (2, Funny)

rilian4 (591569) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270807)

"...The patent owner has to be able to walk away. And while he's walked away, it's not fair for the company to go to the patent office and say, "Hey, we offered him a nice shiny quarter, and he wouldn't sell. He's not using it so you should take the patent away."
...the company better watch out. If that shiny quarter was dated 1964 or earlier, it has silver in it...they could get sued!!

In this case not using = keeping it sleeping (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270927)

I agree with you, but you have to be careful about how you define "using it". Part of the point of patents is that they can be given to people without the ability (or money) to actually put the idea into practice.


Up to this point I agree.

You're supposed to be able to go up to a large company (like Sony) and say, "Hey, I've got this idea, and the US government says I thought of it first. I'll let you use it if you pay me."


This is where I start to disagree.
People should get some kind of help if they are not able to produce it themself.
BUT I think it's completely normally wrong, to let the patent stay dormant in some safe, wait that some other company makes an independent development, comes up with a similar idea (on they own), tries to make it into a product, and reaches commercial succes. Then suddenly the original patent holder pops out of nowhere and ask for money for something he didn't contribute at all.
The best exemple is Carmack's reversal. It' called Carmack's because John spent a long time developing it and documenting it on-line. You know it's genuine and he didn't just steal the idea by reading about it somewhere. And then suddenly, a company comes and show its patent and ask for wads of cash for settlement.
(Another similar case could be Linux, if a couple of the alleged 235 infringed Microsoft patents turn out to be genuine - There was a lot of time spent developing it, it's not blatant stealing).

Some things should be done to protect those who make a lot of efforts to develop something. Because nobody could have checked all existing patents and their possible interpretations for conflicts.

And something has to be done against those company/individuals that only spend their time writing patents that they never bother to check if they even *could* be implemented, but instead wait until they find some company whose product can be likened to the patent in convoluted ways and start trolling for money.

But if you're willing to go there, I'm sure there are ways to write the rules so that you must make a good-faith effort to put your patent into practice rather than sitting around waiting for somebody to violate it. That's not anywhere near fair, either.


I really think the GP idea of "use it or lose it" is good. We just need to add "trying unsuccessfully to sell it/implement it" as possible "use".
Even if someone doesn't have money, he can still try to sell his idea to the industry for implement. If he can't ever try to sell it either the idea is completely useless, or it's just a troll waiting to sue some company independently developing similar stuff.

Re:In this case not using = keeping it sleeping (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271533)

I agree; I think that patent trolls are clearly a violation of the intent of patents. You should be able to use an independently-developed idea, especially one for which it would be more work to find it in the published patents rather than creating it yourself. You see that a LOT in software.

But proving that you weren't inspired by the published patent is tricky. If Sony pulls the data directly from the patent records, or even from my discussions with them, they are using my work, not just creating the idea themselves.

Patent trolls are obviously evil bastards: if you haven't even tried to put your patent into practice then you're just useless and your patent should be taken away.

But there are enough gray areas here to make me question whether patents are worth it at all. We'd lose the concept of the independent inventor selling his idea, which is sad, but making a system to sell an idea is hard (and, many on Slashdot would argue, utterly absurd).

Re:In this case not using = keeping it sleeping (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271833)

It looks like the patent was issued after the specs for blu-ray were finalized. It does not appear sony had read the patents and stole it.

Patent docs 101 (1)

aaronl (43811) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270371)

The excerpt you qote is from the *BACKGROUND* of the patent. It has nothing to do with what is being patented. The nature of the patent is listed under *CLAIMS*, of which there are 88 that neet to be met for an infringment. This patent is not one of the ridiculous swinging sideways types that sometimes get passed. Please, go and actually read the list of claims before you decide a patent is bogus.

Re:Patent docs 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270507)

Click the link, it's in the abstract section:

Metal alloys for the reflective or the semi-reflective layer of an optical storage medium

Abstract

A silver-based alloy thin film is provided for the highly reflective or semi-reflective coating layer of optical discs. Elements that can be added to silver to produce useful silver alloys include zinc, aluminum, copper, manganese, germanium, yttrium, bismuth, scandium, and cobalt. These alloys have moderate to high reflectivity and reasonable corrosion resistance in the ambient environment.
I'm not a patent lawyer (thank god) but I don't think that 'abstract' means 'background.' And, if any one of those 88 claims is 'infringed upon' then they have a case. If you'd rather I list the 88 claims, here you go:

1. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver and yttrium, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver and yttrium in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xY.sub.w where 0.9500<x<0.9999 and 0.0001<w<0.05.

2. The optical storage medium of claim 1, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

3. The optical storage medium of claim 1, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

4. The optical storage medium of claim 1, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

5. The optical storage medium of claim 4, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

6. The optical storage medium of claim 4, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

7. The optical storage medium of claim 4, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

8. The optical storage medium of claim 7, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

9. The optical storage medium of claim 8, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

10. The optical storage medium of claim 7, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

11. The optical storage medium of claim 10, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

12. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver and scandium, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver and scandium in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xSc.sub.w where 0.9500<x<0.9999 and 0.0001<w<0.05.

13. The optical storage medium of claim 12, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

14. The optical storage medium of claim 12, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

15. The optical storage medium of claim 12, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

16. The optical storage medium of claim 15, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

17. The optical storage medium of claim 15, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

18. The optical storage medium of claim 15, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

19. The optical storage medium of claim 19, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

20. The optical storage medium of claim 19, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

21. The optical storage medium of claim 19, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

22. The optical storage medium of claim 21, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

23. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver and bismuth, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver and bismuth in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xBi.sub.w where 0.9500<x<0.9999 and 0.0001<w<0.05.

24. The optical storage medium of claim 23, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

25. The optical storage medium of claim 23, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

26. The optical storage medium of claim 23, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

27. The optical storage medium of claim 26, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

28. The optical storage medium of claim 26, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

29. The optical storage medium of claim 26, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

30. The optical storage medium of claim 29, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

31. The optical storage medium of claim 30, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

32. The optical storage medium of claim 29, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

33. The optical storage medium of claim 32, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

34. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver, copper, and element A, where A is selected from the group of elements consisting of yttrium, scandium, or bismuth, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver, copper, and element A in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xCu.sub.z,A.sub.w where 0.85<x<0.9998, 0.0001<z<0.10, and 0.0001<w<0.05.

35. The optical storage medium of claim 34, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

36. The optical storage medium of claim 34, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

37. The optical storage medium of claim 34, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

38. The optical storage medium of claim 37, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

39. The optical storage medium of claim 37, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

40. The optical storage medium of claim 37, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

41. The optical storage medium of claim 40, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

42. The optical storage medium of claim 41, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

43. The optical storage medium of claim 40, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

44. The optical storage medium of claim 43, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

45. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver, copper, and magnesium, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver, copper, and magnesium in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xCu.sub.zMg.sub.w where 0.85<x<0.9998, 0.0001<z<0.10, and 0.0001<w<0.05.

46. The optical storage medium of claim 45, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

47. The optical storage medium of claim 45, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

48. The optical storage medium of claim 45, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

49. The optical storage medium of claim 48, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

50. The optical storage medium of claim 48, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

51. The optical storage medium of claim 48, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

52. The optical storage medium of claim 51, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

53. The optical storage medium of claim 52, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

54. The optical storage medium of claim 51, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

55. The optical storage medium of claim 54, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

56. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver, copper, and cobalt, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver, copper, and cobalt in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.x,Cu.sub.zCo.sub.w where 0.85<x<0.9998, 0.0001<z<0.10, and 0.0001<w<0.05.

57. The optical storage medium of claim 56, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

58. The optical storage medium of claim 56, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

59. The optical storage medium of claim 56, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

60. The optical storage medium of claim 59, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

61. The optical storage medium of claim 59, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

62. The optical storage medium of claim 59, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

63. The optical storage medium of claim 59, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

64. The optical storage medium of claim 63, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--S--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

65. The optical storage medium of claim 59, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

66. The optical storage medium of claim 65, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

67. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver, zinc, and magnesium, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver, zinc, and magnesium in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xZn.sub.yMg.sub.w where 0.8000<x<0.9998, 0.0001<y<0.15, and 0.0001<w<0.05.

68. The optical storage medium of claim 67, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

69. The optical storage medium of claim 67, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

70. The optical storage medium of claim 67, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

71. The optical storage medium of claim 70, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

72. The optical storage medium of claim 70, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

73. The optical storage medium of claim 70, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

74. The optical storage medium of claim 73, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

75. The optical storage medium of claim 74, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

76. The optical storage medium of claim 73, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

77. The optical storage medium of claim 76, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.

78. An optical storage medium, comprising: a first layer having a pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a first reflective layer adjacent said feature pattern, said first reflective layer including a metal alloy, said metal alloy including silver, zinc, and cobalt, wherein the relationship between the amounts of silver, zinc, and cobalt in the metal alloy is defined by Ag.sub.xZn.sub.yCo.sub.w where 0.8000<x<0.9998, 0.0001<y<0.15, and 0.0001<w<0.05.

79. The optical storage medium of claim 78, wherein 0.001<w<0.03.

80. The optical storage medium of claim 78, wherein said first reflective layer is high reflective layer.

81. The optical storage medium of claim 78, further comprising: a second layer having a second pattern of features in at least one major surface; and a second reflective layer, wherein said first reflective layer is a semi-reflective layer and said second reflective layer is a high reflective layer.

82. The optical storage medium of claim 30, wherein said second reflective layer includes said metal alloy.

83. The optical storage medium of claim 30, wherein the first pattern of features includes a spiral groove.

84. The optical storage medium of claim 30, further comprising: a third layer adjacent said first reflective layer, said third layer including a dielectric material; a fourth layer, said fourth layer including an optically re-recordable material; and a fifth layer, said fifth layer including a dielectric material.

85. The optical storage medium of claim 84, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a phase-changeable material.

86. The optical storage medium of claim 85, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a phase changeable material selected from the group consisting of Ge--Sb--Te, As--In--Sb--Te, Cr--Ge--Sb--Te, As--Te--Ge, Te--Ge--Sn, Te--Ge--Sn--O, Te--Se, Sn--Te--Se, Te--Ge--Sn--Au, Ge--Sb--Te, Sb--Te--Se, In--Se--Tl, In Sb, In--Sb--Se, In--Se--Tl--Co, Bi--Ge, Bi--Ge--Sb, Bi--Ge--Te, and Si--Te--Sn.

87. The optical storage medium of claim 84, wherein said optically re-recordable material is a magneto-optic material.

88. The optical storage medium of claim 87, wherein said optically re-recordable material further comprises a magneto-optic material selected from the group consisting of Tb--Fe--Co and Gd--Tb--Fe.
You see those huge listings of 'groups' of chemicals? Yeah, that's what I think is bullshit.

More general use prior art (2, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271211)

My question is : are patent about specialised usage of more general purpose thing enforceable ?

I mean something like : rubber duckies areobject made out of rubber floating on water, and someone publishing a special patent about putting floating rubber duckies in a bucket of water ?

Because that's what this guy has made. He has patented every possible silver alloy for making reflective surfaces in data storage medium. He basically just "patented mirror" as put by another /.er in this thread. Whereas, silver alloys have been used on reflective surface (mainly mirrors, also in devices channelling sunlight inside buildings for the purpose of lighting) for almost as long as metallurgy has discovered alloys.
(It would be fun if some translation from an antique language was produced as evidence of prior art. Old-language geeks from around the world will rejoice)

I am specially sceptic, given the fact that one of the classical technique to circumvent patents is to make some form of more general stuff (general purpose algorithm in case of computer-patents, etc.) that does a lot of stuff and which has one specific type of applications that may look like the patent.
The arithmetic coding patent in data compression was circumvented with range coding in this way.
(arithmetic coding codes a sequence using a floating point number between 0 and 1 whose precision is arbitrarily high. range coding is the more general technique code data using a range of number between two arbitrarily set end points using a long binary sequence. arithmetic coding is just the special case where range boundaries are [0;1] and where binary format = float.)

Claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271255)

Wrong, you only need to infringe one claim to infringe the whole patent.

That said, reading the patent in question, most of its' claims are just re-iterations of a handful of the basic reflective layer compositions claims in combination with various types of discs. However, seeing as there are several different compositions and alloys claimed, and each of those claims includes wide variations in the proportions of the elements, I'd say this patent not specific enough to warrant winning a lawsuit. For all I know, the applicant just read through the existing literature on what alloys are highly reflective and resitant to corrosion, and listed them in conjunction with magic words about CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in order to make a concrete claim.

Re:Think fast... (1)

robbiethefett (1047640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270457)

i'm pretty sure you can't patent an alloy. case-in-point is Ferarri. they use an alloy to craft engines that is uber-secret. if you could patent it, they would have. but since they cant, they keep it top-secret.

Re:Think fast... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270683)

i'm pretty sure you can't patent an alloy.
You can, there are many patents held in the lead-free solder space.

Re:Think fast... (2, Insightful)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270837)

This is very much NOT true.

You can patent anything under the sun made by man.

However, there are a lot of reasons NOT to patent something.

First, you might not be able to patent anything. the composites and alloys might not be new, novel or nonobvious. Therefore, filing a patent application might spoil a perfectly good secret and you get no protection since it'll be published

Second, patents have a really short lifetime (now, 20 years from the application date). On the other hand, trade secrets gave be indefinite. There's no disclosure requirements.

Finally, determining the composite/alloy (or the process to make it) may be impossible merely by examining the finished product. A number of companies working with carbon fiber materials and some other exotic materials quickly realized that it may be impossible to tell what they consist of with any degree of accuracy without entirely ruining the substance. This is a perfect place for a trade secret (you get the same thing happening with nanotech inventions).

Re:Think fast... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271923)

Maybe they have discovered an alloy of Adamantium and Unobtainium and are using it to build a secret army of shapeshifting mechatrons disguised as really good looking sports cars in an evil plot to take over the world, and get lots of really hot, easy chicks at the same time!

Re:Think fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270737)

Ok, so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products. Does that seem right? Should you be able to patent an alloy? Should you be able to blanket patent alloys that are reflective and restrict their use to your 'idea'? Isn't that something mother nature made possible? I'm not a chemist, is this stuff common sense? I think that a lot needs to be analyzed before this can be an obvious or bogus patent but, you know, there are a lot of reasons this could be a bogus patent
You are actually wrong here. First, the patent will only cover their usage in disc media. Second, you would need to show some degree of utility. I am sure there are reflective metals that are practically worthless for these sorts of applications. Patenting alloys for a particular reasons is actually a rather good idea. If you devised an alloy that had not been used before and it was better at doing some task then the currently in use alloys, then why shouldn't you have protection under the current system? This patent is probably even stronger because of the LARGE number of prior patents and publications listed on the patent as cited references, of course it only takes one showing of prior art to make the whole thing tumble.

Your "mother nature" comment is just pointless. The best alloys do not exist naturally, it just so happens that we devised most of the better known ones centuries before patents became widespread. (Go read up on our friendly alloys: steel, brass and pewter.)

Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it" because what good does it do us if an idea is patented and the company just sits around waiting for a larger one to use it? The patent system is broken and so is the mentality of about half the patent holders that use it. It's no longer about protecting your intellectual property, it's about the tricks you can play to get insane sums of money. How long did NTP wait for RIM to expand and grow? A long time. It's not currently wrong but morally they've gotta be approaching some sort of evil.
I think an "attempt to use" should be shown. The problem with a straight up "use it, or lose it" is that many people barely have the money to get a patent, let alone implement and enforce it widespread. Also, be careful about invoking NTP v. RIM. There is a lot of history to that case. First, in 2000 they (NTP) attempted to arrange licensing agreements with multiple companies. Their oldest patent was almost 5 years old at the time. When no one was willing to pay up, NTP sued somebody that somebody we all know is RIM. It should also be noted that there was some serious incompetency (IMHO) by Judge Spencer in the case. This case should've been stayed until the USPTO could complete re-examinations and until key SCOTUS rulings could be made. One of the rulings was actually made relatively close to Spencer's forcing of a settlement between the two companies.

Re:Think fast... (2, Insightful)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270777)

Does that seem right? Should you be able to patent an alloy? . . . Isn't that something mother nature made possible?

At least in the U.S., an alloy is patentable. 35 U.S.C. 101 [cornell.edu] :

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor . . .
An alloy is considered a 'composition of matter' and the recipe for producing it is considered a 'process'. While some people believe that items simply found in nature should not be patentable, most people agree that something that has to be brewed according to a recipe is patentable. (The exception being those people who advocate the complete abolition of patents.)

Re:Think fast... (1)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270967)

Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it"

But, that's exactly not how a patent works. A patent does not grant you the right to use something, it specifically grants you the right to exclude others from using it.

Re:Think fast... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270989)

Should you be able to patent an alloy?


If Ayn Rand says so, then yes. By the tone of your voice, you appear to be against fair business. If you don't like capitalism, then move to Cuba.

Re:Think fast...PATENT AN IDEA??? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271233)

so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products. Does that seem right?

It sounds like the patent was granted for an idea that silver can be alloyed with other elements to make reflective surfaces. I'd expect a lot of prior art in this area, and have trouble believing that you should be allowed to patent something you haven't even done yourself. It wouldn't appear from the parent post that the patent owner has actually made any of these alloys themselves. If so, actual alloys would be specifically listed.

Sounds bogus to me, and a black stain on the US Patent Office.

Re:Think fast... (1)

gtmaneki (992991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271267)

Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it" because what good does it do us if an idea is patented and the company just sits around waiting for a larger one to use it?

I may be totally misunderstanding you, but I disagree that Target Technology has just let this patent sit. It can easily take 2 years to go from filing an application to being granted a patent. You can check out all the different stages this patent went through by going to the USPTO Transaction History [uspto.gov] for this patent. (If the link doesn't take you right to the patent, run a search for patent 7018696 and then click on the "Transaction History" tab.) They had to go through some revisions in their claims (I spot 2 non-final rejections, which isn't unusual), as well as go through all the usual forms.

They can't sue someone for infringing their patent until they are granted one. And they might have taken a little more time to build their case before they tried to tackle a big company like Sony.

Note that I'm not saying this patent is valid. I don't have the background in this field to say if this is sufficiently innovative, especially after the Supreme Court's ruling about obviousness in KSR v. Teleflex [wikipedia.org] .

Ok, so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products.

I agree that broad claims can be annoying, but it doesn't mean they've locked everything down. Fortunately, it's still possible to circumvent broad claims. For example, let's say you patent a material made of A, B, C, and D, and your claims cover all combinations of 1-90% A, 1-90% B, 1-90% C, and 1-90% D to give some kind of innovative performance. But now I find that the combination of 25% A, 25% B, 25% C, and 25% D works 10x better than the performance listed in your patent.

Although your patent claims included 25% A, 25% B, 25% C, and 25% D, I could still get a patent for this mixture, because your patent didn't anticipate the improved performance of this particular blend. And if you wanted to use this blend, you'd have to license it from me. :)

Re:Think fast... (2, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271379)

Yes alloys are and should be patentable.

How much research goes into developing harder steels for the sake of competitive advantage? From an industry perspective having a harder steel is only good if you are the only one to market it. It is also really really hard to hide what the alloy is. We've gotten pretty good at analytical chemistry, crystallography, and SEM, so a competent lab will have no problem figuring out the proportions of your alloy. Sure there is more to alloys than just the composition, but those other things can be figured out too.

Without patents metallurgy and material science would be held back which would affect a whole plethora of industries (efficient jet engines e.g.)

I haven't read the article, but I suspect what we have here is a submarine patent, which stinks an entirely different odor from obvious patents.

Re:Think fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271751)

Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it" because what good does it do us if an idea is patented and the company just sits around waiting for a larger one to use it?

I know an inventor. One of his ideas was to drill holes in the disc of disc brakes. This made it lighter and more efficient by keeping them cooler therefore minimizing brake fade when they get hot. He did not manufacture disc brakes but sold/licensed his idea to people that did. Eventually he sold the patent rights and retired a millionaire. But he never "used" it himself.

Hope they fight (1, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269673)

Although Sony has been on my "Do Not Buy" list for some time, I sure hope they fight this rather than pay shut up money. It sounds like Target patented the mirror and it would be nice if someone showed them their own vile reflection in it.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269737)

Can I patent the silver bullet that someone will use to shoot them? Someone should find content newer than 2006 on their website and copyright it (their copyright is listed from 2005-2006).

Re:Hope they fight (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269937)

No, because Fred Brooks [wikipedia.org] has already copyrighted the fact that they don't exist.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269989)

Sorry, the Silver Bullet is already patented (and trademarked) by Coors Light. So is the giant afro and watered-down beer.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270085)

Sorry, the Silver Bullet is already patented (and trademarked) by Coors Light.
"Mr. Bots? Bob Seger is on line one."

Re:Hope they fight (4, Funny)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270091)

Watered-down beer has to have prior art from the 1940s. I think it was on here that I read about the beer where 80% of tasters in a double-blind taste-test preferred horse piss, and the other 20% thought both were horse piss. I forget which beer though.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270319)

Must have been Corona.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270393)

Was it The Beast [beeradvocate.com] ? I've heard that this shite wins taste tests, but have yet to coroborate anything better than bronze [blogspot.com] . Still though. What's wrong with "American-Style Lager" beer drinkers?

Re:Hope they fight (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270443)

coroborate -> corroborate. Not actually even drinking yet.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271511)

What I'd like to know is how the tasters knew what horse piss tasted like!

ewww...

Re:Hope they fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270763)

IANAL, but at least in the UK copyright applies automatically to all creative works upon creation. It has to be explicitly revoked (e.g. by a statement that it's public domain) to not apply. The "Copyright ©" stuff is just legal boilerplate to make it absolutely clear that it does apply. Otherwise this would cause huge problems, because a lot of companies forget to update their 'to' date in various places.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270831)

Exactly. Just being silly about the lengths to which people will go to make a buck (or pound).

Re:Hope they fight (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269809)

It sounds like Target patented the mirror and it would be nice if someone showed them their own vile reflection in it.


I'm not sure that's exactly the case. Target Tech. didn't patent the concept of a mirror, they just patented a specific substance that makes a mirror more reflective. That said, Sony still might be in the right, especially considering that they might have prior art.

Re:Hope they fight (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270707)

Sony has been on my "Do Not Buy" list for some time

Sadly, if you want to buy a game console these days, you gotta get one from a bunch of evil bastards. Sony of course are bastards of the worst kind and have been naughty with DRM, mainly their rootkits and their evil little killable VM inside the Blueray specification. But Nintendo pretty much invented DRM twenty years ago with the 10NES chip which made sure Nintendo controlled what games could be played on their console in a time where that was novel. Nintendo are notorious for censoring games for simply having religious references and other fairly benign content such as anything set in WWII Germany or anything with rude words. They were also convicted for price fixing in the EU during their mid 90s monopoly and heavily fined. Microsoft of cause has a habit of anti-competitiveness, like forcing PC manufacturers to install windows on every one of their computers, promoting the acceptance of closed formats and protocols, hiding parts of their platform and putting DRM in their operating system. They have been convicted of anti-competitive behavior in multiple jurisdictions such as the US and the EU. Beyond that I could either go Microsoft again for Windows gaming or get Cedega which doesn't contribute back to Wine (which is their entitlement since wine was BSD at the time they forked, but it still doesn't sit well for me).

This is why I can sleep comfortably at night when I own a PS3 despite not liking what Sony does, I thought of buying a Wii of course, but its fans on this site were really annoying me. The PS3 is a nice little gadget, they allow controversial games that I love, the network is free to play on, game add ons are free and there is also at least one free game on it. It also allows linux to be installed on it without needing to hack it. Also, the DRM that it is riddled with doesn't get in the way of what I want to do on it, unlike if someone were to put the horrible stuff on my computer for instance. And finally when I heard about that 8 core chip I knew I needed to have one. I wish I had time to play it, but I still am glad I bought it.

This is extremely shallow and self interested I know, but I hope Sony resolves this issue quickly and either pays up if they did steal this patent or wins if they didn't, I don't want this to get in the way of my gaming.

Sony Sued for Something (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269681)

This is news?

Then again, is this just another case of patent whoring? again, news?

Until the nightmare that is patenting computer technology/software is fixed/destroyed, these kinds of things will not be news, just a common occurrence/nuisance.

Re:Sony Sued for Something (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269959)

Well this isn't software, and calling it "computer technology" is a bit of a stretch, since standalone DVD players aren't what we generally think of as computers.

Unless you are against ALL patents, I don't really see a huge problem here.

And yes, it is news.

Re:Sony Sued for Something (4, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269985)

Patenting technology [e.g. material sciences] is not the same as software. In software, you're more likely to just adapt from a known source to suit your needs. True innovative [and original] computer algorithms are rare, which is why people oppose software patents. If it were the case that truly original innovations were common in software it would be a different story.

As for material sciences [e.g. making a disc] it could quite possibly not have been obvious that a given composition of alloys make a highly reflective corrosion resistant material. Just because something is computer related doesn't mean it's software. Of course, just because you got a patent for it doesn't mean you deserved it too...

Tom

Patents Citing Patents (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269695)

So, I thought I would investigate by reading the patents [uspto.gov] of Target Technology Company LLC (the specific patent here [uspto.gov] ) and noticed that the patent mentioned actually references one of Sony's patents in regards to R/W capabilities of discs:

The recording medium may be erased for re-recording by focussing a laser of intermediate power on the recording medium. This returns the recording medium layer to its original or erased state. A more detailed discussion of the recording mechanism of optically recordable media can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,741,603; 5,498,507; and 5,719,006 assigned to the Sony Corporation, the TDK Corporation, and the NEC Corporation, all of Tokyo, Japan, respectively, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
I haven't read all the patents referenced by Target Technology Company's patent but if they have a case, this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs and optical drives then they waited for someone to make this logical step. Here, it looks to be using a certain chemical to make the discs more reflective. Ok, so maybe they spent a lot of research and maybe they didn't ... I don't know. Is it a specific chemical? Could one patent the specific use of a chemical? Did Sony just read the patent and use the chemical? I'm sure the court case will have to examine all that. I just hope some kind of justice can be found that seems right and logical in this case between the two companies.

But this looks like I could draft up a generic patent about triple layering and/or quadruple layering of data on discs and apply for the patents then just sit back and wait for someone to try and use it. I would reference all the dual layering patents and all that jazz. Would you call my ideas innovative or just common sense? Would it seem right that I didn't even have to implement these solutions? I don't know, I can think of instances where one could argue either way and this is what is inherently wrong with the patent system. Of course, I don't know how to fix it but I don't like how it works right now.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269913)

Did you read the claims? That's the only part that really counts in a patent suit. Did they calim anything new? If they claimed a new use for a chemical, then they have a valid patent. Advancements are supposed to be protected by patents.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270013)

After reading, this patent doesn't seem to be an "invention" at all, but rather a research paper which shows which alloys work best.

While I personally don't think you should be able to patent a discovery, I don't know how the current legal system of any country handles these.

Note that there's a subtle and probably subjective difference between trial-and-error for finding an alloy, and specifically tailoring an alloy for some purpose, and I've a bad feeling that's what applies here.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270163)

Here's a little scenario for you. Lets say I'm with a small time drug research company. We have a couple of docs, some grad students, and a bunch of admins and what not. And lets say we spend 2 million dollars over 3 years trying to come up with a medication that will cause your skin to tan. Towards the end of our study, running out of money, and researchers are ready to move on one of our founders takes a risk and pops a pile of our prototype pills to see what happens. He comes back the next week to tell us his skin turned a bit orange, but he had a raging hard on the whole weekend.

Even though the company failed to find a sun tanning solution, shouldn't they be able to patent their new ED drug?

-Rick

Re:Patents Citing Patents (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270431)

Now you're just trying to conflate relatively simple metallurgy with rather intensely complicated organic chemistry. The patent system should serve to make it more likely that Edison style filament experimentation will occur. If the sort of invention/discovery is not of that kind then it's of dubious value to grant a patent for it.

The system shouldn't be a tool for trolls that just casually exploit the state of the art.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (2, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270621)

I disagree. I think if you come up with anything, purposeful or accidental, you should be able to patent it (so long as it meets the other criteria). HOWEVER, in today's industrial/economical environment, patents should be much shorter.

IMO:
Patent issue for two years.
If the patent holder shows that they are actively working on producing/licensing the patent in that time they can apply for a 3 year extension.
If the patent holder can show that they are actively working on producing/licensing the patent, but have not yet recouped the investment incurred over the first 5 years, they can file for a single addition 3 year extension.

Inactive patents drop in 2 year, most patents drop in 5 years, and a small number of patents manage to stick around for 8 years.

-Rick

Good patent, bad company. (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270043)

That patent, as I read it, appears to be a novel and non-obvious improvement of an existing technology. Provided there is no prior art, it sure looks like a valid, and good, patent.

The part about this suit that I think should be more obvious is this: (FTA) "it [Target] characterizes as deliberate and willful infringement." That makes me think that they came up with the technology, applied for the patent, then attempted to sell/license the technology to Sony. Sony declined, but then used the technology anyways, knowing full well that someone else held the patent on it. I don't know that for fact though, it is pure speculation.

To me, this sure looks like a case of a large corporation abusing a smaller corporation that has a valid patent.

-Rick

Re:Patents Citing Patents (2, Informative)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270081)

this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs

The question is whether it's non-obvious or not. Building new technologies atop old technologies but incorporating a new, novel idea is what patents are supposed to protect. If, for example, I developed a method for making a polymer that was self-healing, thereby making optical discs scratch-proof, I would reference existing patents on optical disc formats and claim my improvement. This would be a legitimate patent, insofar as I had developed a new technology.

Of course, that's a bad example, since I can't quickly come up with a contrasting point, but hopefully you get the idea.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270149)

Theoretically, in order to get a patent, you would have to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to practice a quad-layer disc. Even if the patent issued, anyone you accuse of infringing the patent would hire experts to say that you did not possess the invention at the time you filed the patent application, and that you didn't describe the invention sufficiently. This requirement of enablement and written description is in addition to the requirement that the patent not be obvious, or anticipated by the prior art.

Incidentally, improvement patents are a normal part of business in patent law. As long as the improvements meet the requirements of novelty and utility, an inventor can improve upon the work of others -- that's what the patent system tries to foster, in fact. Disclosure in return for patent rights is meant to let others improve on the work, or even try to design around the patents (to practice the essence of the invention without infringing the patent).

Re:Patents Citing Patents (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270193)

I think you're right. It sure looks like they took a whole bunch of work which had already been done, suggested a particular class of alloys (not a particular alloy, but entire classes, with wide ranges suggested for the proportions), and patented that. Looks like one of those "patenting the foam" patents.

Re:Patents Citing Patents (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271895)

'' I haven't read all the patents referenced by Target Technology Company's patent but if they have a case, this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs and optical drives then they waited for someone to make this logical step. Here, it looks to be using a certain chemical to make the discs more reflective. Ok, so maybe they spent a lot of research and maybe they didn't ... I don't know. Is it a specific chemical? Could one patent the specific use of a chemical? Did Sony just read the patent and use the chemical? I'm sure the court case will have to examine all that. I just hope some kind of justice can be found that seems right and logical in this case between the two companies. ''

I have a suspicion that this might fall very very well into the new definition of "obviousness". If a very thin silver cover has some nice properties, then it is obvious that creating an alloy of silver combined with some other material might have even better properties. It is then just a matter of trying out different materials to add and different percentages. This is of course a lot of work, but it is in no way inventive. You don't get a patent for the hard work, you get a patent for the brilliant idea. Trying different alloys is not a brilliant idea, it is obvious (it wasn't a few weeks ago, but it is now).

You know... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269701)

...I'm starting to see that Mark Shuttleworth [markshuttleworth.com] was right.

Need more info (0)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269725)

On the face of it, it sure sounds a lot like a CD which I'm pretty sure was around prior to 2004.

Re:Need more info (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270075)

Not really. in order to increase capacity, the chemical compounds have had to change a lot.

Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269763)

Let's hope this bankrupts $ony and forces their P$3 off the market. As a blathering 360 fanboy I won't settle for anything less than full MS control of gaming. Maybe MS can find a patent or two to destroy Nintendo? One can hope.

Target Technology website (2, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269781)

here [targettechnology.com] . (Warning, CPU-whoring Flash)

Doesn't seem a patent troll...

Re:Target Technology website (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270985)

Mmmmmm...CPU whoring flash, so shiny.....

On a more serious note, "The patent was filed in April of 2004 and granted in March of 2006."

Bluerays came out around 2006 as well, so wouldn't sony of patented the technology it used even before that?

Re:Target Technology website (1)

buraianto (841292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271759)

...wouldn't [S]ony have patented the technology...

this is it! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269829)

this will finally be the last nail in sony's coffin! this will bring them down just like linux has brought down microsoft from their high horse! this is the year that all large companies will fail and bow to small companies and oss!

lol! when are you gimps ever going to learn?

Sounds familiar... (5, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269899)

Does this mean that BluRay capabilities will be (purely by coincidence) removed from the PlayStation 4 as Sony execs try to tell us that high-capacity disks are so "last gen?"

He who live by the sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269909)

dies by the sword. Flat TV screens anyone? I hope they get spanked real good.

Sony loses format war again? (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269923)

Well, I know which Hi-Def player I should NOT get now, at least until this is settled. And if Sony loses this case, it will lose the movie format war again. I suppose that could be good for consumers though, because format wars just discourage adoption of useful technology.

Re:Sony loses format war again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270187)

You should work for a tabloid ASAP. You could be the guy making up the headlines.

Re:Sony loses format war again? (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270523)

It won't matter to much for awhile and doesn't mean the end of blu-ray, since we don't know if it's all discs or just specific disc's made in a certain factory or what.

If Sony is the actual company who says , XXXXXX compounds must be used for our discs and here is the mix ratios , then you may see an end to the blu-ray disc. I would just buy a dual format player and enjoy the best of both worlds.

This is a composition of matter patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19269933)

On it's face, the many of the claims in the linked patent seem like perfectly valid composition of matter claims. There needs to be an analysis of the prior art to determine if they are eligible for patenting (has it been invented before? is it new but obvious?).

They aren't patenting the concept of CDs or DVDs, or the use of reflective surfaces to record data, but rather the use of a specific alloy to serve as the reflective surface on DVDs. This is a common use for patenting - akin to finding a better formula for engine oil.

Those who said this sounds like "patenting the mirror" need to take a good look at the actual patent. They are claiming patents for very specific metal alloys for the reflective or the semi-reflective layer of an optical storage medium.

Not enough information (5, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19269983)

There isn't enough information here to form an intelligent position.

Given that Target is only suing Sony over Blu-Ray, and not suing any other organizations over CDs, DVDs, GD-ROMs, Game Discs, HD-DVDs, or FMD-ROMs (!), it's possible (however unlikely) that this is actually an example of patents working the way they should. That is, Target may have a patent on an actual technology; a specific method of producing a reflective layer that is superior and/or cheaper than other methods. If that's the case, then this is exactly how patents are supposed to work.

Alternatively, of course, Target may have patented an obvious evolution of well-established technologies, in which case this is just another patent troll. They could be holding off on suing other companies until they've set some sort of precedent with Sony.

The actual patent [uspto.gov] begins by specifying an alloy of silver an yttrium, but the further claims also (apparently) expand that claim by including alloys with other elements (such as bismuth and tin). I don't have the time right now to examine the patent in great detail; but a skim makes it look like they patented a specific method for a high-reflectivity layer thats cheaper than other methods of equivalent reflectivity. They then expand this idea to include all the derivative technologies of using this method (single & dual layer discs, write-only discs, write-once disc, re-writeable discs, etc).

The problem is I don't have enough familiarity with the technology to know if this is a non-obvious development or not. If it is non-obvious, then more power to them. Protecting your novel idea with a patent is fair play. If, of course, it's just the optical disc equivalent of "[X], but on the INTERNET and called i[X]," then I hope they get counter-sued into oblivion.

Re:Not enough information (2, Insightful)

Umuri (897961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270127)

MOD PARENT UP!
I am all for patent bashing, but i am not a chemist, nor is most of slashdot.

Unless this is an obvious leap, this is EXACTLY what patents are for. It's not software, it's not the human genome, and it's a novel invention that includes both the method and the compound used. That is the epitome of somethign that someone should be able to patent so they can resell it for awhile to make money off it.

For the car analogy requirement: I would almost give this akin to, say, developing a new method of making spark plugs that are cheaper. Why wouldn't that be patentable?

For all the talk on slashdot about normal people getting stupid and losing common sense whenever technology is involved, there sure is some of it in our little group here. :P

Re:Not enough information (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270313)

I agree, someone should mod me up. ;)

Seriously, however, you really hit a very interesting point that I think is illustrative of the problems with the current patent system as a whole:

I am all for patent bashing, but i am not a chemist, nor is most of slashdot.

Here we are on a web site that is read and commented on by a population with an unusually high proportion of scientists of various stripes and people who are intimately familiar with technology - and I've yet to see anyone in the conversation weight in with an informed opinion about the novelty of this technique.

And yet, we expect a bunch of government-service patent examiners to determined - quickly - whether or not it's novel. One can argue, of course, that this is what they're paid to do, so they ought to be capable of it. Fair enough. But then the patent dispute goes to court, and we expect two lawyers and a judge to rule on it - maybe the lawyers can be expected to handle it, since it's their field, but the judge? Much less a jury, if it comes to that.

Which is why, when I saw that slashdot (I think?) story a couple weeks ago about a judge in Europe (maybe?) telling the court that he didn't really understand what a web site is, my first response was "good for him." I'd rather have a judge make clear that he doesn't know what a technology is, in hopes that he can be informed in the court room by experts whose specific job is helping the layperson understand these things than a judge who just rules on it without realizing he doesn't know jack about the tech.

Will Sony be driven out of video games? (0, Offtopic)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270029)

In thinking more about this issue, I had to ask myself the question: Is Sony going to be driven out of the video games market (at least for this generation of consoles)? Their sales all already really low, they were late out of the gate as compared to Microsoft, their games are expensive and hard to develop (so they don't have all that many), and now their whole console could be barred from production over this, depriving them of the last of the few sales they are getting. And they lose money on every PS3 sold anyway... so seriously, maybe from a business perspective they ought to just cut their losses and move one. If production stops over this issue, I just don't see how they will be able to make up enough ground or get enough market share to ever catch up.

Re:Will Sony be driven out of video games? (2, Insightful)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270303)

Thats never going to happen, at least not in the way you say it. Sony is still making a mint on the ps2 and its sales. If they can't win in a suit against this company then will just pay off this company so that they can use this tech, just like what happened with the dual shock controler. Besides its not about the video games its just about the blue ray discs and they could probably just find a diffrent way to make them, like use just silver or an element thats not in the patent. I really hate $ony but, they are makeing enough money to keep their company alive. Sony has to may connetions for them to just get out of video games.

Target Technology (5, Informative)

lucyfersam (68224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270357)

After doing a little looking at thier site, Target Technology gets their name because they do actually make products with this technology. The make silver alloy targets for sputtering the metal onto optical discs, and their targets are currently used manufacture of many DVD-R's and other optical discs. I would guess (though I don't have enough information to be sure) that they think Sony looked at the compostion of their targets, said "hey, these work really well," and decided to make their own targets of the same compesition for their Blu-ray discs. True or not, I have no idea, but it is at least possible a valid patent case. It's not like this is just an company who hoards patents and licenses them, they actually make products based off of those patents.

Wait, I've got it! (2, Funny)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270459)

It's a marketing scheme. Sony and Target are in it together to create a buy-the-PS3-now-before-production-must-cease frenzy. Since there are thousands of PS3s sitting on store shelves collecting dust, this would seem to be the best method at resolving the problem in a hurry. Then as soon as the overstock problem is resolved, Sony and Target mysteriously settle on undisclosed terms.

Re:Wait, I've got it! (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270631)

Wear a tinfoil hat much ?

That would be the worst example I could have ever seen ! Who will go out and spend that money knowing that it is possible they could never see games or movies on blu-ray ever again !

Re:Wait, I've got it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19270843)

Some people here are patently obtuse regarding attempts at humor.

Can We have the "HaHa" Tag Back Just for This One? (3, Funny)

akpoff (683177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19270531)

It's Sony for pity's sake. This is one company even the Linux and Windows fanboys agree to hate. ;-)

Silver-Based Reflective Surface (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271005)

It's called a fucking mirror, and silver alloys have been around for centuries.

The patent is bogus, IMHO, unless it's a synthetic element bonded with the silver, or if the silver alloy is made using a process that hasn't been used before.

Re:Silver-Based Reflective Surface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271277)

If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you. You have been warned.

and we're all just shaking in our boots, big guy.

why don't you move along and join the rest of your buddies down at the local bar so you can talk big and take no action?

loser.

my mind is clouded (2, Interesting)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271121)

For patently I spy a silver lining
no more blu-ray - patently shining

Yeah, Maybe Compared to Gold (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271139)

silver-based alloys with the advantages (but not the price) of gold

Silver ain't cheap either, if you're buying it by the tonne to make discs by the millions.

Re:Yeah, Maybe Compared to Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271811)

Way way way way way cheaper than gold.
(did I say way cheaper?)

And that was the point. Silver is way cheaper, but gold is more resistant to oxidation. The patent was explicitly about making a super stable alloy of silver that rivals gold in all aspects but cost.

Outcome will be dull (2, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 7 years ago | (#19271431)

If it is a valid claim Sony will probably settle and buy a license to use the technology, otherwise they will fight it in court. Actually, it is probably more along the lines of
IF ( LICENSE .LT. (DAMAGES * P(.LOSS.) ) THEN CALL SETTLE ELSE CALL FIGHT END IF !pardon the Fortran
So basically Sony will have a slightly lighter wallet after this but it is unlikely that Target will refuse to strike a good deal on the matter unless they get a better offer from the HD-DVD crowd.

Re:Outcome will be dull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19271621)

Sony will not buy a license if the patent is valid. It will buy the whole company.

And to all who claim this is what patents are meant for and that this is therefore 'right':
Funny how people can talk about blu-ray and what it is for years and years, then other people can bring it to market. Then even other people buy players and discs for months. And THEN, at last, then someone says 'hey, wait a second, you can't do that'. Bull. If you really do not want people to infringe on your patents, you tell then right away. Not after an eternity goes by.
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