×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Firm Sues Sony Over Cell Processor

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-what-they-didn't-need dept.

Sony 330

An anonymous reader writes that earlier this month, Sony received word of a lawsuit from a Newport Beach company called Parallel Processing. They've filed against the electronics giant alleging that the Cell processor, used in the PlayStation 3, infringes on a patent they own. They've made the somewhat outrageous demand that every infringing chip (and console) be 'impounded and destroyed'. From the article at Next Generation: "The patent, 'Synchronized Parallel Processing with Shared Memory' was issued in October 1991. It describes a high-speed computer that breaks down a program 'into smaller concurrent processes running in different parallel processors' and resynchronizes the program for faster processing times ... Parallel Processing said that Sony's alleged actions have caused 'irreparable harm and monetary damage' to the company."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

330 comments

hah (2)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057549)

If things weren't going bad enough for the PS3, then this comes along.

Re:hah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057661)

Yes, let's all stroke ours Wiis over this news.

Re:hah (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057973)

That's okay, Parallel Processing could only have found out about the patent infringement by violation of the DMCA and illegal hacking of Sonys PS3 - so they'll be going to jail for a long time.

What's next? (4, Insightful)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057557)

Are they going to go after AMD and Intel for their multicore CPUs?

Cheers!

Re:What's next? (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057791)

No. Their patent appears to be directed at a specific subset of multiprocessing known as MIMD (Multiple Instruction Multiple Data) [wikipedia.org] processors. The key to their "invention" is a processor that sits in front of the various processing elements and divvies up the chores to ensure that all processor elements are well fed.

To be perfectly honest, I don't understand why they're suing Sony and not IBM. I suppose it's probably tactical, especially since Sony is actually selling the chips as opposed to IBM who's mostly talking about them at this point. (IBM fabs the chips on Sony's behalf.)

It's hard to be sure, but this sounds like a patent troll case. The only thing that muddies the waters a bit is that this "International Parallel Machines, Inc." actually exists and sells products:

http://www.ipmiplc.com/ [ipmiplc.com]

Re:What's next? (4, Insightful)

Frothy Walrus (534163) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057875)

look at the site -- they make PLC's [wikipedia.org], not general-purpose processors. they're not losing a goddamn cent to Sony or IBM.

Re:What's next? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057953)

Which makes little to no difference to patent applications. If you own a patent, the damages are in lost licensing fees for the patented technology. That's how inventors get rich. They patent an idea, then sell the rights to use the patent. Meanwhile, they get to stop working on their invention and rake in the dough.

My point about their business muddying the waters is that their business adds a certain amount of legitimacy to their claims of owning the rights to and licensing such technologies. It does not matter if they produce the tech themselves or not.

Re:What's next? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057937)

To be perfectly honest, I don't understand why they're suing Sony and not IBM
The Cell is jointly developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba, it is not designed by IBM and sold to Sony. IBM are fab'ing it, but they also fab chips for AMD, and it wouldn't make sense to sue IBM for a patent infringed by AMD.

Re:What's next? (2, Informative)

klingens (147173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058051)

What chips is IBM making for AMD exactly?

From what I remember, IBM licensed/sold/whatever SOI-technology to AMD. Not actually doing any fabbing. AMD uses their own (Dresden) fabs and has Chartered (CPUs) and TSMC (ATI GPUs) doing some fabbing for them.

Re:What's next? (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058095)

I'll give you an excellent reason for them suing Sony and not IBM. IBM is an 8000 lb. gorilla that has an army of vampiric lawyers so skillful they can not only draw blood from a stone, they can even draw blood from SCO. Sony's lawyers, on the other hand, have trouble with lawsuits against preteen fileswappers and computerless grannies. If you want to leech money, it's perfectly obvious which one you're more likely to leech successfully from.

And, no, the patent is not valid. Such devices have existed for thirty years, albeit mostly in research labs and Universities. Prior art is prior art, however, and Sony needs only one example that is close enough to invalidate the patent.

It is just possible that this lawsuit is funded by Microsoft or some other console manufacturer, in an effort to throw legalistic mud at Sony's console and thus boost sales of their own. Same way SCO tried to boost their sales by throwing legalistic mud at Linux. I would not rule that out just yet, as this may well impact sales. People aren't going to want to buy a console they can't do anything with and will have to destroy a few weeks later under court orders.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20058149)

What's stopping IBM from lending Sony some of their lawyers again?

Re:What's next? (5, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058123)

To be perfectly honest, I don't understand why they're suing Sony and not IBM.


IBM has been involved in the parallel processing field for a long time. I'm sure they have plenty of patents which pre-date and overlap this one and probably quite a few that International Parallel Machines is arguably infringing on.

The stuff in Claim 1 of the patent (5,056,000) is basic multi-processor stuff which certainly wasn't actually novel in 1989 (when the patent was filed). And the Cell doesn't seem to violate it anyway. It appears to be Claim 6 they are suing over. Claim 6 describes a particular way of partitioning processing power in a MIMD system, but again I doubt it was novel in 1989.

They may not be trolling. But if they go against IBM, or if IBM intervenes, I don't think they can win.

As much as I would love to see that happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057563)

While I must admit I would absolutely love to watch every PS3 be destroyed and Sony die a horrible death (what, me, bitter?), isn't the Cell an IBM chip? So shouldn't this be a suit against IBM and not Sony?

Re:As much as I would love to see that happen... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057805)

this is somebody's bright idea to go for the "little guy". And what about Microsoft and Toshiba, both working with IBM. MS on processors, and Toshiba is a partner to build Cell? Talk about the wrong mark here. You'd think legal council would do more work that what the average Slashdotter knows in the first 10 posts.

Re:As much as I would love to see that happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057909)

Why? Didn't your mommy hug you when you were little?

Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earlier (0, Offtopic)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057567)

Cray Supercomputer and others were doing all sorts of parallel processing back in the 70's and 80's. Per their history page [cray.com] , the Cray-1 came out in 1976 and various quotes from that page include "first multiprocessor supercomputer (1982) ... multiple 333 MFLOPS processors (1988) ... massively parallel processing (MPP) system (1993)"

What are Sony's lawyers going to patent next - using MPP (multiple parallel painters) to paint a house? [watching-paint-dry.com]

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (1)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057679)

I disagree parent is offtopic. Other than the "What are Sony's lawyers going to patent next" the rest of the information is actually relevent. Seeing as sony is being sued over a multiprocessor, a citation of previous work is actually very important information. I think xmas just got confused who was suing who.

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20058029)

That would be "who was suing whom".

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057699)

Mods, prior art IS relevant when discussing patents. Unfortunately I have no points today to undo damage to an informative post.

Oh, wait, defending Sony = BASH.

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057737)

Oh, wait, defending Sony = BASH.

Except that the poster wasn't defending sony, he appeared to be claiming that it was sony holding the patents (and suing themselves?)

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (1, Informative)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057717)

uhhh...Sony isn't suing themselves. Good job actually reading the article there, bud.

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (4, Funny)

sjf (3790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058105)

More to the point, can we ensure that those who modded this up never get mod points again ?

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (3, Informative)

Epi-man (59145) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057801)

What are Sony's lawyers going to patent next - using MPP (multiple parallel painters) to paint a house?


At least read the headline and figure out who's holding the patents.

Re:Cray had prior art/implementation a decade earl (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057859)

Not Sony's lawyers... go back and read the summary at the very least.

Patent Link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057589)

Patent link [uspto.gov]. Should be in the summary, IMO.

Impractical (1)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057593)

wow...ignoring the patent part which everyone else will address, i would suggest this to the company if they somehow won this suit. Instead of just "Impounding and destorying" every infringing chip, wouldn't it make more sense just to ask for a "cease and desist" order for the PS3 and all related services? That way it won't require trying to track down half a million PS3 users, and can target people planning to make money off of the patent leak.

Re:Impractical (4, Insightful)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057735)

I don't think there ever was an "impound and destroy" precedent in patent law. It is completely ridiculous, and the only reason I see them doing it is so they have a starting point for a haggle-structure. You start with something completely preposterous, and any further proposal will come over as somewhat reasonable.

B.

Re:Impractical (5, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058151)

I don't think there ever was an "impound and destroy" precedent in patent law.


Polaroid v. Kodak. All of Kodak's infringing cameras had to be recalled and destroyed.

You don't get it. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057741)

They don't want to have every PS3 impounded and destroyed. They want MONEY. By pushing for nuclear option they hope Sony will pay them off. They probably know that they don't have a chance to win in court but by making the stakes so high they are hoping that Sony will just give them a few million to go away.
If they where just asking for damages then Sony would without a doubt go to court and beat this case. So they want to push the risk level to a point that Sony will just offer them a wad of cash to get them out of their hair.
If they did recall all the PS3 Son would instantly loose not just the console race but it would also kill Blue Ray since the PS3 is the most popular Blue Ray player on the planet.
My guess is that Sony will smack them down anyway but it is a good gamble.

Re:You don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057849)

They want MONEY. By pushing for nuclear option they hope Sony will pay them off. They probably know that they don't have a chance to win in court but by making the stakes so high they are hoping that Sony will just give them a few million to go away.
Hmm.. sounds like someone [mit.edu] has been moonlighting.

Re:You don't get it. (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057873)

They don't want to have every PS3 impounded and destroyed. They want MONEY. By pushing for nuclear option they hope Sony will pay them off.

I think it's more along the lines of making headlines so people will take notice of their crappy company before the suit gets thrown out.

What President Bush Would Do (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057609)

*Paging Carl Rove*

Bush: "Carl I need you to go ahead and plant some WMDs over there mmkay"?

Rove: "It shall be done my master"

Bush: "Good, good my young Apprentice, wipe them out ... all of them"!

They want them destroyed... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057611)

"They've made the somewhat outrageous demand that every infringing chip (and console) be 'impounded and destroyed'."

That's OK, they've only sold ... what - like, six of the things?

/irony of the day award - slashdot verification image is "retail"

in other news... (2, Funny)

yorugua (697900) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057623)

... Parallel Processing receives an undisclosed amount of cash from MS.

Thanks god IBM quit building those RS/6000 SP2 system parallel thingies.

Not like the Immersion rumble case (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058015)

Parallel Processing receives an undisclosed amount of cash from MS.
You mean like in the Immersion case, where Microsoft settled and licensed the methods and Nintendo turned out to have been licensing it all along? This case appears very different. Unlike the traditional 3-core symmetric multiprocessor in the Xbox 360, the Cell CPU is a 1-core CPU connected to several programmable DSPs, each of which has its own address space. This asymmetric NUMA scheme is what the first claim of the patent [uspto.gov] appears to describe.

Huh? (0, Troll)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057647)

They've made the somewhat outrageous demand that every infringing chip (and console) be 'impounded and destroyed'
You mean all 253 consoles?

Infringes my "electronic brain" patent (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057649)

I have a patent for an electromechanical device that like a human brain is able to make choices based on a series of logical assessments of sensed data, like "they're both true" or "neither are true." I would like royalties please, or burn all the computers in the world, thanks!

Re:Infringes my "electronic brain" patent (5, Funny)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057809)

Dear brain processor dude: this is God. Cease and desist. I own the patent on brains. Have a nice day.

Re:Infringes my "electronic brain" patent (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057971)

I believe your patent, filed in 4004BC, expired 5991 years ago.

Re:Infringes my "electronic brain" patent (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058035)

No. You're wrong. Now I'm ordering YOUR brain impounded and destroyed.

Re:Infringes my "electronic brain" patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057989)

I have a patent for an electromechanical device that like a human brain is able to make choices based on a series of logical assessments of sensed data...

Human brains can do that? I think I've been hanging around slashdot for too long.

So, what are the odds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057659)

Is there a good chance that this company will win their suit? IANAL

On a less serious note, this company should receive some type of award, for saving thousands of lives which could have been lost to exploding PS3's

Re:So, what are the odds... (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057825)

On a legal level, this is similar to Jack Thompson threatening to sue Microsoft [slashdot.org]. I'll shamelessly reuse an analogy used in that /. discussion--it's like kicking the largest gorilla in the group right in the balls. Sony has plenty of lawyers, and will likely pound this company into nonexistence.

How would that work? (1)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057663)

As far as I'm aware, there's no patent police to come kick down my door and take my PS3, so what exactly do they expect to happen if they win?

Do you really think people are going to volunteer to have their PS3 destroyed because you patented the computer processing version of the assembly line?

Re:How would that work? (1, Troll)

techiemikey (1126169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057731)

I would definately volunteer to have my (albeit nonexistant) PS3 destoryed if i could have a full refund for the system, accesseries, and games.

Re:How would that work? (2, Funny)

biocute (936687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057795)

Do you really think people are going to volunteer to have their PS3 destroyed because you patented the computer processing version of the assembly line?

Yes. That's why we heard people are installing, uninstalling and reinstalling Windows all the times. Now we know it's not because it is unstable.

Re:How would that work? (3, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057811)

Stuff has been destroyed in the past by court orded (usually unsafe items). They dont go after the end user, they just get warrants against warehouses and then the court makes them dispose of the remaining product. The manufacturer tries a recall/rebate too.

The fact that this is even possible is further proof that the patent system is really useless.

Re:How would that work? (1)

CrashPoint (564165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057871)

I suppose they might seek to force Sony via court order to start some kind of program to collect PS3's from private customers who voluntarily turn them in, but unless they're completely insane that's as far as they could expect to get with privately held consoles. Most likely the impoundment they seek is that of Sony's unsold stock, and maybe retailers' stock as well.

Use it or lose it (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057683)

Isn't there some sort of limit to just patenting stuff and then holding it for years before you do anything? And isn't this a bit late for a lawsuit too, PS3 announced they would use the Cell processor a while before its release.

Re:Use it or lose it (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057863)

No, there isn't. Patent trolls use that to their advantage.

Trademarks have a requirement to enforce it or lose it.

Re:Use it or lose it (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057929)

No, and no. There is a time honored tradition called the submarine patent, where you patent something, wait for someone else to develop it, wait some more for it to become profitable, and then sue. See NTP v. RIM for case in point, or read about the patent shenanigans surrounding the invention of the LASER (back when it was still capitalized).

Now, I know that some of you are out there saying the enemy of my enemy... But really it is nonsense like this that causes the big dogs to file so many stupid patents. If they don't patent the stupid and obvious, someone else might - and then sue them for it.

More companies need to see the light like IBM and realize that all patents after the first thousand or so are a liability, not an asset, and a cost, not an investment. Soon, after more suits like this start happening (look to the pharma and chemical industries) more major companies will start lobbying for patent reform, and then we might get something accomplished.

Re:Use it or lose it (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057951)

You must actively use and defend a trademark.
      However, a patent is a completely different beast - you have it, and can sleep on it. The so-called submarine patents appear from time to time, and in some cases the infringing company pays (Microsoft and its Internet Explorer versus some company with a patent for active content in browsers ended with Microsoft paying)

Re:Use it or lose it (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057963)

Unfortunately there isn't. At any time, I could go digging in my loft, find a patent for a widely used technology and wreak havoc. Indeed, it's in my interests to conveniently forget about the patent untill it's been widely infringed. If I didn't I might actually have to use the patented device for something useful.

Your only hope is that the patents in my loft expire before I find them.

Re:Use it or lose it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058005)

Not exactly. In the USA, you can't claim any damages which occurred between your discovery of infringement and initiating suit. You can claim anything from before you became aware of the infringement and anything that happened subsequently. This is intended to discourage submarine patents.

Laches (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058089)

Isn't there some sort of limit to just patenting stuff and then holding it for years before you do anything?
Yes: 20 years after filing, or 6 years after the assignee becomes aware of infringing activity [wikipedia.org], or less if the alleged infringer can prove "prejudicial delay" (that is, the patent holder waited to take action on purpose in order to harm the alleged infringer). Would a judge likely find that the delay between the publication of the Cell architecture white papers and the filing of the lawsuit is long enough to be prejudicial?

multics - prior art - 70s (1)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057691)

So the end of 60's, we had multics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multics) and one of the cool things was "process memory"... To me it seems to be splitting hairs; multiple processors, actually multiple processes accross those processors, having their own and/or sharing memory.

In a related story (2, Funny)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057707)

An errant Sony Jet has crashed into the HQ for Newport Beach based company Parallel Processing resulting in a 150 foot fireball.

not quite outrageous (3, Interesting)

mr_death (106532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057721)

They've made the somewhat outrageous demand that every infringing chip (and console) be 'impounded and destroyed'.

The US Constitution gives inventors "... the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." If they do win at trial, destruction of every infringing device is within their rights.

Whether they have a proper patent, and if Sony infringes on that patent, is an exercise for the reader and jury.

Re:not quite outrageous (1)

arehnius (1071476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058027)

You've the point. However, US, who are the only concerned by this issue, are only a part of the market of Sony. Japanese won't be affected. And Europeans, who already pay a lot for the thing, will still be able to buy them :) Great news, isn't it ?

Transputer? (1)

PipingSnail (1112161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057725)

Does the transputer invalidate this patent as prior art?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transputer

Re:Transputer? (3, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057899)

I was asking myself the same question.

Transputers date back to the early/mid-'80s and patents therefore are out of date.

IIRC, each transputer had its own memory; it didn't share it.

Re:Transputer? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057985)

Possibly. These patents are sometimes pretty specific, and may well cover a specific design of part of a parallel system not employed by Transputers. Without looking at the patent we can't be sure.

Re:Transputer? (1)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058043)

I recall very detailed plans in Byte Magazine in the 80s for building parallel processing boards. Anyone investigating prior art (under our new patent laws) ought to check out the November 1988 issue. This site lists tables of contents of all the old Bytes [utah.edu] Can't remember if the processors shared memory though.

Why did these idiots wait this long? (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057729)

I mean common the very notion of the cell processor was highly propagated in the media since 5 seconds of the PS2 launch and that PS3 would be based on a multi processor system.

These parasites and other that do the same should stop their disruptive business practices and begin working for real.

Live by the sword... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057733)

... die by the sword.

unreasonable copyright claims ... unreasonable patent claims.

tomato ... tomato (hmmm ... that doesn't work very well in writing)

Do they know who they are messing with? (2, Interesting)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057751)

I wouldn't be surprised if Sony took out contracts on these clowns, and made them sleep with the fishes.

Why just Sony? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057771)

The Cell was developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba. I don't know if IBM or Toshiba are selling any yet, but it doesn't make sense to sue only Sony. Well, unless this is a bullshit lawsuit and this company is hoping for an extremely fat settlement check.

Re:Why just Sony? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057933)

They will sue whoever stands to lose the most. Had IBM or Toshiba bet their future on Cell as Sony's videogame division did, they would also be defendants.

This is a patent troll and Sony should to the public service to have this case dismissed (or fight an endless line of trolls) and then sue them out of existence.

Don't mess with IBM's IP Lawyers (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057777)

IBM holds a lot of the IP that goes into the Cell. They have a very good legal department. This little company may just have bitten off more than they can chew.

I can see the IBM lawyers now..."Hmmm, interesting. Yes it may be possible that you have something there on this one patent. Let's see..." ruffles through a huge stack of papers in front of him. "However, we've discovered that you're also in violation of these 127 patents of ours. Now, shall we deal?"

Re:Don't mess with IBM's IP Lawyers (1, Interesting)

OA (65410) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058039)

I can see the IBM lawyers now..."Hmmm, interesting. Yes it may be possible that you have something there on this one patent. Let's see..." ruffles through a huge stack of papers in front of him. "However, we've discovered that you're also in violation of these 127 patents of ours. Now, shall we deal?"

This only works if this company suing Sony has any business activities in this field. Even if they did, the company can stop it and Sony's claim for damage is small one.

Then if this small company win, it is huge financial damage to Sony. So the company are hoping Sony may negotiate terms. This company is like trrorist taking hostage.

The only way is to crash the company's IP position using all available legal means including method to induce huge drain of money for this small company. If expense gets too big, this small company will be broke before finishing the case. That is modern big company strategy dealing with these IP terrorists. Nasty, yes. But these IP terrorists are nasty too.

Re:Don't mess with IBM's IP Lawyers (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058175)

Except that in this case the company suing isn't JUST a patent troll. They actually sell product. Wanna bet IBM can find a few patents they are violating in the thousands of thousands that have come out of Armonk?

Re:Don't mess with IBM's IP Lawyers (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058189)

Even for a small company, there seems to be little information available on this company - certainly no stock listing, press releases or technical information at all. I assume that they're either a tiny tech company, one that IBM could crush, or they're yet another company making a living by creating patents, with no plans to do anything other than suing people who infringe them. If that's the case, IBM would have to overturn the patent since there's no chance of cross-licencing.

It's very interesting that there's been no sign of this company on the web until this legal case began.

California + Tokyo = Texas? (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057787)

What I find a bit odd and perhaps suspicious about this whole thing is the fact that this case is being filed not where this company seems to be located, and not where any Sony offices are located but in TEXAS. Why isn't this being adjudicated in LA or San Diego?

What do they think the bumpkins in Tyler might gain them?

It also seems bizarre that they are bringing suit only now. This product has been on sale to the general public for quite awhile. This means that it has been available to developers for ages. Why didn't this get nipped in the bud while the units were still game studio prototypes rather than waiting until Sony made and shipped a million of them?

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20057935)

Patent trolls love the US District Court in Texas because of their more liberal interpretations of patent law.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058065)

That may be true. Dunno about the whole "submarine patent" part of it though. I could see some cracker judge getting mightily annoyed by that part.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057945)

Apparently there is a particular federal judge in Texas who has a history of being very, very friendly to the plaintiffs in patent cases, so lots of patent troll suits get filed there. I can't remember the guy's name, but I read an article about it not long ago. Basically, his particular court has become the Mecca for bullshit patent claims.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

jonno317 (807642) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057947)

Well the court they went for has a past of being a favorite for patent lawsuits. The court there has a history of fast-tracking patent suits and making sure that some of the usual stall-tactics in such cases don't fly. Read up more on the court and you'll see that it's not far-fetched at all.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057997)

Ah, he wonders of the US legal system. When a case is filed, the plaintiff choses where to file. They obviously want to file where they will be most likely to win. I believe that the Texas courts are especially friendly to plaintiffs in this type of case. I don't have any actual links or facts to back this up, but I recall reading or hearing this before.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058003)

"What do they think the bumpkins in Tyler might gain them?"

To quote the movie 'Sweet Home Alabama', "Honey, just cuz I talk slow doesn't mean I'm stupid."

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (2, Interesting)

mr_death (106532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058019)

Tyler is a famous federal district where patent holders get better results, on average, at trial.

Why filing here isn't considered "forum shopping" isn't clear, but then again, I don't live in the same universe as lawyers do.

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058159)

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas is well known in patent and IP litigation. It's frequently called the "second rocket docket" (the 4th District, in Virginia, being the original one) because of its rules for discovery, and very firm deadlines during trials. They also have a jury pool that's pretty conservative, arguably biased towards rightsholders, and judges that are receptive towards patent plaintiffs (certainly moreso than the average jury pool in the 9th District, which includes California).

However some people have speculated that since rolling out the red carpet for patent cases, that they're beginning to become overwhelmed:
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=110354972899 8 [law.com]

Re:California + Tokyo = Texas? (1)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058193)

First off, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc is a Delaware company by its incorporation. I would be interested in knowing Parallel Processing Corporation's incorporation, which could be Texas. It could be a move for a 'dumber' jury, but is more likely a move for an objective vs. a subjective jury.

PPC (I love that name) could be referring to the methodology that IBM is using with the cell processor and since the PS3 is the first prevalent cell processor-based product, PPC might have a better case once the product is out. Remember, multiple processors are not new, but the implementation method might be the sticking point. Probably took this long for PPC to take notice, research the methodology, make the decision to sue and get the brief written or as a good strategy for Sony to have its back against the wall. As for the destruction of all infringing products, it is possible to legally to do so and having the worse case scenario as an option is a great way of starting a negotiation. Stating at the start, 'find the right number of zeros or we will make you buy all these systems back and destroy them. The on-the-bubble equation would be cost_of_settlement = cost_of_buyback + cost_of_lost_customer_good_will.

Of course, PPC might not really give a golly-gee-wiz about a payout and just wants people not to infringe on their product. A company with that mindset might just want to have all infringing product destroyed which will put Sony in a bad place if PPC wins.

Concept (2, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057821)

After reading the patent the one thing that popped in my mind that is "similar" to the Cell concept is the idea of having 1 master node CPU to help direct the remaining CPU's.

While most dual/quad systems, the program or OS itself takes care the threading. With Cell and apparently this patent the master CPU helps take care of that. Still not a very patent. As the concept of a master node and slaves nodes for parallel processing has been around for decades. Just those tend to be 1 computer acting as a master with other slave "computer" nodes. Just in this patents case they're replacing "computer" with "CPU"

Personally I hope Sony wins.

hmmm. (4, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057833)

from TFA "Parallel Processing said that Sony's alleged actions have caused "irreparable harm and monetary damage" to the company.".

Oh, Really?

Did they mean to say "Parallel Processing said that Sony's alleged actions have caused an opportunity to turn a fairly wide ranging patent that is useless on its own into some solid income via legal means.".

So they waited to see if the console was selling then hit them with a law suit so Sony would be more inclined to settle quick?

I am getting quite sick of IP trolls and patents that are so broadly phrased that they cover anything from toothpaste to nuclear physics. (disclaimer, I have not read the patent yet - but I am assuming that Sony carried out patent searches before building the Cell). And on that subject - why is the suite against Sony in particular not against the other members of the consortium that developed the Cell.

I hope Sony sees them in court instead of folding.

Well let's pick it apart. (4, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057839)

1 - "a plurality of multi-access memory modules;"

The PS3 does apparently use 4 RAM chips, but they don't appear to be multi-access. Elpida makes them, and I couldn't find ANY of their offerings that were 'multi-access'.

2 - "2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the number of processors is equal to the number of multi-access memory modules."

Ouch, pretty sure there's 7 cores to that Cell processor, and NOT 7 RAM chips. (There's 4.)

6 - "including a plurality of multi-access memory modules,"

Too bad, guys, you lost your lawsuit before you started. The others are all based on 1 or 6, and losing both of those kills the whole thing for sure.

Re:Well let's pick it apart. (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058073)

The PS3 does apparently use 4 RAM chips, but they don't appear to be multi-access. Elpida makes them, and I couldn't find ANY of their offerings that were 'multi-access'.
This is not about the PS3, it's about the Cell found in the PS3. The local memory of each SPU is multi-access; it can be accessed by the SPU itself and the DMA engines responsible for SPU to SPU transfer and SPU to or from main memory transfer.

Ouch, pretty sure there's 7 cores to that Cell processor, and NOT 7 RAM chips. (There's 4.)
Each SPU has 256KB of local memory. The number of SPUs is equal to the number of SPU-local memory modules.

The claims you have listed all apply to the Cell. I haven't read the patent, so I don't know about the others.

Re:Well let's pick it apart. (1)

Ewasx (207402) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058181)


With "memory module" they are not referring to separate chips, they are referring to the on-chip local memory that each cell core has.

No infringement here. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057845)

It describes a high-speed computer that breaks down a program 'into smaller concurrent processes running in different parallel processors' and resynchronizes the program for faster processing times ..



Anyone can see that the Cell processor does not infringe this claim. If the computer did the breaking down thingie, then the Cell processor wouldn't be such a pain to program.

Why did they sit on this for all those years... (1)

bomanbot (980297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057865)

...and did nothing? I mean that patent sounds so disturbingly vague that surely a lot of massively parallel architectures could potentially be sued by this? Like, nearly every supercomputer and workstation processor architecture of the last decade? You know, the whole superscalar [wikipedia.org] thing?

Not to mention the Playstation 2 with the two vector units of what the Cell is sort of spiritual sucessor to...

What? (1)

thebonafortuna (1050016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057877)

Aren't Toshiba and IBM equally responsible for development and distribution of the cell processor?

Does this lawsuit sound really, really absurd to anyone else? It doesn't sound like the plaintiff specified how the thing was going to be built, simply that something along the lines of what the Cell Processor does would be built.

Who knows? Maybe they read Slashdot, and figured now would be the perfect time to jump on the f*ck Sony bandwagon? Ha ha.

I am no fan of Sony, but... (3, Insightful)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057927)

I think we have to acknowledge once and for all that for too many companies the purpose of a patent is to hide in a blind and wait for someone who has brains to make a go of something similar enough and resources to sue rather than make a product of their own.

It is sheer parasitism.

And in other news.... (1)

FlyingHuck (1135427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057961)

Auto giant Ford Motor Company filed patent infringement suits against GM and Chrysler for their use of the round steering device, commonly known as the 'steering wheel', in their vehicles. The suit demands an immediate recall of all vehicles in question. Motorcycle legend Harley Davidson is also suing Indian, Enfield, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki for patent infringements on the handlebar and the belt rear-drive system.

Irreparable Harm (1)

MadEE (784327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20057979)

Lets just assume for one second that the patent is valid and rock solid. It seems quite silly to me that they are claiming irreparable harm. The design on the processor is pushing 6 years now and it's been in production over 2 years and it wasn't as if it was quietly dropped onto the market. These people have a responsibility to mitigate their damages.

How the heck is being utterly unreasonable supposed to help their case? It's one thing to start kicking and screaming 2 years after a product has been released saying it will somehow cause so much harm to your company it takes you 2 years to actually try to stop it. It's another thing entirely to within the tyrant demand the impossible. Pissing people off makes people more, not less likely to fight.

hahahhahahah (0, Redundant)

GodCandy (1132301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058097)

What... There claiming they have a patent on parallel processing. I think they should have already gone after several other companies too... Don't most modern graphics cards use parallel processing backed by on board memory to achieve the frame rates they currently have. This also sounds a lot like "hyper threading" or "multi core" but what do I know.

I guess they have a case. Maybe I should sue Bill Gates because he wrote an os that makes my computer blue screen daily. I don't see my case making it but I can try none the less.

I guess there success may not be won in the court room but has already been achieved in the media spotlight. We will see how far it goes. I hope this doesn't turn into another SCO vs. IBM thing.

irreparable harm and monetary damage (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20058103)

On the contrary. If they win their lawsuit, then Sony will have done irreparable monetary benefit to the company ;)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...