Beta
×

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!

$1.5B Fine Overturned For Microsoft

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the someone-is-getting-a-bonus dept.

Microsoft 134

ddrichardson writes "Following up on an earlier story, Microsoft's $1.5bn fine in the case with Alcatel-Lucent has been overturned. Microsoft are claiming a "victory for consumers". From the article: 'A US court has overturned a decision ordering Microsoft to pay phone firm Alcatel-Lucent $1.52bn (£777m) for infringing music patents. The federal judge in San Diego reversed a jury's decision which had ruled that Microsoft's Media Player software infringed on two Alcatel patents.'"

cancel ×

134 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A good thing for the software industry (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141183)

While it may cause many of the MS-bashers here to grit their teeth, it's still good news that this ruling was reversed. This case had ramifications WAY beyond any hassle for MS. Such a sizeable and far-reaching ruling over a couple of obscure patents would have sent a shockwave through the software industry--scaring the hell out of developers and encouraging the patent trolls even more (as if they're not encouraged enough as it is).

It wouldn't take many cases like this to start a financial recession in the entire software industry and send venture capitalists scurrying away from any software startup.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (0, Offtopic)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141265)

Geesh - You're new to slashdot aren't you?

See - the way it works is this: Wait for everyone to post Anti-MS rants and _then_ loose your comments among the many number of them.

First posts always deserve a "First Post" message. I'm disappointed.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (4, Funny)

RabidOverYou (596396) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141821)

Yes, but who are you? You spelled you're, aren't, and even loose right.
Five digit id, username CTalkobt ... oh my god, you're a Computer Talking Robot. I, uh, welcome our ... damn how does that go again?

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142055)

In Soviet Russia, CTalkobt talks to YOU!

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142095)

"David, computers don't call people."

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

Trull (95206) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143111)

I think you mean,"I welcome my co-worker lizard army Overlords"

I'd be willing to bet that your first computer operated at >1GHz, although there is nothing wrong with being young - it just means that you have lots more chaff to look forward to.

There are only 100,000 five digit Slashdot numbers.

Shame, eigh!

Trull

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

RabidOverYou (596396) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143277)

4.77 MHz baby! Then we got that new AT and cranked it to 8. Hoo we were flying.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

Trull (95206) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143489)

That's just showing off.

You don't need anything faster than the ZX81's 3.25MHz processor with a full complement of 1Kb of RAM.

http://oldcomputers.net/zx81.html [oldcomputers.net]

Read that and weep.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142287)

"Wait for everyone to post Anti-MS rants and _then_ loose your comments..."

The screws holding Microsoft's moral compass together may be loose but to lose your comments here at /.? Never.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144269)

"Wait for everyone to post Anti-MS rants and _then_ loose your comments..."

The screws holding Microsoft's moral compass together may be loose but to lose your comments here at /.? Never.

I think he meant as in "let loose". Like as in "release". Like... eh, whatever

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141289)

Do you really believe that this scared MS? It just showed them that the one with the biggest amount of patent lawyers will win. Do you really think they will give up the stupid patents (wasn't there one on an 'isnot' patent?) in the MS patent-folder because they won a patent battle with another company? Nope.

Still let me be an optimist and hope that in the long run at least, the amount of new useless patents will diminish with all the recent victories of common sense.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (2, Insightful)

br14n420 (1111329) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141377)

Still let me be an optimist and hope that in the long run at least, the amount of new useless patents will diminish with all the recent victories of common sense.
Why even say more than this? The previous paragraph just reads like nonsense. How many lawyers represented each side? How many interns did each have? Dollar for dollar, what did each company spend on the legalities? You don't really know any of this. The very weight of the evidence may be enough, sometimes. Geesh.

Keep on hating M$, while blind to the fact that most of the AP /. articles that come down the pipe end up going to IIS hosted sites when anyone who actually gave a shit would have used an Apache powered alternative source, since AP articles get replicated thousands of times! Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and you have to ask yourself, "how much do I care?".. :)

Re:A good thing for the software industry (0, Offtopic)

stun (782073) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141401)

Microsoft are claiming a "victory for consumers".
A bad day for grammar?

Re:A good thing for the software industry (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141577)

The Collective is made up of many individuals.

Prepare to be assimilated. Microsoft will add your technological and biological distinctiveness to its own. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been... is over.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (0, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141649)

Actually, that's an interesting grammatical issue (since Microsoft, not being a human being, really can't CLAIM anything at all). While it would have been better to say "Microsoft is claiming a 'victory for consumers'," it would have been even more grammatically correct to say "Microsoft representatives are claiming a 'victory for consumers'." I guess someone could also make a defense for "Microsoft are claiming a 'victory for consumers'" by arguing that a corporation should be more accurately regarded as a plural grouping of employees than a singular monolithic entity.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (2, Informative)

Josh Booth (588074) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141655)

Many people consider companies or named groups of people to be plural to emphasize the constituents. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

A number of words like army, company, crowd, fleet, government, majority, mess, number, pack, and party may refer either to a single entity or the members of the set that compose it. Thus, as H. W. Fowler describes, in British English they are "treated as singular or plural at discretion"; Fowler notes that occasionally a "delicate distinction" is made possible by discretionary plurals: "The Cabinet is divided is better, because in the order of thought a whole must precede division; and The Cabinet are agreed is better, because it takes two or more to agree."[6] Also in British English, names of towns and countries take plural verbs when they refer to sports teams but singular verbs when they refer to the actual place: England are playing Germany tonight refers to a football game, but England is the most populous country of the United Kingdom refers to the country. In North American English, such words are invariably treated as singular.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142983)

We are the Microsoft.

No, Patents Suck Because of This. (3, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141745)

This case had ramifications WAY beyond any hassle for MS. Such a sizeable and far-reaching ruling over a couple of obscure patents would have sent a shockwave through the software industry--scaring the hell out of developers and encouraging the patent trolls even more.

This is really more of the same arbitrary justice that make software patents a bad idea in the first place. M$ can and does use the same threats anyway. Their prowess in court only strengthens their position as lord and master. Business method and software patents cover things that are not really inventions, so the results will always be arbitrary and manipulable. The court has decided to promote business rather than justice and such decisions have favored M$ more than once. On these grounds, M$ will violate the patents of other with impunity while threatening everyone else with ruinous legal costs.

What you have to understand is that M$ itself is a patent troll. Almost all of their software has come from predatory acquisitions but the market has dried up because people are no longer willing to risk their money in the business where M$ can crush them. You must have noticed that all of the innovative companies, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and others are all using gnu/linux and avoiding the desktop in order to make money. M$ has built themselves a patent warchest to assail those businesses, and has been instrumental in setting up business method and other stupid patents. Others have taken advantage of the situation, but that does not make M$ any less culpable.

No additional certainty has been added to the market that can benefit anyone. The case is far from settled but it has already cost both companies boatloads of money. Only the largest companies could weather that kind of storm and this will keep investors and small companies out of the business.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142335)

Start to finish, a complete load of trash.

It's no wonder that even the pro-Linux posters here hate you. You drag them down by association.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145251)

A ringing endorsement from the usual AC losers:

It's no wonder that even the pro-Linux posters here hate you. You drag them down by association.

As usual, the AC is not "pro-Linux". Asking the AC to understand free software [fsf.org] is almost hopeless. Such clueless hatred along with the usual M$ PR drones, who have great memories when it comes to tracking and troubling me, means I must have said something right. Thanks AC!

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20145747)

No need to thank me. Your posts stand out by smelling of steaming bullcrap, and I understand free software fine, so no link necessary. I've used Linux for quite a while.

I don't know what you mean by 'PR drones tracking you' though - are you some kind of paranoid moron? I'm pretty sure Microsoft have better things to do than troll a Linux website waiting for you to show your face only to - and this is the most horrible part of all - disagree with you?!

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20146159)

My AC friend has more fun, I mean "steaming bullcrap":

I'm pretty sure Microsoft have better things to do than troll a Linux website waiting for you to show your face only to - and this is the most horrible part of all - disagree with you?!

I think they have better things to do too. M$ has been trolling news groups forever and their time and money did not show up in Vista [slashdot.org] . They do seem to have fastened a large part of someone's time to me personally, which is flattering in a way - I'm getting something out of paying the M$ tax after all.

The ultimate goal of their trolling it to use Slashdot and other news groups for their own interests. They praise M$, insult "competitors", crapflood where they can, and harass genuine conversation. They would like to destroy all useful news sources and leave you with M$NBC. It's not really working out for them, but I'm happy to point out the little pieces of their attempted dilution where I see it. This place and others will be much nicer when they are gone.

Keep using free software!

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (2, Interesting)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142499)

No matter whether the system sucks or not, if this had stood, quite a few other companies would have been subject to the same kind of payout. I think someone below posted this link to a list: Click to read. [mp3licensing.com]

On that list are IBM, Linspire and Sun. The original decision was bad for everyone, though it obviously didn't knock you off your pedestal.

Yes, It's bad for everyone. (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143459)

On that list are IBM, Linspire and Sun. The original decision was bad for everyone, though it obviously didn't knock you off your pedestal.

I fail to see how that makes software patents good for anyone or that there is any justice to their administration. It does make current advocates of software patents look foolish.

Re:Yes, It's bad for everyone. (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143557)

Maybe you should read the part of my post where it said "Irrelevent of whether the system sucks or not".

Under the current system, this decision is good for everyone. Is it really that hard to read what I wrote?

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143503)

I myself have very little love for MS, but this is one time I'm glad they won. When it comes to patent trolls, the alternative is always better.

Hopefully the same thing will happen in that stupid touchscreen keyboard troll case.

Patent trolls can suck it.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144571)

Your churlish use of "M$" obviates any intelligent conversation we could be having about this.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144905)

Your churlish use of "M$" obviates any intelligent conversation we could be having about this.

Ah, so like a M$ rep, using a hypocritical insult to promise what they can't deliver.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20145997)

It's impossible to deliver an intelligent conversation with you in the same way that it's impossible to deliver a working peace plan to the Middle East.

It's not the plan that's the problem, it's who you're trying to apply it to.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145063)

Man, get over it. Microsoft is often abbreviated to M$ here, it's not necessarily a denigration, it's just habit, and as quick as MS. If Linux was abbreviated to L$, people wouldn't be complaining. Well, I guess the people who weren't getting the $ would be complaining.... but that's a different story.

Re:No, Patents Suck Because of This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20144789)

I think this breaks the record for the most dollar signs in a Slashdot post outside of the balance sheet troll of yesteryear.

Whatever point you allegedly had here is obviated by that passe 'joke' that no one finds funny or in$ightful anymore.

And M$ destroys bridges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20144957)

As twitter told us [slashdot.org] . So as you see, he's uniquely qualified to explain how they are evil, as opposed to being stuck in a system they did not create and has made victims of them more often than not.

No, this has nothing to do with why patents suck.. (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 7 years ago | (#20146207)

This is really more of the same arbitrary justice that make software patents a bad idea in the first place
How so? MS paid Fraunhoffer for the patents (as did the rest of the tech industry) which were co-developed by Fraunhoffer, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T. If Fraunhoffer was not the right authority to license these patents, Alcatel should have sued them for falsely representing themselves as such. That makes sense, and that's the nutshell version of what the Judge ruled.

Their prowess in court only strengthens their position as lord and master.
Your hatred of MS is blinding your objectivity, and even your desire to seek the truth. MS adopted patents as a defensive strategy (see this 1991 memo from Bill Gates http://www.bralyn.net/etext/literature/bill.gates/ challenges-strategy.txt [bralyn.net] . Even back then he seemed to understand the ramifications of software patents better than anyone else. Also note his referencing of this memo calling out the dangers of software patents: http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/Patents/against-software-pat ents.html [mit.edu] . The honesty of his stance and clarity of vision is something his critics here should take note of.

What you have to understand is that M$ itself is a patent troll.
What you have to understand is that MS did not (and still does not) have the lobbying power to change the retarded patent system. Don't blame them for playing by the rules and making the best of the hand they are dealt with. The OSS movement has more power because the entire industry is rallying behind it - but MS has an obligation to its shareholders to not become a part of that movement - linux on the desktop threatens to erode MS's core business. It's really that simple..

Almost all of their software has come from predatory acquisitions but the market has dried up because people are no longer willing to risk their money in the business where M$ can crush them. You must have noticed that all of the innovative companies, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and others are all using gnu/linux and avoiding the desktop in order to make money. M$ has built themselves a patent war-chest to assail those businesses, and has been instrumental in setting up business method and other stupid patents. Others have taken advantage of the situation, but that does not make M$ any less culpable.
You conveniently left Apple of the list of 'innovators'. Apple is extremely innovative, they do not avoid the desktop and they have a patent war-chest. Naturally it was inconvenient for you to mention them. Google has its share of patents as well. It's really rich of you to think that Google will ever donate any of its search-related patents to OSS. They will donate any patents that help erode MS's core business. They will hold on to any patents that help them maintain their core business (search). Are we to hate them for that? Absolutely not -- it's good strategy. But hating MS for the same behavior makes you a hypocrite.

No additional certainty has been added to the market that can benefit anyone. The case is far from settled but it has already cost both companies boatloads of money. Only the largest companies could weather that kind of storm and this will keep investors and small companies out of the business.
Finally some sense. And while this is true, think about a world without patents -- how will any small company prevent an MS/Apple/Google/IBM from using/reverse-engineering/copying/whatever thier work and eroding thier business? I'm not a fan of the current patent system but I don't think getting rid of software patents is the answer. The very purpose of patents is to protect the incentive to innovate. Whether the solution lies in better screening so that fewer 'obvious' things become patentable, and to have tighter regulations about entities that accumulate patents, don't create any products with them, and just use them to take other companies to court, I don't know. But blindly hating MS is not the answer..

Re:A good thing for the software industry (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141867)

Yes because if it wasn't overturned then one of these might be next when Alcatel runs out of money: http://mp3licensing.com/licensees/index.asp [mp3licensing.com]

Re:A good thing for the software industry (3, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142857)

Such a sizeable and far-reaching ruling over a couple of obscure patents would have sent a shockwave through the software industry--scaring the hell out of developers and encouraging the patent trolls even more (as if they're not encouraged enough as it is).


Actually, that's exactly what needs to happen in order for the Powers That Be(TM) to realize that the patent system is way broken. A few big companies paying through the nose to patent trolls will be the wake-up call to Congress. Then maybe, just maybe, method patents can be abolished.

Re:A good thing for the software industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142901)

On the other hand, the best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it as thoroughly as possible. If lawsuits like this became a regular thing for software giants like Microsoft, you'd see software patents disappear pretty quickly. The real ramification of things like this getting overturned is that software developers still need to worry about patents instead of having the entire industry united against patents.

I can almost hear the conversation.... (3, Funny)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143051)

"Hello, Judge Rudi Brewster ? Good Evening.

This Bill G. calling, yes, that Bill G.

I was browsing a bit into our files and reports and I happened upon a funny browser history forwarded to me by ehh... someone in my team.

You know what ? When thinking about the term "Dwarf Tossing" i would think of dimly illuminated pubs with a midget in a footbal gear. I had to turn my monitor 90 to really understand what the pictures wer...

Ah, yes, yes, I understand, it is late and you have a judgement to overturn early tomorrow, yes, better I let you work now, sorry for disturbing. Bye"

FOSSies happy to cut their own throats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20145669)

It's really bizarre how FOSSies are so ready to cheerlead for anything anti-Microsoft that they will both blindly and gleefully ignore the implications of what they are cheerleading.

The FOSSies were so happy to "get Microsoft" with their so-called monopoly lawsuit that they completely ignored the insane restrictions it puts on software makers who wish to improve their own products. And oddly enough, they could really care less with how many software vendors Apple tramples over adding features to it's own TRUE monopolist platform.

MS is a phony monopoly: a company which achieved ubiquity through their superiority over their competitors.
Apple is the TRUE monopoly: a company which has destroyed anyone even peripherally tied to making money from the sales of Apple computers or products. Now, about the only Apple product you can buy outside an Apple store or Apple.com is an iPod. And they probably even begrudge THAT.

So the FOSSies may love Apple, but if the computing world would ever become just Apple and FOSS... you would see Apple turn on them in a heart-beat. In fact... Apple hasn't really even supported FOSS in any tangible way. I guess lip service from Steve Jobs is more than enough for the FOSSies to beg him to drop trou so they can give him some lip service.

Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141193)

I know this is M$ and all, but this is a good thing.

someone-is-getting-a-bonus (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141201)

For dupes, obviously one is.

Never thought I'd see myself typing this.... (2, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141237)

But go Microsoft! In other news, recently retired and newly-made Billionaire judge dies in auto wreck while trying to put ripped Van Halen CD in his Ferrari stereo!

Ho Hum (4, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141241)

I'd like to post something witty, funny, or something about how outraged i am about all these patent trolls. Possibly something saying its a shame that they aren't sticking it to microsoft. But when there's like 3-4 patent news items on the front page (possibly only 2 right now), and that's the case every day, i just wish that it would stop. Nothing funny, nothing insightful, just same news, different day.

Any time that a patent troll, anywhere, is defeated, its a victory for all, not just consumers. More judges need to rule that software patents of the obvious are unconstitutional (i think it was covered by the suffrage amendment) so that slashdot can return to reporting on google and the iphone instead of these patent stories.

Re:Ho Hum (0, Offtopic)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141457)

Nothing funny, nothing insightful, just same news, different day.

Well, I hate to say, there was a time where Slashdot was really about "news for nerds, stuff that (doesn't) matter (all that much but we love it)". I guess the nerds have become working professionals, supporting families, concerned with their mortgages and 401Ks, because it's been literally years since Slashdot has stopped being funny, insightful or interesting. I mean sure, regularly there's the occasional good story, but it's nowhere near as often as what it used to be.

Re:Ho Hum (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141701)

As long as a distribution like Ubuntu feels a need to leave out the mp3 decoders, then any patent litigation stories are infact "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters". The problem isn't that "we" changed but that the world has gotten more hostile to us.

Re:Ho Hum (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145781)

last I checked the ugly set of gstreamer plugins which includedes a mp3 decoder was in the main section of both debian and ubuntu. IIRC it is redhat that is really paranoid about mp3 (I understand the patent claims against mp3 decoders are much weaker than those against encoders).

Re:Ho Hum (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142827)

And yet you still come here and post.

Re:Ho Hum (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141565)

so that slashdot can return to reporting on google and the iphone

You must have missed the story about patent trolling against the iPhone.

Sure. (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141875)

More judges need to rule that software patents of the obvious are unconstitutional (i think it was covered by the suffrage amendment) so that slashdot can return to reporting on google and the iphone instead of these patent stories.

It would be a great thing to eliminate business method and software patents. Until that happens, the costs of them should be shouted from the rooftops. Cool gadgets are not hard to make, but the business is impossible because of crap like this. M$ is the bad guy because they lobbied, right along with the other incumbents, for these stupid patents in the first place.

its a shame that they aren't sticking it to microsoft

Yes, if software patents were actually a competitive disadvantage to GWB's little pet company, things might change.

Who to cheer for? (2, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141979)

A lot of people always mention being "confused" about who to cheer for in these cases, but it's really not that hard. MS - in this case - really doesn't seem to be doing anything hard. They did in fact even license the Fraunhofer codecs for their mp3-related software in windows. Now it doesn't really mention exact what patents Alcatel-Lucent is pursuing (or suing per), but as they are mp3-related it seems that their behavior definitely seems like a cash-grab.

It's not a case of "Microsoft VS Patent Troll," it's simply a case of "a large company VS patent troll." There's no need to stick it to MS in this case, as they're in the right and a victory for A-L would have a negative impact upon the rest of the industry. Personally I think that suing for improper/trollish/crap patents should leave one open to double-damage-countersuits. It might cost a lot to defend and rebut, but if you've got an obvious patent troll simply trying to hone in on some cash, making them bleed a bit of money and setting an example for the rest of their ilk might be a good investment (and if anyone can afford to spend cash on anti-troll lawyers, it's MS). As it stands, the way the current patent system is used/abused many of these cases are little more than vaguely veiled extortion, and should in the courts be treated as such.

Re:Who to cheer for? (1)

narrowhouse (1949) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142887)

While I agree with your assertion that there is no reason to paint Microsoft as the bad guy here I do think that we all need to realize that the bad guy is the current patent system.

I'm not sure Alcatel-Lucent is what most people would call a patent troll. They tried to take advantage of a broken system to the tune of 1.5 billion dollars. If the money is on the table it is not easy to resist. This is the same behavior that you might see from any company that sees that amount of money is possible by spending a few million dollars.

The fact that this case isn't a slam dunk tells you that our patent system is completely out of sync with reality. The need to do a patent search on even the most basic piece of software before distributing it is insane. The fact that Microsoft did license this technology and still someone managed to pop up with a claim that made it past at least one court review tells you how complex the problem is.

I think this is probably a GOOD thing... (5, Insightful)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141257)

In lieu of patent reform, in general I am for the defendant in any patent trolling case, which this appears to be. Even though my Linux loving heart hates to see M$ win anything. But given that Fraunhofer wasn't sued, this looks alot more like trying to shoot the biggest fish in the barrel with a pellet gun and expecting the fish and everyone involved to roll over and play dead, AKA pay up. So if M$ won this time, good for them.

Prolly good for us as well.

Re:I think this is probably a GOOD thing... (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141519)

In lieu of patent reform, in general I am for the defendant in any patent trolling case, which this appears to be. Even though my Linux loving heart hates to see M$ win anything.

I'd say that when it comes to patents, M$ is pretty fair player (in M$ish sense of word "fair"): they did spread some FUD, but didn't sue anyone.

Re:I think this is probably a GOOD thing... (1)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142919)

"I'd say that when it comes to patents, M$ is pretty fair player (in M$ish sense of word "fair"): they did spread some FUD, but didn't sue anyone."

Sorry thats a myth.

Microsoft hat threatend to sue several players for software patent infringments by sending their laywers after them.

Since open source developers have no money to defend themselves with people like the creator of VirtualDub has been forced to remove support for Microsoft video formats from VirutalDub.

Re:I think this is probably a GOOD thing... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142393)

While it was a legal "win" for Microsoft, it's hardly a win in normal terms. They spent a lot of money defending themselves against a frivolous patent lawsuit and while that is a drop in the bucket compared to what they make, it would only be a true win if Alcatel-Lucent were made to pay up for bringing it in the first place. As long as Alcatel-Lucent can keep doing this, and I'm not sure how deep their pockets are, this is not over by a long shot. Microsoft needs to push to try and recoup legal fees, though I doubt any court will believe they need the money.

hmm. (2, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141273)

A "victory for the bigger legal team" I would expect.

However, if this means I can still use my MP3 player then I guess its not all bad.

Re:hmm. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141483)

"However, if this means I can still use my MP3 player then I guess its not all bad."

You Americans. 'As long as I get what I want I'm OK with ________.'

It's not your opinions that amaze and piss off the world, it's your reasoning behind them.

Re:hmm. (2, Informative)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141601)

"However, if this means I can still use my MP3 player then I guess its not all bad."

You Americans. 'As long as I get what I want I'm OK with ________.'

It's not your opinions that amaze and piss off the world, it's your reasoning behind them.

I agree Americans can be like that. I, however, am British.

Also, look at the facts. Two large firms are suing each other in a case that might impact MP3 players. Whilst I am by no means not a MS fanboy - in fact I would not shed a tear if they were to lose their crushing monopoly overnight as I only use Linux at home - if they wish to spend their money on lawyers then thats fine, but don't touch my MP3 player.

Re:hmm. (3, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142217)

Your generalization skills are, truly, impressive.

Moreover, what else are we supposed to think? As long as you get what you want, I'm OK with ____?

Self-interest is not only a fundamental feature of human nature, it's a perfectly rational way of approaching the world. If you don't like the fact that someone (in this case, not an American, as it turns out) is OK with this because his MP3 player will be protected, rather than complaining that he shouldn't want an MP3 player, maybe you should try to explain why he should want something else.

Bitching that someone wants something isn't helpful. Maybe if you explained why his MP3 player isn't worth the price that's being paid, it would be helpful. Most people are open to new information.

One must base one's opinions on something, and personal satisfaction is a good start. I fail to see why there's some moral imperative for me to be miserable, absent evidence that my personal satisfaction is harmful to someone else (or, even, my own longer-term satisfaction).

Re:hmm. (1)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144179)

I am not the OP, but he raises a valid point. Gratification is fine, and is the base of many systems that we have here. The problem is when the sentence tends to be more like "As long as I get what you want, I'm OK with ___ being screwed and dry".

There are also some things called principles and doctrines. If everyone stops giving a damn about them, this world will end up a different place.

Re:hmm. (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145297)

Exactly - which is why a better approach is to explain to people how their personal decisions lead to someone else being screwed. Attacking the desire is silly; arguing for a more responsible desire is appropriate.

My problem with the statement was that it implies that I'm somehow ethically bankrupt because I'm an American who wants his MP3 player to work. I don't buy into that; it's crap. If the AC wants to explain how my working MP3 player causes harm to society, the economy, the rule of law, whatever, that's dandy; I'll be happy to listen. But don't criticize me for wanting the MP3 player I spent good money on to just work. He ought to explain his priorities, and maybe I'll change mine.

Re:hmm. (2, Informative)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142927)

You Americans. 'As long as I get what I want I'm OK with ________.'
What a moronic generalisation. This statement neither a representation of what the GP even said, nor in any way correct.

Re:hmm. (1)

MrManny (1026106) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144171)

You Americans. 'As long as I get what I want I'm OK with ________.'

Interesting point of view. I must say that I completely ________ with your opinion, you ________. In fact, if I could I would ________ your ________ until ________. So I beg you to ________ or ________.

And one further addendum: ________. Do we have an agreement?

Fine? or Judgement? (3, Informative)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141301)

The BBC article calls the overturned award a fine, but this seems incorrect. A judge and/or a jury awards damages in a tort case, they don't fine anyone. I expect such ignorance on slashdot, but on the BBC? I guess journalism is deteriorating internationally, not just in the US.

Re:Fine? or Judgement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142119)

Punitive damages are really more of a fine than an award. Personally I don't see why punitive damages shouldn't just be fines (the money goes to the state). The damaged party is already compensated for any loses.

Surprised? Why? The Beeb has sucked for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142457)

They even used to run alarmist stories about Saddam Hussein's WMDs:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/corresponden t/1191203.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Yep, that's the Beeb - claiming Saddam already had nukes. Of course, that was when the agenda was to blame Bush I for not removing Saddam from power.

Damn if they didn't forget all about that a few years later, though, when their agenda turned to blaming Bush II and Blair for removing Saddam from power.

So much for just reporting news. If you thought the BBC was about news and not agendas, you've been in a hole for quite a few years.

Re:Fine? or Judgement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20143659)

This is just British Vs. US English. Stop grousing because the British Broadcasting Corporation uses English from England.

Patent laws (1)

siyavash (677724) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141311)

Now if the judge could rip out and shred the software patent laws while he is at it. I think patents are needed but no way in hell the way they are now. Patenting most of the programming code out there is like patenting 2+2=4. I bet whoever wrote these software patent laws did not have much insight into programming. But I could be wrong and congress maybe actually was reading this law and was doing it on purpose. ;)

Re:Patent laws (3, Informative)

slobarnuts (666254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141587)

Well it is a bit more complex in this case. Microsoft licensed the format from from AT&T & Fraunhofer. AT&T spun off the Division that became Lucent which was bought up by Alcatel. Alcatel then decided to sue because it now owns the company that partially owns the patent. So this was not blatent patent trolling, but close. Anyway the story was linked in the read more a few articles down.

Dupe (0)

Nezer (92629) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141367)

About three articles down from this story, on the main page, this story is mentioned with a bunch of other patent news for the day.

At least this dupe is buried under the "read more" link and not as blatant as past dupes.

Victory.... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141463)

"...victory for the consumers."


Since when has Microsoft been an advocate for consumer's rights?

When they got their wrist slapped. (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141579)

You gotta admit, they've been at least trying to be more consumer friendly than they have been. I mean, Microsoft of old might have bought all the big game developers (Rockstar, Kojima Productions, Square/Enix, etc) outright so they could gain exclusive content. Today, they just toss money as an incentive and keep their fingers crossed.

Re:Victory.... (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142205)

When the patent troll's next victims would have been absolutely everyone else who made an mp3 encoder without paying for "their" patent along with the Fraunhofer one that everyone has always thought was sufficient. In addition, the patent looks vague enough to skewer aac and ogg, if I remember.

Why is everyone so apologitic? (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141473)

Microsoft is just a company with good and bad aspects. They are not evil incarnate. Stop apologising for being pleased with the news!

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141571)

Microsoft is just a company with good and bad aspects. They are not evil incarnate. Stop apologising for being pleased with the news!

Right.

But, now talk about Google, seriously, pure evil. We're all boiling frogs with what Google is trying to do.

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (2, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141609)

Yes, but you see a long time ago there was IBM and Apple. IBM shot itself in the foot by releasing a good OS in a poor state, and Apple in a desire to control every aspect of the computing experience priced itself out range of most people, as well as kept the needed 3rd parties away.

So emerged MS. As much as by "right place right time" as anything else. And soon this MS had their software on basically every single user's PC out there.

But alas, MS got caught with their pants down and did not have an OS that was ready for the internet/computer boom of the mid 90's. So there were issues. And resentment from geeks everywhere.

And that is the short version of why people make babies.

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142543)

If I was going to have kids, I would pass that story on to them.

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142605)

It is very successful in hiding the good aspects. Tell me one.

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145561)

They produce software that generally does a competent job at a price that many people can afford.

Re:Why is everyone so apologitic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20142691)

I'm sorry, I just feel the need to apologize a lot. I was pleased at the news. If that offends you, or anyone else, I'm sorry.

I, for one, welcome our... (-1, Troll)

Will the Chill (78436) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141477)

patent-infringing fine-dodging fuddy-bloatware overlords!

-WtC

*please insert sig*

Re:I, for one, welcome our... (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141929)

LOL.

The courts are collaborators [catb.org] with obvious evil.

Couldn't have happened... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141613)

... to a nicer monopoly.

Bonfire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141619)

All of these tech patent lawsuits are really making me tired. Lawyers & CEOs? Bonfire? Bring lots of beer, yes.

Good decision (5, Insightful)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141647)

Microsoft made good faith effort to license the technology in question from Fraunhofer for $16 million. But Alcatel-Lucent claimed that Microsoft licensed it from the wrong party. Even if that were the case, then Microsoft should only have been ordered to pay ~$16 million to Alcatel-Lucent, not 1.5 billion. That's why I felt the jury decision was BS. Why apply punitive damages to Microsoft when they made good faith effort to comply with the patent?

Re:Good decision (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141735)

...except it's the jury that gets to decide that: for better or worse.

So it's not so cut and dried. There are plenty of things to be for or against in this case.

Making a habit of ignoring juries has far wider implications than just patent trolls.

Re:Good decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20143693)

But try to explain an multivalued array variable to the average American. Or how audio codecs work, or anything else that involves c code. Unless the jury was full of /.ers and engineers, they probably didn't understand much of the arguments. So after not understanding a bunch of nerdy mumbo jumbo, the just pulled some big number out and said "that seems as incomprehensible as everything else we heard."

Re:Good decision (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144635)

...apply the same to judges. Sometimes they aren't even up on the legal subtleties surrounding what they are dealing with. Some of this IP stuff can get pretty technical (just from a lawyerly point of view) and a lot of lawyers/judges are completely out of their depth when attempting to deal with it.

Re:Good decision (2, Funny)

warren_spencer_1977 (1124617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142323)

Microsoft made a good-faith effort to comply? Wow, that IS news! Oops, my cynicism was showing ;-)

Re:Good decision (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20142573)

Microsoft made good faith effort to license the technology in question from Fraunhofer for $16 million. But Alcatel-Lucent claimed that Microsoft licensed it from the wrong party. Even if that were the case, then Microsoft should only have been ordered to pay ~$16 million to Alcatel-Lucent, not 1.5 billion.
So if A rents out B's house without permission for 1 dollar per month to C, then C should be able to pay B 1 dollar per month for the place, after the mistake (that it is B's house, not A's) is discovered?

Fraunhofer could have given away free-of-charge licenses for MP3 patents. That doesn't mean that if those patents are actually owned by someone else, that other party has to also give them away for free.

Re:Good decision (2, Interesting)

cooldev (204270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143201)

So if A rents out B's house without permission for 1 dollar per month to C, then C should be able to pay B 1 dollar per month for the place, after the mistake (that it is B's house, not A's) is discovered?

It's more like: 'A' rents out a large community of apartments to 200 customers(http://www.mp3licensing.com/licensees/in dex.asp) for a decade or so for $750/month. Everybody in the world has long acknowledged that 'A' had the rights to rent out that property. Then, out of nowhere, 'B' steps in and claims to own part of the property because they once helped install the sidewalks and demands that tenants not only have to pay $62,000/month, but that they also must pay that for each month they had been living there.

If the tenant had known the rent was $62,000/month they never would have even remotely considered living there in the first place, especially when they had a rather nice vacation home in WMA on the side anyway.

The above figures were loosely crafted to reflect the money involved to give an idea of the magnitude of the discrepancy.

I'm a believer in IP, but not submarine patents and completely outrageous purported damages awarded by juries. This is true a hundred times over when the person or company tried in good faith co correctly license the IP in the first place!

Re:Good decision (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20143351)

I see your point, and I mostly agree with you actually. But there are 2 separate issues: (1) Do Alcatel-Lucent own MP3 patents, and (2) How much MP3 patents should cost to license.

If Alcatel-Lucent do own MP3 patents, then they can start to assert them whenever they want, and at whatever price they want... that is the (stupid) system.

Do they actually own the patents? I don't know. Certainly it does seem like they might not. But if they do, the price they charge for them is up to them.

It's a victory (2, Insightful)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141703)

Because they would have passed the cost on to consumers. To quote a Microserf friend, "we charge mondo for our dog food in Europe so that the EC wont forget that we are the big dog."

Not that we should expect MS to do otherwise. We fine them? They fine us.

Re:It's a victory (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20141765)

Most slashdotters that use MS software pirate it, so they don't need to worry about the cost being passed on to them.

Re:It's a victory (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#20141839)

Respect our authoritae!

Wrong (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145521)

> Because they would have passed the cost on to consumers.

No, they wouldn't. Business aim to charge the most money that the customers are prepared to pay. If Microsoft are able to raise the price of their product and still sell it they would have done it already and made more money.

The extra cost from the fines would have cut into their profits and so it is the shareholders that would be harmed, not the end users.

Re:Wrong (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#20146443)

You do realize that the EC is hassling MS for abusing their alleged monopoly position, right?

If you must purchase a certain company's product in order for your business to survive, you wont pay a fair market price. Market distortion can prevent you from voting with your wallet if it forces you to pay whatever is demanded, lest your business perish. That, my friend, is called monopoly rent.

Now, if you worked from the unquestioned assumption that Microsoft is not a monopoly, what you said could have been relevant. However, the European Commission says that your premise is bullshit. You're welcome to take it up with them.

Aaargh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20143589)

M$ BAD! Patents BAD! But--- *head explodes*

A Victory for Consumers (2, Funny)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144351)

Because Microsoft would certainly charge the consumer less if only their per-unit costs weren't so high.

Patent Thoughts (1)

Runesabre (732910) | more than 7 years ago | (#20144377)

As a developer and upcoming business entrepreneur, patents are an area I'm forced to consider and become familiar with. I realize I'm not saying anything new, but, I like to think out loud and hear what others have to say when I'm learning a new area. :)

1. Patents seem to have turned from being a reward, incentive or recognition for inventors and innovation to being a bludgeoning weapon for business. In many ways, the patent system seems to be used as a legalized method to facilitate anti-competitive practices. What better way to bar startups from becoming a threat than to mire them in litigation right from the start.

2. The only groups that seem to consistently profit from the patent system are lawyers and the USPTO.

3. It seems the patent system can never be run properly when the government agency running it is doing so for profit. The USPTO has great incentive to grant patents as quickly as possible to increase the money coming into the agency. Missing a few obvious patents here and prior art there doesn't seem to be a high priority.

4. It's bothersome to me that the system allows patent trolls to profit; filing for patents they have no intention of developing but waiting in the grass like a snake to pounce on others who come along. It feels like one requirement for filing a patent is to demonstrate not only a working version at the time of filing but also to not be granted full protection and legalization to bludgeon others until you're actually using the patent for real business. Trademarks work in that fashion.

Re:Patent Thoughts (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20145851)

I don't have a problem with patents, even for software.
But I believe that in order for a patent to be enforceable, the patent holder must:
A. Make a good faith effort to market a product using the technology in question.
AND/OR
B. License the patent at reasonable prices in a timely manner. (That is, no waiting for years for someone else's product that might infringe on your patent to become popular, then popping-up out of nowhere demanding billions.)

C. If a patent holder discovers at a late date that some popular product does infringe on his patent, then he must make good faith effort to license the patent using the price he would've asked for before the offending product became popular.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>