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TiVo appears to have won a decisive victory in its patent infringement lawsuit against satellite TV provider EchoStar. Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a final and unappealable decision on TiVo's patent 6,233,389 for a "multimedia time warping system," ruling that the patent was valid and enforceable.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
30 Nov 2007 07:56
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Google is facing a patent infringement lawsuit from Northeastern University over the use of distributed databases in its search products. The lawsuit, filed (not surprisingly) in the Eastern District of Texas, claims that Google is violating patent 5,694,593 and that the company is causing "irreparable injury" to the plaintiffs.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
29 Nov 2007 20:07
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Virtual Worlds, with their own economies and political systems, have become commonplace.1 This report summarizes the history of the Free Beer debate, which occurred some years ago in Wasted Life, the first virtual world to feature a patent system. For those unfamiliar with Wasted Life, suffice to say that its countries and institutions are closely based on those of our own world, though the many colourful personalities are, of course, entirely fictitious creations of the players themselves.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
29 Nov 2007 18:33
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In the 1980's the Australian Government commissioned a study of the patent system. The patent system in general, not software patents. This study concluded that Australia would be better off abolishing the patent system because it did very little good for society and cause a lot of trouble. The only reason they didn't recommend is that international pressure. So one of the things they cited was that patents which was supposed to disclose information so that they would no longer be secret or in fact useless, for that purpose, engineers never looked at patents to try and learn anything because it's too hard to read them. In fact they quoted that an engineer saying "I can't recognize my own inventions in patents".
by: zoobabzoobab
29 Nov 2007 14:41
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Software Patents ... are the biggest roadblock to IT development. No entity, not even non-commercial open source, is safe from being sued to oblivion for the crime of not only having an idea, but implementing it. The risk is still low enough, that most of us are still taking it. But it is building like an epidemic. The only defense is a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction backed by a massive portfolio of your own asinine software patents.
by: zoobabzoobab
29 Nov 2007 12:06
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The problem with this patent, like many others in a misguided flood of new filings, is that it describes an obvious process to solve a naturally occurring problem. Translating a phone number into an IP address must be accomplished by any provider offering Voice Over IP. Not only is it a common problem, it is a relatively simple problem to solve with multiple natural solutions -- not that that was apparently made clear to the jury. So simple, a first-year computer science student could do it as a weekend homework assignment.
by: zoobabzoobab
29 Nov 2007 10:48
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Charles Babbage is famous as the inventor of the programmable computer. Less well-known, he was also a fierce critic of the British patent system. He wrote that patent law creates “factitious privilages of little value,” where “the most exalted officers of the State in the position of a legalised banditto . . . stab the inventor through the folds of an Act of Parliament and rifle him in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice of England” (Quarterly Review 43, 1830, 333).
by: zoobabzoobab
28 Nov 2007 17:34
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(Q) Are patents incompatible with open-source software? (A) No. For example, several patent holders have announced that they will license their patents to open-source software developers. Other vendors offer open-source software alongside patented software or service offerings. Suppliers and customers can choose on a case-by-case basis whether to use an open source business model or a proprietary business model, or a combination of both.
by: zoobabzoobab
28 Nov 2007 16:24
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A Europe-wide patent litigation system is firmly back on the EU agenda following a meeting of the Competitiveness Council last week – and the elusive Community patent is also up for discussion again.
by: zoobabzoobab
28 Nov 2007 15:24
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PJ: I think software and patents need to get a divorce. They hold back innovation and hence they damage the public and do the exact opposite of what patents are supposed to be for. If you absolutely must have patents on software, then at least enforce the law that says that if you get a patent, you have to disclose fully. At the moment, there really is absolutely no way for a developer to know if what he is developing is or isn't violating someone's patent, no matter how hard he tries. So it's a trap. Any time someone wants to create trouble for you or kill you off as competition, they can. That isn't what patents are supposed to be for. Proprietary vendors may assert that they can't disclose, because then their software will be revealed. OK. But then you should rely on trade secret protection instead, not patents, because the whole point of patents was to induce inventors to reveal their inventions, so others could build on them.
by: zoobabzoobab
28 Nov 2007 14:17
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The Gnome desktop environment developers have recently taken the decision to reengineer the Gnome desktop around the Mono framework. This decision has mainly been influenced by the main Mono developer Miguel de Icaza, who is a very vocal employee of Novell. Reasonable doubt has been raised to whether or not Mono can actually be deployed freely. Mono itself is basically a free and halfway portable implementation of the .NET framework developed by Microsoft. However, the .NET framework itself is subject to a large amount of software patents, which cover the concepts used within the .NET framework. Since these are concepts and not individual implementations (which are covered by Copyright, which is certainly untouched by a reimplementation), they most likely also apply to the Mono framework.
by: zoobabzoobab
27 Nov 2007 16:39
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Microsoft Corp. must pay more than $140 million (¤94.31 million) for infringing on software patents owned by a Michigan-based technology company, a federal appeals court has ruled. Z4 Technologies Inc. sued Microsoft and Autodesk Inc., maker of drafting software, in 2004, claiming the technology they used to activate newly installed software and deter piracy infringed on patents created and owned by David Colvin, the owner of privately held z4.
by: zoobabzoobab
27 Nov 2007 10:28
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A Community Patent, or something approaching it, within the next 12 months? That’s what João Tiago Silveira, Portugal’s justice minister said during an unusually productive meeting of national government ministers last week, which he chaired. [...] Success in fixing the patent system is far from guaranteed. Especially as there are now what Zuck calls “new political forces that take an anti-intellectual property stance and are mobilised to work against the creation of a Community Patent”.
by: zoobabzoobab
26 Nov 2007 16:31
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Do you think there is any way Microsoft, patent holders, or lawyers can take direct aim at the kernel development process and impede it? I really don't know. I don't think they can impede the technology, and I really don't think there is anything real behind that whole intellectual property FUD machine. But nearly infinite amounts of money certainly goes a long way. I'm again the wrong person to ask. I work on the technology, and I make sure we do that as well as we can (which does include the ways we do it, including things like doing all the copyright certification we do), but I think that when it comes to these issues, you're really talking about marketing and FUD, not so much anything I'm able to really answer.
by: zoobabzoobab
26 Nov 2007 16:12
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Mark Wilson of Gizmodo.com reports that IBM is applying for a patent for DVDs that contain or download 'on demand' commercials that cannot be skipped. Consumers would be able to purchase these DVDs at a lower price than regular DVDs and pay extra to enjoy their purchase ad-free without having to buy a second DVD. Perhaps this is part of the massive shift in advertising that IBM predicts.
by: zoobabzoobab
26 Nov 2007 12:57
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A method wherein contents of DVDs may be restricted based upon purchased certificates is provided. The certificates allow for secured information on playback. Specifically, whenever a DVD is to be played, a certificate is consulted to determine whether the content of the DVD should be played with or without commercial interruptions. If the certificates provide for commercial interruptions, then commercials can be obtained from an online service that renders commercials on demand, or from the DVD itself. In such a case, the content of the DVD may be interspersed with commercials.
by: zoobabzoobab
26 Nov 2007 10:12
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The case relates to the UK-IPO's practice, following their interpretation of the Court of Appeal judgment in Aerotel/Macrossan, of refusing patent claims directed to computer program products even when such claims refer to claimed methods that are otherwise seen to be allowable. The patent applications in question had method claims that were all deemed to be allowable, but were refused solely on the grounds of having computer program product claims.
by: zoobabzoobab
26 Nov 2007 09:56
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I failed to see this last week, but Acacia Research, the patent troll that recently went after Red Hat and Novell, got its first day in court with a Texas jury and lost. Big time. It was seeking $900 million in damages, as paidContent notes, and instead got 35% of its stock price chopped. Still, not to be dissuaded by things like truth and right, Acacia has filed another suit against Microsoft and Apple (word processing this time). The trolls you will always have with you.
by: zoobabzoobab
23 Nov 2007 18:00
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During the interview, Hilf defended Microsoft's patent threats by arguing that the company is simply conforming with the standard practices implied by United States patent law. "Would we or could we ever litigate, yeah sure, it's always an option," says Hilf. "The key to that is to separate people's, individuals' and groups' belief about software patents as an issue and then what is the current way that we do patent law in at least the United States. You may disagree with it, but there's a law for how we deal with patents. They often get wrapped up together as the same issue, but they're not the same."
by: zoobabzoobab
23 Nov 2007 17:49
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France and others are afraid that trying to deal with the issue of unified litigation and an EU patent at the same time would end up with everything getting bogged down again. "We first wish to have a legal system before we go for a Community patent. We think if we mix the two, we won't reach a solution," France's European Affairs Minister, Jean-Pierre Jouyet told reporters. Germany wants the issue to be dealt with in its entirety. "It should be a package. This is not the breakthrough that we want," said Joachim Wuermeling, a senior Economy Ministry official said. Germany also wants one central court to deal with claims that a patent is not valid, but some states opposed this.
by: zoobabzoobab
23 Nov 2007 17:45
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