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Google is being sued by both Jarg Corp. (a privately funded search technology developer) and Northeastern University, parties to a patent which they claim describes the database technology Google uses to quickly index web information. The Boston Globe reports that the patent in question (No. 5,694,593, dated Dec 2, 1997) was granted to Northeastern in 1997 and exclusively licensed to the aforementioned Jarg Corp. It's not clear when Google began allegedly infringing on the '593 patent. The company incorporated in 1998, but Jarg co-founders Michael Belanger and Kenneth Baclawski weren't aware of any potential infringement until approximately 2.5 years ago, when the two men were contacted by a Boston law firm that wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
by: zoobabzoobab
12 Nov 2007 12:17
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Google is being dragged to court by Boston’s Northeastern University. The internet giant is being accused over a patented system for searching databases with networked computers and indexing results. In a complaint filed on Nov. 6th, in the federal court at Marshall, Texas, Northeastern stated that it “has suffered damages as a result of Google’s infringement and will continue to suffer damages.”
by: zoobabzoobab
12 Nov 2007 12:11
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The patent covers a method for chopping up database queries into multiple portions and having each part processed by a different computer. This allows for much faster searching of huge databases, like Google's vast index of Web pages on the Internet. Lawsuits get filed every day and I am sure Google is a target of more than its fair share due to its deep pockets. Whether this lawsuit has more merit than others will be decided soon enough by the courts.
by: zoobabzoobab
12 Nov 2007 12:07
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Wearing the famous-in-geek-circles red hat, Jan Wildeboar of Red Hat talked about the company's philosophy and aims as a FOSS vendor. The company viewed the defeat of the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive as a victory, and the EPLA as a dangerous backdoor metho?d of bringing software patents to Europe by having a centrral patent court to harmonise national law. On software patents, Jan's view was that they simply do not work. Pieter Hinjens of iMatix, a company that licences its software under permissive licences such as GPL, shared similar views on software patents. He noted that the US triple damages rule (which applies where someone knowingly infringes a patent) effectively means that companies deliberately avoid reading patents, meaning that the system is 'wrong'. After this comment, it was unsurprising to hear that Hinjens views software patents and the EPLA as the biggest threats facing FOSS.
by: zoobabzoobab
12 Nov 2007 12:02
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OpenTV settled a patent suit with Liberate Technologies Inc. dating back to 2002. San Francisco-based OpenTV sued Liberate in February 2002 over two patents, and then Liberate countersued, alleging infringement of four patents. Two of those claims were later dismissed by Liberate. [...] As part of the deal, Liberate admitted infringing OpenTV patents. U.S. District Court in San Francisco issued an order restraining Liberate from infringing OpenTV's patents, and Liberate dropped its countersuit.
by: zoobabzoobab
10 Nov 2007 13:29
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Most folks have a tough time saying goodbye. And if Microsoft gets its way, communication software vendors may find it tougher to give users the ability to say goodbye online. Microsoft wants to patent the technological mechanisms by which instant messaging, chat, and VoIP applications automatically send goodbye messages, according to a recently published patent application with the U.S. Patent Office.
by: zoobabzoobab
10 Nov 2007 13:20
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Burst.com claims that some of its patents for receiving, storing and transmitting audio and video files are at the heart of the iPod. The company first approached Apple to try to arrange a license for its claimed patents in late 2004. These attempts failed and the company later launched litigation against Apple in April 2006. Apple has argued that the patents do not rightfully belong to Burst, or that the patents are invalid. Last year Burst settled litigation with Microsoft, which took a licence and paid Burst a US$60 million lump sum.
by: zoobabzoobab
10 Nov 2007 01:09
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Linking to "third party repositories": Legal says that we can link, from the Fedora website, to third party repositories, so long as no one has made a critical assessment to determine that a patent or patents cover the technology in question and no party has actually asserted their patents against the technology, we should be okay. Once we are on notice of a claim of infringement or are aware of a competent assessment that concludes infringement is likely, we would need to take the link down or run a serious risk of facing a claim for inducing infringement. Merely linking would be highly unlikely to subject us to a claim of direct infringement. I asked about MP3, and it was stated that unless we are specifically aware of the MP3 patent holders asserting a claim against the technology, we are still okay.
by: zoobabzoobab
09 Nov 2007 19:37
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Specifically, IBM - which collects more than $US1 billion in patent royalties every year - describes a new process for licensing patents. Instead of smaller companies licensing technologies from patent holders like IBM in a plodding, one-by-one manner, IBM envisions a more dynamic system with "floating privileges," in which patents could be licensed quickly, as needed. The application says this floating privilege, once purchased, could be activated by a patent-infringement lawsuit. In other words, companies would buy the right to use a patent portfolio like IBM's as a legal shield for themselves - "just like purchasing a fire insurance policy," IBM's application contends.
by: zoobabzoobab
09 Nov 2007 19:12
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This is really the year of the patent troll. Last year, approximately 6,000 defendants were sued nationwide in about 2,800 patent cases. This year, the 6,000th defendant was sued sometime in early October. With the number of cases up nationwide probably 5% over last year, we're still projected for at least a 30% increase in the number of defendants sued. More on that data in a later post. Why? It's because of the numerous multi-defendant patent litigation cases being brought by non-practicing entities and patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas.
by: zoobabzoobab
09 Nov 2007 17:00
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A US SEC report states that Timeline's patent infringement lawsuit filed against Microsoft, as owner of ProClarity, in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington has been settled. Microsoft has paid US$5M to Timeline in exchange for a license to a number of patents.
by: zoobabzoobab
09 Nov 2007 15:48
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I'm for software patents. If people cannot patent their software ideas, they will be less likely to research better methods without the ability to make money from their improvements. [...] Software patents don't hurt those who don't patent their ideas. If someone can prove the idea existed before a big company came up with the idea, the big company will be unable to patent the idea. In an ideal world, better algorithms will be shared without charging money, but we live in an imperfect world. We live in a capitalistic society, and we must follow the rules of that society if we are going to progress together. Too many people would take advantage of the system if everything was free, and society would not progress if everyone was a thief.
by: zoobabzoobab
07 Nov 2007 11:48
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Alcatel-Lucent set up a trust to hold patents for MPEG-2 technology in violation of an agreement to share the inventions in the patent-licensing pool, MPEG LA said this week in a Delaware Chancery Court complaint.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 16:19
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I am only posting this only because certain information needs to reach people’s attention, no matter how inconvenient it may be. Many times in the past we repeated the alarming argument that Novell is turning its Linux desktop into a .NET-rich platform. It appears to be a matter of strategy, based on some recent interviews with Novell executives. Is it a good strategy? Probably not. The main issue is not the fact that Microsoft controls and extends .NET. The main issue is software patents, which bring monetisation (or “taxation”) into the equation.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 15:21
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The U.S. patent and legal system has turned into a battlefield where companies and technology developers can be attacked. Open-source and free software developers have historically ignored this secondary battlefield, focusing instead on the primary battlefield of development and proliferation of their project. This omission leaves open-source projects and individual developers vulnerable to patent infringement lawsuits. By creating its own defensive patent portfolio as commercial companies do, the open-source community can arm itself for this battle.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 15:19
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The computer program exclusion from Article 52 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) proved impossible to uphold as industry moved over to digital technology, and the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) felt emboldened to circumvent the EPC in Vicom by creating the legal fiction of technical effect. This engineers solution emphasised that protection should be available for a device, a situation which has led to software and business methods being protected throughout Europe when the form of application, rather than the substance, is acceptable. Since the Article 52 exclusion has effectively vanished, it is timely to reconsider what makes examination of software invention difficult and what leads to such energetic opposition to protecting inventive activity in the software field. Leith advocates a more programming-centric approach, which recognises that software examination requires different strategies from that of other technical fields.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 15:18
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This week, former Red Hat General Counsel, Mark Webbink, discusses how Red Hat’s patent promise was developed to combat patent trolling. And two previous installments on the GPLV3 and Software Patents in general are available below the fold.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 15:04
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According to the complaint filed in the Court of Chancery for the State of Delaware, Alcatel promised to make available to Licensees through MPEG LA's MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License all MPEG-2 essential patents which Alcatel can license or sublicense - and not take any action to subvert that commitment. But rather than abide by that promise, Alcatel and Lucent created the Trust to hold patents that Alcatel was and is required to place into the MPEG-2 License, and has taken the position that the essential MPEG-2 patents purportedly transferred to the Trust cannot be placed in the MPEG-2 License.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 15:00
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Such technically qualified judges would have university diplomas in scientific or technical disciplines and appropriate knowledge in patent law and litigation. Where necessary, training could be provided under the EU training framework. In each chamber legally qualified judges should be in majority (i.e. two out of three or three out of five). According to the proposal, judges could be recruited amongst members of the EPO or national offices' Boards of Appeal, patent judges, patent attorneys (!), etc.
by: zoobabzoobab
06 Nov 2007 14:27
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Separately, Portugal, which holds the EU presidency, floated a revised proposal for a European patent litigation system. The draft, although seen by critics as much improved over earlier versions, leaves several key issues unresolved, said Kevin Mooney, a UK attorney with Simmons & Simmons and president of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW).
by: zoobabzoobab
05 Nov 2007 11:51
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