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Burst.com Sues Apple Over Patent Infringement 212

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the never-saw-it-coming dept.
AWhiteFlame writes "Techdirt is reporting that Burst.com has filed a lawsuit against Apple for Patent Infringement. From the article, 'Burst.com is known for having patented a method for moving large pieces of content online at faster speeds [...] Last year, they approached Apple, suggesting that the company pay it 2% of iTunes' revenue. Apple then went on the offensive in January, proactively asking a judge to either invalidate Burst's patents or declare that Apple wasn't infringing. Just to make the litigation circle complete, after a few months of trying to reach a middle settlement ground, Burst has now gone ahead and sued Apple on its own.'"
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Burst.com Sues Apple Over Patent Infringement

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  • summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:36AM (#15146953) Homepage
    I ran their slide show [slashdot.org] through my Vulturecapitalese-to-English translator and discovered that the inventions they're claiming are software algorithms as follows:


    1) vanilla load balancing
    2) automatically resuming a download
    3) playing a download while the entire file is saved to disk (regardless of how much is actually viewed?)
    4) caching downloads (and/or partial downloads) on disk instead of asking the server again


    I can't bring myself to actually read the patents since my Patentlawyerese-to-English translator is broken but they have a list of them here (pdf) [burst.com].


    So some speculator pooled together the [cough]bullshit[/cough] IP of several defunct startups and hopes to sue everybody.

    • That sounds about right. From the looks of it, nothing Burst is doing is any different than what Apple has done via Quicktime(caching/buffering) & Akamai(load balancing) for years now.

      The sad part is that Burst has already one once against Microsoft, that'll weigh heavily on Apple going in to this.

      • Re:summary (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Problem is, Burst did it years BEFORE Quicktime, Akaimi or anyone else. What is obvious now wasn't back then. Do your research. Look at the filing dates of those patents.

        Sometimes patent trolls arent patent trolls, they are the little guys that the uber-corporations like to step on. Apple has become as bad as Microsoft in the mentality that patents are bad... errrr... except when they are ours, then they're good. Hypocrisy anyone?

        When did Apple become as nasty as Microsoft? And when did ALL patents become
        • Re:summary (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:59AM (#15147018)
          Without patents, there would be no small inventors

          What natural right do you have to prevent someone from doing something obvious, just because you thought of it first? Answer: none.

          So you can take your moral arguments and... go patent them, or something, because they're certainly novel and non-obvious.
          • Re:summary (Score:2, Informative)

            by John Straffin (902430)
            Once upon a time, just about everything we see as being "obvious" today wasn't obvious at all, except to one person. Why shouldn't that one person, if they also had the foresight to patent their idea, be rewarded?
            • Re:summary (Score:2, Insightful)

              by squiggleslash (241428)
              I sincerely doubt that's true. And if it is, then what of it? If one person thinks "You know, I can look for a specific number in a list of numbers by going through each item in the list until I find it", and then someone else has the same idea a year later, without knowing what the first person did, then why, exactly, should the first person be able to stop the second, or force them to pay royalties, or some other crap?

              Just because you did it first doesn't mean it wasn't going to happen anyway, a million

              • Re:summary (Score:2, Insightful)

                by John Straffin (902430)
                We're not talking about "if I put one foot in front of the other, I can walk!" ideas. Anything so obvious at the time of patent submission should be thrown out by the patent office. We're talking about ideas that were ground breaking at the time of conception. "I think the world is round" ideas. They don't have to be as important as that, but unique. Most of Burst's patents are over 10 years old! 10 years ago, there was no iTunes or Akamai, and QuickTime was at version 2.0. They appear to have been truly ah
        • Re:summary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by localman (111171) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:34AM (#15147191) Homepage
          the big corps could steal others innovations whenever they feel like it. Oh wait, they already do that

          And there you've nailed the real problem with patents: they don't do what they were intended. They don't protect the little guy at all. The little guy inventors always get reamed anyways because just about any verdict can be purchased with enough money. Patents just make it easier for the rich corporations that are on equal financial footing to hammer each other in court, see RIM, etc.

          The philosophy of patents makes sense: provide a way to reward invention and help recoup the cost of research and development. I don't see modern patents doing this at all. Most inventors are not actually rewarded (the company they work for is) and research is usually distributed across different competing companies and then the patent holder sues whoever comes out on top.

          It's just a mess. A messy mess.

          I have a meeting with the USPTO this on Wednesday, and I have no idea what to say that could have any positive effect.

          Cheers.
        • Re:summary (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Znork (31774) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:17AM (#15147369)
          "Problem is, Burst did it years BEFORE Quicktime, Akaimi or anyone else."

          And lots of other people did it before Burst. Caching and loadbalancing are intrinsic to the field of network services.

          "And when did ALL patents become bad?"

          At approximately the same time that any coercive government backed monopoly became bad.

          "Without patents, there would be no small inventors,"

          That is utter bullshit. If we needed a system specifically encouraging small inventors, we'd put a system specifically encouraging small inventors in place. Like attribution rights and incentives, where the government would pay out a stipend for a specific invention, or something similar. It's trivial to create a system much better suited to harnessing the innovative talent, because almost _any_ system would be superior to monopoly rights.

          Monopoly rights serve only those who can use capital and legal clout as leverage, most notably those who already have money and relations to power, and they're solidly stacked against anyone else.
          • If we needed a system specifically encouraging small inventors, we'd put a system specifically encouraging small inventors in place. Like attribution rights and incentives, where the government would pay out a stipend for a specific invention, or something similar.

            [sarcasm]Yeah, having the government pay for new ideas would work great! That way we won't have to worry about any undesirable inventions, you know, getting in the way. Also, this way we can make everyone pay for an invention, whether they want

          • "Without patents, there would be no small inventors,"

            That is utter bullshit. If we needed a system specifically encouraging small inventors, we'd put a system specifically encouraging small inventors in place.


            You're absolutely correct... about that one tiny part. Other than that you're completely wrong.

            That isn't the reason for the patent system. The reason we have patents is so that the knowledge created during the invention process becomes publicly documented. The point of the patent system isn't to prote
          • "Problem is, Burst did it years BEFORE Quicktime, Akaimi or anyone else."

            And lots of other people did it before Burst. Caching and loadbalancing are intrinsic to the field of network services.


            There is a simple answer to this. The Cisco (or whoever they use) manufacturers that perform load balancing and fast data transfer need to go in, remove their gear, reimburse them, and say they do not want to risk infringing on their patent of allowing large data transfers at high speeds via load balancing. Oh yeah
        • Re:summary (Score:4, Informative)

          by Gorshkov (932507) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <vokhsrogmda>> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:10AM (#15147623)
          Problem is, Burst did it years BEFORE Quicktime, Akaimi or anyone else. What is obvious now wasn't back then. Do your research. Look at the filing dates of those patents.

          Do YOUR research.
          Resuming downloads? FTP
          Load Balancing? Pretty well any large-scale internet router, database management system, web server, or any of a large number of system software packages, and most modern operating system network subsystems.
          Play while spooling? Not a whole hellova lot different from double-buffering, except you're writing it to disk instead of an in-memory structure.

          How a patent like that got granted in the first place is absolutly beyond me. If I can come up with reasonable (thought not necessarily *legally* acceptable) examples like that off the top of my head at 7AM after having been up all night WITHOUT doing any research, you're gonna have a very hard time convincing me that the patents should have been granted in the first place.
          • Play while spooling:

            Log capture in my 300 baud modem software. YEARS before the internet.

          • "How a patent like that got granted in the first place is absolutly beyond me."

            Probably because is absolutely beyond your ability to pay for it? (I'm assuming you can't cough up the cash to get a patent AND the investors AND the manufacturing and the rest of the entourage that keeps many people from filing...)
        • Re:summary (Score:3, Insightful)

          resume a download...

          I think Z-modem was around before Akami, Quicktime, etc.... no?

          And isn't there some little detail about protecting a patent or lose it? Or is that only a copyright thing? I get so confused in all this IP quicksand....
        • Okay, can anyone explain why software has 2 forms of Intellectual Property protection? What other "invention" has both copyright and patents? If every single program is just a series of algorithms, built on top of digital logic circuits. What is the invention, the computer or the software? If it's the software, why does it need copyright if it's every single new piece of code is possibly patentable, and if not probably infringinging something somewhere?
        • Re:summary (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Traiklin (901982)
          Burst.com IS being a patent troll.

          It say's right up there "Last year, they [Burst.com] approached Apple, suggesting that the company pay it 2% of iTunes' revenue."

          now please, tell my why they waited untill LAST YEAR to file the lawsuit or claim patent infringment? couldn't this of been done, oh I don't know, 10 YEARS ago? you know when the internet became a household thing and no one knew what a lot of that stuff was?

          Hell I never heard of Burst.com till the end of last year and that's as another Yo
        • Re:summary (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sambira (169347)
          True. But if you look at the fact that MPEG (method to compress/decompress, deliver, control audio/video, blah, blah, blah) was around before their patents, maybe their technology is based on existing standards or work which would invalidate those patents.

          Life is a bummer sometimes.
          • Even before mpeg, I was using procomm in dial-up to view gif's of um....trees and stuff...yeah....as they came in. Interlaced gifs made the whole preview process twice as fast.
        • Re:summary (Score:2, Insightful)

          "Almost all programming is an excercise in caching" -Terje Mathisen

          Caching is always, ALWAYS obvious. Load balancing implementations can range from obvious to genius, though, depending on what you are load balancing. I highly doubt that Burst has anything non-obvious given the problem domain. Networking? NO LOAD BALANCING GOING ON THERE EVER. NOPE. Really, being first to market with a product does not necessitate invention taking place.
        • Re:summary (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          Problem is, Burst did it years BEFORE Quicktime, Akaimi or anyone else. What is obvious now wasn't back then. Do your research. Look at the filing dates of those patents.

          Did it happen before the Web Browsers learned to display part of a page (even title) before it finished downloading ? And did it happen before they gained a disk/memory cache ?

          If not, then I'd say that parts 3 & 4 are invalid, since such a browser will show the partially downloaded page while saving it to the disk.

          Also, when did

      • Re:summary (Score:5, Funny)

        by nacturation (646836) <nacturation&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:25AM (#15147080) Journal
        The sad part is that Burst has already one once against Microsoft

        Maybe this time they'll get to two twice.
         
      • Re:summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tm2b (42473) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:41AM (#15147111) Journal
        The sad part is that Burst has already one once against Microsoft, that'll weigh heavily on Apple going in to this.
        Sigh. I'm still waiting for that (-1, WRONG WRONG WRONG) moderation tag that Slashdot needs so badly...

        Burst.com has not "one" (sic) once against Microsoft in any legal sense, Microsoft settled. [pcworld.com] Such a settlement does not set any legal expectation to "weigh heavily on Apple," all it does is imply that Microsoft's lawyers thought that Burst.com had a strong case.

        Even that isn't directly comparable, because the suit against Microsoft included antitrust claims that aren't applicable against Apple, since (regardless of complaints /.ers might make of Apple's dominance with the iTMS) there is no legal finding of fact that Apple is a monopoly.
        • by jcr (53032)
          all it does is imply that Microsoft's lawyers thought that Burst.com had a strong case.

          It implies nothing of the kind. Companies with deep pockets routinely cave to shakedown attempts just to get them out of their hair.

          -jcr
          • Bill Gates: Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what, if anything, Compuglobalhypermeganet does, so rather than risk competing with you, I've decided simply to buy you out.

            Homer: I reluctantly accept your proposal!

            Bill Gates: Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys!
                  [Gates' lackeys trash the room.]

            Homer: Hey, what the hell's going on!

            Bill Gates: Oh, I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks!
    • by PapayaSF (721268) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:53AM (#15146996) Journal
      For whatever it's worth, back in January Cringely [pbs.org] wrote that Burst does have something worthwhile:

      The reason Apple changed its MacWorld announcements at the last minute was because the company sued little Burst.com a few days before, trying to invalidate the Burst patents. But since Apple sued Burst, Burst shares have gone UP by 30 percent. The market is rarely wrong. Suing Burst was an enormous mistake for Apple, casting a pall on their video strategy and potentially costing the company strategic alliances with networks and movie studios. Apple realizes this now and is struggling internally to find a way to change course and put a positive spin on the course correction. Apple will lose and Burst will win, and Apple won't be able to afford to wait for the courts to decide anything, since time is critical in staking out Internet video turf. I predict that Apple will eventually take a license from Burst, that is UNLESS SOME OTHER COMPANY (Google? Real? Yahoo?) doesn't snatch up Burst first.

      Here's something I've noticed lately: Big companies believe in patents as long as they are talking about THEIR patents. Because Burst is three guys in an office in Santa Rosa, companies like Microsoft and Apple tend not to take them seriously. They forget that Burst spent 21 years and $66 million developing that IP, and the company has code that is still better than anything else on the market -- code not even Microsoft has seen. Unless someone buys the company first, Burst is going to win this and eventually license the world. They are in the right, for one thing, and in practical terms they now have as much money for legal bills as any of their opponents. Apple can't win this one.
      • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:30AM (#15147091)
        Burst shares have gone UP by 30 percent. The market is rarely wrong.

        Looks like someone was asleep during the internet bubble.
        • by jasonditz (597385) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:35AM (#15147099) Homepage
          Or for that matter, the SCO lawsuit... the stock skyrocketed after they sued IBM... how'd that work out?
          • Or for that matter, the SCO lawsuit... the stock skyrocketed after they sued IBM... how'd that work out?

            Just ask the litigious bastards themselves.

          • Or for that matter, the SCO lawsuit... the stock skyrocketed after they sued IBM... how'd that work out?

            The difference here is that Apple sued Burst and Burst's stock shot up. It's not uncommon for the company doing the suing to get higher stock (hey, they're committing to a lawsuit, they must have something, right?!?). But in this case, it was the opposit.
          • You know, there are different meanings to the phrases "is rarely wrong" and "is never wrong". Arguing against the latter means nothing with regards to the former, unless you can come up with enough examples to invalidate the former.

            The GP's argument about the dot-com bubble is somewhat valid, but falls apart on closer scrutiny. The vast majority of people who participated in the bubble were doing little to no research, much less evaluating the merits of lawsuits. The vast majority of the rest were maki
        • Or maybe someone who really, really hates Apple is bidding up the share prices.
        • "X is usually true."

          "Ha ha! Here's an example of Not-X! You're totally and completely wrong!"

          What's wrong with this picture?

          (The bubble may seem like a really big counter-example, but it's really a whole bunch of people making the same mistake, and it's still swamped by a long history supporting Cringely's argument. It's not proof, since markets can be wrong, but it's a very valid point in support of his argument.)
      • and the company has code that is still better than anything else on the market -- code not even Microsoft has seen.

        Uh if the code is so super secret where how does Cringley know it's superior? And if the code is so much superior to everyones elses including Apple, then obviously apple must not be infringing much since their code is so allegedly sub par. Cringley wants it both ways.

        If this IP is so dramatically enabling and un obvious then apple's quicktime should also be vastly superior to microsofts

        • by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:00AM (#15147343)
          In some ways, the lawsuit against Microsoft exonerates Apple. The reason Burst won it's lawsuit against MS was because they had engaged in negotiations with MS and revealed their technology secrets to MS. And because MS's subsequent behaviour convinced the jury MS had negiotated in bad faith as a means of stealing the IP.

          I think we can be pretty sure that 1) MS would not have shared this with APPLE. 2) the MS was doing this to gain a competative advantage in streaming over the fairly well established quicktime standard at the time.

          Thus if Apple copied Burst technology it was at a very high conceptual level, because they woul dnot have had access to the methods like MS did. And arguably, what made Bursts techinology valuable at the time was as a response to Apple's prior art, not because it was such a world-beating technology. That is, if quicktime had not existied MS would not have felt pressured to acquire Busts technology with any alacrity but woul dhave just developed their own.

      • I think one of the reasons that most of us hate patent law generally is because when we take abstract mathematical concepts and prove them with specific applications, it's hard to conscionably assign ownership and dollar amounts to them. While it's probably fair to call Burst's labors "IP," Apple's attorneys are disputing this claim, and the court will have to make a ruling.

        If I had to choose sides, I hope Burst wins -- their tech is cool, and they worked hard for it. Having said that, I wonder if this is a
    • I'm trying to get the government patent browsing page (http://www1.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week08/OG /patent.htm [uspto.gov])to work, but so far Safari and Firefox seem to be barfing. Anyone have any luck looking up these patents with IE?

      4,963,995; 5,995,705; 5,057,932 and 5,164,839 (you probably don't want the commas)
      • Re:summary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by frilledren (671593) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @04:26AM (#15147288)
        I read through their patents, and it was all too familiar since I had to wade through legalese for 2 biophysics patents I have. I don't know what any of their other ppt presentations or tea leaves claim, but the patents are based on the ability to:
        Record audio/video to solid state device (RAM, optical disk, tape (yikes!), etc.) Transmit said media over telecommunications devices, especially using compression. Receive media over telecommunications services. This technology is especially designed for vhs duplication using a single tape deck, and intermediately storing the information on solid state devices.
        read them if you like:
        http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=P TO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch- bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=4,963,995 .PN.&OS=PN/4,963,995&RS=PN/4,963,995 [uspto.gov]

        http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=P TO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch- bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=5,995,705 .PN.&OS=PN/5,995,705&RS=PN/5,995,705 [uspto.gov]
        Ok, so that covers, hmmm, most things in my office and home- which generally, means that the patent is probably excessively broad (IANAL), but that's typically how they're written- so you could sue anyone anywhere. Since it seems so broad, I imagine that there is a good chance of finding some 'prior art' (somebody who did it before and made the information public, public knowledge=not patentable), such as technology to transmit pictures from scientific and military satelites, which both seem like they fit the above points. Furthermore, the technology seems like an obvious combination of existing technologies, in which case apple may be able to really fight them.

        Some might say that big companies profit off the technology of little ones like burst, but I honestly despise non-existent technology being patented, as it removes a lot of the motivation for another company to independently develop it, market it, bring to the consumers, just so someone else can say that he or she told the USPTO about it 16 years ago and scoop up 1 hundred million or so, but I guess IP portfolio companies just wait for a company to succeed and then flip through their holdings to see what they can sue them for. Big tech companies are different, as they almost all infringe on each others patents but have a more unspoken standoff relationship of not suing whenever possible, so as to prevent eternal litigation. Small companies are problematic in this, as they might have no marketed technology, yet own patents, so they rarely infringe and are not part of the 'mutual destruction' standoff. Something about a suit driven company turns my stomach.

        An idea does not equal a technology, and I wish the USPTO were more stringent in the applications (only recently was a functional example of a 'Warp Drive' required for that applicant). I know that the USPTO accepts ideas alone, and need not be at all functional, but at some point this is a real obstacle for innovation. Fraunhoffer's MP3 technology was viable and not just an idea for compressing audio (and making cymbals sound crappy). Both of my patents are for developed and published techniques. If I have the idea for non-hallucinogenic chewing gum that lets you travel through time, but someone else actually makes it, my hat's off to that dude.

    • 3) playing a download while the entire file is saved to disk (regardless of how much is actually viewed?)
      4) caching downloads (and/or partial downloads) on disk instead of asking the server again


      So, why are they asking for a cut of iTMS? iTMS doesn't allow for the playing of songs or movies during download (the files are grayed out, probably due to DRM issues). And, if you've ever had a video download hang or crash, you'd know that the option for retrieving incomplete downloads involves first connectin
    • If Burst.com crashes and burns and burns a lot of people in the process, they will be known as.... (get ready...)

      curst.bom

      (Cursed.bomb)
  • Yawn... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Another company gets sued. Happens every day, and it's getting old. Can we wait an just post news when XYZ Corporation actually loses a lawsuit?
    • Interestingly the root of evil is US broken patent law. This is an internationally recognised fact. The cases are just effects.

      What's different in the Us is the lack of an organisation such as FFII [ffii.org] which puts pressure on parliament and proposes solutions to solve the mess. US citizens prefer to leave Us patent reform to Ms lobbyists and the pharmaceutical industry. And then we also see some usual suspects EFF action and numerous eloquent commentators -- not the right approach to get impact and solve the dam
  • by ThatsNotFunny (775189) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:42AM (#15146967)
    because I'd be a bajillionaire.
  • by Frag-A-Muffin (5490) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:43AM (#15146971) Homepage
    f*ckedcompany.com [fuckedcompany.com] is going to list itself soon if this keeps up! All we have to do is look at which companies are suing large money making companies over stupidity patents and you know that companies is going to sink soon! :) Just look at the track record: Rambus? NTP? SCO? I know they're not completely gone yet, but they sure seem headed that way. I'm sure there are more, but they don't come to mind at the moment. It always seems like it's a company's last ditch effort to remain relevant. Sue your way back to profitability. :)
  • by MacTechnic (40042) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:02AM (#15147025)
    It is a little ironic to look at how Microsoft initially started the litigation spree for Burst by settling for $60M which makes a litigation warchest for Burst to pursue Microsoft's major competitors in multimedia distribution, i.e. Apple Computer & Akamai.

    It's kinda like how Microsoft initially bought a license from SCO several years ago, and then watched as SCO attempted to IP-attack the Linux community, again a upstart competetitor for Microsoft for Server Operating systems.

    Is there a pattern emerging here, where Microsoft throws in the towel against a lowly firm IP software patents, which indirectly supports Microsoft's ultimate goals. The old adage: The enemy of my enemy is my friend!
    • by calciphus (968890) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:22AM (#15147074)
      It seems like Microsoft looks at a little company that DOES have some chance of winning a case, and rather than fighting it and letting some court assign a big fat award to them, just pays them off early on, when $60M seems like a big number. Burst can't sue Microsoft again, but since so much of the industry is built off of borrowed technology and ideas, they have just as valid a claim against Apple - which has a much bigger stake in the market - and is much less willing to settle. Take them to court, let the judge think that "Apple has profited illegally off of their IP" and get a big fat settlement. But where to pay for such a long, drawn-out lawsuit? Microsoft's early-on pittance.

      I don't think Microsoft is nefariously "funding" the IP vultures, I think they just realized that they could get away a lot cheaper by settling early on and not having to deal with it. Most people never even heard about the MS v. Burst - but you can bet Burst will whip up a shitstorm about Apple stealing their IP and thus owing the success and health of their company's only profitable sector to Burst's crackpot IP. Apple will look bad, shares will suffer, and then Apple will settle...for more than the 2% Burst originally asked...to make it all go away.

      Has anyone patented "Pulling an NTP" yet? I mean, prior art and nontriviality no longer seem to determine patentability, so someone out there with the time and money to exploit the patent system should.
      • I don't think Microsoft is nefariously "funding" the IP vultures, I think they just realized that they could get away a lot cheaper by settling early on and not having to deal with it.

        RIM could have settled for $10 million or something but ended up losing $600 million in addition to legal fees. If you have $40 billion in cash like Microsoft, you limit your liabilities by settling. It's simple risk management. $60 million is like a week's interest or something. The fact that it hurts your largest competitor
    • And for people without the need for tinfoil hats, Microsoft has the kind of money it is easier to just pay off the trolls and not have to worry about any legality or further troll attempts...

      Apple should have done the same...

      If you look at MS's patent practices, they didn't started pushing through a ton of their work for patents until the last few years, after they started getting sued for crap that they had been using or even created years ago.

      Hell, they left FAT wide open for 20 years, and FAT32 wide open
      • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:37AM (#15147104) Journal
        heck Win98 Active Desktop/Konfabulator anyone
        which was ripped off of Apple System 6, Konfabulator even willingly admitted they based their idea off the older System 6 apps program. Microsoft of course rips everything off of Apple (cough Vista Cough)
        • Microsoft of course rips everything off of Apple (cough Vista Cough)

          Vista is not ripped from Apple. It implements a few features, but most people take a look a SCREENSHOTS and cry that they're stealing from Apple. The interfaces look nothing a like. Microsoft has only tried to make it more "stylish" as that seems to be the thing these days. You can't say that by trying to make an attractive UI they're copying Apple.

          NOTE: I'm in no way a Microsoft apoligist. I run Windows at work and Gentoo w/ Gnome whe
      • "If MS starts suing over their patents instead only using them to defend themselves, they will also go on my list of scum sucking corporations."

        You haven't been here very long, have you?
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:17AM (#15147056)
    I went and read some of their docs and went through their technology presentation. What their incredible solutions is: redundant server setup with a separate distributor server that "tells" the client software which of the servers is least loaded, and buffering of video (or what they call it is faster-than-realtime "bursting" and "caching"). That's it.

    They have their right to offer their products on the market, but there's totally nothing worthy of patenting and licensing there, so no wonder both Microsoft and Apple turned them down.

    This is the sad story of a company with an actual product that turned into a patent troll, simply since being a patent troll pays better.
    • M$ is in-love with the technology. In fact they "donated" $60M for such inovative technology.
    • What their incredible solutions is: redundant server setup with a separate distributor server that "tells" the client software which of the servers is least loaded, and buffering of video

      But load balancing and buffering is new, right?

      I mean, look for yourself and go and download one of their excellent products, and just pay for it already:

      http://burst.com/new/promo/main.htm [burst.com]

  • by Btarlinian (922732) <tarlinianNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:36AM (#15147101)

    It may seem like Burst.com is simply another NTP or patent troll, but I don't think that's really true. They actually did have a product but were driven out of the market by MS and WMP

    And while their technologies may seem obvious now, they may not have been so obvious when they patented them. In fact, during the tech bubble, many though Burst would be another hot company. In fact, they argue that they were driven out of business because windows media player purposely was built to be incompatible with their technology (this is second hand information not verified by me.)

    I'm not sure if Burst.com actually deserves to have these patents or win these lawsuits, but it definitely seems more justified than NTP in suing MS and now Apple

  • by NZheretic (23872) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:54AM (#15147127) Homepage Journal
    Lawsuit mushroom clouds rise over the remains of USA's Tech industries.

    The USA will fall behind because ever more intellectual property will be locked up behind a multitude of corporations and individuals effectively ruled by lawyers who are more interested in earning legal fees rather than bothering to actually manufacture anything.

    Other Governments and Europe's bureaucracies will not hesitate to forcibly acquire the necessary intellectual property needed get things done for large projects

    Other countries and even Europe's parliament will also not hesitate to adopt more liberal intellectual property structures if you demonstrate [wiki.ffii.de] that doing so will better benefit their economies as a whole, instead of just a few major corporations.

    The USA administration and even more myopic major corporations will continue to let more and more manufacturing, service industry and development to be off-shored resulting in importing permanent poverty into the USA.

    You want to see the future of the USA? Visit the remnants of Detroit motor city works, Ye Mighty, and despair

  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:33AM (#15147188)
    This is a good thing: Every time some little company pisses off some big player like Microsoft, IBM or Apple with some inane patent thing, it pushes the big companies (and their army of Washington lobbyists) one step closer to realizing just how screwed up the American patent system is. Of course it would help if the people in Congress had a clue, but every little bit helps.
    • Yeah, unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Companies like IBM and Microsoft [for instance] are proud of their patent portfolios and even have hall of fames for people with the most patents. They patent every incremental improvement to any process they perform just as a means to screw over any possible competitor.

      Tom
    • by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:08AM (#15148656)
      This is a good thing: Every time some little company pisses off some big player like Microsoft, IBM or Apple with some inane patent thing, it pushes the big companies (and their army of Washington lobbyists) one step closer to realizing just how screwed up the American patent system is.

      And you really think that if it's these huge corporations that finally push for patent reform it will be a kind of reform that puts the small inventor on equal footing with them? Everytime this sort of patent suit comes up someone posts "Oh goody, when the big players feel the sting they will change the system!" This is kind of a circular defeatist argument. You admit that the status quo won't change until the big companies that in reality hold the power push for change, but at the same time think that change will benefit anyone other than those big companies? The attitude needs to be that the patent system is broken, we ALL are feeling it and WE THE PEOPLE whom it is supposed to serve, not "we the corporations" need to revise it to work for everyone.

      And more than anything else what the patent system needs is a way to successfully use it without having to spend thousands to millions of dollars on third party consulatations and lawyers. Forget all the actual lawsuits you're seeing, those come after a patent is granted; the fact is just to apply for and receive a patent you practically have to feed a family of lawyers. What a joke. I don't need a personal attorney with me at the RMV to successfully apply for a new drivers license, why should I need to do the same just to use the patent system with any chance of success up front?

  • software patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @04:22AM (#15147278)
    The way I see it is that there are currently just too many patentables in computer software. Some reform is needed, such as not allowing companies to patent "operation X, which is old, *applied to* market Y which is new" type patents, which are the real stupid ones. However, the majority of annoying patents like this will go away, because such a mass of prior art will exist, that you can be pretty much guaranteed that someone will have done something like it before unless it is truly inventive. That's not to say that bad patents won't be granted, but it will become pretty easy to get lawsuits like this dismissed with a little research.

    Does anyone else see this optimistic view of the future? Am I just naive?
  • by bpeikes (596073) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:54AM (#15148523) Journal
    I worked for a consulting company that helped write their first patents and developed their demos. I wrote one of the first versions of their streaming video server back in 1997 and the patents were submitted before that by my employer. Remember folks, this was way - way back before anyone was even thinking about streaming video or music over the internet, as a matter of fact, back then, you had special video hardware to do the mpeg decoding. In 97 it was impressive to be able to stream multiple video streams on a LAN. I think we had 10 clients streaming full video from our server over 10baseT. Ah, the good ole days of startups.
  • I remember having an extensive conversation with the Burst folks at Comdex back in 1991. At the time, I was working at Philips, in the CDI development group, working on streaming video off CD's. During this conversation, I could tell that what they were doing was fundimentally different from what everyone else thought was the correct way to stream data. Reading about the case lately, I think they have a valid claim...

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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