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Microsoft, Autodesk Guilty of Patent Infringement 212

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-patenting-breathing-that's-okay-right dept.
rfunches writes "A Texas jury has awarded $133 million in damages to David Colvin, after finding Microsoft and Autodesk guilty of infringing upon Colvin's two software patents for software antipiracy protection. Colvin's company, z4 Technologies Inc., filed patents for 'passwords and codes assigned to individual software copies to prevent unauthorized copies.' Microsoft was ordered to pay $115 million, and Autodesk $18 million for infringement of the product-activation schemes. A spokesman from Microsoft contends that 'Microsoft developed its own product-activation technologies well before z4 Technologies filed for its patent.' Appeals are expected."
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Microsoft, Autodesk Guilty of Patent Infringement

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:17AM (#15164107)

    From TFA:
    Autodesk and Microsoft had argued during the six-day trial in federal district court in Tyler that the patents were invalid.
    Well, I don't know about Autodesk, but I think everyone here knows Microsoft's rather dubious track record with patents, as evidenced by this list of previous Slashdot stories:



    Sorry, Microsoft, but if you want to play the patent game like this, you can't be too upset when you get played from time to time.
    • Microsoft has a lot of money, and with that money, they can afford these things called "lawyers". Since they can afford more of these than the smaller company, it really doesn't matter if Microsoft believes the patent truly is invalid or not; they can wave enough FUD around until the company settles, or until the Judge in the case gets a headache and starts doing silly things.

      Sadly, David vs. Goliath only really works on Television.
    • by figleaf (672550) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:31AM (#15164216) Homepage
      Sure. But Microsoft Patents are defensive patents.
      They have never sued anyone for patent infringement. But have beenm on the recieving end for the stupidest of patent.
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:38AM (#15164264)
        But Microsoft Patents are defensive patents. They have never sued anyone for patent infringement.

        So their "friendly" offers to solicit royalties on the VFAT filesystem from camera vendors is defensive? If the vendors refuse, they have no risk of being sued because Microsoft has never sued anyone yet?

      • Sure. But Microsoft Patents are defensive patents.

        Defensive patents one day. Offensive patents the next. Microsoft doesn't bother enforcing their patent portfolio simply because they are making billions on software, so it isn't worth the effort (or badwill they would gain). If, however, revenue started heading downwards, they could very well start diving through the patents, looking for companies to extort. Didn't Ballmer recently make some noise about Linux, codingly threatening it on the patent front?

        Many
      • But have beenm on the recieving end for the stupidest of patent.

        Microsoft is on the receiving end of many patent infringement lawsuits because Microsoft routinely steals the technology of others.

      • Sure. But Microsoft Patents are defensive patents.
        They have never sued anyone for patent infringement.
        I suppose I'm missing the sarcasm today. So I will have to ask,

        how is MS trying to patent parts of the iPod [zdnet.com] in anyway defensive?

        iPods were shipping before the MS patent was even filed.

    • Sure Microsoft patents stupid things, but they don't go around suing people for using double-clicking... the purpose of those patents is to keep morons from suing Microsoft when Microsoft uses double-clicking. If Microsoft was going around suing people for patent infringement, I would say that they were getting what they deserve. This, however, just encourages companies like Microsoft to patent every simple thing they do, no matter how obvious, because if they don't someone else will and sue them.
    • by Numen (244707) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:37AM (#15164262)
      You're confusing applying for a patent with enforcing a patent. You cited patents that MS had applied (and presumably won some of them) for. Not patents that MS has sued somebody for infringing.

      The argument from Microsoft, IBM, Orale and SUN etc., has been that they have to file for defensive patents or get buried under litigation. Cases like this one prove that they have a point. Somebody in an MS somewhere will be having to explain why MS didn't attempt to aquire this particular patent if it was crucial to them.

      MS has no choice but to play the patent game... unless you can suggest an alternative couse of action for them.
      • Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Sun etc could simply put all these ideas they feel they need defensive patent protection for into a publication of their own "Software Ideas" and give a free subscription to every patent office worldwide (along with an open public website of them).
      • So MS is patenting things for "defense only". Ok. So, that would in turn mean, that they don't like the idea of software patents and would probably be best off if there were none, right? After all, if they only hold patents to "defend" against being the target of frivulous lawsuits, they should be the loudest advocates to get rid of them altogether. Less hassle, lower cost.

        Still, they're amongst those who lobby the most in the EU to push the software patents through as quickly as possible. Care to explain t
      • MS has no choice but to play the patent game... unless you can suggest an alternative couse of action for them.

        Of course they have an alternative course of action: They can lobby against software patents. If companies such as Microsoft push hard enough, software patents will get revoked. Of course, in the past they thought software patents were a good idea and lobbied to get them installed.

        I love these patent-attacks against Microsoft. Not because I dislike Microsoft or because I like software patents.

    • by dioscaido (541037) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:41AM (#15164285)
      I hate patents, but MS' crazy pantent spree is a direct result of ridiculous lawsuits like these. Now a days companies can take the high ground and not patent obvious/simple tech, only to have some other company patent it and sue their ass. And lets be honest, there's been a few lawsuits lately where the patent holder purposefully sues MS and MS only, leaving smaller companies and OSS to 'infringe' on the patent as they please. That's ridiculous, no matter how much one hates MS.

      Doesn't this patent constitute 'obvious' technology, though, and as such is invalid?

      The software patent system is completely broken.
      • by number6x (626555) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:35AM (#15164730)

        Sadly the idea of 'defensive patents' only works against other high tech companies with product based revenue streams to protect. It doesn't provide a defense against patent trolls.

        The big software companies thought they had a great way to protect them selves from any up and coming, young, innovative start-ups that might compete with them. Create huge war chests of silly software patents and form an old-boys club. All the usual suspects IBM, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others joined in. They've got what they've got and they want to keep it.

        If you were already established, you could cross license your patents with the other already established old-boys, and keep doing business. But if some upstart comes along you could charge them money to license your patents, reducing their profitability. That would reduce their ability to threaten your profitability. If the up-start couldn't afford to pay, buy them out cheap. If the people behind the upstart wanted profit, they would either pay or sell because they couldn't profit or gain investors if people thought their products infringed one of the old-boy's patents.

        This works against upstarts that have actual products to sell, but the patent trolls just want money. Now that the old-boys have created a system that grants and enforces silly software patents, the patent trolls can buy up defunct tech companies for pennies on the dollar just for their patent portfolios. If the old-boys threaten to use their 'defensive patents' to stop the trolls from selling their products, the trolls just laugh. The trolls don't sell any products. They just sue rich old-boys.

        The old-boys created a system of software patents that they thought would help them cripple innovative young competitors, and it does work the way they intended. However they also created a system that could be exploited by patent trolls that have nothing to lose. The old-boys have to decide if the benefits of the added government regulation provided by software patents outweighs the cost of paying tolls to the trolls.

        Remember what patents are. Patents are government granted, time limited monopolies. Patents are anti-competitive tools. They are anti-free market devices used to reduce competition in the market place. Supporting increased "Intellectual Property" rights is not a conservative economic position, it is definitely a socialist position that believes the government is better at picking winners and losers in the market place than market forces are. If you support increases in patents copyrights and trademarks, you support liberal economic theories. The constitution already set limits on the length of patents. Patents need to be non-obvious and original. I've seen laws that have changed the way patents work, but I haven't seen any constitutional amendments.

      • Broken? It shouldn't even exist. It's like claiming the spawn of Cthulhu is born deformed.
      • And let's be honest, there've been a few lawsuits lately where the patent holder purposefully sues MS and MS only, leaving smaller companies and OSS to 'infringe' on the patent as they please. That's ridiculous, no matter how much one hates MS.

        a Patent, unlike a Trademark, can be selectively enforced. A trademark has to be enforced against all infringement or else you lose it.

        You are right about the stupidity of some of these patents... I blame allowing business methods and software patents in in the fir

    • As much as I love the idea of the sweet justice of Microsoft getting slammed by a nuisance patent suit, I gotta say that I can't understand why the jury awarded damages other than Colvin was "the little guy."

      I'm a CAD and PDM systems analyst, and I know for a fact taht Autodesk has been using their current product activation scheme at least since AutoCAD R13 was released, I think in 1996 or so. I think they may also have used it in R12, R11, and R10, but I'm not sure if it's the exact same one they are usi
      • Juries tend to be packed with idiots. If you show the least bit of intellegence, either side will try to exclude you. Each side wants you to buy their stupid rhetoric and to be easy to con. The end result is that most juries tend to fall for stupid rhetoric. It can be blatant at times too, so bad you would think the judge should declare a mistrial.

        The "chewbacca defense" is no exaggeration.
    • Holy crap! The TASK LIST? How in the heck is anyone ever supposed to develop a competing operating system if an essential feature like 'the list of tasks running displayed on the screen' is something you have to pay Microsoft to include?
      No wonder Ubuntu doesn't include something as basic as MP3-playing by default, the US patent laws are all fricked up.
    • I call foul on you Rip. I always enjoy your posts (well mostly) and think you do a great job - but come on, - I have seen you hammer away at people with lame patent claims - and this one 'passwords and codes assigned to individual software copies to prevent unauthorized copies.' is just another one of those. Now that it is MS you say boo-hoo to them? Not cool - they deserve our support in this just like we would give anyone else in this situation.
  • Double edged sword (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nigham (792777) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:18AM (#15164112) Homepage
    My initial reaction was total delight at knowing that software patents are biting software companies back. But on second thoughts, all this will encourage is many more mindless software patents by the big firms to cover their asses.
    • by Halo1 (136547)

      But on second thoughts, all this will encourage is many more mindless software patents by the big firms to cover their asses.

      First of all, that won't help them defend against patent holding companies (also known as patent trolls).

      Secondly, they actually paint a nice shiny target on themselves [ffii.org] by getting all those defensive patents, making themselves more likely to be sued (see the Q&A at the bottom of the page)

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOspaM.tpno-co.org> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:18AM (#15164113) Homepage
    ...it's a silly software patent being exploited to make cash.

    On the other, they're taking a bite out of microsoft.

    I just don't know how to feel about that.
    • Re:One one hand... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Feel good. If enough of these happen then it will be cheaper for MS to buy a few congress critters and get the silly laws overturned than it is for them to keep paying patent fees as the cost of doing business. Eolas cost them $0.5b. This cost them over $100m. If it's costing them $1b/year, then it starts to be a very silly idea for them to allow these laws to continue to exist...
    • With three factors in this case rather than the usual two, you may find it easier to choose your groupthink:

      1. Software patent: BAD.
      2. Suit against Microsoft: GOOD.
      3. Patent that encumbers a form of digital restrictions management: GOOD.
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bob McCown (8411) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:18AM (#15164114)
    I remember password and/or code protected software on the earliest PCs, the Amiga, everything! How the hell is this patentable? Oh wait, its the US Patent Office, nevermind.
    • Okay, but did each individual instance of a piece of software protected by it's own unique passkey? I take it that that fact is the critical "innovation" under discussion.

      Either way it's a stupid patent, but i'm not sure what you're referencing is relevent. (is it?)
  • I haven't read TFA yet, so I don't know if it was mentioned or not. But, when was this patent filed? Was it before WfW came out? Codes for individual copies sounds very much like your typical product key, which dates back to at least WfW.

    (I do promise that I will read the fine article later on, when time permits.)


    • The patent for 'a method and apparatus for securing software to reduce unauthorized use' (patent # 6,044,471) is dated March 28, 2000.
      The patent for 'a method for securing software to decrease software piracy' (patent # 6,785,825) is dated August 31, 2004.
      • by l2718 (514756) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:52AM (#15164366)

        Reading the patents (6,044,471 [uspto.gov] and 6,785,825 [uspto.gov]) one is struck by a few things:

        1. The patents (especially the second one) show a clever idea: force the user to register the software in order for it to operate. I don't know if this was an original idea in 2004, but it is clever. Of course, just because it's clever doesn't mean it's patentable.
        2. This idea doesn't seem to be clever enough to be non-obvious as required by section 103 of US Code Title 35 [house.gov].
        3. More seriuosly, the patents claim to provide an "apparatus and method", but fail to describe any actual appartus beyond the computer running the software under question. This is really a patent on an idea which contravenes section 102 of Title 35.

        Beyond all this, the real question is of economics: did it cost Mr. Colvin $118M to develop this "invention"? Society has no incentive to allow people to monopolize ideas which have a zero development cost: people would invent them anyway since there's a profit motive even if other people can employ the invention. It should therefore be clear that the Patent Clause and US Code Title 35 were not intended to cover this invention. The fact that it was accepted anyway tell us a lot (that we already knew) about the US patent system. For example "non-obvious" has devloved to mean "not already known", a situation which is beyond words.

        • force the user to register the software in order for it to operate. I don't know if this was an original idea in 2004, but it is clever.

          No, it is not clever. It's not even an original idea. It's obvious to anyone in the field. The idea of using codes / etc. in licensing / activation goes back MANY MANY years. In fact back in the late 80's, we discussed this internally for a software product and decided against the tactic because we felt the users would hate it. The concept has also been used in shareware fo
          • No, it is not clever. It's not even an original idea. It's obvious to anyone in the field. The idea of using codes / etc. in licensing / activation goes back MANY MANY years. In fact back in the late 80's, we discussed this internally for a software product and decided against the tactic because we felt the users would hate it. The concept has also been used in shareware for many years as well

            Didn't PC Write use a technique like this? I seem to remember reading somewhere that if you snet them the shareware

          • The idea is a bit more than simply using codes in license actibation: the idea is to give a code with the software, that works for a short while. For longer-term use you have to register it and get the "permanent" password. In another variation the password changes periodically as a function of the previous password.

            Of course this also existed in the 80s in the case of shareware. I still think it's clever, but my main complaint is that this isn't original or non-obviuos.

        • This idea doesn't seem to be clever enough to be non-obvious as required by section 103 of US Code Title 35

          You have the burden of proof wrong here. A patent does not have to rise to a certain level to meet the non-obviousness requirement. Instead it is assumed to be non-obvious unless a prima facie case of obviousness can be made based on the prior art.

          There is no requirement of a certain amount of cleverness to be reached before a patent is granted.

          More seriuosly, the patents claim to provide an "appara
    • dont know what version you had of Windows for Workgroups but I never seen one with an activation code or key. The first time I saw anything like that was Windows NT 4.0 even 3.51 had no activation or CD key and that was well after WFW3.11.

      Microsoft started that crap with their beloved Windows 95 and NT4 (windows95+basic user security) and was not used before then except on their Visual Basic and Visual C products starting with the 3.0 versions. Oh man I feel old now.
      • And if I recall correctly these early keys the gp mentioned were not unique to each copy. They were general product codes that could be used on more then one copy. I know I used to just look on the sticker of a Win98 box to get a key when installing a fresh copy. And I remember some generic numbers you used to be able to use on any copy of VS.

        There was definately a transition period though. I remember getting so frustrated by being asked for the Office 97 key when *removing* Office. "Sorry the key you enter
      • The copy of WfW 3.11 I have archived on CD asks for a product code on the same screen where it has you enter your user name.

        When I return home next month, I'll have to experiment a bit and see if just entering any string of numbers or even leaving that field blank will actually work. I usually use 011-11111111 or something like that.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:23AM (#15164151) Homepage Journal
    That is a groundless patent, with tons of prior art and such a basic part of the software industry that David Colvin has no business owning a patent on it any more than MS deserves ownership of the double-click. *sigh* I'm going to have to side with MS on this one.

    Anyone else reminded of the "South Park" election episode, where the only available choices were a big douche or a turd sandwich?

  • That amount of money to be paid by Microsoft is the rough equivalent of $15.50 to the average person.
    At least the guy may get compensated for their misdeeds?
    • Misdeeds? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:36AM (#15164253)
      At least the guy may get compensated for their misdeeds?

      Using unique product keys is a misdeed? Individual bank PINs, maybe, too? Come on, it's a plain-as-day concept. There are only two reason companies scramble to patent stuff like this: to actually produce nothing except the capacity to sue people for a living, or to cover their asses while they're in the business of actually providing goods and services to real customers.
      • And the latter is as bad a reason as the former.
        • And the latter is as bad a reason as the former.

          So how would you get investors to put a ton of money into your company so that you can hire and sustain a crew of developers working full time on something high-tech? Do you really think that Google could possibly exist if everything they spent time producing could just be ripped off by someone else? How is it reasonable for some parasite to just run off with your work and do business without having to shoulder the same overhead, years of work and investmen
          • I did not say that patents used for what they were designed - allowing the inventor of something new to make a profit from his invention - were bad.

            I said that patents for the purpose of protecting yourself from other patent holders are bad.

            I may have misunderstood your previous post, but I read your second reason as being the second case I've stated.
    • Not only does this unjustly enrich a patent system abuser, it raises Microsoft's costs, which will be passed on to Microsoft's customers. Everyone who buys Microsoft's products in the future, or does business with someone buying Microsoft's products, will be hurt. The only winners are the scum who sued and their lawyers.
  • Patent Link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:27AM (#15164183) Homepage
    Patent Link [uspto.gov]

    This patent was filed in September 5, 2003. Here are just a few of the Microsoft products that used this methodology before the patent was filed:
    • Windows 95
    • Windows NT 4.0 (Workstation)
    • Windows NT 4.0 (Server)
    • Windows 98
    • Windows ME
    • Windows 2000 (all versions)
    • Windows XP (all versions)
    • Office 95
    • Office 97
    • Office 2000
    • Office XP

    That's not even mentioning the plethora of other Microsoft products for the PC and Mac that used unique IDs. Anything that came with a certificate of authenticity had its own unique number. Microsoft obviously has prior use, and this is a clear case of a computer-illiterate uneducated jury making poor decisions. Surely this will be overturned on appeal.
    • by Flying pig (925874) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:33AM (#15164226)
      How many times must I post this? In the US, it is date of invention that matters not date of filing. The rest of the world understands the problem with this approach, which was fine when distance and slow transport isolated communities, but is now hopelessly out of date. Only in the US can you have submarine patents. This is the most broken thing in the entire system. Without that, even properly reviewed software patents might be tolerable. Prior art is hard to prove in a country where someone has sat on an invention for ages in a notebook witnessed by an attorney and stored in a safe.
      • Can you find a source for this? I'm just not so sure because of the infinitely told story of Grey vs. Bell for the telephone, how Bell made it to the patent office first so his application was served first, etc etc..
      • According to Wikipedia, if it is to be trusted, First to Invent [wikipedia.org] is not the same as a Submarine Patent [wikipedia.org].

        Wikipedia asserts that Submarine Patents are largely no longer an issue in the US since signed the WTO's TRIPs agreements.

        First to Invent does indeed sound like a major deal... What surprises me is that there is so much open source stuff being built these days that it seems like First to Invent should be blowing patents out of the water left and right. Someone makes a one-click shopping site, then Am

    • I haven't read anything yet, but this isn't a patent, it's a patent application. You can tell the difference by looking for the words 'patent application' or by seeing that the # isn't a patent number but some sort of timestamp (20040107368). Patents are in the millions range with thousands seperators, these timestamps are pretty evident. These are the two patents in question, #s gotten from TFA:

      Patent 1 [uspto.gov]
      Patent 2 [uspto.gov]
    • Re:Patent Link (Score:3, Informative)

      by blakestah (91866)
      Here's the key to their first patent.

      You send the customer the product and a password/key. They enter the password/key and register, and you send them a second password/key, which they use to run the software thereafter.

      Filed in 1998.

      ------------------

      The second patent extends to DRM to DRM-enable password authentication.
      Filed in 2003. Basically makes it so that running the software requires checking a DRM-registered authentication code with a DRM enabled device.

      -------------

      As it stands this guy is going c
    • Re:Patent Link (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Khyber (864651)
      You're a little off here. The patent makes mention of each copy of the software having a UNIQUE code for EACH COPY of the software to prevent unauthorized copies. Windows 95 and 98 (while having slightly different password formats) accepted any code from any other copy of the software (in other words codes for one copy of 95 worked on other purchased copies of 95, same with 98, etc.) 95 and NT 4.0 codes were (almost all) universally swappable (or was that 98 and NT 4.0 codes? One of those worked for me, reg
      • This isn't a matter of a particular idea being interesting but of entities being willing to expend the necessary resources to make this happen. It's an obvious idea that few people would be willing to implement because it's simply costly or inconvienent for the author.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:34AM (#15164234)

    http://www.z4.com/ [z4.com] appears to be yet another company that does nothing, but likes to get paid well for it.

    I love it how this link, http://www.z4.com/piracy.php [z4.com] , talks about how Microsoft and Autodesk are victims of piracy.

    A whois search on z4.com says that Colvin Design Company set up the registrar info. Well, a google search on Colvin Design Company yields nothing. Colvin Design is supposedly located in Commerce Township, MI. z4 is from Oakland County, MI about 12 miles away from Commerce Township.

    No products or anything of substance on the z4 site.

    Looks like another lawyer trick.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:36AM (#15164247) Journal
    What a dilemna we face!!!

    On one side, we have to rail against software patents...

    On the other, here is Microsoft forced to pay a little guy for infringing on his patent...

    • It's easy: The more the big, influential companies get hurt by patents, the more likely we are to get rid of them (the patents, that is).
      So you can be anti-patent and at the same time hope that MS will get hurt by patent violations as much as possible, without contradicting yourself.
    • What a dilemna we face!!!

      On one side, we have to rail against software patents...

      On the other, here is Microsoft forced to pay a little guy for infringing on his patent...

      I like to MS get smacked around as much as the next guy.

      But in this case, the patent seems to have been filed WAY after prior art in which people already had unique keys to authenticate their software.

      I'm alarmed by the prospect of patents which blatantly can't withstand a prior-art test being upheld -- I don't care who the defendant is.

      Th

  • AFAICS, any product which can link an individual registration code to something else which can verify it's validity, would be prior art.

    I think a good old "Dongle" will do.
    I also think dongles somewhat predate the 2003 registration of the patent in question.
  • by will_die (586523) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:38AM (#15164267) Homepage
    There are two patents that were coverd by this suit.

    6044471
    This one deals with a system where you provide information to the company and are given a code. When you install the software you are required to enter the code or series of codes and it checks with the companies databases and veries that the password and other info is correct. There are clauses in it to deal with multiple passwords, and shutting down software that has incorrectly entered password.
    6785825
    This is kind of like the first but instead you are provided a key with the software which provided use for a limited time. Then during that time you are required to call the registration company and provide information and you receive an additional code which then unlocks the software for future use.
    This is not your average enter the 16digit code/password to use the software it is the Windows XP thing where internet access is required.

    • This is not your average enter the 16digit code/password to use the software it is the Windows XP thing where internet access is required.

      Sort of true, but in reality its exactly the same but instead of the code being a simple hash and that is it, it does a remote authentication of the hash to validate it. This remote validation is either done at the initial point (patent 1) or using a timer (option 2).

      Sort of like a dongle, but on a bloody long cable. Patent 1 does the validation by going to the dongle,
    • And it looks like they were filed in 1998.

      Pace Anti-Piracy [paceap.com] was using this type of technology before then. Sounds like this could be invalidated by contact with the right people. For those that don't know, PaceAP supplies the registration and protection code for most Pro Audio applications. I first ran across their stuff in 1994/1995.

  • More Patent Stupidity: How's this for slime? "On October 27, 2005, CVMS sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act to the Department of Energy requesting, among other things, copies of Bob Jacobsen's private email."

    The Inq. Article [theinquirer.net] Right To Create blog [blogspot.com] Bob Jacobsen's site [sourceforge.net]

  • Dilemma (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stavr0 (35032) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:56AM (#15164407) Homepage Journal
    A patent that prevents software companies from using Product Activation unless they pay obscene royalties.

    Software patents = bad
    Product activation = bad

    I'm torn ...

    • Truly this is a case where two wrongs make a right. Forcing royalties on a feature we dislike may remove that feature in the future.

      Of course the pessimist in me says that removing that feature will force something infinitely worse.
  • ... why didn't Microsoft patent it first? Microsoft is pretty well known for filing ridiculous patents already.
  • Ok, in the summary A spokesman from Microsoft contends that 'Microsoft developed its own product-activation technologies well before z4 Technologies filed for its patent.'

    But then Microsoft is behind the idea of a "first to file" system according to this [microsoft.com] page.

    Regarding legal reform, the United States is the only country in the world that applies a "first-to-invent" standard for awarding patents. Under a first-to-invent system, the first actual inventor is given priority even though that inventor ma

  • ...it was also decided that this guys software doesn't work as millions of people have illegal copies of both Autodesk and Microsoft software.
  • by Intangion (816356)
    I wish microsoft would change course and fight the system! rather than try to exploit it. As one of the biggest and most obvious targets in the country youd think they of all people would be trying to put an end to this, rather than feeding it and exploiting it themselves..

    I wrote this exact kind of thing into some of my software as early as 99 and i think ive seen it in other applications as well

    its an obvious idea but not very easy to impliment, if someone managed to do it without stealing someone elses c
    • Microsoft could hire a high-powered Washington lobby group with the change found in Bill Gates' sofa. If they wanted to, they could have the entire patent system torn out and replaced in under a year. Sure they'd give up the biggest strategic chip they currently hold against widespread Linux adoption, but to date these patent lawsuits are costing them a lot more than Linux is.
  • 'Microsoft developed its own product-activation technologies well before z4 Technologies filed for its patent.'


    And if that were the case and they had some evidence of this at all or any documentation then the patent would be invalid and they would have never lost... so it's a random claim.

    -M
    • Microsoft developed its own product-activation technologies well before z4 Technologies filed for its patent.

      z4 Technologies also developed its product-activation technologies before it filed for its patent.

      The question is, who was first?
  • They are basically claiming that having verifiable serialization on software is a patent?

    How many software companies sell software where the real purchase you make is the "CD-key" or "activation key". This means all of them are violating this persons patent. There's no way this was a recent invention. And wouldn't it go back further to the early Netware days with serial numbers then? I think this gets to the point or an idea which is basic enough that it doesn't warrant a patent as as "non common sense"
    • Wait.. I mentioned common sense in a discussion about US Patent law. I feel both dirty.. and confused...

      Nope, common sense would be reading and understanding the issue at hand before commentint on it. For example, read the claims of the patent and then compare those claims to the CD-key/activation key system you are describing.
  • As far as I'm concerned, the more of these judgements that are handed out, the more it will wake up politicians and the corporate elite that software patents were always a bad idea. Let them bleed for their greed.

    They should have listened to Knuth.
  • A Texas jury has awarded $133 million in damages

    In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death in Texas. - Oscar Wilde
  • I've already patented using a key to unlock something. Noone thought of it before me.
  • Why post this story?! Patents are obviously good! Where would we be without the patent on "A method of trading goods and services for legal tender"? What company would possibly have the incentive to develop "a method to provide assistance to customers using standard telecommunications infastructure" without being promised a patent for their work?

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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