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USPTO Rules Fogent JPEG Patent Invalid 240

Posted by Zonk
from the burn dept.
fistfullast33l writes "Groklaw has reported that the USPTO has ruled the broadest claims of the JPEG Patent held by Fogent to be invalid. PUBPAT, the organization that requested the review, released the news earlier today. According to PJ, the ruling will be hard to overturn as the 'submitters knew about the prior art but failed to tell the USPTO about it.'"
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USPTO Rules Fogent JPEG Patent Invalid

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  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fitten (521191) on Friday May 26, 2006 @11:53AM (#15410646)
    Wow... it's nice to know that they are at least looking at things better.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday May 26, 2006 @11:53AM (#15410652)
    According to PJ, the ruling will be hard to overturn as the 'submitters knew about the prior art but failed to tell the USPTO about it.'"


    Even if they didn't know about the prior art, why should it affect the ruling if prior art was involved? Since they knew about prior art but didn't report it, they should be fined.
  • Why Oh Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday May 26, 2006 @11:54AM (#15410662)
    the USPTO has ruled the broadest claims of the JPEG Patent held by Fogent to be invalid.

    Why does it take them so d@mn long to accomplish this in the first place? Even when a patent is finally ruled invalid -- and should have never been granted in the first place -- it seems it happens only after years of legal damage. No one is served well by this, except the lawyers.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday May 26, 2006 @11:56AM (#15410685)
    Since they knew about prior art but didn't report it, they should be fined.

    I vote for jailed. Fines are just a part of doing business, and do not appear to be much of a deterrent these days.

  • Re:Why Oh Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    Why does it take them so d@mn long to accomplish this in the first place? [...] No one is served well by this, except the lawyers.

    Question asked, question answered.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:05PM (#15410749)
    You mean "Fogent" don't you? I mean, Zonk couldn't have missed it twice.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15410758) Homepage Journal
    It was. Except the licensing was a little too strict and the format died without interest. Who'd invest in making it their primary format if next day the owner of the format could charge them money for using it?
  • by pcause (209643) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:07PM (#15410766)
    How many times do we need to go through this before it is clear that the patent system, wrt software, is broken. I am *NOT* necessarily against patents for software, but it is just about impossible to do prior art, becuase there is so much out there for a few years and then gone. Worse, the examiners don't have enough background to do the job, etc.

    The peer review system that is being discussed sounds like a step in the right direction. There also needs to be some significantly less costly way to deal with claims of infringement and the ndefense than the Courts. Small companies can't afford to defend their patents or to challenge someone with deep pockets trying to enforce a patently bogus patent!
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:09PM (#15410777)
    Don't forget that the primary purpose of corporations is to avoid personal liability and responsibility. It is both difficult to jail a corporation or jail individuals working for a corporation for corporate misbehavior.
  • Re:Why Oh Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gclef (96311) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:18PM (#15410828)
    Because patent examiners are incredibly overworked and understaffed. (sound familiar?) Patent review attorneys can make more in the private sector, and are evaluated by how many patents the approve not the quality of the patents the approve (which is almost impossible to metric, so managers don't bother reviewing by it), etc, etc.

    They're not inherently evil or lazy...they're just in a very bad place.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:19PM (#15410841) Homepage Journal
    1. Yes, the patent system is severely broken, and it's flawed. Yes, the European version is better. Yes, patents (my grandfather had a few) should only last 17 years period, as the intention is to force publication of such information/concepts/executions so that everyone may gain from such public knowledge through a time-limited license, and the extensions we currently grant work against such concepts. But, let's face it, unless you have a few billion dollars, they will ignore what we say on this matter, for they are corrupt.

    2. We need more public patents - and we need places like universities and colleges and publicly-funded institutions to file them, or at least on renewal reclassify the patent as a public patent but administer it, with a portion of revenues being used to reform the patent system.

    3. Software is not, nor should it every be, patentable. Copyright? Sure. I published freeware and shareware at the dawn of public computing (70s/80s). But not patentable, nor should business processes nor conceptual methods be patentable. It is just plain wrong.

    I don't expect you to agree with me, but I think this latest USPTO ruling brings up the issue on the public JPEG usage. JPEG is from the publicly-funded Jet Propulsion Laboratories - which we pay for with taxes. Open source depends on public patents, or at worst private patents signed over to OSF and other groups to administer.
  • I'm an idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fistfullast33l (819270) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:29PM (#15410894) Homepage Journal
    so it's Forgent not Fogent. I managed to do it in the title and the summary. [pats self on back]
  • by rm999 (775449) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:39PM (#15410960)
    "However, that's largely moot - PNG is lossless and often compresses better than JPEG, but JPEG is still the format of choice for, say, digital camera makers and websites"

    PNG was not made to replace JPG, so I wouldn't call anything moot. PNG is not made for photographs, which make up a decent percentage of pictures out there. I actually don't know of any competing formats to jpeg other than this new microsoft one - how come no one has built an open format like PNG for photos?
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:43PM (#15410985) Homepage
    PJ did not say anything about prior art. She said "PubPat's Executive Director, Dan Ravicher, says that the submitters knew about the prior art". Please at least try to pretend that Slashdot is a credible news source.
  • by v_table 0 (974659) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:52PM (#15411052)
    How many times do we need to go through this before it is clear that the patent system, wrt software, is broken. I am *NOT* necessarily against patents for software, but it is just about impossible to do prior art, becuase there is so much out there for a few years and then gone.

    We will always have to go through this. As far as business interests are concerned, patents are simply assets, and sometimes extremely valuable ones. I doubt that such interests would risk the loss of such valuable assets.

    For the record, I am against software patents. I'll give you an example of why.

    I have the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta. The new "Ribbon" interface is perhaps the most brilliant thing to come out of Microsoft in quite a long while. It alone will likely drive sales - read upgrades - of Office if only because it exposes functionality that has been there since Office 97, but has been hidden behind a bewildering array of menus, toolbars, and dialog boxes.

    Is it entirely new? No. I have seen similar interfaces on web sites.

    But here is the problem: there are several programs that I could think of that would benefit from the "Ribbon". Adobe Photoshop comes immediately to mind. Imagine having a tabbed toolbar, with a tab for "Home" containing the basic tools, a tab for "Masks", one for "Channels", etc.

    Of course if - or more likey, when - Microsoft patents the "Ribbon", only users of Microsoft software will benefit from it. Regardless of how much users of software from other brands might be able to benefit from it.

    Copyright should be good enough for software. Patents truly stifle innovation.

  • by GeckoX (259575) on Friday May 26, 2006 @01:19PM (#15411235)
    That is not what you stated though.

    You stated that this would be unreasonable punishment if they weren't convicted of a crime, that is precisely what you stated. Which is very strange since what was proposed is a punishment that could be levied in just such a case.

    Of course it would be wrong to bar people from jobs in certain industries for no reason. But the idea of preventing someone convicted of a crime from doing so again, where's the problem?

    Let's put it in some perspective via an example: Should a cop that abuses his power and is convicted of doing so to commit a crime be able to continue being a cop? Why shouldn't an executive convicted of something like fraud on a large scale be barred from continuing to do business in the industry they purported the crime in in the first place? Wow, a punishment that fits the crime, how novel.

  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Friday May 26, 2006 @01:26PM (#15411285) Journal
    I'm not particularly arguing FOR anything... merely arguing against the premise that the executives be somehow barred from starting up another, possibly identical, business.

    Why not? Medical doctors who compromise their patients' safety for their own gain can lose their license to practice. Lawyers who break the rules of their profession can be disbarred. Stockbrokers who trade illegaly on insider information lose their license and go to jail. Scientists who plagiarize or falsify their results become pariahs in their fields, and although they are not necessarily sanctioned by the law or a licensing body, nevertheless they effectively can no longer practice. Ditto perhaps for artists, musicians, writers, etc. All of these people find some other way to make a living.

    The problem, I suppose, is that in the business world, flaunting the rules without getting caught is something that one's peers often admire because it can increase profits. I'm not saying businesspeople gone bad should always be banned for life from their fields, but some kind of progressive punishment that includes a professional sanction is, I think, appropriate.
  • Thanks, PUBPAT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by displaced80 (660282) on Friday May 26, 2006 @01:34PM (#15411340)
    I've half-followed PUBPAT since its creation. I don't think I fully grasped how useful it would be when it first emerged.

    It's since showed itself to be absolutely vital in the midst of this software patent madness. It's good that there's lawyers out there ready to go in to bat for us developers. No matter how smart we think we are, and regardless of how much we'd like the system to just go away and stop bothering us, it isn't going to just yet. So PUBPAT are there for us, fighting a fight that must be fought, even if it is crazy that things have got to this stage in the first place.

    Assuming PUBPAT continues its fine work, it will rapidly find itself as a sort of guardian angel of the software developer -- be they OSS, FS, or even commercial writers.
  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Friday May 26, 2006 @01:42PM (#15411400) Journal
    Not really sure I agree with either one of you guys, however perhaps I'm just an optomist but I'd rather not think of the poliece as an "industry" per se.

    It doesn't matter what you call it -- an "industry", an "estate" of society, an "institution", whatever -- the point is that individuals who have been handed authority must also accept the other side of that coin: responsibility.
  • by mpe (36238) on Friday May 26, 2006 @03:35PM (#15412335)
    The primary purpose of a corporation is the shield the owners from liability and responsibility.

    The original concept idea was to encourage people to put money into business, because if it failed the owners would not be liable for any debts it left. Your liability was limited to however much you had put in.

    Individuals working for a corporation are still responsible for any criminal offenses they commit or conspire to commit.

    Even if the people involved are the owners their limited liability for debts was never intended as a shield for criminal behaviour.

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