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+ - Don't like a patent? Help kIll it.

Submitted by Camael
Camael (1048726) writes "When Joel Spolsky spotted an undeserving Microsoft patent application, he didn't just let it be granted — He killed a in just a few minutes. In short, he found prior art and submitted it, and the USPTO examiner rejected the patent because of it. From TFA :- "Micah showed me a document from the USPTO confirming that they had rejected the patent application, and the rejection relied very heavily on the document I found. This was, in fact, the first 'confirmed kill' of Ask Patents, and it was really surprisingly easy. I didn't have to do the hard work of studying everything in the patent application and carefully proving that it was all prior art: the examiner did that for me." This is all under the umbrella of Ask Patents'."

Comment: Re:My perspective (Score 5, Interesting) 112

by xiphmont (#43114173) Attached to: Google and MPEG LA Reach VP8 Patent Agreement

When MPEG LA first announced the VP8 pool formation, a rush of companies applied to be in the pool, partly because everyone wanted to see what everyone else had. That gave way to some amount of disappointment. And by 'some amount' I mean 'rather a lot really, more than the MPEG-LA would care to admit.'

Eventually, things whittled down to a few holdouts. Those '11 patent holders' do not assert they have patents that cover the spec. They said '_may_ cover'. The press release itself repeats this. Then these patent holders said 'and we're willing to make that vague threat go away for a little cash'. Google paid the cash. This is what lawyers do.

That's why it's a huge newsworthy deal when companies like NewEgg actually take the more expensive out and litigate a patent. It is always more expensive than settling, even if you'd win the case, and very few companies are willing or able to do it. Google was probably able, but not willing.

We deal with this in the IETF all the time. Someone files a draft and a slew of companies file IPR statements that claim they have patents that 'may' read on the draft. Unlike other SDOs though, the IETF requires them to actually list the patent numbers so we can analyze and refute. And despite unequivocal third-party analyses stating 'there is no possibility patent X applies', these companies still present their discredited IPR statements to 'customers' and mention that these customers may be sued if they don't license. This is not the exception; this is standard operating procedure in the industry. These licensing tactics, for example, account for more than half of Qualcomm's total corporate income.

It's this last threat that Google paid a nominal sum to make go away. It's the best anyone can hope for in a broken system. If those 11 patent holders had a strong claim, it is exceedingly unlikely they would have agreed to a perpetual, transferable, royalty free license.

Comment: My perspective (Score 5, Insightful) 112

by xiphmont (#43113285) Attached to: Google and MPEG LA Reach VP8 Patent Agreement

I'll add my own thoughts here, also posted at

"After a decade of the MPEG LA saying they were coming to destroy the FOSS codec movement, with none other than the late Steve Jobs himself chiming in, today the Licensing Authority announced what we already knew.

They got nothing. There will be no Theora patent pool. There will be no VP8 patent pool. There will be no VPnext patent pool.

We knew that of course, we always did. It's just that I never, in a million years, expected them to put it in writing and walk away. The wording suggests Google paid some money to grease this along, and the agreement wording is interesting [and instructive] but make no mistake: Google won. Full stop.

This is not an unconditional win for FOSS, of course, the LA narrowed the scope of the agreement as much as they could in return for agreeing to stop being a pissy, anti-competetive brat. But this is still huge. We can work with this.

For at least the immediate future, I shall have to think some uncharacteristically nice things about the MPEG LA.*

*Apologies to Rep. Barney Frank"

Comment: Re:Great lesson, but what's with the audio? (Score 1) 50

by xiphmont (#43059061) Attached to: Xiph Episode 2: Digital Show & Tell

>If you insist on recording in stereo though, you might do as they did, and record with a Mid-Side array and use a matrix to decode back to L-R, so you can control the stereo spread in post-production.

That would not have controlled the reverb; the space this was recorded in was a concrete floor with concrete walls and no acoustic treatment. Like I said, it was a tradeoff, and one that was successful if not perfect.

Comment: Re:Using real world audio waveforms? (Score 1) 50

by xiphmont (#43038327) Attached to: Xiph Episode 2: Digital Show & Tell

Right, and this is why dither is only applied to 'last-mile' audio intended to be consumed. Dither 'screws' you in other ways if you intend to use that audio in production, such as losing all the property of removing the distortion, yet still having the additive noise. But we're still talking about changes 100+dB down.

>Counter nitpick: Monty, as a professional motion picture sound designer, I cannot tell you how distracting it is to hear your voice constantly changing its pan across the stereo field :)

The audio was recorded with a stereo pair. It wasn't panned artificially :-) Look down a few comments for more about this, you weren't the only person to complain.

Comment: Re:Using real world audio waveforms? (Score 1) 50

by xiphmont (#43037131) Attached to: Xiph Episode 2: Digital Show & Tell

As a nitpick, you get dithering losses _or_ quantization distortion, or a linear tradeoff between the two. You don't get the worst case of both on top of each other unless you screw up.

Without dither, worst case, all your 16 bit quant distortion products will be under -100dB regardless of input amplitude. I actually display the worst case in the video to make it easy to see. Quantization distortion aliases, and I chose an integer sample period so the aliased distortion would always land in the same bins after folding. If I hadn't, it would have spread out more and been even lower. If I had chosen a relatively prime frequency, the quantization distortion would have spread out across all bins equally.

Comment: Response from CDParanoia author (Score 5, Insightful) 330

by xiphmont (#42166105) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: SATA DVD Drives That Don't Suck for CD Ripping?

> Stop using cdparanoia - it isn't very good, at all. It tests poorly, we're sad to say.

Really! As the author, I'd love to hear hard specifics. or maybe a bug report.

> You want to use Secure Mode with NO C2, accurate stream, disable cache.

You can't disable the cache on a SATA/PATA ATAPI drive. The whole point of cdparanoia's extensive cache analysis is to figure out a way to defeat the cache because it can't be turned off. There is no FUA bit for optical drives in ATA or MMC.

The 'accurate stream' bit is similarly useless (every manufacturer interprets it differently) and C2 information is similarly untrustworthy.

Plextors are not recommended for error free or fast ripping. They try to implement their own paranoia-like retry algorithm in firmware and do a rather bad job about it. They also lie about error correcting information (you do not get raw data, you get what the drive thinks it has successfully reconstructed). Plextors often look OK on pristine disks, but if you hit a bit error (like on just about any burned disk), you don't know what it's going to do. Plextors are, overall, among the more troublesome drives _unless_ you're using a ripper that does no retry checking (ie, NOT cdparanoia and NOT EAC). If you use iTunes, you want a Plextor. Otherwise, avoid them.

Comment: Re:General Consensus (Score 2) 330

by xiphmont (#42166047) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: SATA DVD Drives That Don't Suck for CD Ripping?

That was true ~15 years ago. Since then, Plextor's firmware gets along very badly with the rippers that try to be frame accurate, because Plextor tries to implement a much lighter-weight more error prone version of the same algo on the drive. The drive still doesn't do a realiable job, and it seriously mucks up the ripper.

Comment: Re:who records 'expensive movies' at 48k? (Score 1) 255

by xiphmont (#40039217) Attached to: Dolby's TrueHD 96K Upsampling To Improve Sound On Blu-Rays

Regarding hte first point, that 120dB broadband noise figure is giving you at least 140dB of SFDR, probably much better, and the depth of any critical band is going to be even better yet. Even 16 bit data with a decent noise shaper is going to be 120dB deep in the 2-4kHz critical bands. (all of which doesn't disagree with anything you said of course)

Comment: Re:An exercise for the reader (Score 1) 255

by xiphmont (#40039097) Attached to: Dolby's TrueHD 96K Upsampling To Improve Sound On Blu-Rays

Oh! I remember this one :-) I'll be honest here-- this particular debate is outside my core expertise. I have enough background to say "this is all plausible" (I'm an electrical engineer after all), and I've discussed it in person with an author of a few papers on the same subject, but I'm only a dilletante when it comes to building amps.

>I guess my point is that it's too easy to make an error when seeing an "interesting idea and no data" and dismissing it.

I agree with you completely. Interesting ideas should be published; no paper is born in the state of being independently verified. I object to those who take these papers as evidence to support a position when no such validation has taken place. Thinking aloud is useful, but thinking aloud != hard data.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.