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Sun Microsystems

Sun and Kingston Legal Battle Over Memory Patents 95

weez wrote to us with a recent article in Forbes regarding the legal battle that Sun and Kingston Memory have gotten into. Sun is alleging that Kingston (You know - the people who make the after-market memory chips) violates some of Sun's patents and wants royalties. Anyone know a little more technical information than the article? Post below, please.
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Sun and Kingston Legal Battle Over Memory Patents

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  • I'm not against all patents, mind you. But Sun claims a patent on assembling memory chips into modules? That's easily among the most bogus patents I've ever seen. Even worse than the one on the RSA algorithm. And it's not even software-related, surprisingly enough.

    That's the thing about patent abuses: software patents by definition abuse the system, but they're not the only types of abuse out there. This is an example of a hardware-based patent that's abusive. One, I very much doubt that Sun was the first to come up with this. Two, it's an idea, not a product; patenting DRAM would be one thing but patenting the idea of assembling memory chips into modules? Lunacy.

    The patent system is, in theory, a Good Thing. But it was set up in an age where the things we take for granted now were not even dreamed of, and the rules which worked then don't work as well now. The system needs perhaps not a total overhaul, but at the very least it needs to be updated to reflect the times.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19, 2000 @02:44PM (#1191949)
    Sun patented a few specific details about the memory modules you buy for Sparcs. It isn't standard PC memory, because of differences in the Sparc bus and error correction issues.

    What I am gleaning from this is that Sun already signed away the patent issue with respect to the actual differences between Sparc memory and PC memory and that now they're grasping onto whatever they can (i.e., a DIMM is a Sun patent) in order to force Kingston to ante up so that Sun can line its pockets.

    It reminds me of the whole concept RMS discussed about patents being used as warfare tactics in business... It draws a very close parallel to the international politics of MAD (mutually assured destruction).

    It'll be interesting to see how all of this pans out as a general principle: the concept of reverse engineering has come under MASSIVE fire of late, and I hope it stops before all third party development is squashed.
  • ...that the whole lawsuit would only gain Sun 5 - 15 million dollars?

    But then, a concern was that if Sun was victorious, they would go after ever other manufacturor. Pretty soon that 5-15 millon add up to big bucks for Sun.

    And even then, evidently Sun is willing to settle it over a golf game...

    Who ever heard of coorporate espionage on a golf course? :)

    Do not provoke me to violence, for you could no more escape my wrath than you could your own shadow.

  • HDs and RAM is where Suns high margin is. I can understand (from a finacial point of view) why they would want to keep their profit center up.

    What I don't agree with is their tactics of using patents to try and keep Kingston at bay. They should be looking for value in the product, not the courts.

  • by Mr. Piccolo ( 18045 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @02:51PM (#1191954) Homepage
    Sun does indeed own a patent on the Single Inline Memory Module, or SIMM. See:

    Patent 05270964 [ibm.com]
    Patent 05383148 [ibm.com]
    Patent 05465229 [ibm.com]
    Patent 05532954 [ibm.com]
    These being in order from the earliest to the most recent, though I think these are just different versions of the original.

    However, it does look a little different from the SIMM used in most personal computers. The drawings indicate 200 pins, while most regular SIMMS have 30 or 72 pins.

    This raises another question: Are DIMMS significantly different enough from SIMMS to avoid the patent infringement?
  • This is we have to fight patents, DMCA, THE MPAA, THE RIAA these laws and
    agencies block progress, stifle engenuity, raise prices, crush the competion,and
    leave the consumer at mercy of a few. The madness most stop!! We need to support
    the EFF [eff.org] and others agencies like it so we don't lose the freedoms we already have

    http://theotherside.com/dvd/ [theotherside.com]
  • by Datafage ( 75835 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @02:57PM (#1191957) Homepage
    Even if we wish to assume, for the moment, that this patent is valid, it should be imposssible to, after a number of years, turn around and say, "We own the patent on what your company makes, now pay up." If a rival company makes its business around a patent you own, you should be required to take action immediately, not be allowed to wait until it becomes impossible for the other company to easily comply.


  • the article seemed to say that Mr. Sun (Kingston guy) not Sun (the company) offered the golf match to Mr. McNealy to settle the dispute... that would be *really* fun to see a webcast of...
  • I have always warned people about Sun Microsystems. Many cheered Sun as it nobly battled against Microsoftian oppression and supposedly supported open standards. But Sun and Microsoft are part of the same family - arrogant coorporations that want things done their way and only their way.
    Case in point, Java. Sun championed the language and its open standards against MS. However, one can see the true nature of their ideas in their abuse of the truly open Blackdown code.
    Sun, just like MS, sees a new world order where they determine how computing gets done. Their vision is simply different from MS's.
    Sun: Young Sauron to MS's Morgoth.
  • How can you lock your hardware so people can't make clones. Patent it.

    Look at Nintendo. They have patented this connector [ibm.com] to keep people from making connectors.

    Sun has done the same to keep people from making memory modules. And is using the courts to prevent just anyone from making memory for thier hardware.
  • by bz2 ( 99040 )
    Does this mean prices will go up again?
  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @03:38PM (#1191971)
    Perhaps 2 decades of available thought about encryption has warped your perspective, but the RSA algorithm was most certainly novel, not obvious, and represented a fundamental advance in thinking about encryption. In some sense it represents the start of thinking about encryption algorithms outside of secret organizations. It likely was the first secure public key algorithm, and the implications of that detail on the possibilities of encryption are hard to overstate.

    So yes, if anything in math or computers should be patentable (a debatable question to be sure) the RSA algorithm should be.

    Of course by the end of the lifetime of the patent, the ridiculousness of long patents in software is painfully obvious... :-(

  • by craw ( 6958 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @03:40PM (#1191972) Homepage
    Kingston has posted a summary statement [kingston.com] concerning this suit. An interesting point raised is why isn't Sun suing computer OEM's. Kingston is merely manufacturer memory in accordance to the specs of the computer manufacturers. Interesting point.

    I normally don't post at my default +2, but I do so now so that the moderators can go after the trolls.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the claims [ibm.com], the patent is for improvements over prior art (April 1987).
    • Full width of the data bus, 128 data bits + 16 ECC bits (as opposed to 32/36 or 64/72 bits).
    • Symmetrical placing of power and ground, such that inserting it backwards won't burn it up.
    • Reducing signal skew by putting control logic in the middle of the SIMM board.
    • RAM chips in four clusters, two on one side of double-sided board, two on the other.
    • 9 RAM chips per cluster, in 3x3 square.
    The patent is not for SIMMs in general, it is for SIMMS manufactured with a certain physical layout.
  • by unc_onnected ( 6084 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @03:40PM (#1191974)
    this really solidifies for me, at least, that sun is a very unethical company. kingston is NEVER the bad guy. to understand why, you have to know where they're coming from. kingston tech is so incredibly angelic that its amazing they're still in business.

    the real reason david sun (of kingston) is pissed is that they have literally NEVER EVER filed a lawsuit before. kingston is one of the most bizarrely ethical companies on the face of the planet. they are truly weird; if you asked me to name one ethical company in the US, it would be kingston tech.

    that $100 million thing is only the tip of the iceberg. kingston never fires any of its full employees. ever. the owners believe that once they have agreed to hire someone full-time, they are responsible for them until he/she retires.

    in dealing with other businesses, kingston always does handshake deals. think about it, they are an international company; when was the last time you heard of anyone that big without any lawyers on their staff or even on retainer? their traditional approach to being cheated is to walk away and never do business with the other guys again. they are the classic pacifists; they would rather pay you off and never see you again that get drawn into a long stalemated court battle.

    theyve been able to do that because in the industry kingston is the best. they do custom manufacturing jobs in under 24 hours. in the late 80s, they did jobs nobody else could touch- and they still have some of the best quality control. they might not be that big, but they have survived and done all right because they can do things nobody else can.

    the moral to be drawn from all this is that if scott mcneely was trying to pick a pushover, he picked the wrong company. anyone else would probably weigh the relative costs and benefits; ie settle out of court. if you could get him really pissed, i dont think david sun would go for that. and kingston, if you look very carefully, is Kingston Technology COMPANY. it is not a corporation! there are no shareholders to be accountable to; no board of directors to second-guess the strategy of the executives.

    the article does mention that kingston was sold (in fact it was to softbank, the same japanese company that owns zd and a lot of yahoo stock). what it doesnt mention is that softbank sold kingston back to its owners last year... there is some weird shit going on there, but essentially david sun (and co-founder john tu) have complete control of the company.

    one final note: if mcneely played golf with david sun, david sun would kick his ass. kingston is a company notorious for the golf-playing of all their executives, and david sun is damn good.

  • Sound's like some more slimebag fucking lawyers trying to drum up business for their slimebag bretheren.

    And to think, SUN was the only RISC manufacturer
    I still had some respect for. They have excellent products and pricing. Too bad they had to stoop to this level.
  • What an innovation Nintendo made!! I talked to some of my EE friends and they said it would have never occured to them to wrap wires in plastic! Absolutely genius! I have to give major kudos to Nintendo for such an invention. Truly this was what the US Constitution intended when it allowed a patent system.

    I've been talking to some lawyers and I'm pretty sure that I can patent the use of arithmetic on the web. A search of a database contained in a patent clerk's ass didn't turn up any prior art. If anyone wants to join me in creating a start-up based on this patent, just reply to this post. I have already picked out a stock symbol for when we IPO - ISUK.

  • The 5-15 is just what Sun would in theory make from the licensing from Kingston products. That isn't the goal -- the goal is to increase the demand for Sun's memory. My guess would be it's worth about 4 times whatever the royalties would be.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @04:19PM (#1191981)
    But Sun claims a patent on assembling memory chips into modules?

    I think that this statement in the Forbes article exposes the usual ignorance that the press and public (and many in the technical community) have regarding patents.

    If you look at the actual Sun patents mentioned elsewhere in this thread, they are much more specific - for example they cover only memory modules with certain unusual features, such as a 200 pin design. Clearly Sun does not own a patent on "assembling memory chips into modules" as the article claimed - rather they own a patent on a very specific type of module that Kingston is producing.

  • Sun offers McNeely a golf match to decide the lawsuit. How about a deathmatch or a masturbation contest or....a peeing contest

    Gotta love big business and little boys

  • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @04:48PM (#1191983) Homepage
    If a rival company makes its business around a patent you own, you should be required to take action immediately, not be allowed to wait until it becomes impossible for the other company to easily comply.

    There's definately some merit to this idea, but there's also the point that it really provides inadequite protection for companies that are trying to protect their work. Making every company police its own patents, rather than placing the burden of doing research into previous patents on the creator of the new work, would mean that circumventing patents was legal as long as you didn't get caught. That's pretty clearly unjust. Large companies with a lot of patents (or industrious small companies) or small companies strapped for resources can't spend the time that it would take to investigate every similar product that comes up and investigate the patent issues. Even under the current scheme, if you're an unscrupulous or under informed small-time operator, it's easy enough to avoid legal trouble. If they don't want to devote an entire department to tracking down patent disputes, the only choice is to wait until a possibly infringing patent surfaces somewhere prominant and then go after it. There is certainly potential for abuse in that; as you say, a company can wait around until another company must either shut down, or license the patent from them and pay hefty compensation. But requiring the patent holder to do all of their own checking unfairly favors companies willing to copy the work of others and then wait for time to run out.

  • While I agree this isn't one of those overly broad patents, I don't think that this meets the criteria for innovation. I see nothing that differentiates it from any other connector - thus it is obvious to any expert in the field.

    I am of the opinion that patents should be reserved to true invention, as it was originally.

  • The drawings indicate 200 pins, while most regular SIMMS have 30 or 72 pins.

    Really? All of mine have 200 pins. Even more amusingly, whether they are SIMMS, DIMMS, or "QIMMS" depends on what system I put them in. I.e., one such system allows adding them one at a time, one requires pairs, and one requires quads. So in some contexts, these devices are much more like peecee DIMMS than any SIMMS.

    --TM, amazed at how much bandwidth a 576-bit memory bus gives you

  • What's wrong with the patent on RSA? It's non-obvious, and there is no prior art of that algorithm. Seems fair to me.
  • You are 100% right. I guess Mr. Sun drew me into his trap!

    AKA the following quote:

    Worse, David Sun sees sinister motives in Sun's action: Once Kingston capitulates, Sun will go after every maker of memory modules from "Apple to Z," resulting in a huge toll on the computer business if Sun, as seems likely, asks for a 3%-to-5% royalty on revenues.

    Which, of course, makes it sound like Sun owns the SIMM platform, which is not the case.

    I should have been more alert, so I apologize for that gross oversight. This is not really likely to affect the computer industry as a whole... only people like Kingston who make memory modules for Sun machines (are there any others?)

    Now I wish Slashdot had a "cancel" function...

  • HDs and RAM is where Suns high margin is. I can understand (from a finacial point of view) why they would want to keep their profit center up.

    I want what you're smoking. All of Sun's hardware is overpriced if you buy it from them. Priced any UltraSPARCs lately? Hell, a crappy 8-bit framebuffer from spares costs hundreds of dollars. There is no possible way for Sun to keep disk prices artificially high because you can use commodity disks direct from the manufacturer instead of the same disks with a Sun label on them. Sun RAM on the third-party market runs between $2 and $5 per MB, depending on whether it's new or used, and has for quite some time, including during the peecee RAM price spike a few months ago. While this still represents a nice margin for someone, that someone isn't Sun. This is hardly an outrageous price for high-speed ECC RAM.

    The truth is, Sun's profits come from all their hardware, especially that purchased by people with also-outrageously-expensive service contracts who have no choice but to buy new equipment directly from them. This is true of pretty much every company that makes quality hardware.

  • What's more...

    Kingston is the company that hands out those amazing bonuses to ALL of their employees. Generous is an understatent.

    Ever call Kingston with a tech issue? They are helpful and seem genuinely happy. RMAs are quick. They offer to next-day-air any component (as small as a single NIC) if you want.

    I deal with many companies daily and Kingston is the best to talk with.

  • by peu ( 163472 )
    Its time for a copyright heaven (tax heaven like)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's not the $ from the lawsuit, it's the extortionary prices Sun charges for systems and memory that are at stake (say 20% of Sun's revenues). Check out the prices in the executive summaries of the TPC/C reports at http://www.tpc.org.. And it can't be justified by any performance differential anymore (the 64 way UE10000 delivers only 200mbytes/s per processor..)

    Nothing like locking out the competition. When McNealy can't compete, he complains, then sues.

    They did much the same to Solbourne a half a decade ago (Zander told dealerships they'd lose their Sun products if they also sold Solbourne equipment). Put a friend of mine out of business who believed something Scott said about "openness".

    Imagine what would happen if MS told stores that they couldn't sell windows if they also sold nscp.

    But the world would be a lot less exciting if everyone had to play by the same rules... :-)

  • RSA is nothing more than a mathematical equation. These have already been defined as unpatentable, anymore than e=mc^2 is.

    And that's why software patents by definition abuse the system. In the end, they're nothing more than mathematical equations, all of them. Specific writings thereof do reflect work, which is protectable by copyright. But you cannot patent an equation, and there are very good reasons for that. Why, then, the double-standard as applies to software?
  • It likely was the first secure public key algorithm, and the implications of that detail on the possibilities of encryption are hard to overstate.

    Too bad GCHQ didn't release the algorithm when they discovered it (as they apparently didn't realize the true value of it at the time). Then prior art and all that (like it's stopped a large number of patents granted lately, like that year 2000 windowing thing, though). Certainly, PK changed the whole way crypto works... though I suppose you could classify DH as a public key algorithm (yes, it's key exchange but it's fairly easy to convert it to a public key algorithm, like ElGamal or one of the MTI protocols).

    So yes, if anything in math or computers should be patentable (a debatable question to be sure) the RSA algorithm should be.

    OK, I'll agree with you here (not that I think any software and/or mathematical patent is valid), but RSA is a monumental achievment.

    Of course by the end of the lifetime of the patent, the ridiculousness of long patents in software is painfully obvious... :-(

    Ouch, yes. It's really funny to think about more specific things (for instance, these memory patents [I knew I would be able to get this post ontopic eventually!]) will be soooooo old by the time they expire. I really think a 5 year limit on patents (along with a 15 or 20 year copyright limit) would be much more fair. Ah, well...
  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Sunday March 19, 2000 @06:17PM (#1191997)
    Take their removable drives for instance.

    Where I work company policy for desktops is to buy Dells (because they do a good job of tracking every part in every computer) and then modifying it by installing a Kingston drive bay. Does someone have a problem with their computer that will require trouble-shooting? Swap in a new drive, reboot, and debug the problem at leisure. Do you need to back up the computer? Pop the drive in a special machine with 2 bays, and ghost it in 15 minutes. (Drive to drive copying is a lot faster than anything you can do with a network.) Do you need to get back to an old configuration? Pop the drive in the same machine, run ghost, and wait 15 minutes. Keeping spare drives around is a lot cheaper than spare computers! (Easier to lug as well.)

    If you want to maintain a standardized software set-up, Kingston drives are your friend!

  • Actually, the RSA algorithm was not a novel idea. In fact, the Pohlig-Hellman algorithm was developed over two years before the RSA algorithm. The similarities between the two are remarkable. The exponentiation and modular reduction work exactly the same, except the Pohlig-Hellman algorithm uses a single number, defined as (p-1) as the modulus. The RSA algorithm uses the product of two numbers, defined as (p-1)(q-1) as the modulus. Besides the fact that the algorithm was not new, the patent on the equations is a patent on mathematical fact not just someones idea.

    You should research things a little more fully next time.
  • The value and purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation - attempts to patent the prior art and the obvious, or create a monopoly for supplying spare parts by patenting a particular combination of prior art and the obvious, are nothing more than abuses of the patent system's weaknesses.

    Looking at these "improvements":

    >Full width of the data bus, 128 data bits + 16 ECC bits (as opposed to 32/36 or 64/72 bits).
    32/36 and 64/72 just match the "full width" of other data busses. Is Sun Microsystems trying to patent the idea of speeding memory access by widening data buses?

    >Symmetrical placing of power and ground, such that inserting it backwards won't burn it up.
    Decades-old idea for circuit board connectors, like protecting circuits with notches in the board to act as keys, or diodes in-line with the power connections. Not just prior art, standard practice.

    >Reducing signal skew by putting control logic in the middle of the SIMM board.
    Again, decades-old standard practice.

    >RAM chips in four clusters, two on one side of double-sided board, two on the other.
    Given double sided boards, just amounts to "place the memory chips with the clock in the middle", again.

    >9 RAM chips per cluster, in 3x3 square.
    Divide the number of chips needed by the 4 clusters of a clock-centered double sided board. you get 9 per cluster. 9 chips equals 3 chips squared, literally. Whoopee.

    I don't see anything particularly ingenious here.
  • In 3 lawsuits the existence of the Pohlig-Hellman algorithm was missed. To be sure, there is a good case [cyberlaw.com] against their patent. But the fact remains that the connection was not necessarily obvious.

    In fact comments by the authors of the Pohlig-Hellman algorithm suggest that it was not. Go here [navy.mil] and scroll down to "Martin Hellman". They were actively looking for a good public-key algorithm. They did not find it. They were experts who knew the field, clearly knew their own algorithm, were looking for something like RSA, but did not succeed in finding it. That alone qualifies as extremely good evidence that the idea was non-obvious at the time, no matter how obvious it appears in retrospect.

    Simplicity of an idea has nothing to do with how patentable it is!

    As for the fact that it is math, check the qualification I gave. If you consider anything in math or computers (by which I meant software) patentable, then RSA clearly should qualify. Whether or not an algorithm should be patentable is another - far more questionable - issue.


    PS There was one thing that I was wrong on. The first public key algorithm predated RSA. However RSA is the first publically available public key algorithm that still stands. Here are some details [base.com]. But the spooks apparently [att.com] had it well before that.
  • For the benefits of the nations, or it's destruction, power is power, the law of the land... Those who don't fear death will die by their own hands.. Life is no ordeal if you become unnerved... Reject the system.. ...

    Peace or Annihilation, it's your choice...
  • It's a design patent. The bar is somewhat lower for design patents than for utility patents. The term is also shorter: 14 years from issue.

    Might it be possible, though, to build a connector that fits with the match to this one, but doesn't infringe the patent? Say, by making the body square instead of round, or leaving out that indentation on one side?
  • Scott McNealy is the best golfer among CEOs of publicly traded companies; or so they say. [redherring.com] And that's saying a lot, considering how seriously those suits take golf. They're jocks, not nerds...


  • Actually, the Nintendo patent doens't appear to be all bad. From what I can tell, it is just a design patent. Therefore, an *almost* identical connecter with just the most superficial changes (say, make the 'handle' part of the plug squareish) would not fall under this patent.

    It's just that Nintendo doesn't want other people making perfect duplicates of their connector. They aren't preventing compatable connectors, though.
  • DH was the first public implementation of public key cryptography, *NOT* RSA, and it covered all the important stuff. (Source: Applied Cryptography)
  • Actually, now that I think about it, another company does make connectors like this, except they don't have the little cosmetic indentation.
  • by tilly ( 7530 )
    You are right.

    And it isn't often you get to correct me on anything related to math. Enjoy it while it lasts. :-)

  • this is not news. who cares about sun/kingston as linux has totally obliterated sun equipment in the datacenter. just walk into any exodus, globalcenter, or abovenet NOC and notice how 95% of the clientelle are using linux powered rackmounts.

    Enjoy your crack, dude. The elimination of Sun equipment, which is probably around 5% not 95% as you claim, has nothing to do with Linux and everything to do with the insane cost of Sun hardware. Despite the serious quality problems with peecees, the extra cost for real computers is hard to justify any more. The availability of Linux is at most a catalyst; most corporate Linux users would be enntee users if Linux did not exist. People aren't switching to peecees so they can run Linux; they're switching to peecees so IT costs don't eat them alive. If they just wanted to run Linux they could do so with the same Sun hardware they would otherwise have run Solaris on. It ain't happening, man. Linux may be better than Solaris, but that's got nothing to do with what's going on here, and your apples to paperclips comparison makes no sense: you're saying an OS has eliminated a (supposedly competing) hardware product. Eh?

    I'm also having a real hard time with your terminology. What the f*ck has a datacenter got to do with a NOC??? Have you ever actually been to an example of either? I also find it hard to believe (but will offer no evidence and thus not claim as fact) that any sizable percentage of users have "linux-powered rackmounts." The rackmountable peecee is still a rarity, and an expensive one at that. If we're talking about rackmounted Alpha or SPARC systems, then you've defeated your own argument. If not, then I'm pretty damn sure you're just blowing smoke.

  • Ok, so then how is a design patent by Sun for RAM to mate with their systems any different?

    Its ment to be a lock.
  • I always wondered about those patents that covered material that I thought belonged under copyright law. I know disney has patented the 'design' of spaceships and other such garbage.

    I guess I should have read the whole section on patents in that textbook on IP...

  • Their point about the "duty of candor" is important I think. I hope their countersuit is spectacularly successful, and inspires a rash of similar ones - maybe that would get this patent nonsense back under control, at least a little.
  • Don't want to be pedantic or anything but:

    (You know - the people who make the after-market memory chips)

    is really wrong: Kingston does not make chips. They only make memory modules.

    And in fact, in this particular context that's quite important: the Sun patents are about the modules NOT the chips...

  • Diffie-Hellman was not an implementation of a public key system. DH theorized about the type of functions needed to implement such a system and defined the main features that are required of the encrypt and decrypt functions in a public key system, but never gave an implementation of one. One of the first public key encryption system was the Knapsack encryption method that relied on the fact that Knapsack problems are hard to solve, but the way the Knapsack problems were formulated made the encryption easy to crack. RSA can probably be considered the first public key encryption system that is truly hard to crack. I agree though that all RSA is just a set of equations to whom if anybody should be given credit, then Fermat should get the credit for his little theorem.
  • Interesting. Everyone seems to love them, though, which suggests that what they're doing is right in some subtle way. I suppose the reasoning is that introducing lawyers into the company in any way would sour the atmosphere, no matter how much they tried to cordon them off from the rest of the employees.
  • Its has nothing to do with function, or even electronics! There are dozens and probably even hundreds of ornamentals designs of LIKE FOO FUNCTION.
    I'm guessing an ornamental design could be made of any pre-existing patent. Like a ornamental design spin on the Butt Hinge [ibm.com] with a facial of a CEO embossed on the head clasp. Use a barcode on the tail end so you can claim "with a computer".

    Alas the patent library is littered with such ornaments. Not really inventions, but Mr. hankeys that just look different than someone elses, which most of us simply flush to make room for tomorrows "new technology".
  • BTW, Ben, I will enjoy it, thank you. :)

    What I'm saying is that DH was the true revolution, that is, DH described the basic notion of Public Key Crypto, and RSA is just an implementation of it, and a rather annoying one, too (for secure calculation of keys over a public channel, it can be done, but not as convenient as DH, which had that built in).

    DH also showed a method for generating keys, including the notion of using relative primes.

  • As I understand it this lawsute is basicly Sun suing Kingston for Kingston providing high quaity memory for Sun machines within Suns published specs.
    What message is Sun sending out? "Don't support us".
    This patent has value in making sure no one can make computers based on Suns technology. Reasonable enough.
    However Sun in suing Kingston isn't doing anything to that ends. Instead Sun is preventing someone from providing support for Suns machines.

    Amazon "Don't compeate with us"
    Etoys "Don't even come near us.."
    Microsoft "Don't use compeating products"
    Sun "Don't support us..."

    This is dumb..

    You know if Sun asked Kingston politely I'm sure Kingston would galdly discontinue support for Suns machines. Wouldn't you?
  • It could effect prices for ram for Sun Sparcs but not for PCs or Macs as the patent has to do with Sun memory modules.

    It probably won't but it could.
  • I wouldnt know but the loophole was obvious considering Kingston isnt publicly traded.
  • Wonder how come this [lwn.net] didn't make it to Slashdot (no, I didn't submit it, but strange that noone did?)

  • your the one smoking crack, I used to work in an HP (now agilent) data center, the only pc's that aren't rackmount are the old P/Ppro servers. All the PII/PIII's are rack mounts, from the baby 2u's to the monster 15u quad Xeon's. There were 400 HP/UX boxes and 200 pc's with about 2 new unix boxes a month coming in and 10 pc's.
  • Because its an obvious attempt by sun to divert everyones attention away from their attempted mugging of kingston.
  • At the current time it is actually the owner of the patent who enforces their own patent. They take any transgressors to court to claim damages for infringement (though most cases are settled before this).

    The previous poster was however making a point regarding the patent holder knowing of infringement and doing nothing for some time.

    Consider that a second party uses the same ideas and the patent holder realises this but does not notify them. Then at a later date once the second party has the technology thoroughly integrated turn up and demand licences. In this case had licences been demanded at the start the second company could well have used a different technology.

    Obviously the second company should have asked for a licence for the technology from the start. That is if they were they aware of the patent and believed that it applied to them (often a confused point). There is however the question of whether the second company was even aware of the patent. Did people realise the published LZW algorithm had been patented by UniSys before developing the GIF format?
  • It would be even funnier if I ran out in the middle of a webcast and beat the hell out of McNealy with his own golf clubs and then shot his caddy.

    of course I'd have to do some research on a gun with good stopping power....

  • My reading of the article is that Sun and Kingston already have a licencing deal in place for the original Sun Patents. The issue is that Sun have since been granted further subsiduary patents and are saying that Kingston must licence these as well in order to continue to produce the modules.

    I can't be certain but my understanding is that many of these are simply for applying standard practices in 32- and 64-bit memory modules to Sun's proprietory 128-bit modules. Kingston argue that the patents are not therefore non-obvious to a practitioner in the field of memory module design (and Sun did not disclose relevant prior art) so the patents are invalid.
  • David Sun's posting at Kingston Tech claims:
    • SUN claims that their patents cover standard PC memory.
    • SUN misled the USPTO by not disclosing prior art
    However SUN's first patent (1991) is on a particular design and refers to previous patents on SIMMs the earlist of which is dated 6/1986.

    Apparently, Kingston originally licensed SUN's designs and it is the newer ones that they have not licensed.

    I don't think this is quite so simple as some people are suggesting.

  • I agree, though I still feel there should be some form of automatic fine or increased fees for future patents for those who are discovered to have deliberately withheld prior art or otherwise attempted to pervert the process.

    If the patent agent/attorney is found to have been knowingly involved then censure or even expulsion from the association should be actively considered.
  • Read up on Lucent Technologies. They have a whole division devoted to defending the AT&T Patent cache, and they usually wait for companies to make significant inroads into a market with "their" tech before suing. Presumably, they either: (1) make more money from the suit or (2) force settlement since the "offending" company is so vulnerable.
  • Now the big argument..

    So, if Gates is Morgoth, and (what's his name at Sun) is Sauron, then...

    Linus is Aragorn (Linux being the latest in an ancient line of openness and UNIXness, unifying the two sides once again.)

    But who gets to be Gandalf? I'd say that makes for a great ESR vs. RMS flamefest...
  • Yes, but what about patent US4656605? http://www.patents.ibm.com/details?&pn10=US0465660 5 Why isn't Wang on the war path? (Are they even around anymore?)
  • um...this is late, but did you read the article?

    david sun has a higher handicap than scott mcneely.

    to me, that by itself already implies david sun is a better golfer...

Try `stty 0' -- it works much better.