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Patent On 'Private' URLs 175

An anonymous reader writes: "Tumbleweed, 'secure' email via http with SSL, so, not really end-to-end secure, just got the patent on private URLs; "Tumbleweed IME generates a private URL for each secure delivery. The private URL that IME creates is unique, tied to the sender of the package or transaction, to the content being sent, and to the intended recipient." I guess I can't tell my buds to surf to a non-public directory on my website to download stuff anymore." Many web applications generate these private URLs. Like the cheesy insecure bookmarkable login URL that Slash uses for example (which is just your name and password plain text in the URL which you should never use unless you're on acid, lazy, and/or realize that losing your slashdot user account will in no way affect your life because you are not a moron and use a unique password so bring on the packet sniffers ;)
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Patent on 'private' URLs

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  • by 11thangel ( 103409 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:43AM (#407810) Homepage
    If they bother trying to press charges against someone for royalties they'll be shot down within a month. I believe just about every semi-secure web based email or online transaction site uses something like that. I even found an old password protection cgi two YEARS ago that did that. Why must common sense be so rare?
  • I've got prior art on their stupid patent, dating back to 1998 or something like that.
    -russ
  • by msuzio ( 3104 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:44AM (#407812) Homepage
    OK, so it's another stupid patent. So? These things have to be tested to stand up, it's obvious that the US Patent Office just hands them out like Everlasting Gobstoppers at the Willy Wonka factory, so let's stop getting our knickers in an uproar every time this happens.
    So, I'd suggest we just let them be patent-happy idiots, and maybe amass some prior art citations for the time when they sue Cmdr. Taco for Slash's infringement of their American right to innovate.
    1. Hey Rob : Check your spelling : bookmkarkable
    2. This reminds me of the contexts used by webservers and included in URL, like CosomosBay [cosmosbay.com] used to do, years ago...
      So, did they patent this because they really felt they invented something revolutionary (in which case they're idiots) or because they wanted to make money as quickly as the ones who patented the one-click buy?

    --
  • The problem with this idea, is that, while a good and workable solution, it is another idea. We should stick to one standard, easily workable, and use it and it alone. That standard is PGP signed email.

    It is already used by a large number of people, and is growing all the time.

    The big problem with having new ideas like this is that you end up with a fragmented email system, where everyone is using different standards. I realise that variety in some arenas, such as desktop OS's, is to be encouraged, but I can't help but suspect that in the arena of communication, standards are all, and everyone should use the same methods of communication and encryption, otherwise communication breaks down.

    Lets stick with PGP.
    --
    Clarity does not require the absence of impurities,

  • Would there happen to be anyone in here that could site previous usage?

  • Damn. It's only August of '97. They filed in April of '97.
    -russ
  • by Ananova ( 255600 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:47AM (#407817)
    > The private URL that IME creates is unique, tied to the sender of the package or transaction, to the content being sent, and to the intended recipient. I guess I can't tell my buds to surf to a non-public directory on my website to download stuff anymore.

    Well yes. That's not the same thing.

    This is talking about unique URL identifying URL.

    A directory on a harddrive is not the same thing.

    > Many web applications generate these private URLs.

    Possibly. But Tumbleweed have patented it - they got there first - way back in 1997 according to the story, so it's tumbleweed that gets the patent. I don't see what the big deal is here. There's always been a rush to be the first to do thing - it encourages innovation, and the one who gets their first gets to exploit the invention. It's always happened, and just because it's now happening on the net is no different. I guess people aren't used to dealing with patents, but the news is that everyone else has been dealing with them for three centuries.

    > Like the cheesy insecure bookmkarkable login URL that Slash uses for example

    Well no, not really. That's just a URL with a password and username. That's not this. You might as well say that the diesel engine is 'like' the 4-stroke petrol engine. Sure there are certain similarities, but they aren't the same - and they can both be protected accordingly.
    --
  • Uh oh, bad news:
    >The patent application was filed in April 1997.

    Hmm... have to dig back a little further to find examples, not that there aren't plenty of them, it's just that Slashdot probably doesn't have prior art in this area since it wasn't started until September 1997.
  • two years ago won't cut it:
    The patent application was filed in April 1997.
  • Hey, mirko : Check your spelling : CosomosBay
  • In my view, if software patents are upheld and forceable by law, that (not Open Source, MS!) would really stifle innovation.

    -----

  • Since this is obviously unenforceable, why'd they even bother? Are they really stupid enough to think they can enforce this? I'm beginning to wonder if some of these companies aren't acquiring and anouncing unenforceable patents just to get the free publicity on an article on /.

    Hey, I wonder if I can patent that program? A frivolous patent generator that generates patent applications based on the likelyhood that they'll provide extraordinary amusement for the Slashdot community, therefore earning a company tons of free publicity.
  • This is the URL I get when I search the USPO's database for this patent: http://164.195.100.11/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO 2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/search-bool.html&r= 1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=ft00&s1='Private+URL'&OS="Pri vate+URL"&RS="Private+URL" Seriously though, the patent shows a specific example, which I suppose is patentable, although for what reason I really can't imagine. Why would anybody want to rip them off when it's minimal work to roll your own similar but not identical structure?
  • by Jon Erikson ( 198204 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:52AM (#407824)

    Sometimes I think that RMS is right and that all forms of patents are worthless, but then I realise that he's actually pretty damn wrong and we don't live in his world of so-called "freedom".

    The trouble with patents is not what they're for, it's how they're used. By definition patents increase freedom because they allow others to benefit from research and innovation done by people and companies, which would otherwise be held secret. They "open source" knowledge to the betterment of all. Of course, unlike the GPL they let the originator make a profit, but that's good in a capitalist society.

    However when patents are awarded for anything and everything then we end up with problems like this one, where a company gets a patent on something with obvious prior art that is already ubiquitous. It's partly the underfunded USPTO's fault and partly greedy corporate lawyers fault, but the end result is a mess of litigation and demands for licensing fees.

    Thankfully, this one is way too obvious to stick.

    I think personally that we need more government control over corporate IP, to prevent such abuses from happening. Then when a company starts throwing its weight around because it's got some dumb patent, the government can step in and ensure that it doesn't go any further. It'll save a hell of a lot of time and money for everyone, which will benefit smaller businesses and private citizens the most, and get rid of a major source of income for those fatcat corporate lawyers :)

  • Here's the patent URL...

    http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US06192407__

    Here's the Abstract...

    A document delivery architecture dynamically generates a private Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to distribute information. Each private URL ("PURL") uniquely identifies an intended recipient of a document, the document or set of documents to be delivered, and (optionally) other parameters specific to the delivery process. The intended recipient of a document uses the PURL to retrieve the document. The server, upon retrieval of the document, customizes the behavior of the retrieval based upon attributes included in the PURL, as well as log information associated with the retrieval in a data base. This architecture and usage of PURLs enables secure document delivery and tracking of document receipt.

    What is claimed:

    What is claimed is:
    1. A document delivery system for delivering one or more documents between a sender and at least one recipient, said system comprising:

    * a server that temporarily stores said documents, wherein said server generates a URL for each intended recipient of said documents, the URL unique to each recipient, and sends each of the URLs to each respective intended recipient; and

    * a database which is associated with said server and which records log data describing which recipients accessed said documents;

    * wherein said server sends the log data to the sender of said documents.
  • It was filed in 1997
  • Quite right. If you get your knickers in an uproar, next thing you know they'll be revolting.
  • by fizbin ( 2046 ) <martin AT snowplow DOT org> on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:55AM (#407828) Homepage

    Well, someone already beat me to it in pointing out that the patent was filed in 1997 (A suggestion to rob et al: on future stupid-patent stories, please give the filing date of the patent - it's not as if delphion makes it hard to look up.)

    Oh, and here's the blatant kharma whoring: the patent (all seven claims) at delphion [delphion.com].

  • Don't forget that this was filed almost 4 years ago, it's just that they've finally been awarded the patent. What might have made them money long ago, may hold absolutely no consequence in today's industry.
  • We all have a general idea of what patents are for. They're around to protect a business' "intellectual privacy" so as to ensure that nobody can just copy what they're doing. What would be the point of research and development if as soon as you've worked out a new product, there is nothing to protect you from everybody and their brother doing the same thing, without having to have invested expensive time and resources into actually developing it.

    But honestly, how much research and development could possibly have gone into an idea like individualized URL's? In a sense, a user's home directory (ie. http://www.tao.ca/~jmcnaught/) is an individualized URL, and simply asking people not to tell other's their URL to keep it private is not much of an insight.

    Really, shouldn't a patent reflect a protection of a long term investment, specifically hard won insights from research and development?

    But then, on another level, how does the idea of intellectual property help to advance humanity? Drug companies using their patents to extort high prices for AIDS treatment from third world countries is a good example of an extremely bad situation related to patents. But on a whole, how much fast could our knowledge of nature and our ability to overcome difficulty progress if humanity was driven to share it's insights?

    Perhaps companies should rely on the prestige of their having discovered a process to protect their investments, instead of asking the government to enforce it for them. That attitude is already half-way there, we've all seen certain labs bragging about how many patents have come out of their facilities.

    What kind of language can we use to get these (and other) kinds of ideas across the the IP defendants, or perhaps the politicians?

    That IP is essentially a monopoly granting process, that it doesn't sit well with the ideas of genuine free trade? Would abolishing IP be the answer, or should we be sitting down and discussing what deserves patents and what does not, and how long they should last?

  • *cough* prior art *cough*

    The problem with capped Karma is it only goes down...
  • common sense is not just rare, as we see every day. It is exotic, almost nonexistant.
  • by PhatKat ( 78180 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:00AM (#407833) Homepage
    If you just do a search on for patents [google.com] on google, there's a link [bustpatents.com] to a place that supposedly contains "the only large database in the galaxy, with information on over: 15,000 computer programs available in source code form, 50,000 software patents, and 800,000 abstracts to algorithms and software technology reports and articles. These software resources are the output of hundreds of government, academic and corporate facilities, not only in the United States, but also from foreign facilities. Our database has been under private development for eight years."

    Not that it's needed in this case, but apparently for $400 bucks, they'll do a search for prior art.

    "In these sources, many forms of prior art/reusable software components are searched for: source code listings to a program, pointer to where source code can be obtained, a pointer to where object libraries are located, moderately decomposed structural configuration for a computer program, pseudo-code description of a computer algorithm, and the claims to a software patent." It looks like they look through a lot of different kinds of material: "We check many sources, including government/university/corporate technical reports, journal articles, university theses, published books, commercial products (source code and object libraries), programs posted to/announced on the Internet, programs posted to standalone bulletin board systems, collections of software distributed as libraries on CDROMs, and existing software patents. Over 150 government/university/corporate facilities and over 240 journals are tracked." As I say, it's probably not need in this case, considering just how much prior art there is for these URLs, but in the future, someone should really make use of this database if stuff like this is ever in question.

    Speaking of prior art... did any of you notice that URL I used to link to google?
  • It's kind of like an artist who wins a Grammy. Rather than being "the artist so and so" it's now "the Grammy Award Winning artist so and so."

    So the company is not longer selling just software XYZ. It's now selling software XYZ with patents 1,2,3,4 and 5. Even "Patent pending" brings business.

    The patent system has turned into a marketing machine... So sad.

    --

  • In a previous thread on patents I suggested the idea of PatentSlash, a site that would allow people to read the patent and then mention any prior art that existed - rightly so someone pointed out the issue of secrecy until publication and the shear quantity of applications would make this difficult.

    Thinking about the issue lately, the revised approach would have the patent office doing their usual work and then any patent which is considered okay by the patent office would then make its way to PatentSlash for a second stage public review - this should cut down on the number of patents being listed on the site and would ensure only those that the Patent Office feels okay to approve become public knowledge.

  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:03AM (#407836) Homepage Journal
    Like so many companies with broken products and aimless business plans, they're trying to get on the patent-abuse gravy train.

    I mean, come on. *ANY* web-based mail isn't going to be secure unless it's already encrypted with a real security product like PGP - in which case, who needs their sorry asses anyway? I mean, SSL? Come on. And what, exactly, do they do that's better than some combination of PGP, a good VPN, and good firewalls?

    I wouldn't expect this company to be around all that much longer...

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • it's obvious that the US Patent Office just hands them out like Everlasting Gobstoppers at the Willy Wonka factory

    The patent application was filed in April 1997. They just got it approved.

    Everlasting Gobstoppers that take four years to start?

    _ _ _
    I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god.

  • Once that happens, we'll have to fight the procedure again with a dozen different standards competing to be named top code. While standardization does help people play together nicely, you do have to admit that standards change often, or have incompatible subsets added to them.
  • is this the first time that CT has accused people of being on acid?

    or is he implying that he was on acid when he decided to do plain-text UserID's and PW's?

    or is he, right now, as we speak, tripping his face off in order to deal with the insanity of running /.?

    com on rob, we wanna know... how's the trip?


    tagline

  • Well I, personally, am kind of sick just hearing about the "underfunded" USPTO. Just because they can't process all the claims in a timely manner doesn't mean that they should be approving such nonsense. Just don't approve them. Work at a rate that ensures proper processing of the claims. If (when) companies sue the government, or at least make enough noise to be heard, about how long it's taking to get your patent processed, THEN the USPTO will get "proper" funding and be able to process the claims, properly, in a timely manner. Meanwhile, DON't RUSH and just take your time. What are they going to do, fire you? Then it will just take longer to get the claims processed, or make it impossible to do at all.
  • Maxim UK [maxim-magazine.co.uk] uses this for a really cheesey login system they use and theToronto Raptors [raptors.com] (and the other NBA teams) use a generated sessionid in the URL for persistence. (raptors site is down right now, as usual)

    Crazy. Fucking Crazy.

  • When is the patent office ever going to start looking into the patents that are filed before they start awarding them?

    I've used 'private urls' (at least by their description) in more than a dozen CGIs that I've written. Give me a break, people, if it's not new, don't try to patent it!
  • by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:13AM (#407843)
    it's obvious that the US Patent Office just hands them out like Everlasting Gobstoppers at the Willy Wonka factory

    As I recall, Everlasting Gobstoppers were treated as a corporate secret, worth many thousands of dollars to competitor Slugworth, and the factory handed out only five.

    If the patent office treated patents like that, we'd be in good shape.

  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:13AM (#407844) Homepage Journal
    By definition patents increase freedom

    patent (ptnt)
    1. a. A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.

    Show me where the definition says it increses freedom.

    we need more government control over corporate IP

    Too much govermnent control and intervention is the whole problem.

    they allow others to benefit from research and innovation done by people and companies, which would otherwise be held secret
    Name a software related patent that does this or could have done this. How exactly would Amazons one click "technique" have remained a secret if they hadn't patented it?

    Of course, unlike the GPL they let the originator make a profit, but that's good in a capitalist society

    Firstly, the GPL most certainly does not prevent the originator from making a profit.
    Secondly, artificially restricting control only to the originator gives them enough power to exploit everybody else. This tends to lead to monopolies and a small number of very large powerfil coroprations instead of a healthy competitive market.

    The incorrect assumption you have made is that people do not do work voluntarily for others unless they can demand payment - after all why should they let others benefit from their superior abilities you might ask?
    Well, whatever the reasons you might think that, it is wrong. If it were correct, nobody would be releasing GPLd software. Quite clearly, people (including many innovators) are releasing a lot of GPLd software.

    Patents have outlived their usefulness to society and it's about time they we're reformed or ditched altogether.
  • I even found an old password protection cgi two YEARS ago that did that

    An invention has to be new and non-obvious when the patent is filed, not when it's granted. Most patents take three years to be bribed through the USPTO. Was this standard practice in 1998?


    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • Drug companies using their patents to extort high prices for AIDS treatment from third world countries is a good example of an extremely bad situation related to patents.

    Naah... Actually the drug companies (from how i understand it) charge much more reasonable prices to 3rd world countries, and even all the European countries... They manage to hose us because a great many of us don't know what we're paying past the $10 co-pay may of us get. So they just bill the insuarance companies the rest, and who are the insurance companies to complain, because then they get to point to the high cost of drugs as a reason their rates are so high...
  • no, seriously...

    read the fucking blurb up top... rob specificaly mentions acid, and i am querying about it...

    how the hell is this off-topic?


    tagline

  • Correct me if I am wrong, I havent used Tumbleweed's service, but isnt it doing _exactly_ the same thing as Hotmail? Hotmail has been around since before april 97, I think. One would think that M$ would jump all over this, since you know, they are "the most ripped off company in the world"
  • patent (ptnt)
    1. a. A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.

    Show me where the definition says it increses freedom.


    Um, what the hell? Why does this need to be in the definition (that you provided without citation) to be true? How is this a valid argument?

    The other thing here is that while it is clear that things have gotten way out of hand in the world of software patents, that's not a reason to ditch them otherwise.

    they allow others to benefit from research and innovation done by people and companies, which would otherwise be held secret
    >Name a software related patent that does this or could have done this


    I agree that there are few, if any software examples, but there are *countless* other examples.

    Reform, please. Don't ditch.

    spreer
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:24AM (#407850)

    This patent is incredibly broad, covering any URL which identifies the document to be delivered, the intended recipient, and "other parameters". Everyone who handled user login using querystring data (remember the good ol' days before cookies?) has prior art on this. I've got sites dating back to '95 and '96 that do this, and I certainly got the idea from someone who came before.

    O'Reilly's _CGI Programming_ is copyright 1996 and I believe it describes this kind of use for querystring data. In any case, I'm sure we all have CGI books on our shelves which show exactly this use of URLs and pre-date the 04/97 filing date of this so-called patent.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Doesn't Hotmail use this kind of scheme?
    Could this mean that (oh, horror of horrors) M$ isn't totaly useless?

    If that's true, does this mean that other "Facts" of life could be wrong? Think of the implications. For example:

    1. Ross Perot could be right.
    2. Yanni is actually really really cool.
    3. Michial Bolton is a good singer.
    4. People really do buy Playboy for the articals.
    5. Size doesn't matter.
    6. Women are turned on by C.S. majors.
    7. Chewbacca is Lukes father.
    8. Whoppii Goldberg is HOT!
    9. Creationists have a valid point.

    And finally:
    10. George W. Bush will be an intelligent and
    competent president.

    Nah, lets be realistic.

    {Now where did I put that Playboy. I was reading an articale about how to pick up women by reciting lines from "Unix in a Nutshell". Have you seen it? It's the one with Woppii Goldberg on the cover.}
  • Seriously though, the patent shows a specific example

    All patents do. It's called a "preferred embodiment." All the legal force of a patent resides in the claims. Here's the first claim of the patent in question [delphion.com]:

    A document delivery system for delivering one or more documents between a sender and at least one recipient, said system comprising:
    • a server that temporarily stores said documents, wherein said server generates a URL for each intended recipient of said documents, the URL unique to each recipient, and sends each of the URLs to each respective intended recipient; and
    • a database which is associated with said server and which records log data describing which recipients accessed said documents;
    • wherein said server sends the log data to the sender of said documents.
    Translation: If your web database uses a session_id in the GET URL, you infringe. Even Google DejaNews [google.com] infringes.
    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • by tap ( 18562 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:25AM (#407853) Homepage
    I remember using warez FTP sites way back when, 1994 or earlier, and this was common practice. You can't have a secondary password on a anon-FTP site, so you make a directory with a name like dot-space-^h-tab-space-space-space-^m that is secret, then you only tell the person who you want to access the site the name of the secret directory.

    I also seem to remember that PGP was distributed this way in the early years. You had to send an email to a bot at MIT, and they would tell you the name of some screwy FTP directory on their server to get it from. If you tried again a week later, it would be gone.

    I even make a system like this myself in 1995. Someone would fill out a web form (forms were new!) and an image would be generated for them to download. It would get stuck on the FTP site, as img12345.jpg or something, for them to download. Then it would get deleted after a while. The ftp path was provided as a URL, the URL identified the document, the server stored it temporarily, and logged the transfer. Seems to satisify all their claims.
  • That may be okay. I recall reading on the USPTO site that for something to be shown as non-obvious, nobody can come up with the same idea within one year of your filing. So if they filed in April 97, and you were doing the same thing in August 97, without having heard of them (and their patent application would have been under wraps at that point, so it's unlikely they'd be saying, hey, we can do this and you can't), then there are good grounds for the obvious clause.
    ------
    WWhhaatt ddooeess dduupplleexx mmeeaann??
  • by Jon Erikson ( 198204 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:30AM (#407856)

    Show me where the definition says it increses freedom.

    Because otherwise the knowledge would be locked away as a trade secret and nobody else would be able to benefit from it, even indirectly. And there wouldn't be any clause causing it to expire either. So yes, a patent does increase freedom. That's the whole point of them.

    Too much govermnent control and intervention is the whole problem.

    I think America shows the limits of laissez-faire capitalism in a global economy. It may be a nice theoretical model to study in economics class, but in the real world corporations tend to dominate markets and impose resitrictions upon others through various mechanisms.

    When a corporation gets too big, only the government is powerful enough to level the playing field again. Here, more government control works to increase competition and bolster the free market.

    Name a software related patent that does this or could have done this. How exactly would Amazons one click "technique" have remained a secret if they hadn't patented it?

    Encryption techniques or compression algorithms could easily be kept secret without patents.

    Firstly, the GPL most certainly does not prevent the originator from making a profit.

    Okay, technically not, but it makes it as difficult as possible. The only way to make a profit is to wriggle through loopholes in the GPL, and even then it's a struggle.

    The incorrect assumption you have made is that people do not do work voluntarily for others unless they can demand payment - after all why should they let others benefit from their superior abilities you might ask?

    They can in their spare time, sure. But open source rarely pays the bills, which is why most programmers work in closed source environments where there is enough money to pay their paychecks.

    Well, whatever the reasons you might think that, it is wrong. If it were correct, nobody would be releasing GPLd software. Quite clearly, people (including many innovators) are releasing a lot of GPLd software.

    Because they have little choice. Thanks to the careful crafting of the GPL, it's next to impossible to write a Linux application that doesn't have to be GPLed.

  • *cough* prior art *cough*

    Doesn't matter unless the prior art existed before the patent was filed (in April 1997). Was Deja News [google.com] around back then? (The patent is on (in plain English) "session IDs or user IDs in the URL," and Deja News uses session IDs.)

    Good news: CueCat infringes.


    All your hallucinogen [pineight.com] are belong to us.
  • Show me where the definition says it increses freedom.

    Patents increase freedom _eventually_ when they expire and fall into the public domain, as the RSA algorithm recently did. In theory, the alternative is that the invention is never revealed and never benefits society, thus justifying the temporary monopoly for the long-term benefit of making the invention public.

    Unfortunately, when patents are granted on the obvious (which is patently illegal, if you don't mind the pun), this doesn't provide any long-term benefit (it would have been invented regardless) and the cost of the temporary monopoly is imposed for no benefit. This is why the law requires that patents be non-obvious to an average practitioner in the relevant field. If they're obvious, they don't deserve patent protection because there's no need to provide an incentive to reveal the obvious.

    The problem is that the USPTO keep granting patents on the obvious. This is illegal, and patent examiners should have some accountability for their irresponsible behavior. Good luck getting that to happen in this lifetime.
  • The original intent was probably to "increase freedom" as you describe. Unfortunately, a major flaw has developed in the meantime. There is a huge disincentive to reviewing existing patents.

    IANAL, blah blah. But this is my understanding of the current state of IP law. Anybody who knows better please correct me...

    Let's say you have just invented some really cool and clever software technique. How do you know if it hasn't been done before?

    Option 1: You drop 10 grand on a patent attorney to help you get a patent. If similar patents already exists, or if prior art exists, you are out of luck. You still gotta pay the attorney for his time. If you get the patent, you have to keep paying legal fees defend it, or you risk losing it.

    Option 2: You could do some research on your own and look for patents similar to your idea. Maybe you find some similar ideas, but nothing exactly like yours. You're not worried about owning a patent, so you distribute your clever new software to the world. Much simpler, right?

    Oops, you're not a patent attorney, are you? So you are not legally qualified to make determinations about whether you're infrining on any of those patents you researched. And since you did research it, you may now be liable for triple damages, because a claim could now be made that you were "willfully" infringing. Better get that patent attorney on the phone and start saving your pennies.

    So by trying to protect yourself and making a legitimate effort to check into existing patents, you may have just screwed yourself. If you had never bothered to check, you still could be hit with damages, but by not knowing about existing patents, you save yourself the risk of getting hit with those triple damages.

    So much for increasing freedom, allowing others to benefit from research and all that...

  • Caveat: My company is integrating Tumbleweed into a public site used by a very large corporation. Double-Caveat: I can't believe they got a patent on this! I think that the the PTO needs to be taken out back and beaten with a "Core Java" book. With that said:

    While PGP style systems are the most secure, they require training the end-user to use key-rings, and they require the corporation to support many different flavors of the PGP application. Setting up tens of thousands of web site users with PGP is not something I would like to support. Tumbleweed compromises on this by encrypting the private keys with a user password. Effectively, this is the same as PGP, except each user stores their key-ring on the Tumbleweed server.

    It's actually a pretty good system.


    --

  • We all have a general idea of what patents are for. They're around to protect a business' "intellectual privacy" so as to ensure that nobody can just copy what they're doing.

    Ummm... No. Patents are for encouraging companies to publish their "intellecual privacy" (i.e., trade secrets) in exchange for legal protection for them.

    The goal is to encourage other inventors to improve upon the patented ideas: Basically, the PTO attempts to improve the state of the art by saying "You can't do this. Try something else."

    :

    --

  • by Dman33 ( 110217 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:44AM (#407869)
    Yeah, I was laughing at them when I saw them on the Nasdaq in the start of the year. They went from like $15 a share to $2 a share in only a few hours.

    They are rebounding I guess and grabbing at stupid patents is a good way to get the investors happy again..
  • No. Tumbleweed IME is nothing like HotMail. Think of a web front-end to PGP, and you've got Tumbleweed.


    --

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:50AM (#407874) Journal
    My first encounter with session IDs was on the pathfinder.com web site. This *had* to have been around 1995 or so. I remember being annoyed by them when trying to bookmark them.

    They had a URL with a session ID the @ signs surrounding them, so

    pathfinder.com/somestory/ expanding to pathfinder.com/@344656654645@/somestory/

    pathfinder.com was registered in 1993. It was where Time-Warner gathered all of their print publication stories at. It's now defunct.

  • There are dozens of people and companies that search for prior art, and most of them are really pretty good. You can bet that all of them are getting calls right now about this patent.
  • Two reasons. One: Bragging rights. Looks good to the investors. Two: Legal Defense. So no one can sue them for the same idea, and if someone sues them for violating their lame patent, they have ammo for a counter-suit or cross-licensing deal.


    --

  • You still haven't shown me how patents increase freedom "be definition" You have simply explained that they are supposed to.

    *sigh* They increase it by definition because part of that definition is the fact that they expire.

    Yes, various unfair mechanisms like patents for example. (lets leave copyright for another day)

    No, more like things like exclusive contracts, which prevent other companies from competing in a level playing field.

    I don't know which "they" you're speaking for. I write GPLd software (well, I try anyway) and its not because im forced, its because i want to. How can you say people have no choice about it? There are at least tens of thousands of programmers who write code that's not GPL, including some for linux.

    Because the basic libraries for Linux are GPLed, and by using them you are forced to adopt the GPL as your license. Yes, there are non-GPLed pieces of software, but most of them are either very limited or have ended up reimplementing standard functions just to avoid the GPL.

    And how do you explain GPL software for windows as well? (yes - its increasing fast)

    Easy. Because some people out there are as anti-freedom as RMS (unless it's his kind of freedom of course) and will stick a GPL on their software to be malicious. And the fact that the Windows libraries don't force you into using a specific license, unless those on Linux.

  • Right-o

    From what I remember, the whole thing was a set-up to test the children anyway. Slugworth was the guy whispering in the ear of each golden-ticket winner who promised them $$ if they ripped off an EG from Wonka and gave it to him.

    Turned out that they guy was working for Wonka and the whole thing was a test to see of Charley was honest or not.

    Sheesh, don't know which is worse - that I remembered that or that I took the time to post it.

    ---

  • Not really, the log data is relevant.

    For example, when I post to USENET, I have sent something to many receipients. Deja/Google indexes this information, and sends it to other receipients. The log files are then sent me?

    Nope, I don't get a log of every response to my message.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a silly patent, but not QUITE as silly as you seem to think. :)
  • by Jon Erikson ( 198204 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @07:08AM (#407884)

    And yet I have yet to actually see someone come up with evidence of prior art. There have been some claiming existence of evidence as early as August '97. But that doesn't predate the patent application.

    IIRC, once a patent has been granted there is a period of a year in which if the same idea is reimplemented then it is taken as proof that the idea is obvious and the patent is invalid. So these claims, whilst not prior art, do show that the patent isn't nonobvious. See here [uspto.gov] for more info.

  • common sense is not just rare, as we see every day. It is exotic, almost nonexistant.

    Odd, then, that you insist upon calling it "common" sense.

    -Phatty two-by-four

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @07:16AM (#407887)
    If you read the claims, it seems like a generally limited scope stupid patent. The problem is that this fails the non-obvious requirement and the Constitutional advancedment arguement.

    Trade Secret laws are the problems, not patents. Anything that SHOULD be patented (monopoly for releasing information the society wouldn't get) is now protected under Trade Secret laws. As a result, the company gets rediculous protection... there is no societal reason for Trade Secret laws, it simply allows corporations to make more money.

    This sort of system needs to be revealed to be used. Therefore, the patent is silly. Furthermore, the decision to put up a system like this is NOT related to the ability to patent it, so society is not advanced by the patent, the system would be released anyway and society would gain the knowledge.

    HOWEVER, this system is pretty unique, so the patent is less of an issue. Read the claims, the logs portion of it is REALLY significant. They didn't patent GETs :)...

    To fall under the patent's claims, all 7 of them, you pretty much need to have a system that does the following:

    1. Accept submissions to your server
    AND
    2. Create a custom URL for EACH receipient of the data (meaning, if I send 1 URL to 5 people, I don't fall under the patent)
    AND
    3. The server logs all accesses (it would seem to reason that these aren't web logs, but database logs with specific access information)
    4. Transmits the logs to the sender (there are multiple ways of this, on request, automatically, without confirmed requiest, etc., etc., etc.)

    I mean, that is a relatively specific approach to things.

    Additionally, it becomes questionable if the GET string qualifies as a unique URL.

    For example, if I send the same URL (script access) with a different set of variables, I should potentially be able to escape the claims.

    If you are doing something like this, it isn't THAT hard to work around the patent.

    The problem with these patents, however, is that by merely reading the claims, one could design the system trivially with a mastery of the skill. I have no need to read the patent and gain knowledge (that I can put to use in 20 years).

    OTOH: when they came up with this in 97, this was pretty unique. Now it seems very commonplace, and there probably is prior art for some of this. I also doubt that they would try to enforce these claims anyways, given how sketchy the patent seems today.

    Alex
  • Only when they apply to something which could have been kept a secret had it not been patented.

    Name one of those that applies to software.

    The RSA encryption algorithm? That was just released into the public domain to the benefit of everyone. Better luck next time eh?

    There are plenty of things which could easily be kept secret due to their complexity - encryption algorithms, compression routines, signal processing techniques etc etc. All of these are valid examples of software patents.

  • Heck, when I was working on the Levi's Online Store, we were the first site I'm aware of to implement a wishlist or 'wish basket' in addition to a shopping cart.

    If you can't beat 'em... Okay, well if I don't go for a patent, at least I'll have prior art.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • Not only that, but Sun's Java Servlet specification provides methods that automatically rewrite a URL to include this kind of information, for use with browsers that don't support cookies. (Under Apache Tomcat, it appends ";jsessionid=" and some random characters to the URL.) It's the only way some of the stuff I'm working on now will work, for instance, under the Links browser.

    Just add one more nail into the coffin of this patent...

    Eric
    --

  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @07:37AM (#407898)
    Gee wally, I dunno how much prior art I can come up with on this one.

    Open Market Web Server was using URL rewriting at least as far back as 1996, and this technique was in use at PathFinder at the time.

    Critical Path's web mail was using URL rewriting for exactly the same thing that TumbleWeed got their patent on since ever. I'm not sure exactly when their first web mail revision hit the wire, but it was in 1997 sometime.

    On the modperl mailing list, the debate used to flare up between people who preferred URL rewriting and people who preferred cookies, all through 1997 and 1998. So, in 1997, there were at least enough people using both techniques to field an argument. Fertile ground for prior art there.

  • As a former peon for this joke of a company, I can tell you that, contrary to their marketing, they do not sell software or services. They sell stock. And their product (stock) sucks.

    It doesn't matter that the patents are unenforceable. What matters is that they got a patent. It looks good on the investor forums.
  • by zentec ( 204030 ) <zentec@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 23, 2001 @08:01AM (#407906)
    ...the kludge. That's right, any "work-around" to extend the limits of existing technology or the shortcomings of any system. So, these guys have infringed upon my patent. Because that's what their system is, a kludge because they couldn't figure out how to do it any other way.
  • Like the cheesy insecure bookmarkable login URL that Slash uses for example (which is just your name and password plain text in the URL which you should never use unless you're on acid, lazy, and/or realize that losing your slashdot user account will in no way affect your life because you are not a moron and use a unique password so bring on the packet sniffers ;)

    Uh, no offence CT, but everytime anyone logs into slash, even though the regular POST based login form, their username and password are transmitted in plaintext to the slashdot server (since https://slashdot.org doesn't seem to exist) The URL isn't any more insecure in this respect. I haven't looked at the cookie implementation, but I'd guess that your username and password are transmitted with that, too, making your login info sniffable every time you view any .slashdot.org page.
  • Click here -> http://www2.bluemountain.com/cards/boxb224344x5/k9 uzjscydvjymaa.htm [bluemountain.com].

    `nuff said.

    Eric Ziegast
    Blue Mountain Arts

  • By definition patents increase freedom...

    The issue of whether or not patents increase freedom has been flamed over endlessly by the /. crowd and others. I've never seen someone actually go so far as to claim it's "by definition"-- that's simply laughable. I think it's very difficult to argue that something essentially defined by "you can't do this" by definition increases freedom.
  • by redhog ( 15207 )
    > The only way to make a profit is to wriggle
    > through loopholes in the GPL, and even then it's
    > a struggle.

    > They can in their spare time, sure. But open
    > source rarely pays the bills, which is why most
    > programmers work in closed source environments
    > where there is enough money to pay their
    > paychecks.

    This is utterly wrong. I work for MandrakeSoft. I have been working for a closed-source company. Both are startups (about the same age, actually). I earn more than the double here from what I did at that closed source company. MandrakeSoft is going well. And we are NOT making money by trying to go through some loophole of the GPL/LGPL/GFDL! Some companies does, yes, but you don't have to. At all.

    What the GPL does, is to require you to innovate (that word sounds a bit bad to me, it have been so missused), to develop, to create new, better versions. If you don't people are just going to copy their versions among frioends. But a new version from the author, you have to get directly from him/her, at least if you want it early. This is not making it next to impossible to make money, just leveling the field and requireing a fair amount of work to compensate for the income, which is not the case in traditional licensing models, where you can sit on your back and get money for something you hacked 10 years ago.

    These statements are not _nessesarily_ the opinion of my emploeyr, but my own, and as far as I know, they match those of MandrakeSoft pretty well.
  • Why must common sense be so rare?

    Not so rare as buried, by greed. It reminds me of something in Hitchhikers about Trillion considering the various reasons for Zaphod's stupidity. [no, I'm not interested in the actual quote, bugger off] Whether Zaphod was playing stupid because he couldn't be bothered to figure it out, he wanted someone else to figure it out or whether he genuinely was stupid.

    I'll take the position they act to acquire patents because they hope others will be uninformed enough to respect the patent. The US Patent Office, however appears full of researchers who couldn't be bothered to research for prior art. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if they put each and every idea up to a board of well informed people who would know where to go to research?

    Nope, no sign of anything that looks like a Private URL on this donut or in this coffee. [PATENT APPROVED]

    --

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Friday February 23, 2001 @08:16AM (#407914) Journal
    Go read the stupid patent announcement. It says, "The patent application was filed in April 1997." In other words, we have to find prior art from before this!

    Admittedly it's out there, and this truly is a stupid, dumb, brainless, fucked patent; but please quit citing "I was doing this in 199[89]" sources, folks!

  • http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/02/23/14422 14&cid=119, posted 13 minutes before your own post. If you don't think that matches, there's a better example in http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/02/23/14422 14&cid=85, with a handy link to the patent and an explanation of why the example is prior art, 38 minutes before your post.

    If you disagree with their claims, argue it. But don't ignore them and claim they don't exist.
  • I know I was not the first to discover them, but that doesn't seem to be very relevant to the PTO, so I think I'll submit my patent for private sids on slashcode based websites.

    If you care to dispute this patent, please do so at the private sid http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=patent [slashdot.org]


    Of course doing so may incur royalty fees for use of the patent.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    So to get around this, you just stick the session ID in a POST and avoid altering the URL altogether. But wait a second, doesn't that infringe on Amazon's client ID cookie patent?

    These patents are right up there with domain squatting. It is the informational equivalent of atherosclerosis. Where does it end? What's to stop the next patent from being "anyone using a packet-based protocol over a line for the purposes of exchanging information leading to a business transaction of any kind on Tuesdays"? Now you have to pay someone one day a week for using your TCP/IP stack to sell T-shirts.

    This is the product of bloated companies with fat-cat patent lawyers, who, failing to compete on the merits of their services in the Internet marketplace, try to obtain exclusive legal rights on the use of open protocols, in order to tax those who do---all through the use of convoluted legal gymnastics, and the general incompetence of law, namely the patents office.

    This is how rich people get rich off of technology whether they understand it or not: Dirty legal tactics---Brute force, anticompetitive legal plaq that clogs the arteries of the Internet economy. This patent is that very stuff.

  • Just as I figured! Man, it is easy to spot a company like this from a mile away...
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday February 23, 2001 @08:42AM (#407920) Journal
    If this patent were to be challenged in court, I would be happy to be a witness for the challengers.

    I am a newbie at CGI scripting. I wrote a script a while back that takes login data, and uses a session-key in the URL to keep the user validated as they move around pages in the said cgi script.

    Using a session key was the first thought that popped into my head to keep this state information (I didn't want to use cookies). I was below the "ordinary skill in the art" because I was a newbie, yet it was the first thing that I thought of: therefore I'd be quite willing to testify under oath that this technique is obvious to anyone with ordinary skills in the art.

  • Even though they filed their patent ~6 months before you developed your code, you probably weren't exposed to their material, but instead were developing it independently. Obviousness isn't as solid a patent-buster as prior art, because it's much harder to demonstrate, but the technique of Ugly_Looking_URLs has been around a long time as a method for doing lots of different things (and primarily as an alternative to cookies.)
  • they wanted to make money as quickly as the ones who patented the one-click buy ?

    Wait, what are you saying? Did I miss it? Has Amazon.com actually turned a profit yet?

    The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

  • No, you can't. It's not the same web anymore. And not only that, but it's not like anyone was actually looking for prior art; academic computing journals would never discuss an "invention" so trivial.

    Yes, trivial. I haven't even read the patent filing, and even from here I can see that I could design such a system in five minutes, and one good week of programming would give me the same "invention" if I were starting from complete scratch. This so-called innovation is to put the session ID before the question mark in the URL so it's easier to keep a temporary copy on disk. BFD.

    I would have to laugh at anyone who calls that an innovation, except that I'd see the better of it and just give a swift kick in the ass with no explanation.

    Ten bucks says not even the so-called inventors can explain why anyone should care; this is just the usual patent-as-anti-competetive weapon horseshit. I defy anyone to explain why such a trivial technique is deserving of SEVENTEEN YEARS of freedom from competition. The whole point of the patent is to encourage innovation; patents like these STIFLE innovation and bring us that much closer to an economy where permission to conduct business of any sort must be granted, not assumed.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • I've become incredibly wary of sending links to friends because of exactly what this article is talking about: Some of them encode individual information related to you. While most of them couple this with internal SessionIDs/cookies, and the unintended link follower gets nothing, some of them do as Slash does and plaintext includes it. I'm sure there's been plenty of people who have inadvertently set their login info to a friend when just trying to show them a new link.

    Anyways I can't stand session unique URLs. You can't really bookmark them, and when they're somewhat properly designed you can't send them to a friend. So instead of saying "Here's the link to the blobbonator on sale" you have to direct them on how to navigate from the root to the item in question. Very lame.

    yafla! [yafla.com]
  • promised them $$

    Isn't that entrapment?
    I never trusted that Wonka fellow. Besides, his factories are unsafe and unsanitary.

    :)
  • The claims are OR'd together, the subparts of the claim are AND'd together.

    Read the claims.

    Each one involves the four characteristics I outlined... the different in the claims is predominately what is logged and HOW the log files are transmitted.

    It's a more specific patent than you think.

    I don't believe that any GET URL with a sender and recipient is a violation, I don't believe that it falls under any of the claims.

    You must violate an ENTIRE claim.
  • Because otherwise the knowledge would be locked away as a trade secret and nobody else would be able to benefit from it, even indirectly. And there wouldn't be any clause causing it to expire either. So yes, a patent does increase freedom. That's the whole point of them.

    Encryption techniques or compression algorithms could easily be kept secret without patents.

    The point of patents is to encourage the release of knowledge, not freedom. For 17 years, that knowledge protected by patents is not free, I am not free to do with it as I will. If I independently rediscover the technique, I'm still out of luck.

    However, if the knowledge is protected by trade secret, I'm free to rediscover the knowledge or reverse engineer it and use it as I want. If you've sold me a product that does encryption or or compression and is protected by trade secret, I'm free to disassemble the code and figure out how it works. Large companies with incentive to gain the technique can do research to rediscover it or hire a team of hackers to reverse engineer it. I may have less knowledge of this techniques, but I have the freedom to gain that knowledge, and once gained, to use it however I want.

    So, I'm still not clear on how "by definition patents increase freedom...."

    Thanks to the careful crafting of the GPL, it's next to impossible to write a Linux application that doesn't have to be GPLed.

    Ummm, no. It's quite easy to write Linux applications that aren't GPLed. You simply don't use any GPLed code. I'm paid to develop and maintain a closed source application on Linux. No problems with the GPL at all. Never had to seriously think about it. The GPL doesn't seem to have been a problem for Netscape (pre-Mozilla), Sun (StarOffice before it was released), Corel (PhotoPaint, Draw, Wordperfect), Opera, and others.

  • This patent is incredibly broad, covering any URL which identifies the document to be delivered, the intended recipient, and "other parameters". Everyone who handled user login using querystring data (remember the good ol' days before cookies?) has prior art on this. I've got sites dating back to '95 and '96 that do this, and I certainly got the idea from someone who came before.

    Indeed. An interesting twist here is that a patent cannot be covered by prior art, or merely an obvious extension of prior art to a person of ordinary skill in the art. If "the art" here is authenticating users to a web server, the use of baroque URLs was quite well understood in the time before cookies became prevalent. Specifically, I think that ordinary people, like even me, could figure out how to do this after reading selections from Phil Greenspun's How to be a Web Whore Just Like Me [greenspun.com] which has been around on the net for, god, forever, and was published as Database backed web sites in 1997.

  • Around 1994 the University of California at Berkeley would allow a person to download SPICE (used by electrical engineers) after paying a handling fee. They would create a private temporary directory containing the program and provide the person with the URL of the directory. The person could then download the program by FTP access. No one else would be aware of the directory. Is this close enough to be prior art?
  • Not to mention the poor, exploited oompa loompas [systec.com] . . .
  • However, if the knowledge is protected by trade secret, I'm free to rediscover the knowledge or reverse engineer it and use it as I want. If you've sold me a product that does encryption or or compression and is protected by trade secret, I'm free to disassemble the code and figure out how it works. Large companies with incentive to gain the technique can do research to rediscover it or hire a team of hackers to reverse engineer it. I may have less knowledge of this techniques, but I have the freedom to gain that knowledge, and once gained, to use it however I want.

    Umm does DeCSS ring a bell?

  • In fact, simply viewing your user info page comprimises your password!!! It's a part of the HTML that is sent, unencrypted, to you when viewing your user info page. anyone sniffing that HMTL has your password, and 0wnz j00u.

    Try viewing your user info page, and read the source. There's your password, and username. doh!

    I really wish /. would not put the password in the HTML; if someone really wants to use the stupid insecure link, just have 2 steps; one link to a page that has only the insecure link; then the password isn't sent, in plantext via HTML, every time I view my user info page.
  • Well, the law says that it needs to be obvious to "someone of ordinary skill in the art", not "someone of or below ordinary skill in the art". Clearly, you weren't skilled enough, so you don't count. If the thing is so obvious that beginner (or the MBAs and layers) can understand it, it's evidently so obvious that it deservers a patent. It's even more deserving of a patent if the people who are actually of ordinary skill have decided long ago that it's a bad idea in most applications and it is therefore not used much, or that it is so obvious that nobody ever bothered to "publish" it other than embedded in open source programs.

    Now, as some lawyers who make millions on this stuff never tire to point out: "Kids, you really have got to stick to the letter of the law. And, besides: all this is for your own good, and don't forget to read all your claims and floss regularly. When you all grow up and become laywers yourself, make lots of money and get hot babes, and a cocain addiction, you'll thank me for it."

    (Smiley for the humor impaired: :-)

  • No, it was already and old idea when the patent was filed. The reason why it isn't used more was because web standards had moved on and most people decided to use other techniques for authentication when applicable.

    It was then, and continues to be, used when sending URLs that contain automatic login information through channels that don't support cookies, like mail and IM services.

  • As you point out POST you leaves YOU open to Amazon. I like my solution, live in Ireland (Europe), code in Ireland (Europe) and keep anything I am working on outside the US (and preferably in Europe where we have no Software Patents). Enjoy your legal system :-)
  • Where is it? I justed checked and didn't see it! It's not on users.pl (listing comments and karma) and if it is please tell us all where it is hiding!
  • Possibly. But Tumbleweed have patented it - they got there first - way back in 1997 according to the story, so it's tumbleweed that gets the patent. I don't see what the big deal is here. There's always been a rush to be the first to do thing - it encourages innovation, and the one who gets their first gets to exploit the invention.

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

    First, it is debatable about whether they "got their first" in 1997. I seriously doubt it, if I understand their patent.

    But most importantly, patents are not supposed to be given to something OBVIOUS to someone in the trade. Patents were originally intended to provide incentive to inventors to reveal their trade secrets... those things which could not be figured out by general examination or common knowledge.

    -thomas


  • Where is it? I justed checked and didn't see it! It's not on users.pl (listing comments and karma) and if it is please tell us all where it is hiding!

    Go to your user page (http://slashdot.org/users.pl [slashdot.org]), then click "Edit User Info [slashdot.org]". Look for the line "You can automatically login by clicking This Link and Bookmarking the resulting page. This is totally insecure, but very convenient.". If you read the source of the page you're on, you'll see your username and password in a (plaintext) URL.

    Sucks, don't it?
  • They've been doing this since Yahoo! was a small company.

    This is one of the most arguable patents yet. It is a *perfect* example for those who want to fight the current patent system, because any layman can understand it.

    --------
    Genius dies of the same blow that destroys liberty.
  • But the example you gave of a company giving you an encrypted product will always fall under the DMCA, so it really IS relevant, since you AREN'T free to disassemble or reverse engineer the product.

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

  • I think that stupidity should be limited by law (really, I do...), but I guess it will never be so. I'm not referring to the person whos comment, I'm referring to the patent. You see, they're patenting something that is trivial - and that obviously shouldn't be allowed... but I guess in the wonderful US, it is. And regardless of where it was used first, it was still used prior and therefore the whole thing is > /dev/null.

    The problem with capped Karma is it only goes down...

On a clear disk you can seek forever.

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