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The Internet

Verisign Granted DNS Lookup Patent 382

mattgick writes "The Register has a story on how verisign was granted the DNS lookup patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,560,634). Scripts which check to see if a domainname has been taken would be in violation with this patent. A discussion on this subject is going on over here."
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Verisign Granted DNS Lookup Patent

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  • by krisp ( 59093 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:34PM (#5967464) Homepage
    Atleast they didn't patten DNS lookups. Imagine having to memorize every IP address?

    Misleading topic heading.
    • You mean we don't have to memorize every IP Address?! DAMN!
    • by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:52PM (#5967658) Journal
      The patent covers looking up two or more potential domain names at once, so if I looked up ePhil.com and ePhil.net at the same time I would be violating it. Just resolving IP addresses is something else entirely.

      Misleading topic heading.

      Yes, Slashdot is/has decended to the ranks of the NY Post, no need for accuracy when you can just Troll. Its a shame because the patent is one of those blindingly stupid and obvious things. But I bet there's no prior art because this is the sort of thing a registrara needs to do, and prior to 1998, there weren't any that handled > 1 TLD besides Verisign.

      I wonder if this falls under the "abuse of a state granted monopoly"

  • .. I believe I shall patent "a method of looking up information". Sound fair?
  • Hold on, I've got a surprised look around here somewhere... Sheesh! I know I should keep that handy.

    So, does that mean if I have a printout of said list, and just look through it, I'm in violation of the patent as well? Or if I do a search in a spreadsheet version? Or how about a plain text version that I do a search on?
  • Discussion? (Score:3, Funny)

    by SpiffyMarc ( 590301 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:36PM (#5967483)
    A discussion on this subject is going on over here

    Let's go ahead and /. that one right now so we don't have to worry about monitoring TWO discussions on the same topic!
  • Hard to believe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sardonic2 ( 576701 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:36PM (#5967486) Homepage
    To me it looks like companies are going to stop offering services and just sue the shit of everyone for their IP. Scary thought, looks like the patent office needs to take a closer look at all these tech patents they are giving out these days.
    • Re:Hard to believe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:02PM (#5967766)
      Scary thought, looks like the patent office needs to take a closer look at all these tech patents they are giving out these days.

      Gee, you think?

      I have a feeling that somebody in the patent office has got the idea in their head that handing these out is helping the "economic recovery". It's like the cargo cults that Richard Feynman talked about, that arose in the South Pacific after the end of WWII. The planes during the war came with all this wonderful cargo, and then suddenly they disappeared. The people on the islands didn't understand why. So they made fake imitation runways with fires lit along the sides, along with a wooden hut that a man can sit in, with two wooden sticks for headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas. He's the air traffic controller. And they wait for the airplanes to land. But the planes don't land.

      They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. They're handing out stupid patents like mad, with no attention paid to anything resembling common sense at all. Just like during the bubble when nobody had a lick of sense. But the bubble is gone. The planes don't land. Handing out patents like mad isn't going to help.
      • Re:Hard to believe (Score:5, Interesting)

        by chelidon ( 175081 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:43PM (#5968144)
        That is exactly what's happening. I've got a friend who has worked for many years in the patent office, and he tells me that the senior management appointed by the Bush administration has made it known that you can be disciplined and potentially fired for rejecting too many patents (presumably because patents are "good for business."

        The person I know told me a tale about having to go to the mat to reject a particularly bad application, but he still got serious grief for it, and was on the road to being disciplined until his supervisor stepped in and supported the rejection on the merits. This was a ridiculously bad application, BTW, but if his supervisor hadn't decided to stick his own neck out, that would have likely been one more bad patent on the books...

        Is it any wonder that so many bad patents are showing up?
      • They're handing out stupid patents because in 1998 the Supreme Court decided that patents on so-called "methods of doing business," long banned, were actually acceptable. So now you can patent any process at all [uspto.gov] that could possibly fall under that unrestrictive category.

        More info here: [unt.edu]

        For many years, some courts also ruled that a patent could not be granted on a "method of doing business," such as a sales technique or an accounting method. A recent court decision, however, has opened the doo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:37PM (#5967499)
    If you want to complain, go here:
    http://65.205.249.60
  • My Patent (Score:4, Funny)

    by seangw ( 454819 ) * <seangw@@@seangw...com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:38PM (#5967504) Homepage
    Four years ago I was awarded a patent for human respiration while indoors. Now that humans have gotten used to the luxury, I will start asking for my royalties.

    • I already hold a broader patent for breathing in general which obviously encompasses you paltry attempt to hijack my IP. You better just fork over all your money before I go totally SCO on you and cut off your air.

      Until I receive your check, you are here by ordered to cease and desist all repiratory acts!
      • I already hold a broader patent for breathing in general which obviously encompasses you paltry attempt to hijack my IP.

        That better be completely silent. Any sound you make while doing it would violate my patent on Sound Production Via Gaseous Motion Across Biological Components.
        • That's fine but you'd better not be infringing on my patent #6,555,123 for a fibrous CO2 / O exchange membrane. I do license this IP at the RAND rate of $0.01 per breath which is a bargain given the benefits that include avoiding asphyxiation and living in general.
  • ICANN'T (Score:5, Funny)

    by somethingwicked ( 260651 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:38PM (#5967506)
    Oh My God! You slashdotted ICANN! You bastards!

    Oh, wait, they aren't that cool anyways

    • Re:ICANN'T (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:57PM (#5967724)
      Maybe we should start putting the slashdot effect to good use as a form of net activism.

      Anyone who dosen't like Verisign should take a moment to get to know the company better by reading their 2001 annual report [verisign.com] (1.5 MB)

      If 100,000 people read it, it will eat up 150GB of bandwidth. If everyone does it once a day how long would it be until verisign cracks?

      • 150GB probably cost them about $20, assuming they're over their bandwidth provider commits.
      • Maybe we should start putting the slashdot effect to good use as a form of net activism.

        Anyone who dosen't like Verisign should take a moment to get to know the company better by reading their 2001 annual report (1.5 MB)

        Even 100k people asking for a paper copy isn't going to give anyone a lot of trouble. At a few bucks per mailed Annual Report, a few trees die, and their revenue/expense ratio shifts 0.0001% Wahoo. Yawn.

        Every corporation has an achille's heel. Find it and act accordingly. Congr


    • Oh My God! You slashdotted ICANN! You bastards!


      I wish - we actually slashdotted icannwatch.
  • The patent is for a system "that overcomes the shortcomings of existing domain name searching techniques by performing a multitude of searches simultaneously, transparent to the user."

    This is for a specific method of retrieving domain name information and formatting it for the end user. If anybody actually knew how to read at the Register they would see that their simple script would not violate the patent as it is written.
  • by Almost_anonymous_cow ( 671896 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:38PM (#5967509)
    So what exactly is the difference between having a human/monkey/pigeon do something as opposed to writing a script that does it?
    When both accomplish the same thing in the end.
    Now to start train my legion of patent violating monkeys and pigeons. Accepting applications now.
  • Prior art... (Score:5, Informative)

    by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:40PM (#5967528)
    I had friends in college who scripted a dictionary-based lookup scheme. It basically was to find how many 4, then 5, then 6 and eventually 7 letter common English words were not registered. I am confident they were not the first to come up with such a system.
  • So shouldn't that be "Scripts running within the US which check to see if a domainname has been taken would be in violation with this patent"?

    Fortunately many of us are still unencumbered by the silly US patenting system. This I guess is another piece of ammo to help the campaign against the EU adopting similar silly patents.

  • by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:41PM (#5967539) Homepage Journal
    It would seem that the corps are well on the way to pushing this society down a path of Doom Spiral. I don't think I exaggerate when I say every one of us is now guilty of some egregious crime against corporations, whether we wrote some patent-infringing code, looked under the hood of the copy-extortion schemes built into our gadgets, or wrote something bad about scientology.

    So far as I can tell, we've essentially made being a free thinker illegal in the United States. I'm glad that the UK and Australia are following suit, so that we can have a nice global village under the control of Microsoft, Verisign, and maybe a little Union Carbide and Monsanto for your physical health.

    How did things get this bad? Why aren't we meeting on a weekly basis to take action against this annoying destruction of the public domain?

    Oh, look! Matrix Reloaded is out! Gotta go.
    • This really has nothing to do with the large corporations taking over.

      While it may seem this way, this is the pure fault of the government to do it's job. The original reason for patents was to protect free thought. That is, a person can come up with a new concept and profit from it. Great idea! But now anything gets through the patent system... because the patent office can't keep up with technology.

      The patent office(s) need to start hiring people who know technology to review the applications. Then
    • How did things get this bad? Why aren't we meeting on a weekly basis to take action against this annoying destruction of the public domain?

      Because that would require us to get off our lazy butts.
    • How did things get this bad?

      Unregulated campaign finance contributions.

      Most Slashdotters agree that beligerant corporate behavior should be stopped by the government. Well it's not the laziness or ignorance of the politicians that's preventing this.

      The "hard money" contributions documented at OpenSecrets.org [opensecrets.org] pale in comparison to the enormous "soft money" contributions made to a political party on behalf of a candidate. The power of the DMCA, MPAA, RIAA, MSFT, et al. can be explained by this.

      Re

  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:45PM (#5967567) Homepage Journal
    In further news, I'd like to announce that I am patenting the "ON/OFF" switch, a convenient device that enables safe, secure, and easy-to-use initiation and termination of electric current through a device.
    • In further news, I'd like to announce that I am patenting the "ON/OFF" switch

      Oh come on...you can't patent an on/off switch.

      My patent-pending method of turn on or off several light on/off switches at once involves using a long, fairly straight body part (ok, minds out of the gutter) such as your arm to turn all the switches to the same state in parallel, by moving said body part vertically up or down -- up will move all switches to the "on" state, down will move them to the "off" state.
    • No, patent "A warning system for ON/OFF switches." This warning system would consist of a label that says: "WARNING" or "CAUTION" followed by text describing the result of using the switch.

      Now make OSHA require that everyone uses your warning system.
    • In further news, I'd like to announce that I am patenting the "ON/OFF" switch, a convenient device that enables safe, secure, and easy-to-use initiation and termination of electric current through a device.
      pThat's the ultimate M$ internet security device, and is a vital part of their patented "secure OS".
  • Patents... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The actual lookup isn't patented, it's just automatic lookups that are patented. This [ietf.org] would be prior art if the actual lookup process was patented.

    If the courts knew anything about computers, they would see structured programming as prior art for this. But, of course, something can be a new "invention" if a certain subcase is added. So, I should be able to patent "repetitive functions by a computing device used to search a file sharing network" and donate it to the RIAA to keep automated scripts from do
  • Bezos? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Amarok.Org ( 514102 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:46PM (#5967587)
    When did Bezos start working for Verisign?

  • What's next? The Post Office patenting moving a package or envelope from one location to another? Verisign was working under a government enfoced monopoly controlling domain names. Now we are getting bent over the table?

    I'm sorry, either type in the IP address or deposit 5 cents.

  • A few questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_duke_of_hazzard ( 603473 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:47PM (#5967608)
    1) Was this technique originated by people under contract to Verisign?

    2) If so, how did they show this? If not, how did they get the patent?

    3) How is it an original and inventive solution to a problem?

    4) Does it cover any scripts that perform the task, or is it specifically a scripting solution that is patented? In other words, if I were to compile a binary to do the same thing, would this be a distinct solution and could I patent that please?

    5) Do american lawyers/judges have as little understanding of how computer systems work as this suggests?

    • Re:A few questions (Score:2, Informative)

      by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
      The first two are moot. Patents are not Copyrights. The company that files is the company that gets it. It doesn't matter who created it within a company.

      For 3 and 4 I suggest reading the actual patent and making a determination.

      I am not sure how number 5 applies to anything in this discussion. Lawyers and judges don't grant patents - patent clerks do. Lawyers and judges can be called upon in a dispute to determine whether a patent is valid or not but otherwise they have no influence.
    • link to patent (Score:5, Informative)

      by Neophytus ( 642863 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:57PM (#5967722)
      USPTO for 6,560,634 [uspto.gov]

      I don't have the time, but could someone answer the above?
      • ...performing a multitude of searches simultaneously, transparent to the user ...
        ...then displays the results in a formatted manner, thus eliminating the need for a user to perform individual searches.


        http://www.mamma.com/, Metacrawler & others have been doing this for years. Is this because their search is limited to a particular class of data?
        Then you can patent just about any fucking database app. USPTO, get a clue!
        • http://www.mamma.com/, Metacrawler & others have been doing this for years. Is this because their search is limited to a particular class of data? Then you can patent just about any fucking database app. USPTO, get a clue!

          Easy way to stop this:

          1. Patent Method for storing patent information using a computer.
          2. Sue the USPTO for violation of your patent.
          3. You own the USPTO.
          4. Disolve all bullshit patents and put in place an intelligent system for patent approvals
          5. (obligitory)...
          6. PROFIT!!
    • Actually I think that it is inventive (after reading the summary in the patent) but I think it is a specific subcase of a general class of problems and so probably shouldn't be patented.

      The summary basically says that they are patenting the process of caching domain information from all the different services (some of them being a manual process and thus not automatable by normal methods) and then using a basic search against the cache to check for existance. So instead of querying all the services in real

  • so the patent protects scripts that make multiple lookups transparent to the user (at least, according to the oh-so-trustworthy register). so just eliminate transparency: "looking up register.com" "looking up register.net" "looking up register.org" instead of not eliminating transparency: "looking up register" ouchies
    • so the patent protects scripts that make multiple lookups transparent to the user (at least, according to the oh-so-trustworthy register). so just eliminate transparency: "looking up register.com" "looking up register.net" "looking up register.org" instead of not eliminating transparency: "looking up register" ouchies

      If you were really clever you send the "progress" messages to stderr and the final information to stdout. That way the user can workaround it by sending only stderr into /dev/null. Voila

  • What a mess. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xentax ( 201517 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:55PM (#5967704)
    This may sound like a flammable comment, but can anyone think of a *method* patent that you would deem actually worthy its patentability? Every modern method patent seems to be something that just doesn't pass the "innovative" component of the patent test (The "work" must be new, non-obvious, and innovative to be worthy of a patent, IIRC, though of course "innovative" in particular is a woefully vague term).

    Conversely, a great many of these popularly "bad patents" -- e.g. one-click shopping, online auctioning/reverse auctioning, hyperlinking, and now multiple-simultaneous-DNS-lookups -- are process/method patents.

    Maybe we should just scrap 'method' patents? How much of the problem would that solve? What sorts of innovation would a lack of method patents fail to protect? This is certainly (IMHO) a shining example of NON-innovation that has been awarded patent protection.

    Xentax
  • YASP - Yet another stupid patent.

    Any patent that applies to internet technology should be easy to get around.
    Just set up a server in a country that doesn't have brain dead patent laws to do the infringing action.
    Probably you only have to ship a small part of the task out of the country to not infringe.

    Avoiding infringement of patents by locating a server in another country is a method,
    and it seems like it's valuable, so I suppose I should get a patent on it.

    -- this is not a .sig
  • For some reason it seems that the patent only covers querying 2 or more servers.

    For example, when you type in "foo" in domain name lookup it checks foo.com, foo.net, foo.edu etc.

    It is still obvious imo. BTW they relied on a provisional filed aug 97, so finding prior art before that date would be best. An year before that date would be even better.
  • I think that the only people this will effect are spammers, domian name squatters and terrorists. In other words, criminals and criminals. It's a well-known fact that such scripts are traded in the secret spammer forums (with the original purpose of finding open SMTP ports), and are later modified by domain name 'bounty hunters' to find unused IPs. As much as I hate to say something good could come out of the whole DMCA debacle, if enforcing this patent can stop one piece of spam or one terrorist act, I ha
    • well i'm sure all the terrorists are scared now that this script has been patented. Now they'll have to spend thier precious money to lookup domain names. get real. people who're doing criminal stuff wont give a damn about any patent. and NO DMCA doesn't stop spam.
  • the article is a dupe, I mean..
  • Is the name of the patent examiner attached to the approved patent?

    Sure would like to call up some of these bozos and ask 'WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?!?!'

  • Pffft. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dthoma ( 593797 )
    So what? Whenever something like this happens, we bitch about it on Slashdot, nobody bothers to do anything about it, a couple of companies get sued, and then we hear nothing more about it because these patents are retarded and unenforceable. No need to worry.
  • by ianjk ( 604032 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:25PM (#5967969)
    In other news:

    A poor intern known to the online community as ianjk, has filed a patent for a program, that upon execution, displays the text 'Hello World'.
  • Show several IFRAMEs driven by Javascript... Each frame looks up a different extension, one after another. as long as they fire only when the last has completed, you're ok. ( or a script to check and then update..) seems as long as the user SEES the lookups happening in serial, your not breaking the patent.... or you may the user click a button next to each "suggestion"
  • 1. Find something that's been done for many years...make sure it's something so obvious and full of prior art that no one's bothered to ever try and patent it. 2. File a patent application for it. The incompetant bozos in the Patent Office will rubber stamp it. 3. Once you have the patent, hire David Boies and sue everyone in sight. Make sure the suits are just under what might be called the 'settlement threshold'. 4. Cash the checks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:45PM (#5968163)
    About two years ago I got into the "game" of buying up expired domain names, simply for fun. THere was an expired name I wanted and I got hooked on watching http://www.namewinner.com/ and other such ebay-style domain name bidding services. Over the last two years the big stink seems to be Verisign was pouty because namewinner and other such services (enom, snapnames, etc.) were making some big $$$ of of expired names. AFAIK, it was something like a grand to get into enoms "expired domain name club" just to be able to bid on names. I think playgirl.com went for something like 25k on namewinner.com.

    Another thing verisign was pissed off about was that these clubs knew when domain names would be released, so you'd have a few servers *pounding* verisign for a certain amount of time, trying to get the domain names. Also, the various individual attempts by doing a who query every 5-10 minutes to see if it expired couldn't have helped either.

    On one hand, I don't blame them, for the good of everyone. On the other hand, Verisign owns snapnames (or is affiliated with), and signed some of the bigger domain name contracts (ultsearch.com transferred his names over if i recall correctly) for what I'm sure amounted to special privilieges when registering domain names.

    I stay away from Verisign. Them being a "trust provider" is a joke. I don't trust them enough to do my whois lookups on their site just because I'm not 100% certain they're not monitoring all the domain names that people search for (and that they won't sell that list to the highest bidder).

    jay
  • by calethix ( 537786 )
    I just don't get the idea of software patents. Sure, if I write some nifty little app that someone copies/steals and sells as their own, I can see a problem there. But I'm having a hard time saying that if I write that nifty app and patent it, then no one else can write an app like mine, regardless of whether they come up with the code by themselves.

    I guess somebody should have patented 'a program for creating and modifying documents which can then be electronically saved, printed or emailed to other pe
  • my favorite patents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metamanda ( 662939 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @05:12PM (#5968369) Homepage
    These may give you an idea of the state of the U.S. Patent system. It seems your idea doesn't have to be original, or non-obvious, or at all useful. I suppose I'm preaching to the choir by saying this, but here are a couple ridiculous patents for your amusement:

    US Patent 6,368,227: Method of Swinging on a Swing [uspto.gov] I truly don't know how they didn't get busted for prior art on this, or obvousness. According to patent lawyers I know, the guy got away with it because it's an exceptionally well-written patent.

    and US Patent 3,216,423: APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING THE BIRTH OF A CHILD BY CENTRIGUGAL FORCE [colitz.com], which I think is actually very non-obvious, and I doubt there's much prior art on it. But I'm not surprised it was never productized.

  • by EMR ( 13768 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @12:40AM (#5970425)
    And pretty much every web browser out there..

    And they have been around MUCH longer than the patent filing date of 1998!

    Go download an old version of netscape prior to 1998, or a copy of lynx proir to 1998..
    Type in a URL location of say.. "theregister" (example in the article.) the browser searches.. theregister.com, and it it's not found, theregister.org, and theregister.net.. ..
  • So.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zeno_2 ( 518291 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:25AM (#5971313)
    I read the patent and i'm not sure if its really that big of a deal. It might cause a bit of problems, but the patent is pretty specific on how its done.

    Search is started
    Multiple requests are sent to DNS servers
    Information is sent back
    Information is formatted for the user (this has to be formatted in hypertext markup language according to the 2nd and 10th claims, probably others)
    Add in many other things that I couldn't really understand, but it seems to be pretty specific.

    So, its kinda like me patenting a method of searching for a hotel room on the third tuesday of every odd month, but skipping every 7th month.

    If I made a page that had 10 buttons on it, with a box at the top for me type a domain name into, and each one of the buttons searched a different DNS server, but I had to hit these buttons manually, would that be part of this patent?

    Its just too bad that it takes the patent office 6 years to approve of a patent, especially when it comes to the computer industry, where things can change drastically in much shorter times then 6 years..

On a clear disk you can seek forever.

Working...