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Corel

Corel Sued For Software Patent Infringement 120

petchema writes "Corel is been sued by Advanced Software for software patent infringement. The contention feature is the side-by-side file comparison found in Wordperfect. " Yeah because nobody did that before. Update: 07/07 02:50 by CT : originally this story linked through to advancedsw.com- this company is in Colorado and has nothing to do with the Advanced Software from California that was doin' the suin'. Sorry about the confusion.
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Corel Sued For Software Patent Infringement

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  • That's why I wear sandals. Better safe than sorry...
  • Microsoft already has a patent on distributing information over the internet to subscribers, so I don't think it would be CNN suing. (And I'm dead serious)
  • From a quick glance, it appears that the re-issue patent is invalid. This issue is very complicated, but the principle should be very clear. One of the key conditions of a re-issue patent is that the scope of its claims should not be enlarged, if the reissue application is filed more than 2 years after the patent was issued. The original patentt, U.S. Pat. No. 4,807,182, was issued on Feb. 21, 1989. The reissue patent application Ser. No. 07/881,478, was filed May 11, 1992. Thus, the two-year bar against claim enlargement has run. This provision is strictly enforced. For example, if you change the claim language from "10 to 20 degrees" to "about 10 to 20 degrees". Such a change may not in practice change the scope of the claims (if you consider the doctrine of equivalents), but because it "literally" changed the scope of the claim, the re-issue patent will be, and has always been, held invalid, if the reissue patent was filed more than the two-year statutory grace period. This mistake is not uncommon. If we read Claim 1 of the reissue patent (because of formatting difficulties, I am using brackets to denote words deleted in the reissued claim, and double dashes to indicate words added): 1. An automated comparison system, comprising: input means for receiving commands, and for providing electronic signals representing a plurality of characters [including] --representing-- words, --short groups of words or phrases--, and sentences; memory means coupled to said input means for storing as binary representations at least first and second groups of said characters; processing means coupled to said memory means and to said input means for detecting and identifying differences between said words--, short groups of words or phrases,-- and sentences in said first and second groups of said characters --when said differences do not consist of a line of text or a group of lines of text and regardless of whether or not the text wraps around an end of a line or a plurality of lines--; display means coupled to said processing means for providing a display of said differences by --displaying the text with the differences designated within the text lines--. Because the claim uses "means plus function" language, the scope of the claim is actually much more limited in scope than it appears. However, my main problem is with the third paragraph: processing means coupled to said memory means and to said input means for detecting and identifying differences between said words--, short groups of words or phrases,-- and sentences in said first and second groups of said characters --when said differences do not consist of a line of text or a group of lines of text and regardless of whether or not the text wraps around an end of a line or a plurality of lines--; The original claim detects and identifies differences between the "words" and "sentences". However, the amended claim in the reissue patent "extended" the scope to include --short groups of words or phrases--. This matter may seem to be extremely minor. However, based on the courts' record to strictly enforce the prohibition against enlarging claim scope in a reissue patent application, it seems that the Plaintiff is doomed to lose. The above was my quick thought. When time permits, I will re-visit this issue. Corel is a good company, and we will do everything to help.
  • that's it!
    Back in 1968 I thought of the idea of using the letter Q with computers... Now I'm going to sue all of you and ask the courts to make everyone to stop using the letter Q!!! It's my letter! you get away from it!!!!

    I sure hope that the idiot company is getting slashdotted to hell and back. and email bombed out of existance! It's crap like this that dying little turd companies try... "Wahhhhh we did that too, and the CEO spent all the money on 2 ferrari's we need to sue to gain capitol because noone buys our crap anyways..... wahhhhhh...." be sure to submit that companies email address to several majordomo's and spammers lists...

    Hell with being proactive.... It's time we all got overly re-active and got their attention in a BIG way.


  • by WWL ( 65896 ) on Saturday July 03, 1999 @03:21PM (#1819620)
    From a quick glance, it appears that the re-issue patent is invalid. This issue is very complicated, but the principle should be very clear.
    One of the key conditions of a re-issue patent is that the scope of its claims cannot be enlarged, no matter how minor it may seem, if the reissue application is filed more than two years after the patent was issued.

    The original patent, U.S. Pat. No. 4,807,182, was issued on Feb. 21, 1989. The reissue patent application Ser. No. 07/881,478, was filed May 11, 1992. Thus, the two-year bar against claim scope enlargement has run. As a result, the re-issue patent is INVALID.

    This provision strictly against claim scope enlargement is enforced. For example, if you change the claim language from "10 to 20 degrees" to "about 10 to 20 degrees". Such a change may not in practice change the scope of the claims (if you consider the doctrine of equivalents), but because it "literally" changed the scope of the claim, the re-issue patent will be, and has always been, held invalid, if the reissue patent was filed more than the two-year statutory grace period. This mistake is not uncommon.

    Now, if we read Claim 1 of the reissue patent (because of formatting difficulties, I am using brackets to denote words deleted in the reissued claim, and pairs of dashes to indicate words added):

    1. An automated comparison system, comprising:

    input means for receiving commands, and for providing electronic signals representing a plurality of characters [including] --representing-- words, --short groups of words or phrases--, and sentences;

    memory means coupled to said input means for storing as binary representations at least first and second groups of said characters;

    processing means coupled to said memory means and to said input means for detecting and identifying differences between said words--, short groups of words or phrases,-- and sentences in said first and second groups of said characters --when said differences do not consist of a line of text or a group of lines of text and regardless of whether or not the text wraps around an end of a line or a plurality of lines--;

    display means coupled to said processing means for providing a display of said differences by --displaying the text with the differences designated within the text lines--.

    Because the claim uses "means plus function" language, the scope of the claim is actually much more limited in scope than it appears.

    However, the main problem with the reissue patent is the third paragraph: processing means coupled to said memory means and to said input means for detecting and identifying differences between said words--, short groups of words or phrases,-- and sentences in said first and second groups of said characters --when said differences do not consist of a line of text or a group of lines of text and regardless of whether or not the text wraps around an end of a line or a plurality of lines--.

    The original claim recites the step of detecting and identifying differences only between the "words" and "sentences". The amended claim in the reissue patent, fortunately for Corel, "extends" the scope to include --short groups of words or phrases--. This matter may seem to be extremely minor. However, based on the courts' record (case decisions abound) to strictly enforce the prohibition against enlarging claim scope in a reissue patent application after the statutory bar has run, it seems that the Plaintiff is doomed to lose. The reissue patent is invalid. The above was my quick thought. When time permits, I will re-visit this issue. Corel is a good company, and we will do everything to help.
  • all I gotta do is change the way that works and VOILA your patent and copywirght is INVALID!!!!

    Let's do a diff on their code and corel's... I'll bet they dont match... but then judges are dumb as stumps so who cares....
  • Neither of the Apple/Microsoft cases "proved" the point for which they were cited here.

    The Apple v. MS case involving Windows addressed a claim for copyright infringement in view of a license agreement. This had nothing to do with any patents.

    Apple's patent case against Microsoft (also unrelated to this question) was settled when Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in a cash-for-stock switch.
  • There was a tool around in the late 80s in the UK from (I think?) the UKC toolset which did a visual diff with a split window and simultaneous scrolling &c. It might well originate pre-1986 and it looks really close to what they are claiming.

    Perhaps some other UK-based person remembers the name of it?

    The version I used ran on X (perhaps originally X10) but it may trace its origins to some earlier window system.


    --tim
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 1999 @03:40PM (#1819624)

    Don't domplain here. That's a waste of time. The US Patent Office [uspto.gov] has web email, phone numbers and address. Send them paper mail. They've got some nonsense at the web site how they're not equipped to handle email. Talk here is cheap. I've seen it way too many times as each submarine patent surfaces. Make the Patent Office aware that they can't live in their cozy protected little world anymore. They are the real culprits here. Even by their own poor standards this patent stinks.

    Patent offices the world over have become increasingly undemocratic, granting commercial monopolies in some cases worth millions of dollars without public scrutiny. STOP TALKING, ACT! We might not be able to stop them but we can, with social censure, at least make them uncomfortable doing it. A large part of the problem is the culture at the USPTO and elsewhere. Let's change that culture. Nothing you can do? Wrong! You can:

    • Contact the Patent Office directly. Don't complain about a patent (except as an example). Complain about the process.
    • Contact the news media. Write letters to the editor, write articles. Challenge any unjustified statement in favour of current patent law. Make sure they know both the patent office and the company concerned are to blame.
    • Write to your congressional representatives. They are the USPTO's bosses. Make sure they know it's costing them votes to allow the USPTO to continue on it's merry way.
    • Continue to research prior art, to show how blinkered the worldview of the PTO is.
    • A common argument is that even bad patents don't do any harm and good patents do good. Wrong. Every patent is a $10000 tax on a good idea. The PTO costs the community millions of dollars.

    It's up to you. Nobody else but you.

    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
    - Kierkegaard

  • ummm? no? Yes, claims 12-20 cover the method of generating diffs using hashes and all. But claim 21 seems to cover the idea of displaying 2 drafts of a document side-by-side, which may very well be the claim they say corel's infringing on, all by itself. (which would explain why it didn't occur to them before this that their nifty patent applied to WP :)
  • Posted by Dr. Dabbles (255.255.255.255):

    Ammm, hello?

    How many times have we seen the legal system BEND PEOPLE OVER? I'm sorry, but I personally think that it's time we trimmed the SCUM out of it, and return it to it's original intended state.

    Just a thought.
  • Posted by Ungrounded Lightning Rod:

    I believe he called it "Parallel Text Face"

    I'll have to dig out my old copy of
    Computer Lib / Dream Machines to see if
    it's there. It most certainly was in
    the later Literary Machines, and perhaps
    in intermediate stuff as well.
  • >didn't DOS come before Unix?

    Yes. The first operating system to be called "DOS" was for IBM mainframes (the 360?) back in the '60s. MS couldn't even come up with an original *name* for their system.
  • Hah! So Corel is a bunch of thieves for stealing the amazing innovation of looking at two things side-by-side for comparision? It's just a smokescreen to hide from you the biggest theft of the century.
    It's gorillas stealing human technology!
    That's right folks. Gorillas everywhere are stealing human technology by using tires hanging from a rope to play on. I found no less than 7 patents covering the this breath-taking (and non-obvious) technological feat. But who's doing anything about it? Sure, we lock them up in places where we can keep an eye on them, but somehow they still get their grubby paws on tire and ropes to mock our impotence. Our lawyers to seem to be able to do nothing to stop them.
    I say, Fight on lawyers! Take up the cudgel and lay waste to those who would steal the best ideas that generations of inventors and (their patent attorneys) have given their hearts and souls to make all our lives better. First gorillas stealing our technology, next it will be mice trying to take over the world every night.
    Either that, or the patent office has completely lost is purpose.
  • An intelligent first post - what is this, Slashdot.org or something? There is no such thing as an intelligent first post.

    I am thinking about sueing my parents for having 10 fingers just like me. This is a ridiculous lawsuit and should be thrown out of court for being beyond frivilous -- more like STUPID.
    ----------------------------------------- ---
  • I've been reading all sorts of things trying to make up my mind about the nature of intellectual property. One site about IP and computing is BitLaw [bitlaw.com]; it has a lot articles, links, etc. offering different arguements pro and con.

    One article that is similar is here [heckel.org]. It may have been the same, I need to re-read.

    Another article I'm reading is "Patents and Copyrights" by Ayn Rand, originally published in The Objectivist Newsletter (May 1964). She wrote some of the same points I've read from RMS. If you can, then find a copy of the original in the library; there have been problems with the accuracy of some reprints of her work, though not necessarily with this one.

    Of course, everyone here knows where GNU [gnu.org] is; I'm reading their arguments too.



    --
  • Why limit the prior art to software? That'd be like claiming that my widget isn't a violation of your wadget because I made mine out of brass in stead of copper.

    In that case, prior art dates back to the middle ages when monks copied (and proofed) documents by hand.

    That's the problem with USPTO, they seem to think everything is new if it's done by software.

  • This is a fine example of why software patents should not be permitted. Now software developers will be afraid to include cool diff features in their programs for fear of being sued under this bogus patent.
  • xdiff has done this for ages. I recall using xdiff while still in college, which would place its release in the 1987/88 time frame.

    Emacs also had a mode for resolving diffs where it would have the two "source" documents side by side with the merged document in a third window and you'd go from change to change grabbing from one or both of the "source" documents. I used this technology in 1991 and it wasn't brand new at the time. I don't think that I have the .el files which had an edit history going back into the 80's if I recall correctly. Ah, yes, here's the copy that I have's copyright notice:

    Copyright 1989, 1990, 1991 by Dale R. Worley. Do what you will with it.

    Followed shortly by the following:

    This is the documentation for version 4 of "emerge.el", an Emacs package that allows you to combine two versions of a file by selecting, for each place where they differ, which version of the difference you prefer. It is similar to Sun's "filemerge".

    I'm not sure how old filemerge is, but if this was written to emulate it, then it must go back a ways. This tickles some neurons which tell me that I used filemerge in college right after we installed SunOS 3.5 in 1986.

    After having read the patent, I think that there is enough prior art to get it tossed out if you fight it. Too bad you have to prove the patent office wrong when you get on the wrong side of these things, but that's the way it goes.

  • I remember using an old OS/2 program years ago
    that did this kind of thing really well, using
    color in both documents to show common, and
    divergent parts. It then had a bar in the middle
    that used color to represent the same thing, and
    had nice lines going between the windows showing
    what matched with what......
  • It has been suggested in various postings that the validity of software process patents, in themselves, is still in question. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. After recent Federal Circuit cases, the validity of software inventions as patentable subject matter is no longer even an interesting legal question. The only remaining issue is whether the invention is indeed new and unobvious. For better or worse, the floodgates have been opened.

    Since the 1983 Supreme Court case in Diamond v. Diehr (and in practice well before then), software patents have been issued. After recent cases in the Federal Circuit, there no longer remains any doubt from a legal perspective whether this is the case.

    One case in particular, AT&T v. Excel Communications, Inc. [emory.edu] articulates rather well and unequivocally the Federal Circuit's view on this matter. I highly recommend this case to anyone who would like to consider themselves well-educated on this subject.
    The long and short of it is this:

    "The Supreme Court has construed 101 broadly, noting that Congress intended statutory subject matter to 'include anything under the sun that is made by man.'"

    It is now clear, for better or for worse, that any claim directed to a "practical application of a mathematical algorithm, . . . [by] produc[ing] 'a useful, concrete and tangible result'" is patentable under 35 U.S.C. section 101, provided, of course, that the claim is also directed to an invention that is new, useful and unobvious.
  • The Delta comparison program, in old MS-DOS (like at least 10 years old) did this too.
  • It seems ironic that it is the hallmark of their services!
  • Indeed. Many companies, especially those in the computer industry, have lost large sums of money because the opposing company's legal team was able to convince an unknowing jury of something that was questionably true. This is what "reasonable doubt" is to these people. I wonder how some cases would have turned out if the jury had been comprised of more technical people.
  • DOS came out in 1981 with the first IBM PC. Unix has been around since the '60's. Gates has stated on several occasions that DOS was based on Unix.
  • I hadn't yet got as far as this message when I had the same thought -- as a result of visiting this Advanced Software's site and noting that they are evidently a purely current-issue Microsoft-shop, even to the point of posting information for download in Word format. Also some of the language here and there sounds (to my experienced editor's ear) all too similar to certain M$ phrasings.

    As to the date of this patent -- it POSTDATES WordPerfect 5.0 (released in early 1988), which I believe was the first WP version to have this particular feature in its current form, AND for this function, 5.0 was almost certainly using the same codebase as WP5.1 (first WP5.1 release I know of being late 1989, but was essentially a big bugfix to WP5.0, not a "new" program). It =may= have been in WP4.2 as well (almost two years earlier). IOW, there is a very strong suspicion in my mind, as someone else also muttered about, that this Advanced SW had probably derived =their= algorithm from reverse-engineering WP5.0.

    As to why the suit came up now rather than earlier or later: if it were to succeed, what better way for M$ (by way of an "innocent" third party) to force Corel to recall the new version of WP -- at least long enough for M$'s own Office2000 to come out and take over everyone's attention.

    There seems to be some confusion by some folks about the function vs the patent. Patents enter into considerition if two programs share not the evident interface (the part that most people here seem to be looking at), but the same underlying algorithm.

  • I think you'll find that 'windows' were invented
    and patented by Bell Labs (whether the patent
    now resides with AT&T or Lucent - I don't know).
    I recall using the 'Blit' windowing environment
    at Bell Labs in the early '80's. Certainly
    before the first Mac and well before MS Windows.
    It used a large (portrait) page size green screen
    and a large red mouse (a Xerox invention).

    As for side by side text comparison's - the 'sdiff' command has been available in Unix for
    ages.

  • We see this sort of insanity every day. The USPTO
    has repeatedly demonstrated its incompetence in
    the granting of patents in the areas of
    electronics and software.

    Obviously they need people of the calibre of
    Albert Einstein.
  • Nope, /. has the right Advanced Software.

    I found the web site for the "other" Advanced Software that the previous poster mentioned, in California (http://www.advancedsp.com, if I remember right) and got this information from their "about" page:

    ==============================================
    "Advanced Software Products, Inc., founded in 1991, is a leading developer of computer-based multimedia tutorials, and electronic performance support systems. ASP employs a talented group of instructional designers, programmers, and graphic artists.

    Over 60 American and Canadian companies currently use ASP's interactive tutorials, instructional games, testing systems, and databases. Clients include:" (list not copied in the interest of brevity)
    ================================================ =

    IOW this =cannot= be the company that is suing Corel, because they didn't yet exist when the patent was issued. Also, a diff engine is not really the sort of thing their products would use, while it most certainly would be of interest to an outfit that produces a reverse-engineering tool.
  • You're quite right. It was from the UKC toolset, and it was called 'vdiff'. Written by one Mark 'Burt' Wheedon. Google turns up something about it [ukc.ac.uk].

    The original version was written to a custom windowing library that had implementations for Sunview and X11.

    I've only managed to turn up binaries from 1995, though :-(
  • From the manpage:
    comm prints lines that are common, and lines that are unique, to two input files. The two files must be sorted before comm can be used. The file name `-' means the standard input.

    With no options, comm produces three column output. Column one contains lines unique to file1, column two contains lines unique to file2, and column three contains lines common to both files.

    So this one actually has a side-by-side display. This is from the GNU manpage, but I also have it from the Unix V7 manuals.

    ---

  • My step dad was called in for jury duty, as soon as they saw that he had a PhD he didn't last very long. pretty much anything beyond a high school diploma and you are gone.
  • Posted by rolandpj:

    ... is exactly a split-pane based diff'er.

    Now, when was ediff written?

    Roland
  • Fair enough. But it is important to distinguish between statements of the form "X patent is invalid" and "X patent should be invalid." Anything else is just kiddding yourself.
  • Yeah, and I used such a feature in Professional
    Write 2 in 1988.

    Back then, it was called move-the-cursor-wherever-the-hell-you-wanted-and-w rite-the-darned-document... :-)
  • Just about 7 billion versions of diff do that out there. Jeez. Lawyers.
    - - -
  • i wouldn't be surprised to see M$ behind this. Corel has, as any self-respecting /. reader knows, a lawsuit against them that it looks promising for Corel... (of course, why it's taking this long to go to court is BEYOND me...)
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Saturday July 03, 1999 @06:48AM (#1819664)
    Washington,DC -- Legal experts today commended a move by the Xerox to sue the computer industry for flagrant violation of it's patent on "windows". A spokesman for Xerox stated that "We invented the basic GUI that almost all modern computers are based on." Legal experts applauded the move, and some say this could prove a serious threat to the dominant Microsoft corporation.

    Slashdot has also reported being sued by CNN news, for violation of it's proprietary look and feel interface to daily news. "Slashdot has intentionally ripped off the idea of using html code to distribute news to the masses, and we will not stand by while they continue to do this."



    --
  • Things get worse and worse every day. Pretty soon most communication between people/companies will be conducted thru lawyers. And those suckers will make sure that their profession will be involved in every aspect of human life. What really worries me is that people who seem to sit on the jury are often quite dumb. I mean, when you hear those lawyers making arguments ... come one, you need to be stupid or paid to buy this stuff ...
  • Is it just me, or does this make no sence.

    I mean sure, there are thousands of programs that do comparisons of text(or text in non-plain-text formats) files. Wouldn't this be the patent-able bit? If so, methinks there's plenty of previous art; as it was patented in 1989...plenty of time for unix gurus to come up with something.

    Splitting the screen so the compared source files are both displayed simultaneously (which is what the article implied - if I am not wrong) is just a logical extension. Is it not?

    I don't know how many ideas I've come up with, with never seeing what's already been done, and then discovering that someone else has already done such a thing.

  • I wonder, out of all the programs that have "copied" "their feature," why did they choose Corel to sue?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We should show Corel our gratefulness for supporting Linux by explaining to Advanced Software what we think about software patents in general and the patent they are suing Corel over in particular.

    And, for a violation of the patent:
    xterm -fn 6x10 -geometry 80x70+0 -e vi /etc/inetd.conf&
    xterm -fn 6x10 -geometry 80x70+515 -e less /etc/inetd.conf

    (for a 1024x768 display
  • by Belam ( 64526 ) on Saturday July 03, 1999 @06:54AM (#1819669)
    The legal system may be convoluted as hell, but it still works. Corel will defend itself with the "this isn't exactly a unique idea" argument, and any reasonable judge will dismiss the case before it gets anywhere.

    This is why companies have legal departments. Bogus lawsuits are a fact of life.
  • This appears to be the one they mean: http://www.patents.ibm.com/detai ls?pn=US04807182__ [ibm.com] Says it was filed on March 12, 1986. Prior art, people?

  • Well, considering where these guys are from, I think they can bring much more legal firepower to bear than can Canadians at Corel. I never heard of Advanced Software but I guess they are quite entrenched in the educational market...
  • Acutally, Xerox did sue several companies, including Apple. Theylost on the technical issue that they waited too long to sue, and thus through inaction lost their rights.
  • by esacevets ( 26712 ) on Saturday July 03, 1999 @07:01AM (#1819675) Homepage
    Corel introduced the "Shadow Cursor" in WP8. MS copied that in Office2K with "Click and Type". The same feature w/ a different name. Does that mean Corel can sue MS?

    You can't patent a feature any more than you can patent a "look and feel". Apple vs MS proved that.

    JL Culp
    Chair, LPSC
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "In October, Advanced Software Technologies, Inc. (ASTI) was invited to Microsoft
    headquarters in Redmond, WA ( . . . ) to
    assist microsoft in the release of their forthcoming
    new Design Repository."

    I think we can all read between the lines here.

    i just want to know how long it will be before microsoft
    sues the FSF
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Emacs has long had a diff-based .el that did exactly what's being described. It's also been a standard feature in CVS conflict resolvers since around the time of the big bang.

    Prior art should not, IAC, be hard to find, assuming it even proves necessary.

  • Yeah, but what if 9 years and 11 months of that 10 year development effort were spent playing Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom 2, Quake and Quake 2, and then they crammed that last month?



    --
  • Displaying the original version of a document, then displaying the modified version next to each other is technology? Come on, what's next? The complete stupidity of the US patent system makes me want to wretch. I think all software patents should be thrown out, unless it's an algorithm that took considerable time to make. Ie, companyX puts 10 years of research into figuring out how to store an entire song in 1 byte of data, they get a patent. companyY puts 30 seconds of thought into a new feature for a program, they get no patent. I really hope this goes before a judge who has at least one ounce of sence and realizes that it's some tiny little company trying to make a buck off of another company.
  • Sorry, I've already got a patent on using a network to share data for the purpose of forming a strategic consumer alliance. I would tell you where you could look it up on ibm's site, but its a trade secret.
  • If Advanced Software wins then various companies should be able to make a lot of money of microsoft in similar cases. Look at all the stuff they've stolen:

    Unix - Dos
    Mac OS - Windows
    Internet Explorer - Netscape
    Word - Word Perfect

    And that's only the beginning. That should eat up some of gate's 80 billion.
  • My V7 manual being in a box somewhere, I looked at my copy of "Unix User's Manual, Release 3.0", from June 1980, which is approximately the AT&T System III stuff. sdiff is there.

    The patent lists 22 claims, in the traditional "write the software patent as if it were a hardware device patent" style of obfuscation. Some of those claims are for the diff algorithms, some are for the display stucture, and some are for the mechanism for getting from the diff to the screen.

    According to the article,
    "Advanced Software said a 1989 patent and 1998 patent reissue cover an invention by employee Cary Queen that offers comparison of documents in original and modified versions in split-screen format."

    While that's not an explicit description of their complaint, it sounds much more like they're complaining about the display format than the diff algorithms (which aren't clearly explained in the patent claims) and there were certainly many methods for diffs by the mid 80s, most unpatented.

  • Yes, and I think we should do it gently, without flaming them until they scorch.

    Advocacy is good. Flaming is the easiest way to keep them from even thinking about linux in the future.

    Flame > /dev/null
  • My $.04 (I value my own opinion)

    To: Hildie Smart
    From: David Bullock
    Subject: Patent Infringement by Corel
    Cc: Jennifer Dulles ,
    Greg Schottland ,sales@advancedsw.com,
    support@advancedsw.com,hr@advancedsw.com
    Mime-Version: 1.0
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

    Good Morning!

    I wanted to contact you to voice my concern over ASTI's lawsuit against Corel and Reed Elsevier
    for infringement over your 1989/1998 patents covering comparing visual comparison of documents on-screen.

    While I strongly support the right of an author to copyright a speciifc work, the use of a patent to cover the fundamental *concept* of a software technique is a practice I found unethical and anticompetitive. Because of this conduct, I am unhappily forced to place ASTI and it's products on the list of products and vendors that I boycott.

    In my position as the IT director for my company (approximately 75 employees with 7 internal software developers) I am in a position as a decision maker on software purchases. Since many of my professional aquaintences and personal friends are programmers and IT people, I am BCCing them to encourage them to investigate this story for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

    What I find especially disturbing is that neither Corel, nor Reed Elsevier are competitors for your line of Software Development tools. Your attack on a non-competing product line forces me to wonder if my employer (now or future) might be the target of a similar attack at some unknown future date. As such I cannot endorse funding a company that behaves in such a manner.

    Should you choose to drop this suit in the immediate future (before Reed Elsevier or Corel has to expend any amount of resources to address or defend it) I will be happy to remove you from my list. As a conscientious member of the software community my only recourse is to vote with my wallet.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Dave Bullock
  • Actually, Xerox was trying to sell off their Star technology for more than 6 months before Apple came along and offered them some money for it. It was offered to about a dozen other companies that I know of, since I was with one of them. We were given a demo of the Star about a week before Apple, but computers weren't our line of work.

    You can find the details in several of the books written about silicon valley, the best details are in book titled something like "How Xerox created and then lost the PC revolution". Apple offered them about 2 million dollars, and 175,000 shares of apple stock. Then they also grabbed a handful of engineers, which was not a nice thing, but typical in the valley. Two years later after the Mac came out, that stock made the research division of PARC the most profitable unit inside of Xerox for the year.

    So you can trash this myth, apple didn't steal the Star design, they bought it entirely, for a tiny bit of money and stock.

    the AC
  • Section 101 of the Cright Act says...

    "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful
    PROCESS, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter..... may obtain a patent...."

    I don't like it either folks. Notwithstanding the merits of this particular claim, software patents are justified by the term 'process' where process means "art or method, and includes a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, compositions of matter, or material."

    Case law is not going to change that language.

    The trend in patent law is toward broader interpretation of process not narrower.

    And I challenge any of you to justify copyright at the extent of patent. You really think copyright is better? Try a 70 yr monopoly vs. a 20 yr monopoly. That's right 70. That applies to Mickey Mouse and Mickeysoft.

    What you are all really upset about are intellectual property monopolies. Guess what?

    They are in Art. I of the US Constitution.

    You need a strong lobby. Guess who is going to be strongest in the lobby? BG.

    Lawyers did not screw this whole system up. The system did. A lawyer can sue you, a lawyer can defend you.

    At a minimum the hacker community needs a rallying point on the legal front. Put yer heads together and make is so #1!

  • by squireson ( 32699 ) on Saturday July 03, 1999 @11:27AM (#1819691) Homepage
    Patents on things that are not manufactured ( ie: words , algorithms , software , music etc ... )are strictly prohibited by the Act that created the Patent office ( all of these may be copyrighted , not patented ) . The Patent office has WIDELY interpreted a ruling by a court that judged that just because a company was using a computer to control the process of rubber manufacture did not mean that the patent on the PROCESS was invalid .

    If you can find it at MIT ( I lost the URL and am trying to retriev it ) there is an arguement that software patents are already strictly illegal ( arguements for the removal of software patents in general ) and they go on to point out some of the unbelievably simple algorithms ( like using an XOR operation to change the color of graphics that move over one another )
    have already been patented and some have even held up in court . The Patent Office is simply not staffed to recognize these algorithms for what they are .

    Many of these techniques are considered by the people who program them to be so fundamental that they are not even worth documenting in publications . MIT Xfree86 is one who did not publish anything on their use of window buffering until a bit of documentation was needed at a later date . By then someone had already patented the idea of keeping , in memory , the window that was now hidden . MIT lost that one , their failure to publish those details in the documentation resulted in that method not being considered "prior art" .

    The upshot of this is that big companies may be able to cross license the patents that they already own with other companies but little guys have nothing to trade , that is they have no way to use rudimentary programming techniques . This is an unbelievably unAmerican practicce that benefits NO ONE but the Lawyers . Big surprise that legal experts are hailing this , huh ?
    I think that we need a supreme court ruling to restore the original Patent Laws to their original state ( covering only manufacturing methods of physicall objects ) .

    I wonder , If I got to it fast enough , could I patent certain brush strokes and sue artisits ?
    Brush types are manufactured .
    Your Squire
    Squireson
  • Posted by 2B||!2B:

    How hypocritical that the company claiming someone stole their design is a company whose only purpose is to create tools designed exclusively for stealing designs. We should get the politicians to create legislation which makes sale of reverse engineering tools a felony, putting them out of business.

    My easy solution to this fiasco is that we'll have the patent office use Advanced Software's own file comparator to find differences between their binary and Corel's. Result: the entire file. Maybe we should convince the patent office that a binary comparison between any two programs is the only reliable way to verify patent infringement (thus rendering software patents worthless; woohoo!!! Has anyone ever seen a software patent which wasn't absolutely worthless, designed only to make lawyers money?).

    Old but good: what do you call a million lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
    Answer: (any other suggestions?)
    => A good start
  • I believe that Gates lost 8 billion a couple of weeks ago so he's now only worth $90 billion. I mean, imagine loosing 8 billion down the back of the sofa :-)

    --
    Jonathan C. Masters (masters.jonathan.c@brookes.ac.uk)
    PGP: www.brookes.ac.uk/~95227860/KEY
    "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

    -- Matthew 16, 17-18


  • The only solution is for slashdot to patent the US Patent Office, and watch them try and get that dismissed as prior art.

    This is a storm in a tea-cup compared to the patenting of sequences of DNA, which the USPO is happy to do.

    The situation is more like the land claims of the old West than a true intellectual property law. From outside the US it just looks as though the USPO is happy to grant a patent to more or less anybody, on whatever weakened claims, just so long as they're from the US.

  • 4,197,590 Method for dynamically viewing image elements stored in a random access memory array. [mit.edu] is another link and may be the one you were refering to. It mentions the XOR patent and contains links to some other classical texts regarding the problems with software patents.

    This whole issue of software patents and related issues with copyright is at the heart of the GNU/FSF movement. Currently, most everyone in the Open Source movement is still playing fair so that the Free Software advocates seem overly zealous. However, in the not-so-distant future we may well be glad that some people held the torch.

  • Re: CNN sueing Slashdot.

    Believe it or not, the actual patent, in the US for distributing a magazine electronically is owned by... Microsoft.

    Seriously, details at IBM [ibm.com] - not sure what the full addy is, but it's on there.

    Mong.

    * Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • Spreading or threatening to spread bad PR about Advanced customers is thuggery. And thuggery is not something we want associated with the Linux/open source community.
  • Take a a chicken scratch rough draft of a high school paper.

    Put it next to a second draft of chicken scratch.

    Use a hililiter to decide what needs to be revised.

    Case closed.
  • Strange that this comes up right after Corel had their first large increase in stock prices in a while...
    Wonder if somebody wants to buy Corel stocks really cheap...

    just my paranoid 2 cents
  • Oh what a wonderfully apathetic attitude that is.
    e.g. It's a fact of life. You can't change it -- don't even bother trying. Just get on with your little puny life and don't make waves.

    I thought we were supposed to try and make the world better, not just placidly put up with it. Perhaps I'm wrong.

    --

  • Is it just me, or does this make no sence.

    This is the problem with software patents - NONE of them make sense.

    Splitting the screen so the compared source files are both
    displayed simultaneously (which is what the article implied - if I am
    not wrong) is just a logical extension. Is it not?


    That's irrelevant... what's relevant is that the USPTO didn't (and
    wouldn't) know that, so they grant the patent.. once that's done, it's
    simply a matter of the person with the most $$$$ (to spend on lawyers)
    wins the suit.

    The problem is that while you can't patent something that's "obvious",
    the body that decides what's obvious and what isn't doesn't know
    anything about software, and therefore just grants them; once that's
    done, you have to go to court if someone decides that you're
    infringing on them.


    THis is why ALL software patents suck...
  • As it seams to me Micro$oft has started a major offense against all competitors that are still standing.
    • First we had some cool benchmarks that "proved" that micro$oft NT was better than linux/apache ... (yeah right)
    • Now they are attacking Corol with the help of some other company, that would probably get some advantages like support from micro$oft (yeah support, this means micro$oft won't sue them in the next 5 years :-))))
    You can think of it whatever you want, be that is my thought :)


    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Belgium HyperBanner
    http://belgium.hyperbanner.net
    • First of all, I don't think Advanced Soft is going to win (at least I hope they won't).
    • Secondly, if they did win, the legal departement of Micro$oft is probably much stronger (I mean, they 'll find a way to get out of it) than Corels.
    • Even if Micro$oft has got to pay (a lot) that won't harm Bill's private property, it will only harm micro$ofts shares (what is a part of Bill's property) and of course micro$ofts assets.



    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    Belgium HyperBanner
    http://belgium.hyperbanner.net
  • Sometime in 1984, I was playing with a disk hex editor on the Apple ][ that showed comparisons between two files: one on the left, and one on the right side of the monitor. I found this very handy, but hardly considered that a novel feature. I have since seen many examples of comparing files when I was exposed to other computers. Comparing files is a natural need that would be written by any hacker in an evening. Hardly novel.
  • I know. And Xerox != x consortium. I was just trying to be funny without worrying about hysterical raisining, er historical reasoning. That, and I wanted to make first post *and* have something intelligent to say. Alas, such things are unattainable. :)

    --
  • Here is one link that may be of economic and societal interest with regards to Patents on Software :

    http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/History/history.html.old

    I still have to find the MIT link , I am working on it .
  • Have you ever been to a jury selection? Any hint of an education or intellegence and you're out. Lawyer's don't want people who think for themselves on a jury. Sad but true.
  • MIT Xfree86 is one who did not publish anything on their use of window buffering until a bit of documentation was needed at a later date . By then someone had already patented the idea of keeping , in memory , the window that was now hidden . MIT lost that one , their failure to publish those details in the documentation resulted in that method not being considered "prior art" . This sounds strange to me. Publishing the source code *IS* considered to be publishing, so I fail to see how this could be. Also XFree86 wouldn't be the one hit with this, but rather the X Consortium and its successors.

    Can you post a reference to this one? It sounds like an urban legend.

  • Hello? That link you have is for Advanced Software Technologies in Colorado, purveyers of UML tools but not (so far as I know) lawsuits on diff technology. The cited story refers to an Advanced Software in *California*, based on a patent granted a couple of years before the Colorado firm started. Is it just possible you have the wrong company?
  • We see this sort of insanity every day. The USPTO has repeatedly demonstrated its incompetence in the granting of patents in the areas of electronics and software.

    Once one has seen diff and any windowing environment, the notion of combining the two is obvious, and therefore should not be patentable. To earn a patent, an invention is supposed to embody something novel. A patent granted in 1989 on such a "technology" would hardly have been novel.

    As lawyers have ably demonstrated their willingness to indulge in such shenanigans, and as the real victims (as always) are customers (us!) it only makes sense that we make a practice of not purchasing products from companies who practice this sort of silliness.

    Advanced Software is now on my own list of companies to ignore.
  • I found a reference to it buried under one of the links posted above (they're interesting reading, even if some are pro-patent).

    Debunking the Software Patent Myths [heckel.org]
    U.S. Patent 4,555,775: The League [for Programming Freedom] describes [wisc.edu] AT&T's backup store patent as "Too Obvious to Publish." Yet, in a letter in this issue of CACM, Dennis Richie points out that this technology was published in the ACM[ 35 [heckel.org]] and was recently called "a seminal paper" whose ideas are seen in X Windows, Macintosh and many other windows systems [ 14 [heckel.org]]. While AT&T has sent notification letters on this patent, it has put the patent into reexamination and has not threatened suit or sued anyone on this patent.

    Is this a case of "hindsight is 20/20" and wasn't obvious at the time of patenting? (just playing devil's advocate)

  • by smoke ( 771 )
    this means ~
  • Does anyone remember the old Unix utility, twin? I may still have a copy on a machine where I work. I will check on Tuesday. Basically, it displays two files side-by-side on the same display. I wonder how long *that* has been around.

    While the patent rules require something be non-obvious to someone skilled in the art to qualify as patentable, evidently nothing is obvious to those who work in the PTO.
  • It's designed to make reverse-engineering easier... Sheesh. Make software to assist in software/idea "theft" and sue cause somebody "stole" your idea... Morons.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 1999 @08:32AM (#1819727)
    Please see the original [ibm.com] and reissued [ibm.com] patents, on the IBM patent server. The original patent was filed in 1986, which may or may not affect prior art arguments.

    These patents are not for the idea of displaying two drafts of a document side-by-side. They cover specific algorithms and methods for detecting which blocks are different between two documents, and matching up corresponding blocks between two versions of a document.

    This is, as far as I can tell, sufficiently different from the working of UNIX diff that diff wouldn't constitute prior art. I don't have any experience with the offending Corel feature, so I really can't say whether it might infringe on this patent.

    It's still not a very impressive patent, and I as sickened by software patents as any coder, but please try to do a little research before spreading misinformation like this (or reacting to it).

    The technical details of the patent are essentially that the system uses a hash algorithm on all the lines in the documents and finds hashes which are the same in both documents, which it uses as "anchorpoints" to correlate the two texts.

    It then seems to do some grouping of changed lines into words or sentences. The patent also refers to methods for displaying or printing the documents side-by-side with indicators of changes, insertions, deletions, etc.

  • Hmmm.. maybe that's the whole point of this - just to get some free/cheap publicity for their product? Maybe I'm just too cynical?
  • Thus the old joke:

    Twelve people who were unable to get out of jury duty are not my peers!

Dreams are free, but you get soaked on the connect time.

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