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Microsoft loses $521 million patent lawsuit

http://money.cnn.com/2003/08/11/technology/microsoft_verdict.reut/index.htm

I'm not a big Microsoft fan, but this is ridiculous.  Software patents are getting way out of hand. C'mon, a patent for enabling browsers to have plug-ins?  And $521 million for a browser they gave away for free.

And no, this story isn't on Slashdot (yet).

T. Norman
Monday, August 11, 2003

Thats it! Two stupid patent stories in 2 days.

I think somebody should get a patent on "A process for collecting royalties from patents" and then maybe a patent "For a process for paying the royalties on a patent", and I think then you would be set for life . This is just rediculous.

Chris
Monday, August 11, 2003

Chris, those are the standard patent jokes, and available under the public domain.

www.marktaw.com
Monday, August 11, 2003

Which just proves how stupid patents are...

If I can't think of an original joke then how can choosing what currency I want to pay in or even choosing how I want to architect a program I am making be considered "Unique" or whatever criteria they need for a patent?

Chris
Monday, August 11, 2003

> Which just proves how stupid patents are...

No. I think it proves how stupid the *US patent system* is. The UK patent system would not allow you to patent such crap as "1-click". The UK patent system requires ideas to have to have lateral thought involved rather than something that is simply deducible by any halfwit or his dog.

gwyn
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Good job nobody patented LISP.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Patents aren't stupid.

The idiots who allow them to BE patented are the stupid ones. And to think Einstein used to work in a place like that. Quite a paradox, eh?

Mickey Petersen
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I'm inclined to agree with the sentiment here. Whether patents are good or not, the current system heavily favors the giant rich company and heavily penalizes everybody else, because the US Patent Office is nothing but a (marginally) human rubber stamp.

If they can't do their job, then there shouldn't be patents.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

"While today's outcome is disappointing, we do plan to appeal this decision," a Microsoft spokesman said. "We're confident the facts will support our position."

Hey, Microsoft Spokesman, facts aren't reviewed on appeal (okay, they are, but only in extreme situations). The appellate court's job is to defer to the jury's view of the facts, and determine whether the law was applied correctly to those facts.

Note to Big Bill: I hear that Ari Fleischer is available.

Zahid
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

"the current system heavily favors the giant rich company and heavily penalizes everybody else"

I'm sorry, did we read the same story? The one where the giant rich company was heavily penalized by somebody else?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I think they need to leavy a 1% tax on all patent license fees to pay for more patent examiners.

So that we might have enough bright and non-overworked patent examiners who can determine if something's obvious or not.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Let see. let imagine for a moment
1. You are an engineer living and working in Sillicon Valley CA.
2. You have a bright idea for a good S/W and decide to work on it at home on your after-houres time (6:00 PM to $1:00AM every day)
3. You take a $100K second morgage on your home to self finance the initial implementations of your idea.
4. after 18 months of hard work you have completed the prototype, and it is working.
5. You spend 10's of Thousands of Dollars on Lawyers to register some of your key technologies with the patent office to protect yourself.
6. You call MS to invite them to see if they would be interested to buy the S/W to incorporate it with Windows.
7. Big Wigs arrive at your garage to see the demo. They do sign the confidentiality paper, no problem. after the demo, they like what they see.
8. They ask you detailed questions about the architecture. they wish to see the source code, and "why did you use that particular code instead of the other one". You dutfully answer each question (after all you have aconfidentiallity agreement in the drawr)
9. Now they ask you how much do you want for the source code?. You say, "Based on my market research it is worth about $2 Million".
10. They say fine, and ask if they can take a copy of the Source Code to their lab to test its integrability into the Windows.
11. 3 weeks later phone rings, and MS tells you, "it is an "OK" s/w. We willing to pay you around $150K. You say No. Their response "then we will develope the same technology on our own.
12. 6 months later you see your technology is in new release of windows. You screem and call them with....
13. I will sue you for........ They respond, "go ahead and spend few million dollars just to get our attention. we don't give shit".

You may have not seen it, but that story is said to have been repeated itself many many times in Sillicon Valley.

Shamelessly taken from:http://news.messages.yahoo.com/bbs?.mm=&action=m&board=37138456&tid=nmtechmicrosoftpatentdc&sid=37138456&mid=56&thr=28&cur=28&dir=d

MSHack
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Microsoft should be divided into multiple companies. I am glad that this time they're paying for their MISCONDUCT.

Hope more lawsuits are underway.

memyselfandirene
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

MSHack, that doesn't make any sense.  I'm almost sure it would be cheaper to give some schmoe 1 million dollars rather then pay for an army of lawyers to defend the case, in addition to all the bad publicity they would get.  Also, developing a proprietary product and having it copied is different then "Inventing" a concept, and suing over it. 

vince
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

"the current system heavily favors the giant rich company"

No, it does not favor the company with the deepest pockets, nor does it favor the company with the brightest lawyers. It just depends on the court the case is opened in.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Patent enforcement is kind of random and mostly favors the big companies with big pockets and cross-licensing agreements. My grandfather had the same problems 50 years ago.

Nothing is really even new under the sun here--just the barrier-for-entry for making computer things is so much lower than mechanical devices, the amount of 'new' things has gone up.

Actually speaking of patents, you can't view images of patents (required for those pre-1976) on the USPTO site because they use the EMBED tag, which is the subject of this very lawsuit. I wrote an IE helper-menu-thing to view the pages a while ago.

mb
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

A small company winning against a big company is an exception.  Patents as they are implemented today hurt smaller companies because they can't afford to apply for 1,000 patents a year to cover every flash of brain activity they have, and they often have to cave in to patent owners' demands because they don't have the resources to fight it out in court.

Software patents are unnecessary and counterproductive because practically nobody is going to decide NOT to develop something if they can't patent it (unless the sole purpose of developing and patenting it was to sue others for infringement rather than creating a viable product).  But many decide not to develop something because they fear being sued for infringement.

T. Norman
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

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