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back to article Calif. firm sues Sony over the way it makes Blu-ray disks

Sony is facing legal action from a Californian company over claims of patent infringement in its use of Blu-ray technology in the PlayStation 3 games console. Target Technology is demanding that three Sony-related companies stop manufacturing and distributing all Blu-ray discs. The firm alleges that the technology used to …

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Patent trolls suck A$$

Has anyone bothered to notice that this 'patent' (only valid in the good ole US of A btw) was applied for months *after* the first BluRay players arrived in Japan, with no less than three different manufacturers showing working BluRay plaerys in early 2004 in Japan, and Sony actually bringing them to market *before* Patent Troll (aka Target) bothered to even ask for their patent.

Strange how that little gem doesn't get reported.

Another fun facet of this might be this slight quote from Target Technologies own website.

"For many years gold was the only workable solution for the semi-reflective layers of DVD discs, until, in the late 1990's, Han Nee, Target Technology Company's founder, successfully developed a significantly lower cost solution involving a highly reflective silver alloy material. Han Nee worked with many of the resin suppliers to develop materials compatible with the silver alloy film facilitating a material set that is used in the majority of DVD's sold in the market today. Most resins offered today for DVD's work well with Target Technology's silver alloy."

So, it would appear the that the use of Silver rather than Gold in the manufacture of optical disc formats predates their patent application by more than several years, so one might think that Sony could point to the existence of prior art. After all, how hard is it to extend the use of silver rather than gold in the making of DVDs to the making of other Optical formats such as HD-DVD and BluRay?

Seems like Mr Han Nee might have somewhat given the game away on his own web page. After all if a technological advancement is something that is an extension of an existing concept that a competent practitioner in the field could come up with in the course of their work, well, it's not patentable, as the Supreme court in the US has recently ruled.

Should be interesting to see just how aggressive Sony gets on this one. They have spent billions, with others, developing BluRay technology, and along comes Patent Troll USA to spoil the party. I think I am losing count of the number of times some US based IP monger comes out of the woodwork years *after* all the development work on a major product is done, in order to sue for supposed patent infringement. If anyone wants to know what's wrong with the US economy, this is it.

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But Then Again!

But then again , any chemist will tell you what happens to a clean coating of reflective silver in the presence of diffuse Hydrogen Sulphide , a gas that just happens to be produced by your common garden variety powered petrol engined car driving past fitted with the cheap single stage catalytic converter (reactive gas produced due to the presence of sulphur within the fuel(high sulphur oils just happen to be far cheaper cost wise then Sweet Crude)!

Rotten Eggs anyone!

I like this new technology , that has a built in time bomb of self destruction of the creeping black cancer type!

Atypical of SONY , sell us a catch 22 product , to keep us on the endless consumer treadmill!

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Anonymous Coward

Stumbling block for Blu-Ray users copying their discs though

Mandatory Managed Copy is the thing specifically allowing users to copy discs in a controlled manner, but I believe Blu-Ray still has the extra option to allow studios to disable this 'mandatory' system on a per title basis. One of the reason why studios prefer Blu-Ray perhaps ;-)

HD-DVD on the other hand is Mandatory Managed Copy throughout with no option to disable it. It's also completely region free, unlike Blu-Ray.

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HighTroller

Target doesn't seem to be some Patent holding company

Han Nee invented the unique material and process in the 90's , doesn't really matter when he filed the patent

Apparently others have been paying for the material or licencing it under non-disclosure agreement

problem with a patent, is that you do need to disclose the invention, once you've done that, especially in the case of a chemical process, competitors can often figure out how to change your process enough to file a new patent, and you're screwwed because you filed

If Sony is essentially duplicating Target's formula's and processes, it's likely due to intentional back engineering or someone in the industry violating a NDA

I can certainly see the problem with software patents, but an inventor of something so useful and profitable by all as a cheaper way to make DVDs, certainly should be rewarded a few pennies per unit for several years

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Anonymous Coward

HD-DVD = Region free?

Well, if that's the case, I'm switching sides from Blu-Ray to HD-DVD. To heck with regions and Blu-Ray. HD-DVD owns my world now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Patent trolls suck A$$

@ Highlander

Let me get this straight.

You think Sony can defend themselves by claiming prior act because this technology has been in use since the 90s.

Did you realise WHO was responsible for that prior act? It is clearly stated in your post.

Let me make it clearer to you; in your post you wrote:

"...in the late 1990's, Han Nee, Target Technology Company's founder, successfully developed a significantly lower cost solution involving a highly reflective silver alloy material."

Now, who is suing Sony? Yes, correct, that would be Target Technology, the company whose founder developed the technology.

Somehow I doubt Sony can claim prior act, if the allegations of using said technology are correct.

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Re: Re:Patent trolls suck A$$

But can you be sued for a patent violation when you started production well before the patent was even filed?

Seems to me that it would be stupid to allow that, otherwise we'd see a patent for "a circular device rotating about a center axis and attached to another object for the purposes of allowing movement"... Or some such similarly legal way of defining a wheel.

Of course we are talking about the US patent system which seems to now allow companies to find inventions that haven't been patented, file a patent, have it granted, and then sue the pants off people. And they also do that ever-so-helpful "software patents" thing

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Looks legit on the surface...

If this guy can prove that the process he invented and later patented is being used by Sony without licensing, then he's got a legit claim. Without reading the patent itself, the description posted earlier makes it sound like a detailed process of engineering the media and not a piss-take as someone later tried to characterise it. The US patent system does have problems, but this doesn't look like an example of one (pending further details, natch).

Unlike trademarks, you don't have to file the patent prior to use to get it enforced, so unless Sony filed this patent first they're on the hook for a bunch of dosh.

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Prior art

It doesn't matter if he invented it before Sony (or anyone else), as long as 1) Sony (or whoever) didn't copy it from him & 2) were in the market before his patent.

1) is evidence of it being obvious, or a logical development of existing technology, & therefore not patentable (see the recent US Supreme Court decision).

2) is evidence of prior art (as long as they didn't copy from him).

A patent must be novel. If it isn't, then it has been wrongly granted & is not valid. If discs were being made using the process, & sold, before the patent application was filed, by other firms, which had arrived at the process independently, then the process is not novel (there is prior art), & the patent has no validity.

Patents are often (in the majority of cases, IMO - especially in the USA)granted wrongly, so I'd take the existence of the patent merely as a starting point for examination, not as significant in itself.

I reckon what's needed is a much more thorough patent examination process, financed by a fat fee for failed applications. But keep the fee low for successful applications. Should discourage time-wasters.

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IP holder

As an IP holder, I can say that if he disclosed the patentable material in any fashion prior to filing, he's screwed. Companies have teams of patent attorneys or review every paper for unpatented IP. My wife had a paper for a conference held up until she filed.

Developing a manufacturing process prior to filing is not prior art. Selling the product is. One can claim trade secret, but reverse engineering without the existence of an NDA is a valid defense. Without more details, I don't know who will prevail.

Forgent recently lost a case to Direct TV (and had the patent thrown out). Now they are being sued by TiVO. This patent troll could find itself in a tight situation. Their number one patent (JPEG) is about to run out. Their voice compression patent has been worked around and their voicemail patent has expired.

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Anonymous Coward

pull an AGFA ...

AGFA ( a german company making copiers, photographic film and audio tapes ) was well known to patent only stuff that doesn't work . The really good stuff they keep secret and osld under NDA's. This threw off the competition completely

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Now you know what it's like for your customers, Sony

"Should be interesting to see just how aggressive Sony gets on this one. They have spent billions, with others, developing BluRay technology, and along comes Patent Troll USA to spoil the party. I think I am losing count of the number of times some US based IP monger comes out of the woodwork years *after* all the development work on a major product is done, in order to sue for supposed patent infringement. If anyone wants to know what's wrong with the US economy, this is it."

Schadenfreude; if any corporation deserves to suffer from frivolous infirngement claims, it's Sony (but I hate to see the patent system abused by anyone).

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I've got a patent.

Has anyone patended the use of a penis in the manufacture of human? I think I may go for that one, and sue sperm banks into oblivion. Just think, I could negotiate 10% of all semen-based revenue!

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