It's a sad state of affairs...
When your immediate reaction to a patent issue is "troll!".
And you're right.
Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble, Invetec, and Foxconn International over alleged patent infringements by the Android-based Nook e-reader sold by Barnes & Noble. On monday, the software giant said that Android infringes on a number of its patents and that the trio must respect Microsoft's intellectual property rights. The …
When your immediate reaction to a patent issue is "troll!".
And you're right.
"The patents cover ways of tabbing through various screens to find information, quickly surfing the web, and interacting with documents and e-books.'
So all things that are blatantly obvious to anyone who has used tabbed browers, surfed the web or made notes.
Aren't patents supposed to be *original* inventions which *aren't* obvious to anyone with experience in that field? Oh, of course, not in the USA...
Yet another reason the USPTO and global patent laws need to be harmonized to recognize simultaneous or near-simultaneous invention.
Even when an inventor creates something and wins a patent, if a new invention works around it and is not based on theft of and direct use of the first product's details, then let the better-selling, better-received product win.
Having said that, though, I don't know if B&N's suppliers, partners, or others involved had their hands in skullduggery or malfeasance...
These types of patents cannot generally be worked around, because they patent the entire concept of doing something, rather then the spacific method by which that something is done. This is why software patent are such an atrocity.
After taking a glance at the pattens listed by Mr. Muller, I highly doubt there is any corporate espionage or other malfeasance going on, These all look pretty non-novel and obvious to someone with even minor training in the art (which is not to say I expect the court to agree).
Google should take this case on behalf of these companies seeing as its them who ultimately suffer if Microsoft deters people from using Android (as its obviously trying to do). That would put a big thorn in Microsofts backside because they know Google would go the full way with the case and they certainly don't want that!
But alas, Google don't care. There have been many patent-based challenges against companies using Android, and Google hasn't stood by any of them for reasons only known to themselves :(
Microsoft should be respected in this arena of the law for it, like a certain company in Cupertino, have been serial IP thieves over the years and have developed a depth of knowledge as to how to do it.
Pretty obvious, patent trolling relies on targets just paying up because it's cheaper than fighting. For larger companies the costs stay the same but the payout increases, above a threshold size it should become more cost effective to fight. Given the shocking quality of US issued patents it's a fair gamble perhaps 90% can be invalidated. Attack Google and winning could be at the cost of losing many of the patents at issue.
Don't forget, MSFT were involved enough in SCO's 'sue the deepest pockets' adventure to know how badly wrong that can go. They'll tax the smaller players.
One delicious possibility arises here, MSFT might end up forced to reveal the terms of any previous patent deal it made with HTC along the way. If it turns out HTC's WP7 support is being compelled that would be devastating for MSFT... ;)
The SCO lawsuit went right. Sitting on a relatively small pile of Microsoft investment, which I think Microsoft even got back, SCO frightened businesses away from using Linux for whole years, and it's still working today. For Microsoft, that's money very well not-spent.
went 'right' for a reason... they found a desperate proxy, run by a sue-happy cretin and hid in the shadows while the proxy committed very messy suicide. We can disagree about how 'right' it went beyond MSFT so far escaping any liability for the whole fraudulent affair.
This time they don't have a proxy to hide behind. It won't be so cheap or consequence free.
Isn't this similar to the 'look and feel' thing that Apple had with Windows many years ago? It's not like someone stole the source code or did some reverse engineering.
> Isn't this similar to the 'look and feel' thing that Apple had with Windows many years ago? It's not like someone stole the source code or did some reverse engineering, Deja vu
I don't see any similarities, whilst aggreeing to develop apps for the Apple, Microsoft cloned the Apple desktop. Apple sued, Microsofts defence was that Apple had borrowed heavly from work done at the Xerox the PARC research lab.
In this case a) Android, is a wholly independently developed platform and b) Microsoft is sueing down stream customers of Google. I thank you :)
a) Android is a fork of the Linux kernel, so not wholly independently developed.
b) Google isn't the one producing the eBook software that's causing the alleged infringements, they're just running on their OS.
The patents cover ways of tabbing through various screens to find information, quickly surfing the web, and interacting with documents and e-books.
I am sure that M$ has been totally innovative in that space, drawing on their long successful experience in designing touch tablets, so that they have plenty of hard-earned IP to protect that bottom feeders like Google & Apple would just love to copy.
If the patents cover "quickly surfing the web" then surely Microsoft have no prior art in this respect?!
@Patrick O'Reilly doesn't matter: you can also patent something just to cut competitors off from inventing something useful you don't want. E.g. if no one is allowed to make a faster browser than Microsofts' , IE9 will be the fastest browser in the world without needing to compete. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries ("who killed the electric car").
Microsoft can get both of Barne's & Noble's remaining dollars. Nice to see they're picking on a nearly-bankrupt company that can't afford much of anything, especially a prolonged legal fight.
A couple of points:
Microsoft is advertising this as a lawsuit against Android in general, when it in fact is particular to certain ebook reader interfaces. While I'm sure they have some basis for the lawsuit itself, the positioning of it as part of their greater anti-Android campaign is just more Microsoft FUD.
Remember SCO's "the hidden cost of Linux"? Now we have Microsoft's "the hidden cost of Android", and it's equally nonsense.
Secondly, Florian Mueller's name comes up again and again in these baseless Android attacks, and his motivations, financial and otherwise, remain very murky. Please, report the news (and this lawsuit is clearly news), but do it without treating him as a primary source or giving him more of a platform to stand on.
And as such he is being PAID to advocate particular opinions. It's less important to discover WHO is paying him (he refuses to disclose that) than to simply STOP treating him as a news source! Regardless of whether you agree with his opinions or not, by definition he is NOT objective.
Google does not own Android, it has a GPL and is licensed by the Open Handset Alliance.
Google does most of the development but there is a difference.
Would you like to buy a bridge?
That's because Google are cowards and can't even take responsibility for their own software. It's all done by them, don't even release the new versions as GPL until they very well feel so. No one would want Android without Google's closed apps either. Android would die the day Google left it.
To say they don't own it is just a fantasy to appease lawyers.
This way after its been found that Google has no creativity and had to copy Java, copy the Linux kernel and whatever's yet to come to get anything done, they'll just pass on the the problems to the Open HA and move on to their next beta project, probably involving how to spy on the color of your underwear.
This is just from the first patent in question;
"Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images
A browser remotely retrieves electronic documents from a remote computer network for viewing by a user. For enhancing responsiveness, the browser initially displays an electronic document without a background image so that the electronic document is initially displayed more quickly. The browser also prioritizes downloading of embedded images of the document by their incorporation in the currently visible portion of the electronic document. Further, the browser dynamically creates additional connections for retrieving resources incorporated into the electronic document from the remote computer network. "
So basically they have patented how web browsing works. Way to "innovate" M$, no, really, your lawyers must love you guys.
"A browser remotely retrieves electronic documents from a remote computer network for viewing by a user. For enhancing responsiveness, the browser initially displays an electronic document without a background image so that the electronic document is initially displayed more quickly. The browser also prioritizes downloading of embedded images of the document by their incorporation in the currently visible portion of the electronic document. Further, the browser dynamically creates additional connections for retrieving resources incorporated into the electronic document from the remote computer network. "
That's the summary of one of the patents. So download the important stuff first and then download the background and only get stuff that is on the screen.... and MS managed to patent that..... and this apparently:
"Described herein is a portable computer having a limited display area. An Internet or other hypermedia browser executes on the portable computer to load and display content in a content viewing area. During times when the browser is loading content, the browser displays a temporary, animated graphic element over the content viewing area. The graphic element is removed after the content is loaded, allowing unobstructed viewing of the loaded content. "
back in the CompuServe and Prodigy days of the BBS, a company created a multi-threaded BBS browser called Golden Compass which threaded the loading of images and text so that text showed up quick while the images continued to load so you got a faster browser. Years before MS rented their first web browser and then purchased it after the legal threat which ensued from that deal.
for talking to someone school bully cant frighten.
and rebuilding from scratch
...you owe me a new keyboard.
And in a surprise development, none of the patents would stand up to the slightest scrutiny by anyone with experience in computing:
US Patent No. 5,778,372: HTML
US Patent No. 6,339,780: progress bar
US Patent No. 5,889,522: just plain window controls
US Patent No. 6,891,551: selected area controls
US Patent No. 6,957,233: metadata dialog box and storage
The idea that this shite is Microsoft's "innovation" only flies if your definition of "innovation" is as low as Microsoft's generally is.
It's long past time to dump the patent system completely - it simply doesn't work and it never really made any sense even when it stayed near the original conception. Now that it basically covers ideas and ways of scratching your nose it's worse than worthless.
Would it be possible to achieve rapid results in reforming the patent system if USPTO was told that if they didn't start reviewing patents properly, then the whole system will be disbanded, all patents will be nullified and they'll all be out of a job.
That's all fine, except for how to measure them doing their job well. A good start would most likely be the number of patents revoked or successfully challenged and use some recent data to give them a benchmark. Give them 24 months, reviewing every 12 months thereafter.
Two things should then happen. The companies putting in crap patents for trolling will start to worry that their business will evaporate overnight if they submit rubbish patents that get challenged -- this should start to stem the tide at source. Next, the PTO people should have some more time... and they should use it to perform proper reviews in fear of their livelihoods.
The problem might be people wanting to submarine the patent system might try to get crap patents past with the promise of the system being disbanded. Is that such a bad outcome?
That all seems fair, right?
It's just software patents - they are a very silly idea, like patenting a type of film or book plot.
going after Foxcomm reminds me of SCO. They are a contract manufacturer and are hired to make the devices. Microsoft is spraying its law suit all over to scare people and businesses away from Android just like SCO was doing this( with Microsoft's help of funding ) to Linux.
the grenade because sometimes, they blow up on yourself if you don't get rid of it fast enough.
Those who can't create litigate.
An overweening concern with intellectual property is inevitable in a culture that values wealth above everything else. These people honestly believe the purpose of their lives is to accumulate more consumer goods than those around them.
250 million US citizens
550 million people in the EU
1 billion Chinese
1 billion people in India
Only one of those in the list has something called "software patents". Or cares about patents in general. (Hint: it's the one with the smallest market).
Wanna guess where the current and future development and sales will be?