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back to article Motorola Mobility loses to Microsoft in German patent battle

Motorola Mobility has suffered another blow in Europe, with a German court deciding it’s breached Microsoft patents. Already under EU investigation for allegedly reneging on its FRAND responsibilities, Motorola Mobility has been found to be infringing Redmond’s IP by allowing users of its mobile phones to send long text messages …

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Anonymous Coward

And which

Imbicile issued that patent?

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Re: And which

The same "imbicile" that can't spell "imbecile", perhaps?

Believe it or not, none of this shit would be happening if the voters in the relevant nations would get off their arses and do something about their politicians and increasingly intractable legal systems. Unfortunately, most politicians come from a legal (or accounting) background, so their default response to every problem is to create new laws (or accounting rules) to "solve" it.

It's already impossible for a layperson to be fully cognisant of every single aspect of every law they are subject to, so the "ignorance of the law" excuse is becoming increasingly valid. Lawmakers need to read up on the "KISS" principle. The more laws you make, the harder it is for people to understand them, let alone abide by every one of them.

If this continues, it will eventually be impossible to avoid breaking at least one law during one's lifetime.

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Unhappy

Re: And which

"If this continues, it will eventually be impossible to avoid breaking at least one law during one's lifetime."

Already impossible! If you drive like most people then you most likely break the speed limits on a daily basis.

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WTF?

Re: And which

"Already impossible! If you drive"...

IF you drive. I don't

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Re: And which

And if you've never sworn in public, been drunk in public (including the pub itself),cycled on a footpath, gone across a red light on a bike, used a pedestrian crossing whilst mounted on a bike (except Tucan crossings), and on and on.

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Joke

Re: And which

That's OK, the speed limit in the UK is 110mph on motorways

Errr.. isn't it ?

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Devil

Re: And which

@Sean Timarco Baggaley

The more laws you make, the harder it is for people to understand them

The more lawyers you need understand them (and collect a HUGE fee for doing so).

Lawyer = icon

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MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

Once MS sees the folly of believing its own PR and faces deep and continuing legal assault on the very basis of its misnamed Intellectual Property it will wish it never took the bullies path to profits.

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Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

Because, of course, no other company is throwing their patent lawyers around at its rivals, right?

Corporations are OBLIGED to defend their IP. IT IS THE LAW. THEY HAVE NO F*CKING CHOICE.

Lawyers are not programmers. They are not engineers. They have no idea how "obvious" a technique may be: their default position is to attempt to patent everything, because the patent lawyer who screws up is going to lose his job.

The USPTO simply cannot afford to keep up with the white heat of technological progress, so they operate a reactive, not proactive, system. Yes, they'll perform a cursory search, but the USPTO's lawyers are ALSO not programmers or engineers! They have no more clue what half that stuff means than your Auntie Gladys. They'll punch in some search terms into their database and make an educated guess as to whether whatever turns up is a close enough match to deny a new patent application, but if they were good enough to spot obviousness, they wouldn't be doing this job in the first place.

And that's why patents like these get through. It's a systemic problem. A fundamental design flaw. Railing at Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. helps precisely not one whit. You need to change the laws.

If you can't be bothered to do at least that much and prefer to just rant pointlessly about mere symptoms in thread after thread, the problem is you, not Microsoft.

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Stop

Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

Erm, no, they're not. Their obliged to maximize their profits (in the US), and some use patent law (as one judge has clearly pointed out) as a negotiating element in order to do that, but they are in no way obliged by law to defend their patents. Indeed, one of the ways companies have been trying to make money recently is by deliberately failing to defend their patents until they've become industry standard, and then selectively enforcing the patent with companies they need business leverage over (again, as the last paragraph in the article highlights).

Now, in fairness it's possible you're mistaking patents for trademarks (this kind of thing happens when people use the nebulous term 'IP' outside of networking protocol discussions), where a company is obliged to defend their trademark or risk losing it. The same does not apply to patents, which can be selectively enforced, or not enforced at all, but the patent holder will continue to hold the patent.

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Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

" if they were good enough to spot obviousness, they wouldn't be doing this job in the first place"

You say that but they could just be using their position for a bit of income while reformulating physics as we know it. It's happened before.

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Paris Hilton

Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

There's no law (here, anyway) that says you have to defend your patents. That sort of law would be unworkable, anyway.

And, in the companies I've worked in, it's not the lawyers who decide whether something is interesting enough to patent. The engineers are asked to put forward suggestions. The engineering knowledge of the lawyer is irrelevant.

And the other patent offices have no problem keeping up with technology. In the UK, at least, the patent people are smart, and any search is far from cursory. Of course, they're helped by certain basic principles, such as "no perpetual machine machines, no Elephant-shaped buildings", and so on. I'm finding it hard to see how something as stupid as this Microsoft patent could have got as far as a German court, though. I thought they were fairly rational.

But, I do agree that US law needs changing. The range of stuff ("all the works of man") that can be patented in the US is far too broad. If you fixed that, then the rest of us could stop wasting our time filing pointless and stupid method and process patents, and all the rest of it, just in case someone in the US does it first.

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Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

@Sean Timarco Baggaley

Corporations are OBLIGED to defend their IP

No they're not, they CHOOSE to patent every little shitty half baked idea so that they can do their up-most to screw other companies.

Glad to hear that lawyers have no idea how "obvious" a technique may be, I'm off to patent an idea that if lawyers brief doesn't fit on a single page of paper then it can be split up and put on multiple pages of paper. Does anybody know the name of the estate agent who sold Richard Branson Necker Island?

I'll bet Galileo's descendants are raging that he never patented the telescope.

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Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

All of them???????????????????????????????????

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Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

"And that's why patents like these get through". It's a systemic problem. A fundamental design flaw. Railing at Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. helps precisely not one whit. You need to change the laws."

The laws already require a technical inventive step and say you can't paint anything that's obvious to a competent practitioner who is au fait with teh state of the art. So maybe what's wanted is for them to be enforced by the courts, since the USPO is clearly not ghoing to do it. I'm not sure European patent offices are in general much better.

Surely "breaking messages into shorter ones to facilitate transmission" has been there since very early data comms days; it's in HDLC, it's in TCP, it's in SNA, it's even in several good old Basic Mode protocols. And of course it goes back a lot further than that - people have been using two sheets of paper for long messages for quite a while, we even have sequence numbering of the fragments (books with page numbers date from centuries ago).

Oh dear, are BT's adverts in violation of this IP, the ones that suggest you cut your very long phone calls into chenks of one hour or less so that you can have them for free (if you are on one of the tariffs where calls up to than one hour long to UK numbers are free) - or maybe inciting others to violate that IP?

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Happy

Thank you, El Reg, for introducing me to...

... the word "stoush".

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Re: Thank you, El Reg, for introducing me to...

The Scots version is "stushie" with broadly the same meaning...

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MS vs. non-MS

Please, mind the difference:

E.g., Google never sued anyone of any patent infringement. Sun did not sue Google for "Java IP infringement" . Now Larry and Oracle have tried to do exactly that and, thanks God, they lost! Apple tried to make a case on rectangular shapes.

Another case is what MS, or Apple or any other "good" company patents and sues for is revolving around "innovative rectangular shapes", this is ridiculous.

All IT patents must be abolished.

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Re: MS vs. non-MS

Yeah, google are lovely fluffy bunnies who love everyone, especially YOU. Riiiiiiight...

Motorola have certainly sued over patents though. And this case was brought against Motorola, not Google.

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outmicrosoft Microsoft

Not being evil is good enough for me.

Motorola (through Google) was suing MS as a counterattack for the MS' incessant kicking Android manufacturers below the belt and to counter-react the MPEG-LA h264 conspiracy.

A company should try very very hard to reach the level of MS' infamy and abomination. Apple is there, Oracle might be there soon.

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Thumb Down

Re: outmicrosoft Microsoft

> Not being evil is good enough for me.

Call me when you find a company that meets this requirement. Google certainly don't.

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dogged is not available at the moment, leave a msg after the beep....

Keep calling you, you never answer :)

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Re: dogged is not available at the moment, leave a msg after the beep....

Who did you find?

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Joke

Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Omigod, TCP/IP has been patented by M$! Breaking up a large message into smaller bits of a specified length must be covered, right? Therefore packets must be covered, right? M$ OWNS THE INTERNET! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

+1 on the TCP front. It just seemed so obvious as prior art, it was the first thing to spring to mind on reading the article, I can't believe they got anywhere here.

I wonder if TCP was brought up in court about this.

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Emails use to be broken into lines. Zip files were broken into disk sized files.

Only a million examples of prior art. It's right up there with "slide to unlock"

Idiots in the patent offices.

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Stop

Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Packets be damned; every sentence is made up of separated units we call 'words'; each of those of individual 'letters' and (gasp) each letter, or 'character', is made of a number of sequential bits... at which point does the 'breaking up a message' stop? Surely the prior art on this goes back as far as 'Hmm, there isn't enough room on this side of the clay tablet to fit all this cuneiform on; I'll turn it over and use the other side...'

I have to agree: there's little point in software patents and a ridiculous amount of damage and wasted resources caused by them. Sure, copyright your code, your images, your data; trademark your logo and your *nonobvious* design features... but algorithms? Nah.

The (generic) patent office approach of 'allow everything that isn't perpetual motion and let them fight it out in court is hardly an efficient way of doing things unless you happen to be a lazy public service... oh, wait...

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

it's not TCP alone, UDP is the same. Actually anything larger than MTU (max transfer unit) gets split into smaller packets.

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Long a go people used to write something known as letters on something called paper.

Often one piece of paper wouldn't suffice so you sometimes had to send multiple pieces of paper in one letter!

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

@Neill Barnes: Unless you're German, in which case you try to make every sentence just one big long word.

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

This is true (and also for other agglutinative languages) but you still have to save a bit at the end the verb to put.

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

The idiots at the patent office I kind of sorta understand. What I don't get is the idiot lawyers Motorola employed to defend themselves. I would think that prior specific art out to exist from the days of pagers. I distinctly remember that was exactly the method they used to send long messages. To the point that they broke messages in the middle of a word to meet their text length requirement. Surely Motorola made some of those and they ought to constitute prior art.

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Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

The important thing is the use case of the parent, ie itscontext. This is breaking up something in the context of SMS.

Otherwise breaking up a chocolate bar could be patented.

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@Mr ChriZ

....or papyri, or clay tablets

I wonder, if MS got a hold of Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian patents?

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Holmes

Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Can't necessarily blame the lawyers, though. Oracle had some pretty good ones; see what it got them.

I haven't found the particular patent, but thought splitting messages should have been obvious prior art, though. Heart, Kahn, Ornstein, Crowther, and Walden discussed it at some length in 1970 in "The interface message processor for the ARPA computer network" (easily available from the Association for Computing Machinery digital library). The research was done on a U. S. Government contract, I believe, and if patents were issued or relied upon they expired long ago.

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Devil

Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

Look earlier.

The specific reason for uuencode/uudecode was to do exactly that - deal with the perl line IO buffer being to small on many systems.

We are looking at ~ 60es to early 70es for that one, long before TCP.

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IT Angle

Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

The important thing is the use case of the parent, i.e. it's context. This is breaking up something in the context of SMS.

The context is having a message that is longer than the transmission unit. The fact that it is SMS is irrelevant.

Splitting it up is then so obvious as to not even merit a mention - you just do it.

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feature called program localization.

You mean native language support?

No idea of its origins but HP-UX had that when they released the PA-Risc version, so surely it has to be out of patent life by now.

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Facepalm

Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing with the big boys when it comes to mobile

It just doesn't seem right. Surely Motorola (first mobile call 1973) being sued by Microsoft (formed 1976) must have mountains of real, innovative IP Blamer and his losers are similarly "violating"?

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Meh

Re: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing with the big boys when it comes to mobile

Probably not.

Microsoft are a software company, Motorola aren't (and even back to the V. days were renowned for shitty OS implementations, far worse than anything MS have ever inflicted on the world). Even now, Microsoft don't make phones. That means all those hardware patents Motorola stacked up over the years are essentially useless against them.

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@Dogged: Re: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing

I doubt that Motorola's patent portfolio contains only hardware patents. Very much.

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Re: @Stoneshop: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing

That's true. I used to work for Motorola years ago as an RF engineer, designing logic and faultfinding on GSM base stations.

They have a LOT of IP in the field of what you'd call BIOS on a computer and plenty regarding packet-switched network design and implementation, fault diagnostics and network maintenance.

On the software that makes a phone work?

Not so much anymore. They don't even use their own OS these days, or make their own chips. So yeah, Moto have a lot of IP. Almost none of it is relevant against a software company.

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Facepalm

So much for obviousness

Another proof that anything obvious can be patented these days, not to mention plenty of prior art as noted by others above. I recall I have been using a feature like this since forever on Nokia phones, but I guess it has a patent truce after going to bed with Microsoft, and does not have to worry about it.

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I worked for a company called Spectronics Micro Systems near Cambridge 20-25 years ago, we designed and manufactured mobile data solutions, e.g. data terminals for use in vehicles such as the AA or taxis. Data messages that were long would be broken down into smaller chunks to improve the chance of them getting through, if they failed to get through the first time, they were broken down again and retried, etc. surely this is standard in all communication protocols isn't it? I wonder what the detail of the patent is.

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You could offer yourself to Motorola as an expert witness in rendering this patent invalid but if nobody mentions your prior art in court, it's as if it never existed.

So basically, if this offends you so much, telling us is just pissing the wind. Contact Motorola.

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The real concern

Prior art is not relevant at present. The German Court won't consider it in an infringement action. Motorola would need to take a separate revocation action before a separate Court. Quite likely they would win, but it would take years and meanwhile the infringement ruling stands.

The real concern is that this system is about to be extended to the whole of Europe. Under the Unitary Patent, everyone will be sued in Germany, be injuncted and have to stop 'infringing' patents of very dubious validity. This is being done because " this is an issue of crucial importance for innovation and growth" (sic - van Rompuy). There is a faint hope that the UK may stand out against this, but Germany wants the system. The decision will be taken on 30 May. Don't just sit there, email your MEP!

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Germany

All these cases seem to be happening in Germany. How come?

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Re: Germany

Because German patent law is brutal and German courts are regarded as sympathetic. It's like suing in Delaware or East Texas.

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WTF?

Really/ MS owns that?

That's a really old OTA protocol for SMS if I remember right (and got my acronyms right) which allows you to set a number of messages and the individual message's number in the sequence in the header of each SMS so your phone can reassemble it.

I'd really have thought Nokia or Moto would have had that one.

Plus it's bleedin' obvious, too, and I'd have thought it would be FRAND, also due to its commonality in every phone for the last 15-odd years? Maybe it's the WAY Microsoft did it, e.g. only on Tuesdays after a particularly satisfying bowel movement, that makes it different if not the same thing.

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