A jury has found that in using Linux on its back-end servers, Google has infringed a patent held by a small Texas-based company and must pay $5m in damages. In 2006, Bedrock Computer Technologies sued Google and several other outfits – including Yahoo!, Amazon.com, PayPal, and AOL – claiming they infringed on a patent filed in …
"These guys aren't from round here" swung I believe.
Closing remarks to the jury
"Hey ya'll, hold my beer and watch this"
I think I will patent a process I will call 'Eating'.
A person opens their mouth and an object we will call food is inserted by the left or right hand sometimes on a fork. The food is chewed in the jaw and is subsequently swallowed and digested in the stomach.
Once this is filled and approved I guess anyone doing the above mentioned will have to pay me a fee.
Easy money!!! Yippee
The objects called "food" will be stored in a FIFO with a method called "upchuck" for deleting unwanted entries from the linked list. In the event that list defragmentation and reordering is required a separate process called "surgery" will be employed ... hey, we can sue the medical profession to ya'll!
Re Eating → #
Sorry! Been done before or actually something very similiar and over 50 years ago.
Read the relevant parts of the 1957 Goon Show Episode "The Great Regent's Park Swim".
Well, I've just invented the word "Help" for people who are drowning."
Later in the show.....
(more sounds of agony)
Steady, Moriarty. You know that I charge one thousand pounds for using
my invention, namely, the word "Help".
(sounds of agony, interspersed with growls)
What a bit of luck, folks. Whilst the Bengal tiger was fighting Moriarty, I ........."
and even later in the show.....
... and I warn you, nobody shout "Help". That is a word I've just invented and will cost anybody five hundred pounds to use. Now, give me that green liquid. Right, Neddie, into the canal.
But I can't swim without that green liquid. Aarrggh
You swine, you pushed me in! Help!
Out you come, Ned. To using the word "Help", five hundred pounds
Wait, wait, but I ...
Out you come, Neddie. To using the word "Help", another five hundred
I thank you.
But look here, I ...
You swine, you pushed me in. Help!
Out you come, Neddie. To using the word "Help", another five hundred pounds
Wait. (splash) Help!
(repeated several times, getting faster)"
...How I miss Spike Milligna and Neddy Seagoon!
Link to full script: http://goo.gl/N5lhQ
Down for the count
It shouldn't surprise anyone that courts become specialists in certain kinds of cases, whether jurdistiction is formally granted to them or not.
What does surprise me is that a jury trial was demanded - and that the case was taken all the way to a jury verdict.
That is expensive and very high risk.
Because a jury's decisions on matters of fact will not be second-guessed.
You can argue that damages they awarded were excessive - but is about as far as a trial court or court of appeal will allow you to go.
>>"The jury found that Google did not provide by a "preponderance of evidence" that these clams were invalid." - wtf? Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else: you have to prove you *didn't* infringe on a patent?<<
The jury was asked three questions, which must be answered consistently:
1 Did the plaintiff prove - based on the weight of the evidence - that Google infringed their patent?
On Claim 1 - Yes. On Claim 2 - Yes
2 Did Google prove - based on the weight of the evidence - that they did not infringe the plaintiff's patent?
On Claim 1 - No. On Claim 2 - No
3 If - and only if - the plaintiff has a valid claim, what is your assesment of the damges - based on the weight of the evidence?
Not a lot
As ratfox implies, $5m isn't that much. Maybe this is the way forward? Don't claim a huge amount, but claim enough to live off but with a case which is difficult to prove otherwise. Hmm, thinking of my retirement fund now.
That's how it works :-(
> Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else: you have to prove you *didn't* infringe on a patent?
Ridiculous? Yes. But unfortunately, that's how it goes.
The courts have taken the position that the USPTO has a clue. They have decided that, as the USPTO has examined the patent application and granted it, there must be some substance to the patent, and therefore a defendant claiming invalidity has quite a high hurdle to strike down a granted patent.
Unfortunately, the USPTO takes the view that it's quite costly to examine a patent thoroughly, so do they do a cursory check, and grant anyway - they expect the court system to sort out any errors.
So we have each side expecting the other to do the hard work, and neither actually does. The upshot of that is that crap patents are easily granted and difficult to revoke, even when they are absolutely brimming over in bogosity.
The US patent system *has* to change. It is toxic to all - even those that currently profit from it.
 The USPTO assessment seems to consist of grepping the application for the text "this application is utter bollocks in every respect". If the search fails to find that phrase, the patent is granted.
 Yes, I had three US patents granted before I knew any better. Yes, they are all total bollocks, and really shouldn't have been given house room. But I didn't *say* they were bollocks at the time...
> The jury was asked three questions, which must be answered consistently
Well if that's the correct, it seems to me the jury got it right. The jury weren't asked the critical question: whether the patent should have been granted in the first place or whether its valid. It seems the jury had to assume it was a valid patent.
So it seems there is a lot more to come to this story: Google, who, much as I dislike their immoral business strategies, are't stupid, must surely be working on getting the patent overturned. If they succeed then presumably they go back to the court and say, "hey that patent isn't valid, so how can we have infringed it".
I'm sure this has prior art.
We need patents and Copyright. But not the kind we have today. Just don't put Google in charge of reforming them.
Prior Art ?
This is crazy.
The PICK operating system was using this sort of hash lookup for storage and dates from the 1960's.
Like so many posters have mentioned already, this is such a basic programming 'invention' that it's been in use for decades BEFORE the patent was registered.
Typical Texas TROLLs making out like bandits. Not surprising this is in Bush country. Clearly the bible does not mention linked lists so the Texas company must have invented them so they deserve cash.
Not "Bush Country"
Geographically "Bush Country" is more to the west - East Texas is more the "Let's chain him to the truck and drag him down the road" kinda place ...
Or even earlier
1960 Charles Bachman joins General Electric and in 1965 publishes the IDS (cf IDMS for ICL folks) database system in the DPMA Quarterly. And I don't think he would claim to have been the first to use hashing or linked lists.
"turning the world’s information highway into a toll road"
How dare they, everyone knows that's Google's job :)
The Human Race is Doomed
That is all.
... its 21 April 2011 & we all know whats going to happen today.
(Bet that gets a few people Googling that date)
If had been
a frivolous patent involving guns, the defendent might have prevailed.
Is it too late to request a Yosemite Sam icon?
More prior art
A CP/M based [medical office] accounting system that I maintained in the early 80s did this with its transactions. This was actually the company's third generation design, the first two used custom microcomputers programmed in assembler/machine code [mid 1970's design]
>The jury found that Google did not provide by a "preponderance of evidence" that these clams were invalid.
If Google had provided defective shellfish how would that have affected the outcome?
A good many of the comments so far are outlining potential instances of prior art. Since Google's lawyers are not stupid, they almost certainly would have presented such systems in court. Therefore:
Either the jury cannot comprehend the notion of prior art (possible, I'll admit), OR there is a genuine difference between such systems and the specifics of the patent claims (whether such differences are "obvious to someone skilled in the art" is another matter).
So, what's it going to be? Genuine patent claim, or incompetent jurors?
Actually, it's probably option 3: slack-jawed yokels siding with "local folk" against the "outsiders" with money.
You can patent a searchable linked list? I had no idea my 11th grade comp sci teacher was infringing.
A Jury of One's Peers
12 random Texas citizens do not constitute a jury of one's peers in the case of a software patent, because they understand neither software nor patent law. A fair jury in this case would be 12 programmers who at least would have a clue about what is being talked about.
I have thought for years that no productive programmer can fail to infringe a US software patent (or more) about daily. Here the USPTO granted a patent that is non-novel and rather obvious to any ordinarily competent practitioner of the programming art, citing Knuth (1973), other textbooks, and three other similarly non-novel and fairly obvious patents, each of which also cites Knuth. I did not have the stomach to go further. New infringing code must be written daily; I probably have myself (but probably before the application was made). Anonymous, just in case.
I hope Google fights this to the patent holder's last dollar. Unfortunately, there seems no way to punish the stupidity that leads to these outcomes.
excuse me guys and gals ..
.. but do you really imagine Google and their lawyers did not think of *prior art* and have a proper presentation to convince a jury ?
.. perhaps the lawyers were sloppy and Google didn't think this could be a $5,000,000 hit .. maybe they thought they could get off paying a less than competent lawyer $100,000 or less to defend and didn't take this seriously enough .. but Red Hat apparently was involved as well ..
.. I suspect there will be an appeal on this, or when they go sue Red Hat, or IBM, or Microsoft, or Amazon, this will get reversed ..
.. just saying .. there was either valid infringement of a valid patent, or Google defended poorly
.. suspect the later
Be careful with your suspicions...
> suspect the later
You might want to read up a bit on the history of software patent actions in East Texas.
It's a bit of a cottage industry out there - accept the case, ignore the defendant's argument, find for the plaintiff, get more cases sent to you.
Sooner or later, they *will* reap what they have sown. But to date, they're making out like bandits.
Google is not entitled to complain
The entire Internet is becoming more and more like gangland Chicago during Prohibition. As one of the so-called 'leaders' of the Web, Google could change the atmosphere--but they obviously don't care as long as can show a profit. However, I'm most annoyed by their passive support of spammers in Gmail and their more active support of various criminals on YouTube and on their hosting services...
Don't be evil? Google? ROFLMAO.
Google IS entitled to complain
Without Google, you'd be stuck in a net run by Microsoft, Oracle & IBM. Careful what you wish for.
Sounds to me like any filesystem more modern than FAT.
Boycott East Texas
re. Boycott East Texas
Your suggestion is a reflex kick in the shins, which is understandable but you haven't thought it through (like all reflex actions).
This court is not deciding a criminal matter for criminal acts committed in its jurisdiction. It is deciding a civil suit brought by a plaintiff for actions carried out by the defendant anywhere in the USA. I think it also can decide regarding actions anywhere in the world, provided the defendant is resident in the USA.
I'd be happy to throw more wood on your fire but it won't do anyone any good.
it's time to simply ignore all that patent trolling lark. chocking the courts with cases that lead nowhere will quickly dispense with the parasites riding the patent/copyright system. no society can afford to litigate themselves into oblivion, the tipping point is reached when normal people stop paying heed to those bottom feeders and just break and circumvent patents and copyrights and other laws and regulations that are hostile to real life. zed!
"MUMPS (Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System), or alternatively M, is a programming language created in the late 1960s"
Who Bedrock didn't sue ?
It's odd as to whom Bedrock haven't sued ?
I represent Ugg the Caveman, who invented and patented a process for liberating chemical potential energy stored in dead plant matter in the form of heat and light, and you all owe me trillions of pounds in royalties and damages for unlawful patent infringement for using fire without paying.
(I am also instructed that. strictly as a gesture of goodwill, he is prepared to overlook major infringement of a second patent claim, relating to foot coverings made from animal skins with the fur on the inside, in return for prompt settlement; because you at least gave proper attribution.)
I know it will never happen but ...
Wouldn't it be fantastic if all the ISPs in the US shut down for just one day, displaying a fixed notice to say they were unable to provide access to their servers while their lawyers examined the ruling.
The case wasn't to defend the Patent
I suspect that the judge restricted the jury to the question of whether Google infringed the patent and explicitly excluded the issue of whether the patent was valid.
As the patent has been quoted, Google probably did infringe it and is guilty!!!!
Whether the patent is valid is another question and possibly a matter for an appeal.
For the record I would contend that there is about 30 years of prior art, I certainly was teaching these techniques back in the late 80's early 90's
Who do they get to approve these patents in the USPTO - the tea boy? certainly not any IT professional!
Move datacenters out of the USA, run near-penniless shell companies in the USA (most probably do that now as part of their tax avoidance strategies), ask your employees to pick a country of choice and leave the East Texas court to vent its spleen all it wants.
One has to ask - Linux has been around for decades, these ideas have been around for decades too, so why wait until now before suing? Patents should have a clause similar to "adverse possession" for land. If you do not actively use/protect a patent for a period of time (say, 5 years) then you lose all rights and that patent goes to the Public Domain.
I thought the USA was all about freedom? To live the dream? Seems it's more about oligarchies and protectionist cartels these days.
Texas, home of cowboys
Some in suits.
Skilled in the art ...
Here in Australia, one could not Patent anything that was obvious to somebody skilled in the art.
Interestingly, the cited Patent text makes several references to "skilled in the art". Furiously waving hands to distract from the fact that evaluating encounterded leaves during a search for their eligibility to expire in also obvious to somebody skilled in the art.
Bleeding obvious to somebody skilled in the art.
You assume that the USPTO are interested in prior art...
> one could not Patent anything that was obvious to somebody skilled in the art.
That rule is in effect the world over.
Unfortunately, the USPTO doesn't enforce it. They allow you to patent a "method of swinging on a swing".
 Seriously. It was US Patent #6368227. It was eventually re-examined and rejected, but the patent was originally granted. Twats.
My personal favourite...
US Patent #6520942: Method to Improve Peri-Anal Hygiene After a Bowel Movement by Wiping. Enough said.
And you can bet that if any of us were sued over this in East Texas, we'd lose. For whatever reason there's a perfect storm of hatred for big companies and wealth, ignorance and general disregard for sanity going on over there. Patent trolls learned this a decade ago and have been riding it into the ground since (go find a stupid patent lawsuit, check where it was filed, never fails).
There needs to be some serious reform. Maybe make a jury of Google's software engineering peers be... you know... software engineers?
Nature Futures Story
This is the basis of the Nature Futures sotry by Dave Clements here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v469/n7330/full/469438a.html
Forget the "right to read" (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html), the "right to breed (plants)" has already gone.
You have to file suit in the state and county of residence or place of business. Other wise you file your case 1200 miles away from the person and screw them.
Not entirely true. You can file in any court that has jurisdiction, and in a case like a patent for software that's being used globally that means you can pick a court.
Also, patent troll firms started mass migrating to Texas a while ago when East Texas threatened to stop taking cases where neither party was headquartered locally. Remember, this company exists only to hold patents and sue, no business, no employees, no research, nada. By their nature they can pick any jurisdiction they want even if your stricter interpretation were de facto because anything can be the PO box that serves as their headquarters.
I also forgot to mention that if that doesn't hold up and there's a call for a change of jurisdiction, they just create a shell company in East Texas and add it as a defendant. The tricks are pretty tried and true at this point.
LOL Linux got pwned!!1one!
I suggest Google just supply Knuth's "Art of Computer programming" as prior art, or even call him as an expert witness. If they don't know who he is they can always Google him
Time for Google to go
I envy you people who live in countries with more reasonable approaches to patents (software in particular). I wouldn't be surprised to see outfits like Google more their engineering and operations to these locations should this sort of nonsense continue.
Sure, the use of the patented technology would still be prohibited within US borders. But the servers would be beyond the reach of the trolls. And good luck suing every Google user for their share of a $5m penalty (a fraction of a penny apiece).
This little town in the armpit of Texas is known for its' manure and their courthouse patent whoring. A big state, but full of very, very, small minds.
Google, I'll sort this out for €1M
Google, for a small fee of on €1M I'll sort it out for you....
Prior art:- Algoriths by Robert Sedgewick, ISBN O-201 -06672-6, Copyright 1983 by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,
Chapter 11. Priority Queues, Page 127
Applications of priority queues include simulation systems (where the keys might correspond to “event times” which must be processed in order), job scheduling in computer systems (where the keys might correspond to “priorities” which indicate which users should be processed first),
Chapter 14. Elementary Searching Methods, page 171 - Covers: Sequential Searching, Sequential List Searchang, Binary Search, Binary Tree Search, Indirect Binary Search Trees.
Chapter 15. Balanced Trees, Page 187 - Covers Top-Down 2-9-4 Trees, Red-Black Trees, and other Algorithms
Chapter 16. Hashing, page 201 - Covers: Hash Functions, Separate Chaining, Open Addressing, Analytic Results
Chapter 18 External Searching, page 225 - Covers Indexed Sequential Access, B-Trees, Extendible Hashing, Virtual Memory
In addition ot Kunths book mentioned in the patent, I also have another book which I can't find at the moment , a fairly thin volume called "principles of operating systems" which describes the a lot of what in also in the so called "invention" described in the so called patent.
Seems not only are the jury a bit thick, so are Google's lawyers.