is looking like it's gonna be an interesting ride.
<reaches for popcorn>
Oh, and beer. Where's my beer? Ah, there it is.
An east-Texas company, BetaNet LLC, has filed a patent-infringement suit against Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and a dozen other companies. The patent in question, "Secure system for activating personal computer software at remote locations," describes in sweeping terms a remote software installation and …
iTunes could conceivably fall under it via the iTunes store specifically DRM encoded tracks - the file is unplayable until data has been sent from the server containing the key.
Do they even still do DRMed tracks? Or did they finally go fully DRM-free?
Oh and i'm not making any claims about the stupidity of this patent - i'm jsut saying how it might conceivably apply to the iTunes store.
Keep it flowing, US District Court of Eastern Texas. Surely there are many lawyers working on proving that there's a clear and unjust bias favoring patent trolls, abuse of the patent system, and abuse of the legal system. Victims of fraudulent patent claims will all show up to claim reimbursement. Lawyers will ravage your land like horrific apocalyptic swarms of... um... lawyers.
The Windows "Genuine Advantage" was what persuaded me to finally give Microsoft the old heave-ho. My old copies of XP are genuine enough, but I just don't like having spyware on my machine. I would guess this patent also applies to Steam, that ever so lovely method by which you have yet another username/password to forget and require Internet access to play a single-player game.
I'm sure quite a few people would paint me as someone who just wants to torrent unauthorized copies for free. I know a lot of people have when this has come up before. However, if I want a copy of the Orange Box (or Windows 7 for example), I can either download it or get hold of it. Fact is I've probably lost more genuine software in my time than a lot of the same people accusing me of criminality have ever bought. I am, or was a pretty good customer, even of Microsoft-published games and their PC game controllers. I've a hundred quid's worth of MS Flight Sim 2k4 plus add-ons here to prove that. Make things that run in The Toy Unix without assuming I'm a criminal, and I might be again.
And hopefully, just hopefully, this might be one more nail in the coffin of software and method patents.
That's what happens when you live in a world where software patents are ok. Software has a practical value that we all benefit from, if the algorithms/code of a program are patented than only a handful of people benefit from it. Since the same code may be useful in a variety of contexts patenting software creates an obstacle to the creation of new computer programas and thus to progress.
The choices in this case are either pay a lot of money to the patent holder or live without the algorithm for licence protection and risk ilegal distribution of your program. Either way you are robbed of your rights (and your money).
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"Overlay" has a very specific technical meaning and no large OS really uses these any more (they're still used with some 8 & 16-bit embedded micros).
It would be like patenting a procedure using a slide rule.
If their patent depends on the use of "overlays" then it isn't worth the punch cards it is written on.
That depends on how the patent defines an overlay.
Is this an overlay in the sense of a binary patch or an overlay in the sense of "you need this extra DLL for it to do anything useful"?
If the second sense, then you get into all sorts of issues as to whether the full version of Doom is guilty as you receive extra WADs which augment the original limited package to finish the game.
What about plugins? Are they "overlays"?
A quick search of Wikipedia (as I can't be bothered doing any real research) tells me that for patents granted in the US prior to June 8, 1995 the term of the patent is 17 years from date of issue or 20 years from date of filing, whichever is the longest.
Looks like they got in just in time.
Let's hope that the fckd US Patent system finally destroysa their digital economoy once and for all.. Or maybe all those co's will de-headquarter from the USA to elsewhere (there's a thought)
When the shareholders and lobbying groups start losing money because of it then someone might actually sort that pile of crap out.
"The abstract of patent #5,222,134, the core of the dispute, describes a system in which, after registration, an "overlay" is transmitted to the licensee's computer that "includes critical portions of the main program, without which the main program would not operate and also contains licensee identification and license control data.""
Surely this is an important part of the patent. How many of the companies being sued actually download a critical part of the application at activation? Microsoft at least lets you use their software without it being activated, so the activation process must not download "critical portions of the main program, without which the main program would not operate".
Of course, I'm not a legal expert, but it seems like quite a crucial part of what is patented.
The simple fact is, lots of patent trolls get to be very rich indeed. The purest patent trolls don't make anything themselves, so can't be counter-sued using the arsenal which most software companies have ready.
This is a fairly classic approach, and it only needs one or two companies to settle for the costs to be covered. The rest is pur profit.
Sick and tired of these stories. Huge corps who have run out of ideas, nothing to do so the legal team find some possible chance of fleecing one of the other corps for a few quid or some other backhanded agreement.
Who loses? We all do, stagnation as everyone gets too firghtened to do anything or attempt to come up with an idea, find out it's already been done, they can't change it as they are arse-deep in litigation before even getting to market!
Absolute utter crap!
I think that typically, what you purchase and obtain online is a digital decryption key or signature key. The program otherwise is complete in all its functional components but does not run unless a correct key is presented to it.
It is not the same as shipping a program without some required DLLs until the customer pays.
It also is not the same as replacing a trial or beta installation of a product with an entire new copy.
All of this is probably covered by prior art from early shareware - except for allowing the process to depend on Internet access.
Patents generally are required to be specific and achievable, I think, about what is done. I can't patent the idea of using the Starship Enterprise's matter transporter to obtain antimatter from inside the sun, because I don't specify how it works and I can't build it.
Rec[ntly, patents for business processes seem to have been allowed for inventions of the form, "We do exactly what people have been doing for years, but we do it on a computer." And then separately patented all over again with "computer" replaced by "mobile phone". That is ridiculous.
Apart from anything else, the claims of this patent suffer a fatal flaw common to many software patents, especially early ones.
None of the claims are directly infringed by either a user or a provider. The method claims include steps performed by the user, the user’s computer and the provider’s computer. The system claims include the user’s computer and the provider’s computer.
I have just been granted a patent in Northern Nepal that covers "a method of computation by the use of sub-atomic particles delivered by metal conductors" and I sue the lot of you. Meet me in court halfway up Everest.
PS I'm working on pop-corn and beer delivery system patent too and expect to sue the rest of you lazy bastards by Friday. It would have been earlier but I'm having the devil of a job popping popcorn at this altitude.
i4i Company owners wrote the patent they defended. Developed and delivered products presumably based on the IP protection provided by the patent as you can see on their website. When they identified a specific infringer based on evidence in the product they took action. their patent should be good till about 2018
A company no one has heard of buys 2 nearly expired patents off another company no one has ever heard of (which implies they have neither successfully licensed it or incorporated it in *any* product they have sold) and proceeds to mass attack a list of big name public companies who they *think* might operate in the way described in the patents.
NB East Texas for patent hearings seems to be the equivalent of corporate registration in Delaware (look up where MS is actually registered). However a full scale review of the software patents systems should definitely address their *astonishing* popularity with plantiffs. I suggest that most of this is down tot he fact that *most* software patent infriingements are total BS to begin with.
In 4 years this will all be public domain and all of these "features" will be free to be implemented in any software.
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