back to article Google to cough up $20m after Chrome rips off anti-malware patents

Google has been ordered to pay $20m damages after its Chrome browser sandbox technology was found to have infringed four anti-malware patents. The verdict [PDF] was handed down on Friday after a jury trial in Marshall, Texas. The patents – including this one – were awarded to former Lucent engineer Allen Rozman, who died aged …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Specatcularly tedious patent

    If the patent proposers had actually implemented their (IMHO waste of space fantasy world) patent then there would be no malware. Essentially it was a super secure perfect computer system with no detail how this amazing outcome would be achieved and no evidence they produced such a wonderful computer system, surely they should be trumped by prior art in the SF field as many works have featured invulnerable computer systems.

    Nobody should grant these magical thinking patents in the first place (I'll be generous, allow it - if a working product can be demonstrated). They don't allow perpetual motion style patents so they should not allow this junk.

    Google have loads of cash so will brush this off, but it's the type of junk patent full of statements of the obvious and zero implementation that kills small software companies stone dead (companies that are actually producing something tangible)

    There's scum lawyers and then there's patent lawyers, the special breed taht make other lawyers look good.

    1. just_me
      FAIL

      Re: Specatcularly tedious patent

      And an obvious one. Lets patent two processes on a computer system, handing the sub-process the handle to a video stream and starting it an RSH (restricted shell) while handing it the id for a window sub-frame for display.

      Patented freeking obvious!!! Been doing stuff like that since I started back in the early '80s. There may be prior art - I know of a fairly large company who has been doing this for 3D display, not video and not for 'anti-virus' purposes. They have been doing it since pre 1995.

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    This is why we can't have nice things

    So, they patented a sandbox?

    I guess in East Texas that's high tech.

    1. Oh Homer
      Holmes

      What the Hell is it with Texas and junk patents?

      If there's something out there that should be laughed out of any sane patent office, a Texas court will defend it.

      Is there something in the Bible about patents, or something?

      Seriously, Texas is like some kind of Mecca for "IP" quackery.

  3. Kevin Johnston

    Shocked I tell you...

    Of course Google say the patents are invalid, I can think of 60 million reasons why they would.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Shocked I tell you...

      Then you're not thinking properly. USD 60 million is, in the words of former head of Deutsche Bank Rolf Breuer, "peanuts" to Google.

      However, having to call the lawyers every time someone says "hey: I've got a patent on that bit of code!" can throw a real spanner in the works. And, remember this isn't necessarily about copying an implementation, which is what patents are intended to regulate, but basically marking territory. It's probably also worth noting that Chrome is largely open source and Google indemnifies the software precisely to prevent suits like this landing on Joe Bloggs for coding this for Chromium.

      Over-zealous interpretation of patents is a great way to stifle innovation and, hence, competition. If Google hadn't decided the world needed a better browser then IE 9 would probably be the dominant browser, no one would have bothered writing JIT compilers for JS and a lot of the services we take for granted wouldn't exist. I'm not a Google fanboi and I don't use Chrome, but in my view there's no doubt they've made a significant contribution to the development of a standards-based web. BTW. Microsoft itself has also suffered at the hands of patent trolls though the Eolas' patent at least.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shocked I tell you...

        "Google indemnifies the software..." not by choice, but make it sound chivalrous, good job.

        "If Google hadn't decided the world needed a better browser then IE 9 would probably be the dominant browser, no one would have bothered writing JIT compilers for JS and a lot of the services we take for granted wouldn't exist."

        WOW! Claims that diminish the fact that Mozilla broke the IE mold and wild claims of services that "we take for granted" from Google (how old are you?). You proceeded to even tie in MS with "Microsoft itself has also suffered at the hands of patent trolls...". It's hard to pretend honesty when defending Microsoft+patents, so don't bother.

        1. Oh Homer
          Childcatcher

          Defending Microsoft et al

          Personally the only thing I have any interest in defending in this scenario is sanity, or conversely condemning the insanity of the "IP" racket.

          Yes, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and pretty much everyone else with even a peripheral involvement in this racket is equally guilty, but the most fundamentally guilty party of all is the government for even allowing this racket in the first place, then adding insult to injury by defending it so prejudicially, when what they should do is outlaw it, like any other anti-competitive racket.

      2. Not That Andrew

        Re: Shocked I tell you...

        As MyBackDoor pointed out, Slurp didn't try writing a better browser until Mozilla proved it could be done and started eating into IE's market share. You may remeber Firefox? And Chrome may not have succeed as well as it did if Mozilla hadn't dropped the ball on Firefox & then attempted to turn it into a Chrome clone.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Shocked I tell you...

      I wonder as a software developer how many patents I have violated that I am never aware of.

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    I thought the clickbait headline was that Chrome was found to be malware :-)

    1. MrDamage

      By the headline, I was hoping that malware authors had stung Google for infringement. :)

  5. asdf Silver badge

    20 million sounds big

    But this really the equivalent of patent lawyer masturbation. This will keep them busy for years as it already has. 20 million is probably what Google made before lunch selling what your kids like to any company or government that pays.

  6. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    "intended its invention to do anything other than protect ‘critical files’"

    So they patented removing the 'write' flag from a file?

  7. Brian Miller
    WTF?

    Again, prior art?

    Doesn't this patent cover how the Intel 80386 works, along with an operating system that supports protected mode?

    I wonder if someone brought a patent infringement suit involving cattle if the jury would be able to comprehend it. Hopefully, in a case involving a patent troll and cattle, they would cry, "Bull****!"

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: Again, prior art?

      Nope, its different.

      But to your point, software patents... suck.

      There needs to be patent reform now that Reid is out of office.

  8. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Eastern District of Texas, the home of the patent troll

    Who would have guessed Marshall in the Eastern District of Texas, the home of the patent troll. Once they try and enforce it outside of Texas, it'll be thrown out.

    Patents by Inventor Alfonso J. Cioffi:

    • System and method for protecting a computer system from malicious software.

    • Integrated dc power system with one or more fuel cells.

  9. Daggerchild Silver badge
    Pirate

    Thoughtcrime

    Remind me again why Joe Bloggs should even attempt to invent anything in a world where sneezing breaches 17 patents on rapid exhalation?

  10. mediabeing

    I'm just wondering if even one head will roll for this.

    I wonder how many employees will be affected by this.

  11. Chris 239

    Really! that patent was awarded in 2009? no fscking way!!!

    So only about 20+ years of prior art invalidates it!

    I'm going to go over there and patent my new invention, I'll call it the WHEEL.

    You can image the Google engineers trying to explain to the judge how computers and software really works - I've struggled to do so to family but that has no consequence but when the non-technical numpty is a judge.....

    The world needs some software engineers to re-train as lawers and judges!

    Couldn't they demo Chrome running on a single CPU, single core machine? That would side step the linked Patent wouldn't it?

  12. Clive Galway

    Litigation from beyond the grave?

    The patents [...] were awarded to former Lucent engineer Allen Rozman, who died aged 52 in 2012, and Alfonso J. Cioffi, both of Texas*, who filed suit [PDF] against Google in 2013.

    Allen Rozman came back from the dead to patent troll Google?

    I thought the patent situation in Texas was bad, but not that bad.

    1. Donn Bly
      Devil

      Re: Litigation from beyond the grave?

      The politicians have already made sure that people can vote (via proxy) after they die, is it that a far stretch to let them litigate (again, via proxy) as well?

      1. mhenriday
        Boffin

        Re: Litigation from beyond the grave?

        I fear, Donn Bly, that your imagination doesn't quite suffice to grasp the situation ; not only can one vote post mortem in the United States, one can also be elected in that condition. Of course, allowances must be made for the fact that the opponent in this case was one John David Ashcroft, which made the choice of a dead man rational....

        Henri

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