or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Microsoft MP3 patent row looms over Apple
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Microsoft MP3 patent row looms over Apple

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
A bitter defeat handed to Microsoft in an audio patent lawsuit late last week became a hollow victory for its rivals, as the new legal precedent threatened to swallow the digital music business whole.

Microsoft was dealt a serious blow late on Thursday when a federal jury handed Alcatel-Lucent a hefty $1.52 billion-dollar payout in a patent dispute, agreeing with the plaintiff that Redmond had illegally used technology from fifteen patents relating to the MP3 music format in Windows Media Player. The damages were based on Dell and Gateway PC sales since the suit began in May 2003, as both system builders were the defendants until attention shifted to Microsoft's jukebox software.

Alcatel-Lucent successfully claimed in court that its co-development of the audio codec with Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, and the resulting patents gleaned from its half of the process, gave it the right to license the technology to companies that wanted MP3 playback in their hardware and software. This left Microsoft -- which had taken the industry-standard route of licensing through Fraunhofer for a much smaller $16 million -- more than slightly upset over the ruling.

"Today's outcome is disappointing for us and for the hundreds of other companies who have licensed MP3 technology," Microsoft said in a statement after the decision. "We contend that there was no infringement of any kind and that we have paid the appropriate license fees for any technology that is used in our products."

Predictably, the company intends to fight tooth-and-nail against the ruling and said it would ask the presiding judge to override the jury's opinion based on both the lack of merit and the seemingly excessive penalty fee. An appeal would follow if the judge upheld the verdict, Microsoft said.

If the software developer loses its case, however, the ramifications could be as grave as the company suggests. A definitive Alcatel-Lucent win would give the latter potential free rein over almost any business that has dealt in MP3 music, many of whom logically assumed that a license from Fraunhofer was the only license they needed.

The situation would be especially damaging to Apple. Most of what the Cupertino-based firm has developed in the past several years, from its iTunes software (preloaded on every Mac sold) to the iPod, has depended on MP3 support as a key selling point and could be the target of legal action. Future devices and programs could also be subjected to higher licensing fees for MP3 decoding if Fraunhofer continues to ask for a separate share.

Observers may get a taste of what's to come for Apple by tracking the success of Alcatel-Lucent's next moves: the America-France partnership already has a string of lawsuits in the works against Microsoft covering a wide array of other patents that might have been infringed, affecting everything from digital video to the Xbox 360.
post #2 of 52
And people wonder why software patents are a bad idea.

THIS is why software patents must be stamped out. All they do is create problems for *ALL* companies. Yes, even the ones that hold the patents, because surely they're using technology patented by *OTHER* companies.

It's a big waste of money, time and sanity and only the lawyers get richer as a result.

Software patents need to die. NOW.

-Z
post #3 of 52
IMHO: The Fraunhofer Institute should pay Alcatel-Lucent half the fees they've been collecting all this time, and leave the companies that have been paying all this time alone.

The Linux/Free & Open Source Software cultists have been raving about MP3 being evil (aka non-open source) technology for ever. "MP3's evil! Use OGG!" Maybe they're right.

I like Linux, I use it, it's annoying when you use a distro and try to play an MP3 song and it tells you that MP3 isn't open source so they don't support it but here's a link to a how-to, which we don't condon and shame on you for even thinking about it, that will explain how you can enable apt-get to access the Dark Side of the debs where non-free packages are lurking, Sirens waiting to ensnare you. And then you can play MP3's if you check the disclaimer box that says you know you're doing something illegal but don't give a s***. [hyperbole mine]

Imagine if MS, Apple, Dell, Gateway, and all the others suddenly dropped MP3 and went to OGG. There'd be mass confusion, people would have to convert thier music libraries to OGG. But if might be a fun ride.

It'll never happen.
Life is to [s]short[/s] bad for [s]bad[/s] short coffee.
Reply
Life is to [s]short[/s] bad for [s]bad[/s] short coffee.
Reply
post #4 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by scstsut View Post

IMHO: The Fraunhofer Institute should pay Alcatel-Lucent half the fees they've been collecting all this time, and leave the companies that have been paying all this time alone.

The Linux/Free & Open Source Software cultists have been raving about MP3 being evil (aka non-open source) technology for ever. "MP3's evil! Use OGG!" Maybe they're right.

I like Linux, I use it, it's annoying when you use a distro and try to play an MP3 song and it tells you that MP3 isn't open source so they don't support it but here's a link to a how-to, which we don't condon and shame on you for even thinking about it, that will explain how you can enable apt-get to access the Dark Side of the debs where non-free packages are lurking, Sirens waiting to ensnare you. And then you can play MP3's if you check the disclaimer box that says you know you're doing something illegal but don't give a s***. [hyperbole mine]

Imagine if MS, Apple, Dell, Gateway, and all the others suddenly dropped MP3 and went to OGG. There'd be mass confusion, people would have to convert thier music libraries to OGG. But if might be a fun ride.

It'll never happen.

It'll never happen that way, but adding OGG support on top of MP3 support and gradually phasing out MP3 support is possible. When iPods stopped supporting MP3, iTunes could offer to automatically convert any MP3s to OGG or AAC just like it does with WMA.

And I agree, software patents need to die a swift and painful death.
post #5 of 52
Doesn't Apple use AAC for all of it's iTunes STORE songs? So how could that get affected?

Since iTunes does have the capability to playback MP3's and create MP3's, I guess that's one downside.
post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

Software patents need to die. NOW.

As a software developer, I wholeheartedly agree. I work for a company which holds a number of software patents, and I can tell you that the only reason they/we hold patents is in the case where another company sues us. So that we can hopefully leverage our existing patents and find something the other company infringes on and then settle out of court.

Most companies behave this way with regard to patents (only going on the offensive for cases where a direct competitor is obviously copying their technology). However, when things get desperate and companies are flailing for their lives, they start to get desperate and tend to go on the offensive with any and all patents they hold. It's sad really -- and it's the reason why software patents are despised throughout the industry.
 
Reply
 
Reply
post #7 of 52
Hi,
my first post here.

This remindes me of the GIF debacle back in the 90's.
I then started to use PNG more.

Surely "Fraunhofer" should have made MS aware that they must also pay "Alcatel-Lucent" to fully complete the patent at the time.
Not doing so voids their win in court?
It does sound like business greed/blackmail to me.

I also wonder about how well the Jury was aware of computing generally and how they came to this decision.

You can convert MP3's to AAC manually, just did it with Paul Carrack's "Don't Shed A Tear" (how apt). However an automatic way (as said before) to convert any imported MP3 would be easier.

OGG would be a good replacement for MP3.

If Alcatel-Lucent/Fraunhofer pursue more companies they may shoot themselves in the foot
as people will abandon MP3.


Just my thoughts.

All will be ok folks.
post #8 of 52
Apple is often ahead of the curve on this stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a press release tomorrow about Apple licensing MP3 from Alcatel-Lucent. For Apple it prevents an expensive lawsuit, and for Alcatel-Lucent they'll have a solid license agreement to show precedent in court.
post #9 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by bignumbers View Post

Apple is often ahead of the curve on this stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a press release tomorrow about Apple licensing MP3 from Alcatel-Lucent. For Apple it prevents an expensive lawsuit, and for Alcatel-Lucent they'll have a solid license agreement to show precedent in court.

Or, maybe Apple could just buy Alcatel-Lucent. There's a hefty $1.5bn of income coming shortly that could help act as a sweetener!
post #10 of 52
This does seem a little ridiculous. A patent was recognized by M$ and M$ rightly paid for it. It seems that if another company also owned the patent, the company to which M$ paid the patents to should informed them that they had additional obligations. If you pay to use a patented technology, then get sued for using it by another company that also owns rights to the patent, it seems the former patent holder should be somehow held accountable. I'm no fan of most of M$'s business practices for reasons that I don't think I need to point our in this thread, but that doesn't mean that they should be get burned for something that appears to have been on good faith and honestly, I mean right is right. Unless the Alcatel-Lucent can demonstrate that M$ knowingly only licensed from one company and ignored the other, ie AL informed M$ of their obligation, in which case I think AL has something, this case should be thrown out.
post #11 of 52
Wow!

1,500,000,000 dollars!!

Jesus, that's a lot of money for a court settlement

And for what? A technology that people have been using for about 15 years now? Clearly I'm in the wrong job - we should all become lawyers and sue the pants of eachother
post #12 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by yama View Post

Wow!

1,500,000,000 dollars!!

Jesus, that's a lot of money for a court settlement

And for what? A technology that people have been using for about 15 years now? Clearly I'm in the wrong job - we should all become lawyers and sue the pants of eachother

yes, but then the only pants you'd have would be someone else's, and they wouldn't fit right. So all the adults would be walking around in hip huggers two sizes too small, and all the kids would be running around in super baggy jeans four sizes too.... oh, wait.... never mind.

ok, on a serious note, I second the remark about a slow transition from mp3 to ogg or even just aac. It's been on it's way for years anyway. Less than five percent of my audio library is in mp3 format, and most of those are free music (YES! IT DOES EXIST!) I downloaded from iCompositions or the like. I prefer AAC to MP3 because it's half the size for the same quality (or damn near, anyway). When I had a windows machine, I only used WMA, for the same reason. MP3 is dying the slow death of an old standard. If ogg, which I know nothing about, offers similar quality and compression benefits, then it very well may take over. Especially if the music industry eventually goes in the "Thoughts on Music" direction. I suspect that AAC will be around for a while even if though, as it was, if I recall, selected as the MPEG 4 standard format. Someone fact check that for me, eh?
A Conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking. - Lesicus Stupidicus
Reply
A Conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking. - Lesicus Stupidicus
Reply
post #13 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender at Eros View Post

Doesn't Apple use AAC for all of it's iTunes STORE songs? So how could that get affected?

Apple does use MP3 technology in a lot of its products.

Whether that's sufficient to subject the company to liability is a question of law.
post #14 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post

And people wonder why software patents are a bad idea.

THIS is why software patents must be stamped out. All they do is create problems for *ALL* companies. Yes, even the ones that hold the patents, because surely they're using technology patented by *OTHER* companies.

It's a big waste of money, time and sanity and only the lawyers get richer as a result.

Software patents need to die. NOW.

-Z

Will SJ, who gave us his views on the DRM and now teacher unions, if he will enlighten us regarding patents.

After all, didn't Steve say during the iPhone announcement... "and boy have we patented it!"

I agree with Auxio, "I work for a company which holds a number of software patents, and I can tell you that the only reason they/we hold patents is in the case where another company sues us. So that we can hopefully leverage our existing patents and find something the other company infringes on and then settle out of court."

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply
post #15 of 52
MP3s have been around for HOW MANY YEARS? and this company is just coming out of the woodwork NOW to claim its share of the royalties?

I call Patent Troll.

I also think that the court needs to address a MUCH NEEDED statute of limitations on royalty collections.

to Alcatel-Lucent:
I'd say if you were too busy to try and get those royalties in the same YEAR that fraunhoffer got theirs then you missed your oportunity. Shame on you for waiting so long. I personally plan to boycott anything with Alcatel or Lucent technology inside if this court decision is not overturned.
post #16 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by amerist View Post

I also think that the court needs to address a MUCH NEEDED statute of limitations on royalty collections.

I'm guessing there already is a statute of limitations for bringing those types of actions in this area of law.
post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

As a software developer, I wholeheartedly agree. I work for a company which holds a number of software patents, and I can tell you that the only reason they/we hold patents is in the case where another company sues us. So that we can hopefully leverage our existing patents and find something the other company infringes on and then settle out of court.

Most companies behave this way with regard to patents (only going on the offensive for cases where a direct competitor is obviously copying their technology). However, when things get desperate and companies are flailing for their lives, they start to get desperate and tend to go on the offensive with any and all patents they hold. It's sad really -- and it's the reason why software patents are despised throughout the industry.

As a software developer, I wholeheartedly disagree. I was part of a company which developed some rather innovative stuff, and had the original founder and a couple of his friends jump ship, start another company, and get a new round of financiers. Obviously it's a lot easier to copy something than to develop it the first time, and without patent protection he would have gotten away with it.

I think it's pretty obvious that the countries with stronger IP laws tend to be the ones with a better high-tech industry, and I don't think that's coincidence. I agree that sometimes patents are mis-used, just like any other tool. But the answer isn't to scrap the tool, it's to improve the oversight. Unless and until software is something that takes no thought or effort to develop and there is no more innovation in the industry, we'll need software patents to protect the original developers from the copycats.

Incidentally, I think the biggest anti-patent folks are the ones in the FOSS community, who make their living for the most part copying the ideas of the commercial software industry. Every once in awhile something innovative happens in FOSS, but generally it's a chorus of "I hope someone makes a FOSS version of X", where X is some product that took substantial development effort to produce. That kind of attitude gets me annoyed.
post #18 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by yama View Post

we should all become lawyers and sue the pants of eachother

"You don't have to sue me to get my pants off". - C.M. Burns
post #19 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

After all, didn't Steve say during the iPhone announcement... "and boy have we patented it!"

I think Steve said that to dispel any worries of another "blackberry" debacle. I may be worng...\
post #20 of 52
I can see it now. iTunes and iPods in future only support MP4/AAC, WAV, Audible, Apple Lossless, and probably Ogg Vorbis. They continue to default to MP4/AAC just as they have for a long time. And if you want MP3 playback, you must pay a one-time fee of $1.99

Apple, phone makers, and Adobe (for Flash) seem like logical targets next. But this will all take a long time I bet.
post #21 of 52
everyone needs to get together and completely wipe this crap out, seriously its getting to a point of ridiculousness.
post #22 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elixir View Post

everyone needs to get together and completely wipe this crap out, seriously its getting to a point of ridiculousness.

I don't know.

IP law is more complicated than that.
post #23 of 52
i'm not sure what to think of patents, they are need to protect research and investments, but they are easily misused and seem to be up to multiple interpretations, i know that patents also affect the medical industries, where in some cases people can not research a particular virus or a potential cure for something important, cause the gene code is patented !! patents are needed but this system sucks
post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

As a software developer, I wholeheartedly disagree. I was part of a company which developed some rather innovative stuff, and had the original founder and a couple of his friends jump ship, start another company, and get a new round of financiers. Obviously it's a lot easier to copy something than to develop it the first time, and without patent protection he would have gotten away with it.

That is what Copyrights are for, to protect someone from flat out duplicating an existing work. Probably also worth noting that by default ownership of patents leans toward the inventor, not the company paying his/her salary, it depends on what kind of IP agreement you sign. As a software developer, you should realize that signing a heavy-handed IP agreement can severely limit your job marketability. It's like you learned to pump gas at one gas station, and now even though you're good at it, you can't pump gas anywhere else.
Quote:
I think it's pretty obvious that the countries with stronger IP laws tend to be the ones with a better high-tech industry, and I don't think that's coincidence.

ROTFLMAO ... I think you've lost track of what countries are dominating the high-tech industries, the software jobs are pouring into countries that have far from strong IP laws..
Quote:
I agree that sometimes patents are mis-used, just like any other tool. But the answer isn't to scrap the tool, it's to improve the oversight. Unless and until software is something that takes no thought or effort to develop and there is no more innovation in the industry, we'll need software patents to protect the original developers from the copycats.

The whole point of computers is that they are easily programable, have a flexible user interface, etc. Many/most software patents these days are patenting the blatantly obvious. The idea of copying someone's phone number from a Post-it note to a paper address book suddenly becomes "pushing remote PIM data to a centralized host" and undoubtedly some idiot out there has a patent on it.
post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Will SJ, who gave us his views on the DRM and now teacher unions, if he will enlighten us regarding patents.

After all, didn't Steve say during the iPhone announcement... "and boy have we patented it!"

I agree with Auxio, "I work for a company which holds a number of software patents, and I can tell you that the only reason they/we hold patents is in the case where another company sues us. So that we can hopefully leverage our existing patents and find something the other company infringes on and then settle out of court."

Don't get me wrong, I agree with SJ regarding patenting the hell out of the iPhone... Then have Apple legal get busy on any violators and use the proceeds to pay off any mp3 awards brought forth by the courts. That way, what Apple looses to Acatel-Lucent, they'll more then make up in future suits. Sad, but it's what makes the business world go around!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply
post #26 of 52
The problem is not with patenting intellectual property ... that is what all patents really are in the end ... whether hardware or software. The problem is with having a balanced, fair and intelligently run judicial system that can determine which suits deserve to be tried and which do not.
The Mother of all flip-flops!!
Support our troops by educating yourself and being a responsible voter. Democracy and Capitalism REQUIRE Intelligence and Wisdom if they are to be worth a damn beyond...
Reply
The Mother of all flip-flops!!
Support our troops by educating yourself and being a responsible voter. Democracy and Capitalism REQUIRE Intelligence and Wisdom if they are to be worth a damn beyond...
Reply
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender at Eros View Post

Doesn't Apple use AAC for all of it's iTunes STORE songs? So how could that get affected?
Since iTunes does have the capability to playback MP3's and create MP3's, I guess that's one downside.

Yeah, iTunes has a lot of built-in support for MP3 encoding and playback. And it has done this since very early versions. So this is the trouble. Even if Apple released iTunes 8.0 with only AAC support, they would still be at risk because of past usage.
post #28 of 52
Patents in general is out of hand. It is not just in software, nor limited to computer industry, we are living in an age of patents. I thought it was a joke when I read human DNAs can be patented... well, the joke is on us all.
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender at Eros View Post

Doesn't Apple use AAC for all of it's iTunes STORE songs? So how could that get affected?

Since iTunes does have the capability to playback MP3's and create MP3's, I guess that's one downside.

Microsoft didn't sell MP3s either. I think it's just for the playback component, but maybe WMP has an optional MP3 encoder like the iTunes software does.

I'm not sure what to say about software patents specifically, but I understand that Lucent had a patent backdated and cut out Fraunhoffer out of it. One thing I do know is that the USPTO is not doing its job, but I'm not sure they are at fault here.
post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Incidentally, I think the biggest anti-patent folks are the ones in the FOSS community, who make their living for the most part copying the ideas of the commercial software industry. Every once in awhile something innovative happens in FOSS, but generally it's a chorus of "I hope someone makes a FOSS version of X", where X is some product that took substantial development effort to produce. That kind of attitude gets me annoyed.

I really don't know what to say about your first example, it sounds like a software patent being used to make up for forgetting to make people sign a non-compete agreement.

The Foss community makes a living? For most, I think it's just a hobby. Can an innovation really be that hard to make in the first place if a few hobbyists can code the same thing in a month?

I wouldn't downplay the technolgy input that FOSS software has. Quite a lot of OS X is based on FOSS. Safari's rendering engine is based on Konqueror, the printing system heavily uses CUPS, the execution environment is based on BSD, the compiler that compiles most of the software is from GNU. SAMBA does the Windows file sharing compatibility.
post #31 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by amerist View Post

MP3s have been around for HOW MANY YEARS? and this company is just coming out of the woodwork NOW to claim its share of the royalties?

I call Patent Troll.

I also think that the court needs to address a MUCH NEEDED statute of limitations on royalty collections.

to Alcatel-Lucent:
I'd say if you were too busy to try and get those royalties in the same YEAR that fraunhoffer got theirs then you missed your oportunity. Shame on you for waiting so long. I personally plan to boycott anything with Alcatel or Lucent technology inside if this court decision is not overturned.

I called the same thing when they sued The Empire over yhe 360. I'm not sure how it turned out or if it turned out yet,

Sebastian
Þ & þ are called "Thorn" & þey represent þe sound you've associated "th" wiþ since þe 13þ or 14þ century. I'm bringing it back.
<(=_=)> (>=_=)> <(=_=<) ^(=_=^) (^=_=)^ ^(=_=)^ +(=_=)+
Reply
Þ & þ are called "Thorn" & þey represent þe sound you've associated "th" wiþ since þe 13þ or 14þ century. I'm bringing it back.
<(=_=)> (>=_=)> <(=_=<) ^(=_=^) (^=_=)^ ^(=_=)^ +(=_=)+
Reply
post #32 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

That is what Copyrights are for, to protect someone from flat out duplicating an existing work. Probably also worth noting that by default ownership of patents leans toward the inventor, not the company paying his/her salary, it depends on what kind of IP agreement you sign. As a software developer, you should realize that signing a heavy-handed IP agreement can severely limit your job marketability. It's like you learned to pump gas at one gas station, and now even though you're good at it, you can't pump gas anywhere else.

You appear to have a severe misunderstanding on where the value lies in an innovative process. The value is not in the particular implementation, but the approach that lets an idea be profitable and productive. In addition, almost any company requires work-related patents to be assigned to the company (my patent was assigned to that company, too), and rightly so. That's what they're paying you for.

People who equate real software engineering with some sort of automatic process that requires no creativity and contains no innovation bug me. That's "computer programming" and it's a 2-year associates degree at a community college or what a teenager picks up in his basement.

Yes, patents are sometimes abused. But they're also used the way they're supposed to more often than not.
post #33 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I really don't know what to say about your first example, it sounds like a software patent being used to make up for forgetting to make people sign a non-compete agreement.

There was a non-compete agreement. Those are extremely hard to enforce, never last very long, and IMHO, are much, much worse for innovation and the industry than patents will ever be. No, it was the patents that saved the company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

The Foss community makes a living? For most, I think it's just a hobby. Can an innovation really be that hard to make in the first place if a few hobbyists can code the same thing in a month?

YESSSS!!! That's my whole point. All great inventions seem "obvious" in retrospect, and they're often orders of magnitude easier to reproduce than to produce. Look at the Wright Brothers... Curtiss copied their designs easily, but he didn't invent flying. It was patents, and winning every patent lawsuit, that kept the Wright company in business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I wouldn't downplay the technolgy input that FOSS software has. Quite a lot of OS X is based on FOSS. Safari's rendering engine is based on Konqueror, the printing system heavily uses CUPS, the execution environment is based on BSD, the compiler that compiles most of the software is from GNU. SAMBA does the Windows file sharing compatibility.

Samba is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. There's nothing at all innovative in Samba, it's just a free implementation of something.

And I didn't say innovation is non-existent in FOSS, just that most FOSS projects seem to be "let's reproduce this technology that some company put a lot of resources into creating because we don't want to pay them". And I don't think that increases innovation or helps our economy.
post #34 of 52
@Booga: I understand where you are coming from with regard to protecting innovation so that others don't directly copy it and kill off the companies which paid for that innovation. However, the vast majority of software patents these days are for tiny algorithms which have been used in practice for many years already.

If software developers from the 60's and 70's would have been as patent crazy as technology firms are today, we wouldn't have half of the amazing technology we do because everyone would be tied down in lawsuits trying to prove that their technology is a "clean room implementation". And the only people who'd be better off are the lawyers.

I mean, I consider that I've done some pretty innovative work in my years as a software developer, but most of it has come out of mathematics textbooks and looking at prior work to come up with something innovative. While the bigger project that I was working on is something which should be protected -- the little steps which created it certainly shouldn't because they were based on prior knowledge. Unfortunately, that's not how patents work. You have to patent all of the little details rather than the bigger invention. That's why I never cease to point out prior implementations when I see patents being shown here on AI.

In the example you give with the Wright brothers, they wouldn't even have been able to build their airplane because they wouldn't be able to use the propeller motor since all of the implementation details for the motor would have been patented already. They would have had to invent every single component from scratch rather than being able to reuse existing technology to build something bigger than the sum of it's parts.

That's the problem I have with software patents. That it's become more about patenting every little implementation detail rather than the main invention. This is what I forsee will cause technology to stagnate in the coming years because it will tie developers hands. Patents should be about protecting outright copying of end products and not about preventing others from using innovative building blocks to create entirely different products.
 
Reply
 
Reply
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Samba is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. There's nothing at all innovative in Samba, it's just a free implementation of something.

Was anything about Microsoft's networking protocol innovative? I think you'd have to argue that first. I think it's only used because it's the one that's built into Windows.

Using SAMBA on my Mac as a server is far more reliable for me than using a Windows computer for a server to Windows clients. I think that's a worthwhile improvement.
post #36 of 52
SMB is an IBM networking protocol. Microsoft continued to use and expand it into CIFS.

Arguably, none of Microsoft's or Samba's implementation is particularly "innovative"; most of it is inferior to alternatives such as AppleShare, NFS or AFS.
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

If software developers from the 60's and 70's would have been as patent crazy as technology firms are today, we wouldn't have half of the amazing technology we do because everyone would be tied down in lawsuits trying to prove that their technology is a "clean room implementation". And the only people who'd be better off are the lawyers.

Actually, all those would be in the public domain after 7-14 years, besides the fact that patent law didn't allow patenting of software back then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

In the example you give with the Wright brothers, they wouldn't even have been able to build their airplane because they wouldn't be able to use the propeller motor since all of the implementation details for the motor would have been patented already. They would have had to invent every single component from scratch rather than being able to reuse existing technology to build something bigger than the sum of it's parts.

I see your point, but the Wright brothers don't prove it because they DID have to build their own internal combustion engine because in 1902 no existing engine had the power-to-weight ratio to enable flight.

It's interesting that the Wright brothers, in fact, only patented one thing: their mechanism for changing the angle of attack of wings independently in order to coordinate roll and yaw while steering. They were SO paranoid that their inventions would be easy to copy and that patent law at the time wasn't strong enough that they worked in secret for the better part of a decade. If the airplane had been built under today's patent laws, it probably would have reached the market years sooner. The whole point of patent law is to get things into the public domain quicker in exchange for some exclusivity.

I agree that the current system is somewhat broken, but to claim that software shouldn't be patentable is to claim that it contains no innovation and costs nothing to advance the field.
post #38 of 52
Funny, I've had Lucent stock for years (now called Alcatel-Lucent since their merger) and it hasn't budged since this announced... Still sinking like a rock.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Funny, I've had Lucent stock for years (now called Alcatel-Lucent since their merger) and it hasn't budged since this announced... Still sinking like a rock.

Don't expect it to move until MS actually parts with the cash.
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PBG4 Dude View Post

Don't expect it to move until MS actually parts with the cash.

I don't know who to root for anymore... I own Microsoft, Alcatel-Lucent, Intel, HP AND Apple stock... thankfully, Apple has performed like a champ, and HP is doing very well also.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Microsoft MP3 patent row looms over Apple