Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Government Handhelds The Courts Hardware News

Xerox Patent Ruled Invalid, palmOne Exonerated 154

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-so-inventive-after-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes "palmOne has issued a press release, that a court has found that the patent that Xerox was using to sue Palm for its character entry method, and was developed in house, didn't infringe because the patent was invalid." The case was first brought against 3Com Corporation back in 1997 before they spun off the Palm brand name.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Xerox Patent Ruled Invalid, palmOne Exonerated

Comments Filter:
  • by mfh (56) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:15AM (#9224562) Homepage Journal
    Error! Your patent is invalid. Press the any key.
  • by Insideo (171350) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:17AM (#9224569)
    I can't stand Graffiti 2... maybe its just because I spent so long using the original Graffiti, but it would make my day if it came back.
    • Hear hear! I've been going nuts with my Tungsten E, having owned a Palm IIIe for the longest time before. Even after five months I still make the same mistakes. I refuse to be forced to learn yet another alphabet.
    • by jomas1 (696853) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:00AM (#9224722) Homepage
      You can probably put Graffiti 1 on your Graffiti 2 Palm device. See this link for one method:

      http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_stor y.asp?ID=5830
      • by jomas1 (696853) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:06AM (#9224747) Homepage
        Don't know how to make my link work.

        Here is the meat of the graffiti switch article from Palminfocenter if you want to use graffiti 1 instead of graffiti 2:

        Step 1
        Use a handheld that has the original Graffiti system installed , Use a handheld file manager, such as FileZ, to locate the following files (You will need to check the ROM box, as the files are stored in the device ROM):

        Graffiti Library.prc, size: 30k, creator: grft
        Graffiti Library_enUS.prc, size 22k, creator: grft

        Step 2
        Beam or copy the above 2 files to the target handheld you want to install original Graffiti on.

        Step 3
        Preform a soft reset (simply press the devices reset pin), and you're set to start enjoying original Graffiti again.

        PIC tested this procedure with a Tungsten T and were able to successfully install Graffiti over Graffiti 2 on a Tungsten T2, Zire 71, Tungsten C and a Sony Clie NX80V. Other models that run Palm OS 5 should also be compatible. Even after the replacement the write anywhere on screen feature of Palm OS 5.2 still function as normal, even on the Tungsten C. The on-screen Graffiti reference also reverts back to the original guide.
      • It's sites like those that make me happy that I spend most of my time on slashdot. Users of those sites seem to always be afraid of doing something illegal. Hence, someone posts an article on how to transfer a file you own to a device you own and everyone cries about how illegal this is and how the host site is going to be sued to death etc. Then someone replies with a comment that says where to get a file (GASP!! HOW ILLEGAL!!!!) and some goody-two-shoes replies with "admin, please delete all links!!!! :( :( :(" and the whole thread is deleted and everyone who posted banned.

        Once, I was participating in a discussion about the CF driver for NX70 Clies and I said something like "If it's too expensive, warez it." I was banned from loading the site!!! Rather than refuting my argument, they just deleted it. Again, when Decuma came out, someone posted a link to a "warez" version. Any reference to that or the fact that the thread ever existed got you banned. What a bunch of fucking babies.

        So anyway, thank you slashdot, for not deleting posts. I'm glad that people are forced to reply and think about their actions rather than just delete anything they don't like.
    • by pauljlucas (529435) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:38AM (#9224904) Homepage Journal
      You either love Graffiti 2 or hate it. I too used Graffiti for along time. I always thought some characters were weird, and I never managed to make my letter 'e's such that they'd be recognized as 'e's the first try.

      It took me only about a week to switch my brain to using Graffiti 2, but I like it much better. All of the alphabeting characters can be written "normally" and in lower-case. (Grafitti was a weird mix of upper- and lower-case.)

      My only complaint about Graffiti 2 is that the "puntuation shift" is too involved what with the leading and trailing upstroke. But overall, I like Graffiti 2 much better.

      • Okay, usually I'm willing to say most things are a matter of taste, live and let live and all that. But you've gotta be smoking crack if you think Graffiti 2 is anything other than teh suck. After about half an hour of using my Treo 600, I went on the net, found the instructions for the Graffiti 1 "downgrade" and followed them.

        I don't recall exactly which characters it was, I think it was the 't' and the 'i' that just killed me. The not-quite-one-stroke system feels terribly broken - most of the charac

        • I don't recall exactly which characters it was, I think it was the 't' and the 'i' that just killed me. The not-quite-one-stroke system feels terribly broken

          Uh... but if you write a 't' or lower-case 'i' with a pen and paper, you have to use two strokes. So why is doing it on a Palm device "broken?"

          a 't' shows up as an 'l' until you do a crossbar, then it disappears and reappears as a 't'...

          Who cares? If I'm going along writing, I'm looking at the Graffiti writing area mostly and writing as I would

  • by jbellis (142590) * <jonathan@carnage ... m minus math_god> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:18AM (#9224572) Homepage
    The good news, I guess, is that a dumb patent got invalidated. The bad news is, it took 7 years. How many small companies could keep up a legal battle that long?
    • by dereklam (621517) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:37AM (#9224645)
      The good news, I guess, is that a dumb patent got invalidated.

      I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

      My understanding of the algorithm is that Xerox devides the Graffiti area into 9 ``blocks.'' The recognition algorithm tracks which block the stylus starts in, the end block, and the blocks through which the stylus travels. The recognition is fast and accurate, because each letter is simply an encoding of (start, end, intermediate blocks).

      This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious. Palm copied PARC's Graffiti alphabet because the algorithm was so elegant.

      Have you tried Graffiti 2? It's slower and less accurate.

      • by MartinG (52587) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @11:27AM (#9225127) Homepage Journal
        This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious

        It's not "dumb" maybe.

        But obvious? The trouble is that to one not skilled in the art, everything seems non obvious.

        A good test for obviousness is:

        Can you think of a more obvious method?
        • It is almost impossible to judge the obviousness of something after it has been done.

          Everything is obvious after the fact.

          The best obviousness test is not "can you think of a more obvious method", it's "How many other people have been doing this for ages, but never thought to patent it because they thought it was obvious"

          It doesn't matter how obvious it is in hindsite, if you were first to think of it, then you get the patent.
      • That algorithm is fairly obvious. Similar algorithms are used all the time in computer science. I even wrote one about 3 years ago, without ever being told anything about such algorithms. If you think about the problem at hand, the solution makes sense. I could have easily made a commercial product using something similar with no knowledge of Xerox's patent. Now if Xerox's source code was stolen and copied, that would be one issue, but simply using an idea and then making it yourself with your own source co
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @12:02PM (#9225291) Homepage
        I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

        My understanding of the algorithm is that Xerox devides the Graffiti area into 9 ``blocks.'' The recognition algorithm tracks which block the stylus starts in, the end block, and the blocks through which the stylus travels. The recognition is fast and accurate, because each letter is simply an encoding of (start, end, intermediate blocks).

        This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.

        It's obvious, e.g. the graffiti area can discern the position of the stylus with a resolution of, say, 45 along the vertical axis and 90 horizontally. Now, trying to come up with a quick, low processing requirement method of mapping characters leads directly to the question of "how fine a resolution do we need to track?" This then leads to the answer, "if we come up with our own simple alphabet, we can cut it down to as low as a three by three grid". It may not be obvious to YOU, but anyone trying to solve the problem of handwriting recognition would think of it based on the first rule of solving ANY problem: SIMPLIFY.

        The reason graffiti2 sucks so badly is that they were forced to use a decoding method that was neither simple nor elegant, as Xerox claimed a patent on the obvious solution to the problem.

        • It's obvious, e.g. the graffiti area can discern the position of the stylus with a resolution of, say, 45 along the vertical axis and 90 horizontally. Now, trying to come up with a quick, low processing requirement method of mapping characters leads directly to the question of "how fine a resolution do we need to track?" This then leads to the answer, "if we come up with our own simple alphabet, we can cut it down to as low as a three by three grid". It may not be obvious to YOU, but anyone trying to solve
      • by steveha (103154) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @01:02PM (#9225576) Homepage
        This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.

        The "dumb" part is that such an obvious algorithm with prior art was granted a patent.

        Palm copied PARC's Graffiti alphabet because the algorithm was so elegant.

        Er, no.

        Graffiti was invented by Palm. Xerox was developing Unistrokes around the same time, and giving lectures about it, and generally not keeping it a secret.

        The patent is not specifically about Graffiti. Xerox basically patented the whole idea of a handwriting recognition alphabet where each letter is a single stroke. And that idea is obvious.

        How can I claim it's obvious? Well, think about it. What's the #1 problem in character recognition on a PDA? Figuring out which stroke is part of which letter. Did the user want to write a 't', or did he want to write an 'i' followed by a '-'? Gee, life is so much simpler with the letters like 'c', 'z', 'o', etc., where there is just one stroke. Hang on... what if all letters were just one stroke? Then we don't need to figure out which stroke is part of which letter!

        Entirely because of the Xerox lawsuit, Palm rolled out Graffiti 2. It's major difference from Graffiti is... not every letter is one stroke. Some are two strokes. It's dumb that they had to do that; there is zero benefit to the consumer here.

        According to the PalmOne press release, the appeals judge ruled that a) this idea is obvious, b) there was prior art, so therefore c) the patent is not valid and PalmOne doesn't have to pay Xerox.

        steveha

      • This algorithm is neither dumb nor obvious.

        If the patent [uspto.gov] was only for the algorithm you describe, then I might agree.

        But claim 1 essentially claims any form of reading "unistrokes", converting them to letters, and then displaying them.

        Would someone skilled in the art find it easier to build such a device after reading claim 1?

        I don't think so.

        -- this is not a .sig

      • I'm sorry, what's dumb about this patent?

        Allow me to clarify this, what's dumb about it is that it's a software patent. There are some people who have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of thing, especially since the length of time it takes a patent to expire in the U.S. poses serious problems for software development. Also, software patents encourage a game in which only monied interests can play, which excludes the majority of open source tinkerers.
      • You are wrong on several counts.

        My understanding of the algorithm is that Xerox devides the Graffiti area into 9 ``blocks.'' The recognition algorithm tracks which block the stylus starts in, the end block, and the blocks through which the stylus travels. The recognition is fast and accurate, because each letter is simply an encoding of (start, end, intermediate blocks).

        That recognition algorithm (and numerous variants of it) goes back to the 1960's and has been described in standard textbooks and paper
    • How many small companies could keep up a legal battle [for 7 years]?

      True (and outrageous) ... but of litigation in general, of course, and not solely patents.

    • Ofcourse, palm was bought out during the litigation, so you could argue they didn't survive the legal battle.

      The only ones who can survive patent lawsuits are the truly gigantic corporate behemoths like microsoft and ibm. They have the patent portfolio to ensure that they can crosslicense their way out of most of the litigation, and the deep pockets to drag out the court case long enough that the other side gives up, regardless of the merits.
    • How many small companies could keep up a legal battle that long?

      Well, 3com could.

      Ok, so it's a small company now though :-)

    • The recognition part is not the "core" of the patetnt, the core is a specialized alphabet that 1. allows faster text entry and 2. easy to recognize since it's "unistroke" e.g. one single stroke per character. However the patent is riddiculously general, the recognition part IS 1. obvious and 2. known in the science since the 60s, it's really not novel. And specialized simplified alphabets like Unistrokes have been known since the 17th century in various shorthand alphabets in UK and Germany. So in summary
  • Prior Art (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:18AM (#9224573)
    The original patent was assigned to a Sumerian scribe. I guess any license fees should go to Iraq.
  • Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:18AM (#9224577) Homepage
    I hated Graffiti 2... long live the original graffiti. Actually, I never stopped using Graffiti because I never upgraded my PalmOS beyond 4.1
    • Note that you mean, literally, 4.1. I was unlucky enough to get an m130 with 4.1.2, which is 4.1 "upgraded" to Grafitti 2.
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:21AM (#9224589) Homepage
    Man, some of these lawsuits get handed down through the generations (computer time). I bet 3Com/Palm/palmOne is glad to see the end of this. In each year's company report, they had to keeping listing it in the Oh Yeah, We're Being Sued section.
  • Reuters story (Score:5, Informative)

    by ozric99 (162412) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:22AM (#9224591) Journal
    Internetnews has this [internetnews.com] take on the story.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:22AM (#9224593)
    ! st1l. hann/t gof us3d to grattit! Z yet,
  • Graffiti (Score:5, Interesting)

    by someguy456 (607900) <someguy456@phreaker.net> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:23AM (#9224594) Homepage Journal
    Now what is Palm doing to do about Graffiti?

    They had previously let go of Graffiti and developed their own Graffitti2. and made everyone learn new keystrokes. If they go back now, everyone who learned Graffiti2 is not going to be happy However, I'd be willing to bet that not everyone has upgraded, and many, if not most, are still using Graffiti1. Maybe they will include both, and have the user decide?
    • Re:Graffiti (Score:4, Insightful)

      by magsilva (59637) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:44AM (#9224669) Homepage
      They could offer both options, Graffiti and Graffiti2, so you could select the one that best fit you. I'd love that, Graffiti works much better for me.
    • Grafitti 2 is based on Jot. If the license is fully paid up, I don't see Palm going back to the original Grafitti.
    • Re:Graffiti (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:57AM (#9224711) Homepage Journal
      If they're smart, they'd piss off that small group of people who like Grafitti 2 and go back to G1. I always hear the same thing: G2 is easier to learn for people who've never used a PDA, but G1 only takes a little longer and is much faster and more accurate for the rest of the life of your device.

      I will not buy another G2 Palm. Right now, there are viable options (such as TealScript [tealpoint.com]) to give owners of newer units G1 capability, but as with any closed source application and OS combination, it will only continue to work for as long as it's updated to work with new systems. As soon a TealPoint gets tired of supporting it, the product dies, and I lose the possibility of updating to newer hardware and actually being able to use it.

      I've tried and tried to get used to G2, but I just can't. If Palm re-adopts G1, I will continue to buy their devices. If they don't, I'll go back to using a DayRunner (which accepts any handwriting style and has a place to put my checkbook).

    • Re:Graffiti (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DdJ (10790) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:57AM (#9224714) Homepage Journal
      I had Graffiti when it was a separate product for Apple's Newton and General Magic's Magic Cap systems. I had a Palm III, Visor DX, and Visor Pro, running PalmOS. Now I've got a Palm Tungsten T3.

      The Tungsten T3 ships with Graffiti 2. It's IMHO awful.

      Here's an example of how: The letter "t" is done by a vertical top-to-bottom stroke followed by a horizontal left-to-right stroke. You can do them in either order. The letter L is done by a vertical top-to-bottom stroke. A space is done by a horizontal left-to-right stroke. What happens when you want to begin or end a word with the letter L? Bad things. There are habits you can learn to avoid problems, but it's much more difficult (for me) than Graffiti 1 was.

      There's a set of files you can install on a Tungsten T3 or other Graffiti 2 handheld to make it start using Graffiti 1. I've got it installed. It makes the system usable for me.

      Now, some of the Graffiti 2 patterns are actually better than Graffiti 1. For example, I can more reliably write a "G" with Graffiti 2 than with Graffiti 1. And some symbols were entered by writing something other than numbers in the numeric area, which was faster than the normal "dot prefix" method from Graffiti 1, and wasn't unreliable or aggravating.

      Having a global preference to switch between Graffiti 1 and Graffiti 2 would be a good thing. It's even what the Newton was doing near the end there -- there were multiple recognition systems and you could switch between them.

      But even better would be if it could be done on a character-by-character basis. For each letter, give me a list of strokes and let me put checkboxes next to the ones I want to enable.
      • Re:Graffiti (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mattdm (1931)
        I had Graffiti when it was a separate product for Apple's Newton and General Magic's Magic Cap systems.

        Which was *before* any date associated with the Xerox patent. I remember checking that when this first came up on slashdot several years ago. I don't understand why this case wasn't over in five minutes -- all they would have needed to do was bring in the box for the original software, show the copyright date to the judge, and everyone coul go home....
      • Incidentally Graffiti was also a product released for the Tandy/Casio/GRiD Z-PDA 7000/GRiDPad 2390, and you can use that version under GEOS on other devices, like the GRiDPad 1910.
      • TealScript is better than either, giving a lot of what you want, but unfortunately it isn't well integrated. It contains most of both sets of strokes, and has much better accuracy. I would like to see PalmSource add the hooks for it.

    • Re:Graffiti (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cvd6262 (180823) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:09AM (#9224760)
      Personally, I like the way other systems, including my Sharp Zaurus, do handwriting input. First, they offer several single or multiple stroke inputs for each letter, then they give you the option on making you own.

      The Zaurus even has a utility that lets you draw a stroke and it will tell you the three characters it most resembles, and the percentage of ressemblance. I used to think the keyboard on the Zaurus was the best input method, but I find a customized hand writing input just as effective.
    • Re:Graffiti (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jayhawk88 (160512)
      They'll start offering both. Maybe they drop G2 the next time their licensing from Jot comes around, but I can't imagine thats costing them that much money. In truth there is very little difference between G1 and G2. T's, I's, V's, and making punctuation are the major ones. Long time Palm users had a lot of fun bitching about the change, but realize these are the same people who throw a shit-fit every time the size or shape of the stylus changes by more than a millimeter.
    • I'm hoping that the new PalmOne will release a software update to put the original Graffiti back on all the palms that don't have it. Perhaps future Palms can have a choice at first boot, Graffiti 1 or 2.

      The real question, is are they going to sue Xerox for all the lost sales when they couldn't offer Graffiti 1?
  • by MajorDick (735308) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:23AM (#9224595)
    It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

    When Edison patented many of his inventions they were as new and as alien as anything could be. Patent examination on these must have been pretty easy, even considering the entire process was manual.

    I wonder how many patents would stand up to a further examination.

    This deluge of bogus patents would seem to me to effect even the valid ones. If I tommorow came up with say a TRUE Anti-Gravity machine it would seem that everyone and their brother would try to get it invalidated for their own use. And I'm sore some people have patented Anti-Gravity machine that dont actually work, would these invalidate a patent that did actually work ?

    I dont belive patents are bad, quite to the contrary I belive them neccesary, I think its their enforcment and their use in bullying that is wrong. If I come up with a whole new concept I would sure as hell want it protected. But as I said before the deluge of bogus patents would seem to put the whole process in question
    • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel@hedblom.gmail@com> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#9224677) Homepage Journal
      Many of the parents wore just not possible before someone came up with a easy way to produce and store electricity. Many of the "inventors" wasnt the ones coming up with the ideas, just the first to patent them. Take Marconi as a nice example of how "good" patents worked back then.

      Patents have always been a mess and i dont think any groundbreaking inventions can be said to stem from the patenting system. Military has been the biggest driving force behind new inventions.

      The older the better or just selective history?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Ah yes, Marconi, the guy who didn't invent the radio. His patent has failed to win against Nickola Teslas prior art 3 times in the courts. (It hasn't won against Tesla once that I know of.)

        Seems that Teslas paper on wireless telography was published in Italy (and in Italian) 3 years prior to Marconi's device. (It was published in several European countries in native languages.)

        Tesla even demonstrated the application of wireless telography at a worlds fair by using it to make a light go on/off. Though
      • Patents have always been a mess and i dont think any groundbreaking inventions can be said to stem from the patenting system.
        Uh... the transitor was patented by AT&T. The almost immediate groundbreaking thing developed with them was cheap, portable radios. Companies sold lots of them. Pocket-sized radios were the iPods of the day.
        • Uh... the transitor was patented by AT&T.

          But that doesn't show that patent incentive caused or even contributed to the invention of the transistor.

          Evidence of patent incentive contributing to the invention of the transistor might be memos from Bell Labs executives saying that they would kill the project were it not for the potential of patent royalties. (I'm not saying that that is the only form of evidence that you could find. I just want to provide an example.)

          Although I have not tracked the c

          • I generally find that there are almost no examples of inventions where the patent incentive appears to have brought the invention about substantially faster or better than I think would have occurred without patents
            The big example for patents being incentives are for drugs. Drug companies invest millions to develop a drug and they do it with the full knowledge that they'll be able to recoup their investment due to patent protection.
            • Drug companies was a bad example since they mostly spend their money on antibaldness and wood enhanching. Most serious developing occur on universitys and institutions. The drug companies dont spend much money on basic research, theres no profit there.
            • Drug companies waste huge amounts of money trying to find alternative ways to solve already solved problems so that they can monopolize a drug. Between that and unreasonable FDA requirements, a free economy would seem to have to spend far less to achieve a better result than the current government-granted monopolies.

              My doctor is wined and dined regularly by drug companies pedaling their monopolies. Why would that occur if they really had something new and worthwhile that sold itself.

              I know of numerous c

      • Hmm, lets see Edison patented the phonograph, his patent specifically stated it was side to side vibration of the stylus/needle. Path and some others lisenced this patent, others like Victrola decided a run around on the patent, they maded it an up and down motion of the stlus, circumventing the patents and it still carries through to the Vinyl pressed today.

        MANY Major innovations have been not only a result of the patent but finding a way around the patent and actually coming up with a BETTER way to do it
        • Actually, that's not entirely true. In fact, it's backwards, and thus the conclusions are quite wrong.

          First, Edison's method involved vertical deflection. It was abandoned long ago, not because of patents, but because the quality sucked and the reliability sucked worse.

          Vertical needle deflection is ineffectual for two reasons. First, dust tends to gather in the bottoms of the grooves. Second, the needle sits at the bottom of the groove and is weighted to press down on the bottom. With vertical defl

    • It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

      With the number of patent applications coming in, it is hard to validate every single one of them completly, not to mention costly. Also remember that things that shouldn't be patentable, IMO, such as software and business models are. The patent clerks don't know everything that is going on in the world, so won't always find prior art in the time allocated.

      For the gov
    • It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ? ... I wonder how many patents would stand up to a further examination.

      There are those who would see this as a vindication of the current system. What's the harm in issuing bad patents when they are inevitably invalidated? I do not share this veiw. Palm has obviously been damaged by Xerox's patent aggression: the cost to license Jot, the R&D and marketing to incor

    • by RickHunter (103108) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:30AM (#9224859)

      It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place ?

      Its simple. The guidelines the patent office works with say that they are to assume a patent is valid unless clear evidence to the contrary is presented. If its invalid, the courts will sort it out. This maximizes their revenue, which is based on patents approved.

      Juries in patent cases, OTOH, are (or possibly were) given guidelines telling them to, if there was any doubt, assume that the patent was valid. As if it was invalid, the patent office wouldn't have granted it, right? This is why the vast majority of bogus patent challenges go to the patent-holder in the first round and the inventor (*) on appeal.

      (*) - Inventor as the person who actually designed and built the device is almost never the patent-holder these days.

      • Its simple. The guidelines the patent office works with say that they are to assume a patent is valid unless clear evidence to the contrary is presented.

        Then again, maybe not. From last Sunday'sWashington Post Style section [washingtonpost.com]:

        LIFE IS SHORT | Autobiography as Haiku

        Sunday, May 16, 2004; Page D01

        Like sifting for gold, patent examining can be a scrupulous activity. I mutter my mantra . . . find a way . . . find a way . . . there must be a way. My eyes scan documents and reference books with a determin

    • It seem to me more and more patents are being ruled as invalid, If this is indeed the case why are they being assigned in the first place?

      Because the USPTO gets revenue from patent applications. The whole system is set up to encourage volume and not quality. I'd say that a smart way to show the damage done by junk patents is to show that the cost of the court proceedings is at least as much as the revenue generated. I'm not saying that this is the case, but I suspect that it eventually will be, and the po
    • The party's not necessarily over yet.

      A summary judgment could get overturned on appeal, the case could be remanded back for trial, then trial judgment or verdict could be questioned on appeal, there could be more remands and appeals after that ....... just in case you thought 7 years to summary judgment is slow ..... :-(

      Whether any of this happens depends on how the patentee and its lawyers view the reasons given for summary judgment, and either carry on or drop it.

      -wb-
  • Dear god.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Curtman (556920) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @09:26AM (#9224604)
    The summary judgment ruling will result in the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Xerox in 1997 against Palm, Inc.

    1997?! Thats 7 damn years ago. Please God, don't let this SCO thing go on that long. Finish them off with a bolt of lightning right now.
    • Re:Dear god.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by k98sven (324383)
      Thats 7 damn years ago. Please God, don't let this SCO thing go on that long. Finish them off with a bolt of lightning right now.

      That bolt just struck. IBM requested Summary Judgement this week. If it's granted, Linux will be in the clear, and IBM will have a field day with some of their Lanham-act counterclaims.

      Not to mention the DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone cases will fall like the houses of cards that they are. Red Hat should have an easy time with their case. And the Novell case is already not-unlike
      • The DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone cases have nothing to do with LINUX. Those cases are about those companies taking the SCO library and running that library on another OS (which just happens to be linux). The two cases are over a possible breech of contract and not about linux directly. (I do think this is part of an anti-linux campaign, but legally it has nothing to do with linux directly.)
        • No. The D-C suit is about D-C's failure to respond to an audit request, and will fail for various reasons I won't go into here. The Autozone case, though, is about using SCOG's copyrighted code, and most definitely is about Linux. SCOG themselves even had the termerity to ask that one of IBM's amended counterclaims[1] related to copyright be put on hold until the Autozone case is resolved, claiming that the Autozone case will settle all questions of copyrights in Linux.

          [1] The same one that IBM is askin
  • OS Call To Arms (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LaBlueCow (768184)
    Do I hear an open-source movement in the making? Art and math geeks devising a new free-as-in-beer method of defining strokes -> letters/numbers/symbols, then creating a tiny footprint massively portable OS for palm devices that can be flashed in over the existing palm OS?
    Sounds like a plan to me.
    • Art and math geeks devising a new free-as-in-beer method ...
      I don't know what open-source method you're talking about, but the one most people know and love is free as in speech, not beer. (Whether it's free as in beer is largely irrelevant.)
  • by TheGavster (774657) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:13AM (#9224779) Homepage
    It seems that a lot of really nifty things (the mouse, the desktop, and apparently Graffiti) were developed at Xerox, and never produced. Then someone else says "wow, that's stunning" and makes millions off of it. Its not like Xerox lacks the resources to go after these things, more like the ambition. It seems like a perfect case of "we want a monopoly on this, not because we have any intention of even trying to produce it" patents, as opposed to the "I've got this cool idea, but my lottery investment strategy has yet to pay off, would someone like to license it" patents.
    • Xerox spent a fortune on R&D in the early eighties. A huge volume of the ideas behind modern computing came out of their Palo Alto Research Center. The problem was, the place was managed by researchers, who didn't have the vision on how to commercialise the products. So the actual engineers started quitting and building their own companies to produce the stuff they'd designed.
    • Xerox ran some of the last remaining pure-research corporate labs, and the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was one of them. IBM Research was another such outfit, and like Xerox it is a major generator of patents. Pure research isn't about producing commercial products (that's applied research), it's about investigating interesting stuff and increasing the world's knowlege base. They payoff to a sponsoring company for that (in the USA, anyway) is the exclusive ownership of some of those results for a lim
    • by pauljlucas (529435) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @11:06AM (#9225037) Homepage Journal
      It seems that a lot of really nifty things ... were developed at Xerox, and never produced.
      I've heard similar things about IBM Research. While they've not patented everything they've invented, they've invented lots of stuff. But a lot of that stuff never made it to market as products.

      My theory is that this sort of thing tends to happen with large companies that have research divisions. (A notable exception is AT&T which I'll get back to in a bit.) My theory as to why this happens is that management either doesn't "get it" for a lot of the things developed, or is too afraid to take action.

      For the "failure to 'get it'" part, they fail to see how many inventions, as novel as they may be, will be a success in the marketplace. Management in large companies tends to be very short-sighted and often bad predictors of where the market will go.

      For the "too afraid" part, a lot of managers like to keep the status quo because it means low-risk both for the company as a whole and the own careers. No manager wants to sign off on a new product only to have it fail miserably in the market.

      There needs to be a few managers with both vision and guts. If they either sufficiently high-up in the company or have enough convincing power, new products come to market. Sometimes what happens, however, is that they get disgusted with their company's inaction and quit to form start-ups.

      As for AT&T, the reason they've been an exception is because, back in the good old days before divestiture, their research division was focused on doing pure research without any concern for bringing their research to market. They patented lots of things. Indeed, the Bell Labs motto was, "A patent a day," and it was pretty much accurate. However, AT&T never bothered to enforce its patents or sue anybody back then and pretty much gave away their inventions. Why? Because they viewed it as "giving something back" for being allowed to be the benevolent monopoly for the phone company. Of course once divestiture happened, all that changed. It's kind of sad, really.

    • It seems that a lot of really nifty things (the mouse, the desktop, and apparently Graffiti) were developed at Xerox, and never produced. Then someone else says "wow, that's stunning" and makes millions off of it. Its not like Xerox lacks the resources to go after these things, more like the ambition.

      Making a successful product is hard. Keep in mind that Apple failed as badly as Xerox itself with their first copycat version (Lisa) of Xerox technology.

      As for Graffiti/Unistrokes, that really wasn't patent
    • You could make some MBAesque comment about crossing the chasm or the inventor's dilemma, but it's easier to remind everyone, hindsight is 20/20.
  • If anybody wants to try out Xerox's Unistroke alphabet, a simple text editor that's trained to recognize Unistrokes is part of the demos that come with Garnet [cmu.edu] (source comes under a public domain license). Personally, I'm not too impressed, but then again, I find the whole notion of pen computing more of an annoying throwback to the 60s than anything else.
    • I wrote an implementation of a Unistroke decoder back in that late nineties. Its a nice alphabet, a little faster to use than Graffiti, although much harder to learn. Graffiti could be seen as a compromise development on it, which I guess is what this was all about.
  • by sfraggle (212671) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:37AM (#9224900)
    Does this mean it would now also be possible to develop an Open Source version of graffiti and use it on Linux-based palmtops for free?
    • by julesh (229690) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:50AM (#9224955)
      Unless Palm have their own patents on it, I guess so.

      The Xerox patent was on "unistrokes", a system that was _very_ similar to Graffiti, but is a little simpler to implement, faster to use, and harder to learn.

      Unistroke uses only three types of stroke, a straight line, a curve through 90 degrees and a curve that crosses back over itself, which makes the recognition much easier than graffiti. The system was designed to be quick to use: common sequences of letters alternate in direction, so that you have to reposition your pen less frequently. The drawback is that these two factors mean that a lot of the strokes are non-obvious, bearing little or no relationship to the letter they encode.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @10:46AM (#9224936) Journal
    ...here is how bad Graffiti 2 is. Why you write 't' the first stroke is an 'i'. When you make the horizontal stroke it sends a 'backspace' followed by a 't' to correct the incorrect 'i'. You can imagine how many applications are messed up by this. But it's worse: 'i' followed by a space (a horizontal stroke) is a 't'. So you have to wait between the 'i' and 'space' to make sure it doesn't come out as 't'. Please, please, pretty please, Palm bring back Graffiti 1. Graffiti 2 is like phoning people by rolling dice and pressing a button every time a digit you want comes up.
    • You can imagine how many applications are messed up by this.

      I've yet to see one. Please cite your sources while making outlandish claims. I could come up with a thousand hypothetical situations that would "prove" my points.

      Graffiti 2 sucks, but not because it breaks programs, AFAIK.
      • terminal emulators.

        It's real #(%*# annoying. There are also a couple of games (including one frotz implementation) that breaks as well.
      • You can't do Book->Info using keystrokes in Palm's own app, PalmReader, even though Command-Slash 'i' is right there on the menu. I agree with you Graffiti 2 sucks anyway. But it also breaks apps. Any app that accepts keystrokes one by one can be broken by Graffiti 2 as well.
        • There must be a patch you guys are missing or something. I tried this one too, and had no problems bringing up info. You do your slash, the little "slash-command" interface pops up, and I write an "i". No problems.

          Hopefully, soon all of this will be moot, though.
    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @03:21PM (#9226207) Homepage Journal
      As a stronger example, consider that Palm applications typically allow a lot of penstroke shortcuts to menu commands. You start the shortcut by writing a "/", then the associated letter. For example, the "delete" command often has a shortcut of "/d".

      Now, consider what the poster said about how the letter "t" is generated (except that the first stroke is really a "l" and not an "i"; you write an "i" by drawing an "l" and then dotting it). If your application uses "/t" as a shortcut, that shortcut cannot be written, since the menu-shortcut function accepts the first penstroke of the "t" as an "l" and processes it before you can cross the "t". No matter how fast you try to write "/t", it always gets interpreted as "/l <space>". Sucks to be you if "t" is the shortcut for "take a backup", and "l" is the shortcut for "lose this immediately".

      Did I mention yet in this post that I hate Grafitti 2? I didn't? Oh, then: I hate Grafitti 2.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

Working...