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Patents Microsoft

Microsoft Tries to Patent the Internet Again 391

Posted by samzenpus
from the they-don't-own-it-yet dept.
sebFlyte writes "In what is described as yet another example of how patents can kill or inhibit standards, a patent has come to light that was granted to Microsoft in the year 2000 that looks surprisingly similar to IPv6 (the next-gen IP standard that is starting, slowly, to be taken up in some parts of the world). And several Microsoft engineers, named on the patent just happenned to be part of the IPv6 group for the IETF..."
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Microsoft Tries to Patent the Internet Again

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:11PM (#12031000)
    This time they bought the rights to the internet from the creator, Al Gore.
    • by Stevyn (691306) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:15PM (#12031059)
      But it's nothing without the key to the lock box that holds the key to the bigger lock box which contains the internet.
    • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:25PM (#12031143)
      This time they bought the rights to the internet from the creator, Al Gore.

      And that would especially funny, considering Al Gore now sits on Apple's Board of Directors [apple.com].
  • by hazah (807503) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:11PM (#12031005)
    if one of those succeeds one day. I'm sure that when that day comes, I'll also see the general population running around aimlessly, in all directions, bumping into eachother.
  • by igny (716218) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:12PM (#12031015) Homepage Journal
    Is it really possible that such patents may be enforceable?
    • by Sengoku666 (818137) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:20PM (#12031098)
      These days it would seem that if you have enough money anything is enforcable.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @12:16AM (#12032397)
        Yes. We are starting the age of Corporate Law. You will now have three types of offenses. Criminal, Civil, and unofficial Corporate (being a subset of Civil but controlled by money).

        To be found guilty of a Corporate Offense, you only need to have too little money to defend yourself against a corporation than has alot of money. The actual offense is irrelevant. The punishment is relative to the pre-determined settlement contract with the corporation or the civil law of choice.

        Don't believe in Corporate Offenses? How do you justify some of the actions of the RIAA, MPAA, and SCO? Some are valid, some are made up. Some people settle when they are innocent because it is cheaper than the legal fees required to defend yourself. Others fight, win, and still lose money. To be guilty of a Corporate Offense does not require a judge. It requires only getting the attention of a corporation's legal department.
    • If the patent is based on one or more in-process IETF standards, then the short answer is "no way". There's no way they'd even grant their patents let alone let them enforce them.
      • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @10:30PM (#12031691) Journal
        They were granted the patent, but it won't be enforceable because microsoft didn't disclose the prior art. What is particularly embarrassing and points to the fraudulence of MS is that the people who's names where on the patent were also on the IPv6 committee.

        There should be a very stiff penalty for knowingly filing a fraudulent patent application. Both monetary, and being prohibited from filing for any other patents for a period of time sounds about right.
        • Anyone think this sounds familiar to the whole Rambus deal? Where Rambus was trying to push RDRAM to be the next standard ... while secretly patenting it behind everyone's backs. I knew an engineer/manager who worked for Rambus during that period. Once he figured out what was going on and that upper management wouldn't change their minds about being dicks, he quit.
    • by Ankh (19084) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:49PM (#12031368) Homepage
      When people get involved in developing a spec, and at the same time patent things that are necessary to implement that spec ("essential", as the patent lawyers say), and then submerge, wait until the spec is widely adopted, and then announce their patent, this is sometimes called a submarine patent attack.

      It's partly to prevent these that we (W3C [w3.org]) have our patent policy, which requires all participants to sign an agreement saying (more or less) they agree to let people implement the spec without paying royalties, even if they own patents that would otherwise apply.

      It's all a big mess -- and patents also don't fit well with the GPL, of course, and neither does our patent policy, although FSF participated and we did the best we could: the problem is that you might want to take, say, an HTTP server, and re-use the network code for some other server. But if someone has a patent on servers, to which they have granted royalty free use for HTTP only, you may now have to pay them a royalty for the code.

      Patents are intended to encourage innovation by ensuring inventors get royalties. Unfortunately the current system seems to have some disadvantages.

      Note: I have no idea whether the slashdot story is correct in this instance about this patent, nor, if the patent is essential to implementing IPv6, whether Microsoft plans to enforce royalties or forbid implementations.

      Liam
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @12:23AM (#12032434)
        When people get involved in developing a spec...this is sometimes called a submarine patent attack.

        I'm literally sick from this one. I was at the IPv6 summit in 1998 and 1999. I talked with Microsoft's people, who were apologetic for having such poor implimentation in their IP stack for IPv6. They explained that while Microsoft Research folks were believers in IPv6, Microsoft proper didn't think it had many merits and refused to back it. Their stack crashed repeatedly (while Linux, Cisco and BSD folks had no problems playing well on the IPv6 network operational at the summits).

        And now these followers are taking credit for the work of countless great people? Pretending to have actually invented it all? WTF???

        I'm going to rip out Microsoft servers at work and treat them for what they are: intellectual property parasites. Nothing but thieves. I've laughed at the "worlds best marketers of mediocre software" jokes, but now it's personal. Those jokers admitted they were behind in 98-99. At Telluride in 99, they were embarrassed at how far behind Microsoft was in the protocol.

        If you work for Microsoft, pay attention! Your company increasingly comes acrossed as nothing but a poseur in the technology community. Many of us have put up with MCSE pretenders. But now it's personal. Hang your head low, Microsoft grunt. Your credentials are a black mark in these circles.

        • Those jokers admitted they were behind in 98-99

          They're still behind now - none of the standard windows services support v6 yet and there appears to be no way (under XPSP2) of manually configuring the IP address.

          Compared to my Linux boxes, which have all but a few stubborn services running on IPv6. (I currently have to use v4 for Asterisk, Portmap and CUPS... which is stunningly bad given that CUPS is a new system but doesn't do IPv6 at all.)
      • Unfortunately the current system seems to have some disadvantages.

        You'd better pray that nobody has a patent on understatements!
    • by Corpus_Callosum (617295) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @10:02PM (#12031462) Homepage
      The patent system needs to be completely overhauled. In fact, for the same reason, it appears the US legal system needs an overhaul as well. To bad it is basically impossible. Here is the problem:

      In patent law, all you need is the ability to claim infringement (hell, you can use a completely unrelated patent if you have a weaker opponent). Once you can get your toe in the door with the courts, it becomes about money. The more money you spend on lawyers, the longer the case will drag on and the more it will cost your opponent to defend himself (or in the case of a real patent lawsuit against a rich corporation, the more it will cost your opponent to prove his claim).

      Because most individuals and corporations cannot tolerate the massive legal bill of a head-on IP conflict with a rich opponent, in the majority of cases, the weaker opponent must settle. The result? It makes no difference who is right, it only matters who is willing to spend more.

      Today, it has become like that in practically every segment of the American legal system. This is nothing more than glorified corruption and all it does is serve to ensure that the wealthiest individuals and corporations are untouchable. To add insult to injury, it ties up our tax funded court system, so we end up partially financing the corrupt activities of the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

      I don't know how it would be possible, but something is needed to correct this imbalance. There should be SEVERE damage recovery for defendants that are shown to be innocent to account for their time, money and suffering of being dragged through the courts. There should likewise be SEVERE amplification of damages for corporations and individuals that put up massive, expensive legal defenses and are found guilty. Perhaps there should also be some means of capping expenditures on both parties (e.g. Corporation sues individual - legal expense cap for both parties limited to spending power of individual).

      The whole thing sickens me.
    • " Is it really possible that such patents may be enforceable?

      Yes. The key is to understand that in the US, patents issued are assumed to be valid until they are overturned -- which costs a *lot*.

  • Rambus did it first! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They tried to steal DRAM, I guess Microsoft figured that it was worth a try for the Internet.
  • by XeroPurpose (868997) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:13PM (#12031027)
    You see... the US Patent Office is alot like the Slashdot editors... more often than not, they get duped...
  • by 0xdeaddead (797696) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:13PM (#12031030) Homepage Journal
    While there is still time! PNP & NPN!!!!
  • by monopole (44023) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:13PM (#12031033)
    ...to us
  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:14PM (#12031038)
    Can a topic title be modded as Troll?
  • I'm surprised that they haven't patented DNS.
  • by peculiarmethod (301094) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:15PM (#12031048) Journal
    12. A computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions for performing the steps recited in claim 1.

    if I read this correctly, and I doubt I do (I hope I don't), they are trying to secure even CDs, floppies, usb cards.. anything that contains code that allows the negotiation of an ip address for the network running the IPv6 'like' protocol. whaaaa??!
    • You are ocrrect that the claims of a patent determine its scope. however, the claim you cited is a dependent claim [the ... of claim 1..] so it will include all the limitations of claim 1. Thus, to infringe, a program must at a minimum include: 1. In a host that has been connected to a network that does not have an IP address server and is not connected with any network having an IP address server, a method for automatically generating an IP address for the host, without another component of the network
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:36PM (#12031253)
      You are reading this line incorrectly. It is not a claim for any sort of computing device. It is merely one of several (at least 12) points about their invention. These dozen clauses are ANDed, not ORed.

      Back in the day, patents were not allowed on any sort of software at all. So, the convention arose of describing the entire process of the invention, including its realization on a general purpose computer running some software. Without this description of a concrete implementation, the patent application would get rejected. This text is essentially boilerplate for inventions that happen to be implemented with a general-purpose machine and some peripherals rather than a dedicated single-purpose machine with a hardwired "program".
      • by Macadamizer (194404) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:41PM (#12031299)
        Back in the day, patents were not allowed on any sort of software at all. So, the convention arose of describing the entire process of the invention, including its realization on a general purpose computer running some software. Without this description of a concrete implementation, the patent application would get rejected. This text is essentially boilerplate for inventions that happen to be implemented with a general-purpose machine and some peripherals rather than a dedicated single-purpose machine with a hardwired "program".

        Exactly -- this is called a "Beauregard claim," from the case in re Beauregard where someone first tried to patent software using claim language of this type.

        Nowadays, since we can directly patent software via business method patents, this claim language is somewhat superfluous, but a lot of patents still use it -- who knows, if they ever overturn State Street, maybe this claim language will save some patents...
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:15PM (#12031055)
    There needs to be some sort of penalty for filing fraudulent patent applications like this, and it needs to be something more than financial. Microsoft should be prohibited filing patents for a period of time. Ten years sound reasonable?
    • prison terms sounds better.
    • Do you have any proof that this is fraudulent?
      • RTFA - they allegedly withheld prior art documents.

        (yes not "proof" but as close as you can get without some kind of official investigation. after all, I can't proove to you right now that the Earth goes round the Sun but you know if you look you'll find it.)
  • by rokzy (687636) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:15PM (#12031057)
    Let's all make our own internet and not invite Microsoft. It'll be great. With hookers. And gambling.

    In fact... screw the gambling.
  • by Michael Hunt (585391) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:16PM (#12031063) Homepage
    Based upon my cursory reading of the patent, it appears to be just the sort of thing that the EU keeps throwing out, again and again.

    Admittedly in WIPO countries (since the patent is registered in the .us and .us patent law allows these kinds of shenanigans) royalties may have to be paid, but the EU parliament's reasonably clear stance on such things should go a long way towards making sure that this patent is a dead duck in a lot of the civilised world.

    Regardless, this sort of patent tomfoolery should be illegal. WIPO should (although this will never happen) declare a patent unenforcable under the terms of the Berne Convention should said patent have been undisclosed during a supposedly 'open' working group.

    Not that this sort of behavior is exactly unexpected from MS. It's what killed MARID.
  • I would like to say that this has no chance of suceeding, but unfotunately there's already one example of a company (Rambus) having their people attending a standards committee (JEDEC) in public while working to patent the same technologies in private. And they almost got away with it. [perkinscoie.com]

    • by Michael Hunt (585391) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:21PM (#12031103) Homepage
      A much closer precedent for this sort of tomfoolery was the IETF's MARID working group.

      For those of you who don't remember, Microsoft allied themselves (and their Sender ID standard) with Meng Weng Wong/PoBox's SPF standard, to create a supposed uber-standard known as 'Caller ID' (SPF v2). Later on, it came to light that MS owned key patents on many of the methodologies which SPF2 and Sender ID used, and their patent license was abhorrent to many of the working group's participants. The IETF then disbanded the working group.

      I'm working from memory, so I don't have much in the way of sources, but googling for "Microsoft MARID" should turn over a few stones.
      • I hate nitpicking my own posts, but I got the names of MS's two standards backwards:

        'Sender ID' was the later, merged-with-SPF standard.
        'Caller ID' was their own, patent-encumbered proposal.

        Sorry. That is all.
        • Their later standard is still patent encumbered. They're also now claiming all the SPF users as SenderID users, which is blatantly false. Looking at the SPF archives, it's fun to watch Meng try and make Microsoft sound like they were ever reasonable. It's like a battered child, making excuses for their molesting parent and pretend that the violations were their own fault while their friends, teachers, and social workers say "report them and get out of that house!"
    • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:27PM (#12031173)
      What do you mean Rambus *ALMOST* got away with it?

      Here's a news story from 2 days ago:
      "Chipmaker Infineon Technologies and memory chip designer Rambus have reached a settlement in their closely watched patent infringement case.

      Under the two-year agreement, announced Monday, Infineon will pay Rambus nearly $47 million for a global license to all existing and future Rambus patents and patent applications for use in Infineon products."

      • by Macadamizer (194404) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:50PM (#12031376)
        But part of the reason for the agreement is because each side is likely spending $1 million + per month on legal fees -- sometimes its better just to cut and run. Especially in litigation, where even if you spend the money on the lawyers, you still may lose anyway. At some point you just make a business decision.

        This was a nasty case anyway -- just a couple of weeks ago a judge smacked down Rambus for spoliation of evidence (read: destroying documents), and before that, Infineon got into all sorts of trouble for the same types of shenanigans...
  • This is why some things should remain in the public domain. It is like Joe's Brick and Morter company trying to patent roads, what MS is doing.

    There are some things that only the public, aka government can do, that we can't trust private companies with.

    I bet if government ran the phone companies and telecom, we could get service for pennies on the dollar. How much cost does it take to lay down the infrastructure? How much does it take to pay executives rediculous bonuses? Lets cut out the greed. And at

    • "I bet if government ran the phone companies and telecom, we could get service for pennies on the dollar."

      Don't be naive. You would lose your bet. In my country (The Bahamas) the government owns and runs the telco, electric, water & sewerage, airline, tv station, and radio stations. All monopolies for most of my life. Things are easing up a bit lately.

      I hear figures that more than 20% of the workforce in the country is government employed. This has large economic effects sure, but also large political
  • for acting against the common interest.

    Their charters were revoked.

    Nowadays, this no longer happens, sadly.

    However, considering that IPv6 is by virtue of creation a Government-owned (and hence Public) Patent, it would only be possible for MSFT to have an enforceable patent on a particular application or device that uses IPv6. Naturally, all this assumes (incorrectly) that the government will take action to enforce its rights and patents, which appears not to be the case in the USA.
  • by Stick_Fig (740331) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:21PM (#12031111) Homepage
    They're mad hax0rz of the patent office.
  • by StArSkY (128453)
    it reads to me like they are trying to patent DHCP
  • by mas5353 (870037) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:23PM (#12031124)
    The award for creating a sentence with the most obsessive use of IP goes to: M$! ...for an entry in their insidious attempt [freepatentsonline.com] at trying to patent the internet. As quoted: "assigning an IP address from the IP address server to the host when an IP address server is available over the IP network; and immediately discontinuing use of the generated IP address when an assigned IP address is received from an IP address server available over the network." Oh man... I hope that this isn't copyrighted because I could get sued!
  • sanctions on this kind of behaviour, like locking those related out of a board for several years?
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:27PM (#12031160) Journal
    The patent abstract:
    A method and computer product for automatically generating an IP network address that facilitates simplified network connection and administration for small-scale IP networks without IP address servers, such as those found in a small business or home network environment. First, a proposed IP address is generated by selecting a network identifying portion (sometimes known as an IP network prefix) while deterministically generating the host identifying portion based on information available to the IP host. For example, the IEEE 802 Ethernet address found in the network interface card may be used with a deterministic hashing function to generate the host identifying portion of the IP address. Next, the generated IP address is tested on the network to assure that no existing IP host is using that particular IP address. If the generated IP address already exists, then a new IP address is generated, otherwise, the IP host will use the generated IP address to communicate over the network. While using the generated IP address, if an IP address server subsequently becomes available, the host will conform to IP address server protocols for receiving an assigned IP address and gradually cease using the automatically generated IP address.

    Now that bear pretty much zero similarity to IPv6, which is among others: expanding address space over IPv4 while being somewhat backwards compatible for a transition period, improved IP packet modularity for less overhead, new hierarchical infrastructure for improved routing support, built-in IPSec, improved quality-of-service (QoS) support, improved support for ad hoc networking, and improved support for extensibility.

    That abstract seems to me that this is... well, something entirely different?

    Is it even a protocol?? "A method and computer product for automatically generating an IP network address"... Huh??

    Can someone clarify the huge similarities here to me that makes this big news?
    • by Michael Hunt (585391) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:36PM (#12031252) Homepage
      Nope. Read the IPv6 specs.

      IPv6 has an autoconfiguration mechanism whereby an IPv6 autoconfiguration server will spit out a 64-bit prefix (all local networks are /64s in IPv6), and a host will create an EUI-64 address to postpend to it, as a deterministic function of the interface's layer 2 address.

      I'd find the RFC but i'm too lazy. Search for 'IPv6 autoconfiguration' on rfc-editor.org or google.

      Have a nice day.
      • by Sampizcat (669770) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @10:13PM (#12031564)
        I had a quick squiz through RFC1883 (http://ietf.org/rfc/rfc1883.txt?number=1883) "Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification" and all it appears to mention on the subject is:

        "IPv6 increases the IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits, to support more levels of addressing hierarchy, a much greater number of addressable nodes, and simpler auto-configuration of addresses."

        Going into more detail and reading RFC1971 (http://ietf.org/rfc/rfc1971.txt?number=1971) " IPv6 Stateless Address Autoconfiguration" gives you the nuts and bolts of how it actually happens. Abstract says:

        "This document specifies the steps a host takes in deciding how to autoconfigure its interfaces in IP version 6. The autoconfiguration process includes creating a link-local address and verifying its uniqueness on a link, determining what information should be autoconfigured (addresses, other information, or both), and in the case of addresses, whether they should be obtained through the stateless mechanism, the stateful mechanism, or both. This document defines the process for generating a link-local address, the process for generating site-local and global addresses via stateless address autoconfiguration, and the Duplicate Address Detection procedure. The details of autoconfiguration using the stateful protocol are specified elsewhere."

        Two key points here: 1) Stateful autoconfiguration and 2) Stateless autoconfiguration.

        1) Stateful autoconfiguration: Is where it uses a server. Ignore.

        2) Stateless autoconfiguration: Does NOT require a server, but requires a router if you want more than just a link-local address. From the RFC:

        " IPv6 defines both a stateful and stateless address autoconfiguration mechanism. Stateless autoconfiguration requires no manual configuration of hosts, minimal (if any) configuration of routers, and no additional servers. The stateless mechanism allows a host to generate its own addresses using a combination of locally available information and information advertised by routers. Routers advertise prefixes that identify the subnet(s) associated with a link, while hosts generate an "interface token" that uniquely identifies an interface on a subnet. An address is formed by combining the two. In the absence of routers, a host can only generate link-local addresses. However, link-local addresses are sufficient for allowing communication among nodes attached to the same link."

        For the record, "link local addresses" are defined as:

        "an address having link-only scope that can be used to reach neighboring nodes attached to the same link. All interfaces have a link-local unicast address."

        So, essentially, it looks like MS is getting VERY close to what this RFC states, although they seem to be allowing more than just a link-local address without needing a router.

        Cheers,
        Sampizcat

    • IPv6 has stateless autoconfiguration, where machines are automaticlly given ip addresses. The first 64bit s of the address is the network prefix and the second 64 bits is a padded form of the 48 bit MAC address.

      This is the similarity to IPv6, although i don't think that this patent stateless autoconfiguration to be a problem, although courts oftern seem to missunderstand computer patent claims.

  • Who do I make the royalty check out to for my Solaris and OpenBSD installs that have had IPv6 capability for years?
  • by Frodo Crockett (861942) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:29PM (#12031191)
    Inventors: Ford; Peter S. (Carnation, WA);Bahl; Pradeep (Redmond, WA);Khaki; Jawad Mohamed J. (Redmond, WA);Burns; Greg (Carnation, WA);Beeson; Frank J. (Seattle, WA)

    Abstract: A method and computer product for automatically generating an IP network address that facilitates simplified network connection and administration for small-scale IP networks without IP address servers, such as those found in a small business or home network environment. First, a proposed IP address is generated by selecting a network identifying portion (sometimes known as an IP network prefix) while deterministically generating the host identifying portion based on information available to the IP host. For example, the IEEE 802 Ethernet address found in the network interface card may be used with a deterministic hashing function to generate the host identifying portion of the IP address. Next, the generated IP address is tested on the network to assure that no existing IP host is using that particular IP address. If the generated IP address already exists, then a new IP address is generated, otherwise, the IP host will use the generated IP address to communicate over the network. While using the generated IP address, if an IP address server subsequently becomes available, the host will conform to IP address server protocols for receiving an assigned IP address and gradually cease using the automatically generated IP address.

    Assignee: Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA)
    Application Number: 57135
    Filing Date: April 8, 1998
    Publication Date: August 8, 2000

    Claims:

    What is claimed and desired to be secured by United States Letters Patent is:

    1. In a host that has been connected to a network that does not have an IP address server and is not connected with any network having an IP address server, a method for automatically generating an IP address for the host, without another component of the network being required to transmit, to the host over the network, an IP address of said other component, the method comprising the steps of:

    without the host having received over the network any IP address of another component of the network, selecting a valid network identifying value as a network identifying portion of the IP address for the host;

    without the host having received over the network said any IP address of another component of the network, generating a host identifying portion of the IP address for the host based on information available to the host;

    and testing the generated IP address for the host for conflicting usage by another host on the network and determining that no conflicting usage of the generated IP address exists.

    2. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the network identifying portion of the generated IP address is chosen to be 10.

    3. A method as recited in claim 1, further comprising the steps of: determining that an IP address server is not present prior to selecting the network identifying portion of the IP address; and ascertaining if an IP address server later becomes present over the network.

    4. A method as recited in claim 3, further comprising the steps of: assigning an IP address from the IP address server to the host when an IP address server is available over the IP network; and immediately discontinuing use of the generated IP address when an assigned IP address is received from an IP address server available over the network.

    5. A method as recited in claim 3, further comprising the steps of: assigning an address from the IP address server to the host when an IP address server is available over the network; and gradually discontinuing use of the generated IP address when an assigned IP address is received from an IP address server available over the network.

    6. A method as recited in claim 3, further comprising the step of assigning an IP address from the IP address server to the host
  • by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:30PM (#12031203)
    Wow the just patented the network startup scripts
    on unix machines.
  • Missed the boat (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavera (320634) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:32PM (#12031217) Homepage Journal
    Ok, the article, the pubpat guy, the slashdot editors, everyone's missed the boat on this one.

    While this patent is not quite brilliant, it's not ipv6, this is a patent on the "automatic addressing" function in windows ME, 2k, xp, etc, where if your network card has link, but can't find a dhcp server the system auto-assigns an address from like a 169 or something subnet that MS owns.

    This patent has absolutely nothing to do with ipv6 further, I believe MS was the first to do anything like this, even now they are (unless maybe apple does it now too... but I don't think they do either). Anyway I've never seen the feature actually be useful, mostly it is an annoyance, but it's not ipv6
    • I think this is what you're referring to:

      auto-ip [potaroo.net]

      Automatically assign an address on the 169.254.0.0/16 network if no DHCP server is found. Continue making DHCP requests every 2-4 minutes until DHCP server does respond...

  • by spir0 (319821) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:32PM (#12031226) Homepage Journal
    but upon glancing over the patent, the abstract completely contradicts the complaints that this patent has received.

    It is nothing like IPv6. It sounds like a zero-config DHCP.
  • by MCTFB (863774) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:36PM (#12031254)
    If not for the fact that they lasted so long. Hey, if Microsoft did not patent the internet, then some other company which exists solely for the purpose of extorting money out of other companies with patent lawsuit threats would have done it.

    I myself have been personally involved in the patent process for reasons I can't mention here, but I have learned through it all that more times than not companies such as Microsoft file or acquire patents for defensive reasons much more often than for the purposes of bullying the small guy with threats of litigation.

    I mean, what if Microsoft or Amazon.com didn't file some of these ridiculous patents and somebody else did, then sued Microsoft or Amazon.com or [INSERT GIANT MULTINATIONAL SOFTWARE COMPANY HERE], and this company was able to extort millions, perhaps billions of dollars from these big companies by abusing the patent system. I mean, if you are a patent-squatter what is the point of wasting your time suing a small fry when you can go for the Big Kahuna.

    But the worst thing about all of this is that unless you defend your patent in court, you lose it. So, whether Microsoft or Amazon.com wants to defend their patents or not against a company which may have technology that is related to their patent, they are forced to sue those companies anyways.

    In addition to health care costs for businesses, high corporate taxes, weak anti-trust laws as well as poor enforcement of them, I would say our ass-backwards patent system is one of the major poisons of starting a technology business in the United States these days.

    I am no fan of oursourcing myself, but as a business owner of a software company myself, you sometimes have to ask yourself how the hell are you supposed to compete in the world marketplace when the laws and regulations in your own country AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF THOSE LAWS AND REGULATIONS is rigged entirely in favor of multinational corporations which really don't even have any national loyalty to any particular nation, yet due to the weakness of democratic republics around the world where votes can easily be bought and sold, small business owners in the technology industry either have to play by the rigged rules of the big companies or not play at all.

    Technology patents may seem like a huge problem when it comes to stifling innovation in the United States and around the world, but unfortunately they are just a small problem in a giant sea of problems that exist due to well-intentioned ideas such as patents being corrupted by giant amoral companies and the soulless people who run them.
  • I patent... (Score:3, Funny)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:37PM (#12031262)
    misreading an article about patents, and then submitting the erroneous conclusions to Slashdot who will then exercise their editorial bias against patents and post it as news.

  • by spagetti_code (773137) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:45PM (#12031324)
    1. Sit in on many of the standards committees.
    2. As the committee begins to discuss ideas, patent them behind the scenes
    3. Dont implement standards properly (IE, Office, TransactSQL...), but do implement own proprietary protocols/specs/language correctly.
    4. Scare people away from standards using patents
    5. Profit!
    I mean - these MS guys sat on the standards committee knowing that they had already attempted to patent what the standards committee was discussing. I bet they didn't disclose that to the committee! Dishonest - but brilliant.

    Even for Microsoft, this one reeks.

    Having said that, you can understand why Microsoft are claiming patent territory - they have been smacked [eweek.com] around [eweek.com] pretty [betanews.com] badly [theregister.co.uk]by software patents in the past. I wonder how many other gems are out there waiting to be discovered in amongst the 3000 or so patent apps per year MS puts forward.

    • Further to this...

      Keep in mind that there has already been shown to be *signficant* revenue in licensing patents - its an awesome business model.

      Create the patent (this does involve research and work and inventiveness). Then let other people productise it, take the risk, sell it and pay royalties to you. (Profit!!!)For example: [ffii.org]

      Collecting the patent royalties could add millions to IBM's net profits. In 1995--the last year IBM released figures--the company took in $650 million from royalties on all patents

  • That's cool (Score:4, Funny)

    by Starji (578920) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:50PM (#12031382)
    by the time IPv6 becomes used widespread the patent will have expired.
  • by Random832 (694525) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:55PM (#12031420)
    step 1: write lame slashdot comments about how the world should be run
    step 2: ...
    step 3: as listed below:
    Software patents will only last eighteen months.
    Only novel ideas will be patentable. Pointer comparison IsNot novel.
    Any attempt to claim something that was being done before the patent was made public is patent infringement, will automatically invalidate the entire patent in question.
    Any attempt to popularize a patent without disclosing the fact that it is patented, with the intention of collecting royalties later, will also result in automatic revocation.
  • by NekoXP (67564) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @10:04PM (#12031479) Homepage

    The flaws in the software patent system have spawned a whole new kind of patent
    filing; that with which to PROTECT things so that OTHER unscrupulous assholes
    don't patent them instead.

    Imagine if a fairly original idea was had, but it was SO obviously done. Patent
    it. Patent it NOW. Otherwise when someone has the same idea in the same week
    and they patent it, they will f**k you in the ass in 9 years when you finally
    finish your software.

    Case in point;

    Apple, IBM and Motorola have patented many algorithms using AltiVec units in order
    to protect the vector unit from unscrupulous "inventors". If the vectorisation of
    an algorithm is patented by someone else, they may choose to charge extortionate
    fees for the licensing, at which point to effectively use a processor you first
    have to buy it and then pay some unrelated company a fee. This is obviously
    unacceptable.

    IBM and Novell have been doing exactly the same for Linux in the past years too.
    SGI have patented a few things in OpenGL in order to protect the API.

    These uses of software patent law IMPROVE matters, not "kill and inhibit" software
    and progress.

    Microsoft here have basically repatented their own "AutoNet" idea (the use of a certain range of IP addresses to give to network cards if DHCP isn't there, no
    other address protocol can be found, and an ARP check tells it's not already in
    use). It's defined in prior-art style in RFC1971 for IPv6 (1995/1996) so the patent isn't "enforcable" per se by any company (Microsoft couldn't hope to use
    it to extort money).

    This is so obviously a cheap legal protection tactic, which any IP lawyer worth
    is salt would suggest to the engineers defining the standard. Patent it now before
    some prick does it for us.

    Neko
  • Interesting link (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChatHuant (801522) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @10:43PM (#12031781)
    After reading TFA I read the actual patent (well, what I could get from the legalese). And, from my (admittedly limited) understanding of IPv6, I couldn't see the issue. So I went to check the fine links in the FA.

    Surprise, the name of the guy that came up with the original complaint sounded familiar.

    So I did a Google on it, and found the article [forbes.com] I remembered (he's mentioned somewhere close to the end).

    Looks to me like a lot of FUD.
  • by humankind (704050) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @11:55PM (#12032289) Journal
    After reading all this it seems that Slashdot and Ziff Davis have been punked [bsalert.com] by a sleazy group trying to hawk "Linux litigation insurance" by spreading FUD over MS's encroaching patent processes. The actual patent is nothing like IPv6 in the first place.
    • by angio (33504)
      Not really. See claim 1 of the patent:

      1. In a host that has been connected to a network that does not have an IP address server and is not connected with any network having an IP address server, a method for automatically generating an IP address for the host, without another component of the network being required to transmit, to the host over the network, an IP address of said other component, the method comprising the steps of:

      without the host having received over the network any IP address of another
  • by keithmoore (106078) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:46AM (#12032904) Homepage
    Reading the patent claims this doesn't look so much like IPv6 (and certainly not a fundemental part of IPv6 - it resembles IPv6 stateless address autoconfiguration, but only vaguely). What it looks like is IPv4 linklocal addressing, which has shipped in both MacOS and Windows for several years, and is a draft that is either just about to be approved or has already been approved as a standard. See draft-ietf-zeroconf-ipv4-linklocal-17.txt [ietf.org] The really unfortunate thing is that linklocal addresses are quite useful on isolated networks, but are really harmful to applications unless they're turned off when a computer has a "real" address assigned by manual configuration or DHCP. And from a quick reading the patent would appear to apply to any implementation that turns off linklocal addresses under such conditions.

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