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Sony Sued for Blu-Ray Patent Violation 153

Posted by Zonk
from the how-shiny-is-too-shiny dept.
Jaidan writes "According to a Gamespot article, a California-based company named Target Technology is suing Sony over patents it allegedly holds for silver based reflective surfaces. The suit claims that products marketed under the Blu-ray name infringe on a patent it owns for reflective layer materials in optical discs. Target is seeking a permanent injunction preventing Sony from violating its patent rights in the future, as well as damages with interest, multiplied due to what it characterizes as deliberate and willful infringement. ' The patent addresses what Target called a need for specific types of silver-based alloys with the advantages (but not the price) of gold. According to the patent, the alloys are also more resistant to corrosion than pure silver. Target does not specify in its suit whether it believes all of Sony's Blu-ray discs infringe on its patent, or the suit applies to just a portion of the discs manufactured. The patent was filed in April of 2004 and granted in March of 2006.'"
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Sony Sued for Blu-Ray Patent Violation

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  • Think fast... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027)
    Why is this a bogus patent?

    It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.

    Isn't this what patent protection should be for?
    • Re:Think fast... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Phisbut (761268) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:31AM (#19269689)

      Why is this a bogus patent?
      It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.
      Isn't this what patent protection should be for?

      Nowhere in the article or in the summary is there a reference to a bogus patent. Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:38AM (#19269801)

        Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?
        Because this is Slashdot.
        • Re:Think fast... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:08AM (#19270219) Homepage
          Yes, it's slashdot. Which means that anything that's bad for SONY, is good for karma!
          • by Phisbut (761268) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:16AM (#19270351)

            Yes, it's slashdot. Which means that anything that's bad for SONY, is good for karma!

            However, every now and then, we get stuck in some sort of paradox, like when Jack Thompson and Microsoft are facing each other [slashdot.org], and we have to take sides...

            Next up:

            • Jack Thompson vs. Sony
            • Microsoft vs. Sony
            • ...
            • Jack Thompson vs. Soviet Russia
            • Profit vs. Microsoft
            • Sony vs. Step 2:...
            • Jack Thompson vs. Hot Grit
            • Re:Think fast... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by sl3xd (111641) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#19271873) Journal
              You know, that whole Microsoft vs. Sony is probably the hardest question an informed consumer could choose.

              On one hand you have a software company whose product's 'advanced' features only work with other software products from the same company.

              On the other hand, you have a hardware company whose product's 'advanced' features only work with other hardware products from the same company.

              Tough call. Obviously, many choose neither.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by pipatron (966506)
                It's easier and cheaper to fix broken software, not so easy to fix broken hardware. I'd rather see SONY in the gutter any day before Microsoft.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by sl3xd (111641) *
                  I take it on a case-by-case basis. Having done both hardware and software development, sometimes it's easier and cheaper to fix the hardware.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by gamer4Life (803857)
                  But you are forced to buy Microsoft's products since they have a monopoly. There is much more competition in the hardware space.
              • You know, that whole Microsoft vs. Sony is probably the hardest question an informed consumer could choose.
                Wii all know the answer is "C: Nintendo".
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by kypper (446750)
              Well obviously hot grits... who would pour Jack Thompson down one's pants??
          • by nschubach (922175)
            I think your post has placed my karma understanding in a tailspin. In saying that a bad post about Sony is good karma, you imply that the Slashdot community is anti-Sony, but in doing so you point out a flaw in said community. Now, the community mods you up for pointing out this flaw and you gain karma by indirectly defending Sony's name. You are basically saying something good about Sony and it was good for your karma, right?
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by toleraen (831634)
        Probably because the GP doesn't need someone else to think for him? I realize that coming to your own conclusions can be a scary experience, but you ought to try it some time.
        • The point is he asks the question as if it were stated in the article, but way to take a personal bash at someone for little reason.

          Mods plz mark parent as troll.
      • Why is this a bogus patent?

        It's for a physical substance, that was developed by someone, which performs better/differently than anotehr compound used for the same purpose.

        Isn't this what patent protection should be for?

        Nowhere in the article or in the summary is there a reference to a bogus patent. Why the hell did *you* jump to the conclusion that this was bogus?

        Well, this *is* slashdot. He probably just assumed that the article and half the posters will call it a bogus patent simply becau

    • Re:Think fast... (Score:4, Informative)

      by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:39AM (#19269831) Journal
      Actually, this may end up being bogus for different reasons. You must realize the patent was filed April 2004 and was patented May 2006. I know that Blu-ray has been in development for quite a time and the specifications were announced in the year of 2004. If Sony can provide sufficient evidence in court that what is claimed by Target had already been conceived in some form by them they will be able to circumvent this lawsuit and nullify the patent.
      • by Tuoqui (1091447)
        IANAL, but isnt the whole 'Prior Art' thing can only be shown by...

        a) A published work indicating how to do the patent BEFORE it was filed.
        b) An actual example of the patent being done the exact same way before the patent was filed.

        Now I dont know about you but published means publically published. I dont believe internal documents qualify as 'published'.
        • Re:Think fast... (Score:4, Informative)

          by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:54AM (#19270019) Journal
          But the applicant can file a terminal disclaimer (37 CFR 1.131) and swear behind the date as long as they give evidence of their work before the date of filing. It doesn't have to be published, nor does it have to be a working example. They actually can use internal documents as long as the date can be certified. I'm sure Sony knows this well.
          • by XnavxeMiyyep (782119) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:15AM (#19270329)
            Don't argue with this guy! Patent is his middle, err, last name.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mavenguy (126559)
            Eh, I'm late to this discussion. Anyway....

            You were correct in intent, but this is not a "terminal disclaimer" but, rather a affidavit used to "swear behind" the date of a prior art reference. The applicant must show reduction to practice or conception with dilligence and must attach evidence (such as lab notebooks) similar to that which would be entered in an interference, except that all dates may be redacted out of the documents, with the inventors asserting (under the criminal penatalies for false oath
      • by jnguy (683993)
        It sounds more like its an implementation specific patent. Having specifications doesn't necessarily mean that it already had implementation details. Of course, it also doesn't mean it didn't.
      • The patent is over a surface treatment. Although the original Bluray specifications may be older, a lot of recent R&D went into the actual physical properties of the disc, to maximise readability etc. (if you remember, the early Bluray prototypes where encased in hard shell like with floppys)
    • Re:Think fast... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:43AM (#19269885) Journal

      Why is this a bogus patent?
      The key is that it might be a bogus patent. I've linked the patent [uspto.gov] in another post I made, but here's the summary:

      A silver-based alloy thin film is provided for the highly reflective or semi-reflective coating layer of optical discs. Elements that can be added to silver to produce useful silver alloys include zinc, aluminum, copper, manganese, germanium, yttrium, bismuth, scandium, and cobalt. These alloys have moderate to high reflectivity and reasonable corrosion resistance in the ambient environment.
      Ok, so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products. Does that seem right? Should you be able to patent an alloy? Should you be able to blanket patent alloys that are reflective and restrict their use to your 'idea'? Isn't that something mother nature made possible? I'm not a chemist, is this stuff common sense? I think that a lot needs to be analyzed before this can be an obvious or bogus patent but, you know, there are a lot of reasons this could be a bogus patent.

      Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it" because what good does it do us if an idea is patented and the company just sits around waiting for a larger one to use it? The patent system is broken and so is the mentality of about half the patent holders that use it. It's no longer about protecting your intellectual property, it's about the tricks you can play to get insane sums of money. How long did NTP wait for RIM to expand and grow? A long time. It's not currently wrong but morally they've gotta be approaching some sort of evil.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products.
        Not fully correct. The chemical compounds are patented for their specific purpose which in this case is as an optical storage medium. Just because they have the patent for silver used in a reflective products doesn't mean they have protection against anything shiny with silver in it.
      • by jfengel (409917)
        I agree with you, but you have to be careful about how you define "using it". Part of the point of patents is that they can be given to people without the ability (or money) to actually put the idea into practice. You're supposed to be able to go up to a large company (like Sony) and say, "Hey, I've got this idea, and the US government says I thought of it first. I'll let you use it if you pay me."

        But to be able to set a market price for that idea, there has to be the option of not selling it. If the co
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rilian4 (591569)

          "...The patent owner has to be able to walk away. And while he's walked away, it's not fair for the company to go to the patent office and say, "Hey, we offered him a nice shiny quarter, and he wouldn't sell. He's not using it so you should take the patent away."
          ...the company better watch out. If that shiny quarter was dated 1964 or earlier, it has silver in it...they could get sued!!
        • I agree with you, but you have to be careful about how you define "using it". Part of the point of patents is that they can be given to people without the ability (or money) to actually put the idea into practice.

          Up to this point I agree.

          You're supposed to be able to go up to a large company (like Sony) and say, "Hey, I've got this idea, and the US government says I thought of it first. I'll let you use it if you pay me."

          This is where I start to disagree.
          People should get some kind of help if they are not a

          • by jfengel (409917)
            I agree; I think that patent trolls are clearly a violation of the intent of patents. You should be able to use an independently-developed idea, especially one for which it would be more work to find it in the published patents rather than creating it yourself. You see that a LOT in software.

            But proving that you weren't inspired by the published patent is tricky. If Sony pulls the data directly from the patent records, or even from my discussions with them, they are using my work, not just creating the id
            • It looks like the patent was issued after the specs for blu-ray were finalized. It does not appear sony had read the patents and stole it.
              • by jfengel (409917)
                Yeah... if there's anything worse than patent trolls, it's the jackasses who figure that it's often cheaper to pay them to go away than to fight their meritless lawsuits. That goes for the jackass class-action lawyers as well.
      • The excerpt you qote is from the *BACKGROUND* of the patent. It has nothing to do with what is being patented. The nature of the patent is listed under *CLAIMS*, of which there are 88 that neet to be met for an infringment. This patent is not one of the ridiculous swinging sideways types that sometimes get passed. Please, go and actually read the list of claims before you decide a patent is bogus.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PMuse (320639)
        Does that seem right? Should you be able to patent an alloy? . . . Isn't that something mother nature made possible?

        At least in the U.S., an alloy is patentable. 35 U.S.C. 101 [cornell.edu]:

        Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor . . .

        An alloy is considered a 'composition of matter' and the recipe for producing it is considered a 'process'. While some people believe that items simply f

      • by Cauchy (61097)

        Personally, I think patents should be "if you don't use it, you lose it"

        But, that's exactly not how a patent works. A patent does not grant you the right to use something, it specifically grants you the right to exclude others from using it.
      • so if I get a patent that says "silver alloys are best for reflective surfaces" and then I go on to list the possibility of using all elements in the periodic table (or those that make sense) and then I get that patent ... basically no one else can use silver in an alloy to make reflective products. Does that seem right?

        It sounds like the patent was granted for an idea that silver can be alloyed with other elements to make reflective surfaces. I'd expect a lot of prior art in this area, and have trouble

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AndersOSU (873247)
        Yes alloys are and should be patentable.

        How much research goes into developing harder steels for the sake of competitive advantage? From an industry perspective having a harder steel is only good if you are the only one to market it. It is also really really hard to hide what the alloy is. We've gotten pretty good at analytical chemistry, crystallography, and SEM, so a competent lab will have no problem figuring out the proportions of your alloy. Sure there is more to alloys than just the composition, b
      • Should you be able to patent an alloy? Should you be able to blanket patent alloys that are reflective and restrict their use to your 'idea'? Isn't that something mother nature made possible?

        That actually sounds reasonable to me. Otherwise, you could make a similar argument against pretty much any chemical in any application, and it seems to me that at least some patents on chemicals are truly novel and useful and non-obvious.

  • Hope they fight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277)
    Although Sony has been on my "Do Not Buy" list for some time, I sure hope they fight this rather than pay shut up money. It sounds like Target patented the mirror and it would be nice if someone showed them their own vile reflection in it.
    • by u-bend (1095729)
      Can I patent the silver bullet that someone will use to shoot them? Someone should find content newer than 2006 on their website and copyright it (their copyright is listed from 2005-2006).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665)
        No, because Fred Brooks [wikipedia.org] has already copyrighted the fact that they don't exist.
      • by s.bots (1099921)
        Sorry, the Silver Bullet is already patented (and trademarked) by Coors Light. So is the giant afro and watered-down beer.
        • Sorry, the Silver Bullet is already patented (and trademarked) by Coors Light.
          "Mr. Bots? Bob Seger is on line one."
        • by Belacgod (1103921) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:59AM (#19270091)
          Watered-down beer has to have prior art from the 1940s. I think it was on here that I read about the beer where 80% of tasters in a double-blind taste-test preferred horse piss, and the other 20% thought both were horse piss. I forget which beer though.
          • by u-bend (1095729)
            Was it The Beast [beeradvocate.com]? I've heard that this shite wins taste tests, but have yet to coroborate anything better than bronze [blogspot.com]. Still though. What's wrong with "American-Style Lager" beer drinkers?
            • by u-bend (1095729)
              coroborate -> corroborate. Not actually even drinking yet.
          • What I'd like to know is how the tasters knew what horse piss tasted like!

            ewww...
          • ...that they knew what horse piss tasted like.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Chris Burke (6130)
            I think it was on here that I read about the beer where 80% of tasters in a double-blind taste-test preferred horse piss, and the other 20% thought both were horse piss. I forget which beer though.

            Maybe it was Horse Piss Ale! Yes, it actually exists, I saw it in a liquor store in Kentucky. Comes in a 4-pack, and the bottle features a picture of a horse that apparently just had a big carrot shoved up its ass because it's exposing its teeth and gums in a crazy laugh/grin like Mr. Ed used to do sometimes.

            We
    • by quanticle (843097)

      It sounds like Target patented the mirror and it would be nice if someone showed them their own vile reflection in it.


      I'm not sure that's exactly the case. Target Tech. didn't patent the concept of a mirror, they just patented a specific substance that makes a mirror more reflective. That said, Sony still might be in the right, especially considering that they might have prior art.

    • Sony has been on my "Do Not Buy" list for some time

      Sadly, if you want to buy a game console these days, you gotta get one from a bunch of evil bastards. Sony of course are bastards of the worst kind and have been naughty with DRM, mainly their rootkits and their evil little killable VM inside the Blueray specification. But Nintendo pretty much invented DRM twenty years ago with the 10NES chip which made sure Nintendo controlled what games could be played on their console in a time where that was novel. Nintendo are notorious for censoring games for simply

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PitaBred (632671)
        Nintendo's gotten better in the last 20 years [gamestop.com]. I can't say Sony has started to treat consumers better, so they're still on my shitlist. I'll give a company a chance to change... will you?
        • by Pluvius (734915)
          More accurately, it's gotten better in the last ten years, which "coincidentally" happens to coincide with when it went from 600-pound-gorilla to has-been in the console market. Expect Nintendo to do a lot of the things it used to do (or at least things that are just as objectionable) if it somehow manages to get back to that level of dominance.

          Rob
        • I'll give a company a chance to change... will you?

          I'm not prejudiced against Nintendo. I've bought Nintendo consoles and games right through their moral bad patch because as I said before in a choice between arseholes my decisions can't be ideological in nature and I have simply preferred what Nintendo was offering in that period. I bought the PS3 over the Wii because Wii fans annoy me and I personally like big, high tech and expensive, I'm prejudiced against the Xbox 360 of course but that's neither here

      • by donaldm (919619)
        Patents (love them or hate them) IMHO have reached the stage where in the US you can patent just about anything providing you can wrap up the application in legalese and make the claim sufficiently broad without being too obviously broad. It is interesting that patent legalese actually makes the reading of a patent almost incomprehensible to the professional engineer yet the patent lawyer rarely has a technical grasp of the invention.

        I cannot comment on the Target patent since I have never read it but I thi
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      It sounds like Target patented the mirror and it would be nice if someone showed them their own vile reflection in it.

      You're assuming that bloodsuckers have a reflection.

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:30AM (#19269681) Journal

    This is news?

    Then again, is this just another case of patent whoring? again, news?

    Until the nightmare that is patenting computer technology/software is fixed/destroyed, these kinds of things will not be news, just a common occurrence/nuisance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by catbutt (469582)
      Well this isn't software, and calling it "computer technology" is a bit of a stretch, since standalone DVD players aren't what we generally think of as computers.

      Unless you are against ALL patents, I don't really see a huge problem here.

      And yes, it is news.
    • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:51AM (#19269985) Homepage
      Patenting technology [e.g. material sciences] is not the same as software. In software, you're more likely to just adapt from a known source to suit your needs. True innovative [and original] computer algorithms are rare, which is why people oppose software patents. If it were the case that truly original innovations were common in software it would be a different story.

      As for material sciences [e.g. making a disc] it could quite possibly not have been obvious that a given composition of alloys make a highly reflective corrosion resistant material. Just because something is computer related doesn't mean it's software. Of course, just because you got a patent for it doesn't mean you deserved it too...

      Tom
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:31AM (#19269695) Journal
    So, I thought I would investigate by reading the patents [uspto.gov] of Target Technology Company LLC (the specific patent here [uspto.gov]) and noticed that the patent mentioned actually references one of Sony's patents in regards to R/W capabilities of discs:

    The recording medium may be erased for re-recording by focussing a laser of intermediate power on the recording medium. This returns the recording medium layer to its original or erased state. A more detailed discussion of the recording mechanism of optically recordable media can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,741,603; 5,498,507; and 5,719,006 assigned to the Sony Corporation, the TDK Corporation, and the NEC Corporation, all of Tokyo, Japan, respectively, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
    I haven't read all the patents referenced by Target Technology Company's patent but if they have a case, this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs and optical drives then they waited for someone to make this logical step. Here, it looks to be using a certain chemical to make the discs more reflective. Ok, so maybe they spent a lot of research and maybe they didn't ... I don't know. Is it a specific chemical? Could one patent the specific use of a chemical? Did Sony just read the patent and use the chemical? I'm sure the court case will have to examine all that. I just hope some kind of justice can be found that seems right and logical in this case between the two companies.

    But this looks like I could draft up a generic patent about triple layering and/or quadruple layering of data on discs and apply for the patents then just sit back and wait for someone to try and use it. I would reference all the dual layering patents and all that jazz. Would you call my ideas innovative or just common sense? Would it seem right that I didn't even have to implement these solutions? I don't know, I can think of instances where one could argue either way and this is what is inherently wrong with the patent system. Of course, I don't know how to fix it but I don't like how it works right now.
    • by ThosLives (686517)

      After reading, this patent doesn't seem to be an "invention" at all, but rather a research paper which shows which alloys work best.

      While I personally don't think you should be able to patent a discovery, I don't know how the current legal system of any country handles these.

      Note that there's a subtle and probably subjective difference between trial-and-error for finding an alloy, and specifically tailoring an alloy for some purpose, and I've a bad feeling that's what applies here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RingDev (879105)
        Here's a little scenario for you. Lets say I'm with a small time drug research company. We have a couple of docs, some grad students, and a bunch of admins and what not. And lets say we spend 2 million dollars over 3 years trying to come up with a medication that will cause your skin to tan. Towards the end of our study, running out of money, and researchers are ready to move on one of our founders takes a risk and pops a pile of our prototype pills to see what happens. He comes back the next week to tell u
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Now you're just trying to conflate relatively simple metallurgy with rather intensely complicated organic chemistry. The patent system should serve to make it more likely that Edison style filament experimentation will occur. If the sort of invention/discovery is not of that kind then it's of dubious value to grant a patent for it.

          The system shouldn't be a tool for trolls that just casually exploit the state of the art.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by RingDev (879105)
            I disagree. I think if you come up with anything, purposeful or accidental, you should be able to patent it (so long as it meets the other criteria). HOWEVER, in today's industrial/economical environment, patents should be much shorter.

            IMO:
            Patent issue for two years.
            If the patent holder shows that they are actively working on producing/licensing the patent in that time they can apply for a 3 year extension.
            If the patent holder can show that they are actively working on producing/licensing the patent, but ha
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gnasher719 (869701)
            '' Now you're just trying to conflate relatively simple metallurgy with rather intensely complicated organic chemistry. The patent system should serve to make it more likely that Edison style filament experimentation will occur. If the sort of invention/discovery is not of that kind then it's of dubious value to grant a patent for it. ''

            Actually, Edison got a patent for the idea of taking a thin wire, heating it up in a vacuum, and have it produce light. The hard hard work going through hundreds of material
    • That patent, as I read it, appears to be a novel and non-obvious improvement of an existing technology. Provided there is no prior art, it sure looks like a valid, and good, patent.

      The part about this suit that I think should be more obvious is this: (FTA) "it [Target] characterizes as deliberate and willful infringement." That makes me think that they came up with the technology, applied for the patent, then attempted to sell/license the technology to Sony. Sony declined, but then used the technology anywa
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Control Group (105494) *
      this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs

      The question is whether it's non-obvious or not. Building new technologies atop old technologies but incorporating a new, novel idea is what patents are supposed to protect. If, for example, I developed a method for making a polymer that was self-healing, thereby making optical discs scratch-proof, I would reference existing patents on optical disc formats and claim my improvem
    • Theoretically, in order to get a patent, you would have to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to practice a quad-layer disc. Even if the patent issued, anyone you accuse of infringing the patent would hire experts to say that you did not possess the invention at the time you filed the patent application, and that you didn't describe the invention sufficiently. This requirement of enablement and written description is in addition to the requirement that the patent not be obvious, or anticipated b
    • by russotto (537200)
      I think you're right. It sure looks like they took a whole bunch of work which had already been done, suggested a particular class of alloys (not a particular alloy, but entire classes, with wide ranges suggested for the proportions), and patented that. Looks like one of those "patenting the foam" patents.
    • '' I haven't read all the patents referenced by Target Technology Company's patent but if they have a case, this looks like TTC built a slight logical advancement on top of Sony's (and a vast number of other company's) work in optical discs and optical drives then they waited for someone to make this logical step. Here, it looks to be using a certain chemical to make the discs more reflective. Ok, so maybe they spent a lot of research and maybe they didn't ... I don't know. Is it a specific chemical? Could
  • ...I'm starting to see that Mark Shuttleworth [markshuttleworth.com] was right.
  • On the face of it, it sure sounds a lot like a CD which I'm pretty sure was around prior to 2004.
  • by alexhs (877055) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:37AM (#19269781) Homepage Journal
    here [targettechnology.com]. (Warning, CPU-whoring Flash)

    Doesn't seem a patent troll...
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:44AM (#19269899)
    Does this mean that BluRay capabilities will be (purely by coincidence) removed from the PlayStation 4 as Sony execs try to tell us that high-capacity disks are so "last gen?"
    • witness the birth of the Purple-Ray using non-reflective discs
    • Is that the inverse of Microsoft and Nintendo telling us that high-capacity disks aren't current-gen?
      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        No, more a continuation of their "Why would you want to play last-gen games on your current-gen console?" attitude.
  • Well, I know which Hi-Def player I should NOT get now, at least until this is settled. And if Sony loses this case, it will lose the movie format war again. I suppose that could be good for consumers though, because format wars just discourage adoption of useful technology.
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:51AM (#19269983) Homepage
    There isn't enough information here to form an intelligent position.

    Given that Target is only suing Sony over Blu-Ray, and not suing any other organizations over CDs, DVDs, GD-ROMs, Game Discs, HD-DVDs, or FMD-ROMs (!), it's possible (however unlikely) that this is actually an example of patents working the way they should. That is, Target may have a patent on an actual technology; a specific method of producing a reflective layer that is superior and/or cheaper than other methods. If that's the case, then this is exactly how patents are supposed to work.

    Alternatively, of course, Target may have patented an obvious evolution of well-established technologies, in which case this is just another patent troll. They could be holding off on suing other companies until they've set some sort of precedent with Sony.

    The actual patent [uspto.gov] begins by specifying an alloy of silver an yttrium, but the further claims also (apparently) expand that claim by including alloys with other elements (such as bismuth and tin). I don't have the time right now to examine the patent in great detail; but a skim makes it look like they patented a specific method for a high-reflectivity layer thats cheaper than other methods of equivalent reflectivity. They then expand this idea to include all the derivative technologies of using this method (single & dual layer discs, write-only discs, write-once disc, re-writeable discs, etc).

    The problem is I don't have enough familiarity with the technology to know if this is a non-obvious development or not. If it is non-obvious, then more power to them. Protecting your novel idea with a patent is fair play. If, of course, it's just the optical disc equivalent of "[X], but on the INTERNET and called i[X]," then I hope they get counter-sued into oblivion.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Umuri (897961)
      MOD PARENT UP!
      I am all for patent bashing, but i am not a chemist, nor is most of slashdot.

      Unless this is an obvious leap, this is EXACTLY what patents are for. It's not software, it's not the human genome, and it's a novel invention that includes both the method and the compound used. That is the epitome of somethign that someone should be able to patent so they can resell it for awhile to make money off it.

      For the car analogy requirement: I would almost give this akin to, say, developing a new method of
      • I agree, someone should mod me up. ;)

        Seriously, however, you really hit a very interesting point that I think is illustrative of the problems with the current patent system as a whole:

        I am all for patent bashing, but i am not a chemist, nor is most of slashdot.

        Here we are on a web site that is read and commented on by a population with an unusually high proportion of scientists of various stripes and people who are intimately familiar with technology - and I've yet to see anyone in the conversation weight i
  • Target Technology (Score:5, Informative)

    by lucyfersam (68224) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:16AM (#19270357)
    After doing a little looking at thier site, Target Technology gets their name because they do actually make products with this technology. The make silver alloy targets for sputtering the metal onto optical discs, and their targets are currently used manufacture of many DVD-R's and other optical discs. I would guess (though I don't have enough information to be sure) that they think Sony looked at the compostion of their targets, said "hey, these work really well," and decided to make their own targets of the same compesition for their Blu-ray discs. True or not, I have no idea, but it is at least possible a valid patent case. It's not like this is just an company who hoards patents and licenses them, they actually make products based off of those patents.
  • It's a marketing scheme. Sony and Target are in it together to create a buy-the-PS3-now-before-production-must-cease frenzy. Since there are thousands of PS3s sitting on store shelves collecting dust, this would seem to be the best method at resolving the problem in a hurry. Then as soon as the overstock problem is resolved, Sony and Target mysteriously settle on undisclosed terms.
  • by akpoff (683177) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:25AM (#19270531) Homepage
    It's Sony for pity's sake. This is one company even the Linux and Windows fanboys agree to hate. ;-)
  • my mind is clouded (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hxnwix (652290) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:03PM (#19271121) Journal
    For patently I spy a silver lining
    no more blu-ray - patently shining
  • silver-based alloys with the advantages (but not the price) of gold

    Silver ain't cheap either, if you're buying it by the tonne to make discs by the millions.

  • Outcome will be dull (Score:3, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:21PM (#19271431)
    If it is a valid claim Sony will probably settle and buy a license to use the technology, otherwise they will fight it in court. Actually, it is probably more along the lines of
    IF ( LICENSE .LT. (DAMAGES * P(.LOSS.) ) THEN CALL SETTLE ELSE CALL FIGHT END IF !pardon the Fortran
    So basically Sony will have a slightly lighter wallet after this but it is unlikely that Target will refuse to strike a good deal on the matter unless they get a better offer from the HD-DVD crowd.
  • This patent is not a submarine patent. This patent took 2 years to go from first application to being granted, which is pretty standard. There are a lot of steps and paperwork involved, especially if you have to edit your claims (and this patent had to be revised a couple of times when it was issued two non-final rejections -- again, this is pretty standard). Just search the USPTO legal status [uspto.gov] of this patent (7018696) to see.

    Submarine patents usually hide for much longer than 2 years. Wikipedia has a [wikipedia.org]

  • I mean come on. I think my toaster violates this patent, but then that's pre-existing art, but wait isn't that copyright, or trademark, god damn it. A law that ceases to make sense if it ceases to serve society. I have worked at many companies whom all think they have a "secret" process they and only they use. However in every simalar industry I see them doing the same shit. So even when companies our filing patents for something other than suing other companies, it's still bullshit 99% of the time.

    I
  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:37PM (#19279143)
    According to wikipedia:

    The first Blu-ray Disc recorder was demonstrated by Sony [wikipedia.org] on March 3, 2003, and was introduced to the Japanese market in April that year. On September 1, 2003, JVC announced Blu-ray Disc-based products at IFA in Berlin, Germany.

    According to TFA [slashdot.org], The patent was filed in April of 2004 and granted in March of 2006.

    So provided these dates are correct, I have three questions: 1) did the patent troll break any laws? 2) if so, what punishment is sufficiently severe to deter this practice? and 3) if the patent troll did not break any laws, then is the law an ass?

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