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20+ Companies Sued Over OS Permissions Patent 282

Posted by timothy
from the advancing-the-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.
freemywrld writes "According to the article on Ars Technica, Microsoft, Symantec and 20 other companies are being sued over patents covering 'systems for governing application and data permissions, as well as ensuring application integrity.' The patents were granted in the 90's to the Information Protection and Authentication of Texas (IPAT). From the article: 'A response from any of the defendants is still forthcoming, and it is unclear whether the authentication and permissions systems that IPAT's patent describes are precluded by prior art. Even if IPAT has a leg to stand on in court, however, it certainly didn't take the easy route to recovering any damages by suing 22 companies.'"
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20+ Companies Sued Over OS Permissions Patent

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  • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:09PM (#26412805)

    That's a lot of BIG companies to be suing. I surely hope they have good lawyers or they're going to get a jolly-rodgering!

    • by N1ck0 (803359) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:03AM (#26413185)

      Too bad they didn't file this 3+ months ago.

      See USPTO: Re Bilski

      Determining patent viability under section 101. "Under this test, a patent claim is eligible if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing."

      See USPTO: Ex parte Langemyr and Ex parte Wasynczuk

      "A general purpose computer is not a particular machine, and thus innovative software processes are unpatentable if they are tied to a general purpose computer."

    • Actually, some companies don't mind being ripped off. MS for one. Look at how they were quick to pay unnecessary licensing from SCO. By doing so, MS give SCO some funding for their warchest and gave SCO's case some credibility thereby undermining Linux for a while and doing MS competition more damage than the amount they paid. ie. Net win for MS.

      No doubt MS will do the sums here and do the same thing if the spreadsheet tells them to. They'll happily pay up if it puts more hurt on their rivals.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:13PM (#26412841) Homepage Journal

    Let me guess -- this was filed in the Eastern Texas District, right?

    It's about time some higher authority arrested the patent troll friendly "judges" for contempt of justice. Or Eastern Texas seceding, as is their right according to their terms for joining the union. Either would work fine with me.

  • I'm Scared (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:17PM (#26412859) Journal

    I just entered "chmod 755" on a directory so other users could not modify my data. When can I expect the cease and desist order?

    • Re:I'm Scared (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:19PM (#26412881) Homepage Journal
      This patent seems to be closer to Access Control Lists in VMS. They existed before 1990 of course. IPAT should sue HP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by russotto (537200)

        This patent seems to be closer to Access Control Lists in VMS.

        Yes, claim one has as prior art just about every access control mechanism known to machine. VMS, Kerberos, probably even venerable MVS. There may or may not be prior art for each particular dependent claim, but they amount to "gathering the foam", as Justice Bradley once put it -- in this case, attempting to secure every combination of digital signatures and ordinary access control.

        The other independent claim, Claim 42 would also appear to be

      • They differentiate this based on a per program ACL that allows programs accessing what resources. If I remember correctly (it has since 1994), there was options to limit programs and control programs access to the internet.

        These features were advertised.

      • Re:I'm Scared (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:06AM (#26414165) Homepage Journal
        Any OS that was listed as Orange Book B1, B2, B3 or A1 certified would also violate the patent and/or be prior art. This includes Trusted Irix, Trusted Solaris and Genesis. Probably many, many others besides. Since the Orange Book says nothing about having to get such OS' licensed under some obscure patent, and yet the originator of the patent appears to be from the very group that developed the Orange Book, one must assume that the patent is fraudulent and specifically designed to ensnare precisely the operating systems likely to qualify through inside information on what systems did qualify.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hughk (248126)

          and yet the originator of the patent appears to be from the very group that developed the Orange Book

          The Orange book was already out in 1983, some ten years before the first of these two patents.

    • by gustar (125316) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:20PM (#26412887)

      A summons to cease and desist is speeding on its way to you as we speak. I took the liberty of including a list of other activities you should immediately cease and desist due to patents which I hold... for example the use of a paper product for the removal of excrement after defecating... I patented that idea and am looking to seek damages for illegal/uncompensated use of said concept.

      • I patented that idea and am looking to seek damages for illegal/uncompensated use of said concept.

        My attorney says you can compensate THIS.

    • Re:I'm Scared (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThreeGigs (239452) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:30PM (#26412959)

      I just entered "chmod 755" on a directory so other users could not modify my data. When can I expect the cease and desist order?

      You haven't infringed the patent.

      Now, if you want to infringe the patent, you'd have to tell us the command you could issue to allow any program except say, GIMP, from accessing your data. This is 'program access', not 'user access'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by russotto (537200)

        Now, if you want to infringe the patent, you'd have to tell us the command you could issue to allow any program except say, GIMP, from accessing your data. This is 'program access', not 'user access'.

        I created a group for each program allowed special access, and made the executable for that group "setgid" for that group. Then I used ACLs (not in vanilla Unix, but I believe AFS had them prior to the patent priority date) to make my files readable by certain groups and not by others.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mysidia (191772)
        vi /etc/sysconfig/selinux semodule -i block_the_gimp.pp setenforce enforcing
        • Re:I'm Scared (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anpheus (908711) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:15AM (#26413583)

          You may have unintentionally brought up an extremely good point: SELinux is/was developed by the NSA for security applications, and is presumably a matter of national security as an invaluable piece of their infrastructure.

          Are they suing the US government?

          • Re:I'm Scared (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Kalriath (849904) * on Monday January 12, 2009 @06:40AM (#26414991)

            No. National Security usually allows the government to completely ignore the rights of an IP owner, essentially annexing those rights for itself. I know it's like that here, I can't imagine the US being more restricted.

            • Re:I'm Scared (Score:4, Informative)

              by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:17AM (#26415757)
              Not sure where you are, but a worker in the USPTO has informed me that the government can ignore or even invalidate a patent that has significant national security applications. What is tricky about it is that the government tries not to do so, and prefers to grant exclusive contracts to companies that hold the patents, to maintain faith in the patent system. For example, you can be granted a patent on missile guidance systems, and the government will contract with you for missile control, but if you refuse to market the invention, the government might simply ignore the patent and build the system anyway. With software it is very tricky, because the security of the US depends on the security of both government and non-government software, which puts the government in a difficult position in terms of security related patents.

              Of course, the point is moot here, because of the immense amount of prior art.
    • Start here [wikipedia.org].

      Direct Link to the more recent patent [uspto.gov]. USPTO needs to look into tinyurl code for short link redirects to content. They're not alone.

      It looks like your basic troll patent. They try to get all of the possible potential access control mechanisms for programs in the hope that in the future some of them are employed, without bothering to check that all of them are not already employed decades since. Shoddy work, as one would expect. Is it this easy to get a patent? Maybe I should field a few.

      • What are they, $500?

        More like $10,000 if you hire a good attorney to write it for you. Just the filing fees (USPTO fees) will exceed $500 though.

    • That said, the guys who developed KeyKOS did it (and patented it) a long time before they did.

      http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~KeyKOS/ [upenn.edu]

    • Re:Never. (Score:3, Informative)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      Don't expect the C&D.

      I read the patents, the first one (5,412,717) basically functions as a whitelist to protect users from a computer virus. It includes hashes and specific actions a program can or cannot do. chmod functionality protects data from users, while this invention protects users against viruses. It includes a description of a certification authority system much like SSL certificates, which authenticate the contents of the whitelist explicitly or implicitly.

      5,311,591 seems to include somet

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:19PM (#26412877)

    Considering that the patents were granted back in 1994 and 1995, isn't 2009 a little bit late to be suing some of these companies considering how long they've been around. I'm not a lawyer, but isn't there some limited time window where you need to sue someone who's been infringing on your patent.

    If not, doesn't the whole patent system become rather predatory whereby some companies do nothing but patent ideas and wait until someone else uses those patents (perhaps accidentally) and makes a significant amount of money from them before suing their pants off?

    Is there anyone around more knowledgeable in patent law who might be able to explain things a little better? I tried checking on groklaw to see if there was any coverage there, but nothing has been posted yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772)
      Google for: laches
    • by pavera (320634) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:23PM (#26412919) Homepage Journal

      yeah unfortunately that is exactly how the patent system works. Trademark is the only IP that you have to "protect" proactively or risk loosing.

      With patents it is 100% acceptable to patent a bunch of ideas and then wait for someone else to develop them commercially, and then sue them and take the profits.

      • by kabloom (755503)

        Well, thanks to MercExchange vs EBay, it's becoming less true. Also, In re Bilski should hopefully take a bite out of what they can accomplish here.

        I'd bet there's prior art for this patent too Unix has been around a long time, and Multics was around before that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gustar (125316)

      Considering that the patents were granted back in 1994 and 1995, isn't 2009 a little bit late

      It is never to late to sue someone! Slow economic times are the best time to do so. Why pour countless hours into developing good idea/products when you can hire lawyers instead!

  • The defendants (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:20PM (#26412885)

    The lawsuit details are at
      http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuit.asp?id=43183

    In particular, the 22 defendants are

      Symantec Corp.
      Microsoft Corp.
      AVG Technologies USA, Inc.
      CA, Inc.
      Check Point Software Technologies, Inc.
      Comodo Group, Inc.
      ESET, LLC
      F-Secure, Inc.
      iolo technologies, LLC
      Kaspersky Lab, Inc.
      McAfee, Inc.
      MicroWorld Technologies, Inc.
      NetVeda, LLC
      Norman Data Defense Systems, Inc.
      Novell Inc.
      PC Tools, Inc.
      PWI, Inc.
      Sophos, Inc.
      Sunbelt Software, Inc.
      Trend Micro Incorporated
      Velocity Micro, Inc.
      Webroot Software, Inc.

    • by Kalriath (849904) *

      I'm surprised they also missed SourceFire, Inc (ClamAV) - and probably a few other AV vendors too.

      • The whole case screams FAILURE to me, as this has been around for quite a while (pre-patent) and ACLs have more implementations than we could list. They are going after AV vendors, and I fail to see how heuristics violates an ACL/permissions patent.

        On an unrelated note, all of the fucking trolls on this page made firefox crash, followed by my X server (I had no swap file at the time). The trolls on /. are getting worse, I think I need to send some patches to the slashcode team.
    • Re:The defendants (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kimvette (919543) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:49AM (#26413771) Homepage Journal

      Good luck suing Novell; their network operating system (Netware) supported access control lists very early on. They can demonstrate prior art very easily, cutting the legs out from under the suit. Those trolls would have been best off avoiding suing Novell.

    • by whoever57 (658626)
      Not the NSA (SELinux anyone?)
    • Hmm.. Judging from a number of entries, that's a list of fairly patent friendly companies. Two things come to mind.

      a) since these companies support patents they can't use anti-patent arguments.
      b) if they gave in and paid up it might make it easier to sue someone else.

      I guess a). I think this is more likely to be a list of companies who have argued in court that software patents are valid and so when they try to argue otherwise their own arguments can be used against them. I guess this is an attempt to sq

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:33PM (#26412979)

    Apparently, a six year delay negates patent protection [patentlyo.com] (the patentee has "unreasonably and inexcusably" delayed prosecution) under the same laches idea as made above.

    Enforcement Laches does not require detrimental reliance. However, the patentee must be shown to have "unreasonably and inexcusably" delayed bringing suit and that the alleged infringer subsequently suffered material prejudice. A six year delay creates a presumption of laches.

    Patent Law Blog (Patently-O): Laches and Equitable Estoppel. [patentlyo.com]

    • Apparently, a six year delay negates patent protection [patentlyo.com] (the patentee has "unreasonably and inexcusably" delayed prosecution) under the same laches idea as made above.

      Enforcement Laches does not require detrimental reliance. However, the patentee must be shown to have "unreasonably and inexcusably" delayed bringing suit and that the alleged infringer subsequently suffered material prejudice. A six year delay creates a presumption of laches.

      Patent Law Blog (Patently-O): Laches and Equitable Estoppel. [patentlyo.com]

      This is a very informative post.

      By the way, unix [wikipedia.org], which incorporated the archetypal permission system, was developed in 1969.
      This is a clear case of prior art which even a "patent troll judge" cannot ignore. It's neither obscure nor contestable as its history is very well documented.
      Any judge who doesn't throw it out of court after unix is brought forward as an example of prior art should be immediately scheduled for competency hearings.

      • By the way, unix [wikipedia.org], which incorporated the archetypal permission system, was developed in 1969.
        This is a clear case of prior art which even a "patent troll judge" cannot ignore. It's neither obscure nor contestable as its history is very well documented.
        Any judge who doesn't throw it out of court after unix is brought forward as an example of prior art should be immediately scheduled for competency hearings.

        [Citation needed]
        ... Or at least a better understanding of what prior art is, before you go calling for competency hearings. The Unix permissions system doesn't disclose all of the limitations of the claimed invention, specifically "establishing a program authorizing information data structure for storing a plurality of authorization entries each indicating at least one of those computer resources and information processing related functions which may be used by an associated program;"

        Unix works with user permissions... This is application permissions. You have rwx access to /user/[name]/library, but maybe you don't want /application/fubar to have full access there, even though you're the same user running it. Look, it's right here in the patent:

        Thus, the present invention advantageously protects a user from any program to be executed. The present invention is particularly advantageous in light of current data processing practices where programs are obtained from a wide range of diverse, untrustworthy places such as computer bulletin boards or other users of unknown trustworthiness.

        99% of what you read on Slashdot regarding patents is not just wrong, but the complete opposite of reality. Such as calling for competency hearings for a judge refusing to invalidate a patent on file permissions at application-specific levels because "unix was developed in 1969".

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by plasmacutter (901737)

          ok, by that description the concept of user accounts combined with the standard rwx permission system " advantageously protects a user from any program to be executed".

          Programs executed in one user space do not affect the programs or data in another user space unless the rwx permissions are changed properly.

          in your example:
          Unix works with user permissions... This is application permissions. You have rwx access to /user/[name]/library, but maybe you don't want /application/fubar to have full access there

          chan

          • change the permission of the folder to exclude /application/fubar's group. BAM, same thing.

            my point still stands.

            User running /application/fubar still has full rwx access to the folder. So does fubar. Whups. Your point fails.

            You may have a point if you're talking about multiple users, but then, again, your point fails, because this patent is talking about a single user.

            • change the permission of the folder to exclude /application/fubar's group. BAM, same thing.

              my point still stands.

              User running /application/fubar still has full rwx access to the folder. So does fubar. Whups. Your point fails.

              You may have a point if you're talking about multiple users, but then, again, your point fails, because this patent is talking about a single user.

              "application permissions" would be called file associations (also around for a long time), or encrypting the file and attaching a module to the desired application allowing access to the file.

              encryption and file associations have also been here since our parents were children.

              • by Twanfox (185252)

                File associations are not permissions, they are conveniences that the operating system uses to allow a program to predefine what application runs a particular data file. IE: Notepad is the application assocated with .txt, but Wordpad, Word, Textpad, and any number of other applications can be associated with .txt or even run it when the association is not with them.

                Also, if you have a binary program that understands .txt files, but you don't want it to go modifying any of those .txt files in your home direc

                • by bit01 (644603)

                  People like you need to get it through their heads that the because of the ill-defined nature and boundaries of ideas, not to mention the patent office's wild incompetence in differentiating words and the ideas they represent, it means that to say something is, or is not, prior art is a very ill defined idea indeed. They, and you, are just hand waving when you say something is [not] prior art.

                  As to your example about text files; utterly trivial to implement using Unix group permissions and setgid.

                  Pretty muc

        • Partially side-stepping the question of prior art, I'm wondering about the patentability of these claims on obviousness grounds. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

          One of the main requirements of patentability is that the invention being patented is not obvious, meaning that a "person having ordinary skill in the art" would not know how to solve the problem at which the invention is directed by using exactly the same mechanism.

          I'm certainly no patent lawyer, but an awful lot of the things we've seen coming out of the USPTO s

        • by JimboFBX (1097277)
          I see your point, although his point was that the method used are identical. Unix uses a method to keep users from running things other users dont want them to. This patent is about keeping a program running where it shouldn't or running at all. Just replace "keeps track of x from accessing/running y" with whatever you want, they are done the same way.

          Patents should be entirely about solving problems. You should be able to list a problem on a patent application, survey a bunch of experts in a field as to
  • This comic says it all. http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/1/2/ [penny-arcade.com]
  • by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:38PM (#26413021) Homepage Journal

    It could have just been omitted from the article (or just unknown/not thought to ask), but I see nothing about the sue-ee contacting any of these companies seeking royalty payments before whipping out the good ol' lawyer.

    I also note that IPAT "apparently purchased these patents from their listed inventor of Addison M. Fischer". It doesn't give the date that they bought it (I presume one could look through patent records to see a transfer of ownership?), but I would not be surprised at all if the purchase went through on Dec. 29 when the suit was filed Dec. 30.

    If they did indeed jump straight to step three, I hope the court smacks them down. Companies should be required to put forth a good faith effort to enter into royalty agreements with those using their patents before wasting tax payer dollars. Also, since they were granted in the mid 90s, something about due diligence towards protecting an IP, or else it's relegated to the public domain (or the companies already using it do not have to pay royalties to continue using it in the same manner).

    Even better, if this isn't already done, if someone files a patent/copyright suit, they have to pay for the judge, baliff, stenographer, etc. If the IP is truly that important, they'll have no problem spending an extra $100K to get it. Of course, this could backfire and cause independent inventors to not get the royalties rightly owed them, so some sort of middle ground would be best.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >Even better, if this isn't already done, if someone files a patent/copyright suit, they have to pay for the judge, baliff, stenographer, etc. If the IP
      >is truly that important, they'll have no problem spending an extra $100K to get it.

      Oh sure you say that *now*, when you don't have some company publishing your book/song/program. I think you'd have a different opinion if you were defending your own work against someone who has claimed it.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Excellect set of assumptions. But, what if the original inventor tried to get somewhere for five years and everyone ignored him because they assumed he had no resources to actually persue a lawsuit to enforce a royalty agreement? He finally finds a company that will buy the patents from him for pennies on the dollar because they have the money to file the lawsuits that will finally cause the folks ignoring the patents to sit up and take notice.

      You see, the legal system isn't entirely broken but often larg

    • If they did indeed jump straight to step three, I hope the court smacks them down. Companies should be required to put forth a good faith effort to enter into royalty agreements with those using their patents before wasting tax payer dollars. Also, since they were granted in the mid 90s, something about due diligence towards protecting an IP, or else it's relegated to the public domain (or the companies already using it do not have to pay royalties to continue using it in the same manner).

      As much as we like to rant about "activist judges", wouldn't it be "activist" for a court to "smack down" this company, considering there's nothing in the Patent Act that requires due diligence (you're thinking Trademark) or good faith efforts (since patent rights are exclusionary rights)? Perhaps the judges would be wrong to "legislate from the bench", and this would be an area best left to Congress to fix.

      • by RyoShin (610051)

        this would be an area best left to Congress to fix.

        Ahahahaha... but you're mostly right.

        Still, I don't think it's outside a judge's ability to say "Look, stop wasting my time. You all go out there, get a caterer, pow wow over royalties, and if you really can't come to some agreement, then come back and we'll do this thing." It's not so much requiring that they do A or B, more like telling them to try acting like adults before the trial continues/commences.

  • Botting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:45PM (#26413053)

    I could make a bot/spider that scanned the whole internet for phrases that could be construed as ideas. Then have a bot copy that idea into a patent form and send it in. I figure it will cost me about 5million dollars or so to get a sizable chunk of ideas in the world. Then in 5years or i can sue every for several billion dollars.
      So who wants to invest in my company, Trolls R Us (NASDAQ: FUCK).

  • by zwekiel (1445761) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @11:48PM (#26413073)

    When patents were first granted, it was on the justification that they engendered innovation and research by providing a fair incentive for companies to develop new technology. At this point, any argument relying on this justification has become completely broken.

    Patents have begun to do the exact opposite of what they were meant to do. Rather than encourage development of new technologies, patents have become a way to choke the application of novel technologies in industry. So-called "patent holding companies" have become little more than extortion gangs, demanding their share of the money to which they have no right at all. Governments across the globe have extended copyright and patents, not for the protection of the people and industry, but at the behest of lobbyists.

    Patents, as they exist in their current form, are not fair to anyone, except the patent owner. Governments must adopt a fairer stance in order to reverse this alarming trend. Lower the duration of patents, and adopt a system of mandatory royalties, which forces patent owners to license their patents for a fair royalty, determined by a third party.

    • At this point, any argument relying on this justification has become completely broken.

      Patents, as they exist in their current form, are not fair to anyone, except the patent owner.

      You make a whole lot of assertions here without any evidence to back them up. Given that patents have a limited term and then pass into the public domain, the "fairness" comes not out of exclusionary rights to the owner, but from required disclosure to the public to allow further innovation. Since that's the specific intent both of Congress and the drafters of the Constitution, what's "unfair" about them or "broken" about the justification?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wolfbone (668810)

        Economists have always worried about whether the patent system actually works as intended or not. For evidence that it probably does not work for e.g. software, start here: http://researchoninnovation.org/ [researchoninnovation.org] Before reading the recent literature, however, I'd recommend reading Machlup's famous review: http://www.mises.org/etexts/patentsystem.pdf [mises.org] in which it is made clear that fairness is an outdated way of thinking about patents and a weak justification for them at best: the disclosure benefit is dubious, to s

  • by KwKSilver (857599) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:01AM (#26413163)
    With apologies to Jonathan Swift...Most of this crap seems to come out of LLCs (limited liability companies). That allows LLCs to go on wanton suing binges like this and never have to face the consequences of losing. However, if the principals had to personally face the consequences if their bogus patents are overturned by prior art, or they otherwise lose, it would be a lot more interesting. Patent suits by outfits which produce no products are just shakedowns. Lets treat them like shakedowns....

    Try it and lose, the corporate officers, the partners, the corporate account, and the stockholders (if any) should be held personally liable) not only for the legal fees of the successful defendants, but also for treble damages. No bankruptcies allowed. That would be real interesting. Wonder how many bogus suits we'd see then.

    Legal changes required: 1) definition of a patent troll; 2) stripping patent troll LLC's of their protected liability status; 3) stripping them of bankruptcy eligibility, both as corporations as as individuals; and, 4) loser pays winner's legal fees + triple punitive damages. Better still, add patent-troll lawyers to the list of liable parties. Finally, make three time losers eligible for life in prison, and strip them of the right to file or own patents. This would have no effect on legitimate companies that produce real products, such as those being sued by patent-troll parasites. /end soapbox rant

    Now, mod me into oblivion.
  • by coppro (1143801) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:25AM (#26413325)
    Seriously. Make a new user & group. Chown a binary to that user & group. chmod ug+s the binary. Ensure you have execution permissions. Run it. That pretty much satisfies everything in the patent - the program has a limited set of permissions associated with it that can be loaded on a per-program basis every time it executes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by smallfries (601545)

      No that doesn't do it at all. The patent is describing a more fine-grained security model than users/groups/permissions and as such allows the user to do things that can't be done with the standard posix file permissions. If memory serves tt's normally called capabilities, and although it has been around for at least 10 years, the patent probably predates it shipping in unix/nt systems.

      In particular, if you try and describe capabilities using groups, lets say that you have two permissions that you want to g

  • chown ritchie_thompson 5,412,717 [uspto.gov]

    all fixed :-)

  • Sorry, that's bullshit. This is just the latest in many patents that were only issued because the USPTO is incapable of properly searching prior art.

    limits the ability of a program about to be executed to the use of predened resources (e.g., data les, disk writing capabilities etc

    KeyKOS had already done this back in the 1970s.

    -jcr

  • Seems like MVS on IBM mainframes had the capabilities that are covered by this patent, and it's been around for ages.
  • Am i the only one that sees the irony that their acronym is "iPAT"?

    That seems oddly convenient....

  • by karl.auerbach (157250) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:46AM (#26414067) Homepage

    There is a strong chance that many of the claims in these patents have predecessors in the Capability Based operating systems of the 1970's.

    Check out the Intel 432 architecture.

    Check out IBM's "SWORD" project.

    Check out UCLA Data Secure Unix.

    Check out the Plessy capability systems from that period.

    SRI did a lot of work in this area as well. And so did we at System Development Corp. (SDC).

    The idea of a capability is a descriptor that defines access rights in an extensible manner - for example one can say that the disk driver can't deal with tape hardware or that a text editor can only do certain things to a particular SQL database.

  • by FlyingGuy (989135) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yuggniylf}> on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:08AM (#26414167)

    And this should be all it takes

    Novell Netware 286! [wikipedia.org]

    The date is 1981!

    Once again it is up to Novell to save everyones ass!

  • Impersonation? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThePhilips (752041) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:12AM (#26415103) Homepage Journal

    Other systems are also designed to protect system files from being modified by an application (say, a virus), but IPAT's patent goes one step beyond that, with a system that can prevent programs from modifying a user's files.

    The "one step beyond that" part what is called "impersonation," when program works in context of a user. Impersonation [wikipedia.org] is word from WinNT universe, though setuid is pretty much the same thing.

    It's needless to talk about prior art. There are piles of it.

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