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Apple Patent Claim Threatens To Block Or Delay W3C 332

Posted by timothy
from the broad-patents-big-problems dept.
Kelson writes "The W3C Widget specification is running into a problem: Apple claims a patent on automatic updates and is unwilling to license it royalty-free in the event that it impacts the spec. The W3C is investigating to determine whether the spec includes anything covered by the patent, and decide what to do."
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Apple Patent Claim Threatens To Block Or Delay W3C

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  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:32PM (#27492223) Homepage Journal

    If you read this claim, it seems that any webpage loaded through a caching web-browser *could* fall under it.

    1. A method for automatically updating software programs on a computer, comprising the steps, of:

    storing an updated version of a program at a designated location in a remote memory that is accessible to the computer;

    Being that most browsers will check a cache to see if it already has your content, the act of overwriting the cache before loading the asset for your page seems to run afoul of this auto-update process.

  • Bunch of hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by _avs_007 (459738) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:33PM (#27492255)
    Apple is a member of the W3C, and even advertises on it's own web page (Click Here) [apple.com] that it supports an immutable commitment to royalty free licensing on W3C standards, per the W3C patent policy. Sounds like Apple is only interested in other companies licensing Royalty Free terms to them, but not the other way around....
  • by Qubit (100461) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:47PM (#27492529) Homepage Journal

    According to the Patent Advisory Group [w3.org] they've formed to deal with this hurdle, the PAG membership includes "Advisory Committee Representatives of each Member participating in the Web Applications Working Group".

    Of course, the Web Applications Working Group [w3.org] includes: "Apple, Inc. (4 representatives)".

    Isn't it kind of a conflict of interest for Apple to be sitting on the committee that has the purview to:

    • study the patent in question and discuss its impact on Widgets 1.0: Updates
    • seek prior art that may apply to the use of updates in Widgets
    • discuss ways to design around the claims excluded by Apple Inc.
    • explore ways to come to an agreement with Apple to continue work on Widgets 1.0 Updates as a Royalty-Free specification
    • write a PAG report with recommendations for the W3C Director

    ?

  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:56PM (#27492693)
    Well yeah, but it's still a very general concept that's been patented. I have nothing against patents; I just object to this kind. Personally I feel it's an abuse of the patent system, just like these moronic patent troll companies that do nothing except file patents (no development or practical invention) and expect free money when their idea becomes practical or mainstream.

    Yeah, I'm a grumpy old man...what of it...
  • by hazem (472289) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:15PM (#27493067) Journal

    Updating a running program without interruption is everything but trivial.

    It can be pretty easy. I helped write a database app where every time the menu form was invoked, it would check the back-end database to see what the "current" version of the front-end should be. If it wasn't the same, it would launch the new version and quietly kill itself.

    The user only experiences a slight delay that can not be differentiated from network congestion or heavy database load.

    The key here is that the app does the work of checking for updates at an easy time to do it (user is transitioning from one form to another) and not based on an external stimulus (an interrupt).

    Doing this for something like a word processor or spreadsheet that doesn't have such stark transitions would be trickier since it would have to somehow save the state, reload itself, and restore the state.

    I think in the case of the patent, they're talking about updating the app during a page-load, so the user won't notice the delay because they're going through a state-change already. I may be mistaken, but I do not think the app gets updated in the middle of reading a page without doing a refresh of some kind.

  • by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:45PM (#27493561)
    You don't have to implement an idea to patent it. In fact, you can't patent an implementation of a concept, only the concept itself. Copyright covers specific implementations.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:12PM (#27494851) Journal

    What's funny is that the steps that you've outlined seem to describe exactly how Microsoft's ClickOnce [wikipedia.org] works when it comes to updates. So if Apple threatens to sue, it would seem that there is at least one large player interested in opposing them on this.

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @04:27PM (#27496059) Homepage

    Someone from Apple scene does use that concept. Intego Netupdate. It has a preference to automatically install and reboot after updates, without even asking to user. Thank God, it is disabled by default.

    In fact, it performs exactly the way patent says. You may even be greeted by "Enter serial number you purchased while you upgrade your software" message.

    Apple being victim of their stupid lawyers as usual, not even surprised. They should separate RIAA/MPAA iTunes types from the Technical types.

    What if MS steals their concept as usual and implements like its own? Well, it has been solved by Real Networks for their million dollar patents. Free to GPL, patented for closed source. As people here busy with "buffering" jokes and spyware allegations regarding their free/open source software, I better remind it.

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