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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com Over Patents 243

Posted by kdawson
from the few-selected-gems-from-the-collection dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "CNET is reporting that Microsoft is suing Salesforce.com in Seattle federal court, claiming it infringes on nine patents. Two of the patents in question are a 'system and method for providing and displaying a Web page having an embedded menu' and a 'method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display.'" Microsoft says it first notified Salesforce more than a year ago about the alleged infringement.
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Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com Over Patents

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  • What's the angle? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mozumder (178398) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:30PM (#32260712)

    Looking for the MSFT agenda here. Are salesforce.com people going after microsoft sales reps? Has the saleforce.com people brought too much competition to MSFT? What gives?

  • Damn you msft (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:33PM (#32260728)

    Yeah,

    Maybe Imma troll or maybe I've been drinking too much, but it kinda seems like this.

    Microsoft: You infringe on our patent about everything:
    Salesforce: Fuck Off you Fucking Troll
    Microsoft: We're gonna sue you.
    Salesforce: Fuck Lff you Fucking Troll
    Microsoft: You goto hell now, you die.

  • Re:Rage inducing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @12:31AM (#32261048) Journal
    I'm fairly sure that if a Model M experiences excessive force, it simply breaks the user and continues on its implacable course...
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @01:42AM (#32261364)

    Laugh all you want, but office has had a number of innovative ideas, whether you like them or not. Assistants (ie. the universally despised clippy), The Ribbon, OLE integration of different kinds of docuemnts within a single document, OLE Automation control (Yes, we all know about ARexx capable word processors on the Amiga, but that was really only a tiny fraction of the capabilities that OLE automation exposes).. hell, Word was the first word processor to provide live spell-checking with the red squigglies.. (again, whether you like it or not.. lots of people do like the feature, lots don't).

    Don't you think it's just as dishonest to claim there is no innovation when there is, as claming more innovation than there is?

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @01:53AM (#32261434)

    Also, the first claim is always the most general. The patent must take all claims into account, not just the first one. It's patenting everything together, not each indidvidually.

  • The problem with ideas is that they seem obvious in hindsight. Prior to that, clearly nobody had implemented it.. so the idea couldn't have been that obvious

    You're saying: because something hasn't been implemented yet means it must not be obvious?

    I'm saying: Perhaps M$ just got to the patent office first with an obvious idea... (much like the Bell's Telephone [wikipedia.org])

    Since the patent examiners are not professionals skilled in the art It's obvious that they aren't qualified to make the non-obvious distinction, or else we wouldn't have so many of these obvious patents.

    ----

    FYI Menus existed in 1995. Menus on a webpage == fnck!ng obvious esp. to any professional skilled in the art of making menus and web pages.

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:30AM (#32261618) Homepage Journal

    Laugh all you want, but office has had a number of innovative ideas, whether you like them or not. Assistants (ie. the universally despised clippy),

    in a word processor which they were not the original authors for, which was the first use of a piece of clipart for a function other word processors already had in help panes, status bars, tool tips or pop-ups... (wow, that's innovation... someone else's idea - with a piece of clipart)

    The Ribbon

    Which still confuses users of older versions of Office to this day by the way it can take what was a simple, easy to use interface and mangle it - and which other word processors did a long time ago in a better fashion by simply hiding and showing the appropriate toolbars for the task at hand...

    OLE integration of different kinds of docuemnts within a single document

    ...which was an idea long since in existence in the Xerox Star systems...

    OLE Automation control (Yes, we all know about ARexx capable word processors on the Amiga, but that was really only a tiny fraction of the capabilities that OLE automation exposes)

    While on the other hand, REXX enabled word processors had even greater capabilities than OLE automation, as did various competitor products in the Windows and non-Windows marketplace marketplace... and even in the areas where OLE Automation shone, it also caused a bunch of security issues due to it's poor implementation with no thoughts of the consequences caused by it's design (but thats a topic for a different discussion).

    .. hell, Word was the first word processor to provide live spell-checking with the red squigglies..

    As long as you discount various TSRs for word processors as old as the DOS (non-Windows) age version of word processors, a variety of other implementations on non-PC systems, and the fact that Microsoft introduced it in Word 95, almost 20 years after a team for IBM came up with the concept and 8 years after Spellbound came out with that functionality you tout as having been a Microsoft innovation.

    Other than those points, I guess you are right! Either that, or you bought into Microsoft's propaganda (errr... marketing, I mean).

    ;-)

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:24AM (#32261858)

    done better by others before. Or do you think the fact that they call it "The Ribbon" is the innovation part of mangling an idea others already had?

    Saying it does not prove it. Show me the prior art. Bear in mind that merely being a tabbed toolbar doesn't make it the same thing. The Ribbon's functionality is what makes it innovative, not the fact that it has tabs.

    Regarding Photosynth, All new ideas are based on research of others. Newton said something about standing on the shoulders of giants, doesn't make his work any less innovative. Photosynth, as a product, was highly innovative.

    it was to catch up with IBM and OS/2

    Are you fucking kidding me? OS/2 was created by Microsoft and IBM together. Microosft wrote nearly all of OS/2 up until OS/2 1.3, and COM and OLE goes back to 1987, the same year OS/2 was released *WITHOUT A GUI OF ANY KIND*.

    Wow, you are ignorant of history. Wow, that's just plain stupid.

    And Xeros Star had nothing like COM or OLE. It's object embedding technolgy was entirely different.

    Even if they were first, it doesnt count because it would actually have to work first

    Now you're just being stupid. Of course it works. Just because it can't protect from every possible exploit doesn't make it useless or "non working". By that argument, just because someone can root a unix box, that means all of it's security doesn't work.

    Wow, I just can't believe what passes for logic these days.

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:44AM (#32261956) Homepage Journal

    done better by others before. Or do you think the fact that they call it "The Ribbon" is the innovation part of mangling an idea others already had?

    Saying it does not prove it. Show me the prior art. Bear in mind that merely being a tabbed toolbar doesn't make it the same thing. The Ribbon's functionality is what makes it innovative, not the fact that it has tabs.

    Corel used a similar method, various word processors I use on OS/2 did. They were tabbed toolbars that were dockable and undockable, and hid or displayed different tools depending on task... toolbars - not "the ribbon" - the only "innovative" difference.

    Regarding Photosynth, All new ideas are based on research of others. Newton said something about standing on the shoulders of giants, doesn't make his work any less innovative. Photosynth, as a product, was highly innovative.

    They WROTE it for Microsoft. And yes, it IS innovative - I already said that. It wasnt Microsoft's innovation though. It was the university's innovation that Microsoft procured and perfected. An innovator is the one who comes up with the novel way of doing something - not the person who buys/funds/procures/packages it. Unless the packaging happens to be really novel too I guess.

    it was to catch up with IBM and OS/2

    Are you fucking kidding me? OS/2 was created by Microsoft and IBM together. Microosft wrote nearly all of OS/2 up until OS/2 1.3, and COM and OLE goes back to 1987, the same year OS/2 was released *WITHOUT A GUI OF ANY KIND*.

    Wow, you are ignorant of history. Wow, that's just plain stupid.

    No, YOU are ignorant of history, OS/2 2.0 written by IBM and... oh... just IBM... it was in beta in 1990, already had SOM/DSOM. COM came out in 1993. Microsoft, who had a cross license agreement to the SOM/DSOM (and other OS/2) technology, decided to go it on their own and came up with COM - and still havent managed to make something as versatile as SOM/DSOM. Something, to this day, I notice whenever I am managing a Windows server or using multiple true OS/2 apps in comparison to their Windows equivalents... or when I use the WPS. COM still sucks in comparison.

    But again, as you pointed out earlier (the only accurate thing in your post - even though it didnt apply), my likes are irrelevant. So, back to the fact. SOM/DSOM was in testing 3 years before COM was released. And SOM/DSOM was released a year before COM.

    And Xeros Star had nothing like COM or OLE. It's object embedding technolgy was entirely different.

    Even if they were first, it doesnt count because it would actually have to work first

    Now you're just being stupid. Of course it works. Just because it can't protect from every possible exploit doesn't make it useless or "non working". By that argument, just because someone can root a unix box, that means all of it's security doesn't work.

    Wow, I just can't believe what passes for logic these days.

    No... it does none of what is promised. various ZoneLabs and other products do what it claims to do. It simply put, does not work. Not "works most of the time" but "barely works at all, while Zone Labs and others figured it out in a method that works with more than one browser instead of just IE7+"

  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@@@drunksnipers...com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:48AM (#32261976) Homepage

    An not to forget:
    - Clippy and the Windows XP Search Dog

    Also I think Microsoft is the main innovator on user annoyance technology.

  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:58AM (#32262032)

    Actually, I can't think of a single software vendor that was doing what Windows Update did in 1995. Can you?

    rsync, a UNIX utility that can perform this task not just on software but any file, "updating" both client and server side (if asked to). Developed in 1996 but based on the idea of "rdist" from 4.3 BSD released in 1986, which in turn was based on earlier such ideas going all the way back to 1960s.

    In short the insanity that are software patents is quite handsomely illustrated here: most software is simply a variation on previous ideas, each iteration adding some quite obvious to any skilled programmer, but labour intensive improvements. There are very, very few true "innovations" worthy of consideration for the (highly flawed to begin with) idea of a "patent" in the software world and most of them were thought of in the heyday of computing pioneers in 1950s-1970s, where pretty much every worthwhile idea from a "file system" to "virtualization" was cooked up, with some like the concept of a Turing tape machine - which most modern computers are a variation of - even older then that, dating to 1940s.

  • Re:Bill Gates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tokul (682258) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:07AM (#32262376)

    As such, they're not using this as a revenue model.

    They are using it to suppress competitor. It is still about revenue.

  • Re:Bill Gates (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RighteousMeh (1711188) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:18AM (#32262444)

    This is, to my mind, the first time Microsoft has ever filed a truly offensive (as in offense, not offending) patent lawsuit.

    It might be, but it isn't the first time they use patents to threaten competition. I guess they just found someone who didn't give in to the threat of fighting Microsofts vast lawyer army. Here's an example of what Microsoft has actually done (or tried to do) to its competition with patents: http://jonathanischwartz.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/good-artists-copy-great-artists-steal/ [wordpress.com]

  • Re:Bill Gates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:37AM (#32262538)

    You really don't understand what that meeting was about. Microsoft was most likely trying to get a cross licensing deal, and if you read between the lines, that's most likely exactly what happened.

    Microsoft has been doing that for years, going to companies and saying "You violate our patents, what have you got for us" and the answer is usually "Well, how about we give you the right to use our patents, you give us the right to use yours", shake hands and walk away.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:41AM (#32262562)

    They are using patents as a defensive measure; namely, as a defense against being outcompeted by superior products.

    And Microsoft has never been well-behaved, they earned their reputation as the Mordor of computing.

  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:01AM (#32263238)

    You're still not getting it. Syncing is not the same thing. Sending the actual files is not what the patent does.

    Oh for Pete's sake, how do you suppose the "syncing" occurs? By telepathy? Or perhaps "actual files" are sent from the rsync server to the rsync client?

    The patent covers, sending a list of versions of files to a server, the server goes through it's archive and determines which files are out of date. Then it sends a list of those files, including summaries of what the files are, etc.. to the client so that this list can be displayed to the user, then that user can decide if he wants install any given update.

    And keep telling you that this is a subset of a functionality of any rsync type utility. rsync client sends a list of versions of files to the server, the server compares the version to its archive and determines which are "out of date" (or simply different, depending on options). Then it sends the list of those files to the client and the user (if he chose that option at invocation) gets to decide if he wants to install the "updates", then the client downloads them and "installs" them. Of course rsync, unlike the Microsoft screwball hack, can do far more then just that.

    So, rather than syncing files, it actually says "Blah.dll" was updated in service pack 3, therefore to update that file you need to download and install service pack 3.

    And the end result is what exactly? The file "blah.dll" ends up "synced" to the Microsoft update server, does it not? Or are you trying to insinuate that doing such trivial and obvious things like dividing the rsync server archive into sub-directories (and calling each a "service pack" or "hot fix" or what not) is somehow a cosmic break-through that requires 70 year patent protection? Not to mention that rsync would actually save on bandwidth by only syncing files that are different within each "service pack" as opposed to the mental retardation of the Microsoft "method" that requires complete downloads for each "hot fix".

    This is not the same thing. Inarguably, rsync does a lot more, it just doesn't do what the patent we're referring to does, and no matter how you wish to twist it, it's not the same thing.

    No two software applications, barring actual bit-for-bit copies are "the same thing". The point however is that the bullshit patent covers a sub-set of functionality of utilities made long before Microsoft ever heard of "online updates".

    And as to wishful thinking, it is the Microsoft lawyers and lobbyists who wish that their childish "innovations" somehow entitle them to "ownership" of obvious ideas.

    It's like claiming that a semi truck is the same thing as a Jaguar XK8 because they can both get you from point a to b.

    Bullshit. Its like claiming that a semi-trailer truck is a super-set of a 3-wheeled motorbike "truck" conversion made by a bunch of incompetent mechanics whose daddy lawyers then run to the patent office and file patents that cover all trucks, including all models and makes of the aforementioned semi-trailer types.

  • Some of the patents do have claims are more specific than the titles would lead you to suspect, but some of them actually aren't much more specific... For reference, this is Claim 1 in its entirety:

    In a computer system having a first computer in communication with a remote second computer, the second computer having access to a database identifying software remotely available to the first computer, wherein at least one item in the database identifies software installable on the first computer, a computer implemented method for identifying computer software available for installation on the first computer, the method comprising, at the second computer:

    retrieving from the first computer to the second computer an inventory identifying at least certain computer software installed on the first computer;

    comparing the inventory of computer software with the database to identify computer software available to the first computer and not installed on the first computer;

    preparing for presentation at the first computer software information indicating software available to the first computer and not installed on the first computer; and

    sending the software information to the first computer, said information including an alert about a defect in software on the first computer correctable by software available to the first computer and not installed thereon.

    And the title of the '077 patent, for reference, is "Method and system for identifying and obtaining computer software from a remote computer". I'd say that that claim is a LOT more specific than that title. For reference, a hypothetical claim that would be equally specific would be:
    1. A method, comprising: identifying computer software from a remote computer; and obtaining said computer software from the remote computer.

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