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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?

    • Re:What's the angle? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yo Grark (465041) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:37PM (#32260754)

      Yes, SF continues to win contracts from Dynamics or whatever MS is calling their latest CRM this week.

      SF are just WAY too nimble in their catering to companies needs while MS expects companies to buy upgraded hardware, software, consultants, etc to conform data to THEIR system.

      SF: Here you go, we figured out how to provide x for no extra charge.
      MS: Sorry we can't do that without $100,000 and even then there's no guarantee.

      So yeah, SF is kickin MS's a$$ets and putting their attempts at a CRM to shame.

      Next up, MS buys SF.com. *sigh*

      - Yo Grark

      • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @12:23AM (#32261022)

        First Apple turns patent troll on HTC, now it's MSFT's turn? I thought these two were kinda well behaved and used patents only as a defensive measure, guess I was wrong.

      • Re:What's the angle? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @01:48AM (#32261400)

        Yes, SF continues to win contracts from Dynamics or whatever MS is calling their latest CRM this week.

        SaleForce.com is winning customers away from Dynamics because Dynamics is an absolute pile of crap. If you managed to wade though the absolutely stupid way to customise Dynamics 3.0 you quickly found out that you needed to start from scratch again with 4.0 because MS changed everything and it's still a pile of crap.

        Businesses wont use Dynamics despite MS giving away free licenses with every MAPS and partner subscription.

        Oh, and the reasons the parent mentioned.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Johan_Munich (1814766)
        Before you go pushing your agenda to bash Microsoft get some facts right. Firstly sorry Microsoft changed product name from MS CRM to Dynamics CRM a few years ago. Secondly, Dynamics CRM is available as a software as a service just like Sales Force. The only requirement for this model is an internet connection and internet explorer. However many businesses still like the idea of owning software so the tool is available for on premise installation which is the choice for most enterprise solutions. Any ser
    • by no-body (127863)
      Maybe they refused that unrefusable offer?
  • One angle I could see on this: Sure, everyone might want to make their webpages look this way. But if you rip off the exact code MS is using, change some variables, and get caught, well hey, looky here, we patented that beyotch.

    Just a vague idea though.
    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:46PM (#32260794) Homepage Journal

      One angle I could see on this: Sure, everyone might want to make their webpages look this way. But if you rip off the exact code MS is using, change some variables, and get caught, well hey, looky here, we patented that beyotch.

      Just a vague idea though.

      Nah, that would be copyright infringement.

  • by TRRosen (720617) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:45PM (#32260786)

    The're just pissed that SalesForce is using FireFox in all there screen shots.

  • by Bovius (1243040) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:48PM (#32260810)

    I consider myself a pretty calm person. I don't get riled up about much. I've never been one to throw a game controller, to punch a pillow to vent frustration. I see stupid things and I don't like them, I talk about how stupid they are, but that's as far as it goes. I'm about as easy going as they come.

    And yet every time I see a story about the activities supported by the US Patent and Trade Office, I want to lift the nearest piece of electronics and dash it against a distant wall.

    • by Yuioup (452151)

      I consider myself a pretty impulsive person. I get riled up often. I've always been one to throw a game controller, to punch a pillow to vent frustration. I see stupid things and I don't like them, I rant about how stupid they are, but that's not only as far as it goes. I'm far from easy going as they come.

      And yet every time I see a story about the activities supported by the US Patent and Trade Office, I want to cuddle a nearby puppy and take it out for walkies. I don't even own a dog, go figure.

    • by twisteddk (201366)

      I totally agree.
      While I haven't read the specifics of the patents themselves, I have read the entire suit MS is pulling.
      "hey, they're using a networked service, we have patent for that".
      "hey, they're using cookies, we have a patent for that".
      "hey, they're using a browser based manu system, we have a patent for that"
      And it just goes on like that. And two of the infringing patents are even identical, presumably just a version update seeing as how it's MS.

      I dont care if it's MS or anyone else. This type of bla

  • "Microsoft has been a leader and innovator in the software industry for decades and continues to invest billions of dollars each year in bringing great software products and services to market," deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement.

    I wonder, if like many other companies do, they included that statement in the court documents? While they have been a leader in various software segments, there isnt a single one they've been an innovator in. Would that obvious bit of perjury in such a document get them in trouble? ;-)

    • Yup... they went that far...

      Microsoft has a long history of technical innovation in the software and hardware products it develops and distributes.

    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @01:36AM (#32261332)

      Microsoft, like most other companies, has indeed had it's share of "innovation", popular opinion not withstanding.

      It's easy to find things that are "kind of like" a new invention, that can be said for every single product in existence. It's just fun to do it for Microsoft.

      Can you name a single software invention by anyone else that was truly unique? Anyone? Bueler? I guarantee anything you name can find something that is "kind of like" something else. That's how invention works, and that's why patents always have a list of references to other patents which the new patent draws upon. Unfortunately, you can't list things that aren't previously patented.

      A short list of things which Microsoft has innovated (off the top of my head, without even googling) in would include (whether you like the ideas or not)

      The Ribbon
      Photosynth
      COM (originally OLE)
      Internet Explorer Protected Mode

      If you google around, you find lots of tongue in cheek and sarcastic comments, and comments like yours that say point blank that microsoft has never innovated anything. It's certainly true they've bought a lot of their technology, but not all of it and even when you consider technology they bought, they've often improved it with their own new technology (IE Protected Mode, for instance).

      Also, Microsoft certainly has their share of bad technology they've implemented. ActiveX, for instance. Whether it's a good idea or not, it's still a novel idea (no, plug-ins weren't novel, but auto-installing them, and creating a generic model that could be used by more than just web browsers was).

      So in reality, comments like your really are just hyperbole. It's simply not true that Microsoft has never created anything novel. Hell, Clippy anyone?

      • Yes, a lot of people act as if innovation was the same as invention, which isn't true.

      • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:46AM (#32261688) Homepage Journal

        I proved you wrong on a bunch of these above... but let's go at it again.

        The Ribbon

        Already covered in my last post - 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?

        Photosynth

        They funded a University of Washington project which became a MS Live Labs project. Their other related "innovations" were acquired by a company called SeaDragon and various others. So, even the ones that are innovative werent innovated by Microsoft.

        COM (originally OLE)

        Covered above... Xerox Star (and others) and for COM implementation (ie: more than just OLE), it was to catch up with IBM and OS/2, the Mac and numerous other non-PC based implementations.

        Internet Explorer Protected Mode

        Even if they were first, it doesnt count because it would actually have to work first. And there are already exploits that can bypass IE in protected mode on operating systems (Vista onwards) that support it. That aside, various programs did this far better than Microsoft's implementation before Microsoft licensed various technologies for it and wrote the rest. One such is a package from a big software firewall company (I'll give you a hint...ZA). That aside, Chrome manages it better than IE and Vista/Win7 - even without all the added work that Microsoft did to Windows itself to enable this feature in IE.

        So... where were we? Oh yeah... I remember. Microsoft MAY have innovated something, but you cant think of anything. Well, here's one. Edlin.

        • 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RobertM1968 (951074)

            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 s

            • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:17AM (#32262156)

              The only word processor Corel had was WordPerfect, and it did NOT do what the Ribbon does. The fact that you can't actually point out any specific thing, just vague hand waving is evidence enough that you're talking out of your ass.

              Regarding COM, you seem to be confusing when a product shipped with when it was created. OS/2 2.0 and OS/2 1.3 were done by IBM yes, and COM was released as a product in 1993 (OLE 2 in 1992), but the actual technology was created by Microsoft in 1987, with white papers written in 1998 and 1990.

              COM was not originally a product, but was the basis of OLE 2. It existed for several years before OLE did, and the basic concepts were drawn from whitepapers by Antony Williams in 1998 and 1990.

              All of this predated OS/2 2.0 by a great deal, and while betas of OS/2 2.0 were in existence in 1990, the workplace shell and SOM were not.

              WPS didn't even appear in betas until sometime around late 1991 (after Windows 3.1 and OLE 2 betas were already shipping)

              It's relatively easy to know this because SOM is based on CORBA, and COM and CORBA came out about the same time. CORBA was an RPC based technology while COM was a function dispatch based technology. COM and CORBA came at the same problem from opposite sides, and eventually met in the middle with CORBA moving from distributed objects towards component objects and COM moving from component to distributed.

              I point you to this article:

              http://www.wincustomize.com/article/81265 [wincustomize.com]

              In which, it says quite clearly that the reason for OS/2's delay from late 1991 to 1993 was WPS.

              This message seems to indicate the first beta that included PWS was late 1991.

              http://www.rusbasan.com/Humor/OS2_Dream.html [rusbasan.com]

              This infoworld article from July 1991 [google.com] says that it didn't exist in the beta.

          • by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @08:35AM (#32263514)

            "Saying it does not prove it. Show me the prior art."

            Borland Delphi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Borland_Delphi_4_screenshot.png [wikipedia.org]

            "Are you fucking kidding me? OS/2 was created by Microsoft and IBM together."

            COM (circa 1987) is not new as well - it was just a standard on vtable format, nothing more. There was _no_ OLE in 1987, not even close. One of the first usages of COM, in fact, was MAPI.

            OLE and IDispatch came much later, in 1992 developed mainly for office automation. And by that time they were nothing new as well. For example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoeba_distributed_operating_system [wikipedia.org] had not just dynamically accessible objects, but _distributed_ dynamically accessible objects.

            So sorry, your examples of innovation are stupid.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by RickRussellTX (755670)

            Prior art:

            http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/photoshop/ig/20-Years-of-Photoshop/Photoshop-Elements-1-0-2001.htm [about.com]

            Button and menu controls on the palettes, tabs to switch between control palettes, all of it. Just 'cause the Ribbon is blue doesn't make it new.

      • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {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 Grond (15515) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:58PM (#32260882) Homepage

    Once again a Slashdot patent story is posted with reference to the titles of the patents. Patent titles are legally meaningless. The patentee doesn't even have to supply one; the Patent Office will write one for you if you leave it out. What matters are the claims read in light of the specification.

    Anyway, from the complaint, the patents in question are:
    7,251,653 [google.com]
    5,742,768 [google.com]
    5,644,737 [google.com]
    6,263,352 [google.com]
    6,122,558 [uspto.gov]
    6,542,164 [google.com]
    6,281,879 [uspto.gov]
    5,845,077 [google.com] (the leading 5 was left off in the complaint, but this is the right patent)
    5,941,947 [google.com]

    The '768 patent was originally assigned to Silicon Graphics. It was one of several SGI patents assigned to Microsoft in 2002 as part of a $62.5 million deal [theregister.co.uk].

    Some of the patents are related. The '164 patent, for example, was the result of a continuation application based on the application that eventually became the '879 patent.

    Anyone looking at these from a prior art perspective should bear in mind that the patents have quite early priority dates. Most of them seem to date from the mid-90s. The '164 and '879 patents, for example, stretch back to June 16, 1994.

    • 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. The '077 patent, for example, is literally patenting the following: generate a list of installed software, send it to a remote server, the remote server checks for updates, and sends back notification of available updates to installed software, with a description of the problems those updates fix. Essentially, any update scheme that checks on the server side (fortunately, this means something like Debian's 'aptitude' is not covered, since it compares the list of available updates to the list of installed software on the client side). Is the idea of asking for a list of updates to a list of installed software really non-obvious, even in 1995?

      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.

      • by jrumney (197329)
        I'm having trouble seeing how this could be relevant to salesforce.com at all, as there is no software installable on the first computer - it is all run on the server.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by man_of_mr_e (217855)

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

        • by Trepidity (597)

          My comment wasn't a prior-art comment, but an obviousness comment. It's sending a list of software, and getting back a list of updates, which can then be installed. I have trouble believing that someone "skilled in the art" as of 1995 would have considered that to be an actual invention, as opposed to an obvious and straightforward application of existing technology.

          • No, but my point is that if something is truly obvious, then prior art will exist. If, as you say, it should have been obvious, where is the prior art?

            • by Trepidity (597)

              I agree that's often the case, but even for obvious things, someone has to be the first to do them. I don't think you should get a patent for something just because you were first, unless it was also sufficiently novel...

              • The question of novelty can be solved by whether two or more people independantly come up with the identical idea (not merely similar) without any knowledge of each others work (or anyone else with similar ideas).

                Think about the wheel. If patents had been around when the wheel was invented, would the wheel be obvious? It certainly is to anyone today, and you can list lots of reasons why. But the wheel was probably based on rolling logs. Someone looking at a log on the ground and watching it roll around

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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 s

          • You seem to misunderstand what is being asked. This was not about syncing two files, it was doing the specific functionality, which was going to a server, retrieving a list of updates given a list of files and versions. Then providing that list.

            Rsync doesn't do that.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              rsync does all that and more. In one of its modes, it takes a list of files and compares it against another on a server and then sends down "updated" (i.e. "newer versions") of files down to the client. The files can be programs and the versions can be simply dates of change or MD5 hashes or what not. The precise version tracking mechanism (of which there are literally an infinite number) is irrelevant.

              Microsoft's update uses a small portion of that functionality, with a specific version tracking method. R

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by man_of_mr_e (217855)

        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.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          My understanding is that patent claims are standalone, so it's not only the most narrow conjunction of claims that's actually claimed.

          • Yes and no. More specific claims are built upon less specific claims. The more general the claim, the more likely the claim is to not withstand a validity test.

            So while claim 1 may not be valid as a patentable item, when claim 13 is based upon claim 12, based up upon 11, etc.. is.

            For example, if you created a new mousetrap, and wanted to patent it, your claim 1 would probably sound a lot like every other mousetrap in existence, but your final claim would not.

          • As an example, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claim_(patent) [wikipedia.org]

            Possible invalidity of base claim: It is impossible to know, when beginning the application process and even at the time of patent issuance, if a patent claim is valid. This is because any publication dated before the application's priority date and published anywhere on earth in any language can invalidate the claim (excluding publications by the inventor published during the grace period in certain countries such as U.S., Canada and Japan). F

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Theaetetus (590071)

        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.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @12:49AM (#32261122) Journal
      I love the fact that the '768 patent uses Netscape in its screenshots. The main claim seems to be that they are using an applet (or separate chunk of code) to create a menu.

      So the standard HTML drop down menu wouldn't apply, it is a menu created with a separate chunk of code. I'm not sure I saw that kind of thing before 1998, so there may not be any prior art. However, that doesn't mean its not a silly patent. It should have been obvious to any programmer who was thinking about that sort of thing. I don't think I even have a problem so much with software patents, although they are a bit annoying. I have a problem with patents that are so obvious that anyone could figure them out. 1-click purchase is an obvious example.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by man_of_mr_e (217855)

        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. Obvious ideas have lots of simultaneous prior art because, well, they're obvious..

        The thing about knowledge is that if you know it, it's obvious. If you don't, it's not. 2+2 = 4 is obvious to us, but it wasn't before the invention of math. Hell, the concept of "0" seems obvious to us, but nobody figured it out for centuries after math was around

        • And in this case, and many other software patents, the answer is, "hell yeah, that was obvious"
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by VortexCortex (1117377)

          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 i

          • You're confusing obviousness with theft of idea.

            The telephone was not an obvious idea when invented, but yes, Bell made it to the patent office first.

            In fact, your example proves my point. The telephone patent was a case where prior art existed, and the patent should not have been granted or should have been invalidated. It wasn't an "obvious" idea.

        • 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.

          This is true in perhaps many cases, but not so with the '768 patent. Displaying menus using applets? That wasn't an innovative idea, it was taking a very, very old idea (menus) and implementing it using the technology-of-the-month (applets). If you consider this patent to be non-obvious, then you'll be really impressed with my next innovation: menu

          • Given that both menus via HTML5 canvas tag and menus via SVG already exist, there's prior art.. and lots of it. So you wouldn't be able to get a valid patent on it.

            I agree the the 768 patent is pretty vague, and probably would not stand up to scrutiny, but given that it was filed in 1996 by Silicon Graphics, and awarded to them (before Microsoft bought the patent as part of a patent portfolio sale) I wouldn't blame Microsoft for it. SGI patented it.

            • by msclrhd (1211086)

              The point was not that examples exist, but that a technology (HTML5 canvas tag or SVG) do not supply them inherently and the concept being applied already exists. It's like TV concepts where you say "this is XYZ... in SPACE!"

              Lets say you create a new programming language (like Google's Go) and don't provide in-built support for certain data structures. Is implementing a linked list or queue in that programming language innovative (given that no-one has written one in that language yet (not Go, but the new p

        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          True, 2 + 2 = 4 wasn't obvious before the invention of math. But, after the invention of math, applying that math to solve the problem of adding 2 and 2 was obvious. The invention of math may have been novel and patentable, but it's application to that specific problem isn't.

          And that nobody's done it before is irrelevant. No matter how obvious something is, someone had to be the first to do it. If nothing else, someone had to be the first to address the problem. You don't look at obviousness in hindsight, b

          • By your argument, all ideas are obvious. Ideas occur to someone to solve a problem. If someone comes up with an idea, it must be obvious.

            What seperates an obvious idea from an inobvious one? If it wasn't obvious, how did the inventor come up with it?

            • by SharpFang (651121)

              No, this is not it.

              TV has been invented. Now that is a very novel invention. Patent A. They worked out the apparatus and technique to broadcast a celluloid tape film over TV without use of a cinema screen and in perfect sync of frames. Patent B. But then someone patents broadcasting movies - "A method of showing cinema movies to the TV audience, patent C" that consists of "load up a tape that contains a movie into apparatus from patent B, proceed like in patent B". Most of data stored on tapes are movies. T

        • by dwandy (907337)

          ...idea...

          just a quick nit-pick before we start, you are not supposed to be able to patent an idea: you are only supposed to be able to patent the implementation. Of course, the system is broken and they're happily patenting ideas, precluding anyone from implementing the same idea differently.

          Prior to that, clearly nobody had implemented it.. so the idea couldn't have been that obvious.

          So at the risk of approaching reductio ad absurdum, you're suggesting that because the Mayans didn't invent the drive-th

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Giltron (592095)
      So if you look at 7,251,653, it basically describes a method for implementing customization of multi-tenancy for databases. (pivot tables) If this is allowed to stand then it basically means most companies delivering SaaS offerings can be sued. I see it was filed in 2004. I'm thinking maybe Salesforce was already using this prior to the patent filing.
    • by daid303 (843777)

      Lowest patent number in there is 5,644,737, highest is 7,251,653. Now I wrongfully assume that between those two numbers there are only software patents. which makes 1,606,917 patents. How in the hell are they making sure none of those patents cover the same thing? And how in the hell should I find out if something I made infringes any of those patents?

  • Bill Gates (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @12:39AM (#32261082) Homepage Journal

    I remember a few years back when Bill Gates said that Microsoft had been sued over patents, but never sued anyone else. They insisted that like IBM and other big companies, they had massive patent portfolios just to protect themselves. But then they sued TomTom over FAT patents and now this. What happened to Microsoft doesn't believe in suing over patents? Is this indicative of Gates handing the reigns over to Ballmer, the guy who threatened to sue anyone running Linux?

    • by yuhong (1378501)
      Yea, I know. In fact, I still remember the Amazon 1-Click patent disaster, where something similar happened, and it was covered on Slashdot over the years, and I always have wondered why too.
    • Re:Bill Gates (Score:5, Informative)

      by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:00AM (#32261470)

      Microsoft sued TomTom over a range of patents, one of which was the FAT patent. It wasn't specifically about the FAT patent, and in reality, TomTom had threatened MS with patent suits first. Microsoft responded to the threats by actually filing a suit, effectively calling their bluff when they settled so fast after a feeble attempt to modify their original threatened suit to be a counter-suit. TomTom was no saint and had sued a half dozen other companies previously after shakedown attempts. They chose the wrong victim when they went after Microsoft.

      This is, to my mind, the first time Microsoft has ever filed a truly offensive (as in offense, not offending) patent lawsuit. I have to think there's more to the story here than meets the eye. Microsoft is seeking injunctive relief, not damages. As such, they're not using this as a revenue model.

      • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RighteousMeh (1711188)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by man_of_mr_e (217855)

          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.

  • CNET is reporting that Microsoft is suing Salesforce.com in Seattle federal court,...

    A software patent trial outside of East Texas? How will the court system ever know how to handle such a thing?

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      If you have a public company with a massive workforce and huge PR campaigns that pretty much everyone from the entire metropolitan area knows someone who works for them personally you hold your lawsuits in the city because of the home court advantage. It would be silly for MS to sue anyone outside the Seattle metro area because of the effect being a massive local employer will have on the Jury. It'll be damn near impossible for salesforce to reject every Juror that has a direct family connection to MS and i

    • I think they're depending on a large bias in the jury pool towards Microsoft, given that a large percentage of the population depends on them either directly or indirectly.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @01:16AM (#32261260) Journal

    Guess I better go register to vote so I can hopefully get jury duty for this. lol

  • Microsoft is screwed.

    I have a patent (#666666) on applying basic logic and common sense, with a smattering of visual composition intuition, to any problem at hand.

    You've been punk'd

  • im calling for ANY possible (if there can be any left) microsoft boys to defend this action of ms. suing for providing 'an embedded menu in a web page'.

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