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Android Businesses Google Microsoft Patents The Courts

Microsoft Continues Android Legal Assault 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the business-as-usual dept.
shmlco writes "According to an article on AllThingsD, Microsoft is continuing its legal assault on Android. On Monday the company sued Barnes & Noble, Foxconn International and Inventec over the company's Nook e-reader, alleging patent infringement. To quote Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez, 'The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action.'"
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Microsoft Continues Android Legal Assault

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:34PM (#35564196)

    This is what happens when you institutionalize bribery in government. If our politicians weren't so easy to bribe, and the voters weren't so stupid this would not be an issue.

    Garbage in, garbage out. And Americans vote for corrupt garbage.

    • And Americans vote for corrupt garbage.

      So, what, we solve this problem by voting for the dudes that say they're honest and working for the people?

      • by soloport (312487)
        "So, what, we solve this problem by voting for the dudes that say they're honest and working for the people?"

        No. Just convince Glen Beck that patents are the spawn of the Devil. Congress will fix this inside of a week.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tycoex (1832784)

          WE can't fix the problem. We are a minority group of intelligent people surrounded by morons. The only way that we could fix the problem is if we created a magical device that made everyone more intelligent.

          American voters would have to be willing to say, "I will not vote twice for anyone who accepts bribes, even if their platform matches my own." As it is now, people will vote for anyone who claims they agree with them on X issue, regardless of whether they accept bribes or not. Voters just turn a blind ey

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:32PM (#35565106) Journal

      Oh please! Isn't this what the FOSS community has been wanting for years? Haven't all the FOSS guys said 'if MSFT has patents lets see them"? Well here you go, now it is up to the courts to ultimately decide.

      Now personally I've always thought software patents are a BAD IDEA in giant 50 foot neon letters since we all stand on the shoulders of giants and all software comes down to math anyway, so it basically lets good math implementations get locked up by whomever gets to the USPTO first.

      But on the other hand I've seen dickish behavior by BOTH sides such as everyone cheering TomTom even though MSFT offered them the same RAND license for FAT32 they offer everyone else and got the finger even though they did invent the bloody thing. And RAND is something we should support, as RAND makes tech available without making it a barrier to enter which is how we got the name RAND in the first place Reasonable And Non Discriminatory.

      So maybe it is better this way, just let the courts sort it all out so that then either Linux developers can pay some RAND license and never have to deal with whatever the patents cover again, find a way around it even it if doesn't work as well like Theora, or just throw out everything that is covered and find new ways of doing it.

      But if MSFT just files lawsuits against Linux for every patent they think is infringing then FOSS guys can't scream FUD! and can finally look at the patents in question while the courts sort the whole mess out. Seems like whichever side you're on (and personally I don't really HAVE a side on this one, since I use Windows on the desktop, Linux on the server, and dumbphones so that I can just get bloody calls instead of waiting for a battery to recharge) you should be happy that this mess is finally gonna get sorted out.

      • So maybe it is better this way, just let the courts sort it all out so that then either Linux developers can pay some RAND license and never have to deal with whatever the patents cover again, find a way around it even it if doesn't work as well like Theora, or just throw out everything that is covered and find new ways of doing it.

        I think we will be more likely to redouble our efforts to tear down Microsoft for good. Seems to be working out pretty well so far. [yahoo.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fwarren (579763)

        Things like this often settle out of court with neither parter admitting they did anything wrong. Thus the racket and be perpetrated again. I don't think Microsoft really has 240 patents that will stand up in court. To bad all it takes is 1.

        • For many reasons, there will be no out-of-court settlement. If Google doesn't take it to the wall, then they expose the rest of the FOSS community to litigation. Death by a thousand cuts/litigations.

          I want Microsoft to sue civilians. Users. Then the excrement will hit the airconditioning.

      • by Benanov (583592) <brian...kemp@@@member...fsf...org> on Monday March 21, 2011 @06:08PM (#35565542) Journal

        RAND doesn't work for FLOSS projects because "reasonable" is in terms of "reasonable fee" and non-discriminatory is "same price to all comers" so while it didn't present a barrier to entry when it was dreamed up, it does to FLOSS where a fee is never charged.

        The inability for FLOSS to work with RAND patent licensing is why MPEG is thinking of moving to FRAND - F being Free as in Beer.

    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:44PM (#35565240)

      Not Microsoft's Fault

      Nothing is ever Microsoft's fault, according to Microsoft.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:35PM (#35564216)

    Why is it that if they hold the patents for what the android phones are doing, then why didn't they make a decent phone themselves to start with? How is it that google took their intellectual property they dreamed up and made something so much better than their own crap?

    • by oGMo (379) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:42PM (#35564304)

      Ideas are easy, implementation is hard. MS allegedly has some pieces of paper that say "we thought of this first! you can't use my idea!" Google has an actual piece of software that works pretty well. If patents worked at all like they should, MS could only patent their actual implementation of something, not the mere concept itself.

      • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:53PM (#35564528) Homepage

        This is why patents are supposed to only cover implementations, not ideas.

      • Ideas are easy, implementation is hard. MS allegedly has some pieces of paper that say "we thought of this first! you can't use my idea!" Google has an actual piece of software that works pretty well. If patents worked at all like they should, MS could only patent their actual implementation of something, not the mere concept itself.

        Well, Apple had lot of functionality iPhone software before Google and Apple sued HTC and Motorola over. So you mean Apple has a valid reason to sue and stop Android?

    • Because those who can, do. Those who can't, litigate.
    • by poetmatt (793785) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:03PM (#35564714) Journal

      Remember, the more litigious the company, the less innovative.

      Apple is not excluded and obviously neither is MS. The only time a company goes "nuclear" with the patent option is when they are betting that in the short term they can make a profit off extortion. Given the open source nature of the products and the sheer size of the companies MS is going after, this is so hilariously shortsighted I don't know where to begin, not to mention how easy it is to get around a patent with GPL'd software.

    • by Jeff1946 (944062) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:33PM (#35565118) Journal

      The fight over the laser patent was over the idea not a working model. See for example, http://tc.engr.wisc.edu/uer/uer97/author5/content.html [wisc.edu]

  • SCO anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:37PM (#35564224)

    SCO didn't die in vain, they were just sacrificed to make this kind of insane posturing and attitude of corporate entitlement seem normal. We got most of our shock at those tactics out of the way over the years McBride & Co attacked Linux, clearing the path for bigger fish, like Microsoft, to publicly act the same without as much backlash.

    Good marketing effort. Idiots.

    • Re:SCO anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:02PM (#35564706)

      SCO didn't die in vain, they were just sacrificed to make this kind of insane posturing and attitude of corporate entitlement seem normal. We got most of our shock at those tactics out of the way over the years McBride & Co attacked Linux, clearing the path for bigger fish, like Microsoft, to publicly act the same without as much backlash.

      Good marketing effort. Idiots.

      I'm not sure it's that way. Microsoft put together the play book and placed it out there for someone to follow. SCO picked it up and ran with it. But not many others did. So the question then becomes whether SCO was the over-the-top publicity event to dull our senses or whether Microsoft is being forced to run their own plays since nobody else is.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:37PM (#35564232)

    While I am uneasy about patents, a case for truly innovative products can be made. But this is not innovation. This is patenting whatever one can. Like:

    Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

    You have got to be effen kidding me. That's a patent? Who was the bonehead that thought something like that is innovation?

    • by tomhudson (43916)
      From Microsoft's FUD^WNews Center [microsoft.com]

      Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market,&rdquo; he added.

      The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting wi

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:52PM (#35564510) Journal

      Enable display of a webpage's content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      My old 14.4k internet connection and Netscape Navigator 2.0 are prior art.

      • by black3d (1648913)

        Indeed.. and AC who already posted clearly came along too late to experience RIPscript on BBSs. One certainly could interact with the alternate-text labelled RIPscript areas before and whilst the images were loading - which actually made graphical BBSing on a 14.4k modem bearable.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      You have got to be effen kidding me. That's a patent? Who was the bonehead that thought something like that is innovation?

      That's nothing. The really innovative patents are:
      - Crashing web browser when background image finally loads
      - Freezing device until USB device wakes up
      - Dropping calls when most likely to jeopardise life or career
      - Shutting down at most inopportune moment.

    • While I am uneasy about patents, a case for truly innovative products can be made. But this is not innovation. This is patenting whatever one can. Like:

      Enable display of a webpageâ(TM)s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      You have got to be effen kidding me. That's a patent? Who was the bonehead that thought something like that is innovation?

      It is innovation just not innovation in the 21st century, Microsoft filed a patents for tabbed browsing in 1997 and so the patent have expired yet they are still trying to get people to pay for protection to "Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs"

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      While I am uneasy about patents, a case for truly innovative products can be made. But this is not innovation. This is patenting whatever one can. Like:

      Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      You have got to be effen kidding me. That's a patent? Who was the bonehead that thought something like that is innovation?

      I thought it was "Buffering Input" which precedes even Microsoft being in business.

    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      That's a patent?

      No, that's not a patent. If you knew anything about patents, you'd know that.

  • You would think well into the Post Gates era the folks at Microsoft would consider a little better how this type of thing looks? Nobody is going to win on this one. All parties involved could have met to negotiate on this and come to some type of agreement long before the legal firepower gets involved. I want to like Microsoft now that they've been taken to the woodshed several times by Google and Apple. Wil Wheaton says "Don't be a dick."

    • You would think well into the Post Gates era the folks at Microsoft would consider a little better how this type of thing looks?

      Didn't you know we're in the Steve Ballmer era? This is a person who loves to throw chairs, and shouting out how he's going to kill Google.

      "This is what happens when a great deal of intelligence is invested in ignorance" - Chairman of Bregna, Trevor Goodchild

      But things are unraveling.
      We're meant to die.

      Falcon

  • The Microsoft-created features protected by the patents infringed by the Nook and Nook Color tablet are core to the user experience. For example, the patents we asserted today protect innovations that: â Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs; â Enable display of a webpageâ(TM)s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster; â Allow apps to superimpos

    • by binkzz (779594) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:43PM (#35564320) Journal

      The Microsoft-created features protected by the patents infringed by the Nook and Nook Color tablet are core to the user experience. For example, the patents we asserted today protect innovations that:

      - Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs;

      - Enable display of a webpage&#226;&#8364;(TM)s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      - Allow apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content;

      - Permit users to easily select text in a document and adjust that selection; and

      - Provide users the ability to annotate text without changing the underlying document.

      Sorry for not using preview :-"

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        - Permit users to easily select text in a document and adjust that selection; and
         

        Oh, well in that case Android doesn't infringe then.

    • Those were considered innovative enough to warrant a patent?

      1. File patents for obvious ideas involving computers
      2. Wait for someone else to implement the ideas and make money
      3. Sue them
      4. Profit!

      (The lack of the ??? step is the truly sad part there.)
  • Classic legal stance from the losers. If having success in the marketplace alludes you, sue sue sue.

    • by pclminion (145572)
      Are you eluding to the difference between allude and elude? Also, your definition of "loser" is awfully strange. "Amassing billions and billions of dollars" makes one a loser, I guess.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        "Amassing billions and billions of dollars" makes one a loser, I guess.

        How long can you continue 'amassing billions and billions of dollars' when your market is shrinking and your competitors own the new markets you want to get into?

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        They did not make that money in this market place, they made it in the PC realm.

        MS cannot compete in the smartphone market so they fall back to rent seeking.

        • by pclminion (145572)

          MS cannot compete in the smartphone market so they fall back to rent seeking.

          In other words, they are making money in a market they have no significant products in? Sounds like a success story to me.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Sounds like market failure to me. Rent seeking is not a good thing.

            • by 0123456 (636235)

              Sounds like market failure to me.

              Except that patents, a government-granted monopoly, are pretty much the antithesis of a free market.

          • Re:figures (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:43PM (#35565230) Journal

            They're attempting to make money in the smartphone market. Remember, they gave Nokia over a $billion. They also have the development costs, so say another $billion. And now there's the advertising blitz, half a billion and counting, that just doesn't seem to be working.

            You've got two and a half billion in sunk costs. How many handset licenses do you have to take in at $20 each to pay that off? 125 million.

            Keep in mind that MicroNokia - oops, Nokia - has said they won't be releasing Windows smartphones until 2012, and that the other manufacturers are NOT happy about the MicroNokia deal, which they see as Microsoft helping Nokia compete against them in the Windows phone market.

            WP7 might eventually earn back it's sunk costs, but it's looking pretty doubtful, especially since Microsoft leaked a WP8-based smartphone.

            So that brings us to another question. Why is Ballmer still at Microsoft? The answer is simple - remember how he dumped a bucket-load of stock? Look at the timing. That was a warning to the board of directors - dump me, I dump the rest of your stock, and the price goes through the floor.

            The pressure to call him on his bluff is just going to intensify, and someone's going to make a fortune shorting MSFT.

  • There's a list of some of the patents in the article...

    " Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs;"

    This is so vague even I can't understand what it is.

    " Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;"

    Woah. The insight of this is truly staggering.

    " Allow apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content;"

    No idea what this

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Enable display of a webpageâ(TM)s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;

      Didn't Netscape 1.0 do this? You know, before the background attribute was added? So they have a patent on programmatic regression?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I'm not sure about that, but I remember years ago learning HTML and it being considered best practice to specify dimensions on all images so that the browser new what space to reserve so that people could start reading whilst the pages loaded. It was relatively obvious back in days when it could take a long time for even a small page to finish loading.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      There's a list of some of the patents in the article...

      " Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs;"

      This is so vague even I can't understand what it is.

      " Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;"

      Woah. The insight of this is truly staggering.

      " Allow apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content;"

      No idea what this means either.

      " Permit users to easily select text in a document and adjust that selection; and"

      . . .

      " Provide users the ability to annotate text without changing the underlying document."

      Could we take "Colour Markers", "Scribbling on a document" to be previous implmentations of this? Because then there's a lot of people you could sue.

      With the exception of that download thing, my old Palm Pre did all of that with WebOS. I wonder why Microsoft isn't suing HP since their new tablet and phone also does all of this?

      • Re:Uh.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by jdgeorge (18767) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:33PM (#35565124)

        HP's deep patent warchest would make them a significantly less appealing target than such patent lightweights as Barnes and Noble, Foxconn, or Inventec.. Furthermore, if I understand correctly, Microsoft has cross-licensing agreements with most major computer companies that specifically prevent many lawsuits of this sort.

    • by pla (258480)
      "Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs;"
      This is so vague even I can't understand what it is.


      I think it means something like the annoying Win7 rolodex-o'-apps that replaced the formerly clean-and-easy-to-use alt-tab behavior.


      "Allow apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content;"
      No idea what this means either.


      Progress bars, nothing more.


      Truly revolutionary stuff here, Microsoft. Did you
  • This is the result of letting companies get patents that boil down to numbers and abstract generic processes. I think the only way to fix it is to reform how patents are granted, for what, and for how long. If USPTO simply can't handle the load they're under, then they should complain to their bosses for more resources, reform their practices, or change applicant's expectations.
    • I'm just sick and tired of the intellectual property arms race/cold war that's been going on now for some time.
      • Re:USPTO problem (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:05PM (#35564742) Homepage Journal

        This is the result of letting companies get patents that boil down to numbers and abstract generic processes. I think the only way to fix it is to reform how patents are granted, for what, and for how long. If USPTO simply can't handle the load they're under, then they should complain to their bosses for more resources, reform their practices, or change applicant's expectations.

        I'm just sick and tired of the intellectual property arms race/cold war that's been going on now for some time.

        Visualize this scenario: Alien civilization arrives on earth tomorrow. Wants to engage in trade, they desperately want food and what they have to offer is very advanced technology, much of which at some point infringes on IP held by Earth companies. We explain how the process works and they boggle, "The only way we ever were able to develop space travel was by rolling back IP laws - bar one: All processes or inventions are Fair Use after no more than 5 years (one of theirs is roughly equivalent to one of ours) with financial incentives to those who release their ideas to the public immediately.

        You people are still driving cars?!?

    • This is the result of letting companies get patents that boil down to numbers and abstract generic processes. I think the only way to fix it is to reform how patents are granted, for what, and for how long. If USPTO simply can't handle the load they're under, then they should complain to their bosses for more resources, reform their practices, or change applicant's expectations.

      You ignored a fix, one that would encourage more progress. Get rid of patents altogether.

      Falcon

  • The specific patent claims are not very well described in the article but of what I can tell they have some patent claims for widely used, basic GUI features. I feel this may affect more than Android if they're gonna win.

    They seem to act just like a patent troll in this situation. In my industry (Pharmaceutical) there's a company that has a patent on validating user input in web applications by verifying it at the server. They've been going around and threatening all EDC (Electronic Data Capture) makers w
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      They seem to act just like a patent troll in this situation. In my industry (Pharmaceutical) there's a company that has a patent on validating user input in web applications by verifying it at the server. They've been going around and threatening all EDC (Electronic Data Capture) makers with that.

      Any pre-javascript web page login screen is definitely prior art.

      In other words, this has been around since the first days of the web.

      ... and before, if you want to count logging in to a remote server (or even localhost).

      Can you email me the name of the company?

  • Is this more MS FUD? Are we actually going to find out what MS patents are being infringed? Or is it going to turn out to be another SCO case? A bunch of lies but no proof?

    Falcon

  • Dear Microsoft.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:57PM (#35564600) Journal

    For a very short period it seemed to the more gullible among us, that you're starting to be a decent company. Thankfully, you've show in no uncertain way that you have not changed, and are still that douchebag bully in dire need to be body-slammed on concrete [youtube.com]. I hope that one day it finally happens.

    • by straponego (521991) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:49PM (#35565300)
      Give them a break. It must be hard to admit that they absolutely cannot compete by giving customers value; that they are totally incapable of delivering products that customers want; and that they have no intention of ever attempting to create products which equal or surpass those of their competitors; and that the only way they can think of to remain in business is to waste everybody's time and money through extortion.

      Me, I'd find that embarrassing.
  • They can't make a decent media device or phone, so they hold IP and sue those who do make them.

    What next? A counter arguement : Why shouldn't we use this idea, it's not like you had any clue how to properly implement it!

  • Look who is being sued -- Barnes and Noble and other companies that use android on their device. Correction, relatively small companies without large legal staffs that use android on their device. If android is the problem, then why isn't Microsoft suing Google for infringement? Oh, wait, Google has as much money and as many lawyers as Microsoft does. This is much like locking the drug user up in jail, but ignoring the pusher. If Microsoft really believes that android is infringing, then they should go

    • They have to show damages (lost sales) to obtain a large settlement. Android is open source. Google isn't really selling any hardware in the US anymore. Motorola, HTC, they DO sell stuff, and in large quantities. MS already got to them. B&N is doing pretty well with the Nook. They are the juicy targets.

      -d

    • Re:Look who is sued (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pak9rabid (1011935) on Monday March 21, 2011 @06:39PM (#35565898)

      Look who is being sued -- Barnes and Noble and other companies that use android on their device. Correction, relatively small companies without large legal staffs that use android on their device. If android is the problem, then why isn't Microsoft suing Google for infringement? Oh, wait, Google has as much money and as many lawyers as Microsoft does. This is much like locking the drug user up in jail, but ignoring the pusher. If Microsoft really believes that android is infringing, then they should go directly after Google.

      Who's to say that Google isn't going to give Microsoft a taste of their own medicine and fund B&N's legal battle?

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:00PM (#35564664) Homepage Journal

    Didn't Microsoft promise not to use their patent portfolio in this matter?

    Of course, i wasn't one that believed them and i know they are evil, but it would be nice if the media would pound them with being hypocrites.

  • "Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights"

    I'm always amused when a corporation get's on it's intellectual property high-horse to try and claim some kind of moral superiority.

    That's like a greedy sociopath who uses and abuses people suing someone for besmirching their good name.

    "The little people I step on must respect my rights."
  • by robmv (855035)

    With rumors around about Amazon looking for Android developers on the Kindle division, I think this legal attack to B&N is some kind of warning to Amazon: "be prepared if you switch to Android, why do not pay right now?". Another market (ereaders) dominated by Android is not something MS wants

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:36PM (#35565156)
    makes me want to buy an Android Phone even more if they think theirs cannot even compete in the marketplace.
  • by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Monday March 21, 2011 @05:38PM (#35565178)

    So, MS sues US companies into oblivion... Are htc and samsung etc, in international waters, subject to such extortion?
    If not then all these giants of Asian tech need to do is open a web shop with international shipping. I doubt O'Bama is going to hunt down private citizens purchasing goods online.
    No GSM carriers with decent SIM only plans? That's another story but illustrates, even in my own country, what a cartel the entire phone industry is. i.e. where it's often cheaper to buy a phone on an expensive contract than prepaid + own phone.

    • by St.Creed (853824)

      They could stop the shipping of mail from said webshop to US addresses at the border. That has been done before.

  • im leaving aside all the discussion about microsoft's patent trolling, debauchery, two-faced practice and so on.

    fuck your intellectual property 'rights'. i havent given the right to monopolize LOGICAL constructs to you. it was done in my stead, despite me, and is maintained as a 'right', despite me.

    noone has the right to ownership of LOGIC processes. i dont recognize any such right, regardless of what party bestowed you with it.

If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work it's physics.

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