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Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Mapping Patents 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the 1-2-3-sue dept.
jfruh writes "The mobile patent wars continue, with two of the world's biggest tech companies about to blunder into direct conflict. Microsoft holds a number of patents that it claims give it rights over mobile map applications that overlay data from multiple databases (map info from one database and store location info from another, for instance). Many Android vendors already pay Redmond licensing fees for their mapping apps; now Redmond is going to court in Germany to sue one of the holdouts: Motorola Mobility, which is of course owned by Google."
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Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Mapping Patents

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  • Apple + Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:00PM (#41622625)
    Owners of "Sore losers" patent pool.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Owners of the "why innovate when we can just rip-off someone else" research and development team.

      • Google + Samsung better be careful, I think Microsoft has business patents on that technique!

      • I am fairly certain that ESRI can show prior art on this, unless of course it was part of a defense mapping contract...

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:32PM (#41623101) Journal

      Owners of the "how dare you compete with us?" pool, you mean. Same thing though. Does MS realize how quickly this will backfire? You know they're only using German courts to avoid publicity and pull an East Texas, which is not going to happen here.

      • by 3vi1 (544505)

        Reading about other IP decisions, I'm under the opinion that German courts are the East Texas of Europe.

        (Written from East Texas)

    • You may be right if Motorola hadn't be doing the same thing or did you forget the xbox and windows ban from awhile back?
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        You are really taking an invention patent versus a data base design patent. Seriously if those companies that produced relational database had realised that the corrupt US patent office would allow data bases to be patent, basically an assemblage of row and column heading and references. That you could basically patent each and every single database design and block everyone else from referencing those same items.

        How many database designers out there aren't kicking themselves right now for failing to pat

  • This solution will help companies that are being sued.

    Let them just remove the "offending features", then allow users to reinstall them via a "special software update". They do not have to be responsible for the software update or the software itself...heck, they are not Apple. Then let's see who these folks in Microsoft's camp will sue.

    This solution would be very ideal in a case such as Apple's so called 'rubber-band patent' and many others. How about that?

    • by newyorkdude (844311) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:10PM (#41622769)
      I've got a solution for the whole shebang. Sue the USPTO every time a court rules they issued a bad patent - it's they who screw up the most, after all. Pretty soon they'll have no money left and will either shut down or will make each patent application a 100 million dollars.
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      wow, you're a genius! no one's ever thought of that before [cornell.edu].

      ``Circumstantial proof that the person accused of inducing infringement knew of the patent, and knew that his or her activities would lead to infringement of the patent is generally sufficient to establish the requisite intent.''

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        This won't fly. "Special software updates" have been around for a very long time. In fact, Apple's rubber-banding patent can still be put in place on non iOS phones as I write this.

        The party that would be sued does not have to do anything. Updates are being done now to enable so many features that would otherwise be problematic out of the box.

        Remember, wer're talking about open source software here.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          uh-huh, sure. on the one hand there is the letter of the law, and on the other hand is a fallacious induction.

          the only reason they haven't swatted down this scheme is because linux doesn't pose enough of a threat to justify it (and, for some companies, it may even be at least indirectly helpful). if and when it does, however, i hope there are enough pooled free patents to enable the MAD strategy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This solution will help companies that are being sued.

      Let them just remove the "offending features", then allow users to reinstall them via a "special software update". They do not have to be responsible for the software update or the software itself...heck, they are not Apple. Then let's see who these folks in Microsoft's camp will sue.

      This solution would be very ideal in a case such as Apple's so called 'rubber-band patent' and many others. How about that?

      Well, as pointed out by retchdog, that may not be good enough.

      However, on the same track, could they offer the "updates" as paid options that cost exactly the amount that Apple/MS/fill-in-the-blank-patent-holder requires for licensing?

      Basically, allow Android users to "buy" features from Apple?

      Man, reading that back to myself makes me sad that we live in an age where this kind of thing is a problem. How much farther would we be right now without the tech-smothering patent system in our way. Things could be

      • by alexgieg (948359)

        However, on the same track, could they offer the "updates" as paid options that cost exactly the amount that Apple/MS/fill-in-the-blank-patent-holder requires for licensing?

        That would be fun. Just imagine what the app store would look like:

        Apple iBoooing: $1
        Microsoft Your Map As It Should Be: $1
        Amazon ONE Click, Not TWO: $1
        Motorola CALLR - Your phone, able to call other phones!: $1

        It'd be amazing. In a creepy, distopian way. But amazing nevertheless.

    • I think a better solution is strip all IP lawyers of citizenship, declare them problem animals, and allow the open hunting of them, with a $200 bounty for every intact business suit.

      That would solve pretty much the entire problem in about a month.

      • by Angeret (1134311)
        Fuck me, but what an idea. Where do I sign up and how long is the waiting list already?
  • Obviousness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:06PM (#41622709)

    > map applications that overlay data from multiple databases

    Sounds blatantly obvious to someone skilled in the art...

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:17PM (#41622881) Journal

      > map applications that overlay data from multiple databases

      Sounds blatantly obvious to someone skilled in the art...

      Microsoft Engineer 1: Jesus, dude look at this, look at this idea I had!
      Microsoft Engineer 2: I don't get it, what am I looking at here, this C# code is light years beyond my comprehension.
      Microsoft Engineer 1: I know, right? But here, let me step you through it. You remember how we were pulling data from one database and displaying it?
      Microsoft Engineer 2: Yeah, that itself is, like, on par with the gods ...
      Microsoft Engineer 1: Right right but it got me to thinking ... what if -- and stay with me here -- what if we pulled map data from two different databases.
      Microsoft Engineer 2: No way dude, that's impossible. Look, we use one prepared statement here to get the data ... what you're talking about would require something like ...
      Microsoft Engineer 1: Two prepared statements?
      Microsoft Engineer 2: Oh. My. God. It could work ... no, wait, even then we've only got one database connection in the code. That's it, from there you're stuck, you'd have to send both the prepared statements to the database ... unless ... wait, hold the phone ... unless you had ...
      Microsoft Engineer 1: Two database connections?
      Microsoft Engineer 2: *starts shaking his hands in the air excitedly* Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, this is going to be a game changer. We better tell Ballmer -- quick, get the patent officers on the phone, this is fuckin' huge!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not to mention that most GIS systems have been doing exactly this for decades. The GRASS system, for example, an open source, open GIS system that existed in the early 80s when Microsoft hadn't started selling MS-DOS yet.

        • Not to mention that most GIS systems have been doing exactly this for decades. The GRASS system, for example, an open source, open GIS system that existed in the early 80s when Microsoft hadn't started selling MS-DOS yet.

          But now it is on a smartphone or a tablet!

    • Sounds blatantly obvious to someone skilled in the art...

      In 1996? Did systems like this exist back then? Bear in mind they're not just talking about communicating with two or more servers to query information, but also integrating it with technologies like cellular, GPS, portable/handheld computers, and the world wide web, which were all very new in 1996. The technology they're describing didn't become widespread until a decade later. It might be obvious to someone skilled in the art today, but I'm not so sure it was 16 years ago.

      • Re:Obviousness (Score:5, Informative)

        by PPH (736903) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @05:01PM (#41623517)

        Evans & Sutherland [wikipedia.org] was building tactical displays for the defense department that did this in the 1970s and 1980s.

        • And yet in 1994 people skilled in the art (peer researchers and engineers) admitted a paper, which this patent is based on, titled "Personal dynamic maps based on distributed geographic information servers" into the IEEE Vehicle Navigation and Information Systems Conference.

          So if people have been doing exactly this since the 70s, why was this considered new cutting edge research in 1994 by people skilled in the art?
          • by PPH (736903)

            You are confusing the IEEE with 'skilled in the art'.

            They still have 'Standards' for calculating power system load flows that incorporate shortcuts created to simplify slide rule calculations. Despite the fact that proper admittance matrix techniques have been available since the days of FORTRAN and your iPhone can run rings around the mainframes we used to use for these.

    • by shugah (881805)
      It you take the "using a mobile computing device" stuff out of the patent it comes down to looking up an address in a directory (such as the Yellow Pages) and overlaying that on a map. Sounds pretty obvious.
    • by DarthVain (724186)

      You have to think at somepoint with the thousands of patents that they file every year, its just some dude, taking pre-existing ideas, sticking the word "mobile" in front of it, and sending it off to the patent office for approval. Then spaming hundreds of these, manybe thousands (we hear about patent approvals, but how many applications?)... Anyway seriously not a new idea.

  • Not that I'm surprised. To some extent, I think the patent wars are going in the second-best direction: towards total destruction of everybody in the technology business in the US. Once everything is dead on the ground, picked over by European or (gasp!) Chinese companies for scraps, maybe then the morons employing lobbyists and buying out politicians will come to their senses.

    I can always dream.

  • ...if every single patent lawsuit regarding mobile phones was thrown out.
    Imagine how much better the phone in your pocket would be if companies were forced to actually make efforts to improve their phone instead of worsening the competition.
    Fuck all of you companies who hire more lawyers than employees.
  • by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:13PM (#41622811)

    Does anyone know why two American companies are suing each other in Germany? Are these German patents?

    And why bother suing in Germany when the US courts apparently think that they have jurisdiction in Germany too. [cnet.com]

    • Re:Why Germany? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slew (2918) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:49PM (#41623357)

      Does anyone know why two American companies are suing each other in Germany? Are these German patents?

      Two reasons that I can think of...

      1. The patent in question is european [freepatentsonline.com] (although it appears to be also filed as a US patent [freepatentsonline.com] as well).
      2. The law firm they are using, Bardehle Pagenberg [bardehle.com], has apparently won more injunctions against Android than any other law firm in the world.

      AFAIK, the patent in question actually came into Microsoft's possession after it purchased Multimap.com [wikipedia.org] (a UK based company) back in 2007, which jives with the european flavor of this dispute.

       

    • Because Motorola has been getting their ass handed to them in Germany. They already had to take most of their products off the shelves due to another suit.

  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Thursday October 11, 2012 @04:14PM (#41622829)

    As soon as someone sells hardware along with the software, software patents turn into hardware patents and then you can sue even in Europe. It's magic!

  • redmond to sue Apple in germany failed when upon arriving to court, a panick stricken international phonecall from an attorney in Hamburg Pennsylvania demanded the case be held in France instead as it was easier to dispatch international attorneys.

    two weeks later, Apples French legal team stormed into a child support hearing in Paris Arkansas looking for answers...
  • Is fast approaching, and the entire tech industry will collapse under the weight of mutually exclusive patents.

    Only the attorneys will be working at that point.

    • We can only hope. If we're lucky they'll all destroy themselves, and room can be made for new people that want to actually, you know, innovate.

  • Wait, who? Oh, it's not them this time? OK. Carry on.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @10:04PM (#41626397)

    PJ from Groklaw:

    There really does seem to be coordination between Microsoft and Apple to destroy Google and Android or at least control it and get money from it. Blech. Any legal system that would allow the best maps service to be blocked so an inferior one can get money for a patent needs to be changed, because it has forgotten totally about the public interest. Shame on Microsoft. And shame on Apple.

  • we're all in violation as far as i can tell ...

  • Microsoft patented GIS [wikipedia.org]? Colour me surprised, I thought that started somewhere around the second half of the 18th century... on paper maps back then, but still... data, from multiple sources, overlayed on maps [wikipedia.org].

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