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The Courts Government Java Patents Programming Sun Microsystems The Almighty Buck News

Kodak Wins $1 Billion Java Lawsuit 673

nberardi writes "The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle is reporting that Eastman Kodak Company has just won a patent suit against Sun on the Java Language. According to the article Kodak owns a patent which describes a way for a piece of software to "ask for help" from another application. What they are claiming is that Sun violates this patent when Java byte code uses the Java engine to run the code. This may really upset the industry, because not only Sun uses this technology for Java but Microsoft uses this technology in .Net."
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Kodak Wins $1 Billion Java Lawsuit

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  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:21AM (#10419821)
    And people laugh at me when I say the stock market is nothing but a legalized casino.
    • by general_re ( 8883 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10419845) Homepage
      Sure, the camera people. Their native market - chemicals, film, film cameras - is gradually dying due to advances in technology elsewhere, and so they plan to sue themselves right back into the game. Sound like a familiar plan?
    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ecirpdrahcir)> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:42AM (#10419987)
      Why not? Kodak is a huge international corporation, and usually such corps have massive and overreaching research arms. Quite a few companies have patents well outside their normal scope. IBM has pharmaceutical orientated patents, yet its doubtful you are going to see them produce medicines any day soon. What was a telephone company doing developing UNIX? Why does Boeing own patents on bridgebuilding? Its not wierd when you think about it.
      • What was a telephone company doing developing UNIX? Well it should be obvious that computers, and specifically multiuser computers, are a major tool for any company that has to do billing for an entire country.
      • by ianezz ( 31449 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:24PM (#10420671) Homepage
        What was a telephone company doing developing UNIX?

        For running a typesetting system for patent applications?

        No, really! [bell-labs.com].

      • by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:48PM (#10421259) Homepage
        People forget but Kodak _were_ a Unix company at one point. Kodak interactive systems corporation. In fact if I remember rightly and ironically they sold that business to Sun to help Solaris x86 off the ground.

        Another dying US corporation harms the efficiency of US businesa and harms other US businesses. Its no wonder the Chinese are winning in the technology battles.

        Alan
    • by servoled ( 174239 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:03PM (#10420139)
      Perhaps this will help explain how Kodak came across these patents. From Boston Business Journal [bizjournals.com]:
      Three patents once registered to Lowell minicomputer-maker Wang Laboratories could cost Sun Microsystems Inc. $1 billion, following a jury verdict Friday afternoon in Rochester, N.Y.


      Jurors ruled that Sun's Java web software infringes the patents, which were acquired by Eastman Kodak Co. in 1997, first reported Friday afternoon in the Rochester Business Journal. The same jury will assign damages, with Kodak asking for $1 billion.
      • "Jurors ruled that Sun's Java web software
        infringes the patents, which were acquired
        by Eastman Kodak Co. in 1997"

        "Three patents once registered to Lowell
        minicomputer-maker Wang Laboratories"

        There are two things I can say about the above:

        1. Sun should've bought Wang Lab, but didn't.

        2. Kodak's luck isn't that bad, after all.

        One question:

        Anyone know how much Kodak paid for the
        acquisition of Wang Lab, back in 1997 ?

        Thanks !
        • by Jon_E ( 148226 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:34PM (#10421154)
          $260M in cash [findarticles.com] for their software business .. the hardware side was pretty much dead by that point anyhow .. wang's only major presence was in the public sector (gov't and such) and i believe sun had competing technology so that kind of buyout didn't make that much sense back then (imo)

          on a side note .. i believe the origin of this idea in software is predated back to the 60's in LISP, so while IANAL i believe one could argue prior art and thus the invalidity of the wang software patent (s/w patents seem pointless to me anyhow - like recipe patents) .. i believe there's a large number of s/w patents that have been and continue to be awarded in large part due to the lack of due diligence from patent attorneys, hence we may see a new glut of lawsuits from the failing institutions looking for a quick cash boost
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:55PM (#10420900)
        This is quite beyond reason, technically all computer programs have worked this way since the earliest days of VAX and such. The prior art on this particular patent is more than substantial. According to their patent, runtime linking to a library would be illegal without paying it up to grand daddy Kodak. I suggest to people in the US to get up in arms about Software Patents. Not only are they beyond stupidity, they are generalized and require no implementation. Software patents are dangerous, everyone is entitled to their work not being distributed and such, but Kodak did nothing here, they just bought a couple patents. They have not been harmed, because A) they didn't create anything like Java and distribute it, and B) this doesn't compete with them.
        Oh btw, this affects EVERY computer language out there pratically now, so expect to see your favorite languages organizers asking for help from the EFF.

        Remember there is very very little intellectual property in the computer industry, most of it is just property, not intellectual.
    • First RTFM. The patents were purchased from Wang.

      EKC has had its hands in many pots: photographic chemicals, digital printers, OLEDs, special effects, night vision goggles. And it just sold a division which is now ITT Space Systems Division.

      Kodak defined itself by the little yellow box, but it did range of business most people knew nothing about.
    • Well, there is that absolutely horrible "Imaging for Windows" thing they used to throw in with Windows.

  • Kodak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:22AM (#10419824) Homepage Journal
    Okay so a program asks for help from another program. I guess the internet now belongs to Kodak!

    I do not welcome this.
  • Who's next, IBM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by salimma ( 115327 ) * on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:22AM (#10419834) Homepage Journal
    Dating back from OS/360 and possibly before, user program "asks for help" from the OS so that they could run.

    Oh wait, that's prior art =)
  • Groklaw analysis (Score:5, Informative)

    by LMCBoy ( 185365 ) * on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10419837) Homepage Journal
    PJ has an excellent analysis [groklaw.net] of this case and what software pantents mean for the industry [fatherryan.org] over at Groklaw [groklaw.net] this morning.
    • by haxor.dk ( 463614 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:50AM (#10420046) Homepage
      "PJ has an excellent analysis [groklaw.net] of this case and what software pantents mean for the industry [fatherryan.org] over at Groklaw [groklaw.net] this morning."

      Oh, I can tell you what it means to the software industry, in a single sentence.

      It means that ANYONE who dares to write a successful piece of software will be SCREWED as long as patents are allowed to be filed with ambiguous language and meanings that are open to interpretation.
  • by strredwolf ( 532 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10419838) Homepage Journal
    Okay, pull out your first issues of Dr. Dobbs Journal (Running Light without Overbyte) from the 1970s and chant:

    Tiiiiiiinnnnnny Baaaaaaaasssssssssiiiiiicccccc

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:23AM (#10419844)
    Python, most modern basics (GFA, QBasic, ...), Perl,...

    Shall I write the check to Kodak or Eastman-Kodak sir? Cuz I have a script to hack on the server tonite.

    sheesh...
    • See, that's why c will never die--not from tradition, nostalgia or speed. From now on, to avoid liability, the linux startup scripts will have to be written in precompiled c (thanks to the wonderful #! symbol). I welcome our new patent-holding overlords!
      • See, that's why c will never die

        Actually, you may be wrong there. When you type "gcc -o foo foo.c", gcc "asks for help" from:

        1) cpp - to preprocess any include files, macros, conditional compiles, etc;
        2) the code generator - to generate assembler;
        3) the assembler - to generate object files;
        4)the linker - to generate the executable.

        On top of that, when you execute the program, the kernel "asks for help" from the dynamic linker, for all those shared libraries your program needs.

        Off-hand, I'd say we're fuc

  • Oh my God (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:24AM (#10419851)
    Forget Sun, this is batshit nuts. Bytecode interpreters have been common since Smalltalk in the 70s and are used by a simply huge number of common progrmaming languages.

    Does anyone have the patent in question? Can this be appealed?
    • Re:Oh my God (Score:5, Informative)

      by illuvata ( 677144 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:44AM (#10420005)
      The patents are 5,206,951 [uspto.gov], 5,421,012 [uspto.gov] and 5,226,161 [uspto.gov]
      • Re: Oh my God (Score:3, Informative)

        by Black Parrot ( 19622 )


        > The patents are 5,206,951, 5,421,012 and 5,226,161

        Patent's from the 90s, eh. Looks like they won't be suing me for running UCSD's p-code interpreter on my Apple ][ way back when.

        • Re: Oh my God (Score:4, Interesting)

          by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes @ g m a il.com> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:18PM (#10420232) Homepage
          I haven't read all of them yet but just the first one (5,306,951) is crazy. It basically covers the concept of having RTTI and taking different actions based on the runtime type of an object. The main example included in the patent is embedded objects in a word processor. OLE is almost certainly covered by this. In fact, any object system that handles dispatch based on type is. There have also been a series of continuations, meaning this dates back as far as the 1980s. On the other hand, the listed prior art is minimal, so perhaps it can be invalidated on those grounds.
          • Re: Oh my God (Score:5, Informative)

            by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:03PM (#10421369)
            Actually, yes. OLE is covered by this system, and MS settled with Wang for over for $90 million in 1995 (two years before Wang sold the patents to Kodak).

            My guess is that .NET may be immune from that earlier lawsuit. Also, .NET and Java work in subtly different, but quite possibly significantly important ways. The Sun patents are specific to two seperate applications working in unison.

            MS's .NET (not counting remoting) is largely a single application that loads a runtime shared library, while Sun's java is a standalone virtual machine that communicates with a seperate application (yes, it can work otherwise, but that doesn't change that the current JVM does work as a "plurality" of programs as the patent claims).

      • Re:Oh my God (Score:4, Informative)

        by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:08PM (#10420168)
        These patents (1993-1995) would seem to cover COM (1993) and CORBA (first drafts 1989), but why has the lawsuit been taken against Java, and why the hell did Sun's lawyers not pull CORBA out and show the judge that Kodak's patents were worthless? Even Java itself had been spec'ed out by 1991, two years before Kodak had their fit of "inventiveness", so no matter how broadly you interpret them, there is no way they should have won this.
        • Re:Oh my God (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:27PM (#10420295)
          why the hell did Sun's lawyers not pull CORBA out and show the judge that Kodak's patents were worthless?

          Because it wasn't the Judge they had to convince. They had to convince a Rochester jury that the area's largest employer, Kodak, was full of it.
          • Re:Oh my God (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BillyBlaze ( 746775 ) <tomfelker@gmail.com> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:51PM (#10420457)
            It kinda brings to light the outrageousness of the Patent Office's "let the courts sort it out" policy. Because convincing the courts means one lawyer trying to convince a jury of laypeople it's obvious, and another trying to confuse the shit out of them. These are "Internet Explorer is teh intarnet!!one" class people here, yet they are having the final say over just how fucked up the industry should become.
      • Re:Oh my God (Score:5, Informative)

        by Steve1952 ( 651150 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:32PM (#10420334)
        The patents are continuations of applications originally filed in 1987, so prior art before 1987 is most relevant in this case. Try to find examples from 1986 or earlier.
    • That patent seems to cover anything that implements a dynamic method send based on the classes of both objects, and supports any kind of "marshalling" operation to allow separately compiled components to interact.

      Since Java's class system isn't dynamic, there's no reason to expect that it would apply. I didn't think the JVM even supported the operation described in Claim 1. On the other hand it sure looks like the method send operation in Smalltalk-80, and the patent uses the Smalltalk-80 book as a referen
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:24AM (#10419855) Journal
    Kodak is run by idiots. To beat fuji film they had to move production offshore. The problem with this is that Fuji Film makes it's film in the USA.

    Kodak is run by people that only care about their money. Shareholders and employees come in damn near last.

    As a side not, Kodak lost a patent suit against poloroid in the 80's that cost the company millions and forced the Kodak instant camera off the market.
  • by datastalker ( 775227 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#10419863) Homepage
    "Kodak praised the verdict and said it was part of an aggressive push to convert innovations -- both homegrown and purchased -- into real money. The company over the past several years has been issuing licenses, filing lawsuits, forming spinoff companies and finding other uses for its technologies."

    It seems that today, companies don't produce products, they produce lawsuits, and that's how they get their money. How long can this continue?

    Furthermore, since 1.06B is about 1/3 of Sun's cash on hand (here [yahoo.com]), what will that mean for Sun? It's 7% of their total value, so this can't be good for them.

    In the end, it's only the lawyers who win.

    • by mekkab ( 133181 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:34AM (#10419939) Homepage Journal
      In the end, it's only the lawyers who win.


      And their (soon-to-be after this settlement!) stay-at-home spouses!

      Mekka- married to a lawyer- B

      P.S.- I know what I'm asking for as a christmas present! It starts with a "b" and ends with a "eowolf cluster"
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChaseTec ( 447725 ) <chase@osdev.org> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#10419867) Homepage
    The article text says the dollar amount hasn't been decided yet and Sun is probably going to appeal anyway.

  • by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:27AM (#10419874) Homepage
    First the Eolas lawsuit, now this. What is going to take for Bill Gates to wake up and say that suing OpenOffice developers isn't worth being able to lose $1.06B to a company that actually has the legal resources to wage a protracted war with Microsoft? If Sun loses this, the Microsoft had better be willing to settle in a very generous was or Kodak will go after them. $1.06B for Sun, since Microsoft has much, much more money it could just as easily be $5B from Microsoft.

    This is all starting to become like nuclear weapons in and after the cold war. First it seemed like no big deal, hell it was even a requirement to be a big player to have nukes. Now all these little players are getting them, and Eolas and Kodak IMO are no different or better than the rogue states getting their own arsenals of nukes. Now the big boys are getting attacked so, what do they do? Disarm by pushing for the elimination of all software and business method patents, to keep these guys from having legal nukes to use against them, or do they just pray that not enough ankle biters will get enough patents to bankrupt them in independent and coordinated lawsuits?
    • by This is outrageous! ( 745631 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:18PM (#10420230)
      What is going to take for Bill Gates to wake up and say that suing OpenOffice developers isn't worth being able to lose $1.06B to a company that actually has the legal resources to wage a protracted war with Microsoft?
      Or: wake up and buy out Kodak so he'll be the one who does the suing? After all, Kodak themselves bought the patents from Wang.

      Note, how once patents are for sale, the whole game shifts from rewarding creators to rewarding businessmen. (Same with copyrights, where Vivendi makes its money selling Charlie Parker records. Other legal regimes make it impossible to sell authors' rights.)

      Kodak IMO are no different or better than the rogue states getting their own arsenals of nukes. Now the big boys are getting attacked so, what do they do?
      They do the same -- only in international affairs it's not called buying out but regime change ;)
  • by agwadude ( 666995 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#10419883)

    This seems quite similar to how scripts work in Unix-land. If you're writing a script in the KornShell language, you put the "#!/bin/ksh" header on the first line of the script. When the script runs, it asks for help from /bin/ksh to execute. Surely that concept has been around longer than this absurd patent?

  • Stupid patent? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#10419888)
    Isn't this not just prior art, but also blindingly obvious?
    Either of those would be enough to invalidate the patent...
  • by FattyBoeBatty ( 458019 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#10419891)
    It was only decided that Sun had infringed on Kodak's patent. Kodak will return to court and they're initial claim of damages is $1 billion. So it's only a worst-case that Kodak would end up with that much, they'll most likely get less.

    However, this still leaves that fact that, unless an appeal overturns this ruling, Sun will need to pay Kodak something for every java product out there. Wow is the patent office messed up... anybody think of some prior art out there?

    -Fatty
    • Plenty of prior art.

      By direct action:

      • OpenDoc
      • Network servers in general
      • Web Services
      • Applescript (tell Finder to empty trash)

      Without direct action:

      • #! notation (e.g. #!/bin/sh)
      • File type and creator
      • File extensions

      Oh, and I haven't seen the patent numbers posted yet. 5,206,951 [uspto.gov], 5,421,012 [uspto.gov], and 5,226,161 [uspto.gov].

  • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:32AM (#10419922)
    Let's see... who's on the Big Evil Corporation boycott list now:
    • All RIAA companies
    • Creative Labs
    • Kodak
    • Microsoft
    • Rambus
    • SCO
    • Sun
    • Unisys

    Who am I missing?
    • Monsanto (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gleef ( 86 )
      Monsanto [monsanto.com] has consistently been in my list of BigEvil for a while now. Historically, they are the company that brought us DDT, PCB's and Agent Orange. Currently, they're the ones seeding farmer's crops with pollen containing genes that they have patented, and then suing the farmers for patent violations. Also, getting the World Bank to pressure third world countries to abandon traditional crops in favor of licensing Monsanto GMO seed, a license which requires annual renewal of course.
      • Boycotting (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gleef ( 86 )
        Wheee, I forgot an entire paragraph.

        To boycott Monsanto [monsanto.com], avoid buying NutriSweet (particularly Equal), Roundup (the son of Agent Orange and granson of DDT), any Ortho lawncare products. Also, avoid any food made with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's); many of them are Monsanto GMO's, and the other GMO's aren't any better.
      • Re:Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @02:57PM (#10421331) Homepage
        Historically, they are the company that brought us DDT

        Actually, on the whole DDT on its own was more of a plus than a minus. It eradicated Malaria, and applied in low ocncentrations for that purpose _only_ it produces relatively little damage to the environment.

        Problem was when farmers went crazy spraying their field with generous quantities of the stuff. Chemical companies did encourage this use, so they are not blameless either.

  • Insane... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:36AM (#10419951)
    I'm sure there's plenty of prior art (although none of these articles actually mentioned the date of the patent itself).

    I think before a company can go after another for patent violations, it must have a competing product. Since Kodak doesn't, it should be forced to take it's marbles and go home.

    As Groklaw points out, patents only apply to software because of case law. That precedent should be overturned...perhaps this is the case that could make it happen. Software patents have been a bad idea from the get-go, and should have been squashed a long time ago.

    As an aside, to those Microsoft people laughing at Sun's discomfiture in this case - Kodak went after the little fish first to get an easy win, it'll go after the big one next. Not only .Net, but VB also, is apparently within the scope of this thing. How many billions will that be worth? Stay tuned...

    • Re:Insane... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by atcurtis ( 191512 )

      They should simply license the patent to Microsoft for 10 cents per annum per license sold, with the contractual assumption that a licencee could use the software product which incorporates their IP over a minimum 25 years.

      Kodak would have secured a lucrative revenue stream for at a generation!

    • Re:Insane... (Score:3, Informative)

      by optimus2861 ( 760680 )

      I'm sure there's plenty of prior art (although none of these articles actually mentioned the date of the patent itself).

      I quickly perused one of the patents (and got completely lost in the legalspeak; how the hell is anyone supposed to know if they're infringing a patent when you can't even understand WTF the patent means?!); it was dated 1993.

      And Sun tried to demonstrate prior art; one comment on Groklaw says they introduced 77 boxes full of exhibits of prior art. And they still lost.

      What a week. Fi

  • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:41AM (#10419977)
    I am a software developer and amateur photography enthusiast, and I have recently learned about Kodak's patent infringement suit against Sun Microsystems. It is a shame that companies with failing business models consistently try to earn money through litigation rather than production and innovation. I realize that the proliferation of digital photography has caused hardship for the Eastman Kodak Company, but the use of this vague and overbroad patent against the software industry is unconscionable. As a direct result of this litigation, I will never again purchase another Kodak product, and I will encourage my family and colleagues to do the same. Malicious litigation is not an acceptable substitute for honest business.

    • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:49AM (#10420036)
      Feel free to use/adapt my letter (in the parent post). Here's where to send your letter:

      Eastman Kodak Company
      Attn: Corporate Information
      343 State Street
      Rochester, New York 14650

      There are probably other reasons to boycott Kodak besides the fact that they pulled a SCRambus--such as their offshoring.
  • What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:44AM (#10420002)
    I saw the headline, and do you know what my first reaction was? It wasn't "grrr. Stupid software patents". That came later. My very FIRST reaction was to look for the foot. Because obviously Kodak pursuing software patent claims is absurd. No foot, so I read the article.

    I'm not a patent lawyer, and I have better things to do with my time than try to decipher the deliberately-obfuscated language of a patent the article doesn't bother to mention. However, I do know a little bit about computers, and that patent better be a damn sight more specific than "ask for help".

    Because I'll bet system calls predate whatever patent Kodak's waving around.

    I'm still looking for that foot, only now I want one to kick Kodak in the head.
  • by kansas1051 ( 720008 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:45AM (#10420009)
    Although I know its offical /. policy that everyone should run around in circles yelling its the end of the world everytime a software patent is infringed, this particular dispute is far from over and probably faces 5+ years of appeals before any money changes hands or any technology is changed or restricted.

    First, after damages are decided, Sun will move with JNOV (asking the judge to set aside the verdict because there was insufficent evidence to support to verdict). There is probably a 10% probability of this happening in any given case, even more when there is alot of money at risk.

    Second, Sun will appeal to the Federal Circuit, which usually overturnes 60% of district court decisions because district courts usually dont know anything about technology and know even less about patent law.

    So, IMHO, its too early to start running around in circles over this decision, at least until the Federal Circuit affirms.

    • by Ruie ( 30480 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:13PM (#10420203) Homepage
      Although I know its offical /. policy that everyone should run around in circles yelling its the end of the world everytime a software patent is infringed, this particular dispute is far from over and probably faces 5+ years of appeals before any money changes hands or any technology is changed or restricted.

      I don't know about you, but for me it is upsetting enough that any court upheld this patent at all. So what that appeals can go for another 5 years ? What small business can afford that ?

  • Patent reform will not happen until it becomes unprofitable for large companies to have them as they are today. I see Kodak like a rouge nation. They once were like the other sovereign, stable, and knowing that if they launched a patent war the other side would retaliate in kind, with the most likely solution to cross license each other's portfolio. This sort of thinking fails when the attacking company has nothing to lose. SCO is not really a good example of this. The stock was going downhill fast, so about a two years ago they came up with a brilliant pump and dump scheme. They don't actually care about winning the case. (IBM lobed the patent counter attack anyhow, to scorch the earth) Kodak does, however, and cannot easily be litigated into extinction.

    I don't see patents going away, but I could see the bar being raised for what qualifies for 'patent' protection and eliminating some of those pesky submarine style techniques. But not until someone has nothing to gain from cross licensing. The IE plugin was close, but they lacked the law staff (not to say anything about right or wrong) to keep the patent valid....
  • by palpatine ( 94 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:53AM (#10420066) Homepage
    The previous story is true, I guess coffee IS addictive!
  • Grand Jury (Score:5, Interesting)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @11:54AM (#10420074)
    It's about time we took "trial by peers" seriously. How many people on that jury could even set the time on a VCR?

    Software parents will likely continue like this while being technically literate is a negative for being a judge, and being literate in anything is likely to have you removed from a jury. It's high time that juries in specialist trials were recruited from (perhaps retired) people with skills from the appropriate areas - yes, and paid - so that the arguments could be properly understood.

    • Re:Grand Jury (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      what's interesting here is that this case was tried in Rochester, NY: The home of Eastman Kodak. Recently over the last 10 years, thousands of people have lost their jobs because of Kodak's poor management.

      I tend to think this was not an unbiased jury, maybe there is some hometown "support the hometeam" thing going on.

      Then again, I've only lived in rochester for about 6 years now.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:00PM (#10420122) Homepage Journal
    I always prefer to get my info from primary sources rather than some newspaper's rendition, so here are the actual patents involved:

    Patent 5,206,951: [uspto.gov] Integration of data between typed objects by mutual, direct invocation between object managers corresponding to object types

    Patent 5,421,012: [uspto.gov] Multitasking computer system for integrating the operation of different application programs which manipulate data objects of different types

    Patent 5,226,161: [uspto.gov] Integration of data between typed data structures by mutual direct invocation between data managers corresponding to data types

    Thanks to Artur Biesiadowski, who orignally posted these at Java Lobby.

    I haven't had a chance to read them in detail yet; they're slow reading. '012 seems to be the broadest, and it's very, very long. They seem actually to patent object-oriented programming, but they reference the Smalltalk documentation so presumably they're patenting some enhancement. I've been unable to determine what that enhancement is over Smalltalk, so I can't say if Java infringes on it or not.

    A note on reading patents: the title is worthless, so please don't write about "I did X in 1967" based solely on the title. The abstract is hardly better, though my quick scan of these indicates that the abstract does actually do a good job of summarizing. The only thing with legal force is the claims, but they're written in a specialized patent language that takes a bit of practice to interpret.

    You can usually learn the most from reading the description section, with background and summary, which has less legal force than the claims but is written in something closer to plain English (or at least computer-ese, which you probably speak if you're reading /.)
  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:05PM (#10420152) Homepage
    As far as I can make out, the patents are about ORBs (object request brokers) in middleware.
    And the patents were filed just a few months before CORBA 1.0 was released.

    So I think the lawsuit is not about the use of bytecode interpreters/compilers. It is about the middleware mechanisms provided by Java.
    • ANSAware (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fzz ( 153115 )
      And a lot of the concepts in CORBA were previously in the ANSA RPC framework [ansa.co.uk], which dates back to the mid 1980s. Although ANSA wasn't object-oriented at the time, many of the basic concepts are the same.

      So if this patent is on the distributed systems middleware aspects, there's certainly likely to be prior art.

  • by TomRitchford ( 177931 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:21PM (#10420246) Homepage
    Their contact form [kodak.com]

    I told them that I'd never buy another Kodak product again as long as I live... and I'm dead serious about it.
  • C'est la merde! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @12:33PM (#10420351) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so my first thought was like: oh, shit! Shit shit shit sheeeeet! What the fuck? Fuckity fuckity-fucking fuck!

    But then I thought: Ok, keep it together, for f..ck sake!

    Ok and now I am like again: arrghh FUCK!

    I don't know, I just want to see that little piece of shit Kodak in ruins, that's what I want to see.

    And it has nothing to do with Sun or Java, it's everything. I am so fucking tired of this fucked up life and little scum sucking shit eating pieces of trash that live on this planet who run 'businesses' like kodak.

    Since when is kodak a software company? They are not. They bought this patent from another company.

    On the other hand the court that made this decision must consist of the dumbest assholes ever. Ever. Unfucking believable.

    ---

    Ok, now that I vented. Such a rulling was foreseen by many, there is a reason why IBM has something like a million pattents in their war chest, including a patent for using a crapper [uspto.gov].

    Obviously now companies started using software patents in the worst way possible - attempting to destroy entire industries.

    What will Sun do now with Java? I don't know, they must appeal and hopefully take it to the highest court and get this decision overturned and hopefully they will achieve a reform of the software pattenting, as in prove it to be detrimental to the economy in principle and to any company in particular. Obviously a smaller company would just go under, this war has to be fought by gigantic companies like Sun, IBM or even Microsoft. How many patents can Microsoft fight off, especially if the attacker is NOT a software vendor. How do you fight a non software vendor? They don't care about software in principle, I suppose Kodak would WANT all software to be gone. After all, all they need is chemicals to run their shop.

    On the other hand I don't see IBM or MS helping Sun in this battle, they are compatitors after all. But Java will suffer enormously and so may .NET, Perl, PHP, Python, VB, and C/C++ debuggers, aren't many of them VMs? Lisp, ML, Scheme, Prolog, and more. So what is going to happen, all VMs will have to pay royalty to Kodak?

    This is a serious issue, I think this has to be the most serious issue that hit software industry ever, patents I mean.

    Software should not be patentable. Copyrights are fine and dandy but patents are something else all together. Patents of ideas are much worse than copyrights of implementations. Software patents will without any doubt ruin software industry and the economies that allow software patents will pay a heavy price. I think it is time to support EFF more than ever. I think we need to see a wide range of law suits against Kodak one way or another and try and get the court to overthrow software patents.

    And I think that Freeing Java is becoming more important than ever for the [Java] platform.
  • by klang ( 27062 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:00PM (#10420515)
    a patent which describes a way for a piece of software to "ask for help" from another application

    Ask for help .. give me the value of .. sub f { $x = shift; return $x^2 + x + 1 }... f(x)=x^2+x+1

    OMG! Kodak has a patent on mathematics!

    Shit!
  • by ca1v1n ( 135902 ) <`moc.cinortonaug' `ta' `koons'> on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:21PM (#10420648)
    It sure sounds to me like any interpreted language would infringe, or be prior art. Lisp had an interpreter all the way back in 1958. A bit more recently, the Bourne Shell did this. I can't find a patent number anywhere, but I doubt this predates Lisp and the Bourne Shell. Time for us to get even more pissed off than we did when Eolas beat Microsoft in the trial court. This really needs to be dealt with in Congress. Go write your Representatives and Senators. I am.
  • by Chris Colohan ( 29716 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @01:29PM (#10420712) Homepage
    I am a PhD student in computer science at Carnegie Mellon. I write C++ code every day. I know at least 7 programming languages well enough to program in them professionally. For my research I design new computer hardware, compilers, database systems, and operating systems. I have helped write (non-software) patents. ...and I'll be damned if I can fully understand the text of most patents, including the ones cited in this article. How in the world is a software developer supposed to avoid infringing on patents if they can't _understand_ them? I don't know of any school which includes a course on "reading patent legaleese" in their computer science programs.

    I have 12 years of post-high-school education in Computer Science. I have no idea how to write a non-trivial program that I am relatively sure does not infringe on any patent. I don't know anyone who does. Doesn't this seem absurd?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2004 @03:33PM (#10421552)
      I happen to be a professional software engineer working for a large, well known company. Having had a class in how to read patents wouldn't have done much good, since we have standing orders from the highest levels of the company to never, ever read any patent that might possibly be related to anything the company does. The only thing we're allowed to do related to a patent is to write up proposals for new ones and hand them off to the lawyers. There's just too much liability otherwise.
  • Prior Art -- FORTH (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Sunday October 03, 2004 @04:32PM (#10421985) Homepage Journal
    Most FORTHs don't assemble to raw machine code. They actually generate an easy to execute code. Called direct-threaded, token-threaded(same as byte code), subroutine-threaded or indirect-threaded.

    Sun should be aware of this because OpenFirmware is a direct-threaded FORTH.
  • Change the title (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @01:41PM (#10430921) Journal
    Be responsible in the internte age, this comes up under a google news search:

    Kodak Wins $1 Billion Java Lawsuit

    This is wrong, even reporters of the reporting of news should adhere to some seblance of truth and get the title correct.

    They have not won a $1Billion lawsuit, they have a ruling for thier arguments, and will try and settle for this ammount.

    The way in which /. is passive in Java stories and on the whole undermines my faith in /. ability to bring the news that does matter in an unbiased way - this isn't a gripe at the content of /., but if you are going to be listed as a news source, you shoudl act like one, or follow the google links to make sure you are not mis-represented on thier site

    Either change the title to something more correct, or remove yourself from google, and enjoy your ability to be less responsible. Just my 0.00.0002

If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius -- it wasn't a hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype. -- Neil Bogart

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