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Patents Technology

Alcatel Awarded $367 Million in MS Patent Case 65

eldavojohn writes "For violating two Alcatel-Lucent patents in its Windows user interface, Microsoft was ordered to pay Alcatel-Lucent $367 Million Friday. From the article, 'Microsoft, which will seek to have the verdict overturned, said Alcatel-Lucent was seeking $1.5 billion in damages related to the four patents named in the case. Microsoft said the jury found that Microsoft did not infringe on Alcatel's video decoding technology patent. The fourth patent in the lawsuit was asserted only against Dell Inc, which was found not to have infringed, according to Microsoft.'"
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Alcatel Awarded $367 Million in MS Patent Case

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  • by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j@@@ww...com> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @04:42AM (#22971670) Homepage
    the sooner we can get rid of patents the better, even if it is ms on the receiving end of the big patent stick it still brings me no joy.

    The patent system long ago stopped serving its original purpose and it needs to be abolished or overhauled asap. Software patents ought to be done away with completely.
    • How about this:

      Patents should only be granted if the party requesting a patent can successfully argue that the patent is necessary for the products they propose to sell to pay back all R&D costs plus, say, 5% ROI.

      For example, drug patents are widely seen as useful to encourage drug R&D, on an individual basis. A blanket consideration of pharmaceuticals could be arrived at fairly quickly.

      But software is regularly able to provide a good ROI with only copyright to protect it.

      Eventually, a body of law a
  • Very short article (Score:4, Informative)

    by 26199 ( 577806 ) * on Saturday April 05, 2008 @04:44AM (#22971678) Homepage

    This one [yahoo.com] has a little more info. Does anyone have a link for the actual patents?

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @04:58AM (#22971728)
    it's already happening the developing world. company X seeks unreasonable patent claim, country Y simply says fuck you.

    patents were devised as a way to protect inventors and allow them to make a return on their idea's in exchange for releasing that device into the public domain after a reasonible amount of time (similar to copyright).

    the problem is that right now -anything- is being considered a bloody invention. maybe some kind of system where all the patents logded once a year get assessed in competition with each other, and only the top 1000 best idea's get patent protection or something. that way there is no incentive to try flood the system with crappy obivous patent ideas.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cashdot ( 954651 )

      the problem is that right now -anything- is being considered a bloody invention
      You are aware, that this is valid only for the US patent system? The US patent system is different (and IMHO worse) than all other patent systems in many ways, like 'first to file', triple damages, non-compliance with the international patent classification system, prior art searcb almost exclusivly within their own patents, ...
    • Lets just patent the patent system and sue the world
  • Indemnification? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @05:03AM (#22971738)
    Since anyone using those patents is now guilty of violation, there is a risk that Alcatel will go after Windows users next. Does *your* organisation have a risk mitigation plan for when the lawsuits start flying? Or will you simply close your eyes and hope that Microsofts "indemnification" is worth more than the pixels it is printed on?

    How does that indemnification work anyway? As far as I can tell, any legal proceedings would be between Alcatel and targeted patent violators - i.e. Microsoft has no standing in such cases. Do they offer to pay for any damages and cost incurred? In that case I guess the risk is acceptable after all...
    • IANAPL, but my understanding is that producers of a product are liable. Neither end users nor aggregators (sure it's the wrong word in IP speak) are liable. In other words, if you buy something and use it, and the company who sold it to you violated a patent, you are not liable. Also, if you buy an "infringing" widget from a company and include it in your super-widget, the original company is liable, but you are not. You didn't produce the infringing widget so, again, you are not liable.

      What keeps big corpo
      • While I think you are correct, there is a dangerous trend in the marketplace to sue the entire supply chain over patent claims.
  • by nguy ( 1207026 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @05:03AM (#22971740)
    This must mean that Microsoft has started ripping off technology that's less than 20 years out of date. Obviously, there is some progress in Windows-land after all.
  • Not to sound trite (Score:3, Informative)

    by OakLEE ( 91103 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @05:07AM (#22971748)
    It's just a jury verdict. Being a patent case, it will be appealed and probably be heard, so I doubt anything is certain about the verdict.

    That said, I think Alcatel-Lucent should be more worried about their current CEO, Patricia Russo. This partial win is about all she can lay claim to besides the 45% slide in ALU's stock [google.com] and the 70% slide in Lucent's stock prior to the merger. She'll need a couple more of these to make up for her Fiorina-esque management of the company. (To be fair, she's not the sociopathic power monger that Fiorina was. She's just as inept at management.)
  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @05:50AM (#22971846) Homepage
    The arguments for and against software patents are old and boring, so I wrote a devil's advocate defense of software patents [freesoftwaremagazine.com] a few months back.

    In fact most of the arguments for software patents are based on 150-year old arguments [digitalmajority.org] that protection from competition is the best way to push innovation.

    The arguments were bogus in 1820 and they are bogus today.

    Innovation does not need protection from competition, it needs as much competition as possible, in the most free market possible.

    Kill software patents!
    • I'm certainly not going to suggest that patent law isn't deeply flawed but I still feel we need something in place.

      "Innovation does not need protection"

      Taking invention as an example, I'm essentially a nobody, if I come up with a fantastic idea tomorrow that's easy for me to get to market, it's even easier for an established company to copy it and get it there with more inovations before I grab any market share at all. And I won't have the option of selling the idea since someone can just copy it for fre

      • Are you innovating today? How many patents do you have?

        If the answers are "not at all", and "zero", I'll take that as proof that the patent system does not work. You could, after all, be out there innovating something and instead you are posting to Slashdot...
        • Not at all and zero, respectively.

          I think you're making a joke, but anyway, since I'm not an inventor/ artist/ whatever and am simply working happily for the man, my weekends are free for posting silly comments on /. My post wasn't an argument for the current patent system... I thought that was clear. I just mean, I could bang my head today and come up with a design for a flux capacitor, but it would be worthless to me since anyone could copy it. If you stand against any incarnation of patent law then you

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Patents are not free. At least not in my country. And you have to pay lawyers to research whether or not your invention has been patented in another form first. Don't get me started on the price of an international patent. If we ignore the rest of the patent system and focus on software patents, take this case: You invent a great never-seen-before feature which - if added to existing word processing features - will make an MS Word/OpenOffice Writer killer. You go out and patent it, and then you hire a coup
            • Agreed, but my argument isn't about the current system, its about what the hell happens when you have no system at all, which I believe the parent post suggested. If you have no system at all a poor person could probably never be a successful inventor. Any invention, in particular software related, could be copied the second it hits the market, and that person would not have the money to hit the market hard enough to compete with who ever copied it, ie tough s**t. At least as it stand now you have might hav
              • I believe that a patent system is necessary. But it should not cover software in any form, because it just doesn't apply to that domain. If everyone keeps patenting single features which can't stand alone as individual products, but depend on other (potentially patented) features, we end up in a situation where every company is in a mexican stance against each other. It's also depressing to see so many resources being thrown away on lawyers who are the only real winners in this. Use those money on develop
                • by mini me ( 132455 )

                  If everyone keeps patenting single features which can't stand alone as individual products, but depend on other (potentially patented) features, we end up in a situation where every company is in a mexican stance against each other.

                  What might you patent, outside of the software domain, where that isn't also problem?
          • I was sort-of making a joke, but underlying that was a serious point: the usual argument for the patent system, which is "some poor guy with a great idea", is an illusion that is planted firmly in our heads by wealthy people who actually _own_ ideas (as opposed to us poor sods who _have_ ideas but lack the money to protect them).

            I made fun of you by pointing out that those people do not actually exist. And sure, I didn't really believe that you might be waiting with your idea for a warp engine that also pro
            • I never actually argued that "software" should be patentable you know, I didn't think it even was possible. As a software developer of 4 years I find the notion completely daft(I'm also painfully aware that no amount of "typing" counts as innovation btw). I do however think that software related patents, computer algorithms for example, can and should be patentable. One last time, the parent post stated

              The arguments were bogus in 1820 and they are bogus today.

              Innovation does not need protection from comp

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pallmall1 ( 882819 )

        Taking invention as an example, I'm essentially a nobody, if I come up with a fantastic idea tomorrow that's easy for me to get to market, it's even easier for an established company to copy it and get it there with more inovations before I grab any market share at all. And I won't have the option of selling the idea since someone can just copy it for free.
        There's a difference between an idea and an invention.
      • by pieterh ( 196118 )
        Anyone who has run a technology business - and I've run several - knows that innovation comes from putting customers together with products, or simply from speaking to potential customers and asking "what do you want?"

        Customers will pay for innovative products, and simple competition between businesses to get that money will drive aggressive innovation. First to the market gets the money, if there is a fair market.

        This does not need patents. Innovation happened for many thousands of years without them.

        The
        • Look I'm not making my argument very well, but I'm going to keep digging regardless. The pharmaceutical industry is probably the best example I can think of for the requirement of patents. That industry develops nothing but formulas and ideas, ones that can take millions, and years of man hours to develop. And what do they have to show for all that work? An easily copyable pill that is not covered by any of the other rights you mentioned. In a perfect world patent law is not a barrier, its protection of inv
    • The arguments for and against software patents are old and boring, so I wrote a devil's advocate defense of software patents [freesoftwaremagazine.com] a few months back.

      The issue is not whether there are good arguments for patents - software or otherwise. Like most complex issues there are "pros" and "cons". The point is, not to deny that the "pros" exist, but to demand evidence that they outweigh the cons and that there is no other way of achieving the "pros" (E.g. in the drugs industry, a poster child for pro-patent arguments, a fixed-term monopoly could be granted by the licensing authority as a quid-pro-quo for getting a new drug proven and certified, without any co

      • n the drugs industry, a poster child for pro-patent arguments, a fixed-term monopoly could be granted by the licensing authority as a quid-pro-quo for getting a new drug proven and certified

        Except patents aren't needed for drugs. "An alternative to pharmaceutical patents" [piratpartiet.se]. As for funding research, pharmaceutical companies spend much more money on marketing [eurekalert.org] than research and development. Then not all research on drugs is done by pharmaceutical companies either. An excellent example is Taxol [wikipedia.org], a drug fo

  • I really hate microsoft but not nearly as much as patent trolls and our messed up patent system where people can get such insanely broad patents. these are abusing the original purpose of patents which was to foster innovation and not to just give people a blank check to sue anyone. Most of these patents have no novelty and they are RIDICULOUS. They are sapping away money from american companies and cause companies to pay huge amounts of legal fees. The patent office gives out tech patents to any joe schm
  • The article is very short on specifics, what was covered ?

    ''User interfaces'' are similar across desktops on the major operating systems MS/Mac/Linux, so if MS infringes then Mac/Linux ones are potential targets.

    • Microsoft said the two patents it was found to have infringed upon related to technology that allows users to enter dates into calendars and another used in tablet computers to recognize patterns in handwriting.
  • With m$ being sued for simply making products that infringe on patents filed just so Alcatel could sue, did Alcetel (and every other patent troll) just make a new enemy? A very powerful, trillion dollar enemy?
    • by sltd ( 1182933 )
      Not likely. They still troll with their patents. Someone above said they were going to sue back over nine patents or something along those lines, and they claim that linux violates 235 patents. As long as MS can use software patents to spread FUD, they win. The $367 million isn't that much compared to all the assets of the company.
  • From a related article:
    Microsoft said the two patents it was found to have infringed upon related to technology that allows users to enter dates into calendars and another used in tablet computers to recognize patterns in handwriting.

    Wow...How in God's name is 'entering dates into a calendar' or anything to do with the 5 people who actually use Tablet handwriting recognition worth 367$ million?

    I mean, so you infringed...fine. Can happen innocently or not. Even if you determine it wasn't innocent, say make

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