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Dropbox Obtains Peer-To-Peer File Sharing Patent ( 73

An anonymous reader writes: Cloud-based file hosting giant Dropbox has patented a new synchronization technology which could allow users to use a peer-to-peer network to securely share and collaborate on documents without the need to store them in the company's centralized servers. The patent application details how the system could allow back up to a range of media to multiple devices simultaneously, cutting the need for users to constantly upload and download from remote hardware. Dropbox argues that the development of peer-to-peer distributed sharing could boost content download speeds, eliminating bottlenecks, therefore increasing the speed at which content can be shared among individuals.
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Dropbox Obtains Peer-To-Peer File Sharing Patent

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  • In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @04:04AM (#51240269)
    In other words, something like this? []
    • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @05:04AM (#51240401)


      Every decent peer-to-peer transfer thing for the past decade has been modeled off BT, and no one's really been enable to improve upon it in any real way in order to stand out.

    • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @05:29AM (#51240445)

      Patents cover how something is done. Not what is done. For example, you could have a patent on how to peel a pear. If the patent said "use a knife and go round and round the pear" then it would be valid, even if someone else had already explained "peel the pear by using a knife making repeated strokes down the pear".

      If you want to oppose this patent then you have to actually read it and see if someone else has already published something which uses the same method to achieve peer to peer synchronisation as the method that Dropbox's patent uses.

      It's very dangerous when some opponents of patents get this wrong because then everyone characterises us as ignorant of the patent system. We seem like scaremongers because we are claiming that "nobody will be able to peel pears" when it's obvious to people with knowledge that peeling pears with strokes down is not patented. In fact the problem is different. If you accidentally make a machine which peels round and round, then the person with the patent can sue you even though you had no benefit from or knowledge of their patent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is obviousness. Since we're technical, any solution is obvious to us. Patents just restricts what we can make from our own ideas, since someone else might have patented it without our knowledge about it. Patents should only be granted for non-obvious implementations, otherwise it's just another trick to raise the bar to enter the market.

        If someone sees technical people as scaremongers, they are simply ignorant of potential technical troubles that can be avoided in advance by proper architecture

        • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @10:18AM (#51241235) Homepage Journal

          Patents shouldn't be provided for software, period. The quality of the patents are generally poor and they are often patenting something that already exists somewhere. In the end in fast moving field, patents are more of hindrance than a benefit.

          • Agreeded. Software patents should be eliminated entirly. Some reform is needed in the rest of the patent system as well.
      • The problem is obivousness. The patent office will not only grant a patent on peeling a pear with a knife but using a knife horizatanally instead of vertically, of fixing to knife to a stand and turning the pear around, of using a handle to make spinning the pear easier, of using two knives to core the pear at the same time as peeling it, of using a refrigerator to make the pear cold to make it easier to cut, of using different types of blades to achieve different cutting effect, repeat all the above with d

        • That's kind of the point of IP protection. You patent one way of doing X so I need to either license your way of doing X or figure out a different way of doing the X. The incentive to Innovate works both ways -- first mover gets the patent, subsequent movers figure out different, possibly better, ways to accomplish the same thing. (Or, they get permission to use the patented idea.)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Patents cover how something is done.

        What I consider a good patent covers how something is done. The inventor considers a "good" patent to be one that covers what is done. Enjoy spending a million bucks proving that the inventor's means plus function [] patent is invalid.

        For example, you could have a patent on how to peel a pear.

        "What is claimed is 1. A device for peeling pears comprising a platform, bowl, grip, or stand for holding the pear and a knife, peeler, katana, or razor for removing the skin of the p

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @04:19AM (#51240295)

    Just like IPFS. Or Freenet.

  • Fuck scribd (Score:5, Informative)

    by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @04:50AM (#51240371)

    Fuck scribd, I can't even really read in their interface. A third of my screen is covered by their various bars etc. And on android (where I've originally read it) they only let me "read further" if I install their app. So, I've tried to download it as pdf, but what happened? They asked me to create an account. With facebook. Man, it seems like every bad thing about the startup age accumulated.

    So, for anybody who wants a link to an actually readable pdf: http://www.freepatentsonline.c... []

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I personally find it is becoming more and more difficult to simply browse websites. Before we even get into the new trend of awful "UX" innovation, sites themselves are larger, and thanks to the explosion of CSS scripting, take several seconds to render. This is most noticable when switching to older PCs or less powerful notebooks, but really everything is affected. The deliberate delays induced by ad software only compounds this.

      Now, more and more sites require Facebook logins or emails on the main pageStu

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Right off the bat, [StumbleUpon users are] told to cough up your Facebook account or leave.

        I got "Or sign up with e-mail" below the Facebook button.

        It might depend on from what part of the world you are viewing the site, as I know another service (Gmail) makes a backup mobile phone number required or optional depending on the user's location. Where are you? I'm in the midwestern USA.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Fuck PDFs of blurry pictures that you can't even copy the text out of.

      So, for anybody who wants a link to the actually usable patent application text: Here's the actual text of the application [].

  • On this? Bittorrent Sync, anyone?
    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      depends if BTSync has the encryption stuff that's in all the claims of this patent. I suspect that's really the only novel part (if it is at all :)

  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @09:24AM (#51241017)

    Yeah, otherwise known as a "software patent". It's worth clarifying what a software patent is not, the better to understand what it is and why it's so pernicious and why they're banned (yes, they are) in the EU and pretty much everywhere else in the world except AU. and JP.

    Software patents are not patents on specific ways for causing a machine to perform a useful function. That type of IP is the IP we call "copyright". Copyright does prevent your code, your (virtual) machine, from being ripped off.

    So with copyright you're not issued a patent on the concept of any wheel, you're issued a patent on your wheel's unique and specific implementation. If you stop and think about it, it's a really amazing how well copyright serves as the natural vehicle for IP in the computer industry. You cannot just steal another person's original work. Stealing includes *near copying with just a few things changed*. You have to find a relatively original way to achieve the same effect, but the *idea* of what you're doing is not patentable. Copyright naturally delivers all that to computer IP.

    Software patents are patents on all ways to cause a machine to perform a generally describable function. It's not the specific implementation performing the useful function that is being protected- it's the ability to achieve the same ends in any way whatsoever.

    So like the RIM patent debacle, this patent covers things unbelievably abstract and covers things like this: []

    For people who don't follow links, it's a picture of little labeled boxes representing computers, with arrows being drawn between the little boxes to signify what info gets passed between what computers and when. That's what they're patenting. That's what the patent in the 750 million dollar RIM/NTP case did- took THIS info out of a data base NOW and sent it to THAT computer who did THIS with that info.

    That's right folks, we are patenting flowcharts. Read it and weep- []

    This is exactly why in the EU computer-related inventions must control some physical, industrial process and then only that physical industrial process is patented, not the code which drives it. Otherwise you're patenting processes defined by flowcharts. You're patenting results. You're patenting ideas.

    We know for a fact we don't need these patents for software to progress and for companies to becomes powerful, even monopolistically so, since prior to 1987-1990 or so very few software patents were permitted. Yet we had the invention of EVERYTHING and we had gigantic corporations reaping huge profits also.

    This is about regulatory capture and the corporate coffers it fills (with what would have otherwise been your money). [] [] []

    • Yeah, otherwise known as a "software patent". It's worth clarifying what a software patent is not, the better to understand what it is and why it's so pernicious and why they're banned (yes, they are) in the EU and pretty much everywhere else in the world except AU. and JP.

      They're also banned in the US - there are no patents on pure software per se, which is the same rule used by the EU and everywhere else (including the AU and JP). Instead, this is a patent on a method of using an electronic device; a product that includes executable code; and a computer system including a processor, memory, and program module, and includes various additional limitations that apparently aren't taught or suggested by the prior art.

      Alternately, look at this [] and then come tell us again how sof

      • Yeah you're wrong on every point. That means you're trying.

        In the US software CAN be patented- purely virtual events which result in nothing more than a change in a computer screen or a change in state of a CPU can be the subject of a US patent. Exactly that is forbidden the EU.

        It is a well-worn talking point by patent lawyers, and a lame one, to assert as you did that since a computer is a machine and a computer screen is a machine then anything which effects those in a useful way are patents on machines

        • EU does grant "software patents" (not that there is such a thing a "software patent") Many big software companies file patent applications for all their patents in US, EU, JP, DE, and China -- usually using the exact same application as they file in the US. []
          • What you're citing is an imperfection in the execution by the EU of the EU's own stated policy, not a public policy position by the EU. Big difference. Here is the EU's statment on software patents:

            Here's an example of a public statement from the EPO. This is from 2009:

            The EPO does not grant "software patents". The term itself is a misleading concept. Under the EPC a computer program claimed as such is not a patentable invention (Art. 52(2)(c) and (3) EPC). Inventions involving

            • I guess we almost agree.

              There really is no such thing as a software patent. Patent applications are rejected in the US all the time for trying to claim abstract ideas. Many of these applications are even more likely to be rejected in the EU, JP, and CN.

              However, US patent applications that many folks here would characterize as "software patents" are often allowed in the US and many of them get allowed in EU, JP, and CN virtually unchanged.

        • Yeah you're wrong on every point. That means you're trying.

          ... says the guy who cherry-picked and only responded to a few points here and there. You're conceding that I'm right on all the other ones, yes? For example, did you follow that link to Google Patents and see all of the thousands and thousands of issued European software patents? Or are you still a "denier==terrorist" per your signature?

          >>that means that the only way to really protect your business software.

          Yeah, you protect your business by providing excellent software which is itself a natural barrier to entrance.

          I notice you quoted me out of context and even modified the quote. Let's see the whole thing:

          ... that means that the only way to really protect your business software, other than patents, is to require proprietary formats that aren't interoperable. And that's bad for consumers.

          You completely disregarded the entire point about proprietary formats, which a

  • Ahoy there! Maties I'd say foorsooth that there Pirate Bay has prior art hard to starboard.

    Also software patents are of course far more stupid than even this post. Boiled down and removing "on a computer" maybe even the Enigma machine would be prior art to sending coded messages without going through a central point after being told how to send the messages by the central point.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Transferring or syncing files over a network is easy enough. And I never ever needed a "third party" like dropbox. ftp, scp, rsync, http and others - take your pick.

    What will be next idiot thing - a "cloud service" for enabling "local storage" ?

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Quite. This seems like a painfully obvious idea who's time perhaps has finally come. Aren't there already network file systems that do this kind of thing and have for perhaps decades already?

      I've always thought that every household PC should be part of some sort of backup cluster where every important file is copied to every machine. Most people don't use what space they have. So there's plenty of this "empty space" to exploit.

      I've done this for years myself on my own machines using relatively crude methods

    • This lowers the bandwidth/data requirements for places that are already using Dropbox. Surely a terrible thing. Never have I heard of a company improving their product to the benefit of it's customers.

      Should they be getting a patent on this, probably not, but that is the game that is being played for the time being. Better them, who will actually use it, than some patent holding company who will hold it hostage.

      If you cannot see the benefits of network storage like Dropbox (or Google Drive / Skydrive / Box

  • This is just a published application - not an issued patent. It hasn't even been examined yet. During prosecution the claims in this application are going to be significantly narrowed if this application is going to result in an issued patent.
  • Take a deep breath. This is only an application [], not a patent. YOU still have an opportunity to participate in the process. A few hundred dollars and three little words, "I claim fire." get you a useless application for fire. Very broad claims in an initial application are not unusual and are often just the starting point for negotiating with the examiner. Hopefully the examiner will push back and get them to reality. The first claim is:
    1. An electronic-device-implemented method, the method comprisin
  • Frankly it simply sounds like the speil I heard for Bit Torrent when it first came out. I mean Word for Word.. not just *like* it. MAybe we do nead another similar format though.. if dropbox keeps this protocol below the radar. After all BT has just caught too much flac and it's not safe from prying eyes..

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.