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boroshan
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 6:19 pm    Post subject: Patent threat to Gentoo? Reply with quote

There's a story in the inquirer about a British company suing Microsoft. Not that I much care if MS get a kicking mind, but...

The patent describes a "Method for distributing updates by presenting a directory of software available for user installation that is not already installed on user station".

Sound familiar?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I know of the patent, it is based on menu-driven software. As cool as portage and emerge is, it is not menu-driven.

Of course, IANAL and I could be misunderstanding things a whole heckuva lot.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IANAL either, but the menu feature is described as optional in the patent. It also says the updates may occur either from a menu or automatically - which could be argued as covering the way portage automatically determines what updates are available and intalls them...

Hopefully I'm being needlessly alarmist about this, but I thought someone ought to raise it
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as much as I detest M$, and see how they constantly rip ideas from other software developers, it sounds like a pretty general concept to actually have a patent out for it. Then again that's one of my big complaints with software development (nothing new) :?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Filed: April 20, 2000


Prior art, as this type of system already existed way before this bunch of retards thought of filing this "patent"

I think its funny to see one of the the biggest supporters of fuzzy (software) patents is getting attacked every time again with all these dumb legal actions, but on the other side: its also every free market supporters problem if MS decides to use their own patents to kill of the last bit of competiotion and innovation (even the USSR had a more free market than the US --> and the EC is quickly killing off the eu's market in favor of the multinationals --> fuck pirate-capitalism)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Completely ridiculous. This is why patents suck ass.

There is no way to know for certain if nobody else would ever have the same idea - or even if someone else ALREADY HAS. Even if there were, it'd be crap because it hinders development.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prior art, or as I see it, two completely different things.

That patent is probably geared towards a menu driven GUI interface, both of which are no where near what Portage is. Second, Portage is much more than just a tool to update software. Third, if Portage is infringing, so is Debian, Red Hat, etc, the list goes on to include almost (if not every) major linux distro, because they all update software, no?

I'm getting fed up with software patents. You patent mechanical, tangible, real world things. Like a new processor core that is fast, but doesn't suck up more energy than a central air unit. You don't patent "double clicking a mouse" or some bullshit like that.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Patents were created by the greedy so that they could be greedy. Although they are annoying, we still have to worry about them a little bit until people snap out of it and realize they are retarded(both the patents and the patenters).
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understand how patents can be applied to our genes... 80% of genes are now patented to allow a company to have sole development rights over their use...
patent our genes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????????????
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ian wrote:
You don't patent "double clicking a mouse" or some bullshit like that.

nice 8)

It's no big deal, though - we all know what happens when you sue Microsoft
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="reisio"]
Ian wrote:

It's no big deal, though - we all know what happens when you sue Microsoft

mmm... Microsoft fight a half hearted battle, lose, take out a licence in perpetuity for a ridiculous sum, and the patent holders use this war chest to sue linux related businesses, their case bolstered by the capitualtion of the mighty Microsoft.

I mean after all, Darl McBride and his merry band of tossers are reaching the end of their usefulness around now. It'd be prudent to bring on a new attack dog.

OK: time to go and find my tin foil helmet. The orbital mind control lasers are obviously getting to me ;)
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Last edited by boroshan on Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:58 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:36 am    Post subject: have you red that patent yet? Reply with quote

The patent has over 300 claims! It was written to be so broad that it will be expensive to refute each of the very minor variants in each of those claims. If one claim falls, then the others still survive, unless a claim that other claims depend on falls, in which case all the subclaims fall with it. But there are many, many independent primary claims in this patent!

I just finished reading it, and not only does it try to patent portage, which -- correct me if I am wrong -- predates April 20, 2000 (the filing date). But the patent implies that it is a continuation of patents files as early as May 31, 1994, so the "date of the invention" is earlier than that. In the US, the claims are dated from the date of invention, not the filing date, nor the award date; other countries have different rules: YMMV.

The rediculous thing is it sounds to me like the claims would even cover USENET, were it not for prior art. I expect this patent to fall, unless...

UNLESS...

Unless Microsoft decides to "settle" and pay them a bunch, so they can sue others over this thing after a precedent has already been established.

REMEMBER...

All indications are that Microsoft is funding SCO, at least in a significant part. Also, SCO used to be owned by Microsoft many moons ago!
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't there something about being in the public domain too long that a filed patent becomes invalid?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Suing Gentoo won't bring any financial benefit.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Isn't there something about being in the public domain too long that a filed patent becomes invalid?

A patent is not in the public domain until it is 19 years old (in the US).

Quote:
Suing Gentoo won't bring any financial benefit.

No, but suing some large corporation that is using Gentoo could. This is what SCO is doing now to Auto-Zone and Daimler-Crysler. The idea is the FUD is supposed to scare everybody else into using a purchased proprietary product, such as Microsoft, or in this case, SCO Unix.

Also, vigorously pursuing patent violators is required. You must protect your patent to maintain it. By prosecuting enough infringers, they could scare people away from using Gentoo, or any other "infringing" product. The result: everybody uses a licensed product, which means they pay money to cover the royalties, which probably means Microsoft would then sell products to entities that would have formerly used GPL-ed stuff like Gentoo. :cry:

The need will soon arise for the FSF to write an amicus curarae -- a "friend of the court" brief -- explaining how prior art should invalidate this patent. I mean, after, their claims subsume USENET! The problem, as I explained earlier, is the complicated way the claims are written up.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
No, but suing some large corporation that is using Gentoo could. This is what SCO is doing now to Auto-Zone and Daimler-Crysler. The idea is the FUD is supposed to scare everybody else into using a purchased proprietary product, such as Microsoft, or in this case, SCO Unix.

Yep. Alternatively, they could cheaply licence the technology to anyone that wanted it. Say one dollar a unit. How many gentoo installations are there as an estimate? Can gentoo.org find that sort of money? In practical terms the threat of the lawsuit would probably do it.

Anyone run this past the EFF's patent busting people yet?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like portage is moving from Oregon to the Cayman Islands :twisted:
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Looks like portage is moving from Oregon to the Cayman Islands

That will not solve the legal problem. Its not like crypto and the arms embargo.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moriah wrote:
Quote:
Looks like portage is moving from Oregon to the Cayman Islands

That will not solve the legal problem. Its not like crypto and the arms embargo.

Sure it would -- end-user enforcement would be next to impossible, like with all the gambling sites.

I was being tounge-in-cheek, of course ...
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think we have to worry as both Debian's apt-get and BSD's ports where around long before this patent was filed, and do very similar things to portage, so there is prior art on at least those areas of the patent (if they are actually affected).
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moriah wrote:
Quote:
Looks like portage is moving from Oregon to the Cayman Islands

That will not solve the legal problem. Its not like crypto and the arms embargo.


What about the Comoro Islands? Since they never signed the International Berne Convention, and that they aren't apart of WIPO and therefore Patent laws mean nothing there?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding prior art. AFAIK a granted patent is valid, no matter if prior art exists or not. Only a court can rescint a patent. Prior art is excellent to attack a patent before court, but just to think a patent is invalid and infringing it because there exists somewhere prior art is dangerous for people/organizations without the (money) power to fight against it before court.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely correct. Prior art is evidence that could be used to convince a court to rule that a patent is invalid. It still takes lawyers to bring the case to court, and usually it is the patent holder that is the plaintif. Since a patent covers the novel application of an idea, not the idea itself, prior art is not always a valid defense. If the patent applies an old idea to a new problem in a non-obvious way, then prior art by itsef is not too useful.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you haven't already, protest about software patents here...

http://swpat.ffii.org/index.en.html
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HydroSan wrote:
What about the Comoro Islands? Since they never signed the International Berne Convention, and that they aren't apart of WIPO and therefore Patent laws mean nothing there?


The Berne Convention is about copyrights, not patents. U.S. patents means jack and shit to the rest of the world. (Actually, thats not entirely true, they can be taken into concideration when applying for a patent in another country, but since noone but the U.S., Japan and a few other countries has software patents it wouldn't really help them.)

If large companies running Gentoo where sued it would be bad for the gentoo community, but it would hardly be a catastrophe. After all, it only affects one country.
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