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Android Patents The Courts Linux

Google Loses Bedrock Suit, All Linux May Infringe 347

Posted by timothy
from the take-one-guess-which-district dept.
blair1q writes "CNet reports that Google has lost the lawsuit brought by Bedrock, for infringing on Patent 5,893,120, 'Methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data,' and has exposed the Linux kernel, in which the infringing code reportedly appears, to liability for patent-license fees. Red Hat also participated in the suit, arguing that the patent was invalid, but the court decided otherwise."
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Google Loses Bedrock Suit, All Linux May Infringe

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  • Patent translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames (1099) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:53PM (#35901062) Homepage

    For a layman's analogy, when rummaging through the fridge for something, they have patented noticing that the mayo is past it's expiration and so throwing it out while you're there. That is all.

    Not only is it blindingly obvious to nearly anyone in the field, it's so blindingly obvious that a beginning student is fairly likely to think of it.

  • by reebmmm (939463) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:59PM (#35901106)

    I assume this is tongue and cheek, but the Eastern District of Texas (in its entirety) has 10 Federal judges and 10 magistrate judges. In Marshall Texas, where a majority of the "trolls" file, there are three judges. (http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/page1.shtml?location=info)

    Notwithstanding the sometimes (frequently?) wacky jury results, an interesting thing is starting to happen though with the Eastern District of Texas: the judges are getting very good at patent cases. The judges are very good at doing "claim construction" and other technical aspects of patent cases. The result is cases tend not to languish because the judge is confused or baffled by the process or technology.

    By contrast, there are districts that it is virtually impossible to litigate patent infringement cases because there is NO expertise among the judges.

  • Re:Appeals? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:10PM (#35901206)

    Specifically, the appeal will happen in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where all patent-related cases go after the district court.

  • Re:Um, wtf? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:14PM (#35901240)

    Well, actually, you have to look at the claims. In this case, however, I'm a bit surprised that nobody could come up with invalidating art. See the Google Patents entry (since Patentstorm sucks ass) and scroll down to read the claims.

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=X4QXAAAAEBAJ [google.com]

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:36PM (#35901388)

    Patent suits are are only decided by Jury at the first stage. This one gets automatically appealed. Just like all the other ones.

    I wouldn't get too worked up about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:41PM (#35901424)

    The UniVerse database as well as Prime Information were using this type of structure since the late 1980s. UniVerse has a "Dynamic" file that uses hashing to store data with an extended structure to store data that does not fit in the primary block.

    Furthermore, when additional space is required, a block restructure is performed, (the database compresses the blocks before requesting additional space i.e. garbage collect).

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @08:04PM (#35901616) Homepage Journal

    does this patent describe a hashtable?

    No. It looks like it describes something utterly obvious done to a hash table, though.

    Let's say you have a hash table, where you resolve hash collisions by having a linked list of everything that shares that hash value. Whenever you traverse that linked list, whether you're adding another entry, or searching for one of the items on that list, or whatever, since you have to traverse the list anyway, you could examine each entry on the list and possibly throw it away if it's something that you think you'll never use. Like, say, if it's an expired cache entry.

    If I'm reading this patent right, that idea patented.

    Seriously. And that's outrageous. If stuff this obvious is patentable, then programmers simply have no chance at all. You would have to hire a lawyer to work a week for every hour that a programmer works. It's just bloody fucking insane.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:05PM (#35902816)
    Ask John Carmack about that and he'll tell you about having to settle over a patent on "Carmack's Reverse" taken out by Creative Labs some time after he wrote it.
    With software patents you can't win even if the technique is named after you before somebody else files the patent.

    Knuth told us and the patent office how bad it would get with software patents in 1994.
  • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:30PM (#35902986) Homepage

    This is a federal case, so it could potentially get appealed all of the way to the Supreme Court (and Google has sufficient funds to do so).

    And they will probably go the distance with it in a manner like Bilski was ran- this is the camel's nose in the tent and it's not like it's really valid on several different fronts. (Based on what I'm about to mention, it might be that this is the plan on this...I can't say...)

    Besides, there's some very likely prior art. The initial release of NLANR Squid (v. 1.0) was on July of 1996. When it was released, some six months before the Bedrock patent was filed, it was the inheritor of the Harvest HTTP Cache research project's code and resources, which a reduction to practice places it at about a year and a half prior to the Bedrock filing. At it's core, there is the very implementation of what is described in Bedrock's patent as it uses a hash with external chaining and expiry on the fly- it's how the whole thing does fast lookup and aging on the contents in the cache to begin with. It's how it works so "nicely" and what made it special back when it was implemented.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:45PM (#35903048)
    Sorry for the troll, but I live an hour from the area, and have had dealings in the area for years. It's pretty, but there's nothing there, and I mean nothing, besides big-eared, banjo-playing, sister-marrying, back-woods country fucks. The Klan thrives out in that neck of the woods. Litigation is the only industry they've got out there, besides some heavy industry in the southern section (Beaumont). There's lovely Jasper (famous for dragging black men behind pickups), Fabulous Woodville, and don't forget Orange, Center and Pineland. This place makes Pasadena and Deer Park look like the Hamptons. The fact that nothing good comes out of East Texas is not much of surprise- The people in that place remind me of the bad parts of Eastern Europe (had to spend time there, too.). I'm surprised that the more edi-cated of them managed to come up with a scam to bring some wealth to the area.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:51PM (#35903070)

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote a great article about it:

    Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

    Red Hat has sued Bedrock to get the patent revoked for numerous reasons. Among others, they point out that Linux, which dates to 1991, predates the 1997 patent; that no one has ever used the patent; and that in any case Bedrock has no claims to the patent

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/idiotic-anti-linux-google-patent-decision/8736

    And PJ commented on Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols article:

    "If I might remind you, Mike Anderer told us years ago, back in 2004, that this was Microsoft's plan, to see to it that FOSS companies got sued over and over again for patent infringement, until they gave out: "In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space." So that's what he said. And 50 or more lawsuits lined up means using proxies, obviously. Remember Microsoft trying to sell some of its patents that read on Linux, or so they claimed, to patent trolls? OIN played man in the middle on that one, but who is to say that was the only one? That's why it's an antitrust issue, I'd say, using patents like this as an anticompetitive weapon. And if you want to know what is wrong with software patents, the damage they are doing, read the quotations from various business executives (like Andy Grove) in the footnotes to this article.]"

    http://groklaw.net/

    BTW: the F/OSS company, CitiWare, mentioned in the first slashdot article about Bedrock, is apparently out of business. I wonder if they were sued out of business?

  • YANAL (Score:5, Informative)

    by westlake (615356) on Friday April 22, 2011 @12:41AM (#35903610)

    As it stands, they did prove that it wasn't a valid patent- but the Jury believed "the little guy's attornies" all the same

    The jury was never asked to rule on the validity of the patent.

    The jury was asked three questions which must be answered consistently:

    [Paraphrased]

    1 Did Bedrock prove by the weight of the evidence presented here that Google infringed on its patent?

    On Claim 1 - Yes. On Claim 2 - Yes.

    2 Did Google prove by the weight of the evidence presented here that it did not infringe on the patent?

    On Claim 1 - No. On Claim 2 - No.

    3 If you find that the patent was infringed, what would be fair and reasonable compensation for Bedrock, based on the weight of the evidence presented here?

    $ 5 million.

    Bedrock v. Google [scribd.com]

    For the case to reach the jury in this form, Google must have lost every argument with the judge at every stage in the case where the validity of the patent could be contested.

    That does not bode well for an appeal.

    The jury trial was demanded in this case - and it is an expensive and high-risk proposition.

    The appellate court judge does not second-guess a jury on matters of fact.

    The most he is likely to allow is an argument that any damages awarded were "excessive."

    Neither are you likely to get very far arguing that the jury was biased or incompetent.

  • As far as the linux kernel goes? They've picked a very specific release train. 2.4.22, which came out in 25-Aug-2003 .

    No. RTFA:

    The accused infringement relates to the Linux kernel itself, which is at the core of Google's server farm. The complaint named a long list of allegedly infringing Linux versions, starting with the 2.4.22.x tree all the way to version "2.6.31.x, or versions beyond 2.6.31.x."

    The start kernel is a very specific release because they had no reason to start there. 2.4.x was from a time when there were no new features added to kernels so the code was likely there for 2.4.1 (30 jan 2001) and assuming the 2.4.x series kernel was the first kernel with the feature it would have been added somewhere in the 2.3.x experimental series (May 1999 - May 2000). The fun question is now: did the 2.2.x series kernel infringe?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2011 @12:51PM (#35907640)

    Citiware had already stopped doing business prior to the lawsuit, never had any business in the State of Texas and was actually a LLC originally formed in Colorado, not Texas. The lawsuit just included the firm because the owner lived in East Texas and the domain name showed his personal address in East Texas with the company name. They needed companies local to East Texas to keep this lawsuit in the patent crazy East Texas and claimed whatever they could find locally.

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