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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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  • Appeals? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:34PM (#35900878) Journal

    This one has *got* to find itself appealed, and that appeal will happen well outside of East Texas.

    I for one do not see folks like IBM, RH, Intel, Oracle, or other huge companies simply forking over either, even if the "licensing fee" was something ridiculously low. IT would be the camel's nose in the tent, and they know it.

  • Gotta love em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vladbo (2038928) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:38PM (#35900924)
    The good ol' software patent, a method and apparatus for extortion and not much else.
  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:43PM (#35900964) Homepage Journal

    I assume that "east district of texas" has somewhere around 10x the usual judges and a very large, busy courthouse and is somehow or other making a great deal of money off all this litigation.

    It's a bit like red-light-cameras. Nobody likes them. They aren't serving their publicly declared purpose. But the local government won't give up their cash cow easily. So ya, they're fine with it I'd imagine. Don't expect Texas to do anything about it. But problem is, federal laws regarding jurisdiction allow them to keep doing this. There's federal laws that need to be changed to stope this abuse. There's no point in giving Texas the evil eye, they're just playing the system by the rules and are very happy to see it continue.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:47PM (#35901014)

    Combining a chained hash table with a priority queue was obvious 40 years ago. How can something like this be patented? It seems it is time for severe penalties for trying to patent obvious things. Like a few years in prison. These people do way more damage than terrorists ever did.

  • Patently obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tricorn (199664) <sep@shout.net> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:57PM (#35901090) Journal
    I won't comment on the validity, it seems pretty obvious to combine techniques for accessing/modifying a hashed/linked list with combing a list for items to delete, but there's a trivial work-around for it. Don't delete items as you comb through them, simply mark them as invalid and put them on a list of records to be recovered. Periodically, or when running low on storage, delete items on the to-be-deleted list. Might even be faster when multi-threaded if the invalidate can be done with a lightweight synchronization rather than locking the record(s) out while recycling them; can even keep a private list of invalidated records, then add that to a global list to be recycled. Claims 2, 4, 6, 8 are ridiculous on the face of it, though - using dynamic limits for ANYTHING is not novel unless you can show a significant problem that hasn't been solved before. Simply specifying a dynamic value that a routine uses to count the number of iterations of a process, length of time to spend doing something, number of things to do in a pass, etc, is 40 years old at least.
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:00PM (#35901112) Journal
    i agree with GP, something like "fraud against the people" or "attempted fraud against the people" and treated as any other fraudulent act or attempt at a fraudulent act for the dollar amount sued for or demanded in lieu of court proceedings
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:15PM (#35901256)

    You know what this technology would be well suited to? Garbage collecting software patents from USPTO.

    I mean I'm sorry USPTO. You do not have the right to tell me I'm not allowed to think up an (THE) obvious
    solution to an obvious and easily specifiable algorithmic or data structure issue.

    This is basic second year computer science undergrad basics, at best.

    This is complete crap.

    If I were Google UI would vest all my software technology rights in a small branch company in Barbados and be done with it.

  • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:35PM (#35901384) Homepage Journal

    On the flip-side, it might encourage big companies to believe that software patents = easy money for no work. They're already doing less than they need to be, the last thing we want is for their shareholders to insist they can make the same profits by doing less.

  • I believe that chaining hash tables is somewhere in Knuth. Which means that it came out before 1980. Yes, on page 507 of volume 3 he talks about "search methods commonly known as hashing or scatter search", so these were COMMON in 1973. And he talks about ways of refining, and how the keys need to be adapted when the contents of the table changes if you want to retain uniqueness (which he doesn't consider worth the effort), He goes on for a number of pages. But please remember that this was not original research on his part. He was merely reporting on commonly used techniques and analyzing them. And he often didn't go into details. He only had so much space. (And he was recoding everything to work in MIX, which made I/O especially problematic.) But Corman was FAR from being the first word on Hash Table implementations. (In college, sometime in the 1970's, we talked about chaining hash tables and various implementations. Given the limitations on storage [RAM & punch cards...not disk or tape] you can bet we spent a lot of time making sure dead data didn't continue taking up space...though we didn't always properly clear it, merely deallocated it.)

    So the "patent", by this "Doctrine of Equivalents" and "After-invented technology" would be considered a mere refinement of standard approaches. If the judge and jury are idiots, or possibly just not interested in justice, one can hope that some appeals court will notice this. (And hope that Google already has it in the court records, because otherwise the appeals courts won't be allowed to notice it.)

    But the existence of that patent is further evidence that the patent system needs to be totally scrapped, and all extant patents be considered invalid, because of the malfeasance of the USPTO. I don't think it possible that mere misfeasance could lead to the current mess, though I suppose that there are some other felonies that would also be applicable. Fraud comes to mind. Possibly accepting bribes, though that would need to be proven, as it's not directly shown by the evidence to hand. But "improperly performing their duties in a way calculated to unjustly benefit some parties and unjustly injure others" seems like a good characterization. It might, however, be difficult to prove that they intended the injustice.

    All in all, I don't think filing appropriate criminal charges against the offfice-holders at the USPTO would be very successful, however justified it might be. Much better would be to just declare the entire mess corrupt and revoke all existing patents and patent rulings (on, e.g., what can be patented). And then re-write the law into something that can actually be honestly applied.

    At that, patent law probably isn't as bad as copyright law. Patents still expire. They may not reveal anything useful, but after they've expired they form a valid basis for claiming that some new patent is invalid. So they do have some good features. Copyrights, however, essentially never expire. And they are allowed to be used to cover items which are protected by a DRM that will definitely render that material "protected" unreadable before the copyright even comes up for renewal. (OTOH, copyrights are granted freely, and without formally filing. But someone else having produced essentially the same work previously isn't protection against a modified idea being copyrighted. In fact, even being in public domain now appears to no longer be protection.)

    Have I given the impression that I consider the legal system corrupt? Compared the the legislators it's pure as the driven snow. Then there's the president...

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @09:30PM (#35902518) Homepage

    Big Software is all on the receiving end of this, and all the big players are starting realize that they're shooting themselves in the foot with how broad software patents have become (except maybe Oracle, they seem to be playing their own game. Maybe they think that since they dominate their chosen area they're safer). I believe MS was just in court recently with a similar problem. The mutually assured destruction patent portfolios that everyone built up to protect themselves against each other are useless against the trolls, because the trolls never develop anything to infringe. They just sue other people.

    It'll probably still take a few years for the momentum to be redirected and the ship to be turned around, but I think in the next 5-10 year you'll see MS and the other big software players changing their tune on this. Apple and Google never liked the game much to begin with (though they both willing play for the moment), and I don't think it'll take too many more trolls winning cases to convince MS and IBM.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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