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Patents Open Source The Courts Yahoo! Linux

Yahoo Beats Patent Troll That Beat Google 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the yahoo-therefore-stronger-than-google dept.
jfruhlinger writes "You may recall the saga of patent troll Bedrock, which claims that it has patents over Linux and successfully sued Google over Google's Linux use. Well, the verdict from Bedrock's suit against Yahoo on similar grounds has come in — and Yahoo is victorious, not least because Yahoo went second and got to see how the arguments in the Google case went."
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Yahoo Beats Patent Troll That Beat Google

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Yahoo!" is both the victorious party and our cries at discovering the victorious party.

  • by zill (1690130) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:23AM (#36118354)
    Slipstreaming.
  • So can Google use this on appeal? I mean, after all, it is only a fucking garbage-collecting hash table. It's like patenting 2+3.

    • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:29AM (#36118474)

      Wow, you can add 2 and 3 like that? Patent Approved!

      - USPTO worker #217

      • by russotto (537200)

        1) Rewrite Peano axioms in patentese
        2) File patent
        3) Sue pretty much everybody, except American public school students
        4) PROFIT!

        There isn't even a ???!

        • by mckorr (1274964)
          What? C'mon, there are millions of American public school students! With lunch money! That they are wasting on food! Sue them too!

          Since we seem to be living in an age of bullies, shouldn't they just get it over with and follow things to their logical conclusion?
          • by Decessus (835669)
            And those kids are only spending that lunch money on soda and french fries, so taking that money away from them would actually be a public service. Think of the children.
          • by Surt (22457)

            The point is that since American public school students can't add 2+3 and get 5, you can't sue them for violating the patent.

            • by Surt (22457)

              Mods didn't understand my post, please read the thread and metamoderate appropriately.

        • Let me adjust this to the sad reality for you:

          0) become a lawyer
          1) hire someone to explain Peano axioms to you so you can rewrite them in patentese
          ...

          Otherwise your patent trolling will prove too risky and expensive. Note that most, if not all, of the patent trolls are either outright run by lawyers, or have lawyers on the board.

      • by qubezz (520511)

        Wow, you can add 2 and 3 like that? Patent Approved!

        - USPTO worker #217

        2+3 = 5 through binary coding and bit addition? Novel and unobvious!

        - Marshall Texas jury members [technologyreview.com]

        • Would that be something like:

          A method and system for producing a singular calculated result using two or more decimal-based input parameters and a modification symbol indicating the precise result required.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Just because Yahoo wasn't found to infringe doesn't mean Google didn't (regardless of what you feel about the validity of the patent).

      • by Surt (22457)

        It's a stretch to imagine how Yahoo would use linux in a way that wouldn't exercise the parts of linux that violate the patent, same as google.

        • Exactly! The "infringing" code was found in the linux kernel, not in Google code or special modifications.

          Yesterday, I looked into my refrigerator to get some milk. While I had the door open, I noticed that the yogurt was expired and threw it away. In doing so I violated their patent. Had I closed the door first, and then reopened the door with the specific intent of removing expired food, I would have been okay. That's how ridiculous this patent is.

    • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Desler (1608317) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:32AM (#36118534)

      Just as I expected:

      "First off, Bedrock had a stronger case against Google. Cawley put on evidence that Google used Bedrock's Linux code on its servers (although Google got rid of the code before trial). Yahoo, on the other hand, used a different form of Linux, and its lead trial lawyer, Yar Chaikovsky and Fay Morisseau of McDermott Will, were able to argue that Yahoo never executed the Bedrock code."

      The case against Google was much stronger hence they were found to infringe. So since the cases seem to not be exactly the same, I'm guessing that Google bringing up Yahoo's case is going to mean very little to the appeal's court.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        A run down of exactly what distro or project had this software at whatever time would be nice.

        • How does that help the patent trolls buy Ferraris?
        • by Desler (1608317)

          The "distro" would be whatever Google's internel fork of the linux kernel used on their servers is.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            No, the allegedly offending code is in the stock linux kernel. The texas court was just idiotic.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        I dunno. It still sounds fishy. How could Yahoo use Linux while not violating this patent? It's not like it would have been easy for them to go out of their way to avoid potential patent issues. They likely used a standard kernel (either stock or from a distro) that likely included the "offending feature".

        If anything, it seems like Yahoo managed to luck out and slither away.

        • by flymolo (28723)

          The linux kernel is modular. You can execute some parts and not others. They were able to argue that they didn't use the part of linux that could infringe this patent.
          Different distributions compile their kernels with different options with different things enabled or compiled as modules.

        • It's not entirely unreasonable to imagine two different distros where one used the offending code and the other didn't. So anyone that used the wrong distro could end up being sued. As you say it sounds like Yahoo lucked out as it's unlikely that Yahoo or Google knew there was a problem with one distro.
        • by Desler (1608317)

          How could Yahoo use Linux while not violating this patent?

          Because the kernel they use doesn't have the code in it that was the issue?

          They likely used a standard kernel (either stock or from a distro) that likely included the "offending feature".

          It is highly unlikely that they use a standard kernel.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          You do know the kernel can be compiled without some code enabled right?

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Slither away? WTF? Even when a company wins against a Linux patent troll (thus cutting down on the funds they'll have to attack others) are we still gonna read dozens of insults from the Google Fanbois? This is a good thing dude, be fricking happy!

          Now to answer your question: One of the big selling points on Linux in the server role is it is completely modular from the kernel on up can be "home rolled" for whatever load and server role you are using it for. Hell ask the Gentoo guys, they have been known to

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yahoo ... used a different form of Linux

        i.e. FreeBSD?

      • by renoX (11677)

        > The case against Google was much stronger hence they were found to infringe.

        Very strange, in which part of the code is the infringing code?

        I thought that it was in the routing table handling?
        If that was the case I can't see how Yahoo could not have used this code..

      • Cawley put on evidence that Google used Bedrock's Linux code on its servers (although Google got rid of the code before trial).

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but nobody used 'Bedrock's Linux code'. Bedrock doesn't have any Linux code. They have a patent on an idea that's implemented in Linux code written by Linux developers with no help from Bedrock. Whether that idea is worthy of patent protection is another story entirely. Ummmm.... NO!

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      So can Google use this on appeal? I mean, after all, it is only a fucking garbage-collecting hash table. It's like patenting 2+3.

      Wow ... I wonder when this patent was filed. I'm pretty sure I wrote a hash-table with LRU drop-off as part of a class project in about 89 or 90 ... do my notes from university count as prior art for this?

      I mean, just how much of what I learned in my education has now been patented?


      • If you used a valid "Lab Notebook" stile, where each page is dated, notes are in ink and all non used space was boxed and 'X'ed out, so that new stuff can not be added in. You might have a chance.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          If you used a valid "Lab Notebook" stile, where each page is dated, notes are in ink and all non used space was boxed and 'X'ed out, so that new stuff can not be added in. You might have a chance.

          Not in actual lab books (though I have those going back to '95 as well).

          But, my notes from university are written in ink, on dated pages, with the page number written on them. That's how you take notes -- at least, that's how I've always taken notes.

        • If you used a valid "Lab Notebook" stile, where each page is dated, notes are in ink and all non used space was boxed and 'X'ed out, so that new stuff can not be added in.

          Does the law actually say that? Because it makes about zero sense. Having no blank space to add material is an utterly frivolous requirement -- anyone willing to forge a document like that could trivially just get a new lab notebook, backdate it and write whatever they want in it without leaving any blank space.

          • by mckorr (1274964)
            There is a more or less standard format that has developed for Lab/Engineering notebooks. The "no blank space" part is done specifically so you can't add information to a previous date. That way the notebook shows how an idea was developed over time, documenting the entire development process rather than just the end result. Pages are generally signed off on by two people, the person taking the notes and a second "witness," which is supposed to cut down on forgeries.

            And yes, they can be entered into e
      • I almost wonder if some of these patent trolls are literally surfing through old theses and essays on algorithms from the 60s to the 80s looking for concepts that they can slap a stamp on and send to the patent office. For god's sake, there must be hundreds of examples of garbage-collecting hash tables from that period of time. It's hardly a novel or unique concept.

        I'm seriously expect someone to come along and patent Quicksort. If you can patent garbage collection on a hash table, then why not sort algo

        • I almost wonder if some of these patent trolls are literally surfing through old theses and essays on algorithms from the 60s to the 80s looking for concepts that they can slap a stamp on and send to the patent office. For god's sake, there must be hundreds of examples of garbage-collecting hash tables from that period of time. It's hardly a novel or unique concept.

          I'm seriously expect someone to come along and patent Quicksort. If you can patent garbage collection on a hash table, then why not sort algorithms?

          It would have to be a quick sort that excludes some items on the fly as it sorts and releases them -- like say, min_sort_val = 10 or something... now THAT would be innovative.

          Additionally, I'd just like to point out that the term "Garbage Collection" alludes to a ridiculous analogy. Seriously. When's the last time the garbage man came into your house, decided you didn't use something based on the amount of dust on it, then hauled it away without asking? Never... (GC should be called Maid Service, or p

          • This is extremely off-topic, but I can't resist... :)

            Additionally, I'd just like to point out that the term "Garbage Collection" alludes to a ridiculous analogy. Seriously. When's the last time the garbage man came into your house, decided you didn't use something based on the amount of dust on it, then hauled it away without asking? Never... (GC should be called Maid Service, or perhaps Vengeful Mother-in-Law Disposal instead).

            Well, I always imagined a program in a "garbage collected" language as someone using stuff and dropping it on the ground when they don't need it anymore, without paying too much attention to what they're doing. Eventually, the "garbage collection" service comes over and collects what was dropped.

            IRL, You decide what you want in the garbage, then place the collection of those items in the designated receptacle prior to a garbage collection pass.

            That is close to what happens in languages without automatic garbage collection: calling C's "free" and C++'s "delete", for example, is the equivalent of taking t

          • by Bazzible (661545)
            Spring Cleaning!
        • Re:Appeal? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:00PM (#36119698) Homepage

          Best patent I've found? Computing the absolute value of an integer. Yes, really.

          int v;
          int const mask = v >> sizeof(int) * CHAR_BIT - 1;
          v = (v ^ mask) - mask;

          Currently owned by Oracle, previously by Sun.

          • What's the patent number on that one?

          • by blair1q (305137)

            It's not what you're doing. It's how you do it. The method and/or apparatus. E.g., roasting a chicken or a pork loin is as old as fire, but look up "roasting rack" in a patent database sometime. It's a serious "wtf" moment.

            If they were the first to figure out that method of computing absolute value, they get to patent it. It's not obvious, and it's not simple enough that I'd expect there was prior art.

            The Patent Office doesn't care how much it's actually worth; that's left to the courts. Since such a

            • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

              When they taught you two's complement didn't they tell you that to negate a number in two's complement you toggle each bit and then subtract 1?

              v = (v ^ -1) + -1

              And using an arithmetic right-shift to copy the sign bit across the full width of the int is hardly novel either.

              • by blair1q (305137)

                Someone had to invent those. If they'd patented them, they could bill the holder of this absolute-value-taking patent for using them.

                • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

                  You can't patent something that is obvious. Those are obvious.

                  Thank providence that people actually bothered to invent stuff and NOT PATENT it, or we'd have the same hell that the .gif format has endured for all of computing if anything that used signed integers had to pay royalties for using the two's complement patent.

                  • by blair1q (305137)

                    Those aren't obvious. Even 1+1=2 is patentable, as a symbolic method of representing the addition of one set containing a single object to another similar set will make a collective set containing both objects. It's got a lot of prior art so it could no longer be patented, but back before the symbols '+' and '=' and the act of using them to separate digits to create statements of mathematical fact were invented, it would have been patent gold.

                    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

                      They are obvious as it relates to negating a two's complement binary number, since they form the basis of the whole two's complement number system.

                    • by blair1q (305137)

                      every plumber in the world knows how to sweat a joint

                      Soldering pipes would be a great patent if it weren't already centuries old. So would threading them and screwing them together. Just making a pipe out of metal is a good patent.

                      Go read your Dr. Seuss. If it's not also way above your intellectual level.

                      The only reason "mathematics is unpatentable" is that it's all old.

                      Invent a new mathematical symbol, and describe how it's used to make a transformation in the universe that nobody's ever discovered yet, and you'll be in.

                • by StikyPad (445176)

                  You can't patent math, and besides, that technique is probably older than anyone reading Slashdot, which I'm sure includes more than a few boomers.

          • It is a stick. [google.com]
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Most of it.

        in fact your Sig has parts that are patented and Microsoft's patent lawyers will be calling you for it's unlicensed use.

        Yes, the patent system is that broken.

      • So can Google use this on appeal? I mean, after all, it is only a fucking garbage-collecting hash table. It's like patenting 2+3.

        Wow ... I wonder when this patent was filed

        Yeah, it's like a page right out of history.

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        It was also used in MS-DOS disk-caching programs, and extended-memory managers back in the 1980s, as well as database buckets back in the 1970s - the patent is totally bogus.
    • I know that any normal judge or jury would throw that lawsuit out so quickly that they'd be home for lunch, but the patent system is hopeless screwed up and you just can't rely on reason and common sense anymore. I hope you're right.

      It's like patenting 2+3.

      Patenting any software is like patenting math, IMHO.

  • Bedrock's Code? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If google inadvertently ran bedrock's code, does that mean they went beyond patenting obvious stuff and into submitting code into gnu/linux that was intentionally patent encumbered?

  • Really I thought that Yahoo was a big fan of BSD back in the day. So does Yahoo and or Google use a DIstro or do they both roll their own?

  • The problem, the stupid problem is: why grant patents on software, on code? Code should be restricted to copyright. It is, practically, the same like music. USA should pass a bill to eliminate and nullify all software patents.
    • Re:software patent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic.gmail@com> on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:44PM (#36120228)

      Until (IIRC) 1986, that was the case. Software is composed of algorithms, and algorithms are by definition mathematics, and mathematics can only be discovered, not invented. So until 1986 no software patents were awarded. I think the first one was a Honeywell patent for a combined hardware/software system for an air conditioning controller.

      The most egregiously bad deal about software patents is the huge list of software inventions going back to the dawn of computing, for really important stuff like virtual memory, dozens of compiler methods, the windowing GUI, many different aspects of the systems that underlie the internet, etc., that could not be patented - in retrospect those thousands of real inventors got a raw deal. I made several advances in my work in the late 1970s and early 1980s that could now be patented. All those innovations back then were either shared effectively as open source, or protected for a while as trade secrets. Now trolls can patent silly trivialities and make zillions of dollars, depending on a huge edifice of real work that they get to use for free.

      And, of course, if those innovations could have been patented the entire industry would be 30 years behind where we are now.

  • Scissors beat paper which had previously beaten rock. Will scissors now beat rock? Stay tuned!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They just escaped from the troll's grasp.

  • Why on earth is Slashdot still linking to so many articles on IT World? Their journalism is spotty at best, and they were the site that caused the whole Samsung keylogger false-positive fiasco.
    • by Xtifr (1323)

      You prefer the more usual Slashdot practice of linking to some random guy's blog where he misquotes two sentences from a site like IT World, and then uses his misinterpretation of those to spin some elaborate paranoid fantasy about how Google is planning to embed chips in our brains [imdb.com] to beam us advertising 24/7?

  • I met the lawyer/patent-troll that's running Bedrock. He's a really nice guy and freely admits he's in it for the money. Can't really blame him. It's our patent laws that need to be fixed.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields

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