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More Oracle Patents Declared Invalid 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the quarterly-revenue-projections-dropping dept.
sfcrazy writes "The validity of another Oracle patent has become doubtful in the dispute with Google about the infringement of Java patents and copyrights on Android devices. The US Patent Office and Trademark Office (USPTO) has provisionally declared all 24 claims of patent number 6,125,447 as being invalid. The USPTO based its decision on a patent that had been used in another case. This patent was granted in 1994 – three years before Sun filed its Java patent application. The US patent office also considered two publications released in 1996 as evidence that Sun's described method for protecting applications via 'protection domains' was anticipated by 'prior art.'"
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More Oracle Patents Declared Invalid

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  • Wasn't there alleged Copyright infringement in this case too? I thought someone had copied hotspot code straight into harmony/dalvik...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As far as I know there were only testing classes that were decompiled and the decompiled Java code was stored in the test folders of the Android code repository with an Apache license wrongly auto-pasted at the head of them all. They were never shipped with Android OS, but may have been downloaded and used by Android developers. There may be some liability on Google but it is not directly on any shipping Android OS and is not likely to be a big enough infringement problem to deal a blow to Google. The pa

    • by hedwards (940851)

      There was some grumbling about Google not providing the source for Gingerbread at the same time that the binary release was made IIRC.

      • That was (and is) Honeycomb, and is a completely unrelated situation. OP was referring to the allegation that Google had decompiled pieces of Java and pasted them into Android with an Apache license.
    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      It was a reverse engineered compatibility test and some ZIP with J2ME something....
  • by flibuste (523578) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:35PM (#36657200)
    So in light of a lawsuit, the USPTO finds out that a granted patent should not have been granted. Or many. Everyone is focusing on the impact this may have on the case, but no question asked about the USPTO? (besides Slashdotters?)
    • by mjwx (966435) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:49PM (#36657258)

      So in light of a lawsuit, the USPTO finds out that a granted patent should not have been granted. Or many. Everyone is focusing on the impact this may have on the case, but no question asked about the USPTO? (besides Slashdotters?)

      Who though?

      The judge has to maintain his impartiality in the case so he cant ask.

      Oracle/MS/Apple/IBM and so forth are too busy protecting their own patent war chests and beating the patent war drums. They've got to much of a vested interest to ask.

      Organisations like the EFF have been shouting this from the rooftops only to be told "shut up, I just want my Iphone" by the average person.

      So who? Whenever someone raises a voice, they get shouted down because patent reform is hard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. And this is proof that the system works. Small developers would have needed to spend too much money to discover patents are invalid, and so patent threats are still completely valid. So the large corporations can continue to rule the lesser masses.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:32PM (#36657422)

        It't not that hard:
        1. Don't allow patents for things where they don't make sense. (i.e. software, business methods).
        2. Make people choose ONE form of protection for a certain item, if it could be construed as eligible for more than one. (i.e. you can copyright it, or patent it, but not both).
        3. Actually enforce the requirements of novelty, etc.
        4. Punish people who submit "original inventions" that aren't. People that know (or should have known) that they are lying to the USPTO benefit from the patents until they are invalidated, so they should be fined whatever benefit they are deemed to have gained from the patent at hand, and then fined for perjury as punishment.
        5. Don't allow NPEs for more than a brief period of time, and don't allow them to bring suit against anyone.

        Doing those things wouldn't stop people with legitimate new ideas from patenting things that are novel, etc., but it would stop most people from playing around and make people think twice before gaming the system.

        • #4 would make it tough on individual/small biz researchers.

        • by Haedrian (1676506)

          I'm not quite sure about 2 . Copyright is automatic on 'created works'. So what you're basically saying is that if I patent my mega-super algorithm, any works I have which use that won't be able to be protected by copyright? Similarly, if I use (say) a patented codec in my software, would this remove the protection copyright has on it? Could other people sell my product when the patent expires?

          4 is a big problem too. Lets say I have an idea while walking down the street. Do you think I have the time/money/i

          • by EdIII (1114411)

            4 is a big problem too. Lets say I have an idea while walking down the street. Do you think I have the time/money/inclination to stay searching for prior art, and previous patents to see if something matches, and the degree of matching? I'm not a patent lawyer. Do I have to employ one?

            It's a HUGE problem and it would be the very heights of hubris to think you know it all, even in your field. You also don't know what other people have done, or that an idea that is already in the public domain simply did not receive enough attention, or resources, to become widely used.

            There is no way you can punish for it unless you can prove to a jury, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the patent submitter knew about that one specific piece of prior art.

            This is why patent lawyers need to be employed sim

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:03PM (#36657328) Journal
      Happens all the time. Now that I am dealing with a number of patents issued in the last decade, I have found that many of the USPTO ppl were foreigners working here (mostly chinese). I have already come across 6 patents issued over the last 7 years that have prior art (this is for PHYSICAL items, not software).

      Basically, USPTO was gutted under W. It needs to be revamped and restore to what happened to it.
      • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday July 04, 2011 @11:40PM (#36657666)

        All USPTO examiners must be US citizens. Many are naturalized, yes, but they're not "foreigners".

        Under W, the USPTO hired thousands of additional examiners. Any underfunding was the result of Congress repeatedly raiding the USPTO's collected fees to spend them on other non-patent-related things (military, entitlements, blame whatever you want).

        • Almost all of the new ones ARE naturalized. The problem is that they have no PRIOR ART EXPERIENCE within American context. So, you can think that is ok, but not even close. I like the idea of having SOME come from other nations, but the vast majority should be from HERE so that they can see and shoot down such obvious BS patents. Instead, they wasted HUGE amounts of time on them.
          • Thank god YOU are not involved in recruitment!

            I would rather have a "foreign born" person who can effectively research the matter, than have soemone who "should" know better simply because he is home born.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I would rather have a "foreign born" person who can effectively research the matter, than have soemone who "should" know better simply because he is home born.

              What you are saying is immeasurably stupid, for a number of reasons. One reason is that clearly the research was not done. Another is that the Chinese don't have any edge over Americans when it comes to doing research. And finally, there is a "home field advantage" to someone who has grown up in the country where the patents are granted. This is especially ironic considering that one of the places Sun went wrong was that they played the usual merger game, apparently specifically to inflate their stock price

              • You have the right to an opinion.... however, if you read what i was TRYING to say, is that JUST because you are "home born", does not mean that you have an automatic, nor natural advantage.

                Also you are assuming everything was invented/started in the US, to give the home advantage. But that is not true either.

                Take for example GSM, which was initially very European, then moved throughout the world, and only "hit" america last. In fact it coudl be argued it was the launch of the iPhone that really pushed GSM

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  You have the right to an opinion.... however, if you read what i was TRYING to say, is that JUST because you are "home born", does not mean that you have an automatic, nor natural advantage.

                  All else being equal, yes you do.

                  Also you are assuming everything was invented/started in the US, to give the home advantage. But that is not true either.

                  No, I don't care, because the USPTO only rules on patents in the USA. See, we're talking about US patents, and US patent reform, because Oracle is a US company, like Sun before it.

                  So please stop this total view that the US is the center fo the world, centre of creation.

                  Uh, why don't you try to stay on topic instead?

                  • You have the right to an opinion.... however, if you read what i was TRYING to say, is that JUST because you are "home born", does not mean that you have an automatic, nor natural advantage.

                    All else being equal, yes you do.

                    With all ealse equal, there is NO natural or automatic advatage to being hoem born, as opposed to being foreign born. To paint otherwise, pangs of racism, and I have no further comment.

                    • by drinkypoo (153816)

                      With all ealse equal, there is NO natural or automatic advatage to being hoem born, as opposed to being foreign born.

                      Yes, yes there is, especially if you grew up here. That means you have been exposed to more relevant technology, and you haven't been exposed to irrelevant technology which you might misremember as being relevant to the present patent application.

                      To paint otherwise, pangs of racism, and I have no further comment.

                      Ah yes, the last refuge of the conversationally incompetent.

                    • Absolutely it is. However, the bulk of manufacturing in the world from 50-late 70's was America. America still remains one of the largest manufacturers in the world. The issue is that the patents that I have seen are for items from the 50-70's. And all of the examiners were foreigners. They obviously had not seen these items and more importantly, these items were obviously not patented. Back then, it was expensive to pick up a patent, so most ppl just skipped doing them.
                      Now, these foreign-born have no clu
                • My original response had NOTHING to do with racism. It had EVERYTHING to do with the fact that I am going to have to fight in court against at least one patent (most likely more) because the examiner had ZERO KNOWLEDGE of prior art here in the 50-70's. And many items from that timeframe did NOT have a patent. It was too expensive and production was cheap here. So you just made them.
                  As to GSM, would I want an expert here? Yup. HOWEVER, GSM is more of a system. I would actually want an expert on Cell Phones.
            • Why? You do not think that Americans can do the job? What a Racists you are. The home-born allows for large knowledge of PRIOR ART. Europeans. Shesh.
          • by EdIII (1114411)

            Exactly.

            Their prior art experience in their native country is worth nothing here. A patent is not being granted in China (is that actually worth anything?) or the EU. It is being granted in the US. To allow a naturalized citizen without at least 10 years of experience in the field he is examining is gross negligence. It is very much akin to getting a MD after only 2 years in a foreign country and thinking that can make you a doctor here. Riggghttt...

            The whole USPTO needs to be revamped from the ground

        • by xnpu (963139)

          If you're born outside the US, you're a foreigner to US citizens. Naturalization doesn't change where you were born.

          Or so says dictionary.com:

          1. A person born in or coming from a country other than one's own.
          2. A stranger or outsider.

          • I am not trying to call you a racist as I hardly know you, but your words are exactly the sort of words a closet racist would use.

            You are comparing two terms that dont serve the same conext.

            a US Citizen is different from a US BORN person. A Foreign born person person that is a US citizen is as much of a US citizen as a US Born US Citizen.

      • by tyrione (134248)

        Happens all the time. Now that I am dealing with a number of patents issued in the last decade, I have found that many of the USPTO ppl were foreigners working here (mostly chinese). I have already come across 6 patents issued over the last 7 years that have prior art (this is for PHYSICAL items, not software). Basically, USPTO was gutted under W. It needs to be revamped and restore to what happened to it.

        Aren't you glad you made crap up about the citizenship of employees at the USPTO? It sure makes your hyperbolic rhetoric all the smaller.

        • What did I make up? Have you worked with USPTO? I have. As I said, I am now dealing with the issues because these ppl did not have PRIOR ART KNOWLEDGE.
    • by MrDoh! (71235)

      Pretty much. It's bad that when attacked, you have to then hire huge amounts of lawyers to trawl through prior art/invalidate prior claims, when if the USPTO had done their job correctly in the first place, we'd not be in this place.

      Pity people can't sue the USPTO for negligence or at least the costs they've incurred having to fight these claims. It might cause them to do a better job/chuck it all out and start again. (which would be hilarious in the case of all this Nortel stuff).

      • by hedwards (940851)

        You'd still do that, even if the USPTO get it right 98% of the time there would still be those 2% of the cases where trolling through the patents would be warranted.

    • by drolli (522659)

      No. The patent office has no obligation to search for prior art. Its the obligation of the person/institution which is granted the patent to do this research and provide the well known published material of the field to the patent office for review, even if terms were changed or it is a specialization of prior art. If you apply (and pay the legal fees and the lawyers) for a patent, where somebody extremely competent in a field can point to a prior publication describing exactly that, then its really your pr

  • And here's why:

    How were the patents 'certified' in the first place? Actions as such, which project incompetence or ineptness, waste court's time and provide opportunities for folks peddling FUD.

    I am still looking for a single government agency that actually works. Does it exist?
     

    • by rwven (663186)

      The waste collection department in my town works and I suppose you could call that a "government agency." They pick up my trash every Tuesday and Friday. But yeah...that's about as complicated a job as any government agency can handle.

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        That's half the story! What they do with the waste (garbage) leaves a lot to be desired.

      • So you think the government is useless. Then why don't you get the hell out of here. I suggest you go someplace where there is no functioning government, like the tribal areas in Pakistan, or Somalia, or Mexico where the drug lords rule. Any place in the world that you would want to live has a reasonably functioning government. Anyplace the doesn't is a stinking pit where life and liberty are always at risk, and forget about the pursuit of happiness. Your wouldn't last a week.

        I am sick and tired of smug as

    • by bmo (77928)

      The FCC does a pretty good job, and they are entirely fee and fine based.

      --
      BMO

      • The FCC does a pretty good job, and they are entirely fee and fine based.

        -- BMO

        Actually, given the constraints laid upon them, a number of Federal departments and agencies do a 'pretty good' job. That doesn't mean that nobody is pissed at them (which would happen no matter how 'good' they were). Doesn't mean that we shouldn't be screaming for reform when needed. But in the grand scheme of things we muddle along reasonably well.

        I think a lot of people have this idea that we can have a 'government' that is set up so we push a button and it just works. That isn't ever going to happ

    • by Sique (173459)

      Of course. Government agencies outside of the U.S. seem to work in many cases. The SNCF (French Railroad) is very working well, as is their japanes counterpart Kokutetsu, EADS is mainly owned by european countries and is currently the most successful civil airplane manufacturer of the world. In Germany, the water supply is the best controlled food supply, and nearly 100 percent owned by the local municipalities. It seems that the U.S.population, expecting the government agencies to be incompetent, actually

    • by gtall (79522)

      FDA, CIA, NSA, Heath and Human Services, Social Security Administration, NIH, NSF, DARPA, , etc. Actually, most of the federal government works just fine. Most people, when whining about the federal government, hold up a few anecdotal cases and then claim the whole system is corrupt. It isn't and holding government agencies to an ideal of perfection is just plain silly, unless...maybe....your job performance should be similarly held to such an ideal? How about it, eh? One screw up out of you and you should

  • by borgheron (172546) on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:00PM (#36657314) Homepage Journal

    I believe that the USPTO should be fined when patents are declared invalid. Who those fines should be paid to is another matter. I also believe that the examiner who reviewed the patent should, at the very least, get a mark on his or her record to indicate any patters within the organization with regard to issuing poor patents.

    I do not believe in software patents. They are, fundamentally, wrong and indefensible. Every other country in the world has rejected them except for the United States. What I mentioned above, however, would remove the cavalier attitude of the USPTO with respect to issuing patents of poor quality. It would make them think twice about the novelty of an idea and would make them be VERY sure that the patent covers something worthy of patentability.

    Software patents need to be struck down in general.

    GC

    • by rwven (663186)

      Considering the amount of money it takes to file and get a patent approved, I think they should be required to refund any fees when a patent is declared invalid. That would be enough of a fine, and hopefully enough of a deterrent against rubber stamping patent applications.

      • So they're forced to give back the money they weren't even allowed to keep and use for their comically understaffed department in the first place? I'm sure they're quaking in their boots.

      • by jbengt (874751)
        That's backwards. If anything, you should be forced to pay triple if your attempted patent is not valid.
        • by rwven (663186)

          Yeah, upon further reflection, it makes sense to fine both the office who granted it, and the party who held the invalid patent. No sense in giving back the money of the party who wasted everyone's time in the first place.

    • by deblau (68023)

      You'd have a good idea, except the courts continue to reinterpret the laws used to determine whether inventions are patentable. Some patents that were valid become invalid, and sometimes the other way around. So, your idea of penalizing examiners is actually quite unfair. Also, it's not the examiner's fault that he only has X number of hours to search and read hundreds of pages of prior art, apply them to dozens of claims, and issue a written action. The fault lies at least partially with the point system

      • The USPTO does not have a cavalier attitude, based on my personal experience having spoken with many examiners and supervisors over the course of several years of patent practice. They're doing the best with what they have, and what they have isn't good enough.

        Thank you for that. I'm not even American and I realize that the USPTO has a massive job that would be ridiculously difficult even with infinite funding, simply because of the limited number of hours in a day, the volume of patents they receive, and the range of topics covered that each have a gigantic body of work contained within that could supply prior art or previously patented ideas, not to mention that if someone's not familiar with a field, the novelty/obviousness of something can change.

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        Have you seen the crap that the patent lawyers generate out of very reasonable patent applications? I don't blame the examiners for not knowing what the hell that patent talks about. What I would like US and any other patent system to have is the requirement of clarity. If a professional in the field can't understand the legalese of the application - it should be deemed as gaming the system and rejected immediately. Patent's should not have ambiguity...
    • by dachshund (300733)

      I also believe that the examiner who reviewed the patent should, at the very least, get a mark on his or her record to indicate any patters within the organization with regard to issuing poor patents.

      The patents in question were filed nearly 15 years ago. It's possible that the examiner is still working at the USPTO, but more than likely he's moved on to another job or just left the organization.

      The problem with most of these patents is that they were examined during the 1990s, when anyone with an ounce of

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Do you have any evidence to back up your claim of brain drain stealing talent from patent examiners?

        Or are entirely unrelated factors the basis for the PTO's looseness and even silliness in freely granting patent protected monopolies to anyone buying them.

  • LOL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190)
    Well, here's to hoping that most of sun's software patents are found to be wrong. If so, then Oracle will have to re-think when they buy up companies.
  • by muphin (842524)
    so when a patent is marks as invalid, does that mean you get your fees refunded from the start? as there was no protection in the first place.
  • Die, Oracle Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:35PM (#36657436) Homepage Journal

    None of these Oracle patents are "promoting science or the useful arts". They're obviously just ways for Oracle to compete without doing anything for anyone, by buying a monopoly impeding the progress of others who are investing in doing something with invention.

    A corporate repeat offender should be prohibited from getting any new "temporary" government monopolies like patents when proving they are a serial abuser. That might make their corporate boards think twice before trolling, and costing the people and the markets so much in lost time and expensive government mediation.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is a bad idea because it would be enforced arbitrarily, and used to punish those who do not support the status quo. Your idea is _x_ Unworkable due to _x_ Humans are corrupt animals.

  • Innovation in SW, even when instantiated in epochal releases like Java, is evolutionary. Every SW patent was at most a few percent extra improvements on some other techniques being developed elsewhere before it, usually directly adapted by the "inventor". Patents on those filings are BS. They don't "promote progress in science or the useful arts", their only Constitutional justification. They just interfere with the free expression of the programmers and incremental inventors.

    • Absolutely true. But the very same applies to any technology. The steam engine wasn't invented in one go either, and patents hindered its development also as different "inventors" did not want to pay for each other's patents.
      • by am 2k (217885)

        But the very same applies to any technology. The steam engine wasn't invented in one go either, and patents hindered its development also as different "inventors" did not want to pay for each other's patents.

        While you're right, there's a difference to software patents: Back then, everything was progressing much more slowly. 14 years patent terms were nothing, the steam engine is relevant even today. In software, nowadays' 20 years is several lifetimes. Nobody cares about the state of the art in 1991, except to get a retro feeling. So the software patents that expire now don't contribute anything to the public knowledge. In my opinion, software patents should either be abolished or granted for the duration of ma

        • Maybe it is the world we live in. There are also great patent difficulties in DNA engineering, and a hardware factory is built before you can say "oops". So if you invent a nice structure and want to build it yourself, your competitors can often beat you in mere days. Even if you license the production to a factory, you can be beat before you know it.

          But I don't think that was any different in the old days. Maybe there weren't that many patents and maybe it was expensive even for a company to have a "defens

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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