Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Red Hat Software Your Rights Online

Uniloc Patent Case Against Rackspace Tossed for Bogus Patents 76

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-mess-with-red-hat dept.
netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Uniloc Patent Case Against Rackspace Tossed for Bogus Patents

Comments Filter:
  • by GReaToaK_2000 (217386) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @11:43AM (#43303513)

    You can still patent genes???

  • Worthless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @11:44AM (#43303523)

    You know your patent case is worthless when East Texas courts throw it out. If you can't win your troll case there it's friggin' hopeless.

    • This judge will be held up as an example in all Texas courts. There are a lot of Texas courts, so they will have to cut him up quite small to serve as an example to all Texas courts.

      • This judge will be held up as an example in all Texas courts.

        He *should* be, I doubt *will*. This is a state that is still having debates on weather or not to include evolution in school curriculums [huffingtonpost.com].

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Debates on weather in Texas have *nothing* to do with evolution in school curriculum in Texas. And for the record, clearly the climate change has resulted from natural processes including fluctuations in the sun's heat and ocean currents.

          • by mjr167 (2477430)
            Not to mention the changes in our orbit and rotation... Solar days actually are increasing by a couple milliseconds every 100 or so years.
          • by tqk (413719)

            Debates on weather in Texas have *nothing* to do with evolution in school curriculum in Texas.

            Whether he meant to write about meterorological phenomena is highly unlikely. My guess is his command of English is less than perfect, but he's hardly alone in that boat these days, including among native English speakers. Whether you can weather the storm of yuks related to whether you're a smartass or a dolt (or just trolling; or is that redundant?) is another question altogether.

          • And for the record, clearly the climate change has resulted from natural processes including fluctuations in the sun's heat

            I find it much more likely that the fluctuations in the sun's heat explain why the Texans randomly behave like crazies.

        • by crutchy (1949900)

          when they ban teaching of religion in schools is when they should ban evolution

          regardless, they're probably teaching the kids that humans evolved from rattlesnakes so i can understand the concern

    • by rot26 (240034)
      From Marshall, Texas, go toward Dallas and take a left. When you hit San Antonio, you've arrived at Rackspace.

      I'm just sayin'.
  • by pollarda (632730) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @11:48AM (#43303573)
    Perhaps they will realize that computers can only do what you can already do with a pencil and piece of paper. (They just do it all much faster.) Given that, it is all simply algorithms which are unpatentable. (Of course, if you use the computer to control things, then your piece of paper can be replaced with a joystick or whatever.)
    • by Shotgun (30919) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:20PM (#43303871)

      But, don't most machines do things that can already be done by hand...just much faster? I'm not trying to be combative. It just seems that this is a questionable criteria to use for patentability.

      The guy that invented that little rubber cover that goes over the connector of good ethernet cables to keep the clip from catching on all the other cables (best invention EVVARR!!). Well, that was something that you could already do by keeping your finger on the clip, but I think the invention was invaluable and the guy deserved some patent protection.

      • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:28PM (#43303957) Homepage Journal

        But, don't most machines do things that can already be done by hand...just much faster? I'm not trying to be combative. It just seems that this is a questionable criteria to use for patentability.

        The guy that invented that little rubber cover that goes over the connector of good ethernet cables to keep the clip from catching on all the other cables (best invention EVVARR!!). Well, that was something that you could already do by keeping your finger on the clip, but I think the invention was invaluable and the guy deserved some patent protection.

        Yes, and the unpatentability of software is actually based on a policy decision that most anti-software patent people miss. Specifically, one of the remedies for patent infringement is an injunction. If your patent claims can be fully performed by hand - or in someone's mind - then you can (theoretically) get an injunction to prevent people from thinking about something. Not only does that not actually work in practice, it also creates a thoughtcrime, which the courts are loathe to do.

        Instead, under the Bilski decision, an idea has to be non-abstract, which typically means that it transforms matter or is tied to machine. So (novelty and obviousness aside, for the sake of clarifying the distinction), while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

        Now, of course, the method still has to be novel and nonobvious, and merely adding the computing device won't make it so. However, if you have a novel and nonobvious algorithm, it can still be protected, albeit in a way that doesn't create a thoughtcrime or prevent someone from performing the algorithm mentally or on paper.

        • by whoever57 (658626)

          while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

          Read the claims of the Uniloc patent (which was invalidated) -- some of t

          • while a patent claiming "adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number" would be an unpatentable algorithm, a patent claiming "executing an adder by a processor of a computing device, the adder configured for adding a first number to a second number to generate a third number, the third number stored in a memory of the computing device" would not be an unpatentable algorithm, as it is tied to a specific machine.

            Read the claims of the Uniloc patent (which was invalidated) -- some of them are similar to your example of patentable material.

            Nope, none are. The only ones that are close are the apparatus claims that claim a circuit but the specification doesn't define the apparatus or circuits in hardware terms, and so can be read as, for example, a human and brain.

        • by crutchy (1949900)

          if i manufactured a microchip that was hardwired to perform the same function as a piece of software (assume the next killer app for sake of argument), would that machine be unpatentable?

          assuming it were patentable, could i then prevent others from implementing its functionality in software?

          the problem is that when you talk about performing an algorithm mentally or on paper, you're clearly not talking about the majority of software because most people can't communicate with a computer monitor or across ethe

      • by Whatsisname (891214) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:12PM (#43304403) Homepage

        The little rubber boot is not even remotely something that patents should protect. You are subscribing to the faulty, revisionist "dibs" model of patents.

        The bargain made in patents is that society provides protection, in exchange for the inventor disclosing how their machine works. The alternative, as was the case prior to patents, was that guilds were very secretive about their processes and technologies, and if something happened to the guild, the technology disappeared along with them. The patent bargain was made to bring their technological secrets into the public domain.

        In the case of a rubber boot on an ethernet cable, there is nothing to disclose. You can figure out all there is to it by looking at it for 2 seconds. There is nothing consequential for society to reverse engineer in lieu of a patent. Protecting a rubber boot with patent protection is a terrible deal for society.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Unless your thumbnail is much stronger than mine, you can't open a can without the can opener.

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      Software patents are just patents of thought processes. you can't think that way, I patented it!
      • by crutchy (1949900)

        i hear business models are patentable... i patent the patent... there can be no other patent trolls but me mwahahahahaha!!!!!

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      So would that mean that quantum algorithms can be patented? There is no way to do them other than with a quantum computer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If this invention was unpatentable, why did USPTO issue a patent in the first place? So much court time and money would not be wasted if only they did their job right.

    • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @12:06PM (#43303729)

      Because it needs the cash and it has never been sued for approving a bad patent.

      I hope Unilock sues the USPTO. Regardless of the outcome it might fix things.

      • by sjames (1099)

        In a just world, both sides and the court itself have cause to sue the USPTO.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If this invention was unpatentable, why did USPTO issue a patent in the first place? So much court time and money would not be wasted if only they did their job right.

      Because Congress handed them a pile of shit, (software patents), and refused to fund them enough to properly review them all, so they said "Fine, we'll just approve it all and let the courts figure out what should stick".
      It's been covered quite a bit here, there, and everywhere.

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Which means they should basically be fired. I don't care what prompted them to do it all- if it's not patentable, granting a patent on it is NOT doing your job in a manner that if I'd done something similar in my day job, they'd fire my *ss.

  • ... available here [groklaw.net] has more details and quotes from the decision, but is predictably bad on analysis. In particular, in spite of PJ's bluster about how this wasn't "new, novel, non-obvious" and it's "unbelievable" that the USPTO would allow the claim, the decision had nothing to do with novelty or nonobviousness. Rather, the decision was strictly on patent eligibility under 35 USC 101, relying on the Supreme Court's Bilski decision: merely abstract ideas, not tied to a machine or transformative of matter, a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Patents have been required (in theory at least) to be "new, novel, non-obvious" since patents became law in this country, and that was the law in 1999 when the patent was issued. Currently you are current that that doesn't matter anymore, this patent is no longer valid under current law, but it shouldn't have been valid at any point earlier, either.

    • The groklaw article wasn't written by PJ, it was written by Mark Webbink. RTFA. MW was Redhat's lead lawyer for *years* and he may still be.

      • The groklaw article wasn't written by PJ, it was written by Mark Webbink. RTFA. MW was Redhat's lead lawyer for *years* and he may still be.

        Hadn't noticed that. Good point.
        According to the USPTO practitioner search, he's also not a patent attorney. Does Groklaw have any actual patent practitioners they can call on to explain some of this stuff to them?

    • First of all the Groklaw statement you quoted was clearly opinion, it wasn't presented as interpretation of the court ruling at all. Also you're entirely wrong any way.

      Part of the ruling quoted by Groklaw :

      “[I]nventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace [may not] be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.” Research Corp., 627 F.3d at 869. However, according to the patent itself, the claims’ novelty a

      • First of all the Groklaw statement you quoted was clearly opinion, it wasn't presented as interpretation of the court ruling at all.

        ... when I said "Groklaw... is predictably bad on analysis," did you think I meant the court's analysis? Sorry, I thought it was clear that I was referring to Groklaw's statements, not the court's.

        Also you're entirely wrong any way.

        Part of the ruling quoted by Groklaw :

        “[I]nventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace [may not] be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.” Research Corp., 627 F.3d at 869. However, according to the patent itself, the claims’ novelty and improvement over the standard is the rounding of the floating-point number before, rather than after, the arithmetic computation. ‘697 Patent Col. 4:32–48. So, as in Flook, Claim 1 merely constitutes an improvement on the known method for processing floating-point numbers. Id. at 595 n.18. Claim 1, then, is merely an improvement on a mathematical formula. Even when tied to computing, since floating-point numbers are a computerized numeric format, the conversion of floating-point numbers has applications across fields as diverse as science, math, communications, security, graphics, and games. Thus, a patent on Claim 1 would cover vast end uses, impeding the onward march of science. Benson, 409 U.S. at 68. Under Flook, the improvement over the standard is insufficient to validate Claim 1’s otherwise unpatentable subject matter."

        So novelty and non obviousness were ruled on by the court ... that's what Flook is all about.

        Nope, you're wrong. Re-read that paragraph again: the court is saying that, even according to the patent, the novel and nonobvious subject matter in the claims is "merely an improvement on a mathematical formula," and is therefore not patent eligible under Bilski. At no point does the court rule on novelty or obvi

  • If you can't patent floating point math, I'm pretty sure you can't patent binary constants either. Haven't heard about this [theonion.com] case in a while, but I'm sure it's been working its way through the system.
    • by bmo (77928)

      If you can't patent floating point math, I'm pretty sure you can't patent binary constants either. Haven't heard about this [theonion.com] case in a while, but I'm sure it's been working its way through the system.

      I don't know if you're trolling or if you're oblivious to the Onion's satire.

      I... I don't know.... I don't know if your post is satire or not. The recursiveness is hurting my brain.

      --
      BMO

  • Maybe a bit off topic, but this is what stuck out in my mind:

    So if you develop a mathematical algorithm you cannot patent that, even though you had to work to produce it.

    BUT you _can_ patent a naturally occuring gene even though all you have to do is isolate it?

    ( and yes, a patent on a gene isolating technique makes sense)

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

Working...