Adding to the long list of reasons why a company might want to avoid using copy protection technology (which already includes: pissed off customers, security vulnerabilities, lower value of product, higher customer support costs, higher product costs, etc.) now there's yet another reason: patent infringement lawsuits. It appears that Microsoft, Yahoo and many others are being sued by a company called Softvault that claims to own two separate patents (one and two) that cover the basics of the copy protection schemes used by both companies (and the other companies are sued for using Microsoft's). Of course, Softvault isn't the only one. We've written before about companies claiming to own copy protection patents and how they've sued and had to deal with long legal battles. Considering the number of different companies out there who all seem to own different patents on copy protection, isn't it worth suggesting that (perhaps) the idea of copy protection isn't all that unique and never should have received patent protection in the first place? Obviously, each of these patents may cover some other aspect of copy protection -- but since it seems like just anyone using any copy protection is getting sued, then something seems wrong. As for these two specific patents, reading through them should raise questions about why they were granted. What they cover seems fairly obvious and extremely broad -- which is why these patents that appear to have been written for things like shutting down a computer after it's been stolen are now being applied to entertainment copy protection systems.
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