Another day, another problematic patent ruling. Microsoft now needs to pay $140 million
for violating a patent
on using two or more passwords to protect against unauthorized use of a piece of software. Yes, someone actually got a patent on that idea. The company in question, Z4 Technologies, claims to be in the business of making DRM products, but the company's website
only talks up its patents -- not any particular solutions. It doesn't appear to have anything for sale (or, if it does, it needs to hire a better marketing team). The website focuses on various ridiculous and easily-proven-false quotes about the so-called "losses" due to "piracy." Microsoft and Autodesk were the targets of the suit, which of course was filed in Marshall, Texas despite no one being anywhere near Texas. The judge in the original case sided
with the patent holder and added a bonus of willful infringement against Microsoft. The latest ruling is from the appeal at CAFC, who appears to have kept the willful infringement finding, despite the standard for willful infringement changing
. Perhaps Microsoft and Autodesk will start to realize that this is another ridiculous "cost" associated with pointless attempts at using DRM, and realize that its both cheaper and more efficient not to bother. Anyone want to calculate how much in "losses" such a DRM solution probably stopped vs. how much Microsoft now needs to pay?