Even An East Texas Court Has Told Uniloc That It Can't Patent Math

from the there-are-limits,-people dept

Even a notoriously patent-friendly court like the district court in East Texas has admitted that there are limits to what's patentable. Notorious patent troll Uniloc, whose name has been appearing quite frequently lately, has lost one part of its big cases, against Rackspace, after the district court in Tyler, Texas has said one of the patents in question in this lawsuit, US Patent 5,892,697 on a "Method and apparatus for handling overflow and underflow in processing floating-point numbers," is really patenting basic mathematical functions, and you can't do that.
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.
While this is nice, this is just one patent in that particular lawsuit, and Uniloc has dozens of other patents that it's using in other lawsuits. And Uniloc shows no signs of slowing down. Just the other day it filed 12 new lawsuits.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Shmerl, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 12:36am

    Typical addict behavior - they got addicted to getting money through ridiculous patent claims. They really need some serious treatment with anti patent medicine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 12:58am

    Re:

    Applied via benchslap hopefully.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 2:27am

    Coming soon from the people who locked up Numbersİ...
    Lettersİ!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 4:02am

    So if they can't patent math, can they patent fake math?
    eg. 2+2=Fish

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 4:15am

    Re:

    Greed is a terrible thing in most cases, not all but most.
    If anything i see them coming under a very bright spotlight , with very powerful people looking for anything to attack them, be it something from the distant past to something created on the spur of the moment, As always with these types their greed will be their downfall.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 5:33am

    If the patent is for "Method and apparatus for handling overflow and underflow in processing floating-point numbers,"
    ...don't they actually have to have a working "apparatus"?
    And if they have a working "apparatus", if somone has a different "apparatus" which achieves the same end result, it wouldn't violate their patent!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 6:12am

    who's the patent officer who approved it

    if he was liable for a chunk of the lawyer fees, I think that might encourage more careful review in the future.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Wait ... rational thought processes in Texas?
    This is amazing.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    jackn, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    Underflow, that genious, ill give them that.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    "If the patent is for "Method and apparatus for handling overflow and underflow in processing floating-point numbers,"
    ...don't they actually have to have a working "apparatus"?
    And if they have a working "apparatus", if somone has a different "apparatus" which achieves the same end result, it wouldn't violate their patent!"

    Buffering...they drew up a patent for buffering data...by the looks of it graphics data...specifically 3D rendering and animation...and yes they are not patentable which is why most companies like nVidia and AMD keep those formulas a secret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Mr. Crocker, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Re:

    At last! Undeniable proof of the existence of...
    FAIRY GODPATENTS!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Benchslap

    Apply directly to the back of the head...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    special-interesting (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    Hooray for the East Texas district court they got one right so far! (appeals still to come.)

    Don't want to be cynical but are they under some federal review or something as this seems very not like them. Don't get me wrong am proud of them for any reason a decent court opinion (IMHO) appears.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 4:35pm

    Patent/copyright trolls highlight beautifully the perils of granted monopolies, and why they should be restricted to the bare minimum to actually accomplish anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Grrr... Uniloc chaps my hide, but Google seems to be apathetic.

    Uniloc is apparently also suing Android app makers for using a feature built in to the operating system

    What bothers me about this is that when you go to Google to ask about this, they're all "Sorry. We can't help. You need to deal with them yourself."

    And you're all, "But you wrote and distributed teh Android. How can can this be patented?"

    And Google's all "Sorry."

    And Uniloc rakes in the millions that it has extorted from people.

    http://www.x-plane.com/x-world/lawsuit/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    tomxp411 (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    Patent trolls bring me back around to my original assertion about patents vs lawsuits:

    Copyright law says that if I independently come up with a similar or even identical piece of code/music/writing as someone else, I still get to own and use my creation.

    Patent law says that if I invent something that someone else also invented, the first person to invent it "wins," and the other person loses out on his invention.

    This is wrong, and changing this one thing would be enough to completely fix the patent system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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