Microsoft Must Pay $140 Million For Using Multiple Passwords To Activate Its Software

from the patent-insanity dept

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?

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Comments on “Microsoft Must Pay $140 Million For Using Multiple Passwords To Activate Its Software”

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angry dude's conscience says:

Re: angry dude's idiocy

Dude, no I mean it, dude… are simply…well, dude, angry, predictable, and not very inventive, dude. You’re also pretty dumb to repeatedly read a blog that you don’t seem to like.

BTW, since some of us are hip to your “anger”, why don’t you tell us what your wonderful patent is, again, dude.

Better stay with trolling myspace or something because it won’t work here, dude.

Tired says:

Re: Mike's idiocy

I think you have a syntax error, it reads “ignornat technology law” currently in place…..not how it’s viewed currently, Mile isn’t quite as ignorant as he shows the common citizen thought of, these companies and the laws they BUY, are ignorant of what their consumers want.

If that’s ignorant by the terms of ignoring ridiculous laws that only help the few, then yes, count us all in for the most part, take a look around you…I hate to bring up the simpsons but if lawyers are/were snakes….it’s about time for snake whacking day.

Jeff (user link) says:


And in related news, I just obtained a patent on making the sun come up. You all owe me lots and lots of money. I think. Maybe. Either way, my lawyers need to get paid, so I’m gonna try and hire the entire insight community to tally the total for me.

This is yet another glaring example of how badly we need patent reform in this country. Hell, maybe not even reform so much as a committee dedicated to imposing sentences of public live-on-the-today-show-bare-assed-spankings for all of these dickhead patent trolls. GTFO.

Bigger says:

Re: You all think small

They think too small? I just copyrighted the alphabet and patented “written symbols called ‘letters’ … combining ‘letters’ to make ‘words’ … combining these ‘words’ into ‘sentences’ … combining ‘sentences’ to make ‘paragraphs’ … combining ‘paragraphs’ to make ‘literature’.”

Now who’s thinking small?


Carme says:

This is not a DRM issue

It’s silly to characterize patent harassment as an additional cost of implementing DRM, because it’s also an additional cost of doing anything else. Implementing DRM doesn’t widen your exposure to frivolous patent infringement charges any more than developing any other kind of product or feature.

As for claiming that putting complex activation schemes for software is “pointless”, I think your mistake is thinking it’s supposed to solve the piracy problem which is wrong. It’s meant to prevent loss of profits from people – usually businesses – that would never consider right out pirating software but need that extra push to actually pay in some situations. For example:

1. A worker’s computer with Software X is replaced with a new one and the old machine goes to some other employee that doesn’t use Software X. The software is installed on the new machine with the legitimate assumption that the license is now used there and there’s no reason it will be used on the old computer. Later, the other employee discovers she needs to use Software X herself, and finds out it’s already on the machine so she starts to use it.

2. A new guy is coming and IT need to quickly set up a machine for him, so they use the software discs lying around with the full intention of buying additional licenses later. However with time it is forgotten as more important things come up, so the additional licenses are not bought eventually.

And so on. Also, the harder it gets to use unlicensed software, the easier it is to prove willful infringement in court.

I don’t know if it actually makes sense in the bottom line, but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss activation schemes as “pointless”.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: you're right!

Seeing as how I toured with a band that had a local following where each member netted about $78k doing exactly that, selling tshirts and doing gigs 5 nights a week, that’s exactly what they should do instead of waiting on an eensy-meensy royalty check or listening to your asinine comments.

Are you some form of shill for the *AA’s and big corps or something? I only ask because for someone who complains about being screwed over on your “awesome patent”, one would figure that you’d want less punishment, not more of it.

WYatt says:

I think angry dude is related to one of the industries Mike has been bashing lately (deserved). I have no problem with it myself, even if I had personal involvement with one of these companies. Mike is stating an opinion, not fact, and a lot of you are getting really pissed off. It’s an OPINION! We all have them, some maybe less stupid then others. What’s with “DUDE” anyway? Did we somehow revert back to 1995 while I wasn’t looking?

Sean says:

Would this not also apply to any websight that when you create a username and password(1) and have to type the activation code (password 2) from the little picture on the to verify that you are not a bot.

That is 2 passwords and if there is a confirmation link sent to your email that is a one time password(3) entered automatically.

This is done on some web forums to prevent unauthorised activation of the account that acceses a web app. The app is software running on the server that displays the out put to the user at a different location.

“using two or more passwords to protect against unauthorized use of a piece of software”
it fits

Bryan says:

Carme is right

Conflating this patent thing with DRM is silly. Patent trolling is nothing new; the fact that both the patent troll and Microsoft are in any way associated with DRM is beside the point.

Also, Mike, MS offers DRM enforcement support in its OS’s through no need to protect themselves from piracy; their WGA isn’t DRM in the classic sense we think of it. No, MS includes the ability to sense DRM’d media and either not play it or fuzz the playback as a way of making it attractive for other companies to release music/movies/whatever in forms that will play on Windows. So DRM is just a capability of Windows; one which (marginally perhaps) increases the value of Windows to users. Imagine Jane Soccermom with a choice of two computers: one that can play her DRM’d movie, and one that cannot. Which will she choose?

So in this case MS is profiting (if only slightly) from DRM whether it is used or not. Aim your anti-DRM anger at those who deserve it: the media moguls who insist on wrappping music/movies/books/whatever in DRM protections. In the case of DRM for these types of content, Microsoft is no more evil than Phillips, Samsung, Panasonic, et al (they all make DVD players which enforce region-encoded discs).

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

DRM & Patents

DRM wrapped right into Vista is another reason I shall NEVER use it. M$ and Billy G may want to go down to hollywood, bend over, and ask for it, but I will not join them. I will not allow some OS to tell me what I can and cannot play when and where. Phuk that.

And my opinion on patents for software is the exact same as Gordo in post #36:
All software patents should be instantly invalidated, and no future ones allowed.
Hell, it’d probably be better if we did that for all technology. Imagine how fast it would progress then with no patents to slow it down.

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