Facebook Ordered (Again) To Turn Over Source Code

from the this-still-makes-no-sense dept

Last year, we wrote about an odd patent lawsuit brought against Facebook by a company called Leader Technology. What was odd was that Facebook didn’t seem like an obvious target for the patent (7,139,761) about associating a piece of data with multiple categories (and, actually why the idea that associating a piece of data with multiple categories should be patentable is another of life’s mysteries). We actually thought it was more of a publicity stunt by Leader Technologies, rather than a serious lawsuit. But, we were surprised last month when a judge actually ordered Facebook to turn over its source code as a part of the lawsuit. This didn’t make much sense to us. The source code really should only matter if it was a copyright infringement suit, not a patent one. Besides, why should Facebook turn over all of its source code over such a minor issue of associating a piece of data with multiple categories. At the very least, it should just be whatever part of the code that Leader believes is infringing.

Facebook objected to the ruling, but Ravish lets us know that the judge has denied Facebook and once again demanded the company hand over its entire source code. Even though Leader will only be able to view the source code under the watchful eye of Facebook representatives, it still seems quite extreme that a judge would require that Facebook reveal its entire source code to a company that is a competitor.

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Companies: facebook, leader technology

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Comments on “Facebook Ordered (Again) To Turn Over Source Code”

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39 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

What was odd was that Facebook didn’t seem like an obvious target for the patent (7,139,761) about associating a piece of data with multiple categories (and, actually why the idea that associating a piece of data with multiple categories should be patentable is another of life’s mysteries).

nvm facebook am i supposed to hand in my Access and excel data?

Anonymous Coward says:

can you say money grab?

Even though Leader will only be able to view the source code under the watchful eye of Facebook representatives, it still seems quite extreme that a judge would require that Facebook reveal its entire source code to a company that is a competitor.

I wonder if the judge is just on Leader Techs payroll or if he is a shareholder

iNtrigued (profile) says:

Re: How to

“01001000 01101111 01110111 00100000 00100000 01100001 01100010 01101111 01110101 01110100 00100000 00100000 01000110 01100001 01100011 01100101 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 00100000 01110011 01101001 01101101 01110000 01101100 01111001 00100000 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101001 01101110 01110100 00100000 00100000 01101111 01100110 01100110 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00100000 00100000 01101001 01100100 01100101 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 01101111 01110111 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101101 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 00100000 01110110 01101001 01100101 01110111 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00101110 00101110 00101110 00100000 00100000
00100000 00001010
00001010 01010011 01101000 01101111 01110101 01101100 01100100 00100000 00100000 01100010 01100101 00100000 00100000 01100101 01101110 01101111 01110101 01100111 01101000 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 00100000 01100100 01110010 01101001 01110110 01100101 00100000 00100000 01100001 01101110 01111001 01100010 01101111 01100100 01111001 00100000 00100000 01101101 01100001 01100100 00101110 00101110 00101110”

This is your short comment in BIN. Imagine their entire source code…

… Or what about in reverse?

“…dam ydobyna evird ot hguone eb dluohs …taht weiv ot meht wolla dna yranib ni yllaedi edoc eht ffo tnirp ylpmis koobecaf tuoba woh”

Morse code anyone?

“…. — .– .- -… — ..- – ..-. .- -.-. . -… — — -.- … .. — .–. .-.. -.– .–. .-. .. -. – — ..-. ..-. – …. . -.-. — -.. . .. -.. . .- .-.. .-.. -.– .. -. -… .. -. .- .-. -.– .- -. -.. .- .-.. .-.. — .– – …. . — – — …- .. . .– – …. .- – .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- … …. — ..- .-.. -.. -… . . -. — ..- –. …. – — -.. .-. .. …- . .- -. -.– -… — -.. -.– — .- -.. .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- “

hmm says:

hold on..so they can see the source code for everything that requires multiple categories?

Doesn’t the US nuclear reflex system have “categories” to decide which cities get targetted by which missiles?

therefore, Leader should be able to see the entire source code (which I assume would also include a database of current stored source/destinations for each silo)…..

oh yes and banks do it too….so Leader is now entitled to see the bank account source code along with the “multiple categories” of customers name/address/bank details/current balance/items withdrawn/purchased / deposited

and as a final thought..they are also allowed to see the source code/category list for every type of electronic lock in the world (including fort knox and the president’s secure access for launching nukes)

FormerComposer (profile) says:

Source code for patent suit might be relevant

The source code really should only matter if it was a copyright infringement suit, not a patent one.

Early on in the development of Unix, a patent was granted on the SUID bit — essentially a directory entry flag that signals to the OS that when running a particular program, it should do so as the owner of the program instead with the privileges of the invoker. It was essentially a software implementation of what could be a hardware feature. Was the patent granting a good idea? Don’t know but the source code of a possible infringing system would be required to determine the infringement. It had nothing to do with copyright.

Peter Nissando says:

wtf

Something doesn’t seem right. Non of this makes sense leaving the only explanation that the judge is either a complete moron or something else more sinister is taking place. And as mentioned, the patent in question is well, questionable to say the least. Which all begs the question, wtf is going on right here. Facebook should certainly fight and fight hard.

Judge the Judges says:

Judges in glass houses...

Judges in glass houses… shouldn’t walk around naked…

Seriously, why do we allow judges to judge matters they have little to absolutely NO comprehension of?

There should be special judges for technical matters that are out of the experience of the average judge. AND, there should be a TEST to determine whether a judge is qualified – you don’t pass the test, you don’t get to judge the trial.

Knowing the law is useless if you don’t know what the law applies to.

Judging the law of something you don’t understand is a violation of due process.

But like doctors, most judges think they “know it all”.

Sad… and disturbing.

Anonymous Coward says:

The truth about Marc Zuckerman...

He’s into this new-age programming thing where there is no sourcecode called “Granola Programming”

Facebook is actually a series of “all nautral” tubes and wheels, held together with paperclips and chewing gum.

In order to master the new technique, you have to wear Adidas Sandals anywhere you go.

But sometime soon, he’ll advance into a Level 3 “Granola” Programmer. You’ll know he’s advanced when he starts to wear Birkenstocks and riding a bike to work.

Level 3 Granola Programmers are the type you really need to be worried about because they want to change society to fith their ideal.

Allan Masri (profile) says:

A little legal sense here

Under the rules of evidence, Facebook is required to turn over to the plaintiff all documents that apply to the case. The judge may be ignorant of technology, but he is not ignorant of the law. Can the same be said of those criticizing him here? Don’t they prejudge the case before it has been tried?

If the software relating to the patent is as elementary as it seems at first glance, Facebook could easily defend itself with a “prior art” claim, that is, by proving the code in question was in general use before it was patented and therefore the patent is invalid. If the patent is declared invalid, all programmers will benefit from the eradication of another bogus software patent.

Ard Righ says:

Facebook should sue...

The US Patent Office for accepting such frivilous and obvious patents like this one.

Seriously, someone in the US needs to start a class-action lawsuit against the US Patent Office, until they clue up that they are causing damage to the US economy by allowing this crap, and also making the US patent system the biggest joke in the world.

Did someone get the Marx brothers to setup the US Patent Office?

Mike Riley (user link) says:

Did anybody actually read the patent?

There are is one similarity between the system they describe and FaceBook;

“Boards”: Content generated by a user (email, files, messages etc) is associated with that user. Very similar to the concept of a FaceBook wall.

Obviously this isn’t enough to justify the entire patent case, but in some ways I can see why they targeted FaceBook.

The Baker says:

Judicial Geographical Inconsistencies

This is in Delaware! Surprising that it isn’t in East Texas or South Carolina. Is judicial ignorance of technology creeping North?
One post says that this judge is just following the law, one must not forget that the judicial system IS NOT the justice system and that common sense, justice and basic fairness no longer applies …. to anything. I doubt the judge is on the take in any way but I’m sure he is surrounded by those who are.

dtynan (profile) says:

CMSs and big IT apps

Based on my reading of their patent, it looks like this would affect some CMS (content management systems), like a Drupal (initial release in 2001). Also, some big IT apps, that went web-based early would probably fall under this (ridiculous) patent, like the PeopleSoft HR Management System (the web-based version 8 was around 2001). There’s bound to be several examples of prior art (for what that’s worth on patents), that do the same thing. The real culprit here is software patents. Good luck enforcing those in China & India by the way … we should just get rid of them entirely.

hmm says:

>>Re: can you say money grab?
>>by Dave
>>If he was affiliated with Leader in some way he would >>have recused himself.

So judges who take bribes and are in the pocket of unscrupulous organizations always excuse themselves from a trial if its a conflict of interest?

What a fascinating world you live in, where everyones innocent, no-one takes backhanders and screws over justice, and there’s sunshine and kittens everywhere you go!

Insider (user link) says:

I know this story from the 1996 beginnings

McKibben thinks he invented everything. There is not a moment in time that he sees a successful venture, and he does not claim he had that idea 10 years before the founder of the successful venture.

Leader Technologies is being sued by the state of Ohio and countless numbers of former investors, directors and employees. There is no love for this entrepreneur. He is reviled by a very long list of people. His company faces bankruptcy because the government froze his accounts and garnished his customers, unwilling to play his games of deceptions any more. He keeps pissing off as many people as he can, anyone he comes across.

McKibben’s patent is frivolous, and even the system described isn’t his invention. Nothing ever is. It was probably invented by employees and associates in 1997 predating his patent filing. Some employees likely had no formal agreement to assign any of the “technology” to McKibben or the company.

Facebook should look into those that wrote up the system described there for him over the years prior to the patent filing, thus invalidating the claims that it is an original idea. That’s the easiest way to break Leader’s claims. At the very least, get the court to order Leader to disclose potential inventors of the patented technology pre-dating the patent.

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