Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




New Microsoft Patents Bring A Sense Of Deja Vu

from the prior-art?--bah... dept

theodp writes "Like those story previews that pop up when you hover over a Yahoo News headline or that show up with Ask's binoculars? Enjoy them while you can, 'cause Microsoft just got a patent Tuesday for Navigating Content in an Item, which covers rendering a preview display in response to hovering a mouse pointer over an item. And Tivo best beware of another patent Microsoft picked up Tuesday for Scheduling the recording of television programs (one patent image is worth a thousand words)." On the TiVo-style patent, Theodp gets a bit ahead of himself. The actual patent appears to be for being able to click to record a program when a commercial for that program is being shown -- not for just scheduling any program. Still, the question of whether or not that's patentable is an important one. On the preview thing, there appears to be a ton of prior art -- including some earlier patents. As mentioned, Ask.com offers that same feature, and when it launched (in 2004) they claimed they held a patent on the concept which they'd received a year earlier. That link also highlights a number of other companies who all offered similar preview features. Perhaps it's a good thing that startup Browster has now shut down. Their whole business was based around this exact concept, so you'd have to imagine they were in for a patent battle.

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  • identicon
    Keith, 5 Jan 2007 @ 3:05am

    Sky+

    In the UK Sky+ (part of Fox in the US) does TiVo style recording, but it also (on Sky's channels only) has the ability to set to record a program during an advert for it.

    It's done this for a while.

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

  • identicon
    JustMe, 5 Jan 2007 @ 5:10am

    Does Microsoft have a patent on hyperlinks? How about breathing air?

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

  • identicon
    ScytheNoire, 5 Jan 2007 @ 5:33am

    these software patents are getting out of hand. it's gotten just plain stupid. i mean, it's been stupid for a while now, but the supreme court needs to just put a stop to this crap and make it retro-active that all software patent settlements ever paid must be paid back, or the CEO's and lawyers of those companies that don't face life in prison. buncha crooks is what they all are.

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

    • identicon
      misanthropic humanist, 5 Jan 2007 @ 9:10am

      Re:

      There is a third alternative, the strategy of steadfast audacity. Civil law is a game that only works if you play it. The Piratebay have successfully used this strategy and it would work in the USA. It would shake the pillars of the establishment.

      Google, IBM or a consortium of powerful players could unilaterally put a stop to this nonsense tomorrow.

      All they have to do is very publicly declare that they do not recognise the patents.

      Then a letter arrives from a lawyer.

      It goes in the wastebin, and development continues as normal.

      They send a follow up letter.

      It goes in the wastebin, and development continues as normal.

      They send a SHOUTY LETTER ALL WRITTEN IN CAPITALS.

      It goes in the wastebin, and development continues as normal.

      They send round a deputy or bailiff to serve a notice.

      He is escorted off the premesis by security and development continues as normal.

      A CTO is arrested. In court he simply restates that the patent is not recognised. He gets 3 months for contempt, the company pay him half a million for his troubles. Development continues as normal.

      Eventually, amid all the publicity and challenge to the authority of the legislature the supreme court says "what the fuck - it's perfectly reasonable for these companies to claim they don't recognise the patents since the patents are unreasonable"

      The protection racket is effectively castrated. Never is the actual issue acknowledged , let alone addressed. This is how organised crime sidesteps the law, eventually you have to get them on tax evasion or some unrelated matter. Unlike the behaviour of organised crime, in this case the law is so broken and unworthy of respect that it is morally correct to deny it recognition. The law has proved itself unable to deal with the complexities of the situation and deserves utter contempt.

      The only reason that some major players don't adopt this strategy right now is that they are infested with lawyers who are playing both sides. Once they realise that it makes more sense to simply stop playing the game than it does to try and win it we can all move forwards.

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

      • identicon
        angry dude, 5 Jan 2007 @ 11:35am

        boys, boys...

        How old are you, my little rebellious friend ?

        And what do you do for a living ?

        You show an absolute misunderstanding of our legal system and an utter disrespect for our laws.

        And BTW, IBM pretty much does what you want them to do: ignore cease-and-desist letters from patent holders...

        At the same time they collect a hefty sum in royalties each year for their own (mostly junky) patents from other companies and all kinds of startups.

        Hypocrisy is the name of the game...

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

        • identicon
          misanthropic humanist, 5 Jan 2007 @ 12:02pm

          Re: boys, boys...

          "You show an absolute misunderstanding of our legal system and an utter disrespect for our laws."

          You are absolutely correct AngryDude. There are a great many of "your" laws that are not only beyond the comprehension of any moral person, they are contemptible. I have nothing but complete disrespect for them, and I believe that is to my credit.

          That is because at heart I respect Law and order and will not see it dragged down to the level of playground bullies.

          You will find many quotes by great men that are hailed as American heros espousing the same sentiment.

          Furthermore, contempt should not be mistaken for "rebelliousness",
          for that requires that I recognise the authority of my enemy, which I do not.

          If the startups of which you speak also had the balls enough to disengage with the process then the destructive cycle would begin to break, they should follow the example of IBM.

          Dinner Saturday?

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

  • icon
    MadJo (profile), 5 Jan 2007 @ 5:33am

    Yet another example that shows how broken the patent system really is.

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

    • identicon
      The infamous Joe, 5 Jan 2007 @ 5:42am

      Patents don't sue people...

      The patent system isn't really broken, humans are broken.

      The system would work fine (more or less) if the people reviewing these patent applications would actually look at them.

      What we need is either a long, tedious review of every patent to see if it should even BE a patent, or to throw all of them out, and start fresh.

      Having no patents myself, I would just as well opt for the latter, but I'm sure some people with 'real' patents would rather the former.

      Just thought I'd add my two cents.

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

      • identicon
        misanthropic humanist, 5 Jan 2007 @ 9:51am

        Re: Patents don't sue people...

        "The patent system isn't really broken, humans are broken."

        The patent system is designed, implemented and maintained by humans. It is a 20th century concept out of depth in a 21st century context, so I think the system is fundamentally broken.

        "The system would work fine (more or less) if the people reviewing these patent applications would actually look at them."

        They do. But the people doing the looking are unqualified and unable to make proper judgement. Since we have no natural language processing tools capable of parsing 100s of years of the guff lawyers write the system cannot be automated and there is neither the time, money nor technical skill available to continue processing patents in a fair and reasonable way. The system is dying of obesity, it is too fat to move forwards.

        "What we need is either a long, tedious review of every patent to see if it should even BE a patent, or to throw all of them out, and start fresh."

        There is neither the resources nor the will to engage the former. But what do you mean by "start afresh"? Wiping the slate clean but leaving any kind of patent system would simply result in a goldrush by those with the most money to patent all the obvious tripe all over again. It would simply be a redistribution of intellectual property.

        We have to face it. Patents are dead. They are an anti-progressive, anti-capitalistic, anti-social relic from a bygone age. The world has changed and we would all be better off without them.

        The internet has replaced the patent system as a viable repository for disclosure and publication. The abscence of patents would neither preclude publication for those with alruistic aims, nor trade secrets for those who wish to hide their endeavours and profit through obfuscation/secrecy.

        The lifetime of a product and the development time of products has diminished to a point where patent protection is irrelevant. In short they serve nobody but the lawyers who profit from the conflict.

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

  • identicon
    Rico J. Halo, 5 Jan 2007 @ 6:18am

    sheesh

    I invented pants...and soup...and swimming. Can I claim patent infringement on all of you for that?

    These people really do have too much time on their hands.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2007 @ 7:42am

    but my dish pvr does that now

    when an advo for certain shows or product shows on the screen i can link to the pvr for recording options for that show or i am taken to a interactive page for the product i click on right now had it like that for a while now

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

  • identicon
    Joe T, 5 Jan 2007 @ 7:56am

    TiVo has had this feature for a while, albeit only with select networks that send the trigger signal. We're talking years here, not months. NBC, if I recall correctly, is one of those networks.

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

  • identicon
    safusa, 5 Jan 2007 @ 8:37am

    Patents

    The patent office employee needs to have his bank account checked, sounds like someone must have paid them something to get this through.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2007 @ 8:56am

    @JustMe

    Actually, I own the patent on breathing and charge $2 a breath... you owe me $4... $6... $8....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2007 @ 9:46am

    Isn't "TV Guide" prior art to the M$ patent? 1.) See an ad or listing in TV Guide 2.) make mental note to watch show.

    So, "TV Guide" has been "scheduling the recording of television programs" since about 1953...

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


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