Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
patent, zune

Companies:
microsoft



Microsoft Sued Over Buy From FM Zune Feature, Despite It Functioning Differently Than The Patent

from the nice-work-if-you-can-get-it dept

Technically, we're told, patents only are supposed to apply to specific inventions, and not general ideas. It doesn't always work that way in practice, of course. AdamR points us to a lawsuit filed by some guy against Microsoft, claiming patent infringement in Zune's "Buy from FM" feature that lets you buy a song that you hear over FM radio. The guy is claiming willful infringement and demanding treble damages, because he apparently wrote Microsoft a letter back in 2006. Of course, there appears to be a pretty big problem with the claim, in that the patents in question (6,463,469 and 6,473,792) appear to describe a process of unlocking music already found on a local harddrive -- which is not how the Zune's feature works.

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  • identicon
    Richard Corsale, 30 Mar 2010 @ 8:25pm

    FM

    My computers rabbit-ears don't get good Internet reception. So the patent also claims that the person has to hear it over FM radio. Someone got some really bad legal advice.

    I guess that the trouble with trebles...

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

    • icon
      Ronald J Riley (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 3:17am

      Re: FM

      It is hard to imagine anyplace or anyone giving poorer legal advice than the drivel on TechDIRT.

      Ronald J. Riley,


      I am speaking only on my own behalf.
      Affiliations:
      President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
      Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
      Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
      President - Alliance for American Innovation
      Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
      Washington, DC
      Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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

      • identicon
        AJ, 31 Mar 2010 @ 4:08am

        Re: Re: FM

        "It is hard to imagine anyplace or anyone giving poorer legal advice than the drivel on TechDIRT."

        Thanks for being one of the "drivel" you retard.

        The only thing larger than your head is your obnoxious signature.

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

        • icon
          taoareyou (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 9:36am

          Re: Re: Re: FM

          This can't really be guy he is claiming to be. This has to be someone purposefully trying to make the real guy look like a child stomping his feet, with the goal to make IP advocates look like idiots.

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

  • identicon
    NUKE intellectual property, 30 Mar 2010 @ 8:43pm

    oh comeone lets have fun

    lets just sue people constantly and randomly for YES

    EVERYTHING
    hey isn't it fun suing people and screaming and yelling and throwing large chairs

    YOU TOO can learn how to partake in this wonderful new career.

    SEND 9.99 to the following post office box and get your DRMED DVDR today.....

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2010 @ 9:21pm

      Re: oh comeone lets have fun

      You know, that might not be a bad way to alleviate patent laws. Everyone just sue everyone else like crazy for no good reason, turn EVERYTHING into infringement. Someone already has a patent on swinging sideways, I ought to swing sideways on a swing on purpose just so you can sue me, then you can sue me. We can all sue each other over nonsense and hopefully the backlash and court decisions and the cost to our legal system will be enough to substantially alleviate bogus IP lawsuits in the long run.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2010 @ 9:27pm

        Re: Re: oh comeone lets have fun

        (to continue)

        and hopefully we can take some of our bogus lawsuits all the way up to the supreme court in hopes to set a patent alleviation precedent for future generations to come as well.

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

        • icon
          Michael (profile), 30 Mar 2010 @ 11:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: oh comeone lets have fun

          50 million monkeys filing infringement lawsuits? Yeah, the odds seem high at least one would percolate up that far.

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

  • icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 3:14am

    "Technically, we're told, patents only are supposed to apply to specific inventions"

    Patents do apply to specific inventions but what you see on the surface of a product is does not necessarily have much to do with what is happening internally. It is possible to have very different interfaces for an invention.

    On top of this is the fact that Microsoft is repeatedly sued and repeatedly is losing suits. They have repeatedly been subjected to punitive damages for willfulness.

    In other words the best explanation for Microsoft's legal problems is that they are a company whose business model is built on systematic infringement of other's inventions.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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

    • icon
      Scott Shaffer (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 3:39am

      Re:

      "In other words the best explanation for Microsoft's legal problems is that they are a company whose business model is built on systematic infringement of other's inventions."


      Ummm, no. The best explanation for Microsoft's legal problems is that they have alot of money and everyone wants some of it.

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

      • icon
        Ronald J Riley (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 11:57am

        Microsoft Money

        You need to look at how Microsoft is getting so much money and why the courts keep handing Microsoft their head.

        Ronald J. Riley,


        I am speaking only on my own behalf.
        Affiliations:
        President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
        Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
        Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
        President - Alliance for American Innovation
        Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
        Washington, DC
        Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2010 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Microsoft Money

          Your signal to noise ratio is: 0.328. Try leaving more than a single sentence worth of comment or (preferably) shortening your signature.

          As to where they get their money and why they keep having their heads handed to them, that is obvious. In many cases, they get their money by using their market heft to push products which implement concepts patented by other inventors. They get their heads handed to them because they have obviously violated these patents. In many cases, they violate unapologetically.

          The issue with this case, however, is that they are not violating the patents at all because the functionality of the Zune is not covered by the patents in question.

          So, when you say "Microsoft always steals patents" and the reply is "Yes, they often do, but not this time", it is an invalid reply to state "Yes, but they steal patents!"

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 31 Mar 2010 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      I assume by your signature ad your comments that you have actually looked at the patent in question and understand how this feature works on a Zune.

      So, to start with, he seems to have patented an idea. Can you show me the actual invention if you disagree?

      Next, the way the Zune feature works looks significantly different.

      Finally, this seems to be a hard sell on the obviousness test given there was prior art for identifying music being played. Do you disagree?

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

    • icon
      taoareyou (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 9:41am

      Re:

      I love the irony of stating that you are speaking on your own behalf followed immediately by list affiliations where you state you are President/Important. Well done.

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

  • identicon
    BBT, 31 Mar 2010 @ 5:41am

    "treble damages"? I hope this wasn't a pun on FM radio's sound quality.

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

  • identicon
    angry dude, 31 Mar 2010 @ 5:42am

    MShit's patent tactics

    After I filed my patent app years ago I went on and presented the subject at 2 major international technical conferences

    MShit Research Phd folks were there, as usual, a lot of them

    They go to all technical conferences, read and openly discuss all technical papers, and develop those ideas into their products, knowing all the way that there is corresponding patent application waiting for PTO approval

    But when asked about whether they read patent app at uspto.gov (which has a lot more details than conference paper) they suddenly become numb and deaf

    AS one Mshit research PhD told me: "Our corporate legal counsel told us not to read any patents or patent applications so we do not read them"

    You reap what you sow...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2010 @ 7:27am

    Funny how neither RJR nor his drunk persona Angry Dude manage to actually...explain how this patent makes sense/applies to MS.

    But I suppose that's normal for shills.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2010 @ 8:31am

    One would think that if you want to convince someone of your argument or help them see things from your point of view, you would construct well-formed arguments supported with some amount of evidence or logic behind them.

    What is odd is RJR is content with submitting low/no-content posts that complain about "drivel". Isn't that what a no-content post with an obnoxious signature is? If you absolutely have to use a signature, try this: Count the words in your post and count the words in your signature. If the length of the signature is longer than the content of your post, your post is more noise than signal.

    On the actual topic, I don't see how this could go through. Yes MS infringes on patents, but in this case, it looks like the functionality described by the patents and the functionality of the Zune are different. I'm no fan of Microsoft, but I prefer to dislike them for things they have actually done wrong.

    Doesn't it make more sense to assess things on a case-by-case basis than to unilaterally hate MS even in cases when they're not at fault?

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

  • icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 11:03am

    "I love the irony of stating that you are speaking on your own behalf followed immediately by list affiliations"

    How about telling us who you are and what your affiliations are? Then your comments might have some credibility.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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

  • icon
    Brian (profile), 31 Mar 2010 @ 11:43am

    What about Apple?

    Apple has the tag feature which sounds exactly like what microsoft is getting sued for. Where is Apple's lawsuit in all of this?

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

  • identicon
    staff, 1 Apr 2010 @ 11:51am

    cautious

    "Technically, we're told, patents only are supposed to apply to specific inventions, and not general ideas. It doesn't always work that way in practice, of course."

    That is the way it works. No one can sue a party for infringement unless based on analysis of the claims and the purported infringing use leads counsel to conclude the purported infringer is indeed infringing. Otherwise, you set yourself up for counter suit and possible sanctions. As you might imagine, plaintiffs are very cautious before filing suit. Sounds like you don't understand the claims at issue or the purported infringing activities of the defendant.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2010 @ 5:39pm

      Re: cautious

      Sounds like you, as usual, manage to write an entire paragraph that says nothing while not actually pointing out why Mike is wrong, aside from "you must be wrong, because I said so!"

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


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