Search Results for ‘"software patent"’

Microblog 2008-09-24

  • Both McC and Palin seem cold-blooded about firing people, might be seen as feature rather than bug [McLaughlin/Baseball Crank] #
  • Legal obstacles to four day work week [Point of Law via @lilyhill] #
  • Yep, that’s Joe: Biden said he’s “done more than any other senator combined” for trial lawyers [Point of Law] #
  • Day of protest against software patents [OUT-LAW via @lawtweets] #
  • Related? “EPO staff strike over patent quality” [OUT-LAW] #
  • What a curious Nigerian scam email, do you think it could be genuine? [Cernovich] #

That security patch your product needs? Sorry, we’ve patented it

Another new way to bring the idea of software patents into disrepute, per eWeek/SecurityWatch:

Security researchers, are you tired of handing your vulnerability discoveries over to your employer, as if that were what you’re paid to do? Helping vendors securing their products—for free—so that their users won’t be endangered by new vulnerabilities? Showing your hacking prowess off to your friends, groveling for security jobs or selling your raw discoveries to middlemen for a fraction—a pittance—of their real value?

Take heart, underappreciated, unremunerated vassals, for a new firm is offering to work with you on a vulnerability patch that they will then patent and go to court to defend. You’ll split the profits with the firm, Intellectual Weapons, if they manage to sell the patch to the vendor. The firm may also try to patent any adaptations to an intrusion detection system or any other third-party software aimed at dealing with the vulnerability, so rest assured, there are many parties from which to potentially squeeze payoff.

Intellectual Weapons is offering to accept vulnerabilities you’ve discovered, as long as you haven’t told anyone else, haven’t discovered the vulnerability through illegal means or have any legal responsibility to tell a vendor about the vulnerability.

Also, the vulnerability has to be profitable—the product must be “highly valuable,” according to the firm’s site, “especially as a percentage of the vendor’s revenue.” The product can’t be up for upcoming phaseout—after all, the system takes, on average, seven years to churn out a new patent. The vendor has to have deep pockets so it can pay damages, and your solution has to be simple enough to be explained to a jury. …

The firm says it “fully [anticipates] major battles.”

(“New Firm Eager to Slap Patents on Security Patches”, Jun. 7; Slashdot thread).

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Apparently Amazon is facing yet another suit over patent infringement involving its website technologies. “The complaint accuses Amazon of using technology on its own Web site and for third parties such as Target.com that infringes on two Registrar Systems patents, Amazon said.” (“Amazon named in patent infringement suit”, Puget Sound Business Journal, Feb 17).

Though I am generally sympathetic to companies sued over software patents, particularly since the US Patent Office seems to have completely lost its mind in granting many of these patents, I have little sympathy for Amazon. After all, they were the ones to patent and then sue their rivals over “one-click” ordering.

My college roommate, who was a trade lawyer for quite a while, told me a story of a company trying to get their disposable cigarette lighter to pass the US child safety tests (I promise we will get back on topic in a second). I can’t remember the exact test, but it involved giving a bunch of children the lighter and observing how many in a certain amount of time could figure out how to defeat the childproofing. Apparently a key to success was to (literally) go out and find the slowest and dullest group of kids you could. Which brings me back to the one-click patent, where surely Amazon must have gone through a similar process to find a patent examiner who would declare one-click ordering “non-obvious” and patentable.