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Microsoft embroiled in patent lawsuit

By ucblockhead in News
Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 04:08:05 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Intertrust technologies has expanded its lawsuit against Microsoft over key portions of Microsoft's upcoming Windows XP operating system.

Intertrust Technologies makes digital rights management software and have aquired a patent which they claim Microsoft is infringing on both in the latest version of Windows Media Player and also in the anti-piracy measures that are being incorporated into Windows XP.

It may well be that, as many analysts suspect, this is a ploy on the part of InterTrust to get bought, or at least get some cushy settlement money out of Microsoft, however, those with long memories recall a very similar case in which Stac Electronics successfully sued Microsoft over the incorporation of compression software into Windows 95.

Realistically speaking, it is doubtful that this alone will delay the execution of Microsoft's anti-piracy plans, instead, it will at best mean that someone at Intertrust gets a nice chunk of change. But hopefully it will bring more media attention to the question. Coming on the top of the complaints of how Windows XP anti-piracy measures reduces usability , this can't be making Microsoft's PR department happy.


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What will happen?
o This is the last we'll ever hear of it. 29%
o Intertrust will get bought, end of story. 19%
o Probably a juicy settlement. 16%
o Microsoft will lose the lawsuit. 0%
o Microsoft will lose the lawsuit, but by then, it won't matter. 29%
o Microsoft will go bankrupt because they aren't open source!!! 6%

Votes: 31
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Intertrust technologies
o expanded its lawsuit
o Microsoft
o patent
o similar case
o Stac Electronics
o Also by ucblockhead

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Microsoft embroiled in patent lawsuit | 14 comments (12 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Patent terrorism (4.85 / 7) (#3)
by slaytanic killer on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 02:46:53 PM EST

I liked the NYT article:
Microsoft accused the small company of "patent terrorism."
I believe MSFT recently patented major parts of its networking functions, just so the Samba team would be frozen out. Great thank-you for being allowed to steal FreeBSD's TCP/IP stack.

patent terrorism? (4.75 / 4) (#4)
by WinPimp2K on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 03:17:48 PM EST

Now that term calls up visions:
  • the corpses of IP lawyers rotting in the bombed out shells of their high rise office buildings
  • families of patent examiners kidnapped, tortured, and murdered
  • roaming death squads of process servers - delivering Molotov cocktails rather than summonses
Perhaps the small company should add defamation to their suit?

But since terror tactics are generally resorted to by the marginalized against the larger entrenched powers one might see how Microsoft made the mistake. By the same token your implication that Microsoft would engage in such tactics is patently impossible - they are not attempting to gain redress for perceived wrongs committed against them by the Samba team, they are simply going to apply overwhelming brute force to shut them down.

In the meantime, I have a dream. A dream of a world five years from now, where all copy prevention and digital "rights" management patents are as vital and important to everyday computing and entertainment software as the Stac data compression patents are to computing now.

[ Parent ]

Unfortunately... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:49:54 PM EST

...in my dream of 5 years time every single digital datastream - from your computer to your monitor, from your hifi to your digital headphones, from your hard drive to your CPU, from your DVD player to your DVD - is encrypted with someone else's key.
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately indeed (none / 0) (#13)
by WinPimp2K on Sun Jul 01, 2001 at 12:27:49 AM EST

And that is indeed the way I see things going as well. I consider the long term implications "interesting" in the sense of the Chinese curse. Certainly the very intelligent but unthinking individuals who are busily carving out "their" little homestead on the Intellectual Property prairie have no idea what they are really doing.

[ Parent ]
Not like Stac! (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by www.sorehands.com on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 03:21:42 PM EST

If memory serves correct, this is different from Stac.

Microsoft looked at Stac's technology then took it. Stac was not looking to get bought. The Stac case went to judgment before Microsoft bought them.

Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.

The patent in question + musings on taxation (4.80 / 5) (#6)
by sigwinch on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 03:39:31 PM EST

This is the patent in question (don't blame me if that URL doesn't work for you). The patent appears to be for a digital currency system, where the digital currency can take the form of music, video, or other data, in addition to the usual money proxy. This patent smells like one of those technology co-opters which are filed not out of innovation, but to impose a tax on an obvious technology that is just becoming feasible for the first time.

Here's an odd thought: if you sell a digital song to a friend using one of these systems, does the secrecy of the transaction (enforced by tamper-resistant hardware) violate any tax laws? Would the instruments of the transaction be considered instruments of malfeasance, akin to lock picks?

I don't want the world, I just want your half.

To be anal (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by Nimey on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 10:32:28 PM EST

How closely did you read the link to the Stac lawsuit? It had nothing to do with Windows 95. MS-DOS 6.0 and 6.2, yes. Not that it ultimately helped Stac much.

Furrfu, check your facts before you post these things. You think this is Slashdot?
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

Yes, you're right. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by ucblockhead on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 11:18:48 AM EST

See editorial thread
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
let's get this clear (4.00 / 4) (#8)
by prostoalex on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 01:54:21 AM EST

What InterTrust did was to patent the using of encryption for the secura transfer of digital media, the technology so important and fundamental for the digital music industry, that it's perhaps like patenting the music itself. At the time when InterTrust got its patent the kind of thing they were describing did sound innovative, so they got the patent, but nowadays the idea of using the encryption for distributing the digital data is so common and simplistic that you just start wondering "Why hasn't anyone done that already?" Well, partly because of the fact that most players knew about this patent and knew InterTrust would sue. Currently you have MusicNet, pressplay, Microsoft, Napster, Liquid Audio and some other companies actually using this concept, but for the court InterTrust needed to pick just one, and that one was Microsoft. There's hardly any Windows issue involved except that XP supports the DRMS system in its guts, and Windows Media Player has a default support for Secure Audio Path as well.

No (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by strumco on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 10:23:41 AM EST

What InterTrust did was to patent the using of encryption for the secura transfer of digital media
No, there's more to it than that. Intertrust patented a method for securely transferring digital goods - not just the idea of doing it.

(NDA forbids me going into further detail)

[ Parent ]

Oops... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:50:29 PM EST

I meant 'DVD player to your TV'
Patents, patents, patents... (none / 0) (#14)
by sto0 on Tue Jul 03, 2001 at 07:04:30 PM EST

Whilst this does bring up the important issue of the anti-piracy measures which MS are employing in WinXP (which are highly debatable to say the least), it also brings up the crippling issue of patents.

Potentially, if I create a product which happens to cross someone else's patent, then they can sue me for this. My question is to the perhaps more knowledgable people here regarding patent law, what if I had never seen the patent, or had been aware of it? Could I still be sued, or would this just go to strengthen my case?

I'm particularly dubious of IP laws as they can easily be abused (like Intertrust appear to be doing), and promote software lock-in. Whilst I'd say that Microsoft are some of the worst offenders when it comes to locking in users unscrupolously to packages, I can see that they may have a fairly strong-ish case here, since Intertrust may be judged as simply trying to get themselves out of a tight situation. Stuart

Microsoft embroiled in patent lawsuit | 14 comments (12 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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