1.52 billion in karma..

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pam123, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    That's how much Microsoft may have to pay Alcatel-Lucent (formerly Bell Labs)
    on the MP3 tech the paid a license for : http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070222-8910.html
    This strikes me as one of those patent hold-ups (submarine version) and I expect Microsoft to appeal .
    Meanwhile someone should shut Steve Ballmer up the next time he threatens to sue Linux for patent violations.
     
  2. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    and he probably won't be alone....this will open up just about anybody who is using the MP3 format similarly to the same impact...
     
  3. TimPoet

    TimPoet digitally confused

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    This is another example of crazy and inappropriate use of the courts. Totally out of proportion.

    Another argument for tort reform.
     
  4. David M

    David M Techphile.

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    Agreed...going to court should not be like playing the lottery.
     
  5. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    What we need is patent reform so the various "submarine" patent tactics can't be used.
    The irony of hearing Steve (Linux infringes on our patents) Ballmer backtrack on his "IP" stand would almost make nonsense like this case worth it.
    Does anyone still think patents, as they now exist, encourage innovation?
     
  6. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    as with all things, there are examples that "do" and examples that "do not".

    I can tell you by observation that countries that have little or no intellectual property protections do not have thriving "innovation" industries. They may have strong industry, don't get me wrong, but those industries are generally much farther along the product adoption curve where product commoditization occurs. In this area, the overall profit margins are much much lower, competition is much more fierce and there is always someone who can do it cheaper than you. Price becomes the defining factor in the value equation rather than features.

    Patents allow individuals (and companies) to invest in product and technology development to stay ahead of the curve and develop new products that command higher margins than something that is commoditized down to the 2-3-5% range. remove that protection and development will continue but it will migrate (and the jobs with them) to places that do respect intellectual properties and what is left behind are the industries that just replicate what others create. The jobs in industries like that are extreme susceptible to shifts in labor costs - if a manufacturer can move 200 miles and cut his labor costs 20%, they will. In the 80's jobs went to mexico, mexico lost those jobs to deeper into central america or into the Pac rim and, undoubtedly, those jobs will migrate to the next low cost labor market (Africa most likely, especially if they can get their political stability together)

    Keeping that in mind, I'd be rather reluctant to mess with the existing patent system because of a few folks who milk the system...while you might create individual successes, you might, indavertently create significant and far more negative repercussions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2007
  7. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    We're not on opposite sides of this argument, as the quote says current patent law needs to be rethought not that patents needs to be tossed out ( Of course what our "challenged" congress will do is another matter.).
    Patents, currently, are a form a brinksmanship.
    As for small companies or inventors, that is not a description that fitted Bell Labs then and it has nothing to do with Alcatel-Lucent's legal dept. now.
    This is abuse of the system by a major player.
    As gratifying as it can be to watch one bully getting pounded on by another, I'm not fond of Microsoft but that isn't news, I'm siding with M$ in this.
    I grin at the irony that they may end of doing what's right for everyone in order to defend their own self-interest.:D
     
  8. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    even "rethought" introduces (and increases) the likelihood of invocation of the law of unintended consequences. Now couple that with the rampant involvement and appeasement of the myriad of "special" interests that would undoubtedly occur and you have the potentional for some real problems.

    In addition, as copyrights are a Consitutionally granted right (Article 1, section 8) anything that varies significantly from:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Author and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    will invite an immediate and protracted court challenge which could also have wide ranging and unintended impacts.
     
  9. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    There is a 3 part series on PC Mech about copyright ( by yours truly) starting here : http://pcmech.com/show/internal/987/

    I would say the law of unintended consequences is already in effect.
    If you want to make a case for actually applying the tests for patents, before they're granted, I would agree because that's not what's going on now.
     
  10. David M

    David M Techphile.

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    If patents were not allowed there would be NO development in the pharmaceutical industry. There would be no incentive to invent new drugs. Once a pharmaceutical goes off patent, the generic drug manufacturers can start manufacturing the drugs for pennies on the dollar for what it cost to develop the drug and get FDA approved.

    Pharmaceuticals are not going to develop new drugs if there is no potential for recovering their development costs.

    This fact applies to all the biotechnology companies as well.

    Kill patents and you kill innovation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2007
  11. TimPoet

    TimPoet digitally confused

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    Nobody on this thread wants to kill patents.

    If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    It is is broke, then, please, do something about it.
     
  12. David M

    David M Techphile.

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    I know....just stating a case for patents.
     
  13. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    We don't need to defend "patents" , we do need to fix them.
    We could start by giving the Patents & Trademarks Office enough people and funds to actually do their assigned job.
    That done, we can make additions to prevent what abuses still remain.
    Drug company patents are more than over due for review this is one area where extensions have been grossly abused.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2003_06/001472.php
     
  14. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    Amen and Amen.
    How? Bell Labs co-invented the mp3 compression technology with Fraunhofer IIS. Fraunhofer IIS licenses their 'side' of the product through Thomson (mp3licensing.com). That license covers Fraunhofer IIS's compression technology. Alcatel (Bell Labs) patent covers delivery (assembly and disassembly of said compressed data) of a mp3 - it's a totally different patent.

    How is this abuse when all Alcatel want's is to be paid for their intellectual property?
     
  15. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    No I don't think so.
    Fraunhofer ( USA branch) : http://www.fraunhofer.org/
    is co-developer and they did not sign over their rights to Bell Labs.
    They had, and retain, the same right to license the whole patent Bell Labs ( Now Alcatel-Lucent) does (did).
    I say this doesn't hold on appeal and I'm thinking it's going to end up like the Rambus case where Rambus ended up convicted of fraud.
     
  16. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    Pam, you're flat out wrong on this. Fraunhofer IIS developed the mp3 codec in conjunction with Bell Labs. Bell Labs provided the components of the codec that allows software (and hardware) to reassemble the compressed data - Fraunhofer IIS provided the actual compression method. Both companies hold patents on the mp3 technology as well as the different components that make up the technology - Alcatel/Lucent (Bell Labs) has every right to request payment for their property even if Fraunhofer IIS retains full rights to distribute.

    And there are plenty of precedents in intellecual property law. I myself hold copyright on dozens of DVDs my former studio did post production on. Although I maintain the rights to distribute the original music we created for those DVDs, my former partner has every right to payment since he is also a copyright holder.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  17. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    For the record, the patents in question are #5341457 filed on 8/20/1993 by AT&T Bell Labratories and #RE39080 filed 8/13/2002 by Lucent Technologies Inc. Neither patent is controlled or licenced by Fraunhofer IIS or Thomson.
     
  18. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what you're looking at but the dates aren't for the ones discussed in court :

    .

    Microsoft accuses Alcatel of the following :

    http://www.eagletribune.com/pubiz/local_story_050094603?keyword=secondarystory+page=0

    (Pick up from Bloomberg News)

    Microsoft's contention is that they received the right to use "all" by way of the license they purchased in 1989.
     
  19. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    Pam, those dates are file dates, not issue dates. M$ is going by issue date - intellectual property rights adhere to file dates - and are often backdated years. The patents that are under consideration in the case are not covered by the licenses covered by mp3licensing.com (Fraunhofer IIS's licensing arm) - plain and simple. Patents that are licenses by mp3licensing.com would encumber the Alcatel-Lucent patents when applicable - simply put, these patents cover aspects of the mp3 codec technology that are not covered by Fraunhofer IIS patent or shared patent.

    Your right - M$ is accusing Alcatel-Lucent of having a patent back dated - but that happens all the time. Patents are back dated to file dates (or a date of initial public offering of the patented product) so to protect the intellectual property from the time the property was originally and legally made 'public'.
     
  20. pam123

    pam123 Computing Professor Staff Member

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    Essentially Microsoft is accusing Alcatel of fraud.
    If they over turn on Appeal, and Microsoft's license rest on the 1989 date (as does everyone else's) then Alcatel will find it self in the same position Rambus was in after it's legal dept. got pushy.
     

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