Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

Summary: Words fail me on just how dumb the Bedrock vs. Google decision is.

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All good patent trolls know that you sue in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). It's known for its pro-patent judges that speed patent cases along their docket to the patent holders' victory. That's not just me and my anti-patent buddies speaking. No less a figure than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has described the EDTX as a "renegade jurisdiction." It's no wonder than that patent troll Bedrock chose the EDTX as its battlefield for its attack on Google, and a host of other companies, over a violation of its patent, which appears to be used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

In the case, the EDTX jury on Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC vs. Google, Inc., awarded Bedrock $5 million. That's chump change by patent troll standards, but Bedrock has also sued, among others, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL There's money in those companies and Bedrock wants it!

Their justification? That the company's crap patent, Methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data is violated by Red Hat in its Linux products.

Now, I hate all software patents, but even if I didn't, this patent is garbage. As I read it, I think I violated it myself back in the 80s. I mean, just read it, it's a description of how to use hashing with a linked list. Come on! That might not be programming 101, but it's not far from it!

Red Hat has sued Bedrock to get the patent revoked for numerous reasons. Among others, they point out that Linux, which dates to 1991, predates the 1997 patent; that no one has ever used the patent; and that in any case Bedrock has no claims to the patent. This case, however, has not been settled yet.

Yes, I know, I know, you'd think that case would have been settled first and then the matter of Red Hat's customers would have been addressed, but that's not how it works in the U.S. Verdict first and trial later to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen.

Now some people, such as Florian Mueller, would have you think that "This patent infringement case has major implications for the IT industry in general and for Linux in particular." The emphasis is his. I disagree.

I think this is an especially striking example of a bad patent decision by the EDTX. It only shows just how bad the U.S. patent system has become that such a ridiculous suit could ever be taken seriously never mind actually winning. Google should appeal this case and, unlike other recent software patent cases, such as Microsoft vs. i4i, I'd expect the anti-patent side to win.

Officially a Google spokesperson would only tell me, "Google will continue to defend against attacks like this one on the open source community. The recent explosion in patent litigation is turning the world's information highway into a toll road, forcing companies to spend millions and millions of dollars defending old, questionable patent claims, and wasting resources that would be much better spent investing in new technologies for users and creating jobs."

I couldn't agree more. Just do a search on "patent and lawsuit' on ZDNet and watch all the patent lawsuit news stream down your screen. Does anyone actually think anything positive or productive is coming from all these lawsuits? I don't.

Related Stories:

Google infringes on Linux patent: $5 million judgment

Microsoft gets Novell's Patents rights but must share them with Open-Source Software

Microsoft Patent Case in the Supreme Court's Hands

Google, Apache, Apple back Microsoft's patent-invalidation play

Topics: Legal, Google, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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127 comments
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  • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

    My only answer is to use the system. Since you quoted Justice Scalia, why not use the Supreme Court to knock down this "renegade jurisdiction" by bringing the issue to the full Supreme Court.<br><br>That is the only way a decision will be binding on the "renegade jurisdiction."<br><br><br>Wayne Spivak<br>SBA * Consulting LTD<br><a href=http://www.sbaconsulting.com/>www.SBAConsulitng.com</a><br>Twitter: @WSpivak
    wspivak
    • Amazon patented 1-click buying and Apple pays for it each times it's ...

      @wspivak: ... electronic goods store or iTunes media/apps store is used.<br><br><b>Patents can be granted on very basic things if these are first presented to patenting office.</b>
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        @denisrs: Unless the concepts demonstrated already exist as prior art, or are deemed so utterly basic by the examiners as being unpatentable. Unfortunately, mistakes are frequently made; a Texas man once patented, well, a stick: http://c4sif.org/2011/01/patent-on-a-stick/

        The entire patent process needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. I suggest crowdsourcing with peer review.

        You know, the way Linux development works.
        zdnetuseselbows
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        @denisrs I agree. Why dont we all make some ridiculous patents wait for someone else to capitalize on the idea then sue them. Its the eay way to make money.
        campbellj78@...
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        All good patent trolls know that you sue in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). It???s known for its pro-patent judges that speed patent cases along their docket to the patent holders??? victory.
        <a href="http://www.hoteltelnet.hu/">hungary hotels</a>
        Amanda123456
    • The system costs money

      Loads if it. The patent system is working as designed, to abuse competitors. A few patent trolls attract the headlines, but the major companies are no better.
      Richard Flude
    • Taking it to the Supreme Court

      @wspivak <br>In the U.S. there are two <b><i>possible</i></b> levels of appeal. The first is an "appeal as of right". A trial court hands down a decision, one side (or both) appeals, and a three-judge panel (usually) examines the decision to see if the trial judge ruled correctly on the law. As a general rule, unless it is very obvious there was <b><i>no</i></b> basis to make particular findings of <b><i>fact</i></b>, the appellate court cannot overturn the trial court's <b><i>fact</i></b> findings.<br><br>That first-level appeal is the only one where the court <b><i>must</i></b> hear the case (hence, the term "appeal as of right", i.e., the party has a <b><i>right</i></b> to have his appeal heard.)<br><br>Anything beyond that requires a "petition for writ of certiorari". That means that a party that loses on appeal can <b><i>request</i></b> that the state or federal supreme court will re-examine the appeal.<br><br><b><i>Most of the time</i></b> the supreme court <b><i>denies</i></b> the writ--meaning the appeal is ended and the decision of the appellate court is final.<br><br>Generally, supreme courts (whether state or federal) only pick cases that deal with areas of the law that the court is interested in changing or clarifying. As Justice Scalia has said on television, "If your case gets to <b><i>my</i></b> court, I don't much care about the facts of your particular case." What he means is that the U.S. Supreme Court is concerned about setting general precedents, not the particulars of who should win in a specific case.<br><br>The U.S. Supreme Court only hears about 80 cases a year. Those have to do with things like rights of people accused of crimes, questionable death sentences, major anti-trust cases, etc. By the time you get through those, patents, tax laws, and most other areas of the law fall by the wayside. The fact is that it is <b><i>extremely</i></b> unusual for the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a patent law case.<br><br>Another thing to consider regarding patent law, is as one Sup. Ct. justice (I think Roberts) recently said, "But these are <b><i>property</i>[/b] rights." Because the Anglo-American legal system originally developed to protect the rich, property rights are some of the most strongly-protected rights in Anglo-American jurisprudence. In other words, it's not a simple balancing act, and the Court will likely decide in favor of the property-right holder because that's how the system was developed to work.
      Rick_R
    • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

      @wspivak The problem is the whole court system is out of control and congress is to guttless to impeach the tyarnts and send there buts to jail in some of the extreme cases. So unless the other two branches of government check the judicial branch this is just going to get worse because every time they get away with it they try to reach even further.
      bcclendinen@...
  • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

    People who waste the court's time on pointless wealth seeking should be forced to pay punitive damages to discourage such egregious behaviour in the future.
    DarthCyclist
    • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

      @DarthCyclist Jail time might be better, and their lawyers too.
      jeremychappell
    • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

      @DarthCyclist

      I have a better plan, if your patent is rejected, you're put to death. Problem solved.
      jackbond
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        @jackbond That might be a bit extreme, but it sure would make litgants think before they sued.
        RobertMoore12@...
      • RE: if your patent is rejected, you're put to death

        @jackbond

        A tad extreme, but IMHO, a proper sentence for malware authors and identity thieves.
        fatman65535
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        @jackbond Better plan than that, and more realistic. If your patent is rejected as common sense, but unique...it's put under a GPL and open sourced. If it is rejected because it mimics another patent, it is surrendered to the owner of the identical patent. This prevents patents of overtly simplistic concepts...like "process of bringing air into and out of ones own lungs through the use of lungs." and strengthens the truly innovative ones that are challenged by start-ups looking to limit innovation by restricting part of the total concept.
        Socratesfoot
    • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

      @DarthCyclist I agree 100%. The penalty for wasting a courts time should be high enough to discourage any other frivolous lawsuits.
      RobertMoore12@...
  • Wack a mole

    Given how the USPTO dished out patent to anyone for anything leaving the courts to fix the mess, each time one of these trolls is knocked down, 1000 more are waiting to try their turn.

    There's no way a judge can be expected to understand hashed link lists, let along their common usage and history, and noway he'd know that deleting 'expired' items, is no different from deleting 'yellow' items or 'items >20', it's just a word representing a property...
    guihombre
  • Lots of prior art

    I violated the "on-the-fly removal of expired data" part myself, before this patent was even filed.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

      @Robert Hahn
      Maybe you should've patented that technique, and then YOU'D be the one to sue.
      William_P
      • RE: Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision

        @William_P
        Has someone patented the use of LinkedList yet ? I'm thinking of suing the whole planet and using the profits to patent hashmaps and arrays. I might even consider additions and substractions...
        mikael14
  • I always get a kick out of the argument that a patent

    is blatantly obvious or "crap" even though no one prior to the patent holder had ever thought of it before.
    fr_gough