Kodak wins Java patent case

Kodak wins Java patent case

Summary: Sun could be forced to pay out $1bn after losing a lawsuit over whether the Java programming language violated patents owned by Kodak

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TOPICS: Government UK
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Eastman Kodak has won a controversial lawsuit in which it claimed Sun Microsystems had infringed several of its patents with its Java programming language.

A US federal jury ruled in favour of Kodak last Friday, and the photography giant is now seeking damages of some $1bn from Sun.

The case has outraged some opponents of software patents, who claim it is a textbook example of why software should not be patentable.

Kodak's case centred on three patents that it bought from Wang Laboratories in 1997, several years after Java was created. These patents -- numbers 5,206,951; 5,421,012; and 5,226,161 -- referred to the integration of data between object managers, and between data managers, and to the integration of different programs that were manipulating data of different types.

Kodak argued in court that these patents covered the method where an application "asked for help" from another application -- such as in Java's object-oriented programming.

Kodak could not immediately be contacted for comment. According to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Friday the company has said it was "pleased that the court has validated Kodak's intellectual property rights".

Critics, though, have claimed that these patents should never have been granted as they appear to cover one of the basic tenets of modern computing: the interaction between different programs.

Pamela Jones, who runs Groklaw -- a Web site devoted to legal issues in the technology sector -- has been flooded with comments since the decision was made, mostly from people opposing it. Jones herself believes the case could have disastrous consequences.

"Software patents will destroy the industry in the US," wrote Jones on Sunday.

"The rest of the world will out-innovate US companies, because they won't be running with the patent ball-and-chain attached to their ankles, holding them back. Protect your software with copyright and trade secrets, but using patents for software inevitably blocks progress. If you must have it, rope it off severely so it doesn't hurt anyone like this. At a minimum, patents that aren't actively being used by the patent holder in any way in any product shouldn't be available as a weapon against a company actively bringing an idea to fruition and use."

The European Union is currently moving towards bringing in a system that would allow some software patenting, although this has not yet been ratified.

Opponents of software patents have been lobbying for some patents to be revoked.

Last week, the US Patent Office issued a preliminary rejection for a patent previously granted to Microsoft for its Windows FAT file format.

Topic: Government UK

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7 comments
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  • Kodak's action is totally unethical. JAVA has been helping softwear deveolpers skill without cahrging any fee. Blocking such a company's effort by Kodak who offers nothing free and the softwear they are talking about is not their intellectual property !!

    Softwear world should raise their voice loud and strong against Kodak
    anonymous
  • This is an absolutely ridiculous patent. Can anyone think of a single program that does not interact with another? Windows does. There's a whole load of DLLs in there talking to each other. Word and Excel can talk to each other through OLE. Every Windows program written has to talk to Windows. That daft American judge has just granted Kodak control over the entire software industry.
    anonymous
  • Microsoft next then?
    If the key is objects then surely C++ J++C.Net etc are all next in the firing line

    Still don't understand how anyone can justify software patents or IP.
    anonymous
  • well if this is not just typical of the load of W*****S that sit in the us courts , Personally bieng of the Linux persuation i dont care much for Sun but Kodac what a bunch of wankers .

    the way to cure this one is a total and i mean TOTAL BOYCOT on ALL kodac products bring them to there knees lets get this straight ONCE AND FOR ALL .

    THERE IS CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS SOFTWARE PATENTS SOFTWARE PATENTS ARE INJUROUS TO THE WORLD AT LARGE THEY MAKE FOR A FEW RICH LITTE TWITS et GATESEY BOY OF M$ Corp FAME AND THAT SAD LITTLE BOY THAT RUNS sco WHATS HIS NAME NOW DARRYL SOMETHING OR THE OTHER ANY HOW HE'S A TWAT THATS FOR SHURE AND HIM AND HIS CRONIES ARE GOING DOWN BIG TIME WHICH COINCEDENTLY IS WHERE sun IS GOING AS WELL BUT THATS ANOTHER STORY

    BOYCOT kodac ELEIMINATE SOFTWARE PATENTS THEY CAN NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO EXIST THE SOONER WE GET AN OPEN SOURCE WORLD THE BETTER FOR ALL I KNOW SOME OF YOU THINK OTHER WISE BUT THAT IS ONLY YOUR WALLETS TALKING YOU KNOW IT I KNOW IT .. SO STOP KIDDING YOUR SELFS AND START GETTING REAL OPEN SOURCE IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD THE ONLY WAY THAT MAKES SENSE IN THE WORLD TODAY NO LOCK DOWN TO ONE FORMAT OF DOC ONE VERSION OF A PROGRAM BECAUSE THE NEXT VERSION CANT HANDLE YOUR DOCS .

    pATENTS MUST DIE AND IF THAT MEANS THE DEMISE OF THE AMERICAN COURT SYSTEM AND ALL THERE LACKEY THEN SO BE IT , WE HAVE SPENT ENOUGH TIME PLAYING AT COMPUTING WITH M$ Corp AND FRIENDS NOW GET REAL COMPUTING ON THE MOVE OPEN SOURCE EVERYONS TALKS TO EVERYONE ELSE NO PROBLEMS .

    IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THIS THEN OH DEAR WHAT A SHAME YOU MUST BE ONE OF THE WALLETS AND NOT A REAL PERSON DOING A REAL JOB USING REAL COMPUTING IN A REAL ENVIROMENT USING REAL DATA FOR REAL TASKS YOU ARE POSSIBLY TIED TO M$ Corp OR ONE OF THE OTHER TWO IN THE ETERNAL TRIANGLE M$ Corp , Sco , Sun DEAL ALL THREE A DEATHLY BLOW DONT BUY INTO THE MYTH THAT THEY ARE BETTER CHEAPER SAFER QUICKER ALL OF WHICH HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTLEY DISPROVED AS FALSE LIES ie FUD/SHITE
    anonymous
  • Let's all boycott Kodak products. Hit them where it hurts.

    Whilst I agree with the sentiments expressed in the previous talk back, I do not agree with the inflammatory way they have been expressed.

    Integrity is essential in the fight against this, and similar, abuses if progress is to be made towards a common sense approach.

    It seems to me that many of these issues of contentious patents should reallly be a matter for industry standards for the industry to work to rather than a vehicle to make (steal) money from the efforts and hard work of others.

    Lets hope the award, when evaluated, puts this matter back onto a common sense footing and into it's proper perspective by being, for instance, 1$.

    However, The law is not noted for it's common sense, neither are our legislators who are probably bought and paid for anyway.
    anonymous
  • Kodak has not done good.
    anonymous
  • Digital Image Processing is one of my area of interests.
    How the hell does did KODAK develop all their imaging
    applications using algorithms developed by others not invented by them. However the common algorithms in Image processing were not patented by inventors but they freely published them in peer review journals for companies as KODAK to read and use them for technology development. An example is that Kodak uses Fuzzy Logic, in product development , but who invented this computing theory? Obviously , Lotfi Zadeh, but professor Zadeh did not patent this technology. It is the good for the world and the computing field not to patent anything at all because it will restrict the advancement of computing technology. Another example is Laplacian operator based on Laplace theory from calculus is used by Kodak for developing imaging application. Did Kodak invent Laplace operator ? No, it was invented by a French mathematician over more thatn 100 years ago. I can go on and on and on about mathematical algorithms that Kodak use in their product developement which were not invented by them but developed by mathematicians from the wider world of academic and also scientists from the last century or so. Lets stop this crap of patenting software methods because it hinders the advance of technology.

    Cheers,
    SP.
    anonymous