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Motorola Mobility couldn't prove the Microsoft patent was similar to technology used in an old Apple personal assistant

Motorola Mobility was recently on the losing side of an appeals court ruling, which favored Microsoft in a patent case that banned certain Motorola phones. 

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Google's Motorola Mobility lost the appeals case due to its inability to prove that the Microsoft patent was used in Apple's Newton personal digital assistant over a decade ago.

The appeals court also upheld a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decision regarding the same patent, which stated that Microsoft satisfied the domestic industry requirement for it and could lead to an import ban. 

The Microsoft patent is U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566, which is titled “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device.” It relates to a method in which mobile devices synchronize calendars with computers, and it's part of Microsoft’s ActiveSync software. 

The key issue here is that Microsoft says it has offered license agreements to numerous companies that covers them under its patent portfolio, and allows several Android mobile phones and tablets to use its technologies. But Motorola is not one of those companies

This all started back in 2010 when Microsoft filed a complaint in the ITC in October Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Motorola saying that the import and sale of certain Motorola mobile devices infringed nine Microsoft patents -- which included the patent for synchronizing calendars. 

In May 2012, the ITC imposed a limited exclusion order on imports of Motorola products that were considered an infringement of certain claims of the patent previously in question. 

Motorola Mobility later argued that Apple's Newton MessagePad, which was an art digital assistant it created in the 1990s (it failed), had a similar technology as Microsoft's patent.

However, the ITC did not find enough evidence to back Motorola Mobility's argument. 

Microsoft ended up suing the U.S Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as well, claiming that they were not enforcing the ITC's ban. 

Source: Bloomberg



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And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 2:50:36 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The Microsoft patent is U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566, which is titled “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device.” It relates to a method in which mobile devices synchronize calendars with computers, and it's part of Microsoft’s ActiveSync software.


Perfect example of what's wrong with the patent system.

The novel invention was a method of synchronizing a calendar that can be shared amongst multiple clients...period. Like Lotus Notes for example.

That should be the end of this patent. Changing what *kind* of clients get to be synchronized with is immaterial and not novel. The fact that you can do it on a handheld device in addition to a PC is irrelevant.

There should be precisely 1 patent on the books related to this type of functionality as it relates to electronic devices...period. If even that, granted that I think copyrighting software may be more appropriate than patenting anyway.




RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Reflex on 12/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 3:17:23 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Because the title explaining the intent of the patent is what is being litigated rather than the content containing the method of implementation


...I don't give 2 sh1ts about the "method of implementation." The functionality is what's key. You came up with a way to synchronize calendars across multiple devices - yay! Now no one else gets a patent for that...ever.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Shadowself on 12/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 4:11:22 PM , Rating: 1
^ all of the above is what's wrong with the patent system.

Getting a patent for a specific implementation is what's WRONG with the system.

I know that that's how the system works. I'm saying it's wrong.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 4:28:26 PM , Rating: 1
No, that not what's wrong. Implementation is very important. It always has been. You want to say that just because someone thinks of something, it can't be patented. That's nuts! Patents are very important, even though ignorant people hate them.

Patents are responsible for innovation. They don't kill innovation. As someone who was a partner in a company that had 43 self developed patents, I can say that those patents were very important to us. The fact that they normally expire, is also very important.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 4:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but no. Patenting every possible permutation of a given piece of functionality is a massive part of why the patent system is f%cked right now. And I see no possible way to dispute that fact.

Patent it the first time someone proves it can be done. Then that's it.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By JediJeb on 12/17/2013 4:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
Just like with the guy who invented the WeedEater. After about a year several other companies also had string line trimmers that were patented because they changed some little thing like putting the motor at the top instead of the bottom of the handle. They guy had a great idea and patented it, but still others made more money off his idea then he did.

Seems patents on mechanical things the USPTO understands well enough to allow the little specifics to grant similar patents, but for software and such they just don't understand how it works.

I work with someone who is extracting a possible cancer fighting chemical from broccoli seeds. There has been a big court battle with a major university because they hold a patent on a chemical that naturally occurs within a broccoli seed. I believe it has finally been invalidated, but for it to even have been granted in the first place would be akin to the USPTO granting me a patent on air just because I file for it.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By superstition on 12/17/2013 5:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
glucoraphanin?


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By JediJeb on 12/17/2013 6:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
glucoraphanin or sulforaphane which is derived from it by the natural enzyme myrosinase.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 7:25:30 PM , Rating: 1
You say it but you are wrong. I don't see you knowing much about the patent system from your comments here.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By JediJeb on 12/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: And herein lies the problem...
By cbf on 12/17/2013 10:04:48 PM , Rating: 4
So did Apple patent "slide to unlock", or a means of implementing slide to unlock?

Did they patent the rubber-band effect when you scrolled to the end of the list, or a means of implementing it?

Are you telling me that the other companies couldn't figure out how to implement the same effect in a different manner?

Or did Apple manage to patent an idea (a UI gesture) and successfully enforce the patent?


By Reclaimer77 on 12/17/2013 10:57:28 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The fact that Motorola was dumb enough to implement Microsoft's specific implementation without doing a patent search first is no one's fault but Motorola's.


I think you need an education on patents.

Patents are written in such vague terms as to intentionally obfuscate their true purpose, it's literally impossible to do some "patent search" first.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2013/07/22.htm...


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By FITCamaro on 12/18/2013 7:50:44 AM , Rating: 3
Where have you been? That's exactly what they're patenting these days. The idea, not the implementation.

Otherwise most software patents wouldn't be used to sue because short of someone stealing your code, there'd be no way to prove they're copying your implementation unless you examined their code.

All the patent troll suits out there are based on the idea of the patent, not a specific implementation.

Yes software should only be able to be copyrighted. Because you should only be able to protect your software. If someone else uses the same idea to create a better product without any assistance from you other than getting the idea for something, you have no claim to what they've done.

Patents based on hardware are different because there are only so many ways to do something in hardware and you're patenting your specific one. Software patents aren't like that. At least not most these days. Look at Apple suing for the shape of a button. As if they invented that shape of a button. Or a tablet/phone with rounded edges. As if they were the first to come up with that.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By p05esto on 12/17/2013 4:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
No, you are wrong. The devil is in the details. I can't just claim to think of the idea of time travel and patent it. Ideas can't be patented, you have to actually produce something. I can think up a million cool ideas, but getting them to work is another story all together.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 4:24:55 PM , Rating: 2
...which is why I said clearly that the patent should go to the first person who actually *does* it.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 4:37:12 PM , Rating: 3
No, effectively, you're saying that the first person, or company who implements the idea of something should be the only ones allowed to patent it. That's terrible! One of the major concepts of the patent system is to allow everyone to examine a patent. Why? For two reasons. The first is to make sure they don't violate it. But the second reason is just as important, and some say more important. That reason is to give others a chance to come up with a way to work around it that's even better, or more advanced. And that's how technology moves forward.

What you want would make things very difficult.

A good example is in the now depreciated film industry. If things worked the way you want, then the first company that patented a way to process film would have been the only one to do it. Other types of film AMD processing would not have been able to exist. Really bad! We can think of many other industries in which what you want would have crippled progress, and set up a vast monopoly.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/18/2013 11:25:49 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's what Moto wants at all. It's what he's fighting against.

Patents are essentially a Government granted monopoly on an idea or way of doing/making something. But this is proving to be disastrous in the software realm. How can Microsoft honestly claim this type of "sync" is unique, novel, or belonging to them in any way? It's ridiculous!


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Mitch101 on 12/17/2013 4:19:19 PM , Rating: 4
ALL the carriers do it in hopes of a judge forcing a cross license agreement or royalty but when Microsoft or Apple sues someone the patent system is broken.

How about Motorola patenting industry standards for Wifi and Video Compression then suing companies for using standards completely abusing FRAND.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By NaperJ on 12/17/2013 8:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How about Motorola patenting industry standards for Wifi and Video Compression then suing companies for using standards completely abusing FRAND.

So, what are they supposed to do when the other side refuses to negotiate? And, it worked the other way around, Motorola found a way to do something, patented it, and then submitted it for standardization, agreeing to license it on fair and non-discriminatory terms as part of the terms of submitting it for standardization. Most fights in standards committees is over who's licensed technology gets into the standards, and who can collect the licensing revenue.

At the time the standard is published, the patent is still likely to be in application state, and is only granted later. Licensing quite often doesn't happen until the patent grant, as the invention can be practiced by others until the patent is granted. But, once the patent is granted, negotiations have to be carefully worded, to maximize potential damage claims, while still encourage taking of a license. But, if negotiations fail, a lawsuit will ensue. How is that abusing FRAND?


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 4:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
What you think is of no importance. What matters is how something is implemented.

The problem is that most people have little understanding of what a patent is. You are one of those people.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 4:27:10 PM , Rating: 1
I know exactly what a patent is.

I know that currently "what matters" is how something is implemented.

I'm pointing out that *that* is one of the biggest reasons why the patent system is f%cked right now. Because it makes not the slightest sense in the world to hand out another patent to someone who manages to do the same thing, but with a slightly different twist in how it's implemented.

And if you think that the way it is is the way it should be, then I would firmly assert that it is your thoughts which are of no importance.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 4:41:07 PM , Rating: 2
Since your way has never been done, and will never be done, obviously, it's your way of thinking that's out of touch.

Patents have been around at least as long as the Romans. Modern patent systems all work the same way, for good reasons. What you want would stifle innovation. But then, you've never had a patent, have you?


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 4:45:28 PM , Rating: 1
You're right, the patent system is perfect as it stands. What was I thinking?

/s

Everyone knows that the current system is BS. Everyone knows it needs to change. Your thinking is wrong. Period.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By WeaselITB on 12/17/2013 4:51:26 PM , Rating: 3
Let's use melgross' previous example of the film industry. Someone patents "capturing an existing scene using a lens and light-sensitive material" and, under your scheme, are now the only people ("in the world/US" depending upon treaties and the like) that can make film of any sort.

HOW is that better than what's currently in place? That seems stupendously worse!


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Belegost on 12/17/2013 6:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
More to the point if granted with that broad wording it would also cover digital imaging, and eyeballs...


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 8:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
Except that it isn't.

Anyone can make film. They can even make their own little improvements here and there. But only the original person who patented the actual film itself owns a patent. And they can have license fees until the patent period ends, at which point it's wide open.

...which, at the same time, patent periods need to get cut way down too.

The difference would be when someone invents a way to write photos digitally to solid state memory for example. THAT would be a novel invention. Tweaking the individual processing or properties of film one way or another is totally derivative.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 7:31:06 PM , Rating: 3
Perfect? What a nutty thing to say. Nothing is perfect. But what you propose would be far worse.

The problem the patent system has is far too little money for the Office in charge of investigating those patent proposals. There are not enough examiners, so bad patents slip through. What we need is to increase that Office's budget. It's been estimated that at least another 750 examiners are needed, and more in the future.

Most of the problems are ones of process, not theory.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Reclaimer77 on 12/17/2013 9:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What we need is to increase that Office's budget.


Yeah cause doubling down on Government waste and incompetence has been working out so well for us...

I can't believe so many mouth-breathers are fighting Motoman over this. His logic is undeniable.

If this MS vs Motorola example doesn't highlight everything wrong with software patents and our current system, nothing will. Find a brick, and bash yourself in the head with it to kickstart the grey matter maybe.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/17/2013 10:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
A pretty good read that helps explain the absurdity of most software patents.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2013/07/22.htm...


By ResStellarum on 12/18/2013 9:13:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Because the title explaining the intent of the patent is what is being litigated rather than the content containing the method of implementation... </sarcasm>

I think what Motoman was trying to say, and something I agree with, is that in the current patent system (US), if someone applies for non-unique process governing a new class of devices, for instance mobile, most of the time the USPO will grant it. That's clearly wrong and leads to duplication everywhere. Meaning, even established ideas can't be used in new devices without first securing patent agreements.

Microsoft is one of the worst culprits of these kinds of patents. It leads to poor quality, overly broad and impossible to circumvent patents.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By retrospooty on 12/17/2013 4:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, this is the same as the old Palm Pilot's used to do. The only difference is now its on a phone over the internet.

The correct answer should have been "Patent denied" when MS submitted it.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By melgross on 12/17/2013 7:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
We can assume you read the entire patent in question and understand all the details?


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 8:05:12 PM , Rating: 2
Just shut the hell up. We all know precisely how the patent system works now.

Everyone except you is painfully aware that it's BS.

You are the perfect example of an old botany class joke - "you can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think."


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By troysavary on 12/17/2013 8:26:26 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, everyone is explaining why you are wrong. If patents worked the way you describe, then no one could develop an alternate way of doing something without infringing on the patent. It isn't the idea that is patented. It is the method of implementing that idea. Google doesn't give a shit about anyone else's IP, and everyone except Motorolla who uses Android recognises that and has licensed the patents. If there was nothing to Microsoft patents that they claim are being violated patents, why did Samsung and others not fight when presented with the claim?

Google steals IP. That has been shown many times. Whether it is stealing software patents with Android, or stealing copyrighted material with their cataloging of books, Google are thieves. When they stole from Microsoft, they made the mistake of stealing from someone with the money to successfully take legal action. Unlike the authors whose books Google stole, who couldn't do much about it.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By ResStellarum on 12/18/2013 9:31:17 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
If patents worked the way you describe, then no one could develop an alternate way of doing something without infringing on the patent.

For some overly broad patents it is. As things currently stand in mobile, developing software is a minefield, where only those with troves of patents can defend themselves, or in Microsoft's case use extortion tactics to raise the effective price of competitors products in order to make their own more appealing.

quote:
It isn't the idea that is patented. It is the method of implementing that idea

Again, if the method of doing said idea is broad enough (which many patents are), then it's virtually impossible to circumvent it.

quote:
Google doesn't give a shit about anyone else's IP

It has nothing to do with whether Google respects IP or not, the fact is you can't develop mobile software without stepping on someone else's patents no matter who you are, including Microsoft, Apple, etc, who have all been sued over patents. Claiming that Google is somehow stealing other people's property is ridiculous when there are patents so broad in existence.

quote:
and everyone except Motorolla who uses Android recognises that and has licensed the patents

That's manifestly untrue, and a lie Microsoft and its fanboys like to propagate. Sony, LG, and Motorolla don't licence Microsoft's dubious horde of patents. Like the FAT one which was just invalidated in Germany due to prior art. In fact, many of Microsoft's supposed IP turns out to be invalid.

quote:
f there was nothing to Microsoft patents that they claim are being violated patents, why did Samsung and others not fight when presented with the claim?

Because fighting patent suits is expensive and risky as the Apple trial proved. If you get a bad clueless jury and bad directions from the judge, it can be disastrous.

quote:
Google steals IP.

And Microsoft steals IP. What's your MS fanboy response to that?


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By troysavary on 12/18/2013 5:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
It is wrong when MS does it too. You mistake me for someone like reclaimer77, who is so emotionally invested in one company he cannot admit when they are wrong. MS has done its' fair share of bullying other companies and taking advantage of their dominant OS position.

But MS generally pays for IP though. They do not make it corporate policy to steal. Google does. Google's business model revolves around monetizing what belongs to others. They are one of the sleaziest companies in existence. They have been sued by authors, news agencies, artist, hell, practically any creative or information based venture you can think of. They are under the impression that the world's data belongs to them to do with as they see fit. They defiantly circumvents copyright laws, privacy laws, and patents.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/18/2013 8:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They do not make it corporate policy to steal. Google does. Google's business model revolves around monetizing what belongs to others. They are one of the sleaziest companies in existence.


The ignorance you display here is just amazing. Do you see me saying this kind of nonsense about Microsoft, or even Apple? Hell no.

So please, you no longer have the right to label or judge others after making such ridiculously unfounded and biased statements. You're more "emotionally invested" by far...

You are trolling, plain and simple.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By bsd228 on 12/18/2013 8:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But MS generally pays for IP though. They do not make it corporate policy to steal. Google does. Google's business model revolves around monetizing what belongs to others.


I guess you have a blind spot in your memory on the subject of Stac. Total theft, and put them out of business. Sure, they paid money at the end of litigation, but the fatal blow was already delivered.

And of course we have their history of 'embrace and expand' which is fair to call theft of open source.

These days MS is a stakedown artist, threatening Andoid manufacturers into paying protection money.


RE: And herein lies the problem...
By Reflex on 12/17/2013 8:33:06 PM , Rating: 1
You demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of how patents work. You proposed an alternative, based on that false understanding, that would be far worse and would essentially block all innovation for years, if not decades. Then when people, who also believe in some level of patent reform mind you, pointed out that you were misunderstanding the problem, you asserted that you understand patents(demonstrably false)and resorted to insults.

Brilliant.


By troysavary on 12/18/2013 6:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The patent office has flaws, but motorman and reclaimer77 do not understand what those flaws are. The biggest issue with the patent system today is that patents are granted too easily and for too broad an application. The solution proposed by motorman actually makes the problem worse. He proposes patenting the idea, not the method, which is even broader than what we now have.

A company should not be able to patent an idea for something that might possibly be done without actually building something using that patent. Right now, it seems that people can patent things they have absolutely no ability to build. I think that in order for a patent to be valid, the patent applicant must be able to show that they are at least working on developing the idea.


I wonder..
By Captain Awesome on 12/17/2013 3:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder who will register "Patent No. 13,310,666, titled “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device, which is plugged in."




RE: I wonder..
By Motoman on 12/17/2013 3:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
Patent No. 13,310,667 - and is also black and vaguely rectangular


RE: I wonder..
By BifurcatedBoat on 12/17/2013 4:00:35 PM , Rating: 3
Seriously, does anyone hold that patent for smartwatches yet?

If not, hurry up and get your application in quick.


Stupid patents
By Nyu on 12/17/2013 3:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
So when are we being sued for breathing?




RE: Stupid patents
By Captain Awesome on 12/17/2013 3:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
Better call Saul...


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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