Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Patents The Courts XBox (Games) Games

ITC Investigates Xbox 360 After Motorola Complaint 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the papers-please dept.
FlorianMueller writes "The US International Trade Commission, which is increasingly popular as a patent enforcement agency, voted to investigate a complaint filed by Motorola against Microsoft last month. Motorola claims that the Xbox infringes five of its patents. In October, Microsoft complained against Motorola, alleging patent infringement by its Android-based smartphones. Apple, Nokia and HTC are also involved with ITC investigations as complainants and respondents. A new one-page overview document shows the ongoing ITC investigations related to smartphones and the products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market. The good news is that any import bans won't be ordered until long after Christmas. The ITC is faster than courts, but not that fast."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

ITC Investigates Xbox 360 After Motorola Complaint

Comments Filter:
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @03:49AM (#34639030)

    While patents, on the one hand, provide a measured amount of protection against aggressive and litigious competitors, they are only useful in bulk. This leaves many little guys hamstrung and at the whim of big guys like Motorola and Microsoft. Here we see to goliaths go at each other, and it's interesting because both sides have deep patent portfolios that they can wield against each other. The ultimate solution will be some sort of cross licensing deal, no doubt.

    But for the little guy, a company like Microsoft can extinguish in short order due to a limited amount of leverage. Where Moto can respond with a set of infringed patents, the little guy won't have that type of MAD defensive position. As a result, the big guys get bigger, and the little guys get snuffed, and the consumers get screwed.

    Patents were meant to foster competition and promote a plethora of ideas. It has not done that at all in the software sphere. Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole software patent system.

    • by grantek (979387) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:14AM (#34639136)

      Part of the problem is that one patented idea/process/implementation isn't enough to do anything in today's world - a system like a game console or smartphone is built on thousands of patentable components.

      • That's why a patent should be for a finished product and not the components and processes used to make it. Patents exist to ensure the inventor can make a profit off his invention... they should not exist to lock away a device in perpetuity so that only some giant conglomerate that bought the patent 3rd hand can milk future inventors of their profits. The current patent system works to retard progress, not promote it. All patents should be for an actual working device and should last no more than 10 years.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

          When you say "finished product" are you precluding the possibility of inventing a useful component that could be used in many different applications? Let's say you invented a new kind of drain stopper that only makes sense used in tandem with existing drains. Surely, you would want to assign patent rights to the inventor of the new drain stopper even though his invention isn't a complete device but rather a part of a larger device.

          • by delinear (991444)
            Indeed - alternatively, if "finished product" means any product which, in its end state, does something different to any other patentable product, I could just take an XBOX, build in a cooling system that's better than the stock fan and patent that as a new "finished product", despite the fact that I invented neither the cooling system nor the console, just the means of putting them together. I think we're stuck with a system very like what we already have, but it's clear the current system is badly hamperi
          • If you aren't selling it, you can't patent it. Again, the purpose of the patent is to ensure the inventor can make a profit off of his invention. If you invent a drain stopper, and invent a sink, but only sell them as a single unit then no, you can't patent the drain stopper. Someone else is free to copy your stopper design and use it in their patentable product. Don't like it? Too bad. We can't blanket the globe in patents and expect society to continue to be inventive.
        • There are lots of "finished products" that go into an XBox360 (or any computer) - thats what components are, someone-elses finished product.
        • by DarkOx (621550)

          So you don't think a patent should have been awarded for something like a transistor?

        • by WorBlux (1751716)
          Or reduce the patent lifetime considerably, instead of extending it. Two or three years should be plenty or even better one year past the first sale, or five years after the filing date.. The original span of 14 years was enough time to start production, for which you needed to train a set of mechanics 7 years to get a working prototype, and then another 7 years to train the final assemblers. Today it's unusual for a production cycle to be longer than 18 months.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        It's built by Thousands of "should not be patented" components.

        Honestly, If I buy your company's chips to make a product, YOU CANT SUE ME FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT FOR USING YOUR PRODUCT!

        Patent law ,like copyright law has gone spiraling out of control to the point that it's all useless bullshit designed to do nothing but provide extortion leverage against your competition.

        Three is NOTHING in the Xbox360 that violates a Motorola patent. Just like how there is NOTHING in a Android phone that violates a MSFT p

    • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:52AM (#34639234)

      Patents exist to motivate inventors to invent, and then to put the inventions into the public domain after a due period.

      Would any of these companies have decided not to develop their phones, and hence do the R&D that led to these patents, if there had been no patent system? I very much doubt it. And the fact that the other companies are, allegedly, infringing means that the first inventor has not been able to keep it secret - or, as is often the case, the idea was "in the air" as a result of the way the industry was developing.

      The patent system is severely broken for the IT industry as it now is. For the industry as a whole, it is a zero sum game: no R&D is being done because the developer hopes to profit from license fees. On the contrary, it is a burden because to the time and effort filing patents, the effort of working around other people's patents, and the cost of fighting patent wars or negotiating patent armistices. Of course, interested parties (patent lawyers, including trolls, and the Patent Offices, insist that it is invaluable. But show me an engineer who would not like the whole thing swept away. (I speak only for the IT industry, though I think it apples much more widely).

      • by bmcraec (1957382)
        You've pointed out a real problem with the obsolescence of both monetary systems and the rules that govern them, as well as the legal system that is used to achieve balance. This is a bit like Galileo and the Roman Inquisition; "Never mind about he proofs and that mumbo-jmbo we don;t understand! We're the power, and you'll do as we say! Or Else!" The hamstringing of real creativity is the business constraints. I have no idea what could make the paradigm shift here, but clearly with the large number of varia
    • by sosume (680416)

      The issue in rethinking the software patent system is that the big companies have invested insane amounts of money in their patent portfolios and have projected income on these portfolios for the coming years. Their shareholders certainly won't agree with invalidating software patents.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:50AM (#34639482) Journal

        There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

        Robert A Heinlein, Life-Line, 1939.

        • by bmcraec (1957382)
          Holy Crap! I thought I KNEW my Heinlein! I swear I heard that on Jesse Brown's SearchEngine podcast in the last week or so.
    • Look at how much time and money big companies have been sinking into patent litigation lately? Their intention is to lock out big companies out of markets, but they just result in a counter attack. Eventually someone settles, and the lawyers are sent home with nothing to show for it.

      I feel like we're on the brink of some sort of patent reform, once the big companies realize that the system is no longer beneficial to them.

      As for the little guy, nobody cares about the little guy. politicians might talk about

  • Well (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Chrisq (894406)
    Well I don't like these ridiculous patent claims, but seeing Microsoft as a victim makes it worthwhile
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) *
      This is what happens when you sue Motorola over Cellular phone software patents. Motorola invented, among other things, the Cellular phone. They have tens of thousands of patents in real hardware. They haven't been playing this game because they're civilized and gracious. But if you're going to get that stupid, they're ready to take you to school. In the end this is going to rank in the top ten of the dumbest things Microsoft has ever done - probably above acquiring Danger, Inc.
      • Motorola invented, among other things, the Cellular phone.

        To clarify, they "invented" ("engineered" would be more apt here, IMO) the first handheld cellphone. Heavier systems which used the same cell technology were in use long before that.

    • Well I don't like these ridiculous patent claims, but seeing Microsoft as a victim makes it worthwhile

      No, it doesn't.

  • So, is Motorola suing because the xbox uses upnp/dlna, wmv-vp9, and RDP for the media extender control channel? I don't get it...
    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah not to mention thanks to MSFT forming a patent bloc [slashdot.org] with Apple AND Oracle, plus those 882 patents [slashdot.org] from Novell MSFT will in all likelihood run over Motorola like a Mac truck. Sure Motorola has been in the game for quite awhile, But Novell wrote the book when it comes to networking and what device that Motorola manufacturers today DOESN'T use networking?

      So if Motorola is smart they'll be looking to settle this, and quick. MSFT can afford to drag things on for years, the patents owned by the bloc with A

      • More likely they'll just settle out of court, pay cash to one another, kiss, and that's the end. I doubt we'll see a battle between M and MS.

      • by sgtrock (191182)

        Sure Motorola has been in the game for quite awhile, But Novell wrote the book when it comes to networking and what device that Motorola manufacturers today DOESN'T use networking?

        Seen many IPX/SPX networks around lately? No? I thought not.

        The facts are that (a) Novell came late to the networking game (TCP/IP, Banyan Vines, NetBEUI, SNA, X.25, and others predate Novell's offering) and (b) lost the networking battle about 20 years ago. Therefore, any networking patents that Novell has or had are probably

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Novell came and went in the low end small lan arena...

        TCP/IP came first, and has outlived IPX/SPX, novell was only used in small companies that wanted to network together dos and early windows machines on a small scale. Unix, VMS and mainframe systems were being networked together long before novell ever introduced networking to the lowest end microcomputers.

        • by rubies (962985)

          Eh?

          At the time Netware was popular, half the offices in the world still had serial ports on the wall for a terminal. Networking was for big iron. Novell had some massive installations (and others too, 3Com comes to mind with it's XNS based stuff that eventuall became Lan Manager). We're talking tens of thousands of employees in a single setup, not just lawyers offices with two guys and a secretary.

          Netware could have been a contender but it smelled too proprietary in an era when "Open" was the catch cry.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            But what you and the other posters seem to be missing is the horrible vagueness of the average patent given out by the USPTO. It doesn't matter if the patent originally related to IPX, or TCP/IP, because the USPTO probably gave them a patent for "putting data in a frame and relaying it over a wired or wireless medium" or some other equally vague BS.

            Think about it THIS way: Do you REALLY think MSFT would have shelled out all that $$$ for patents that only related to a dead protocol or other useless tech li

  • Can I have some money please? Promise I'll split it with you ITC.
    With all the trouble they cause we should call them Stupid phones.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The constitutional justifcation for patents is the line "[Congress is empowered] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    ...products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market.

    I can't help thinking this is not how patent law should be used.

    It would be nice if a lot of this could be struck down on grounds of constitutionality, or on
    • by Quila (201335)

      "products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market."

      Quite simply, if those products infringe on your "exclusive right" they you can ask that they be made to stop infringing. The simplest and most immediate way is to prevent their sale.

      If you can't stop infringement then the "exclusive right" is pretty much useless.

  • Should I support patents & oppose Microsoft?
    Or should I support Microsoft & oppose patents?

  • Or: How companies fight like petulant little children. With hair pulling.
  • To me it seems more and more like these companies with their huge patent pools are bored and now play a game against each other.
    company1: "Hey company2, I hold a patent vaguely describing what you do with product X"
    company2: "Hey company1, I have two patents even more vaguely describing what you do with product Y"
    company3: "Hey both of you, I hold ten patents that you both infringe on"
    company1: "Oh yeah, well guess what, I have twelve other patents, that ..."
    ...Ad infinitum...
    It's getting ridiculus...
    • Re:Patent Chess (Score:4, Interesting)

      by imthesponge (621107) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @08:16AM (#34640188)
      It's really not possible to "invent" anything anymore as an individual. You'll inevitably violate some company's patent. You need your own war chest of patents to defend yourself.
      • "Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size." - 1159 A.C.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        not true. I've done it, people I know have done it. You just aren't capable so you assume it's impossible.

        • Well yes it is possible to invent things, but good luck selling them without being sued into oblivion. That's why you need to be working for someone.
      • by exomondo (1725132)

        It's really not possible to "invent" anything anymore as an individual. You'll inevitably violate some company's patent. You need your own war chest of patents to defend yourself.

        What do you mean by 'as an individual'? Because I'm still seeing plenty of startups - that don't have large patent portfolios - succeeding.

    • Microsoft: Pawn takes Pawn
      Motorola: Hey that's illegal
      Apple: it's called en passant...
      Oracle: You sunk my battleship!

  • Here's what I think.

    The big Corps don't actually like patents anymore. So some of them, mainly hardware/software makers, figure out if they start suing each other, and putting in patents for blatenly obvious stuff, that sooner or later the gov will stop sucking the MIAA & RIAA's dick long enough to invalidate all patents.

    Or at least, that's my spin on some obvious greedy corporations.

    • Much as I'd like to believe you're right, you should never underestimate the power of the literal interpretation.

      I, for one, have a hard time believing that fundamentalists actually believe in a 6000 year old Earth (and most of the rest of it). Surely, they must just think that 'people are inherently selfish and they need our stories to keep them in line'. And that could be true of some of 'em. But unless they come clean, it's impossible to know. May as well deal with them as though they mean what they

  • If you want an idea of how little R&D spending is, you only need to look at medicine where you would think that R&D costs would be huge and they would want to protect their work fearsly. You might be surprised to know that R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more of the sales of drugs. It is urban legend that medicine companies spend huge portions of their budgets on R&D, they simply don't. You should also realize t

    • When you are only fixing the problem at hand, there is no way you will come up with something so unique that no one else will think of it. Sorry, but if your trying to solve a problem I can guarantee you someone else out there is trying to solve the same problem and is going to come up with basically the same thing as you do.

      Well, damn, that's just great. So, If I want to create innovative ideas, I have to work on stuff that doesn't fix any known problems or else others will be working on the same problem, and come up with the same obvious "inventions". Yeah, and these "innovations" are by definition not going to help our civilization in any meaningful way...

      Look, with patents on the book such as "Method for swinging on a swing -- sideways", I think you totally misunderstand the patent system. It's about patenting something

    • by geekoid (135745)

      " R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. "

      False.

      "The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more "
      not on new drugs. older drugs that aren't patents see 50% of their total costs in marketing. That's because the cost of manufacturing has dropped for the drug, and the RnD costs have been depreciated. It's harder to make money froma drug with an expired patent, that's why they have a larger push.

      They money the companies get from the government, for the vast large part, is so

      • by WorBlux (1751716)

        " R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. "

        False.

        "The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more " not on new drugs. older drugs that aren't patents see 50% of their total costs in marketing. That's because the cost of manufacturing has dropped for the drug, and the RnD costs have been depreciated. It's harder to make money froma drug with an expired patent, that's why they have a larger push.

        They money the companies get from the government, for the vast large part, is so they will produce drugs they make little to know money producing, like vaccines.

        The RnD for Drugs and the RnD for 'tech' is vastly different. It's far FAR more expensive for drug companies. The exception being that medical devices are about the same in RnD has Drugs. When was the last time a mp3 manufacture had to have the plays go through a series of animal test? Develop a new molecule?.

        And software RnD is DIRT CHEAP compared to any other RnD.

        All RnD is NOT tax deductible.

        Regulatory approval can constitute up to 80% of the cost of bringing a drug to market. Drug companies are a little weird because they aren't just drug companies, but drug effectiveness research companies. This creates a huge conflict of interest. The same people who want to sell the drugs are the same people designing the studies to try to prove that they work. The solution is to find a way to separate the two. Have insurance companies and doctors or a separate agency be responsible for making sure that dru

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      If you want an idea of how little R&D spending is, you only need to look at medicine

      Why would you look there and infer numbers for the tech industry - which is the context of this discussion - instead of just looking at the tech industry itself? In the tech sector the average spend is around 12-15% [wikinvest.com] of total revenue, so as a percentage of their costs it is generally significantly higher.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

Working...