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Kodak vs. Sun Java Trial Date Set 152

Posted by Hemos
from the stone-in-the-shoe dept.
sirshannon writes "CNET News.com.com.com.com is reporting that the Kodak vs. Sun trial date has been set for September 15. Kodak claims that Java infringes on 3 patents they hold and have been trying to "resolve" the issue for 4 years or so. More info here."
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Kodak vs. Sun Java Trial Date Set

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  • This is so sad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phunster (701222) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:27AM (#9093667)
    These are two companies on the ropes. One of them has decided that litigation is a viable survival strategy. Say what you will about either of these companies, this litigation is not a good thing for either of them.
  • Same old same old... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inphinity (681284) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:30AM (#9093689) Homepage
    From the patent text: "Multitasking computer system for integrating the operation of different application programs which manipulate data objects of different types"

    Is it me, or does this summary feel suspiciously like every other programming language ever written? It seems to me that core concepts fundamental to any language shouldn't be a valid basis for IP...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:33AM (#9093713)
    ... their position on Patent on Java. That's why maybe some tought "ok, let sue them" ;-)

    Ok, some offtopic now, i saw on /. some dumb things opensource & Java. As a reminder, thanks to Apach Group you have no more (!!) limitation build a opensource version complient with the spec.

    See for instance a "nice" reference in the Tiger specification (upcoming J2SE1.5)

    http://www.jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=176

    4.1 This section contains any additional information that the submitting Member wishes to include in the JSR.

    Sun plans to adhere to the proposed new JSPA licensing model for this JSR, including allowing independent implementations, licensing the TCK separately from the RI, minimizing shared code, and licensing any remaining shared code (such as the verifier) on simple non-restrictive licensing terms. In addition Sun plans to make it easier for academic and non-profit groups to obtain access to the RI and TCKs.

    So why is GNU's classpath still lagging ? anybody at FSF care about the advantage this could bring to OSS comunity ? Think of it Mr RMS ;-)

    Let's get GNU's Classpath full Java complient !!!

    This is not at all trollish in mind, it is just something i warn people that is now possible, and whatever Sun is willing to do in the future they can no more do anything about that ;-)

    Of course some people, said that the RI should be OSed (cf. the last ran between Sun & IBM couple of days ago). I agree if it is a GPL, but if is a less viral license then the risk of seen MS take advantage of this to weaken the platform is high.

    Meanwhile, why wait from Sun, when we can get our own ;-)
  • The patents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pranjal (624521) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:35AM (#9093724)

    The patents deal with objects and the way objects can be manipulated in a computer. Basically it deals with object oriented programming. Now someone tell me that OOPS is not patented a technology and we don't have to pay a royalty everytime we write a program using the OOPS paradigm.

    So the question is what ramifications do these software patents have for the programming world as a whole? And why is Kodak targetting only Java and therefore Sun. Why not C++ or other OOPS languages?

  • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:52AM (#9093816) Homepage
    the legal action maybe for something in the decision of Sun to not release Java to the open source community.

    I may be totally wrong, but this kind of action altought not directly profitable to the suer, may accomplish other goals, read FUD.

  • Re:This is so sad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:53AM (#9093820) Homepage
    Kodak's not just on the ropes - it's practically on the floor having seriously missed the digital photography boat after PhotoCD went nowhere. This isn't the only patent case that Kodak is involved in at the moment either. There is an ongoing spat with Sony over patent violations as well where both companies have issued suits against the other about infringements pertaining to digital cameras and related technologies. In addition Kodak has been named as one of 31 defendents in a case over the use of a JPEG related patent that Forgent claims to own.

    As usual, I'm betting on the lawyers being the only winners while the companies themselves suffer death by a thousand paper cuts from all of the legal documents...

  • Re:This is so sad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by njcoder (657816) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:58AM (#9093840)
    Just wonder why you say this. The other day I was just curious about Sun's lawsuits and did a few searches. The majority of any Sun info I found were related to their Microsoft trials. Those were all contract and anti trust trials. Not patent trials. I don't think it was bad of sun to spend the time and money to help label MS as a monopoly and point out their anti-competitive practices. They've put a lot of companies out of business and it's good that Sun stood up to them. It's a shame people never recognized that what Sun was fighting for benefitted many independant software companies, not just sun. Maybe if they received that kind of support they never would have settled.

    If it is the MS trials you are reffering too, you obviously have your head shoved up way to far up your MCSE ass.

    There were some trademark related ones, or threats of, over Java. They were just enforcing the fact that people can't call something Java or 100% Java compatible unless it's been tested as such. This is a good thing for the developer community that needs to rely on the claims of something being 100% pure java.

    The only one I found regarding patents was related to Kingston which Sun later dropped. A stupid decision to start the suit in my opinion.

    You want to talk about big patent lawsuits you're looking at the wrong tech company identified by three letters. Even MS is taking big blue's cue and building a patent portfolio to start raising revenue.

    Read this interesting bit on how IBM tried to bully Sun out of $10 million in it's early days." [forbes.com]

    My own introduction to the realities of the patent system came in the 1980s, when my client, Sun Microsystems--then a small company--was accused by IBM of patent infringement. Threatening a massive lawsuit, IBM demanded a meeting to present its claims. Fourteen IBM lawyers and their assistants, all clad in the requisite dark blue suits, crowded into the largest conference room Sun had.

    The chief blue suit orchestrated the presentation of the seven patents IBM claimed were infringed, the most prominent of which was IBM's notorious "fat lines" patent: To turn a thin line on a computer screen into a broad line, you go up and down an equal distance from the ends of the thin line and then connect the four points. You probably learned this technique for turning a line into a rectangle in seventh-grade geometry, and, doubtless, you believe it was devised by Euclid or some such 3,000-year-old thinker. Not according to the examiners of the USPTO, who awarded IBM a patent on the process.

    After IBM's presentation, our turn came. As the Big Blue crew looked on (without a flicker of emotion), my colleagues--all of whom had both engineering and law degrees--took to the whiteboard with markers, methodically illustrating, dissecting, and demolishing IBM's claims. We used phrases like: "You must be kidding," and "You ought to be ashamed." But the IBM team showed no emotion, save outright indifference. Confidently, we proclaimed our conclusion: Only one of the seven IBM patents would be deemed valid by a court, and no rational court would find that Sun's technology infringed even that one.

    An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?" After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list.

    In corporate America, this type of shakedown is repeated weekly. The patent as stimulant to invention has long since given way to the patent as blunt instrument for establishing an innovation stranglehold.

    Gary Reback

  • Re:Great. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:14AM (#9093952) Homepage Journal
    Just reading the first patent (5,206,951) it would appear that Kodak has a patent on Object Oriented software.

    The patent is sufficiently vague as to encompass so many things it probably covers RMI as well.

    But shouldn't a vague patent make it easier to find prior art?

    patent 5,421,012 seems unrelated, unless their trying to tie it in to J2EE application servers in some weird fashion.

    5,226,161 is just gettings stupid. Patenting "object managers" in any way shape or form is stupid.

    They are simply patenting object oriented elements of software. They can not succeed with this vague strategy for a few reasons. One, they do not have enough money to take on the whole software world. Two, their patents are so close to OOD that their must be tons of prior art.
  • Re:The patents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Too Much Noise (755847) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:19AM (#9093979) Journal
    Looking over the first patent it appears to be a library issue, not a compiler one. Unless I read it totally wrong, this could have even CORBA/COM as prior art. For example:
    • An object based data processing system including an extensible set of object types and a corresponding set of "object managers" wherein each object manager is a program for operating with the data stored in a corresponding type of object. The object managers in general support at least a standard set of operations. Looks a lot like interfaces 'operating on' implementations to me.
    • Any program can effect performance of these standard operations on objects of any type by making an "invocation" request. In response to an invocation request, object management services (which are available to all object managers) identifies and invokes an object manager that is suitable for performing the requested operation on the specified type of data. Can you spell factory class?
    • Data interchange services are provided for communicating data between objects of different types, using a set of standard data interchange formats. err ... marshalling?


    so ... what's innovative here?
  • In keeping form... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Roached (84015) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:25AM (#9094013)
    ...with the finest traditions of companies going down the toilet, Kodak has resorted to the "litigate to make a final buck" tactic.
  • by frankie_guasch (164676) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:55AM (#9094173)
    We europeans have luck because the European Parlament decided against software patents [eu.int]. Now this is in jeopardy.
    The patent officials in the Commission and Council are abusing the legislative process of the EU. Their convoluted and misleading Patent Newspeak, negotiated in intransparent backroom dealings, is an insult to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of Regions and the innumerable experts and concerned citizens who have engaged in serious investigations on this directive project. It is unacceptable that the Council is throwing away all their hard work without any substantial justification whatsoever.
    One to blame is the Irish Presidence, Sponsored by Microsoft [eu2004.ie].
    FFII [ffii.org] web site with more info about software patents.
    Soon there will be ellections for the European Parlament, take care of what you vote and if you have the ocasion, ask the politians about this issue.
  • Re:The patents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Too Much Noise (755847) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:57AM (#9094181) Journal
    well, the first patent at least is just a spec - there's no implementation attached (the filing has only 55 pages, including figures). Moreover, they use generic examples (folders, spreadsheets) about how to use the spec, not exact details (app spreadsheet101 does this and that using ObjectManager105). The bulk of the filing are function names and descriptions, field sizes and such. These are always part of the interface spec, including CORBA.

    and no, it's not Kodak that developed it - they just got the patents of a dying software company ^_^

  • Re:Kodak is Dumb. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treerex (743007) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @01:07PM (#9094523) Homepage

    This is the same kodak that is offshoring film production because they are unable to compete with Fuji Film.

    Offshoring is being done because it is cheaper. Period. Kodak has many problems, for sure, but film competition is not one of them any more. Their Portra line of professional films is outstanding: I certainly prefer them to Fuji's portrain films. Their black and white films and their chemicals are still some of the best.

    The biggest recent problem for Kodak has been the onset of Digital photography. This has hit all traditional film manufacturers: Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, Agfa...

    Fuji Film is made in the USA.

    Fuji Film for sale in the USA may be made in the USA. There are many types of Fuji film emulsions that are made and sold outside of the United States.

  • by servoled (174239) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @01:25PM (#9094650)
    Are you sure that is all this patent is about? If so, why not try looking at the claims and see what LISP covers.

    Here's a little exercize for you: Try comparing LISP with the independent claims word for word and see if they match. Also, don't assume anything about LISP that you can't prove. Go back and find some old user manuals from before August 21, 1987 and see if LISP actually meets all the limitations of the claim. I'm interested to know what you come up with.
  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @06:11PM (#9096370)
    Kodak could be raking in the dough from film sales for these old cameras.

    Kodak stopped making film for these cameras precisely because they weren't making money on them. Anybody using a bellows camera in the US with a format smaller than 4"x5" after about 1965 was in for a lot of ridicule. Instamatics were always regarded as junk by anybody doing even "advanced amateur" photography. (The Instamatic cartidge can't hold film in a dependable enough position to get reliably sharp pictures at wide lens apertures.) Once disposables became popular, the Instamatic format was doomed.

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