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Oracle Patents

Oracle Sues Lodsys For Patent Trolling 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the rocket-docket-reverse-course dept.
RWarrior(fobw) writes "PJ reports at Groklaw that Oracle has sued well-known patent troll Lodsys, asking for declaratory judgement in the Eastern District of Texas that Oracle and its customers don't need Lodsys licenses, and that Lodsys patents are invalid anyway. 'It seems that Lodsys has been going after Oracle customers, and they in turn have been asking Oracle to indemnify them. Lodsys, methinks, has made a mistake. One doesn't go after Oracle's money. No. No. Never a good plan. I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled, and all their expenses, legal fees, etc. when this is over.' PJ also points out that which companies are the good guys and which are the bad guys depends on which case you're looking at. "
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Oracle Sues Lodsys For Patent Trolling

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  • confused (Score:5, Funny)

    by dmitrygr (736758) <dmitrygr@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @02:57PM (#40223097) Homepage
    Whom do I cheer for now?
    • Re:confused (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:00PM (#40223151)

      The lawyers. If you're going to cheer for someone, you might as well cheer for the guys who you know always wins.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Freddy vs. Jason... Alien vs. Predator... Godzilla vs. King Kong...

      Humanity is always screwed.

    • Re:confused (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:13PM (#40223383)

      Whom do I cheer for now?

      That's easy: neither.

      Oracle is an evil company suing another evil company, but neither one is the good guy. Oracle's interests just happen to align with The Right Thing to Do on this occasion, so they are on the side of good by pure coincidence.

      Don't cheer for Oracle, but cheer for the good thing Oracle just happens to be doing at this fleeting moment in time, for Oracle will still be evil at the next earliest opportunity.

      • Re:confused (Score:5, Funny)

        by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:36PM (#40223717) Journal
        So, ideally, they engage in a long and drawn out battle that culminates in their mutual annihilation?
        • Re:confused (Score:5, Insightful)

          by reve_etrange (2377702) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @04:34PM (#40224679)
          Ideally, the battle also results in a precedent that weakens patent protection for algorithms.
          • by rsborg (111459)

            I had to reply to undo misapplied moderation, but this is indeed the desired outcome.

            The endgame of business-method or software patent wars and non-state players (ie, NPEs aka trolls) and the "invention" of submarine patents really undermines any sort of "peace"... either we devolve into patent-based feudalism or the whole system becomes needs to be re-formed so we can "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".

        • Unfortunately, it's likely there will be lots of collateral damage amongst those of us caught in the crossfire.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Can't I just boycott all of them?
        Goodbye to:
        - Lodsys
        - Oracle
        - Microsoft
        - Apple
        - Google (except youtube)
        - GM
        - Toyota
        - Comcast
        - Syfy
        - .....

        • I noticed you mentioned Comcast. You can't really boycott both the cable company and the phone company without losing Internet access entirely, and a lot of people aren't willing to move to another city just to live within the last mile service area of an ISP that isn't the boycott target of the week.

          I noticed you mentioned Microsoft, Apple, and Google. What other company makes pocket computers (or operating systems for pocket computers) that are sold in the United States?

          • by St.Creed (853824)

            I noticed you mentioned Microsoft, Apple, and Google. What other company makes pocket computers (or operating systems for pocket computers) that are sold in the United States?

            RIM :)

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              He said pocket computers, not something that pretends to be one. BBOS10 may fix that

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            a lot of people aren't willing to move to another city just to live within the last mile service area of an ISP that isn't the boycott target of the week.

            You act like Comcast hasn't been hated and reviled for many years now. I've been using Cox Cable for many years, and while they're obviously not saints, I've never had all the problems I've heard of with Comcrap. It's one of the few things I really appreciate about living where I do, and I do worry that when I move somewhere else, I'll get stuck with a

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>You can't really boycott both the cable company and the phone company without losing Internet access entirely,

            I don't have a problem with Verizon. The DSL rarely goes down, the phone never does, and the price is cheap ($15). BUT if I had a problem I would attend the county government meeting & ask them to repeal the monopoly given to Comcast or Verizon, and explain to the politicians how Choice is better for the customer.

      • It's like Hitler vs. Stalin. You don't really want to root for either, you just hope somehow it ends with fewer genocides.
      • I guess cheer for the lawyers. They seem to be the only ones doing good in these situations.

        • by tattood (855883)

          I guess cheer for the lawyers. They seem to be the only ones doing good in these situations.

          They seem to be the only ones doing well in these situations.

          FTFY. Lawyers never do anything good.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            That's not true. Once in a while, they actually do something good, like when they get some evil company punished for dumping chemicals in peoples' water or something like that. The problem is that it's so ridiculously rare, and only a very tiny percentage of lawyers actually try to do anything good like that (usually, the do-gooding work like going after evil companies doesn't pay very well).

          • OK then.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        "Evil" isn't a binary state. Oracle is evil, but patent trolls are pure evil, so it makes sense to root for the lesser evil here, though of course the best outcome is either mutual destruction or better yet, as another poster pointed out, a legal precedent that weakens IP protections so we don't have so much of this crap.

      • Lois: It doesn't have to end this way.

        Diane: Oh but it does.

        Lois winces, waiting.

        BLAM!

        Diane falls into the ocean.

        Lois, looking aound: Hello? Whoever you are, thank you.

        Camera pulls back and zoms in on a smoking barrel. Pulls back and...

        Stewie: If anyone's going to take that bitch out, it's going to be me.

      • by ais523 (1172701)
        Oracle may be evil, but they're lawful evil. So they'll end up helping other people out if it's also in their own interests.
      • The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy.

        No more. No less.

      • So... praise the sin and not the sinner? ;)

    • Re:confused (Score:4, Funny)

      by NotBorg (829820) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:28PM (#40223593)

      Whom do I cheer for now?

      You don't have to cheer at all. You can simply resort to booing, which is just as fun and you get to throw things!

      • by idontgno (624372)

        And you don't have to aim at one side or the other. They're both legitimate targets!

        For my own part, I hope Lodsys manages to at least tire Oracle out a little, and maybe draw a small amount of blood, before being squashed into troll paste. Actually hurting elephantine Oracle is a task beyond any besides maybe Oracle itself (witness Oracle v. Google), but giving Oracle scars it will remember on a cold winter's night would be a worthy goal.

      • Easy there Steve, put down the chair. You'll get your chance soon enough!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Whom do I cheer for now?

      If Oracle wins this case, the precedent will hurt their ability to patent troll in the future too, so...as painful as this is...cheer for Oracle.

    • 2 & 3 makes 1 redundant.

    • Mutual annihilation would be nice.
    • ORACLE (One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison) occasionally makes actual products that people can use to get stuff done. The other guys are just pure parasites, they produce nothing except lawsuits.

      And see the previous answers about legal precedent and imaginary property.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Whoever has the most girls in bikinis.

    • It's OK, you can still hate Oracle. They probably want to go after Lodsys because they want Oracle DB to pop up messages along the lines of "You've just gone over your licensed quota of data. Please enter a credit card to expand your licensed database size by 1G".

      IIRC Lodsys was suing over in-app purchases, so Oracle are just a Lodsys lawsuit away from doing that...

  • by ilikenwf (1139495) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @02:57PM (#40223101)
    I mean, Oracle did just basically lose a huge patent troll case over a freely available API implementation...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:07PM (#40223263)

      I'm glad they lost, but when I think patent trolling, I usually think of a bogus shell company that hasn't actually created anything. They're just paper companies dumping cash into legal action to turn a profit, designed to shield the players behind it from any kind of retribution.

      So it might be a bit of a stretch, but at least I'll give Oracle some credit on for doing what they were convinced was legitimate protection of their own work... even if it was a shitty thing to do and failed miserably.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:12PM (#40223355) Journal
        Given that their 'APIs are intrinsically copyrighted, even if implementations are entirely distinct' theory was both novel and potentially wildly dangerous to the entire software industry, I say fuck 'em.
      • by ilikenwf (1139495)
        Yes, that's traditional patent trolling, but on the other hand, to take something that your company and the ones before it had freely granted people to use in an effort to shut out and shut down competitors - is that not quite trollish as well?
        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @05:30PM (#40225485)

          It's certainly bad behavior, but it's very distinct from patent trolls. The entire business case for patent trolls is to get a patent on some obvious BS, written in a nebulous way that it'll certainly apply to upcoming work (I hesitate to use the word "inventions" here), and then when that technological development comes into widespread use, sue. It's just like how mythical trolls under bridges demand payment from passers-by even though the troll isn't providing any service at all; the patent troll doesn't actually do anything useful; their patent isn't even useful, it's so vague and nebulous and doesn't have any details to actually describe how to do anything.

          Oracle with their Google/Java case was a little different. They actually provided a useful product, Java, and were mad that Google made their own work-alike version of Java and made a lot of money with it, without paying them anything for it. It would be a lot like some Linux distro including WINE, somehow improving WINE greatly so that it actually works well with ALL Windows software, and then selling computers with this new Linux/WINE distro as a fully-compatible replacement for Windows, and becoming wildly successful, and then MS suing because WINE uses Windows APIs, even though everything underneath is totally different and there's no code copied from Windows OS.

      • Well, this is a semantic argument.

        The fact is that Oracle was trying to clobber competitors with the "Intellectual Property" card. This time it happened to be a company that has made something in the past. It's just a matter of degree from an outfit like Technicolor [gizmodo.com] which made stuff in the past but is now a full fledged patent troll by any definition. If Oracle stops producing stuff and does the same thing then they'll be a patent troll too.

        • by Alan Shutko (5101)

          The fact is that Oracle was trying to clobber competitors with the "Intellectual Property" card.

          Yes, that is the precise reason for intellectual property. What's your point?

      • by Kergan (780543)

        I'm glad they lost, but when I think patent trolling, I usually think of a bogus shell company that hasn't actually created anything. They're just paper companies dumping cash into legal action to turn a profit, designed to shield the players behind it from any kind of retribution.

        Doesn't that description fit Oracle nicely, when it comes to their suit vs Google? Not saying Google did anything right, but, best I'm aware, Oracle primarily purchased Sun for the potential to sue over Java-related patents. Their attorneys were reportedly drooling all over the patent portfolio.

    • In the words of Daniel Tosh...I'm choking on irony.
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @04:10PM (#40224305)

      The Oracle vs. Google case was not about patent trolling, that was about Oracle trying to get money from Google any possible way they could. It turns out that they couldn't, but you can't really blame them for trying (it's their nature). That is distinct from a patent troll, where they go and acquire patents specifically for the sole purpose of extorting other companies. Oracle at least makes legitimate revenue doing legitimate engineering work.

      I believe that case wasn't even about patents though, it was about copyright.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Yeah, except saying API's are copyrightable is about as far from legitimate engineering work as you can get. If the engineers still had any say in the company the lawsuit never would have happened because just about everyone knows the kind of thermonuclear warfare that would have occurred in the IT industry if Oracle had won.
        • Thankfully, asserting that APIs are copyrightable isn't the only thing Oracle does. Hell, the name "Oracle" is even synonymous with one of their products, in context at least. "I'm working on an application that uses C++ and Oracle."

        • by yurtinus (1590157)
          Who knows, maybe Oracle went into that expecting to lose with the primary goal of settling the case law on the subject?
        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          If the engineers still had any say in the company the lawsuit never would have happened because just about everyone knows the kind of thermonuclear warfare that would have occurred in the IT industry if Oracle had won.

          Wrong, unfortunately and as hard as it is to believe. James Gosling went on the record supporting that idiotic lawsuit and bashing Google, and he's the engineer who co-invented Java. He even complained that Google "stole" his ideas, when he himself stole all the ideas for Java from previous

      • by rmstar (114746)

        but you can't really blame them for trying (it's their nature).

        Yeah. And you can't blame killers for killing people (it's their nature). With that kind of argument, we could as well eradicate the whole 'good and bad' categories. Let's go fully moral-relativistic and make this planet an evil madhouse for good.

        Of course you can blame them. And of course the people responsible for that action deserve shit and then some.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          You can blame people for bad actions, but what is that going to solve? It's like blaming rabid animals for attacking people; they can't help it. Punishing the animal isn't going to undo the attack. A better course of action is to take steps to prevent the bad action from happening in the first place. For rabid animals, that means finding them and putting them down in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease, and hopefully eradicate it. For murderers, you lock them away for the rest of their live

        • Yeah. And you can't blame killers for killing people (it's their nature). With that kind of argument, we could as well eradicate the whole 'good and bad' categories. Let's go fully moral-relativistic and make this planet an evil madhouse for good.

          That's exactly my point. Oracle is an evil company. You can expect them to try and squeeze whatever they can out of anyone else. Maybe I didn't use the right terminology, you can't really excuse that behavior, but you can expect it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We cheer for anyone who is hurting LodSys!

  • Patent trolls (Score:1, Insightful)

    Patent trolls,
    And that lawfare schtick,
    Like facial moles,
    Lest one suffer a prick.
    Burma Shave
  • PJ also points out that which companies are the good guys and which are the bad guys depends on which case you're looking at.

    I somehow doubt you'll ever find a case where a patent troll is the "good guy."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oracle vs Google: Oracle bad

      Oracle vs Lodsys: Oracle good

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Oracle is not "good". They are the victim.

        Justice should prevail so that the victim is not punished.

        The rules apply to everyone.

    • 'Patent Troll' is kind of becoming a slur, and it can almost be attributed to any tech company that becomes big enough. Even the good guys occasionally have to buy up patents and use them for counter-suing. They don't want to, but the way our court system works, those who don't engage in this behavior will lose.

      A perfect example of this is when Yahoo! acquired Right Media and Microsoft acquired aQuantive, both within April of 2007. Immediately, Google responded and acquired DoubleClick. It doesn't matte

  • Damages? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:17PM (#40223445) Homepage Journal

    Forgive me for being dense, but "I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled" seems silly - can you sue for damages in a preemptive lawsuit, giving that you are technically the defendant?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you pay the right attorney then yes...yes you can. And I suspect Larry knows a couple of the right attorneys.
    • by maroberts (15852)

      Forgive me for being dense, but "I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled" seems silly - can you sue for damages in a preemptive lawsuit, giving that you are technically the defendant?

      Even if you are the defendant, you can make counterclaims and requests for damages on the basis of those counterclaims.
      Oracle is claiming that Lodsys is damaging their business throught their allegedly bogus patent claims against users of Oracles products.
      I'm not quite sure where the tripled damages come in, but I suspect that frivolous or bogus claims may be subject to some form of financial sanction.

    • If they're suing Oracle's customers over a product the customer legitimately purchased from Oracle, then it's not a stretch to say that Oracle's reputation and customer relationship was damaged by Lodsys' suits. And, Oracle could potentially include anyone Lodsys sued over Oracle products as a co-plaintiff in this suit, thereby adding those legal costs and/or business interruption to the damages.

      Lodsys stepped it it big time, they better hope they are correct, because you know Oracle won't give up.

  • I was under the impression that U.S. law was still unsettled regarding the ability to patent software.

    But if that were true, I would have expected at least *one* patent lawsuit in recent years make headlines by claiming that software patents were invalid, and getting a ruling on that issue.

    Anyone know where we're at with this?

    • I was under the impression that U.S. law was still unsettled regarding the ability to patent software.

      But if that were true, I would have expected at least *one* patent lawsuit in recent years make headlines by claiming that software patents were invalid, and getting a ruling on that issue.

      Anyone know where we're at with this?

      The Supreme Court has implied that software patents are valid, if they're not directed to an abstract idea. In some contexts, that can mean that they transform matter from one state to another, in others it can mean that they're tied to a machine. In still others... well, we don't know. That's where we're at.

      Basically, they're tiptoeing around, trying to figure out how to say what they really want to say, which is that patent claims can't be valid if you can infringe them purely by thinking, because that c

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:32PM (#40223677)

    Lodsys is the troll that went after iOS developers for in-app purchases, even though Apple had already licensed the rights to that patent on behalf of their developers. It's not exactly surprising to see that they'd try the same thing with Oracle, nor is it surprising to see that Oracle is following Apple's lead in trying to intervene on behalf of the smaller guys [arstechnica.com]. After all, taking on the big companies is hard, but if you can target their customers or users, you can oftentimes win. Lodsys seems to have made a business of doing so.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Lodsys is the troll that went after iOS developers for in-app purchases, even though Apple had already licensed the rights to that patent on behalf of their developers

      Something that needs to happen is a ruling that says you can't sue the customers of the people you claim violated the patent.

      This is the same tactic SCO was using of trying to shake down for the $699 Linux license or whatever it is.

      If I bought a product in good faith, the patent issues between Lodsys and Oracle should stay between them.

      This su

    • When Apple, or Oracle in this case, licensed the patents, didn't it include derivitive products of its customers?

      How could giant, patent-experienced companies be so stupid?

      • You've assumed that those clauses don't exist in the licenses, which I believe is a faulty assumption. Apple has been claiming all along that the terms of the license they have with Lodsys extends to their developers, which is why Apple has been working to intervene on behalf of their developers. I'm assuming the same is true with Oracle too. As you said, these companies know how the system works. If we apply Occam's Razor, we can say that it's much more likely that those companies didn't forget but that Lo

  • Oracle is upset over patent trolling?!

    Hypocritical and braindead. Sadly that describes most corporations today. They only support something if they can do it but if someone else does it boo hoo. You can't have it both ways.

    Well, unless you are Elison. This guy is nothing but a whinner. He whinned over Bill Gates with Microsoft in the 1990s. He whinned with the IBM PC and how we all needed network computer terminals, he whinned over Andriod using Java and became a patent troll, he now whines because someone

    • There is no consistent philosophy to American life right now. It's all exactly like this... change your philosophy at the drop of the hat to whatever benefits you at that particular moment.

      So the assholes complaining that were hurting the "productive class" with rules are all of a sudden FOR rules when it benefits them.

      We're screwed if this continues. There is currently no integrity in our leaders (Democratic, Republican, Corporate) or our institutions right now. It's simply win at all costs.

      • That is pretty stupid.

        If I were Larry I would stop and think and ask my lawyers what would happen if I went after Google? Could IBM sue me for using SQL if copyright standards are interpretted this way etc? If the answer is yes do not SUE.

        Assuming Larry won and IBM went after them for using copyrighted SQL I bet Larry would be crying foul, meanwhile he brought it unto himself by twisitng things to be interpretted that way. That is not a good way to do business or common sense.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        There is no consistent philosophy to American life right now.

        Don't be ridiculous; there certainly is a consistent philosophy to American life right now. It's "I got mine, so fuck you".

  • A suit for "trolling" would be a suit over malicious prosecution, or harassment, or extortion, or something like that. This is a suit for noninfringement and declaratory judgement, saying that (i) Oracle doesn't infringe 4 Lodsys patents; and (ii) even if they do, the patents are invalid. These are the same claims that every defendant files in their response when they get sued. Oracle is simply taking a preemptive shot, presumably because Lodsys sent them a letter asking them to take a license.

    The only odd part is that when accused infringers take this preemptive shot, they usually don't do it in the Eastern District of Texas. It's actually one of the reasons to file first when someone hints at a lawsuit - you get to choose where to go.

  • If you see a vicious rottweiler fighting a vicious pit bull I don't think you have to decide that one of them is the good dog and one of them is the bad dog.

    Yeah, I know a good owner can raise either breed right... these obviously weren't. A gigantic raging a#$hole like Ellison is exactly the sort of guy who would raise a rottweiler that rips the faces off toddlers.

  • Everyone here is confused, but to me this makes sense. After all, "The enemy of my enemy, is my friend". Either way, it's beneficial to everyone. Hopefully they'll end up annihilating each other in the process.
  • The blurb says the case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, but Groklaw cites Eastern District of Wisconsin documents.
  • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @05:41PM (#40225661)

    Just because Oracle was wrong doesn't make them a troll, by most common definitions of a troll anyway. Even though Oracle's case was idiotic for so many reasons that have already been beaten to death, at least they actually make stuff. They lost their idiotic case, so at least to some degree the system sorta-kinda worked. From their prospective, they did what they did to protect their own stuff.

    Lodsys, on the other hand, doesn't make anything. They do what they do, not to protect their own stuff, but for the sole purpose of suing people. Worse yet, they go after the users (at least Oracle went after Google, not everyone with a phone) who they know don't have the resources to defend themselves. They are using the so-called justice system for extortion. That they even exist is a clear sign that the justice system is horribly broken. Oracle is like the mentally retarded Lenny who happens to murder somebody who was in his path out of uncontrolled stupidity (still an evil act), while Lodsys is like Freddy Krueger, whose sole purpose of existence is to murder people in their sleep.

    • Just because Oracle was wrong doesn't make them a troll...

      Totally right. Being a troll makes Oracle a troll.

  • Or in other words, it takes one to know one.

  • This is basically a squabble over a client (read: victim) list.

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