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Facebook Ordered To Turn Over Source Code 304

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the revealing-trade-secret-super-poke-tech dept.
consonant writes "A Delaware District Court judge has ordered Facebook to turn over ALL its source code to Leader Technologies, who allege patent infringements by Facebook. The patent in question appears to be for 'associating a piece of data with multiple categories.' Additionally, while the judge in question deems it fine to let Leader Technologies look at Facebook's source (for a patent, no less!) in its entirety for a single feature, it would be 'overboard to ask a patent holder to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit.'"
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Facebook Ordered To Turn Over Source Code

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  • American "Justice" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Looks like all those "campaign contributions" had their intended effect.

    Maybe one day someone will bribe our elected officials to do the right thing.

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:35AM (#29377707)

      That will happen just as soon as the "right thing" becomes highly profitable for those doing the bribing.

      So, never.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:27AM (#29377601)

    If we're getting to the point where people are winning cases because they've effectively patented a design pattern, then we're all in trouble.

    I mean, "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" -- sounds like every relational database schema on the planet to me.

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:39AM (#29377763)
      Just to be safe, it's probably best to limit this story to just a single tag. Under no circumstances should anybody tag this story with multiple categories such as "patenttroll" and "getfucked" at the same time.
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:47AM (#29377843) Journal
      That's not how it works. The description is just a description of what a patent is for. There can be a hundred different methods to associate a piece of data with multiple categories, and each one can be patented separately.

      Now it may be that every single one of these is obvious and therefore non-patentable but you can't make that determination from the title.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:27AM (#29378357)
      The first one to patent the idea of "patent trolling" wins.
    • by Per Wigren (5315) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:29AM (#29378393) Homepage
      Yeah, but now it's on a computer!

      Err... nevermind.
    • by zoomshorts (137587) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:37AM (#29378491)

      Back in the day, BBS's had all of this plus eBay's auction functions et al.
      Prior art should invalidate most of this stuff. People who have adapted OLD
      ideas to the "new" age , are just assholes. 90 percent of all this was done
      on Bulletin boards before the internet became popular.

      It is time for all of us old timers to bring this silly stuff to an end!
      We saw or developed it before ANY of these newbies ever thought of it. Sned
      your prior art to the patent office!!! Most of it was copyrighted before
      many of these douchebags were born !!!

    • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:26AM (#29379123)
      If you actually read the patent, which is something that the submitter appears to have skipped, it goes quite a bit further than just many-to-many database relationships. For something written in 2000, it is definitely novel. Whether it is appropriate for patent protection is debatable, of course, but it's not just a description of a relational database.
      • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:31AM (#29379177)
        Addendum: I don't know when it was written, but the provisional application was dated 2002 and the patent application was dated 2003, with an issue date in 2006 - still before Facebook implemented the features that the patent claims.

        That said, the Facebook source code issue needs the following to be said:
        1. Discovery in the courts gets you access to anything unless it is protected by trade secrets laws or the like. I haven't read the order or anything, but it'd be outright insane if the judge didn't order that the source code not be used for anything but looking for patent violations. I have seen similar things done, with stiff penalties to the lawyers and to the parties for violating such an order.
        2. You don't need to look at the source code of Facebook to see whether it implements the invention described by this patent. You only need to create a user account. The patent doesn't seem to describe any algorithms, but rather a high-level information organization scheme.
    • by noundi (1044080) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:41AM (#29379315)

      If we're getting to the point where people are winning cases because they've effectively patented a design pattern, then we're all in trouble.

      I mean, "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" -- sounds like every relational database schema on the planet to me.

      You're right and that's exactly what everybody should encourage. Patent trolls are the best friends of those who dislike the patent system. I'll explain why. Nobody will care to reform a system which is quasi functional, but everybody, even lobbyists will push for reform on a system which is completely broken. If any Joe can sue the crap out of a major lobbying corporation for some silly patent you can be damn sure that the corporations will do anything to nullify this. And when the law is with Joe, the only thing left to do is to push for legislation change. So you see in a capitalistic world the absolute best way to make a change about anything is to show that the current structure is unprofitable for all major corporations. See it as "lobbying the lobbyists."

  • by skelterjohn (1389343) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:27AM (#29377609)

    Facebook should hire some of Diebold's lawyers. They're really good at keeping source private.

  • by blackraven14250 (902843) * on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:28AM (#29377615)

    Anyone wanna take bets on how long until Leader Technologies comes out with their own social networking site that looks very similar to Facebook, and gets sued for having some technology that infringes on a Facebook patent?

    But seriously, shouldn't the court be trying to determine infringement, rather than letting the plaintiff view every piece of code Facebook has written? That's almost like saying "Microsoft infringed on 'using a scroll bar'; let Red Hat view all of the source for Windows so Red Hat can make sure it's not infringing." - if Windows were the only product Microsoft had. It's a crazy statement to make. In industrial terms, it sounds even worse: "Caterpillar might be infringing on a patent for 'method of transporting hydraulic fluid'; give Mitsubishi all of their blueprints for every one of their products so they can make sure it's not infringing".

    If you didn't catch it, did you notice the 'obviousness' factor in those examples? Associating data into multiple categories seems pretty obvious, as databases have been doing just that for a long time.

    • by tttonyyy (726776) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:39AM (#29377759) Homepage Journal

      I tried to patent some code that checks submissions for stupid patents, but the patent office stack overflowed...

      • Of course. If you limited the Patent Office to non-stupid patents, it could be run by two full time people and a summer intern. You'd be putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
      • ....so they just patented them all without looking.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:40AM (#29377775)

      I don't know how this got modded insightful. Defendants in business litigation typically have to hand over the source code and other sensitive information (like sales data). The court simply issues a "protective order" limiting who can view the source code. Usually the protective order designates source code as "attorneys eyes only" meaning that only the requester's (Leader Technology) outside attorneys can view the source. Plaintiffs and defendants squabble over these issues as a way to drive up the cost of litigation and not because there is any risk that source code might be leaked and duplicated.

      • by Thuktun (221615) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:49AM (#29379439) Homepage Journal

        I don't know how this got modded insightful.

        Slashdot is peer-moderated, which implies that the moderator may not be an expert (or even well-informed!) about the topic of a comment they choose to mod "informative" or "insightful". Duh.

    • If you didn't catch it, did you notice the 'obviousness' factor in those examples? Associating data into multiple categories seems pretty obvious, as databases have been doing just that for a long time.

      Or like Slashdot has been doing for ages. As this slashdot article is filed under the categories: news, social.

      Slashdot better watch out, Follower Technologies might want to look at their source code too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'd like to see their faces when they get to see the css and javascript.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Desler (1608317)

        Slashdot better watch out, Follower Technologies might want to look at their source code too.

        Why would anyone want to volunatarily look at slashcode?

    • by owlnation (858981) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:52AM (#29377919)

      Anyone wanna take bets on how long until Leader Technologies comes out with their own social networking site that looks very similar to Facebook, and gets sued for having some technology that infringes on a Facebook patent?

      It really doesn't matter if they do develop a social network site or not. There's been dozens of Myspace and Facebook clones out there. None have particularly succeeded. The underlying tech isn't what drives their success. It's the ability of their Marketing Droids to convince people that the emperor is really not, in fact, stark naked.

      • by TheKidWho (705796) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:27AM (#29378369)

        The only reason facebook was initially popular was because it was for college students only. Once they allowed anyone to have a facebook page, it became the crap fest it is now.

        Interestingly enough, if the government created a database like facebook to track citizens, people would be outraged, but make it voluntary and it becomes the next new thing.

      • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:30AM (#29378399)

        There's been dozens of Myspace and Facebook clones out there. None have particularly succeeded. The underlying tech isn't what drives their success. It's the ability of their Marketing Droids to convince people that the emperor is really not, in fact, stark naked.

        I think what really drives Facebook is that it reached the critical mass to get a strong network effect.

        As you pointed out with the source code, there are numerous sites that could have served the role Facebook presently serves. I suspect this is a system that was destined to converge on one particular website, but was chaotic with respect to which site would get the crown.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much every search engine (Vector Space Model) ever invented infringes heavily on Leader's patent. In the vector space model every document or page is categorized under every term that appears in that document. Doah! Poor internet is doomed! Pretty soon Google will have to hand over all of their code too. No more multiple categories per thing.

    • by onion2k (203094)

      The patent in question deals with associating data into multiple categories dynamically. It's fairly obvious but (as far as I'm aware) it is a relatively recent innovation. It's definitely not something that databases do in terms of storage. They can do it, using views or triggers with stored procedures, but this is not a simple patent on a data table, a category table and a many-to-many cross reference table linking the two.

  • Prior Art? (Score:3, Informative)

    by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:30AM (#29377631)
    So they basically claim they have a patent on the one-to-many Foreign Key?
    • Re:Prior Art? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:12AM (#29378925)

      So they basically claim they have a patent on the one-to-many Foreign Key?

      NO! In fact, the patent itself specifically cites a one-to-many relationship as already being known. The attempt at claiming coverage of a one-to-many appears to come only from the incompetent who wrote the summary.

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:31AM (#29377651) Homepage Journal

    "associating a piece of data with multiple categories"?

    Are you kidding me?! So when I create a database table that allows me associate a record with multiple categories I'm infringing on this patent? Surely this isn't the whole story... could someone smarter than me fill me in please?

    I am going to go patent taking a wiz in the morning. Apparently prior art doesn't mean anything.

    • by griffjon (14945)

      Man, I have a lot of code that I've written and/or use which I better make open for their perusal. Oh wait, it already is. Job done!

    • by Myopic (18616)

      If prior art would vacate this patent, don't you think Facebook lawyers would have mentioned it? Are you suggesting that the team of Facebook lawyers is so incompetent as to not understand the technology or law related to this suit?

      I think it's a lot more likely that none of the wags commenting here at Slashdot really understand the case. I tried to look up the patent, but frankly I don't understand patents. The articles weren't very informative.

    • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RawJoe (712281) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:22AM (#29378287)
      "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" is simply how TFA summarized the patent. It's not that simple, patents rarely are. If you look at the patent in question, it has several claims that go into detail about the processes involved in their system. It's likely one of these processes that is the focal point.

      Now, are these claims patentable? I don't know. there is a lot of long-windedness in patent claims, and it depends on how borad or narrow they are interpreted. Obviously the examiner found them to be narrow enough to be patentable. I doubt it's as simple as a one-to-many relation in a database, because even though examiners miss things, they really wouldn't have missed that. Maybe the judge will overturn it though, if he reads the patent more broadly.
  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:31AM (#29377657) Journal
    While TFS claims:

    Additionally, while the judge in question deems it fine to let Leader Technologies look at Facebook's source (for a patent, no less!) in its entirety for a single feature, it would be "overboard to ask a patent holder to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit".

    TFA goes on to state:

    Facebook has requested that they must know, whether Leader offers products that practice claims of the patent-in-suit, however judge agreed with leader that it could be overboard to ask a patentee to disclose all of their products that practice any claim of the patent-in-suit.
    Moreover, Facebook has not cited authority that could support requiring a patentee to prove, through detailed claim charts. Facebook is entitled to know every Leader product or service that Leader contends practices any of the asserted claims.
    The court has ordered, within ten days of the following order, that Leader shall supplement its response to Facebook and disclose all products and services.
    Leader shall provide Facebook with a list of source code modules with respect to which it seeks production of technical documents no later than September 22, 2009.
    Facebook shall provide Leader with all such relevant technical documents no later than September 29, 2009 and Leader shall promptly complete its review of Facebooks Source code and technical documents to Facebook no later than October 15, 2009.

    So it isn't quite as outrageous as TFS makes it appear.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by webheaded (997188) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:12AM (#29378933) Homepage
      You know, I get really tired of seeing articles like this, reading the actual article, and being a bit pissed off that they "got me" with their stupid summary. You'd think I would have learned better by now but the sad part is that most of these sensational things are entirely believable. It's really kind of depressing.

      On another note, who the hell writes these summaries? Do they just have really awful reading comprehension or does all the sensational shit just float to the top? I suppose it's a combination of those 2 things isn't it?
  • While I agree that Facebook is the first well implemented piece of social software of its niche, what is so novel about its design but its momentum?

    Does it have anything to do with PHP? Hadoop?

    Facebook could be implemented with standard DBMS like MySQL right?
    try login when I can be bothered - once a week.
    I think there are a few Open source social web networks:

    http://mashable.com/2007/07/25/open-source-social-platforms/ [mashable.com]

    I find the Frontpage annoying because originally I couldn't work out how to only display t

  • And you, slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tttonyyy (726776) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:33AM (#29377685) Homepage Journal

    Are those multiple tags I see against the summary?

    Source, now!

  • That claim (Score:3, Funny)

    by lxs (131946) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:34AM (#29377695)

    Of "associating a piece of data with multiple categories" sounds suspiciously like tags.

    They'll come for slashcode next!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They first came for Facebook, and we marveled and pined endlessly over stupid patents.

      Next they came for MySpace, and we cheered endlessly.

      Finally, they came for Slashdot, and there was nobody else to care.

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:35AM (#29377701) Homepage

    I've got both hands in the air.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:35AM (#29377713) Homepage Journal
    While we're on a reform kick in this country maybe we could undertake patent reform.
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:38AM (#29377755) Homepage Journal

      While we're on a reform kick in this country maybe we could undertake patent reform.

      Think of all the corporate money that is being thrown at killing healthcare reform in all it's different guises...

      and then multiply it by 200.

      That, my friend, is the reason it isn't happening. Find ways to reduce the corporate influence and money in these fights first and then there is a chance.

      • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:06AM (#29378087)

        Total health care spending is 17.6% of GDP. Nowhere near 200 times as much money could be involved in patents. :-)

        • Of course it's a number pulled out of my backside... but my comment is based on my belief that every corporation out there that ever made a dollar off of the current broken patent system would go after any effort to fix it. That's a huge number of corporations (many of which have very deep pockets) in all areas of our economy that would work against it. Also included many corps that are in the health care market itself. I think they would all get together gang up on that legislation like a pack of wild w

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Why not? Patents are imaginary property, after all. Just multiply all patents with all potential royalties and you can have whatever number you please.

      • I've got one! Kill everyone in the whole world!

        MUAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa........
  • FIRST CLAIM! (Score:4, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:37AM (#29377733) Journal

    A computer-implemented network based system that facilitates management of data, comprising:
        a computer-implemented context component of the network based system for capturing context information associated with user-defined data created by user interaction of a user in a first context of the network based system, the context component dynamically storing the context information in metadata associated with the user-defined data, the user defined data and metadata stored on a storage component of the network-based system; and
        a computer-implemented tracking component of the network-based system for tracking a change of the user from the first context to a second context of the network-based system and dynamically updating the stored metadata based on the change, wherein the user access the data from the second context.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      Another reason the patent system needs to be updated is because patents are written for lawyers, not for practitioners. Ex: If the patent is about software, a software engineer should be able to read and understand the patent. If it is a patent on a food recipe, then a chef should be able to understand it.

      But the patent above requires a lawyer and a linguistics expert to read it, then explain it to the software engineer. The engineer won't understand the patent, and the lawyer won't understand the softwa

  • What is the point of the first link to shr1k.blogspot.com [blogspot.com]? It seems completely irrelevant to this article. I searched the blog back to September 2008 and only found three references to Facebook, none have to do with Facebook being ordered to do anything.
    • Is it just me, or are 80% of the faces in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook, people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
    • Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like
  • Neat!

    Now if Facebook doesn't pay up, a leaked copy of its source code will appear all over teh interwebs.

    It's in your best interests to pay, see?

    • >> Now if Facebook doesn't pay up, a leaked copy of its source code will appear all over teh interwebs.

      Again? Where did the last copy go?

  • Having a judge presiding on a case whose technical details he is wholly ignorant of strikes me as terribly dumb. A judge in this case is basing his understanding of the facts upon the testimony of lawyers and expert witnesses. It's very likely both sides are lying their fucking asses off --excuse me, I mean shading the facts through a bias filter.

    Judges these days make Night Court look like the gold standard for jurisprudence.

    • by schon (31600)

      How is this any different than the judge in the bnetd case, or the 2600 DeCSS case?

  • by bezenek (958723) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:53AM (#29377937) Journal
    After reading through the '761 patent, any operating system which initiates a user working-space at login, e.g., a shell, will fall under the main claim of this patent.

    I do not understand why Facebook's legal team has not been able to invalidate this patent via the presentation of prior art.

    This patent should have never been issued and should not be defensible.

    -Todd
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jerry Coffin (824726)

      After reading through the '761 patent, any operating system which initiates a user working-space at login, e.g., a shell, will fall under the main claim of this patent.

      It's refreshing to see somebody at least try to read the patent. I have a hard time believing anybody could mis-interpret it this badly though. Let's look at part of claim 1:

      a computer-implemented tracking component of the network-based system for tracking a change of the user from the first context to a second context of the network-based

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bezenek (958723)
        Jerry, Thank you for pointing out my omission of the networking requirement. I am not a lawyer, but I have worked on a few patent cases as an expert, so I know to read the patent before talking about it, even if I am not as careful as a lawyer at reading over it. :-)

        I believe the networking requirement you mention will be fulfilled by any system which needs to use a network to validate user information from a central source, such as kerberos authentication or Windows Active Directory mechanisms. Of co
  • Seeing these patent-trolling tards walking around downtown Wilmington.
  • Due to the extreme harm of allowing a potential competitor access to its family jewels, Facebook might try for an interlocutory appeal [wikipedia.org] or asking that a court appoint an independent special master to examine the source code and determine if there is any code that is potentially infringing, and only allowing Facebook access to that code.

    Interlocutory appeals aren't easy, but a special master might be easier to get, especially if Facebook offered to foot the bill.

    Even if that fails, Facebook can ask that those

  • Discovery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:56AM (#29377983)

    If this is part of Discovery, then the requirement to turn over the code should be to the plaintiff's attorneys, not to the plaintiff. And the plaintiff doesn't actually get to see it themselves.

    At least, that's how it worked in SCO vs IBM.

  • by pmontra (738736) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:57AM (#29377993) Homepage
    Tagging posts here in ./ is clearly associating a piece of data (the post) to multiple categories (the tags). CmdrTaco, prepare yourself to disclose all ./ source code and to pay a hefty check to Leader Technologies.
  • by LS (57954) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:57AM (#29377995) Homepage

    I'm looking at the patent now, and while it's not rocket science, it's nowhere near as simple as "associating a piece of data with multiple categories". In fact, that quote is from the article, not the patent. The patent mentions nothing of the sort. The patent seems to be about maintaining metadata across multiple application contexts and updating the context appropriately. It seems pretty wishy-washy, and I think it is too broad for a patent. But it's nothing like the mirage that has got everyone here foaming at the mouth. It's NOT a patent for associating a piece of data with multiple categories. It's more like a patent for a web application API framework, if I understand the gobbledy gook at all...
    LS

    • I looked at it briefly in someone's post up the page... and it sounds a lot like Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect allows 3rd party websites to query FB for data about a user who has logged in to FB via their API, mash it up with data the 3rd party has collected and send it all back to FB which will then respond with appropriate content.

      So FBConnect maintains metadata across multiple app contexts and updates it appropriately.

      This could also be applied to their FBApp system as well... since applications bui

    • Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:22AM (#29378295)

      Did ANYONE even read the patent? I'm looking at the patent now, and while it's not rocket science, it's nowhere near as simple as "associating a piece of data with multiple categories". In fact, that quote is from the article, not the patent.

      It's a software patent, and therfor, to all of us not living in the United States, laughable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drmike0099 (625308)

      Certainly some of the claims in the patent are what are known as "context management", and would have significant prior art. The specific linking of them to the exact framework they describe (web-based context switching and data tracking within contexts) may or may not have prior art, it's kind of hard to tell w/o spending more time than I care to reading the material. I certainly think that I used tools that could do much of that prior to 2003 though.

  • RDBMS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543)

    "associating a piece of data with multiple categories [CC]"

    Excuse me, but isn't there a TON of prior art in this arena, for example, RDBMS and object oriented database systems have done this from the very beginning. What the heck is an RDBMS good for if you can't actually use or display associated objects?

    ZOMG! It's being done on a community building site! We'd better patent it because it's a revolutionary concept!

    It should fail litmus tests for patents on several grounds:

    * Prior art
    * Obviou

  • Looks like the patent judge through the book in Facebook's face. And they'd better face up to it, or they'll surely be booked. Unless the judge does an about-face to save face, but I'm not going to call my bookie just yet. This whole issue is facetious, but I'm going to bookmark it for teh lulz.

  • Next they'll want the source code for GMail to see if it's infringing on their patent by associating e-mails with multiple "labels".

  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:58AM (#29378741)

    That's an insane patent to have been granted. The fact that the patent holder is asserting that Facebook is infringing it without having seen their source code is extremely telling - the patent holder appears well aware that the patent (which should never have been granted) is so broad as to cover functionality rather than implementation and therefore anyone who appears to be doing what the patent covers is almost certainly infringing it.

    It's as is the patent office granted someone a patent on cracking nuts as opposed to a specific nutcracker design, and the lucky patent holder would then be in a position to go after anyone selling shelled nuts on the grounds that they must have shelled them, ergo they must have violated their patent. Of course nuts, unlike software claims decribed in obfusctated legalese, are easy to understand. I'm 100% positive one could describe assigning a value to a variable in such a complex way, accounting for all possible implenentations, semantics, etc, etc, that some moron at the patent office would think it sounded like a highly technical and specific discovery and no-doubt patent worthy. I think I'll go apply for a patent of comments right now ("in the 42nd embodiment, a source code file, stored in EBDIC format on a USB storage device, embeds self-descriptive components, that will be automatically stripped by the FORmula TRANslation language lexical analyzer, ...").

    Given how complex software is, and how difficult it is for lay people to understand it, and given that the patent office in granting things like this make it obvious that they do not have software experts examining these patents, it seems that the whole notion of software patents needs to be reexamined. They are really doing more harm than good, and the intent of patents to encourage innovation is being subverted rather than helped by software patents. The patent office doesn't seem to understand the process of software design/development at all.

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:39PM (#29380025)

    Where I can ignore the insane US patent system.

    Seriously, someone needs to explain the process of object-oriented
    domain modelling, analysis, and design to the USPTO, and explain
    how virtually every outcome of such a process is "obvious to a qualified
    practitioner in the field." These patents on every "complicated-seeming"
    computer system that uses basic symbolic modelling of a domain and
    implements a few obvious methods on the objects, are ridiculous
    beyond belief, and one can take no position on these patents
    except to studiously ignore them.

  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @03:08PM (#29381683)
    First, the problem that they're attempting to address with this patent: when you create a document or receive an email, it's up to you to categorize that document or email by whatever context (category/job fuction/etc) is appropriate...like sales or engineering. Usually this is done by creating categorized folders to stick the files or emails or whatever into.

    Their solution: When you're working on something on your computer (using their technology), you're doing so within a certain context. For example you might be working on Sales, Marketing, or Software Developement, etc. So if your current working context is Marketing, everything you create while in that context is automatically associated with Marketing. If you send someone an email, it's automatically tagged as related to Marketing, so there is no need for you or the recipient to stuff it into a Marketing folder for filing. When you switch contexts from Marketing to Sales, all the content you create is then tagged as Sales, so once again, there is no need for the user to organize their stuff.

    It sounds like their idea also provides for things to be associated with multiple contexts, and workspaces can be created that cover multiple contexts, so things get tagged accordingly. Also, it allows for manual tagging.

    I can't really think of how this applies to Facebook...and Leader Technologies doesn't appear to have an active product that does any of this. What do you guys think about my interpretation?

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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