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T O P I C     R E V I E W
Alephcat
Member # 2617
 - posted March 24, 2004 07:29
well I can not really add much more to this.

"Software giant Microsoft must pay a fine of 497m euros ($613m; £331m) for abusing its dominant market position, the EU has ordered.

EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti also insisted Microsoft must reveal secrets of its Windows software, which sits on 90% of the world's PCs."
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 24, 2004 07:36
Yes but that's still only 8% of turnover - and no source code (although I have to wonder who'd want *that* anyway?)...

But does anyone seriously think this is going to hold them back in their bid for world domination?

[Frown]
 
Alephcat
Member # 2617
 - posted March 24, 2004 07:41
actually they will have to give out some sort of code, but probably not all of it

"Mr Monti has ordered Microsoft to reveal details of its Windows software codes within 120 days, to make it easier for rivals to design compatible products."
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 24, 2004 07:45
So I guess we'll have to agree to disagree - and wait for the outcome of the appeal in n years time...

Meanwhile, to coin a phrase...

Where are teh uplaod codez?

[Wink]
 
Alephcat
Member # 2617
 - posted March 24, 2004 07:55
quote:
Originally posted by hey-U:
Meanwhile, to coin a phrase...

Where are teh uplaod codez?

[Wink]

about 120 days away [Wink]
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 24, 2004 08:04
uh... or maybe there's a clue here...

http://www.4rthur.com/dict.php?letter=U

[Wink]
 
Drazgal
Member # 984
 - posted March 24, 2004 10:27
I still think this is insane, I mean Im all for freesource, but forcing a company to release stuff?

As for removing media player its as bad as trying to get them to remoe IE. I mean great, quicktime and realplayer may be throwing a fit, but now were I to purchase a new version of windows I have to go and download meadia player instead of use straight out of the box so to speak. Very annoying indeed. What next? I mean there are shareware text readers, do microsoft need to loose notepad? Or calculator, or solitaire for that matter?
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 24, 2004 13:05
quote:
Originally posted by Drazgal:
I still think this is insane, I mean Im all for freesource, but forcing a company to release stuff?

As for removing media player its as bad as trying to get them to remoe IE. I mean great, quicktime and realplayer may be throwing a fit, but now were I to purchase a new version of windows I have to go and download meadia player instead of use straight out of the box so to speak. Very annoying indeed. What next? I mean there are shareware text readers, do microsoft need to loose notepad? Or calculator, or solitaire for that matter?

To my (tiny) mind, the real question is what are considered the core components of an operating system - and who gets to make the call...

Anybody else here remember Linux On A Floppy? Or even Mess_Doss, for that matter (3 x FDD)?
 
Allan
Member # 1717
 - posted March 24, 2004 13:40
Yep, but what's the point of having a monopoly if you can't abuse it? Even if M$ do unbundle WMP you can bet that 90% + of users will install it anyway.
 
GMx
Member # 1523
 - posted March 24, 2004 14:27
quote:
Originally posted by Allan:
Yep, but what's the point of having a monopoly if you can't abuse it? Even if M$ do unbundle WMP you can bet that 90% + of users will install it anyway.

And that just goes to show the average intelligence of the average Windoze user.
 
Tut-an-Geek
Member # 1234
 - posted March 24, 2004 14:37
quote:
Originally posted by Allan:
Yep, but what's the point of having a monopoly if you can't abuse it? Even if M$ do unbundle WMP you can bet that 90% + of users will install it anyway.

There are millions of monopolys... They're called patents...
 
Flashfire
Member # 2616
 - posted March 24, 2004 16:17
quote:
Originally posted by Tut-an-Geek:
There are millions of monopolys... They're called patents...

Erm...I feel I have to disagree with this, but not being a patent attorney, I'm not sure how well I'll do. I'm going to try though:

A patent is not a monopoly, it's more of an investment protection than anything else. What it does is prevent someone from taking your device (like, let's say, Tut-an-Geek's Powerbook Frame), reverse engineering it, and selling the exact same thing for much less than yours because they have no R&D costs to recoup. This kind of thing is very important when it comes to prescription drugs, where the R&D costs are massive. However, a patent doesn't guarantee a stranglehold on marketshare -- someone could come up with a similar, though not exact, version of the Powerbook Frame (using an HDD instead of Flash ROM, or something) and sell it without worrying about infringement. The same with drugs -- if you use a different amino acid in your product than company A (who has the patent), but it still functions the same, you can sell your version without problems. Patents don't extend to concepts, but to one specific application of that concept. Make sense?

Oh, and there's another crucial difference -- patents expire.

--Flash, who probably should have been a patent attorney
 
The Famous Druid
Member # 1769
 - posted March 24, 2004 16:57
quote:
Originally posted by Flashfire:
A patent is not a monopoly, it's more of an investment protection than anything else. What it does is prevent someone from taking your device (like, let's say, Tut-an-Geek's Powerbook Frame), reverse engineering it, and selling the exact same thing for much less than yours because they have no R&D costs to recoup. This kind of thing is very important when it comes to prescription drugs, where the R&D costs are massive. However, a patent doesn't guarantee a stranglehold on marketshare -- someone could come up with a similar, though not exact, version of the Powerbook Frame (using an HDD instead of Flash ROM, or something) and sell it without worrying about infringement

If only that were true....

Some years ago, I was working for a company that did lighting gear for theatres, a central computer used a serial network to communicate with little controller cards located on or near the lights they were controlling.

It turns out someone else had a patent on 'using computers and a network to control lights' - and we ended up having to pay them royalties, even though our implimentation was entirely different from theirs.

There's another company that's got a patent on PDAs, because they patented the idea of 'a small hand-held device for gathering data'. Last I heard, they'd put the lawyers on Palm et al, and looked like they were going to make millions, even though Palms implimentation was totally independant from theirs.

A sufficiently broadly worded patent can give you a monopoly on a whole product category, even if you never made a single item yourself. All you need is the 'idea', and a bit of money in legal fees, then you sit back and wait until someone else does the hard work, and extort $millions from them.
 
littlefish
Member # 966
 - posted March 24, 2004 17:48
Patent law interests me, and it may be something I look into as a job when I grow up...

nd Patents AFAIK are a licence to prevent someone else from doing what you do. You can let them do it for a fee, or you can give it to them, or whatever the hell you want to do. If you have a patent which is too broad, someone can create a patent covered by your broad patent, but nestled within your patent. Anyone wanting to use your patent pays you, and the broad fella above you. As far as I can tell a lot of patents are filed by companies looking to obstruct their competition. And if anyone is interested in this beyond what I've said, ask when I'm sober, speak to flash, or pay a competent attorney.
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 25, 2004 01:36
I remain unconvinced that the decision against Micro$oft has anything to do with patent law, as fascinating as that subject may be...

May I make anyone a cup of coffee before I log out and go to work? [Wink]
 
Alephcat
Member # 2617
 - posted March 25, 2004 01:40
ahh, posting to GC from work is a wonderful thing [Big Grin]
 
nekomatic
Member # 376
 - posted March 25, 2004 06:35
quote:
Originally posted by littlefish:
Patent law interests me, and it may be something I look into as a job when I grow up...

Yeah, I had a low point during my PhD when I decided to jack it all in and become a patent agent... unfortunately I got over it [Wink]

Patents are a sound concept given a bad name by shoddy execution. The idea is that a patent is a deal between the inventor and society: in return for disclosing details of their invention, the inventor gets a limited monopoly on exploiting it. The problem seems to be that national patent offices don't scrutinise applications hard enough before granting them, and take a very generous approach to what is patentable, on the assumption that if the patent upsets anyone badly enough they'll challenge it - fine, but challenging a patent, like any other litigation, turns into a how-much-can-you-spend-on-lawyers? match.

As to Microsoft, the difference between Media Player and Notepad is that owning the media player format and digital rights management gives you control over the distribution of music and video, which is a whole different market from software and is worth a lot of money. If MS uses their dominance of software to obtain dominance of another market, that's an illegal use of monopoly power (IANAL, but I think that's a reasonable summary).

Most copies of Windows are preinstalled on PC's by the manufacturer. In an ideal situation it would be no more or less difficult or expensive for the manufacturer to preinstall any rival media player(s) than to preinstall WMP - i.e., healthy competition could take place, and maybe even a bit of that 'innovation' Bill whines on about so nauseatingly? [Big Grin]
 
Tut-an-Geek
Member # 1234
 - posted March 25, 2004 08:02
Here's a brief review of patents that I coppied from an outline of a presentation I had to make earlier this year to my civics class...

Definition
A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.

History
English statute of Monopolies
States had patents under Articles of Confederation
Washington recommended encouraging inventions
Patent act of 1790
1790 - No patent office
1790 - $2.70 and 10 cents per 100 words
1790 - No rules as to what could be patented
1790 - Patent Board - Loose, met once a month
Patent act of 1793
1793 - Abolished patent board
1793 – Provided for measures to settle disputes
1793 - State Department signed all patents
1793 - No examination at all
1793 - Set up a patent office at a hotel
1793 - Blodgett’s Hotel
Hotel - Shared with Postal Department, Wooden
Hotel - Almost captured by British
Hotel - Ashes stored in basement
Hotel - Burnt down
Hotel - All Patent records lost
New building was later constructed in DC (fireproof)
Later acts did things such as establish that all patents must be for new and useful things

The way it used to be
First the Secretary of State handled patents directly
Patent board later established
Any new discovery that was not nature was accepted
The invention is what is patented, not the discovery
Did NOT have to be “unobvious”
Had to submit: Technical drawings, Model (if possible), Description
Patent records weren’t very good
Just a few examiners

Old issues
Patents were not granted based on priority
Steamboat issue
It wasn’t very secure – caught on fire
Recovered records were not always accurate
Much documentation from this time period lost
Couldn’t refuse a patent under act of 1793
Double patents were issued
False patents were issued

The way it is now
Patent lawyer
Complicated application
List and description of prior patents pertinent
Summary of invention
Description of how subject matter of the invention will be implemented
One or more claims as to what the device will do
USPTO reviews the application, and you can say “patent pending”
USPTO can accept or reject
The examiner will say exactly why rejected
You can appeal or you can revise your application
One to five years
Hundreds of thousands of dollars
First to invent not first to patent!

New issues
Nearly anything can be patented, including business models and software
Internet shopping – One Click
Software such as LZW [GIF] compression, TrueType, SCO vs. Linux


Basically, a patent IS DEFINED as a legal monopoly in our constitution. And there are MANY instances of companies patenting things that maybe are too broad to be patented - one click shopping, business models, GIF compression, etc.


Nekomatic - you raise an interesting point. However, the truth is that they CAN'T scrutinize them into the technicalities. Of course they deeply scrutinize them in regards to technicalities of the patent law, but not of the technology itself. Think about it. If you were a biomedical researcher who knew about prescription drugs, etc. would you be getting paid not-so-much as a patent officer, or as a researcher? Which is more prestigious? The truth is that the kind of people who are attracted to the job of reviewing patents generally aren't well versed in the technical fields that they are reviewing.
 
Xanthine
Member # 736
 - posted March 25, 2004 08:08
The biggest beef I have is with the patenting of genes and transgenic organisms. The royalties paid out on oncomice are high, and serve only to slow cancer research down. As for the genes, I think they need to revise the rule a bit - no patenting BEFORE you know what it does. Or better yet, no patenting a gene at all.
 
Flashfire
Member # 2616
 - posted March 25, 2004 20:00
quote:
Originally posted by Tut-an-Geek:

Basically, a patent IS DEFINED as a legal monopoly in our constitution. And there are MANY instances of companies patenting things that maybe are too broad to be patented - one click shopping, business models, GIF compression, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I never said that patents weren't abused. It really does come down to, as Nekomatic said, a how-much-can-you-spend battle between lawyers. This has led to, IMO, some very wrong interpretations of the law.

What I had issue with, I guess, was the use of the term "monopoly" applied to the idea of patents in the same context as it is applied to Microsoft. Basically, what I got was: "Microsoft is a monopoly. Patents are monopolies. Monopolies are bad." I don't think that patents are all bad. Lately, admittedly, they've gotten a bad reputation due to corporate abuses, but the basic concept is a good one and sound. It all comes down to semantics, I guess. Sorry if I misinterpreted your comment.

BTW, I don't recall the Constitution mentioning patents -- I know it talks about copyright, but not patents specifically, AFAIK...is it in there later, or was the patent stuff based off of the copyright clause?

Oh, last thing: Xanthine, what in the world is an oncomouse??
 
Xanthine
Member # 736
 - posted March 26, 2004 02:07
It's a transgenic mouse used in caner research. I can't remember exactly what the mutation is, but it's more prone to tumors than the wild type.
 
The Famous Druid
Member # 1769
 - posted March 26, 2004 07:20
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
It's a transgenic mouse used in caner research. I can't remember exactly what the mutation is, but it's more prone to tumors than the wild type.

Hmmm, a friend of mine has a (semi-serious) theory that everyone has a 'special mutant ability'.
What a rip-off if yours was 'almost certain to get cancer'.


Actually, you might be able to answer a question that's bothered me since I first heard of these beasties.

How valid would any experimental results with these critters be?
It's not hard to imagine that there may be some treatments which would work fairly well in normal mice, but be quite ineffective in these mutant 'cancer mice'. Or vice-versa.

Is there any sound evidence to suggest that their cancers are 'the same' as normal cancers, i.e. react in the same way to the various drugs they're being tested on?
 
greycat
Member # 945
 - posted March 26, 2004 07:32
quote:
Originally posted by Flashfire:
BTW, I don't recall the Constitution mentioning patents -- I know it talks about copyright, but not patents specifically, AFAIK...is it in there later, or was the patent stuff based off of the copyright clause?

Section 8.
The Congress shall have Power To [...]

Clause 8: 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;
 
Tut-an-Geek
Member # 1234
 - posted March 26, 2004 07:53
quote:
Originally posted by greycat:
quote:
Originally posted by Flashfire:
BTW, I don't recall the Constitution mentioning patents -- I know it talks about copyright, but not patents specifically, AFAIK...is it in there later, or was the patent stuff based off of the copyright clause?

Section 8.
The Congress shall have Power To [...]

Clause 8: 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;

Exactly. And then the patent act of 1793 created the USPTO as we know now
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 26, 2004 08:57
quote:
Originally posted by Alephcat:
well I can not really add much more to this.

"Software giant Microsoft must pay a fine of 497m euros ($613m; £331m) for abusing its dominant market position, the EU has ordered.

EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti also insisted Microsoft must reveal secrets of its Windows software, which sits on 90% of the world's PCs."

News just in from "The Register"

"EC MS ruling: simply the end of the beginning"

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/36580.html
 
hey-U
Member # 2128
 - posted March 26, 2004 10:31
...a-a-a-nnnddd finally...

"How Microsoft's fine would be spent"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3564731.stm

Pub anyone?
[Wink]

Thankew and goodnight
 




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