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SanDisk Sues 25 Companies for Patent Infringement 202

Posted by Zonk
from the who-isn't-sue-happy-nowadays dept.
dnormant writes "Suits have been filed against 25 companies by the SanDisk corporation this week, as the company looks to stop businesses from shipping products it alleges are infringing on its work. SanDisk has filed suits against everyone from MP3 player manufacturers to USB hard drive creators. The list of defendants is staggering, and MacWorld notes if Sandisk succeeds it could have repercussions outside of the courtroom. 'The company filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, one alleging the infringement of five patents in the ITC complaint, and another one including two additional patents not involved in the ITC action. The court and ITC complaints could affect the prices and availability of products made by companies targeted in the suit if SanDisk wins and the companies are barred from importing products into the U.S.'"
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SanDisk Sues 25 Companies for Patent Infringement

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  • by nurb432 (527695)
    Another attempt to kill the golden goose.

    Low flash prices couldnt be left alone, could they?
  • by tygt (792974) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:16PM (#21117727)
    Unfortunately TFA has nearly zero content other than what the synopsis states. There is no mention of which patents are involved, any reaction by the companies being sued, and no statement given as to WTF it's all about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      Unfortunately TFA has nearly zero content other than what the synopsis states. There is no mention of which patents are involved, any reaction by the companies being sued, and no statement given as to WTF it's all about.

      Indeed. I read both of TFAs, and I can't find a single mention of what aspect of drives is meant to have been infringed.

      Surely they don't have a patent on the idea of an "external device which acts as storage" or removable media ... I should think the floppy drive or any number of items wou

      • by Intron (870560) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:43PM (#21118119)
        I'm guessing it's number 5,602,987 [uspto.gov] which was struck down in 2003 when they sued others and reversed on appeal more recently.
        • by ThosLives (686517) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:48PM (#21118177) Journal

          If that's the one, it should be shot down again due to recent SCOTUS rulings: all the items in that patent simply do what anyone with knowledge of those components expects them to do when you put them together; you're just using memory as memory, and you're keeping track of how much you use so you don't use things too much.

          Nothing non-obvious about that.

          Now, if there's a particular wear-leveling algorithm, then that could be patentable, but the the general idea should not be.

          • Was it obvious to combine them? we're talking 1993 here. I don't think the result has anything to do with the obviousness determination.
            • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:04PM (#21120275) Homepage Journal

              Was it obvious to combine them? we're talking 1993 here.
              The PCMCIA defined PC Card [wikipedia.org], including a standardized ATA-like interface to solid-state memory cards, in 1991. Reserving spare sectors for use when existing sectors have failed had been standard practice in ATA hard disks by 1993. What elements do you suggest were combined non-obviously?
              • I haven't read the claims and I only skimmed the abstract. You have to read the claims to determine what the patent really covers because the abstract is not part of it. Since I haven't read them and have little knowledge of PCMCIA, I can't tell you whether this is obvious or not. But I can tell you, just cause something seems similar, it doesn't mean it's obvious.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          I'm guessing it's number 5,602,987 [uspto.gov] which was struck down in 2003 when they sued others and reversed on appeal more recently.

          Wow. A method of using a slightly different form of non-volatile storage to behave the same as other well established forms of non-volatile storage. Secondary clauses for implementing a filesystem type concept over top of it. Possibly enclosing the whole damned thing in a box and adding cables to be compatible with existing data protocols.

          Unbelievable.

          Cheers

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pravuil (975319)

          The way it looks it probably is the problem. From their corporate section they claim the following:

          SanDisk currently has approximately 780 issued U.S. patents, and more than 400 foreign patents, and is the only company, worldwide, that has the rights to both manufacture and sell every major flash card format , including CompactFlash®, SD(TM), miniSD(TM), microSD(TM), MultiMediaCard(TM), Reduced Size MultiMediaCard (RS-MMC(TM) ), Memory Stick PRO(TM) and related Memory Stick® products, xD-Picture Card(TM) and USB flash drives.

          Their claim seems pretty broad. It's hard to tell what's going on until they present their argument.

          • SanDisk currently has approximately 780 issued U.S. patents, and more than 400 foreign patents, and is the only company, worldwide, that has the rights to both manufacture and sell every major flash card format

            I read that as "SanDisk is the only company that makes ALL of these formats", not "SanDisk is the only company with the legal right to make EVEN ONE of these formats". Specifically, RS-MMC and xD-Picture Card aren't very popular, having been largely replaced by SD family formats, so other companies might not have bothered to take out a license on them.

    • by spazoid12 (525450) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:52PM (#21118231)
      That's true, but it's necessary. Posting stories with actual detail has been patented and they don't want to be sued for infringing...
  • Funny thing is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...that around here (Sweden) SanDisk has always been considered as a cheapish manifacturer of questionable quality.
    • Re:Funny thing is... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ericrost (1049312) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:18PM (#21117759) Homepage Journal
      Not just around Sweden. Same holds true in the US.
      • by mrbluze (1034940)
        Maybe the patents relate to SanDisk's methods of producing an inferior product at a lower price, which the competitors are hoping to do also.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KeepQuiet (992584)
      I agree and they have the crappiest customer service ever. I had a sandisk mp3 player which died for no apparent reason. I emailed customer service that saying that I cannot turn on the player. They replied "Can you please turn on the player and tell me what version number do you see?" Note to self: avoid Sandisk.
      • I have three Sandisk mem cards (CF and SD). Two of them failed (separate occasions) after about 3 years of near-constant use. While this may say something about the reliability of their products, Sandisk was very good about honoring a replacement card...i just had to mail mine back in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FatMacDaddy (878246)
      I know what you mean, but it's not funny. In fact, it makes perfect sense. If SCO were producing valuable software they probably never would have gone off on their anti-Linux litigation. Same with these guys: if they were burning up the market with quality products, they wouldn't have to be suing others. I guess successful companies keep patents as a defense and lesser companies use them to keep their outdated business models or revenue streams going.
    • SanDisk has always been considered as a cheapish manifacturer of questionable quality.

      Their hardware may be cheap, but they had some interesting product ideas. The U3 stuff was interesting, for instance.

      • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @04:06PM (#21118389) Homepage
        Interesting? What a bunch of crap U3 is. I recently bought a 4gb USB device -- says on the back it works w/ Max/Linux/Windows. When I stuck it in my powerbook, I get the drive plus a "CD" with three installers on it. Ok I thought, I'll just reformat. Didn't fix it. So I decided I'd use a linux box to reformat -- can't do it. The partition looks like a read-only CD-ROM. After some googling, it turns out there is a program from U3 to eliminate this fake CD partition -- of course the crap only works with windows. I don't have a windows box -- I tried fixing it on a friends machine, he has parallels and XP, but the damn thing wouldn't even mount on the windows box. Somewhere between my friend's office and mine, I lost the USB device. I lost the USB device because I hadn't put it on my key ring. I didn't put in my keyring because the U3 crap made the device perform annoyingly.

        The U3 developers are retards. The highest demand to remove their crap is probably from non-windows users. So they go and release a windows only removal solution. I had never heard of U3 before and I hope they die a slow painful death in bankruptcy.
        • My employer bought us all ScamDisk flash drives with that POS on it. Tried to put a flyer on it and take it to Kinkos for printing and the crapware wouldn't load, so the regular partition wouldn't mount, the flyer was inaccessible and my time was wasted.

          U3 Developers are retards.
      • Ah yes, U3... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296)
        Seriously now: a nonfunctional "password protect" bit that could be bypassed with near "hold the shift key" ease, a "program installer" that never worked for anything nontrivial, AND you had to find an arcane little page on their website just to get the uninstaller to make your "U3" device behave like a normal fucking memory stick.

        Yeah, it was "interesting" in the same way that a colonoscopy is.

        Oh well. It could be worse - their competitors (Sony) put rootkits into everything.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:18PM (#21117761)
    They've been fast, reliable, and not terribly expensive...

    Shame I'm not buying another SanDisk after this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K (805623)
      Shame I'm not buying another SanDisk after this.

      Really? Why?

      Every time someone tries to enforce a patent claim people make these knee-jerk statements.

      If their claims are legitimate and based on genuinely innovative technology, and they're also working in good faith to make reasonable licensing deals with infringers, then maybe you should be boycotting the parties being sued for infringing with no license instead.

      The patent system is wildly abused, but some times it does protect innovators that drive the ind
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The patent system is wildly abused, but some times it does protect innovators that drive the industry forward.

        No it doesn't. Patents have nothing to do with "driving industry forward". Remove patents and the competetive pressures remain unchanged, which is what drives innovation. And you cannot prove otherwise. Progress existed long before patents were even thought of.

        Or you mean you are spouting an item of industrialist faith, upon which the utterly misguided idea of patents is based, without any proof

        • by obarel (670863) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:31PM (#21120611)
          Of course patents drive the industry forward.

          They motivate people to find alternatives to expensive yet ridiculously obvious "inventions", thus making huge progress in fields such as compression, encryption, search technologies etc.

          Not exactly the intent behind the system, but it seems to work pretty well. If GIF hadn't been patented, we wouldn't have PNG now.
  • Umm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:19PM (#21117769)
    From the summary:

    MacWorld notes if Sandisk succeeds it could have repercussions outside of the courtroom
    Not to nitpick or anything, but that's a really pointless statement. Court decisions always have repercussions outside of the courtroom. There wouldn't be much point to having court decisions if they didn't.

    "The court has decided that the patents are valid and the defendant must refrain from distributing products that implement the patented technology. But only inside this courtroom, of course. Out in the real world you can do whatever you want... Have a nice day."
    • by Endo13 (1000782)
      Not only that, the supposed "quote" in the summary isn't in the MacWorld article at all. Unless it got removed for being stupid, it's a complete fabrication by whoever wrote the stupid summary.
    • Re:Umm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kidcharles (908072) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:53PM (#21120093)
      I think this phrase is to make a distinction between a case which would set an important precedent versus one that would not. If a case does not establish a new precedent, it would change little "outside of the courtroom," i.e. it would not effect much outside of those involved in the case directly. If I go to court to contest a parking ticket and I still have to pay, nothing is happening "outside the courtroom." If I contest a parking ticket and it sets in motion a series of decisions saying that parking tickets are unconstitutional, there would be a profound effect "outside the courtroom."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Arguendo (931986)

      MacWorld notes if Sandisk succeeds it could have repercussions outside of the courtroom

      Not to nitpick or anything, but that's a really pointless statement. Court decisions always have repercussions outside of the courtroom. There wouldn't be much point to having court decisions if they didn't.

      Actually, not to further nitpick or anything, but most patent suits don't end in court decisions; they end in settlements. And settlements don't typically have much effect outside of courtrooms. (Unless it's a truly massive settlement - but even the RIM/Blackberry settlement didn't really affect consumers.)

      If Sandisk is very successful and an injunction issues, then that could have a much bigger impact outside the courtroom than if money simply changes hands. My point is simply that a lot of different

  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:21PM (#21117803)

    MacWorld notes if Sandisk succeeds it could have repercussions outside of the courtroom.

    Any case that does not have repercussions outside of the courtroom is worthless. What point is the submitter trying to make?

  • Press Release (Score:4, Informative)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald@zeniDEBIANpex.com minus distro> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:22PM (#21117817) Homepage
    The official press release is here:
    http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=4025 [sandisk.com]

    Is it public what patents they are suing over yet? There seem to be no real details anywhere...
  • The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:22PM (#21117827)

    SanDisk is suing: ACP-EP Memory, A-Data, Apacer, Behavior Computer (d/b/a Emprex), Buffalo, Chipsbank, Corsair Memory, Dane-Elec, Edge, Imation/Memorex, Interactive Media (d/b/aKanguru), Kaser, Kingston, LG Electronics, Phison Electronics, PNY, PQI, Silicon Motion, Skymedi, Transcend, TSR (d/b/a T.One), USBest, Verbatim, Welldone Company, and Zotek/Zodata (d/b/a Huke).
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:26PM (#21117871) Journal
    FTFA:

    Our goal is to resolve these matters by offering the defendants the opportunity to participate in our patent licensing program for card and system technology," said E. Earle Thompson, chief intellectual property counsel at SanDisk
    I certainly hope there's been some serious negotiation leading up to this. Otherwise, that's quite a dickish statement to make.
    • In my rather limited experience, the first step is almost always a strongly-worded letter, since those are:
      1. Cheap
      2. Surprisingly effective, if someone didn't know they were doing something wrong

      The lawsuit usually comes about after you send the threatening letter, and the recipient replies with a politely-worded message like "go pound sand"...
    • It's popular for companies to have licensing programs based upon a threat of litigation. The first step is always to convince the other guy that he needs your license, so you prepare a court case and say, "If we had to sue you for patent infringement, here is what we would say..." Then the licensee hopefully will see the error of his ways and pay you money. When things go public, it probably means that negotiations broke down a bit and the patentee is putting the screws onto the customer.

      TransMeta just rece
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:26PM (#21117875)
    Are these guys getting legal advice from Darl McBride?
  • by jdgeorge (18767) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:27PM (#21117893)
    A list of companies NOT named might be interesting, too. Among them are:
    Apple
    Samsung
    Micron/Lexar
    Sony

    Each of these seems to be a major player in these markets....

    What deals (if any) do these guys have with SanDisk so they aren't getting sued?

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:29PM (#21117913)
      They probably either buy chips from SanDisk, or they have a license deal with SanDisk.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rattlesoft (1086131)
      From SanDisk press release: "SanDisk is the original inventor of flash storage cards and is one of the world's largest suppliers of flash data storage card products, using its patented, high-density flash memory and controller technology." See this is the main reason why our patent system is completely messed up. If you patent flash memory technology, you shouldn't have the right to stop all other companies from making similar products. Wheres the fair market? In this case, it looks like the common saying
      • by owlstead (636356)

        In this case, it looks like the common saying "Any publicity is good publicity", won't work for San Disk. Their products have never been jaw-dropping or even cheap.

        The quality of their products don't have anything to do with this. Anyway, SanDisk does have some seriously interesting products. I was planning on upgrading my fan-less PC with a 40 MB/s Compact Flash card + firewire drive. These are products that any serious photographer will or should love, and which are unavailable from any other manufacturer.

        I'm opting for dual USB sticks instead, but only because of cost (I'll just RAID-0 them). For the price of the reader I will be able to buy 16 GB of USB-stick mem

        • by AaronW (33736)
          I just ordered a Lexar 8GB compact flash [lexar.com] with UDMA which will do 45MB/sec (300x), so there are other players out there besides SanDisk. I saw one from a no-name that claimed 350x speeds, but Lexar has a good name and offers recovery software. They also offer some high-speed readers supporting firewire (which, IMO, is much faster and more reliable than USB [at least on Linux]).

          Of course I also have a camera on order which also supports UDMA which can take advantage of this card.

          I looked at Sandisk, and
      • by rnswebx (473058) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @04:06PM (#21118395)

        See this is the main reason why our patent system is completely messed up. If you patent flash memory technology, you shouldn't have the right to stop all other companies from making similar products. Wheres the fair market?
        Hmm, what? Our patent system is certainly flawed, but your argument is exactly what patents are for. If I develop a way to do something that hasn't been done before, then you either need to figure a new way to do it or license my technology. Maybe we disagree on the underlying idea that I should be able to prevent people/companies from simply copying an idea, using their big bank accounts to market it into oblivion, and eventually making fortunes off of my invention. I like patents, as long as the idea is actually new and the technology is not obvious. PS: I don't know what SanDisk's lawsuit is based on as the articles seem to be light on details, so I can't really comment to this particular case.
        • Our patent system is certainly flawed, but your argument is exactly what patents are for.

          If the patent system is intended to exclude competitors, then even if it works as intended it still squelches any hope of a free market. We can either have free market capitalism or government granted monopolies, not both.

          • If the patent system is intended to exclude competitors, then even if it works as intended it still squelches any hope of a free market. We can either have free market capitalism or government granted monopolies, not both.

            No, you can also have a hybrid that is more efficient than either extreme. One that promotes inventions by granting temporary monopolies. This give the little guy a chance. In either extreme the little guy has no chance, he either gets crushed by big corporations or big government.
            • No, you can also have a hybrid that is more efficient than either extreme. One that promotes inventions by granting temporary monopolies. This give the little guy a chance. In either extreme the little guy has no chance, he either gets crushed by big corporations or big government.

              Do you have any evidence that this happens in practice? (And by evidence, I mean a link to some sort of economic article.)

              Everything that I've seen indicates that patents are only useful for larger players to keep smaller player

              • "No, you can also have a hybrid that is more efficient than either extreme. One that promotes inventions by granting temporary monopolies. This give the little guy a chance. In either extreme the little guy has no chance, he either gets crushed by big corporations or big government."

                Do you have any evidence that this happens in practice? (And by evidence, I mean a link to some sort of economic article.)


                Haven't you taken Econ 101? "First Movers" have an advantage when they have proprietary technology.
            • No, you can also have a hybrid that is more efficient than either extreme. One that promotes inventions by granting temporary monopolies.

              But how long should such a monopoly last? One problem is that lawmakers are headed toward "harmonization" of statutes across industries rather than looking for what term of exclusive rights is best for each industry. That's part of why computer programs are copyrighted until 70 years after the last author dies: because somebody thought that copyright term was optimal for a literary work of fiction. The industries operate on very different timescales, yet lawmakers want to race to the bottom by "harmonizing

      • by CastrTroy (595695)

        See this is the main reason why our patent system is completely messed up. If you patent flash memory technology, you shouldn't have the right to stop all other companies from making similar products.

        That's exactly why the patent system exists. Take that away, and there's no need for patents at all. I think one thing that should be addressed is these submarine patents. If you don't complain about an infringing product, you should lose your right to patent protection. With millions of patents on the bo

        • If you don't complain about an infringing product, you should lose your right to patent protection. With millions of patents on the books, it's impossible for anyone to verify that they aren't infringing on a patent.

          By the same token, with millions of products in the world, it's impossible for anyone to verify (quickly) that someone is infringing on their patent. While I agree patent trolls are evil, the alternative seems impossible to be remotely fair about, which would mean more power for larger corpora

      • by demachina (71715)

        "If you patent flash memory technology, you shouldn't have the right to stop all other companies from making similar products"

        So you think a better system would be some company spend millions or billions of dollars developing a better way to do something, and then someone can spend a small amount of money reverse engineering and cloning it and then undersell the original developer because they spend next to nothing on R&D because they ripped it off. The Chinese are particularly adept at reverse enginee
    • by farker haiku (883529) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:38PM (#21118061) Journal
      it's called the "Our lawyers can kick your lawyers ass" deal.
      • I think they use their U3 technology that Sans disk promises will cure cancer and eliminate poverty. They want more flash apps so they can sell more drives.

        Personally I dislike U3 almost as much as real player and yahoo messenger 8.

    • by IvyKing (732111) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:40PM (#21118089)
      I suspect that Apple, Samsung, Micron and Sony have quite a few patents of their own that could be used against SanDisk if SanDisk sued them, and supect the companies they are suing don't have much of a patent portfolio.


      Another possibility is that the companies not being sued have cross-licensing agreements in place with SanDisk.

    • by Svartalf (2997)
      As others have pointed out, they may have licensing deals. It is also worth noting that each and every one of the omitted ones in that list is well big enough to have their own patents to annihilate SanDisk or has enough resources to invalidate the patent(s) in question, which would be a bad thing for them at this point.

      I do know one thing, I'm going to be disinclined to deal with SanDisk at this point unless it's shown that
      they really DID try doing the negotiations work and didn't just delay this action u
      • by russotto (537200)

        It is also worth noting that each and every one of the omitted ones in that list is well big enough to have their own patents to annihilate SanDisk or has enough resources to invalidate the patent(s) in question, which would be a bad thing for them at this point.
        So does LG Electronics. Some of the others likely do as well.
  • Details? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bent Mind (853241) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:30PM (#21117935)
    The second link [yahoo.com] in the summery offers a bit more information than the first link [macworld.com]. However, both are missing details. It sounds like SanDisk is suing anyone who uses or interfaces with flash memory. The quote in the article seemed strange to me:

    Our goal is to resolve these matters by offering the defendants the opportunity to participate in our patent licensing program for card and system technology. Otherwise, we will aggressively pursue these actions, seeking a prompt judicial resolution awarding damages, obtaining injunctive relief and banning importation of infringing product.
    I thought they were suppose to attempt to collect license fees before they sued.

    The Yahoo/PC Magazine article seems to be cut off at the end. It stops at "for infringement of five SanDisk patents, including:".
  • by davidsyes (765062) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:30PM (#21117937) Homepage Journal
    Seems to me they FSCK'd up...

    Doesn't patent-enforcement and claims for damages, etc, require ongoing, active enforcement?

    Seems to me they waited all these years, found out they need a MAJOR cash infusion, and they see all these companies as an income stream. Kinda like lying in wait (yeh, the "victims" are aware there MAY be a trap around the bend, but are hoping no one is lurking...), hoping a court will rule in their favor.

    Looks like the "staggering(ly)" long list is a clue they are gold-digging.
    • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:59PM (#21118319)

      Doesn't patent-enforcement and claims for damages, etc, require ongoing, active enforcement?
      No, the active enforcement requirement applies to trademarks, not to patents.
      • by Svartalf (2997)
        No, active enforcement applies to ALL things in the Intellectual Property space; it's just that Trademark requires it or you lose it completely. In the case of Patents, if you delay, the BEST you can hope for is someone to stop using your invention- you will definitely not get damages if you wait this long and you may also get told you don't get the parties in question to stop using it for the devices designed up to that point that are infringing.

        I expect a lot of Laches defenses being erected as well as
      • It's called mitigation. If you believe someone has infringed on your patent, you are required to inform within a reasonable amount of time of discovering this or you lose your right to enforce the patent. Sometimes there could be a misunderstanding between the two parties and they settle their differences without a court. This was done to make sure things are fair for both sides as the alleged patent infringer may not have known about the patent or the technology does not use the disputed patent at all.
        • Actually it's called the doctrine of laches and you made a good point that the first guy didn't. The patent owner has to have been aware of the infringement for a certain amount of time before laches kicks in. It is possible that SanDisk just recently came aware of the infringement. There are very little details here but seeing as how there are some big name defendants in this case, SanDisk is going to have a hard time trying to prove that they were not aware of the defendants' products.
    • by oddityfds (138457)
      "Doesn't patent-enforcement and claims for damages, etc, require ongoing, active enforcement?"

      No it does not. This is sadly a very common misconception. You're thinking about trademark law. Patents and copyrights are valid until they expire or are explicitly invalidated in court or similar.

      And yes, this is one of the many problems with patent law.
      • by davidsyes (765062)
        I sit corrected.

        Still, though, it should be a mitigating factor when the DO end up in the courtrooms. Despite case precedents.

        Thanks for enlightening me, though.
    • You are thinking of trademarks. They have a "use it or lose it" type of provision. More or less with a trademark, if someone infringes and you fail to take them to task over it, you can lose your trademark. That's not the case with patents, you get to keep them for the prescribed time and enforcement is not relevant.

      Personally, I think we do need an enforcement clause. Something along the lines of "If a company takes no action against an infringing product for 12 months from a time when they should have bee
  • Remember yesterday's story about tech you can't buy in the USA?

    Let me refresh your memory [slashdot.org]

     
  • Hardware patents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Isaac-Lew (623) <isaaclew&gmail,com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:35PM (#21117997)
    Have any of the the patent-bashers on here stopped to think that maybe *some* patents are valid (especially hardware)? After all, this is a company making actual physical products, not a patent troll or someone patenting software or a business product.
    • Well, what happens with algorithms implemented in hardware? Do I get a chance to patent the algorithm? If someone simulates the digital logic in software, are they in violation of the patent?

      Suppose I patent a new type of op amp. If someone accidentally creates that arrangement of transistors as part of a larger circuit, are they in violation of my patent? The problem with patents is that you do not have to knowingly infringe them to be subject to a lawsuit. Patents should be reformed to be more akin

      • "Well, what happens with algorithms implemented in hardware? Do I get a chance to patent the algorithm? If someone simulates the digital logic in software, are they in violation of the patent?"

        Are you asking how it is or how it should be?

        If you're talking about how things should be, I would say you should be able to patent the specific hardware that implements the algorithm, but not the algorithm itself. If somebody implements it with hardware substantially different from yours, or in software, they should
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Explain to me how Sandisk winning this suit will in any way advance the state of the art, or make more options available for consumers? It won't. The only possible effects this could have are negative, and therefore this move is bad news for everyone but Sandisk. Whether the patent is valid or not is irrelevant.
      • Without patents, companies have less incentive to spend money on research, when they can simply take the research that someone else did. It's a powerful incentive to know that if you develop a new technology that you'll be able to recoup those costs without getting undercut.

        Companies, however, will try to take patented ideas/products and get around that protection, because it's cheaper to get to market, undercut the developer and then handle the lawsuits. They might be in discussions with the technology d
      • Explain to me how Sandisk winning this suit will in any way advance the state of the art, or make more options available for consumers? It won't. The only possible effects this could have are negative, and therefore this move is bad news for everyone but Sandisk. Whether the patent is valid or not is irrelevant.

        The state of the art has already been advanced, consumers have already benefited, by the offering of temporary monopolies to inventors. SanDisk and others would not have invented these great memo
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:38PM (#21118065)
    Patent litigation is the last gasp of the shnook. Time to change the batter (CEO).

    They couldn't make their MP3 players do very well, the flash drive market is in no-margin-land, and so how do you boost revenue. Hey, Ernie-- we got any patents from that Israeli company we bought a coupla years ago? There's gotta be some money in that stuff.......
  • Maybe Sansa has so much market momentum from its "iPod Killer [wired.com]" that it can now throw its weight around.

    Oh, wait...
  • by segedunum (883035) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:52PM (#21118229)
    I'm not defending SanDisk, but given that they were dubiously halted from showing a bunch of MP3 players in Germany not too long ago, it's probably not unreasonable for them (and their lawyers) to think "Well, maybe it could work for us as well!":

    "Our goal is to resolve these matters by offering the defendants the opportunity to participate in our patent licensing program for card and system technology," said E. Earle Thompson, chief intellectual property counsel at SanDisk, in a statement.

    I also find it humorously ironic that if this works, it could result in the US missing out and not being able to get certain products, or at least needlessly paying more for them.
  • Microsoft and Sandisk are collaborating on a replacement for U3 technology...due out next year.

    "Patent Protection" seems to be the cry of all companies working with Microsoft. I bet MS did some nudging on this one.
    • "Patent Protection" seems to be the cry of all companies working with Microsoft.

      It is also the cry of small/new companies that hope to compete against Microsoft and other mega corporations. Without patents, the little guys have virtually no chance.
  • for the losers to drop their prices at the clearance sales that would follow a judgement against, or... buy some cheap flash drives now? Since Sandisk might be able to get a judgement to have inventory thrown in the fire.

    Whatchathink?

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:18PM (#21119505)
    Patents were originally for the encouragement of scientific advancement and innovation for a fledgling nation. We are now in a position where the very mechanism we put in place to help us is harming us.

    Patents no longer encourage innovation, they destroy it. Unless the U.S.A. wants to continue its disastrous economic slide, it had better do something pretty quickly. HUGE international companies with no economic loyalty or tax revenue to the U.S.A. are seeking to prevent american companies from doing business.

    Maybe patents have some value for the truly "non-trivial" things, but everything I've seen and heard the last few years is that mainly trivial landmine and submarine patents are getting approved because they are flooding the patent office.

    The patent examiners are no longer guarding against bogus patents, the work load is too high, the pressure to allow patents is too high, and they are relying on the courts to do their job.

    • Patents were originally for the encouragement of scientific advancement and innovation for a fledgling nation. We are now in a position where the very mechanism we put in place to help us is harming us.

      Wrong. It helps any nation, not just a fledgling one. Patents increase the rate of technological advancement, eliminating patents would destroy the US economy faster than the current mess. The solution to junk patents and junk lawsuits is not eliminating patents.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mlwmohawk (801821)
        Patents increase the rate of technological advancement

        This is provably false in the current international economic state, it is IP lawyer dogma.

        The patent system was intended to be sort of a shopping gallery for people with ideas to link up with people with capital so that industry could be born.

        These days, almost no business is started patent first, patents only come after the fact as "protection" from other patents.

        The modern engineer and scientist almost *NEVER* looks at patents, therefor the supposed "o
        • These days, almost no business is started patent first

          Wrong.

          patents only come after the fact as "protection" from other patents.

          What are you trying to say here? A patent does not "protect" you from another patent.


          Almost any respectable economist will tell you that patents overall promote innovation. A lack of IP protection in third world countries is also a large reason those countries continue to stay third world.
          • by mlwmohawk (801821)
            What are you trying to say here? A patent does not "protect" you from another patent.

            No I'm saying that is not what they are supposed to do.

            Almost any respectable economist will tell you that patents overall promote innovation. A lack of IP protection in third world countries is also a large reason those countries continue to stay third world.

            Nonsense, you don't think repressive governments have anything to do with it do you?
        • These days, almost no business is started patent first, patents only come after the fact as "protection" from other patents.

          Proprietary technology is considered crucial to entrepreneurial efforts, virtually required by angel investors and venture capitalists. Without it a new venture is vulnerable to free riders who will replicate products or services without having to replicate or contribute to the original inventor's R&D.

          Again, you confuse the abuse of the current patent system with patents in
          • by mlwmohawk (801821)
            Proprietary technology is considered crucial to entrepreneurial efforts, virtually required by angel investors and venture capitalists. Without it a new venture is vulnerable to free riders who will replicate products or services without having to replicate or contribute to the original inventor's R&D.

            That is a common view of course, but do you think the "successful" companies started this way? Nope.

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