Now Patent Uglies Uniloc Want To Bumgarden X-Plane

By Alec Meer on September 17th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

reverse metaphor

Software firm/patent-squatters Uniloc have long been making life miserable for any firm they reckon they can wrestle a buck out of, but made perhaps their biggest headlines when they targeted Minecraft recently, employing one Barry J. Bumgardner as their hilariously-named legal bully. Hopefully Mojang’s hard-won resistance to twattastic patent claims – Uniloc’s being that it owns concepts concerning online software license checks – means they’ll be able to stand firm against this ‘IP incubation lab’, but in the meantime the rotters are plotting to give venerable flight sim series X-Plane a right old bumgardening too.

It’s basically the same deal as with ‘Mindcraft’ [sic], though in this instance at least Unilock weren’t so inept as to fudge the spelling of the name of a game that’s apparently such a big threat to their unwelcome existence. Once again, Uniloc have elected to go Bumgardening, and once again the company they’re trying to scare cash out of have said they’re not standing for it. Good on ‘em.

In fact, Laminar Research, creators of X-Plane, have dug up some evidence to suggest Uniloc’s claim (which is also chasing after 8 other devs, apparently) is on infirm ground. They’ve identified a bunch of online licensing-related programs that existed prior to Uniloc’s 2001 patent-squatting. Additionally, Uniloc is after Laminar specifically for the Android version of X-Plane, which apparently uses an online licensing check thing given to ‘em by Google – which could make for an interesting escalation.

I’m no lawyer, as the ass who who emails me every time I write about legal stories to tell me I should talk to a lawyer before I post them would be only too happy to point out, so I don’t know if Laminar’s evidence will amount to anything: I’m just glad that they’re standing up to Uniloc. X-Plane is one of the grand old men of PC gaming by this point, and should have at least as much empassioned moral support from PC gamers as we gave to Mojang and the victims of Tim Langdell.

No more Bumgardening, that’s what I say.

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77 Comments »

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  1. sinister agent says:

    Traditionally, shitwicks like Uniloc get away with this for a year or two. Then it goes to their head and they go after EA. About eight months later their dentists get a letter from the police.

    Fingers crossed!

    • MarigoldFleur says:

      Unfortunately, Uniloc have been doing this for something like 20 years now.

      • airmikee says:

        Uniloc has existed for 20 years, but they didn’t file their first lawsuit against Microsoft until nine years ago, and they didn’t file any other lawsuits until three years ago.

  2. Brun says:

    While it would be hilarious to see these clowns go up against Ubisoft, Google will probably slap them down long before that happens.

  3. pepper says:

    This is what you get when a company has too much money and a inept CEO with the brainpower of a chipmunk. Although I am probably discrediting the chipmunks with that statement.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      “CEO”

      “brainpower of a chipmunk”

      But you repeat yourself.

  4. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    “Bumgardner”

    Doesn’t get old.

    Here’s hoping Google get involved and set their lawyers to ‘violate’.

  5. Herkimer says:

    Although I’m no fan of Uniloc, or of patent trolls generally, it is worth noting that they recently took Microsoft for a decent pile of money. The problem with patent trolls isn’t that they have terrible legal claims that a good lawyer with a deep-pocketed client can demolish. If that were the case, they’d be a nuisance, but not much more. The problem is that the current state of patent law rewards their terrible legal claims. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-04/microsoft-loses-appeal-in-388-million-uniloc-verdict-update1-.html

    • plugmonkey says:

      The only thing I can think after reading that is if you already have Microsoft on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, how evil/greedy/penisless do you have to be to bother trying to bumgarden some pokey little flight sim developer?

      • MacTheGeek says:

        “Use lawsuit victory money to sue more people for even more money.”

        When you’re a patent/copyright troll, this is your definition of ROI.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Dingdingdingdingding! We have a winner!

          The system is broken, horrendously, in that this works. Even if Uniloc get crushed at some point (but they’re actually pretty good at it), there’s enough of an ecological niche that some other scumbags would just fill it.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            It’s worse than that.

            If somehow this specific patent troll business fails, what happens to all their patents? Sure you could have some “noble” company buy them up, but more likely they end up in the hands of other companies who are already or seek to become patent trolls.

            That is, the death of one trollfirm is the breeding ground for more.

    • mrmalodor says:

      That decision was overturned, apparently:
      “In April 2009, Uniloc won a $388 million jury infringement verdict against Microsoft in federal district court in Rhode Island. Unfortunately for Uniloc, the judge who oversaw the trial tossed out the award five months later, ruling that the software giant had not infringed the patent and that the jury had no basis for its verdict.”
      http://www.law.stanford.edu/news/uniloc-keeps-filing-software-suits-and-npe-patents-fare-poorly-at-trial

      • Stromko says:

        The Bloomberg article is more recent, and apparently has to do with a trial that occured after the repeal. It sounds like Uniloc won that repeal case, though whether it’s now in further repeals it doesn’t say.

    • JamesCoombs says:

      Debunked on their own website. Apparently it was overturned. http://www.uniloc.com/index.php/intellectual-property/

      EDIT: Comments above beat me to it ^^

  6. rustybroomhandle says:

    Google don’t ever rush to aid in the defense of their clients who get sued for using their products though. Android keeps getting sued for silly patents all the time. Microsoft is extorting millions from handset makers that use Android.

    Apple is similarly patent-suit-happy. Their usual MO is not to seek money but to bar sales of the allegedly offending product.

    And before anyone pulls the “companies have the right to protect their intellectual property” line – these patents tend to be for crap like “sliding your finger across the screen to unlock the device”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I will now patent “touching the screen prior to sliding to unlock the device”. Profit!

    • Brun says:

      The real problem is not with the people filing the suits but with the people granting the patents. 90% of these suits should never happen in the first place because the patents in question should never have been granted.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        They’re only implementing the law as currently written.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          And that’s precisely what everyone should be focusing on. This isn’t exactly the only problem that can be directly attributed to the lack of effective, conscientious laws being written by a government.

          And to be very clear, this is absolutely not a political issue. No party or citizen is more guilty than any other. It’s cause must be fundamental because the chaos and absurdity permeate almost every aspect of modern society.

          Why doesn’t the “news” cover this kind of thing? IP and patent laws have been commentated on by experts for decades. A quick google search will yield countless articles, papers, blogs, videos, podcasts, and even webcomics, all beating the same drum. Lawsuits and legal threats have cost people money, cost the public new products and art, and they stifle progress.

          TL;DR This is actually a huge problem, and we should seriously deal with it

          • Archonsod says:

            ” This isn’t exactly the only problem that can be directly attributed to the lack of effective, conscientious laws being written by a government.”

            Yes it can, it’s the US patent system. Software patents aren’t even recognised throughout most of the world. In fairness the White House is trying to clean it up. Although since they’ve been saying that since the mid nineties I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    • V. Profane says:

      I came up with the idea of smoothing the corners off square icons before ALL OF Y’ALL!

    • Mattressi says:

      I still don’t get why companies apparently have a “right” to “protect” their IP. I fully understand them being allowed to protect their product such that other companies can’t perfectly copy it and market it as the original product (for example, if a company copied the iPhone and sold it under the name “iPhone”). But I don’t understand why there should be these ridiculous patent laws. All that happens, in almost every case, is that the innovator gets (assuming they don’t slack off) the largest portion of the customer base and then eventually sues their competitors for infringing on their patents. If there were tonnes of companies who came up with good ideas, but then somehow lost all market share through no fault of their own (which I really can’t see happening – it’s always because they marketed it poorly, implemented the design poorly, etc), I could understand, but the innovators are always making the big money anyway (again, assuming they have any business sense), so there’s no need to further reward them for something which the free market naturally rewards them. All that happens is the big companies get a monopoly for a while, are able to stop innovating and raise market prices, and, of course, dumb situations like this story happen.

      • Brun says:

        A variety of reasons, the biggest being that protection only against “perfect copies” isn’t enough, because then someone could take the iPhone 4, take the Apple logo off the back and replace it with something else, and then sell it themselves for half the price – after all, without that overpriced piece of fruit on the case, it’s not a perfect copy, right? Apple would have no legal recourse in your system, while their competitor ruthlessly undercuts them.

        The real problem is that a LOT of patents should not be granted in the first place, but are anyway. The patent in this case is a great example – it’s essentially a patent for phone-home DRM on Android platforms. Phone-home DRM is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination and would not have been when Android came about back in 2007/2008 – people have been using it on desktop computers for YEARS. But apparently the fact that no one had patented its use on Android was enough for it to be granted its own patent.

        • Mattressi says:

          I still don’t see the problem. If you literally mean for a competitor to take off the Apple logo and resell an iPhone for half the price, it simply wouldn’t work. How would they possibly obtain iPhone’s cheap enough to rebrand and sell at a lower price? They’d need to, instead, reverse engineer the hardware and software, which would take them time, time in which Apple is growing its loyal customer base, in which Apple is being recognised as the industry leader. Say this competitor manages to perfectly remake the iPhone 4 6 months after Apple releases it, and manages to sell it for half the price. By this time, Apple is well known (I know they already are, but this is for the sake of analogy) for being industry leaders and for high quality, so when the competitor releases a rebranded iPhone for half the price, most people will assume it’s of inferior quality. Raising the price of a product can actually increase sales. Even if consumers became smart and realised they were EXACTLY the same (if the competitor even managed that), Apple would still have a loyal following, would have sold a huge number of units and could lower their prices a little, to a point at which they’re happy. Soon after, they release an upgrade, whether some cool new software or a new version of the iPhone, which is mostly the same. They then reduce their old iPhone price to below the competition, getting an stingy buyers/stragglers and have the “new” phone at a high price again.
          The competition can’t win, unless they actually innovate, themselves. Imitating is costly, takes too long and won’t win customer loyalty.

          • Brun says:

            Imitating is costly

            Not as costly as innovating. I’m sorry but you’re dead wrong about this. It’s ALWAYS cheaper to steal from someone who’s done the legwork (R&D, engineering, QA, testing, etc.) than to do all of that yourself. Always. The amount of money it takes to actually make an individual iPhone, or even a thousand iPhones, is nothing compared to the amount of money it took to develop it as a product. YEARS of research and engineering went into creating the iPhone, that’s hundreds if not thousands of man-years of salary, benefits, utility usage, facility costs, etc. that Apple had to pay before they were even shipping the first iPhones out of Cupertino. Copying the iPhone would save a competitor ALL of that money.

            And you really overestimate customer loyalty. Customers don’t stay very loyal when they find out they can get the same products for less somewhere else – look at any retail chain in the past 20 years. TONS of retail outlets that have existed for decades are going out of business because places like Amazon can sell the same products for less.

            The iPhone 4 was probably a bad example because it was really just an evolution of an existing product. The original iPhone would probably be a better example, because it was the actual innovation, whereas the subsequent models have simply been improvements and additions to the original concept. A competitor selling cheaper but equally nice knockoffs of the iPhone back in 2007 would have done significantly more damage to Apple than they could have today since it was before Apple had established its iPhone brand and the smartphone in general was a relatively new concept.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            There’s a massive difference between retailer loyalty and brand loyalty though. An iPhone without the Apple logo isn’t an iPhone, even if it had exactly the same OS and App Store (which, of course, it wouldn’t, because the App Store is a walled garden.)

          • Mattressi says:

            Sorry, when I said “costly” I did not mean it in the sense that it directly costs them money to imitate, but rather that it costs them in the long run to imitate. Being constantly behind the curve is a horrible way to run a business. I still don’t believe that the iPhone copies (that is, every smart phone) actually took significantly longer/more money to create in a way which doesn’t really infringe on Apple’s patents, than it would to just imitate an iPhone. There’s some more time in design, some time spent making sure they haven’t copied too much of the iPhone to be sued, but the rest seems like it would need quite a lot of work anyway. Certainly it will take a little more time, but not a huge amount more.

            I don’t know of many people who would have claimed to have been loyal to any retail store. Brands, on the other hand, they are. People fight about Mac vs PC and Android vs iPhone. Macs are more expensive, but have loyal customers for some reason, which allows them to continue to price things very high. Even if brand loyalty weren’t a huge issue, the innovating company is still going to be coming out with the new designs months ahead of those who have to copy them. If they keep innovating, the competition falls far behind, always releasing the “old” version that most people have already bought. If the innovator is dumb enough to not lower prices when the competition’s imitation product hits the market, they deserve to fail. Supply and demand.

          • Brun says:

            It doesn’t matter. Here’s a more specific example:

            Let’s say Google completely carbon-copied the iPhone in 2007. They’re a big company with huge financial resources, so they can afford to also set up their own copy of an App Store and iTunes. Now that they’ve got the copies made, they start selling their knockoff on ALL carriers (not just AT&T). Remember how huge demand was for iPhone or iPhone-alikes on Verizon or Sprint back in 2007? People would be queuing out the door for them despite whatever brand loyalty they might have to Apple (read: significantly less than they would today).

            In fact this is exactly what Steve Jobs, in some deluded corner of his brain, thinks that Google did with Android, and why he wanted to wage “thermonuclear patent war” with them. Unfortunately for him, it’s obvious to anyone but the most devout Apple fanboy that Android was a success not because it copied Apple’s product, but primarily because it satisfied demand from a market that Apple foolishly CHOSE not to target themselves (by tying themselves exclusively to AT&T for 3 years).

      • Filden says:

        While I would never argue against the need for patent reform, innovation and R&D do need protections to create a system that encourages them. Why invest in innovation at all, if you could legally sell your competitor’s product under a different name, 5 minutes after they release it ?

        Yes, we get craziness, but we as consumers and as a society also benefit from the rapid advances and innovations that system produces, because innovation is profitable. The lack of such protections would encourage a very stagnant development philosophy.

        You said yourself, you don’t think another person should be able to sell an exact copy of another person’s work. How are you able to define what product or technology too closely replicates another, without a system for defining what makes one product or technology different from another ? Flawed as it is, that’s what the patent system tries to do.

        In situations like these, it’s easy to see everything in terms of “big greedy corporations”. But take it down to the level of a single person, slaving away for years to develop something in their lab. Do we want a system that discourages people from working in that lab because some other company can swoop in and benefit from that guy’s work without any of the investment or effort, or do we want a system that protects that guy’s efforts to some degree, and encourages people to create and innovate?

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Eh, it seems unclear.

          First -mover seems like a huge advantage anyway, as well as “having the people who understand it.” Not all things work out this way of course, but typically software does (which is one reason it shouldn’t have patents at all).

          The U.S. patent system also needs some way for inventors to be able to sell their design to capitalizers in a manner that doesn’t require enormous pockets on the part of the inventor. The current system discourages smaller firms from working on patents, because the only way they can profit from them is by big enough to sue people for violations. In effect it impedes all but the most significant financial entities from working on innovation at all, as the intellectual minefield is too dangerous to traverse alone, and even if you succeed you can’t capitalize on it without an army of lawyers.

          So on the whole, the patent system as it is currently working seems to retard innovation. Thus it seems on the whole not having it would benefit innovation.

          In some areas with very long timescales and large invesstment, for example semiconductor process and pharmaceuticals, probably some protectionist scheme is needed, though. Probably the timescale should not be 20 years for either of these, however, for the public good.

          • Filden says:

            So on the whole, the patent system as it is currently working seems to retard innovation.

            The breakneck pace of consumer tech innovation seems to disagree with that.

            If you don’t think that has anything to do with financial protections and incentives on innovation, do you think Intel is leads the market in processors because people like the name better? What if AMD could duplicate their architecture tomorrow, and start selling it? Then they are only competing on a marketing basis, except Intel had to invest a ton of money into developing their superior technology. Why would they do that, if there were no systems in place to ensure that they were able to profit from doing so? Otherwise, a scavenger mindset would be far more profitable.

            Like it or not, our economy and, in large part, our technological development as a society is fueled by the pursuit of economic carrots. If you think you can change that system on a fundamental level, more power to you. I’ll subscribe to your newsletter. But until you change that, you cant just throw out the system of financial carrots we have in place to encourage innovation, and expect that rate to remain unchanged.

            And no, innovation is rarely all that difficult to reverse engineer. Many new ideas are simple in retrospect. Simply getting to market first for however long it takes for your competitors to profit from your technology without having to invest in its development, is unlikely to justify R&D costs in many cases.

            Clearly there’s room for reform. But on the whole, society benefits far more from innovation being profitable, than the downside of some of the obnoxious craziness that results. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater seems a little (a lot) extreme.

        • Mattressi says:

          When I was talking about selling exact copies, I was really just referring to stealing the brand name (and maybe the style – still not sure what I think about that).

          The little guy can also be screwed over by patents. Granted, it’s generally only extremely broad patents, like in this article, that negatively affect the little guys. Still, if someone comes up with an idea, why should they be able to take sole possession of it? If someone comes up with something that massively improves everyone’s lives, patents it and then sits on it because they don’t have the resources to actually do anything with it, who does that benefit? What if some other person/company was coming up with a similar concept/design/idea, but didn’t patent it first? The person who patented it can ask for any absurd royalty for the use of their patent and no one can do anything about it. To me, it seems silly to legally enforce monopoly. I guess I just don’t like the idea of putting laws on ideas or concepts or their use.

          Besides this, if any ‘little guy’ comes up with something truly innovative and gets a patent, most companies will still rip the idea off and get away with it. They might not perfectly copy it, but they can take most of the idea and be fine. That’s assuming the little guy even has enough money to lawyer up and sue a huge company.

          • Filden says:

            Besides this, if any ‘little guy’ comes up with something truly innovative and gets a patent, most companies will still rip the idea off and get away with it. They might not perfectly copy it, but they can take most of the idea and be fine. That’s assuming the little guy even has enough money to lawyer up and sue a huge company.

            So because the “little guy” is already up against it trying to compete against and out-innovate larger companies, we should throw out what protections he does have?

            Like I said, there’s need for reform in the patent system, and every aspect of our society favors the wealthy. But until you change the latter, you can’t simply throw out the former wholesale.

        • Premium User Badge

          Malibu Stacey says:

          While I would never argue against the need for patent reform, innovation and R&D do need protections to create a system that encourages them. Why invest in innovation at all, if you could legally sell your competitor’s product under a different name, 5 minutes after they release it ?

          Why buy a companies product when you can download it for free, the same day they release it (if not earlier)? Same principle no?

      • frightlever says:

        “If there were tonnes of companies who came up with good ideas, but then somehow lost all market share through no fault of their own (which I really can’t see happening – it’s always because they marketed it poorly, implemented the design poorly, etc), I could understand, but the innovators are always making the big money anyway (again, assuming they have any business sense), so there’s no need to further reward them for something which the free market naturally rewards them.”

        I’m no fan of software patents, in general, but eg Tivo was struggling badly despite having several key DVR patents which were being violated by competitors. Successful litigation was one of the few things that kept them afloat.

        The problem isn’t with patents, it’s that the US patent office is basically there to hand out patents, unless they are very obviously wrong. Their default position is to grant the patent and let the courts decide whether it’s valid. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, this is what they actually say.

        Sadly most patents being granted are either incredibly broad or relate to a incredibly specific parts of a much larger process.

    • frightlever says:

      I don’t think Google can legally rush to anyone’s defence in these patent cases. As a publicly traded corporation they have a whole other bunch of hoops to jump through.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        Like buying the company being sued first.
        Don’t believe that? Read up on their reasons for buying Motorola. It was purely so they could square off with Apple in the Android devices suits (until purchasing Motorola Google didn’t make any hardware which runs Android & Apple were trying to be underhanded about suing the hardware manufacturers whom use Android instead of Google).

  7. Calabi says:

    This patent stuff is getting out of hand. I wonder how bad it has to get before someone decides to engage their brain.

    • yogibbear says:

      I would read your comment but I can’t drag my face away from this Honey Boo Boo stuff.*NOM NOM NOM*

  8. gschmidl says:

    Briliant use of ‘twattastic’. Bravo.

    These trolls can’t be destroyed soon enough.

  9. MrLebanon says:

    Enough with the Gardening of Bums!

  10. michailnenkov says:

    oh, the headline made my day….

    • Premium User Badge

      Colonel J says:

      Weirdest RPS headline ever.

      But surely what this story really needed was a pun. I am too tired to think of any though.

      • Premium User Badge

        VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        I’m sure it’s patently clear to you all, but I can’t understand this case. Can anyone x-plane it to me?

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Patent Troll firm cultivates assinine image?

  11. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    BUMFACE?

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Bumgardenface
      Which I imagine to be a beard that smells faintly of bottom

  12. Sheng-ji says:

    “as the ass who who emails me every time I write about legal stories to tell me I should talk to a lawyer before I post them would be only too happy to point out”

    Just wanted to point out, for those of you who know what I do for a living/that person who has remembered loads about me – that the ass is not me!

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Maybe he’s scottish and just left the ‘L’ off of ‘lass’

      • orionstar says:

        Or he was in a rush and forgot that it was actually the class of ’08 that graduated with a Law degree and go around game sites making sure all comments about law is correct.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      You may just have described a stalker. :/

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Hehe, he’s not stalking me, he just has an extraordinary memory – I posted something recently in the original EA – Zynga post and he remembered that quite literally a year earlier I made a post about owning EA shares! I don’t believe he’s a stalker, though I did describe it as creepy that he remembered that detail from so long ago!

  13. pupsikaso says:

    I don’t understand IP Patents at all. How can someone patent an “idea”? I know how normal patents work. What you patent is not an idea, but a very specific method of doing something and you don’t want anyone copying that particular method. If they come up with a different way of obtaining the same result, then it’s not breaking the patent, only if they actually copy your method then they are infringing on your patent.

    But IP Patent? I don’t get them at all.

    • Brun says:

      “IP Patent” is kind of a misnomer. The particular patent in this case is like a patent on a particular process, or more specifically on a particular computer algorithm (which is essentially a “process” on a computer).

      A “patent on an idea” is more like a copyright.

      • pupsikaso says:

        If it was a patent on a particular piece of code, like you say an a specific algorithm, then it wouldn’t be a problem because a different piece of code could be used to obtain the same results. Just like in other industries, for example pharmaceutical, where a company can create the same molecule but using a different method without infringing on any patents. Like how Tylenol is the molecule Acetaminophen, and a pharmaceutical company can create and sell acetaminophen so long as they don’t use the same particular method that Tylenol uses.
        But here the patent covers an “idea” rather than a “method”.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          In the U.S. patents themselves cannot cover ideas, only approaches to a problem. It’s just that they find ways to cover the the idea anyway. See “one click buying” from amazon.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      It’s just wrong phrasing. IP (intellectual property) is a silly term that tries to cover (and confuse) various forms of things you can own that are not physical things. It typically is suggested to cover such categories as: trade secrets, trademarks, copyright, and patents. So an IP patent is just a bizarrely described patent.

      As for what can be patented, yes the idea is that you can patent a specific implementation, or specific methods, not the idea of a thing. However, decades of attack on this idea have degraded our bar somewhat for what level of specificity is needed to define a legitimate patent. The attack methods are things such as: 1) filing many patents on every possible way you can think to do a thing, to try to make all the other ways to achieve the same result owned by you, thus owning the idea. 2) Describing your ‘invention’ in such a way as you make parts very vague and broad, and parts very narrow and specific, in the hope that it seems scary to other people, and full invalidation seems difficult.

      Of course the main attack has been a change in the general climate, where the patent office is assaulted by a torrent of low quality claims, with a limited manpower to sort through them, and a general expectation that they should be passed (they are in fact paid for plowing through these claims at a high rate of speed). Essentially business has successfully co-opted the process, partially corrupting it, by social, lobbying, and tactical measures.

  14. JoeGuy says:

    No parent in the world should be evil enough to name their child – B.J. Bumgardner!?

  15. Neurotic says:

    “Barry Bumgardner” – surely a name from a Robert Rankin novel.

  16. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Patent law in IT is, generally, a nonsense. There are a few exceptions but not many.

  17. jorygriffis says:

    I have a Doom II CD-ROM from 1994 that uses the same kind of copy protection to unlock Ultimate Doom off the disc.

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  19. trjp says:

    When this appeared on Twitter, earlier, someone posted this as a suitable backstory and I found it quite interesting (and utterly terrifying)

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

    Grit your teeth through the initial ads (some can be forward-skipped) and that’s around 55 mins of scary stuff – well put together.

    It describes the whole situation as a ‘cold war nuclear standoff’ with tech companies amassing patents just to scare other tech companies from suing them because they’ll just sue back.

    At some point we’re going to have to

    a – overhaul patents to remove about 80% of them
    b – place a requirement that you don’t just have to ‘invent’ something ‘novel’ but you also have to DO something with it – not just sit and wait for someone to troll.

    The wealth behind this system is going to make that pretty hard tho – I think the best situtation will be that the trolls run so many shell companies and other organisations that they accidentally sue themselves one day and put themselves out of business.

    It sounds like it a joke but I reckon it could actually happen – so tortuous are their attempts to hide their greed and lack of any actual talent.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      b – place a requirement that you don’t just have to ‘invent’ something ‘novel’ but you also have to DO something with it – not just sit and wait for someone to troll.

      This is the key to the whole thing. Copyright & Trademarks work like this which is why Tim Langdell had to make a farce of actually making & selling games to be able to trademark troll effectively otherwise the courts would be able to say “sry nop”.
      Patents should get say 5 or 10 years of uncontested ownership once registered & only renewed if you’re doing something with it after that period (and you would have to prove you’re using it, e.g. selling a product or service which implements the patent).