Discussion:
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
(too old to reply)
theodp
2004-04-07 06:52:24 UTC
Permalink
--> From http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040406/1349225.shtml

Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
Contributed by Mike on Tuesday, April 6th, 2004 @ 01:49PM
from the yeah,-that's-non-obvious dept.

theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game, a graphic representation of the
state of the game when the game was saved, a description of the game
state when the game was saved, and a date and time that the game was
saved.'" I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but
the more I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly
"non-obvious"?

--> Link to Patent

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102

--> Link to Patent File History (Shows Two Earlier Rejections)

http://pair.uspto.gov/cgi-bin/final/pairsearch.pl?searchtype=patent&patentnumber=6,716,102
Milo T.
2004-04-07 07:56:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by theodp
--> From http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040406/1349225.shtml
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
from the yeah,-that's-non-obvious dept.
theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game, a graphic representation of the
state of the game when the game was saved, a description of the game
state when the game was saved, and a date and time that the game was
saved.'" I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but
the more I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly
"non-obvious"?
--> Link to Patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
As with most patents, the important part is not the abstract.

Try reading the claims and the summary.
--
People in the killfile (and whose posts I won't read) as of 4/7/2004
12:54:28 AM:
Peter Kohlmann, T.Max Devlin. Matt Templeton (scored down)
Peter Jensen
2004-04-07 08:47:29 UTC
Permalink
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Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
As with most patents, the important part is not the abstract.
Try reading the claims and the summary.
Did you? If you did, you would find the same claims (among others, of
course). The point is that those claims are *nothing* new. In fact,
most of it has been done for well over a decade. They should *only*
patent what's actually new and innovative, but this *is* Microsoft we're
talking about. Such a patent would be quite thin ...

[Followup-To: comp.os.linux.advocacy]

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--
PeKaJe

"The wages of sin are death; but after they're done taking out taxes,
it's just a tired feeling:"
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-07 09:07:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
...
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
As with most patents, the important part is not the abstract.
Try reading the claims and the summary.
The essence of Claim 1 in its entirety is: a game console, a processor;
two hard disks, and on each hard disk, data associated with a program.

Since processors, hard disks, data, and program, are very generic terms,
how much this patent will cover will likely hinge on what 'game console'
means. And, from reading some of the patent, it seems to me that pretty
much any machine that lets you play games is a game console.

The closest thing I find to a definition of 'game console' in the patent
is:

The gaming system includes a game console and one or more controllers.
The game console is equipped with a processor and a non-removable hard
disk drive coupled to the processor. The game console may also include
a memory, a portable media drive configured to communicate with a
storage disc, one or more portable memory units, and broadband
connectivity. In other implementations, the hard disk drive is
configured to store game data, audio data, and video data

The 'may also' and 'other implementations' parts are optional, so the
essential elements of a game console are:

processor
non-removable hard disk

Claim 1 would thus appear to cover almost every game-capable computer
system that has two hard disks; presumably including high-end TRS-80 and
Apple-II models from the 1970s.
--
Rahul
LEE Sau Dan
2004-04-07 12:07:31 UTC
Permalink
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 15:18:20 UTC
Permalink
Rahul> Since processors, hard disks, data, and program, are very
Rahul> generic terms, how much this patent will cover will likely
Rahul> hinge on what 'game console' means. And, from reading some
Rahul> of the patent, it seems to me that pretty much any machine
Rahul> that lets you play games is a game console.
Then, you need to define "game". Is life (not the game of life) not a
game? Then, why would using a computer to make a calculation not be
considered just a subgame of that grand game? Any calculation is
nothing but a number game, isn't it?
You really aren't disagreeing with Rahul.
Rahul> The gaming system includes a game console and one or more
Rahul> controllers. The game console is equipped with a processor
Rahul> and a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the
Rahul> processor. The game console may also include a memory, a
Rahul> portable media drive configured to communicate with a
Rahul> storage disc, one or more portable memory units, and
Rahul> broadband connectivity. In other implementations, the hard
Rahul> disk drive is configured to store game data, audio data,
Rahul> and video data
Any PC-type computer nowadays satisfy these "requirements". So,
they're all suddenly "game consoles"?
That is one of the big problems with this patent.
Rahul> The 'may also' and 'other implementations' parts are
Rahul> processor non-removable hard disk
So, we have to make harddisks removable so as to escape this prison.
Good! USB cases for harddisks are in production and can be quite
cheap!
Actually, no that won't help either. Removable media are
mentioned - it is just that the preferred embodiment arguably
requires a non-removable hard drive. Besides, you get back to
the original problem, that a general purpose PC is arguably
indistinguishable from a "game console". They use the same parts.
The only real difference is the packaging, which is barely
mentioned in the patent, and is arguably irrelevant.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 14:11:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
The essence of Claim 1 in its entirety is: a game console, a processor;
two hard disks, and on each hard disk, data associated with a program.
Actually, a processor coupled to one hard drive with two subdirectories.
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Since processors, hard disks, data, and program, are very generic terms,
how much this patent will cover will likely hinge on what 'game console'
means. And, from reading some of the patent, it seems to me that pretty
much any machine that lets you play games is a game console.
Such as, for example, a general purpose (personal) computer.
Post by Rahul Dhesi
The closest thing I find to a definition of 'game console' in the patent
The gaming system includes a game console and one or more controllers.
The game console is equipped with a processor and a non-removable hard
disk drive coupled to the processor. The game console may also include
a memory, a portable media drive configured to communicate with a
storage disc, one or more portable memory units, and broadband
connectivity. In other implementations, the hard disk drive is
configured to store game data, audio data, and video data
The 'may also' and 'other implementations' parts are optional, so the
processor
non-removable hard disk
Claim 1 would thus appear to cover almost every game-capable computer
system that has two hard disks; presumably including high-end TRS-80 and
Apple-II models from the 1970s.
I think that you would also arguably have to add in the implied
ability to connect to and communicate with a gaming controller.
But of course, these have also been available for general purpose
computer systems for a long time. But of course, this is only
implied, and the only two hardware requirements are a processor
coupled to a hard drive.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-07 19:39:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
processor
non-removable hard disk
...But of course, this is only
implied, and the only two hardware requirements are a processor
coupled to a hard drive.
And, under the Doctrine of Equivalents, arguabley non-removable disk
drives are equivalent to removable disk drives, for two reasons. First,
non-removable disk driver are removable -- otherwise you could not replace
a defective non-removable disk drive. Second, both types of disk
drives function in exactly the same way.
--
Rahul
CJT
2004-04-08 01:49:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
...
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
As with most patents, the important part is not the abstract.
Try reading the claims and the summary.
The essence of Claim 1 in its entirety is: a game console, a processor;
two hard disks, and on each hard disk, data associated with a program.
Since processors, hard disks, data, and program, are very generic terms,
how much this patent will cover will likely hinge on what 'game console'
means. And, from reading some of the patent, it seems to me that pretty
much any machine that lets you play games is a game console.
The closest thing I find to a definition of 'game console' in the patent
The gaming system includes a game console and one or more controllers.
The game console is equipped with a processor and a non-removable hard
disk drive coupled to the processor. The game console may also include
a memory, a portable media drive configured to communicate with a
storage disc, one or more portable memory units, and broadband
connectivity. In other implementations, the hard disk drive is
configured to store game data, audio data, and video data
The 'may also' and 'other implementations' parts are optional, so the
processor
non-removable hard disk
Claim 1 would thus appear to cover almost every game-capable computer
system that has two hard disks; presumably including high-end TRS-80 and
Apple-II models from the 1970s.
We used to play games on an IBM mainframe in the 60's -- I guess that
would be prior art.
--
The e-mail address in our reply-to line is reversed in an attempt to
minimize spam. Our true address is of the form ***@prodigy.net.
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 02:13:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by CJT
We used to play games on an IBM mainframe in the 60's -- I guess that
would be prior art.
Did the games prevent other applications from being able to read saved
game files? If not, then it's not prior art for this patent.

Did the saved game files include an image of the game state? If not,
then it's not prior art for this patent.

How long were filenames on the 60's IBM mainframes? I suspect they
weren't even long enough to contain a description of the game state, so
it wasn't prior art for this patent.

Your statement makes me think that you haven't read the patent, except
perhaps for the one paragraph from the summary that the OP excerpted.
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 03:21:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by CJT
We used to play games on an IBM mainframe in the 60's -- I guess that
would be prior art.
Did the games prevent other applications from being able to read saved
game files? If not, then it's not prior art for this patent.
Did the saved game files include an image of the game state? If not,
then it's not prior art for this patent.
How long were filenames on the 60's IBM mainframes? I suspect they
weren't even long enough to contain a description of the game state, so
it wasn't prior art for this patent.
Your statement makes me think that you haven't read the patent, except
perhaps for the one paragraph from the summary that the OP excerpted.
I would suggest that you are mistaking invalidating, through prior
art, some of the broader claims, versus invalidating some of the
narrower claims. I think that an argument could be made that
the IBM mainframes of the 60's, and probably more likely, some
of the other mainframes of that era (with more sophisticated file
systems) might indeed invalidate some of the broader claims.

For example, claim 1:
1. A game console, comprising:
a processor; and
a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor, the hard disk
drive including a first subdirectory configured to store data associated
with a first application, and the hard disk drive including a second
subdirectory configured to store data associated with a second application.

As I noted before, claim 2 specifies that the first application is
a game, and thus claim 1 must include other types of applications.

You definately had processors and hard drives in that era. The
problem with IBM mainframes of that era was their disk organization -
you tended to have one directory per volume, or multi-volume set.
Regardless of the ultimate appearance of having multiple directories
on a volume - which I don't think came with IBM until the 1970's,
the actual storage was typically fairly flat. (

Of course, IBM wasn't the only computer architecture of that era.
Multics, Exec 8, and GCOS all had more sophisticated file system
organizations during that time, and probably at least one of them
could support multiple subdirectories on a given hard drive.

The one proviso though might be that at that time, disk drives
were typically so large physically that they were typically
not integrated in the same box as a processor. But then,
the processors, along with their memories, were quite large
themselves. I can remember seeing our engineers making logic
corrections to processors by soldering wires. The problem is
that one could argue that a game console implies integration
of processor and disk drive in the same box, which really
didn't come until a bit later. But again, this was an engineering
decision, etc., and arguably again, is not significant.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Christopher C. Stacy
2004-04-08 18:37:55 UTC
Permalink
Bruce> For example, claim 1:
Bruce> 1. A game console, comprising:
Bruce> a processor; and
Bruce> a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor, the hard
Bruce> disk drive including a first subdirectory configured to store data

Bruce> Regardless of the ultimate appearance of having multiple directories
Bruce> on a volume - which I don't think came with IBM until the 1970's,
Bruce> the actual storage was typically fairly flat. (

Bruce> Of course, IBM wasn't the only computer architecture of that era.
Bruce> Multics, Exec 8, and GCOS all had more sophisticated file system
Bruce> organizations during that time, and probably at least one of them
Bruce> could support multiple subdirectories on a given hard drive.

Just FYI on this technology art point: You're off by a decade there,
because disk directory systems like you are describing. were on some
computer systems in the early 1960s (certainly no later than 1963).
Mike
2004-04-08 05:41:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
...
Post by Milo T.
Post by theodp
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
As with most patents, the important part is not the abstract.
Try reading the claims and the summary.
The essence of Claim 1 in its entirety is: a game console, a processor;
two hard disks, and on each hard disk, data associated with a program.
Since processors, hard disks, data, and program, are very generic terms,
how much this patent will cover will likely hinge on what 'game console'
means. And, from reading some of the patent, it seems to me that pretty
much any machine that lets you play games is a game console.
Rahul, reading a patent is more difficult than that. Claim 1 is an
independent claim; the following claims further specify the claim. Yes,
claim 1 is very general. That's the way it's supposed to be. In this case,
claims 2 through 9 further specify claim 1. Claim 10 is another independent
claim, which by itself is general, like claim 1. Claims 11 through 13 and
18 through 19 further specify claim 10, and claims 14 through 17 further
specify claim 13, and so on. The idea is to build a case such that the
final dependent claims are relatively independent of each other. That way,
any one of them could be found unenforceable without invalidating the
others.

Let's say you had invented the unicycle. In your first claim, you might
claim that it comprised a frame, a wheel, and a seat. That's hardly new,
but you'd add additional dependent claims to further specify what makes a
unicycle unique. In the end, your independent claim forms the foundation
for your unicycle - but the independent claims are the meat of the patent.

That's not to say the independent claims aren't important. If someone else
comes along and invents a unicycle without a seat, then your first claim is
inapplicable, and all the dependent claims are also inapplicable. At the
same time, making it an overreaching claim isn't good either - sooner or
later you have to get specific, or you'll just be claiming something that
already exists, and your patent will be unenforceable.

So, you're looking at this patent the wrong way, and giving it far too much
scope in the process. The first claim is for a video game that includes a
game console, processor, two hard disks, and data. Other video game
consoles that do not include two hard disks or a console are _not_ covered.
Taken in that light, it's not so overreaching after all.

-- Mike --
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-08 06:19:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike
Rahul, reading a patent is more difficult than that. Claim 1 is an
independent claim; the following claims further specify the claim. Yes,
claim 1 is very general. That's the way it's supposed to be.
Why limit Claim 1 to covering only half the computer systems in
existence? Wouldn't it be better if Claim 1 covered all computer
systems?
--
Rahul
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 07:27:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Mike
Rahul, reading a patent is more difficult than that. Claim 1 is an
independent claim; the following claims further specify the claim. Yes,
claim 1 is very general. That's the way it's supposed to be.
Why limit Claim 1 to covering only half the computer systems in
existence? Wouldn't it be better if Claim 1 covered all computer
systems?
Perhaps they weren't able to get the patent approved with such a broad
claim.

Although it doesn't seem to have a precise enough definition to satisfy
the folks in this thread, maybe the patent examiner took the phrase
"game console" more literally, to refer to a dedicated game-running
device rather than a general-purpose computer. If that's not the
intent, what's the point of saying "A game console, comprising..."
rather than "A computer, comprising..."?
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Peter Jensen
2004-04-08 09:25:18 UTC
Permalink
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Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Why limit Claim 1 to covering only half the computer systems in
existence? Wouldn't it be better if Claim 1 covered all computer
systems?
Perhaps they weren't able to get the patent approved with such a broad
claim.
They have enough other broad claims, and still got it approved ...
Post by Barry Margolin
Although it doesn't seem to have a precise enough definition to
satisfy the folks in this thread, maybe the patent examiner took the
phrase "game console" more literally, to refer to a dedicated
game-running device rather than a general-purpose computer.
That's a bad patent examiner, then. What, exactly, sets apart a
game-running device and a general-purpose computer? Something like that
needs to be *specifically* defined, and *not* up to interpretation, or
the patent could be misused.
Post by Barry Margolin
If that's not the intent, what's the point of saying "A game console,
comprising..." rather than "A computer, comprising..."?
If they are vague enough, they might get the patent approved because the
examiner interprets game console in the way it's *probably* meant to be
used, but Microsoft could still attempt to apply the patent to all
computers. It wouldn't be beneath them to try such tricks.

At any rate, the patent should have never been approved, as it doesn't
cover anything really new or innovative. At least nothing non-trivial.

[Followup-To: comp.os.linux.advocacy]

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--
PeKaJe

Men use thought only to justify their wrong doings, and speech only to
conceal their thoughts. -- Voltaire
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 09:58:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Why limit Claim 1 to covering only half the computer systems in
existence? Wouldn't it be better if Claim 1 covered all computer
systems?
I really don't see from just the patent why it shouldn't.
Post by Barry Margolin
Perhaps they weren't able to get the patent approved with such a broad
claim.
Although it doesn't seem to have a precise enough definition to satisfy
the folks in this thread, maybe the patent examiner took the phrase
"game console" more literally, to refer to a dedicated game-running
device rather than a general-purpose computer. If that's not the
intent, what's the point of saying "A game console, comprising..."
rather than "A computer, comprising..."?
I am trying to find something on which to hang my hat as far as
validating the broader claims, such as the notorious claim 1.
The problem is that in the patent, a game console is defined as
part of a game system, and a game system is defined as something
that could arguably include a general purpose computer. You
seem to be arguing for a definition based on the term itself,
or maybe on the few examples (PS2, XBox) given in the patent.

But there are two problems with that. First, a patent applicant
(or his attorney/agent) is his own lexographer. Here, one could
argue that the applicant defined game systems as being "capable of
playing game discs, music CDs, and movie DVDs from a disc drive",
game systems having a game console, controller(s), and a display,
and game consoles having a processor, memory, and a hard drive.

What was startling somewhat was the XBox description as
essentially a slightly stripped down PC, built with commodity
PC parts, repackaged, but, never the less, from a hardware
point of view, a PC.

Secondly, we don't know where technology is going to be in 2023
when this patent will potentially expire. Early game machiines
were truly custom built and provided minimumal functionality.
The difference between them and computers was fairly evident.
But when they essentially become repackaged PCs, the gap has
closed almost all the way, and I will suggest that it is likely
that the gap will close the rest of the way in the very near
future.

Where do you draw the line? I don't think that it is clear
from the patent. Is it when you can't do word processing
on the game console? Is it when you can't do spreadsheets?
Is it when the purpose of the item is primarily game playing?
But how do you characterize a living room appliance that
provides TiVo capabilities, allows surfing the Web using your
HDTV as a monitor, and, by the way, can play all of those XBox
games? After all, why do you think MSFT got into this business
in the first place? If they control both the office environment
and a good percentage of the gaming environment, they have a
good chance at controlling the room appliance business.

As to why not say a "computer", etc.? We have had any number
of examples where a computer comprises:
a processor; and
a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor, the hard disk
drive including a first subdirectory configured to store data associated
with a first application, and the hard disk drive including a second
subdirectory configured to store data associated with a second application.

Most notably, MSFT's own NT Windows operating systems. In
particular, this Windows 2000 system stores the configuration
parameters for each different application in its own subdirectory.
Thus, Netscape/Mozilla uses here:
E:\Documents and Settings\BEHSYSD.BEHSYSD\Application Data\Mozilla
While Phoenix uses:
E:\Documents and Settings\BEHSYSD.BEHSYSD\Application Data\Phoenix
and Adobe Acrobat uses:
E:\Documents and Settings\BEHSYSD.BEHSYSD\Application Data\Adobe\Acrobat

Clearly subdirectories associated with different applications.
Note BTW that if you don't turn your MSFT Windows sytem into a
multiuser system, it really won't be. My laptop, as shipped from HP,
had one user, "Owner". In older versions (Win98), turning a system
into a multiuser system required a major reconfiguration of files.
NT versions just start with the above setup. Most people leave
their Windows running as single user systems, and thus, there is
only one subdirectory in which to store, for example, your Netscape
application data, such as your mailbox, cache, etc., as opposed
to the one per user in a multiuser system.

Thus, you have "a first subdirectory configured to store data associated
with a first application", and "a second subdirectory configured to
store data associated with a second application", all typically
on the same disk drive.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
LEE Sau Dan
2004-04-08 10:02:03 UTC
Permalink
Tim Smith
2004-04-08 09:26:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike
So, you're looking at this patent the wrong way, and giving it far too
much scope in the process. The first claim is for a video game that
includes a game console, processor, two hard disks, and data. Other video
game consoles that do not include two hard disks or a console are _not_
covered. Taken in that light, it's not so overreaching after all.
Except it does not say anything about two disks in the first claim. It says
two subdirectories.
--
--Tim Smith
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 10:09:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike
Rahul, reading a patent is more difficult than that. Claim 1 is an
independent claim; the following claims further specify the claim. Yes,
claim 1 is very general. That's the way it's supposed to be. In this case,
claims 2 through 9 further specify claim 1. Claim 10 is another independent
claim, which by itself is general, like claim 1. Claims 11 through 13 and
18 through 19 further specify claim 10, and claims 14 through 17 further
specify claim 13, and so on. The idea is to build a case such that the
final dependent claims are relatively independent of each other. That way,
any one of them could be found unenforceable without invalidating the
others.
Let's clarify a little. Dependent claims further LIMIT the claim on
which they depend, not SPECIFY. Thus, claim 2 specifies that the
first application is a game. Since claim 2 must further limit claim 1,
claim 1 must by necessity include other than games as the first
application. Otherwise, the two claims would be identical, and thus
not both be allowable. This, BTW, is a technique that many of us
use to broaden terms in the broader claims. First application in
claim 1 is broader than just games, since it is a game in claim 2.
Post by Mike
Let's say you had invented the unicycle. In your first claim, you might
claim that it comprised a frame, a wheel, and a seat. That's hardly new,
but you'd add additional dependent claims to further specify what makes a
unicycle unique. In the end, your independent claim forms the foundation
for your unicycle - but the independent claims are the meat of the patent.
Except of course, that a frame, a wheel, and a seat reads on bicycles,
trycycles, etc.
Post by Mike
That's not to say the independent claims aren't important. If someone else
comes along and invents a unicycle without a seat, then your first claim is
inapplicable, and all the dependent claims are also inapplicable. At the
same time, making it an overreaching claim isn't good either - sooner or
later you have to get specific, or you'll just be claiming something that
already exists, and your patent will be unenforceable.
The other problem is that if you have it too broad, such as your
independent unicycle claim, it reads on other things, such as here,
bicycles and tricycles, and if they are old art, then your claim would
be invalid through lack of novelty or obviousness.
Post by Mike
So, you're looking at this patent the wrong way, and giving it far too much
scope in the process. The first claim is for a video game that includes a
game console, processor, two hard disks, and data. Other video game
consoles that do not include two hard disks or a console are _not_ covered.
Taken in that light, it's not so overreaching after all.
Two disk drives? I see only one:
1. A game console, comprising:
a processor; and
a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor, the hard disk
drive including a first subdirectory configured to store data associated
with a first application, and the hard disk drive including a second
subdirectory configured to store data associated with a second application.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Mike
2004-04-08 14:51:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Mike
Rahul, reading a patent is more difficult than that. Claim 1 is an
independent claim; the following claims further specify the claim. Yes,
claim 1 is very general. That's the way it's supposed to be. In this case,
claims 2 through 9 further specify claim 1. Claim 10 is another independent
claim, which by itself is general, like claim 1. Claims 11 through 13 and
18 through 19 further specify claim 10, and claims 14 through 17 further
specify claim 13, and so on. The idea is to build a case such that the
final dependent claims are relatively independent of each other. That way,
any one of them could be found unenforceable without invalidating the
others.
Let's clarify a little. Dependent claims further LIMIT the claim on
which they depend, not SPECIFY. Thus, claim 2 specifies that the
first application is a game. Since claim 2 must further limit claim 1,
claim 1 must by necessity include other than games as the first
application. Otherwise, the two claims would be identical, and thus
not both be allowable. This, BTW, is a technique that many of us
use to broaden terms in the broader claims. First application in
claim 1 is broader than just games, since it is a game in claim 2.
Okay, limit it is. Specify was not the best choice on my part, since the
patent specification is a separate part of the patent. In this case, I used
specify in the sense of stating something in detail, with the dependent
claims providing additional detail.
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Mike
Let's say you had invented the unicycle. In your first claim, you might
claim that it comprised a frame, a wheel, and a seat. That's hardly new,
but you'd add additional dependent claims to further specify what makes a
unicycle unique. In the end, your independent claim forms the foundation
for your unicycle - but the independent claims are the meat of the patent.
And, continuing my tradition of typographical errors, that sentence should
have been, "... but the _dependent_ claims are the meat of the patent."
Post by Bruce Hayden
Except of course, that a frame, a wheel, and a seat reads on bicycles,
trycycles, etc.
Hmmm... I can't resist: Is a trycycle a tricycle with flat tires?

-- Mike --
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 17:02:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike
Post by Bruce Hayden
Let's clarify a little. Dependent claims further LIMIT the claim on
which they depend, not SPECIFY. ...
Okay, limit it is. Specify was not the best choice on my part, since the
patent specification is a separate part of the patent. In this case, I used
specify in the sense of stating something in detail, with the dependent
claims providing additional detail.
At one level you are right. But the reason we (patent attys and agents)
put the detail in the dependent claims is to try to broaden the claims
upon which they depend. Otherwise, we would just write what we call
"picture" claims - that include all of the detail in the first place.

As noted, by the very action of including claim 2, claim 1 is
essentially broadened to include more than just games. MSFT cannot
now go back and try to limit "applications" to games. This of course
works both offensively (which is why we do it) and defensively
(which is where I am coming from).

As an obvious note, the reason that I picked claim 2 was that an
argument could be made that a game console is limited to a box that
plays games. That won't fly, based on the interaction between
claims 1 and 2.
Post by Mike
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Mike
Let's say you had invented the unicycle. In your first claim, you might
claim that it comprised a frame, a wheel, and a seat. That's hardly new,
but you'd add additional dependent claims to further specify what makes a
unicycle unique. In the end, your independent claim forms the foundation
for your unicycle - but the independent claims are the meat of the patent.
And, continuing my tradition of typographical errors, that sentence should
have been, "... but the _dependent_ claims are the meat of the patent."
I am not sure that I agree with this. It depends on how you are going
to assert a patent. If you sue someone, then infringing dependent
claims is preferable to infringing just independent claims, since it
is likely that you will still have valid claims after the other side
gets done trying to invalidatte them. But when doing cross-licensing,
you look more at the independent claims, and only fall back on the
dependent claims if a 102 bar can be found to the broader claims.

The basic difference here is that, in my experience, you can use
both 102 (lack of novelty) and 103 (obviousness) in a patent suit,
but are typically limited to 102 in cross-licensing, since you could
argue until the cows come home about obviousness. Novelty tends to
be a lot more black and white than obviousness - during prosecution,
litigation, and cross-licensing.

I tend to look at the indepedent and other broader claims first.
This often works, but led me astray here, as my (unofficial, not
sufficiently researched) opinion is that some of the broader
claims are probably invalid, but many of the narrower ones are not.
Post by Mike
Post by Bruce Hayden
Except of course, that a frame, a wheel, and a seat reads on bicycles,
trycycles, etc.
Hmmm... I can't resist: Is a trycycle a tricycle with flat tires?
Ok, got this right once (I think) and wrong once. I don't
know why I kept thinking bycycle and trycycle when typing
this. One problem that I have is that I am currently using
Mozilla, instead of Netscape. One of the few value addeds that
Netscape provides is a spelling checker. But Mozilla has much
better popup controls and the like. For example, I can tell
it to block images from certain sites (like doubleclick.net).
Netscape appears to honor the Mozilla programming, but cannot
itself do much of it (they are built on the same code base,
and share the same configuration files, mail boxes, cache, etc.)

Long way of saying sorry, and good joke.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Mike
2004-04-09 05:09:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Mike
Post by Bruce Hayden
Let's clarify a little. Dependent claims further LIMIT the claim on
which they depend, not SPECIFY. ...
Okay, limit it is. Specify was not the best choice on my part, since the
patent specification is a separate part of the patent. In this case, I used
specify in the sense of stating something in detail, with the dependent
claims providing additional detail.
At one level you are right. But the reason we (patent attys and agents)
put the detail in the dependent claims is to try to broaden the claims
upon which they depend. Otherwise, we would just write what we call
"picture" claims - that include all of the detail in the first place.
As noted, by the very action of including claim 2, claim 1 is
essentially broadened to include more than just games. MSFT cannot
now go back and try to limit "applications" to games. This of course
works both offensively (which is why we do it) and defensively
(which is where I am coming from).
As an obvious note, the reason that I picked claim 2 was that an
argument could be made that a game console is limited to a box that
plays games. That won't fly, based on the interaction between
claims 1 and 2.
Thanks for the explanation. In this case, it seems like even the word limit
is something of a misnomer, since I'd normally consider limit and broaden
to be somewhat opposite in meaning. In any event, it's interesting to see
how the dependent claims can be used to broaden the independent claim.

...
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Mike
Post by Bruce Hayden
Except of course, that a frame, a wheel, and a seat reads on bicycles,
trycycles, etc.
Hmmm... I can't resist: Is a trycycle a tricycle with flat tires?
Ok, got this right once (I think) and wrong once. I don't
know why I kept thinking bycycle and trycycle when typing
this. One problem that I have is that I am currently using
Mozilla, instead of Netscape. One of the few value addeds that
Netscape provides is a spelling checker. But Mozilla has much
better popup controls and the like. For example, I can tell
it to block images from certain sites (like doubleclick.net).
Netscape appears to honor the Mozilla programming, but cannot
itself do much of it (they are built on the same code base,
and share the same configuration files, mail boxes, cache, etc.)
Long way of saying sorry, and good joke.
No need to apologize - I'm just glad you weren't offended. As you might
have guessed, my involvement with patents is peripheral, and comes from the
interaction with patents that results my work as an integrated circuit
design engineer. In recent years I've been tempted to study for the Agent's
exam. Even though I doubt I could put it to much direct use, it would be
nice to know more about the details of patents. Do you have any thoughts on
how much work is involved, and whether or not it would be worthwhile?

-- Mike --
Richard Tanzer
2004-04-11 13:48:44 UTC
Permalink
... As you might have guessed, my involvement with patents is
peripheral, and comes from the interaction with patents that results my
work as an integrated circuit design engineer. In recent years I've
been tempted to study for the Agent's exam. Even though I doubt I could
put it to much direct use, it would be nice to know more about the
details of patents. Do you have any thoughts on how much work is
involved, and whether or not it would be worthwhile?
-- Mike --
In my experience, becoming a patent agent was worth the effort.

As in your situation, prior to taking the patent bar exam I had no formal
legal training; nevertheless, I did have a fair amount of exposure to the
patenting process. As an inventor I worked with patent attorneys on
drafting and prosecuting patent applications. I also served as a witness
in patent litigation. Prior to taking the patent bar exam I had 27 years
of experience as an industrial chemist.

While I haven't yet written and prosecuted any patent applications
entirely on my own, the learning required to pass the exam has been
beneficial. In discussions with patent counsel I better understand their
recommendations and I am better able to suggest alternatives and ask more
probing questions.

My current position involves reviewing patent applications and office
actions for my group. The understanding I've gained by studying patent
procedure and law - prior to and since taking the exam - have enabled me
to do a superior job.

Another (potential) benefit of being a patent agent is it gives you one
more credential on your resume. I expect that businesses involved in
patents would take a closer look as a scientist or engineer candidate who
is also a patent agent than they would at an equally qualified candidate
who lacks that credential.

Best of luck in whatever you decide.


Richard Tanzer
Patent Agent
Stefaan A Eeckels
2004-04-08 11:26:46 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 22:41:18 -0700
Post by Mike
So, you're looking at this patent the wrong way, and giving it far too
much scope in the process. The first claim is for a video game that
includes a game console, processor, two hard disks, and data. Other
video game consoles that do not include two hard disks or a console are
_not_ covered. Taken in that light, it's not so overreaching after all.
Where do you see the requirement for two hard disks? Claim #1
simply requires a single hard disk with two separate subdirectories:

| 1. A game console, comprising:
|
| a processor; and
|
| a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor,
| the hard disk drive including a first subdirectory configured
| to store data associated with a first application, and the
| hard disk drive including a second subdirectory configured
| to store data associated with a second application.

Claims 2-9 further specify

- that the first application (but not the second) is a game,
- that there can be more subdirectories, storing either
"saved game data" or "data generated by the game",
- that the first application (but not the second) can be read from
removable media in a drive coupled to the console of #1,
- that the console can include a "console application" that prevents
applications one and two from accessing each other's data.

<aside>
It would seem that they use "processor" to mean something that
can execute games, not a CPU. The claims never go in detail about
the architecture of the console. The description on the other hand
is very loquacious, and cites different levels of cache.
</aside>

Two memory units are mentioned only when they talk about
devices assoiated with the controls, or removable devices.

I'm puzzled by Claim #20, a game system with a console, a controller
and a memory unit that is designed to store game data, but where
(confusingly, IMHO) the console prevents the storage of non-saved
data in said memory unit. In other words, it would seem that this
is a non-functional arragement as far as the storage of configuration
data is concerned.

Take care,
--
Stefaan
--
"What is stated clearly conceives easily." -- Inspired sales droid
Mike
2004-04-08 14:34:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stefaan A Eeckels
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 22:41:18 -0700
Post by Mike
So, you're looking at this patent the wrong way, and giving it far too
much scope in the process. The first claim is for a video game that
includes a game console, processor, two hard disks, and data. Other
video game consoles that do not include two hard disks or a console are
_not_ covered. Taken in that light, it's not so overreaching after all.
Where do you see the requirement for two hard disks? Claim #1
|
| a processor; and
|
| a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor,
| the hard disk drive including a first subdirectory configured
| to store data associated with a first application, and the
| hard disk drive including a second subdirectory configured
| to store data associated with a second application.
Claims 2-9 further specify
- that the first application (but not the second) is a game,
- that there can be more subdirectories, storing either
"saved game data" or "data generated by the game",
- that the first application (but not the second) can be read from
removable media in a drive coupled to the console of #1,
- that the console can include a "console application" that prevents
applications one and two from accessing each other's data.
<aside>
It would seem that they use "processor" to mean something that
can execute games, not a CPU. The claims never go in detail about
the architecture of the console. The description on the other hand
is very loquacious, and cites different levels of cache.
</aside>
Two memory units are mentioned only when they talk about
devices assoiated with the controls, or removable devices.
I'm puzzled by Claim #20, a game system with a console, a controller
and a memory unit that is designed to store game data, but where
(confusingly, IMHO) the console prevents the storage of non-saved
data in said memory unit. In other words, it would seem that this
is a non-functional arragement as far as the storage of configuration
data is concerned.
Take care,
--
Stefaan
Tim, Bruce, and Stefaan,

You're right.

I suspect I read the first claim too quickly, and read "...the hard disk
drive including a second subdirectory..." as "a second hard drive including
a second directory..."

In any event, it says nothing about a second disk drive.

-- Mike --
nobody
2004-04-10 19:25:38 UTC
Permalink
Rahul Dhesi wrote:
[...]
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Claim 1 would thus appear to cover almost every game-capable computer
system that has two hard disks; presumably including high-end TRS-80 and
Apple-II models from the 1970s.
i haven't read the entire thing yet, but to the extent you're accurate,
this one won't survive even one simple challenge. the difficulty lies
in arcane language and claim dependency -- one claim depends on a
preceding claim, depends on next previous one, and so on. you must do a
lot of digging to find the basis of the patent, and it could be quite
narrow.
Kadaitcha Man
2004-04-07 08:01:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by theodp
--> From http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040406/1349225.shtml
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
from the yeah,-that's-non-obvious dept.
theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game, a graphic representation of the
state of the game when the game was saved, a description of the game
state when the game was saved, and a date and time that the game was
saved.'" I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but
the more I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly
"non-obvious"?
--> Link to Patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
--> Link to Patent File History (Shows Two Earlier Rejections)
http://pair.uspto.gov/cgi-bin/final/pairsearch.pl?searchtype=patent&patentnumber=6,716,102

If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
--
http://kadaitcha.cx
Windows XP Problem and Troubleshooting Resources
<a href="http://kadaitcha.cx"></a>
Alan Balmer
2004-04-07 16:08:21 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
--
Al Balmer
Balmer Consulting
***@att.net
Dr. Bill
2004-04-07 18:54:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alan Balmer
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total
fucktard, it relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is
that developers will have to agree to a license in order to save
extensive game data in XBox format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
Hi Steve,
I watch that fuckers medical condition close, he once had to cope with
*Synapse* Syndrome and he was succesful on that.
Cheers dr. Bill
Emma Anne
2004-04-07 19:02:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alan Balmer
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
It's called Tourette Syndrome, actually (not Tourette's Syndrome). I
know someone who has it, though he doesn't swear, just tics.
Alan Balmer
2004-04-07 19:25:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Emma Anne
Post by Alan Balmer
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
It's called Tourette Syndrome, actually (not Tourette's Syndrome). I
know someone who has it, though he doesn't swear, just tics.
Actually, it's called by both names ;-) It was named for Dr. Georges
Gilles de la Tourette, who described it in 1885. Take a look at
http://www.neurobc.com/conditions/tourette.htm .

As you mention, not all Tourette's sufferers exhibit coprolalia, and
obviously not all those who appear to exhibit coprolalia actually have
Tourette's. Most have other problems.
--
Al Balmer
Balmer Consulting
***@att.net
PuddleNuts
2004-04-07 19:43:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Emma Anne
Post by Alan Balmer
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
It's called Tourette Syndrome, actually (not Tourette's Syndrome). I
know someone who has it, though he doesn't swear, just tics.
That was actually a postulation on Emma Anne's part. According to
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/ it IS commonly referred to as
Tourette's Syndrome/Disorder.

Not trying to be a jerk or anything, just making a point.
--
Your proctologist called, they found your head.
Emma Anne
2004-04-08 17:50:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by PuddleNuts
Post by Emma Anne
Post by Alan Balmer
On Wed, 7 Apr 2004 18:01:41 +1000, "Kadaitcha Man"
Post by Kadaitcha Man
If you actually bothered to read and understand it, you total fucktard, it
relates to XBox games over broadband. All it means is that developers will
have to agree to a license in order to save extensive game data in XBox
format. You stupid, pillocking linuxfuck.
I'm sure Bill Gates is overjoyed to have you as a friend and
supporter. Did you know that Tourette's Syndrome is treatable? See
your doctor.
It's called Tourette Syndrome, actually (not Tourette's Syndrome). I
know someone who has it, though he doesn't swear, just tics.
That was actually a postulation on Emma Anne's part. According to
http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/ it IS commonly referred to as
Tourette's Syndrome/Disorder.
Not trying to be a jerk or anything, just making a point.
You are right. It is commonly called Tourette's. I should have said
the name of the syndrome is Tourette, not that it is called Tourette.
Peter Jensen
2004-04-07 08:29:00 UTC
Permalink
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

theodp wrote:

There seems to be plenty of prior art here ...
Post by theodp
theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game,
Just about every single game allows for naming the saved game. How else
are you supposed to find it among the rest of the saved games.
Post by theodp
a graphic representation of the state of the game when the game was
saved,
The first time I saw this was with Duke Nukem 3D. A screen-shot of
whatever was seen in the game was saved along with the rest.
Post by theodp
a description of the game state when the game was saved,
HELLO! What is saved if not a description of the game state?!? "The
Ur-Quan Masters" even has a graphical representation of the most
important data from the state of the game.
Post by theodp
and a date and time that the game was saved.'"
Oh, come on! That's usually implicitly saved in the meta-data of the
file a save-game is saved in.
Post by theodp
I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but the more
I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly "non-obvious"?
It's not only obvious, there has been prior art for more than a decade.
Post by theodp
--> Link to Patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
There may be more to this patent, but I hate legalese. The above
mentioned points, however, show why software patents are evil. It's
simply too easy to patent something that's been around forever if you
bury it in enough technical mumbo-jumbo to confuse the overworked patent
clerk.

[Followup-To: comp.os.linux.advocacy]

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--
PeKaJe

Americans' greatest fear is that America will turn out to have been a
phenomenon, not a civilization. -- Shirley Hazzard, "Transit of Venus"
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 14:04:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by theodp
theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game, a graphic representation of the
state of the game when the game was saved, a description of the game
state when the game was saved, and a date and time that the game was
saved.'" I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but
the more I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly
"non-obvious"?
--> Link to Patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
--> Link to Patent File History (Shows Two Earlier Rejections)
http://pair.uspto.gov/cgi-bin/final/pairsearch.pl?searchtype=patent&patentnumber=6,716,102
Well, it is (IMHO) even a bit dodgier than from the abstract.
The first claim reads:
1. A game console, comprising:
a processor; and
a non-removable hard disk drive coupled to the processor, the hard disk
drive including a first subdirectory configured to store data associated
with a first application, and the hard disk drive including a second
subdirectory configured to store data associated with a second application.

At one level, you have a game machine with a hard drive. At another,
you could argue that it applies to general purpose computers being
used (sometimes?) as a gaming console. The detailed description
has the game console hooked to a display and controller(s), connected
via for example USB or wireless. There is little in the console
that would differenciate it from a general purpose computer.
It uses preferably industry standard busses (ISA, MCA, EISA, VESA,
PCI), has a two level cache with DDR SDRAM, etc. It preferably
has a 3D graphics processing unit, etc.

The problem here is that general purpose computers have been used
as "game consoles" for years, with almost identical hardware
configurations. Gaming controls have been in use with them for
years too. I remember using a flight simulator controller at
least a decade ago - and I am not a gamer. Add to this that
different games would logically store their own data in their
own subdirectories (arguably "conguration").

One of the things that condemns the patent to me are claims 2 and 11,
which add the restriction that the first application is a game.
This implies (since dependent claims must narrow) that applications
need not be games.

The detailed description talks about different types of data in
different regions of a disk - such as settings versus user data.
It talks about placing settings in a part of the disk only
accessably via API (note - ever hear of the Registry? I know
that MSFT is a big company, but come on). Some hardware games
here are mentioned, but then negated, as it is then generalized.

Arguably, the "configure" could refer to OS or firmware implemented
restrictions limiting a given application to a given subdirectory.
But note that even though at one point, different applications are
limited to different areas of the disk, this is negated as far as
the claims are concerned when generalized and mention is made that
this may result in running out of room in one area while there is
room elsewhere on the disk (shades of IBM mainframe architectures).
It is also somewhat negated when it is noted that some applications
could access (delete) data from multiple subdirectories.

All in all, a patent in which at least some, if not most, of the
claims should have been rejected (IMHO) due to either lack of
novelty, or more likely, obviousness. IMHO, every time I saw
something that I thought could be novel and nonobvious, it was
broadened into something that wasn't. I think that if they had
concentrated on what probably was novel and nonobvious, and
hadn't gotten greedy (through their broadening), a decent patent
might have resulted.

It should be noted that though I read the patent, that I did not do
more than peruse the list of actions in the prosecution history.
In order to truly determine the scope of the patent, it would be
necessary to review the actual documentation in that history,
most notably the contents of the office actions and their responses.
For example, during prosecution, it is possible that
MSFT made admissions therein that might have limited the meaning
of terms in the patent to the extent that a truly novel and
nonobvious invention was ultimately patented.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Martha H Adams
2004-04-07 14:18:33 UTC
Permalink
Well, you take this wonderfully generic patent, throw in Microsoft's
gigabux cash in hand and a busy legal department, and then you never
attack anyone who can defend themselves against the legal thrust
Microsoft can afford, and what does that do to the market? What was
that *meant* to do to the market?

It looks to me like Microsoft thinks Bush and the Republicans win the
coming election.

Not so cheers -- Martha Adams
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 15:13:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Martha H Adams
Well, you take this wonderfully generic patent, throw in Microsoft's
gigabux cash in hand and a busy legal department, and then you never
attack anyone who can defend themselves against the legal thrust
Microsoft can afford, and what does that do to the market? What was
that *meant* to do to the market?
Arguably spoken like someone who has never spent much time working
in the area of asserting intellectual property rights.

One obvious problem is that if they can't defend themselves, then
first they aren't a threat to MSFT, and secondly, it would cost too
much for MSFT to assert it against them in the first place, as
compared to the cost thereof.

You seem to imply that asserting patents is free. It isn't.
It had better be done by a licensed patent attorney - otherwise
MSFT would face the charge of making frivilouse claims (almost
per se) and open them to sanctions and penalties. (A patent attorney
need not actually file the suit of course, but they had better have
had an opinion by such that you infringe, etc., and any demand
letters preceding suit should come from such). Patent attorneys are
not cheap, even when on staff in a corporation. Having been
in-house patent counsel at a couple of companies, I can assure you
that they are almost invariably swamped by work that has a higher
return than asserting patents against mom and pop operations.
Post by Martha H Adams
It looks to me like Microsoft thinks Bush and the Republicans win the
coming election.
I would suggest that there is little basis for this statement
other than political paranoi. The only real difference I see
is that the Clinton USPTO head was totally incompetent (having
been appointed solely because he was gay, and not having any
patent experience whatsoever), and the Bush USPTO head being
just somewhat incompetent.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-07 20:25:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Patent attorneys are
not cheap, even when on staff in a corporation....
How expensive are they? The web site mentioned below says that patent
attorneys in the USA with 5-8 years experience earn in the range of
$105,000 - $127,000 annually. Presumably one would add around 30% for
the employer's cost in overhead/benefits/taxes.

http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_compresult_national_LE11000027.html
--
Rahul
Roger Schlafly
2004-04-07 20:57:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Bruce Hayden
Patent attorneys are
not cheap, even when on staff in a corporation....
How expensive are they? The web site mentioned below says that patent
attorneys in the USA with 5-8 years experience earn in the range of
$105,000 - $127,000 annually. Presumably one would add around 30% for
the employer's cost in overhead/benefits/taxes.
Assuming that a Msft patent lawyer could investigate a patent
and send a dozen letters relating to that patent in a week, then
I figure a cost of about $250 per letter.
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 22:38:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Schlafly
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Bruce Hayden
Patent attorneys are
not cheap, even when on staff in a corporation....
How expensive are they? The web site mentioned below says that patent
attorneys in the USA with 5-8 years experience earn in the range of
$105,000 - $127,000 annually. Presumably one would add around 30% for
the employer's cost in overhead/benefits/taxes.
Assuming that a Msft patent lawyer could investigate a patent
and send a dozen letters relating to that patent in a week, then
I figure a cost of about $250 per letter.
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?

One problem with hiring patent attorneys for this, whether inside
or outside, is that you need to be able to justify their cost.
Something as nebulous as slightly reducing competition from
mom and pop operations will not be easy to financially justify.
It is just too hard to quantify.

Regardless of the company, patent attorneys have to justify
their existance in order to get funded. How many do you hire?
Depends on how many you can financially justify. It is much
easier to financially justify asserting patents against big
companies, like IBM, Sun, etc., than against mom-and-pop
operations because of the revenue streams involved. Building
a patent portfolio is also relatively easy to justify, given
either the costs and/or the revenues from cross-licensing.

MSFT of course has the added problem that they are already viewed
as an ogre. If they started actively beating up on mom-and-pop
operations just for the fun of it, their sales are likely to
suffer more than any potential revenues - plus the possibility
that they may again get sued by some government.

My view, having worked in a couple of corporate patent departments,
is that your fears are unwarrented and unfounded. However,
should you be able to provide instances where MSFT actually
asserted its patents against mom-and-pop companies, I would
be willing to reconsider my position. Until then, I will continue
to assume that those panicking here are uninformed as to the real
world of patent assertion and corporate patent work.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Roger Schlafly
2004-04-08 23:38:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Roger Schlafly
Assuming that a Msft patent lawyer could investigate a patent
and send a dozen letters relating to that patent in a week, then
I figure a cost of about $250 per letter.
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?
Usually there is no monetary return to Msft, and Msft doesn't
bother. My point was only that Msft's cost for sending a letter
can be as low as $250.

It does occasionally happen that Msft has a business reason for
going after a small company. Not often, but occasionally.
Linønut
2004-04-09 14:55:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Schlafly
Post by Bruce Hayden
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?
Usually there is no monetary return to Msft, and Msft doesn't
bother. My point was only that Msft's cost for sending a letter
can be as low as $250.
It does occasionally happen that Msft has a business reason for
going after a small company. Not often, but occasionally.
You mean like MikeRoweSoft.com?
--
Trust your data to a Linux server or desktop!
mcubed (Michael M.)
2004-04-09 17:52:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Linønut
Post by Roger Schlafly
Post by Bruce Hayden
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?
Usually there is no monetary return to Msft, and Msft doesn't
bother. My point was only that Msft's cost for sending a letter
can be as low as $250.
It does occasionally happen that Msft has a business reason for
going after a small company. Not often, but occasionally.
You mean like MikeRoweSoft.com?
That was a trademark issue. Completely different from patent infringement.

Trademarks must be vigorously enforced in order to remain viable. Why
do you think the Slackware developer asked the Slax developer to change
the original name of the latter distro? Because he's a big evil
monopolist? You can't say, "Oh, I'll make an exception in your case
'cause I like you." If you do, you set a precedent. Then when someone
you don't like comes along with a variation you don't like, it becomes
more difficult to defend the exclusivity of your mark.
--
+------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Michael M. ~~ ***@msbx.net ~~ New York City, NY USA |
| "No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely |
| under conditions of absolute reality;..." --S. Jackson |
+------------------------------------------------------------------+
Linønut
2004-04-09 14:54:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?
It is indirect. They induce a cloud into the usage of competing products,
including GNU/Linux.
Post by Bruce Hayden
One problem with hiring patent attorneys for this, whether inside
or outside, is that you need to be able to justify their cost.
Something as nebulous as slightly reducing competition from
mom and pop operations will not be easy to financially justify.
Mom and Pop operations like IBM or HP?
--
Trust your data to a Linux server or desktop!
Albert van der Horst
2004-04-11 13:00:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Roger Schlafly
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Bruce Hayden
Patent attorneys are
not cheap, even when on staff in a corporation....
How expensive are they? The web site mentioned below says that patent
attorneys in the USA with 5-8 years experience earn in the range of
$105,000 - $127,000 annually. Presumably one would add around 30% for
the employer's cost in overhead/benefits/taxes.
Assuming that a Msft patent lawyer could investigate a patent
and send a dozen letters relating to that patent in a week, then
I figure a cost of about $250 per letter.
Doesn't work that way, at least in my experience in the real world.
A $250 infringement investigation and letter is not going to be
sufficient to overcome being frivilous. Also, why should they
bother? Where is the monetary return to MSFT?
One problem with hiring patent attorneys for this, whether inside
or outside, is that you need to be able to justify their cost.
Something as nebulous as slightly reducing competition from
mom and pop operations will not be easy to financially justify.
It is just too hard to quantify.
What you overlook is the following situation. Your "mom and pop"
operation doesn't even have a lawyer involved. They are pressed to
sign some agreement put before them that looks like the least trouble.
This agreement includes a secrecy clause.
Nobody even knows what is going on.
The same tactic can put a a programmer contributing GPL-software
out of action.

I would value your opinion about adding a clause to
patent law that make such agreements unenforceable unless
registered with the patent office (or an appointed instance.)
At least this would allow to quantify the damage done to
free enterprises.

<SNIP>
Groetjes Albert.
--
Albert van der Horst,Oranjestr 8,3511 RA UTRECHT,THE NETHERLANDS
One man-hour to invent,
One man-week to implement,
One lawyer-year to patent.
Isaac
2004-04-07 18:02:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Martha H Adams
Well, you take this wonderfully generic patent, throw in Microsoft's
gigabux cash in hand and a busy legal department, and then you never
attack anyone who can defend themselves against the legal thrust
Microsoft can afford, and what does that do to the market? What was
that *meant* to do to the market?
It looks to me like Microsoft thinks Bush and the Republicans win the
coming election.
I don't see the connection. Why would Microsoft consider who was
in the White House when drafting a patent application? What would
a Democratic Congress or administration do about this patent?

Isaac
Emma Anne
2004-04-07 19:02:46 UTC
Permalink
Is "game console" defined in the patent, by chance? I know, I could
look it up myself . . .
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-07 23:07:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Emma Anne
Is "game console" defined in the patent, by chance? I know, I could
look it up myself . . .
Not specifically, by function, as far as I can remember,
but rather by construction. As far as I can tell, it
is virtually indistinguishable from a general purpose PC
in construction. The closest I see in function is the
first line of the Background that states that "Gaming
systems currently available on the market are capable
of playing game discs, music CDs, and movie DVDs from
a disc drive". Nothing I can't do on my PC. Gaming
systems are then defined to include a game console,
game controller(s), and display unit. If you view the
game console as the computer box, the game controller(s)
as PC game controller(s), and the display unit as a monitor,
you have a standard computer system. Yes, they talk about
Sony PS2 and MSFT XBox as game systems, but there
is nothing apparent to me limiting the patent to such
standalone boxes. But putting everything in a standalone
box is merely an engineering/design decision, and has
nothing really to do with functionality.

The question must come up, why shouldn't the claims read on
general purpose computers capable of playing games, as they
typically are? I saw little in the specification that
would prevent such, and even less in the claims.
Worse, the XBox appears to be primarily constructed using
commodity PC parts. That leaves you with a PC that is not
a PC only because of the way that it is packaged - which
is not really mentioned in the patent, and again is merely
an engineering/design decision.

Theoretically, they might have been able to distinguish
their invention from general purpose computers by pointing
out that game controllers are special purpose systems that
are not capable of, for example, running word processing,
spreadsheet, and/or web browsing software. But, they didn't,
and if they had, non-infringement would have been simple
by merely providing such capabilities - which is probably not
that hard, given their apparent use of commodity processors.

The problem with claims reading on general purpose computers
is that the claims would then either be not novel, and/or
be obvious. But as I originally noted, there may be something
in the actual prosecution history that does distinguish their
invention from the prior art.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 01:49:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
The question must come up, why shouldn't the claims read on
general purpose computers capable of playing games, as they
typically are?
Although this may be possible, I think most current operating systems
would make it difficult to implement some of the claims. In particular,
this excerpt from claim 39: "preventing, other than with the
application, access to data in the first storage area or the second
storage area."

I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 02:50:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Bruce Hayden
The question must come up, why shouldn't the claims read on
general purpose computers capable of playing games, as they
typically are?
Although this may be possible, I think most current operating systems
would make it difficult to implement some of the claims. In particular,
this excerpt from claim 39: "preventing, other than with the
application, access to data in the first storage area or the second
storage area."
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
I admit some fault here. I was concentrating on invalidating
some of the claims, in particular, the first couple of independent
claims. But of course, the reason for utilizing dependent claims
is that if the independent claims are invalidated, you may still
have the dependent claims. I agree that there are probably some
of the independent claims that will probably stand, making the
patent still valid, though some of the main claims are invalid.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 03:35:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Bruce Hayden
The question must come up, why shouldn't the claims read on
general purpose computers capable of playing games, as they
typically are?
Although this may be possible, I think most current operating systems
would make it difficult to implement some of the claims. In particular,
this excerpt from claim 39: "preventing, other than with the
application, access to data in the first storage area or the second
storage area."
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
And if you have the professional version of Windows, such
as Windows 2000 that I am running here, you can do something
very similar. You could set up different groups for different
games, and restrict both execution of a given game and storage
into a specified subdirectory to a given group.

But technically speaking, I would suggest that this does differ
from restricting access to specific programs.

But there is verbage in the detailed description that first of all
provides for utilities being able to delete any files, and secondly
for some of the protection being done by utilizing an API to
access settings data - which is really akin to Windows' Registry.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-08 06:31:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Barry Margolin
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
And if you have the professional version of Windows, such
as Windows 2000 that I am running here, you can do something
very similar. You could set up different groups for different
games, and restrict both execution of a given game and storage
into a specified subdirectory to a given group.
But technically speaking, I would suggest that this does differ
from restricting access to specific programs.
BSD UNIX games in the eighties usually ran setuid to the user 'games',
and saved their data in a private directory owned by the 'games' user,
so the person playing the game could not directly tamper with saved game
scores. The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
--
Rahul
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 07:22:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Barry Margolin
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
And if you have the professional version of Windows, such
as Windows 2000 that I am running here, you can do something
very similar. You could set up different groups for different
games, and restrict both execution of a given game and storage
into a specified subdirectory to a given group.
But technically speaking, I would suggest that this does differ
from restricting access to specific programs.
BSD UNIX games in the eighties usually ran setuid to the user 'games',
and saved their data in a private directory owned by the 'games' user,
so the person playing the game could not directly tamper with saved game
scores. The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the files of
another game. So if all the games ran setuid to 'games', it's not the
same as the method in the patent.

I'm not sure why Microsoft considers this an important feature of the
invention. Even if one game can access the saved game files of another,
they're not likely to make sense to it. It hardly seems necessary to
take special steps to prevent the access. Maybe this narrowing of the
patent's scope was necessary for them to get the patent approved.
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-08 08:31:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
...The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the files of
another game. So if all the games ran setuid to 'games', it's not the
same as the method in the patent.
The idea of different applications having their own data files, that
other applications cannot read, is quite ancient. That's one reason why
the setuid bit was invented.
--
Rahul
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 09:06:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Barry Margolin
The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the files of
another game. So if all the games ran setuid to 'games', it's not the
same as the method in the patent.
The idea of different applications having their own data files, that
other applications cannot read, is quite ancient. That's one reason why
the setuid bit was invented.
First, I don't think that this concept was novel with UNIX,
but rather with at a minimum with the early timesharing
mainframes. You had to segregate access to data by user
or groups. It was clearly present with my first timesharing
system in the late 1960's. Remember, UNIX was essentially
a port of MULTICS from a mainframe to a minicomputer.

But there is a subtle distinction here that may have some
relevance. In those systems (including UNIX), access control
is/was by user or group of users. As noted, this is essential
for effective multiuser or timesharing systems. But in the
MSFT system, access control can be by application. It was not
clear from the patent why that was that overly useful, but there
it was, logically somewhat orthogonal to the typical practice.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Christopher C. Stacy
2004-04-08 20:32:12 UTC
Permalink
Bruce> Remember, UNIX was essentially a port of MULTICS from a
Bruce> mainframe to a minicomputer.

That is not at all accurate: Multics and UNIX have almost nothing in
common; UNIX was a reaction against the directions that Multics went.
They do not share any programs whatsoever; no "porting" was involved.
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 21:12:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher C. Stacy
Bruce> Remember, UNIX was essentially a port of MULTICS from a
Bruce> mainframe to a minicomputer.
That is not at all accurate: Multics and UNIX have almost nothing in
common; UNIX was a reaction against the directions that Multics went.
They do not share any programs whatsoever; no "porting" was involved.
They "ported" some of the concepts. It was not a reaction against it;
the Unix developers were former Multics developers, and when they were
designing their OS for a minicomputer, they adopted some of the ideas
that they had previously developed for Multics. But since the new
system was much on less powerful hardware, they simplified many of them.
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-08 22:55:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Christopher C. Stacy
Bruce> Remember, UNIX was essentially a port of MULTICS from a
Bruce> mainframe to a minicomputer.
That is not at all accurate: Multics and UNIX have almost nothing in
common; UNIX was a reaction against the directions that Multics went.
They do not share any programs whatsoever; no "porting" was involved.
They "ported" some of the concepts. It was not a reaction against it;
the Unix developers were former Multics developers, and when they were
designing their OS for a minicomputer, they adopted some of the ideas
that they had previously developed for Multics. But since the new
system was much on less powerful hardware, they simplified many of them.
I admit to simplifying here. Yes, it wasn't a true port, but
arguably a downgrade of sorts. My Multics background is that
it was my first OS, back in the late 1960's - for less than a
year, and thus, I was never able to appreciate it. And then,
I had the honor of helping finally shut it down, somewhere around
2000. I was the attorney negotiating termination of the last
support agreement for it - the support had been farmed out to
a Canadian company. At the time, I worked for Bull, which had
acquired Honeywell's computer systems, that included both GCOS
and Multics. 20-25 years later, there was still resentment in
the developer ranks about Honeywell's decision to give priority
to GCOS over Multics, and essentially to kill the later. Many
of the Multics features did make it into GCOS (after all, many
of the Multics developers moved over to GCOS), including much
more sophisticated security than probably anywhere else at the
time. This was one thing that did not make it into UNIX.
I also got to dig through the original contracts with the
government so that I could show ownership of both the source
code and the Multics mark, in case it was donated to science.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Christopher C. Stacy
2004-04-09 00:46:41 UTC
Permalink
Bruce> Remember, UNIX was essentially a port of MULTICS from a
Bruce> mainframe to a minicomputer.
Post by Christopher C. Stacy
That is not at all accurate: Multics and UNIX have almost nothing in
common; UNIX was a reaction against the directions that Multics went.
They do not share any programs whatsoever; no "porting" was involved.
Barry> They "ported" some of the concepts.

Certainly _not_ the fundamental Multics concepts concerning processes,
memory, program linking, most of the IO and file systems, nor any of
the security features. Not the underlying reliability philosophy.
Not even the concept of writing in a high-level language: UNIX and
all of its programs were originally written in bare PDP-7 assembler.
Now, I happen to know that you are at least (and perhaps far more)
knowledgable about Multics than I am, and you know about UNIX, too.
So I ask you: What would you dispute in the list above, or what's
left that would you say are the fundamental concepts that were ported?

There were some totally superficial things, like some of the
short names of some commands. There are some faint ghosts of
ideas, like the shell PATH being vaguely functionally similar
to the dynamic link search path in a Multics session.

Another superficial thing might be the "roff" program, but that's
not a Multics concept. It was however, a port. It was based on
the RUNOFF program from CTSS, rewritten into BCPL for Multics,
transliterated into PDP-7 assembly code, and then ported into
PDP-11 assembly for UNIX. (And there were a bunch of other RUNOFF
knockoffs on many various operating systems back in those days.)

Some people might cite the shell (being a user-mode program),
and maybe one could say that's significant. While it's _not_
part of the operating system kernel, that's the idea!
But this is an older idea, from CTSS (RUNCOM), not Multics,
and it was present in some other operating systems of the 1960s.

Multics didn't really have pipes available in the shell, although
it did have primitive IO redirection (not a totally new idea with
Multics, either.) Anyway, The key concept of pipes is their
command-line utility for linking together a chain of smaller
programs to accomplish something. This represents a powerful idea,
and it really belongs originally to UNIX, not Multics.

Another feature was symbolic links, which UNIX picked up from Multics,
But I'm not sure if that originated on Multics, CTSS, or elsewhere;
I know of another system that had the symbolic file link feature at
least by 1968. (And you know which system I mean, and how it's about
as far away from the CTSS/Multics philosophy as you can get!)

A more substantial concept that did make it from Multics to Unix
is the concept of a hierarchical file system. Of course, Multics
did not have "files" -- it had "segments", and they are not the
same thing at all. But they are both in directories. But although
Multics was the first to realize them, the concept and need for
hierarchical directories were considered obvious and natural
(at least by some people) at the time (see recent writings
from Saltzer and Ritchie on this point).

But none of those things above have much to do with the
fundamental concepts of Multics, having to do with reliable,
auditable, error-recovering, protected, mostly uniform system
based on a core flexible reference-monitored dynamically
linked large-address space backing-store model

I think they only "ported" the vaguest of ideas, infinitely far
from anything that I would use the word "port" to describe,
particularly in the context of a discussion about patents.

As for whether UNIX was a "reaction" (I am implying a negative one)
to the ideas in Multics, you might ask yourself why those guys left
the Multics project early on. I don't mean to suggest that they
thought the Multics ideas were not worthwhile. But the answer is
at least in part because the concepts in the system were not leading
to a computer system that was viable in their context of interest.
That is, those concepts were too expensive for the kind of computer
systems they wanted. Specifically, underpowered minicomputers of
the day, which is what became available to them back at Bell Labs.
(In those early days, Multics wasn't even viable on a large computer,
and was viewed in some respects as a failure!) UNIX was a very
different overall design using very different concepts, carrying
over none of the fundamental Multics mechanisms.

I would be interested in how Multicians view UNIX as a port of Multics.
If you're just appealing to authority by invoking the early designers,
pleas esee also (in Google) where Dennis Ritchie's responds to my
observations about the fundamental differences in the core concepts
of two systems by seemingly agreeing (and amplifying, with words
like "fairly radical difference".) However, Ritchie and others do
consistently cite Multics as having inspired many things in UNIX.
But not "port".

Certainly the UNIX inventors were inspired by Multics, and they
learned a few things from Multics, as did many other computer
operating systems. Windows NT might have more similarities
to Multics than UNIX does, but nobody tries to claim that it's
a port of Multics. Many of the concepts and ideas in operating
systems today came from CTSS, predating Multics, but we don't
say that those systems are a "port of CTSS", either.

I think that Multics people like to claim UNIX as a descendent mostly
so that they can feel that their beautiful life's work was not all
sadly pissed away in history by unfortunate Honeywell business decisions.
This is reinforced by the UNIX inventors citing their experience with
Multics as inspirational. And most UNIX folk today are entirely ignorant
about Multics, but have heard that is was somehow important and good,
and they would like to claim that therefore UNIX has some of the same
design goodness of Multics. There have been other operating systems
(unrelated to UNIX) that actually did use some of the Multics ideas,
but none of them caught on in the mainstream, either. Perhaps Multicians
would be better off nursing their feelings by recognizing that most things
that are popular are actually terrible crap, while Multics was much better
than most systems that have been invented over the subsequent several decades.

But any technical arguments you might have about how UNIX is
a port of Multics would be welcomed with great interest.
Jan Roland Eriksson
2004-04-08 23:07:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher C. Stacy
Bruce> Remember, UNIX was essentially a port of MULTICS from a
Bruce> mainframe to a minicomputer.
That is not at all accurate: Multics and UNIX have almost nothing in
common; UNIX was a reaction against the directions that Multics went.
They do not share any programs whatsoever; no "porting" was involved.
A few highlights to support that...

UNIX was first _publicly_ introduced in 1974 by Dennis Ritchie and Ken
Thompson but it was originally created by Ken in 1969. Others joined in
on Ken's idea shortly after.

Bell Labs had an unsettled computing situation in the period 1968-69 and
pulled out of the Multics project since it showed that it was unable to
deliver anything practically usable within a reasonable time frame.

UNIX in 1969 existed as blackboard scribbles, paper notes and general
discussions among those involved in the "project" where most of the
"design" actually came from Ken. He had this idea of "information
filing" as being the most important part of a new OS and as an addition
to that Dennis came up with the idea that it was feasible to look on
input/output devices as units that handled "information filing" too, and
thus could be incorporated in a generic OS filing system mechanism [1].

Also in 1969, Ken wrote a fairly detailed simulation, on Multics, of
this new proposed filing system.

The practical birth date of UNIX is not possible to pin down, but a
basic "UNIX" file system ran on a Digital Equipment PDP-7 in 1970
(practically as the result of the "Space Travel" game that Ken first
wrote on Multics and then ported to a PDP-7 in 1969-70).

Source;
Volume-5/Number-10 of "Microsystems", October 1984.
ISSN #0199-7955
Which really went into depth on the history of UNIX.

[1] Believe it or not, even Gary Kildall of CP/M fame, was not unaware
of Bell Lab's developments in the UNIX area and even though most of
Gary's efforts on CP/M had its roots in Digital Equipment software of
the time, he did implement ways to "tweak" CP/M to behave a bit like
UNIX for a single user environment. Why Intel turned down Gary's CP/M
proposal? I don't know. Intel produced their own "ISIS" system for the
"Blue Box" and I have used them both extensively "back in the olden
days" but still think that Gary's CP/M had the better approach as
compared to ISIS.

(I still have an 8085 based "Blue Box" that runs both ISIS-II and
CP/M-80, any one out there that have some unused, not rusted, 8 inch
floppy's to sell? :-)
--
Rex
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-09 00:09:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
[1] Believe it or not, even Gary Kildall of CP/M fame, was not unaware
of Bell Lab's developments in the UNIX area and even though most of
Gary's efforts on CP/M had its roots in Digital Equipment software of
the time, he did implement ways to "tweak" CP/M to behave a bit like
UNIX for a single user environment. Why Intel turned down Gary's CP/M
proposal? I don't know. Intel produced their own "ISIS" system for the
"Blue Box" and I have used them both extensively "back in the olden
days" but still think that Gary's CP/M had the better approach as
compared to ISIS.
I was frankly surprised when I found CP/M and DOS looking
a bit like UNIX, first time I used them.

Did Gary make a proposal before the IBM/MSFT fiasco?

What makes interesting reading is Gary's unpublished autobiography.
I was lucky enough to read a copy of it owned by a guy who
was with Gary when he was injured and close when he died.
The autobiography paints an unsurprisingly negative picture
of both IBM and MSFT, with a lot of details that did not make
it into the TV special concerning those events. Hopefully,
some day it will get published....
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Jan Roland Eriksson
2004-04-11 22:58:26 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 09 Apr 2004 00:09:29 GMT, Bruce Hayden <nospam-***@ieee.org>
wrote:

[hoping that this is still of some historical interest for a few in the
ciwah NG, I know its OT so for any further posts in the thread I will
remove ciwah]
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
[1] Believe it or not, even Gary Kildall of CP/M fame, was not unaware
of Bell Lab's developments in the UNIX area and even though most of
Gary's efforts on CP/M had its roots in Digital Equipment software of
the time, he did implement ways to "tweak" CP/M to behave a bit like
UNIX for a single user environment...
I was frankly surprised when I found CP/M and DOS looking
a bit like UNIX, first time I used them.
Did Gary make a proposal before the IBM/MSFT fiasco?
Not that I know of. The story has it that when IBM called on his
doorstep to ask for a OS, targeting their new PC design, Gary was not
physically there to open the door. He was out flying (he loved to fly
his planes him self) to a business meeting in some other part of the US.
Post by Bruce Hayden
...Gary's unpublished autobiography...
...paints an unsurprisingly negative picture of both IBM and MSFT,
with a lot of details that did not make it into the TV special...
I just think he was not visionary enough to see the business potential
that was coming his way. He already "ruled" the 8-bit micro computing
field with something like half a million registered CP/M installations.
At that time such a "momentum" got looked on as "non-destructible" so
IBM could wait a day or two to get what they needed.

OTOH, the PC incentive, inside IBM, was internally looked on as
something "that the cat dragged in"; no real value computing could be
done without mainframes, as every decent IBM'er already knew as a fact
and truth of life :-)

So; the IBM-PC guys that visited Gary's office did not have time at hand
to "wait a day or two", they had a stranglehold budget and a fixed
timeline to meet.

It is exactly at this point where Bill Gates shows his only talent, as
in how to find a product - tweak it into "my" product - and sell it to
the one in need of it.

The full size of Microsoft today is built on the same procedure in all
parts of its products; i.e. no MS product today started out as a
"invented here" thingy, but instead it is "purchase some one else's work
and make sure to move him out of the system while you do it".

I'm totally convinced that the guy(s) behind QDOS[1] are still biting
their nails for selling away the 16-bit CP/M hack they had made, at such
a low price to Bill G, just to see him make his fortune from it in the
times to come.

The name "QDOS" vanished of course and got replaced with "MS-DOS" but
from the IBM start of things it was essentially "QDOS" that IBM
purchased.

[1] QDOS = "Quick'n Dirty Operating System" One of the first free
standing ports of CP/M from an 8-bit environment over to a 16-bit
version.
--
Rex
Bruce Hayden
2004-04-12 02:40:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
Post by Bruce Hayden
Did Gary make a proposal before the IBM/MSFT fiasco?
Not that I know of. The story has it that when IBM called on his
doorstep to ask for a OS, targeting their new PC design, Gary was not
physically there to open the door. He was out flying (he loved to fly
his planes him self) to a business meeting in some other part of the US.
Post by Bruce Hayden
...Gary's unpublished autobiography...
...paints an unsurprisingly negative picture of both IBM and MSFT,
with a lot of details that did not make it into the TV special...
I just think he was not visionary enough to see the business potential
that was coming his way. He already "ruled" the 8-bit micro computing
field with something like half a million registered CP/M installations.
At that time such a "momentum" got looked on as "non-destructible" so
IBM could wait a day or two to get what they needed.
There is a saying that the victors get to write history. And in this
case, absent publication of that autobiography, MSFT and IBM probably
will have done so.

There are two points of interest in Gary's autobiography. First,
IBM apparenlty continued to negotiate with Gary up until the PC
announcement, long after they had signed the MSFT/QDOS agreement,
but not of course telling Gary that they had that alternative already
covered. He tells of feeling completely betrayed by IBM, as he
had talked to them the day before.

The sticking point was not that IBM was in a hurry, but rather that
they were offering too little. Their offer was apparently a flat
$500,000 for unlimited usage. The problem was that DR already had
millions in CP/M sales, and wanted a per box license. They felt
that this would canabalize the 16 bit CP/M sales.

The other interesting factoid in this entire mess came from a couple
of other sources, incluuding Gary's second wife (his first wife was
the one who initially talked to IBM). A couple of years later, DR
signed a hold harmless agreement with IBM. In return, IBM was to
put CP/M in its catalogs. Unfortunately, their price point was
somewhere in the range of $250, and you could get DOS for maybe $50.
The conversations with her were in a bar in Austin about two years
after Gary's death.

The problem, from an IP attorney's point of view, was that when
MSFT bought QDOS and repackaged it as DOS, cloning an operating
system interface was not copyright infringement, since at that
time, infringement required copying of the actual code. But a
couple of years later, the pendulum swung in the other direction,
and non-literal (including, but not limited to "look and feel")
copying became potentially infringing. I think that an argument
could be made that, esp. at the height of this, that DOS non-
literally infringed CP-M, et al., even in the 9th Circuit, and
more likely in others - esp. in the 1st Circuit (Lotus v. Borland).
But that is where that hold harmless came in - by then DR had
signed away their rights to sue.

Note BTW that as far as I know, MSFT never sued DR-DOS for C/R
infringement, and DR-DOS only sued MSFT for antitrust.
(Prof. Hollaar is the expert on that litigation).
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
OTOH, the PC incentive, inside IBM, was internally looked on as
something "that the cat dragged in"; no real value computing could be
done without mainframes, as every decent IBM'er already knew as a fact
and truth of life :-)
So; the IBM-PC guys that visited Gary's office did not have time at hand
to "wait a day or two", they had a stranglehold budget and a fixed
timeline to meet.
Again, see above. This conflicts with Gary's autobiography.
Of course, you can always claim that he was bitter about this.
He managed to get rich enough to buy himself a private jet, but
never got anywhere near Bill Gates.
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
It is exactly at this point where Bill Gates shows his only talent, as
in how to find a product - tweak it into "my" product - and sell it to
the one in need of it.
The full size of Microsoft today is built on the same procedure in all
parts of its products; i.e. no MS product today started out as a
"invented here" thingy, but instead it is "purchase some one else's work
and make sure to move him out of the system while you do it".
But in this case, the product arguably ultimately infringed another
company's product.
Post by Jan Roland Eriksson
I'm totally convinced that the guy(s) behind QDOS[1] are still biting
their nails for selling away the 16-bit CP/M hack they had made, at such
a low price to Bill G, just to see him make his fortune from it in the
times to come.
But remember, it was a hack/clone and IBM was still negotiating
with Gary until the last minute (at least apparently, until the
day before the IBM PC announcement) for exactly what the QDOS
guys would have wanted - a per box license. But I would suggest
that IBM would have done the deal with Gary first on those terms,
since QDOS was the clone.

Obviously, pure speculation on all of our parts. I will suggest
that we will probably never really know everything that happened,
at least not in the forseeable future.
--
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The preceding was not a legal opinion, and is not my employer's.
Original portions Copyright 2004 Bruce E. Hayden,all rights reserved
My work may be copied in whole or part, with proper attribution,
as long as the copying is not for commercial gain.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Bruce E. Hayden ***@ieee.org
Dillon, Colorado ***@highdown.com
Phoenix, Arizona ***@copatlaw.com
Albert van der Horst
2004-04-11 13:23:37 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@news.peakpeak.com>,
Bruce Hayden <nospam-***@ieee.org> wrote:
<SNIP>
Post by Bruce Hayden
But there is a subtle distinction here that may have some
relevance. In those systems (including UNIX), access control
is/was by user or group of users. As noted, this is essential
for effective multiuser or timesharing systems. But in the
MSFT system, access control can be by application. It was not
clear from the patent why that was that overly useful, but there
it was, logically somewhat orthogonal to the typical practice.
For all practical purposes a user that can't login (like uucp)
and is only used to run a program or a couple of cooperating
programs is the same. So if this has relevance for patentability
there is something wrong with patentability: "assigning
a temporary monopoly as an incentive for progress."
Note that the user id, group id solution has broad application
and solves a great many similar access control problems.
--
Albert van der Horst,Oranjestr 8,3511 RA UTRECHT,THE NETHERLANDS
One man-hour to invent,
One man-week to implement,
One lawyer-year to patent.
Stefaan A Eeckels
2004-04-08 11:33:26 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 8 Apr 2004 08:31:30 +0000 (UTC)
Post by Rahul Dhesi
Post by Barry Margolin
...The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the files of
another game. So if all the games ran setuid to 'games', it's not the
same as the method in the patent.
The idea of different applications having their own data files, that
other applications cannot read, is quite ancient. That's one reason why
the setuid bit was invented.
And patented, IIRC.
--
Stefaan
--
"What is stated clearly conceives easily." -- Inspired sales droid
Tim Smith
2004-04-08 09:18:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the files of
another game. So if all the games ran setuid to 'games', it's not the
same as the method in the patent.
I'm not sure why Microsoft considers this an important feature of the
invention. Even if one game can access the saved game files of another,
they're not likely to make sense to it. It hardly seems necessary to take
special steps to prevent the access. Maybe this narrowing of the patent's
scope was necessary for them to get the patent approved.
It could be an anti-cheating measure. Game consoles nowadays do support
network play, so it's somewhat more important to prevent cheating than it
was when the games were all non-networked.
--
--Tim Smith
LEE Sau Dan
2004-04-08 10:04:26 UTC
Permalink
Barry Margolin
2004-04-08 14:51:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rahul Dhesi
BSD UNIX games in the eighties usually ran setuid to the user 'games',
and saved their data in a private directory owned by the 'games' user,
so the person playing the game could not directly tamper with saved game
scores. The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
Barry> The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the
Barry> files of another game. So if all the games ran setuid to
Barry> 'games', it's not the same as the method in the patent.
How to modify the above scheme to separate the various games is
*trivial* to anyone trained in the field. So, that patent claim fails
the novelty requirement.
Putting a game's files in its own subdirectory is certainly trivial.
*Preventing* other applications (including other games) from accessing
them takes a bit of work.
--
Barry Margolin, ***@alum.mit.edu
Arlington, MA
Peter Jensen
2004-04-08 15:46:58 UTC
Permalink
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1
Post by Barry Margolin
How to modify the above scheme to separate the various games is
*trivial* to anyone trained in the field. So, that patent claim
fails the novelty requirement.
Putting a game's files in its own subdirectory is certainly trivial.
*Preventing* other applications (including other games) from accessing
them takes a bit of work.
Hell yeah ... It took me the better part of 5 minutes to test a scheme
that worked ... But that's because I work on an OS with a good
permission system to begin with.

So, please explain how this is *not* trivial to anyone trained in the
field.

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--
PeKaJe

"This generation may be the one that will face Armageddon."
-- Ronald Reagan, "People" magazine, December 26, 1985
Rahul Dhesi
2004-04-08 16:08:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Putting a game's files in its own subdirectory is certainly trivial.
*Preventing* other applications (including other games) from accessing
them takes a bit of work.
By now you should have figured out what setuid bits are all about. I
have been using setuid bits to protect application-specific data for a
few decades now. How much work does it take to type 'chmod u+s gameprog'?
--
Rahul
Jim Richardson
2004-04-08 17:01:15 UTC
Permalink
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 10:51:59 -0400,
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Rahul Dhesi
BSD UNIX games in the eighties usually ran setuid to the user 'games',
and saved their data in a private directory owned by the 'games' user,
so the person playing the game could not directly tamper with saved game
scores. The idea of having programs save their data in a place not
accessible to the user is a very, very old one.
Barry> The patent says that one game shouldn't be able to read the
Barry> files of another game. So if all the games ran setuid to
Barry> 'games', it's not the same as the method in the patent.
How to modify the above scheme to separate the various games is
*trivial* to anyone trained in the field. So, that patent claim fails
the novelty requirement.
Putting a game's files in its own subdirectory is certainly trivial.
*Preventing* other applications (including other games) from accessing
them takes a bit of work.
No, just give the games their own uid, and chmod the files 700, no-one
without that uid can read the game (except root)

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--
Jim Richardson http://www.eskimo.com/~warlock
Do not meddle in the affairs of geeks,
for your passwords are.....available
LEE Sau Dan
2004-04-08 20:28:21 UTC
Permalink
LEE Sau Dan
2004-04-08 20:26:20 UTC
Permalink
Albert van der Horst
2004-04-11 13:12:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
I'm not sure why Microsoft considers this an important feature of the
invention. Even if one game can access the saved game files of another,
they're not likely to make sense to it. It hardly seems necessary to
take special steps to prevent the access. Maybe this narrowing of the
patent's scope was necessary for them to get the patent approved.
Similar to taking a garden variety mouse trap. Then add the requirement
that it should be made of gold plated titanium which doesn't relate to
its functionality of catching mice?
I hope not that if you get this past the patent bureau, you could start
using makers of ordinary mouse traps.
Post by Barry Margolin
Arlington, MA
--
--
Albert van der Horst,Oranjestr 8,3511 RA UTRECHT,THE NETHERLANDS
One man-hour to invent,
One man-week to implement,
One lawyer-year to patent.
Arthur L. Rubin
2004-04-08 15:58:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
Post by Barry Margolin
Post by Bruce Hayden
The question must come up, why shouldn't the claims read on
general purpose computers capable of playing games, as they
typically are?
Although this may be possible, I think most current operating systems
would make it difficult to implement some of the claims. In particular,
this excerpt from claim 39: "preventing, other than with the
application, access to data in the first storage area or the second
storage area."
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
And if you have the professional version of Windows, such
as Windows 2000 that I am running here, you can do something
very similar. You could set up different groups for different
games, and restrict both execution of a given game and storage
into a specified subdirectory to a given group.
But technically speaking, I would suggest that this does differ
from restricting access to specific programs.
I recall a File Daemon system for a PDP-10 operating system
which DID have the option of the owner of a directory limiting
access of files in that directory to specific programs (not
necessarily controlled by that user).

Not having read (or desiring to read) the patent in question,
I can't tell whether that is prior art for a critical section
of the patent.
Tim Smith
2004-04-08 09:16:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Barry Margolin
Although this may be possible, I think most current operating systems
would make it difficult to implement some of the claims. In particular,
this excerpt from claim 39: "preventing, other than with the application,
access to data in the first storage area or the second storage area."
I don't think Windows or Unix can easily implement a mechanism where a
normal user can create a file that can only be accessed when running a
specific game. I suppose on Unix you could do it by making each game
TOPS-10 could have done it, though, if I recall correctly. One of the cool
things you could specify in access list rules was the program that they
applied to.
Post by Barry Margolin
setuid or setgid to an game-specific user/group, but there wouldn't be
anything preventing the administrator from assigning the same user/group
ID to multiple games.
You could do it with just one game user and/or group. When a game wants to
access a file, it would run a program that is setuid and/or setgid to the
game user and/or group, and then request access from that program. That
program could then open the file, and pass the file descriptor to the game,
after doing the necessary permission checks.
--
--Tim Smith
Emma Anne
2004-04-08 17:50:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Hayden
But as I originally noted, there may be something
in the actual prosecution history that does distinguish their
invention from the prior art.
That's my guess, but obviously I'm not motivated to go analyze it. :-)
Daniel Rudy
2004-04-09 06:21:25 UTC
Permalink
And somewhere around the time of 04/06/2004 23:52, the world stopped and
Post by theodp
--> From http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040406/1349225.shtml
Microsoft Patents Saving The Name Of A Game
from the yeah,-that's-non-obvious dept.
theodp writes "As if there weren't enough dodgy patents, here's an
excerpt from one granted to Microsoft Tuesday for a 'Method and
apparatus for displaying information regarding stored data in a gaming
system': 'When saving a game, the saved game data may include a
descriptive name of the saved game, a graphic representation of the
state of the game when the game was saved, a description of the game
state when the game was saved, and a date and time that the game was
saved.'" I'm trying to figure out if there's more to this patent, but
the more I read, the worse it seems. How is this possibly
"non-obvious"?
--> Link to Patent
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6,716,102
--> Link to Patent File History (Shows Two Earlier Rejections)
http://pair.uspto.gov/cgi-bin/final/pairsearch.pl?searchtype=patent&patentnumber=6,716,102
Or even previous art as I have quite a number of non-Microsoft games
that do this very thing...Some even date back to the 1980's!!
--
Daniel Rudy

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