AT&T using patent to go after people using X

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Loren J. Ritt » Sat, 23 Feb 1991 18:04:12



I just saw the article repeated below in gnu.announce:
<begin included article>
Article 71 of gnu.announce:
Path: ux1.cso.uiuc.edu!uwm.edu!spool.mu.edu!think.com!snorkelwacker.mit.edu!shelby!agate!usenet.ins.cwru.edu!tut.cis.ohio-state.edu!unreplyable!garbage

Newsgroups: gnu.announce


Date: 22 Feb 91 03:00:42 GMT


Distribution: gnu
Organization: Project GNU, Free Software Foundation,
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Lines: 93

        [ I wonder what prior art existed, and if it invalidates
          AT&T's patent.

          -len
        ]


To: unido!gnu-announce
Path: pcsbst!jkh

Newsgroups: gnu.announce
Subject: AT&T Claims patent on part of MIT's X11 server.
Date: 20 Feb 91 14:38:26 GMT
Organization: /usr1/ben/jkh/.organization

I thought that this would be of general interest, to say the least..

The following letter has been sent by AT&T to all (to my knowledge)
MIT X Consortium members, though its claims potentially affect *all*
users of The X Window System, version 11 / revision 3 and above.

To quote the letter directly (all misreferences to "X Windows"
intentionally left in):

                                < Dated February 7, 1991 >

Dear <unfortunate X user>:

  AT&T is aware that your company/institution is an active
participant in the further development of the X Windows
System.  We assume that your company/institution is, or may
well be, commercially marketing or internally developing
products(s) which are based on an X Windows System
implementation.

  Consequently, we bring to your attention an AT&T patent
#4,555,775 invented by Robert C. Pike and issued on November
26, 1985.  The "backing store" functionality available in the
X Windows System is an implementation of this patented
invention, therefore, your company/institution needs a license
from AT&T for the use of this patent.

  We will be pleased to discuss licensing arrangements with
the appropriate organization in your company/institution.  To
expedite these arrangements, your response should be directed
to

Ms. O. T. Franz at:

                AT&T
                10 Independence Boulevard
                Room: LL2-3A28
                Warren, New Jersey  07059-6799
                Telephone: 908-580-5929
                FAX: 908-580-6355

  We look forward to resolving this matter in the near
future.

                                Very truly yours,

                                <signature>

                                A.E. Herron
                                Manager, Intellectual Property

Copy to:
L. Bearson
O.T. Franz
R.E. Kerwin

----

So. What more can I say? You are, of course, free to direct your
responses to those listed above.. :-)

One also wonders about other window systems using "backing store"
and the degree to which this patent will be enforced.

                                                Jordan
--
                        PCS Computer Systeme GmbH, Munich, West Germany

        EUNET:          unido!pcsbst!jkh

<end included article>

Seems like this `back store' patent would also cover some aspects
of intuition.  Jordan even wonders about other window systems that
use `back store'.  Anyone care to commment?

Loren J. Rittle
--
``NewTek stated that the Toaster *would not* be made to directly support the
  Mac, at this point Sculley stormed out of the booth...'' -A scene at the
  recent MacExpo.  Gee, you wouldn't think that an Apple Exec would be so

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Jim Shaff » Mon, 25 Feb 1991 08:20:05



Quote:

>Seems like this `back store' patent would also cover some aspects
>of intuition.       Jordan even wonders about other window systems that
>use `back store'.  Anyone care to commment?

I remember hearing something about this a few months ago (probably in
alt.folklore.computers) and thinking "Nah, they wouldn't *really* do that,
would they?  It's just too incredibly brain-damaged."  Live and learn, I
guess.

Just for the record, I think that there are a lot of things that are just
TOO DAMN SIMPLE to deserve a patent, and I'm appalled that someone would
have the audacity to even *apply* for a patent on such a thing, let alone
that it would actually be granted!

I think someone also mentioned at the time that implementing a cursor by
XOR-ing was patented by someone, though I don't know who.  See previous
paragraph for this one, too.

[My own opinions above.  This node is owned and operated by myself.]

--

Jim Shaffer, Jr.      | amix.commodore.com!vanth!jms | endless compromises

Montgomery, PA 17752  | (CompuServe as a last resort)| integrity!"  (Rush)

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by RTF » Mon, 25 Feb 1991 19:19:08



Quote:>Seems like this `back store' patent would also cover some aspects of intuition.

  Would someone care to explain what this "back store" is?

================================================================================

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Loren J. Ritt » Mon, 25 Feb 1991 22:52:01




>>Seems like this `back store' patent would also cover some aspects of intuition.

>  Would someone care to explain what this "back store" is?

>================================================================================

Sure, I'd love to...
And I can explain it in plain terms too!
Mac and many others (let's not single them out, I'm just sure you
have at least seen one of these... :-) ---
When a window comes to the front, the application gets requests
to rebuild the parts of the window that were exposed...
...the Mac does not have `back store' or as some would say,
`backing store'

Amiga and others (X 11R[34] comes to mind) ---
When a window comes to the front (or any piece is exposed),
the low level graphics subsystem can replace the bits in the
window that are now visible (became exposed) because it kept
a `back' (where the term `backing store' comes from, I would guess)
up of the hidden parts of the window.  And if any drawing commands
would have accessed those hidden areas they *were* updated (in the
back store area).

Loren J. Rittle
--
``NewTek stated that the Toaster *would not* be made to directly support the
  Mac, at this point Sculley stormed out of the booth...'' -A scene at the
  recent MacExpo.  Gee, you wouldn't think that an Apple Exec would be so

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Brian J Syme IE » Sat, 23 Feb 1991 23:49:49


[mind frying thingy about AT&T's asenine stuffed shirt department trying
to shaft everyone using X windows or just about any window system ever,
jeezus h. christ there are people that would try to patent wiping your ass!]

Wow. This cannot be serious! YIPPPEEEE!!! Maybe, just maybe, it's an oooo
so slim chance, and it's got it's downside, but possibly this could be the
beginning of the end of X windows.. the ugliest windowing system I have ever
set eyes on (the code, not the output). I mean have you SEEN the source for
the sample X-server? Huuurgh, blup. Grruuuuggghhh. The people that wrote that
muck should be in a * room. :-)

--
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
<> Brian Syme            <> Why make things difficult, when with just a     <>

<>                       <> impossible. Oh. I see you already have.         <>
<><><><><> *WARNING* Signature dying of old age... ><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Dean Broo » Tue, 26 Feb 1991 02:55:24



Quote:>Amiga and others (X 11R[34] comes to mind) ---
>When a window comes to the front (or any piece is exposed),
>the low level graphics subsystem can replace the bits in the
>window that are now visible (became exposed) because it kept
>a `back' (where the term `backing store' comes from, I would guess)
>up of the hidden parts of the window.  And if any drawing commands
>would have accessed those hidden areas they *were* updated (in the
>back store area).

Well hell, lets get a bunch of us together and patent the art of
walking.  Its about as abstract as the backing store concept.
Then we can millions sueing every pedistrian in the world...

BTW, does anyone think that AT&T can make a viable claim off this?

--

                   Copper Electronics, Inc.
                   Louisville, Ky
UUCP: !uunet!coplex!dean

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Dave P. Schauma » Tue, 26 Feb 1991 05:00:46



>Well hell, lets get a bunch of us together and patent the art of
>walking.  Its about as abstract as the backing store concept.
>Then we can millions sueing every pedistrian in the world...

No way.  I thought of it first.  I've got dibs.

Quote:>BTW, does anyone think that AT&T can make a viable claim off this?

Probably depends on how much they want to pay their lawyers, how much negative
publicity they want to endure, and how determined the opposition is.  Surely
there are a lot of windowing systems out there that use this concept, and
AT&T would annoy *a lot* of people if they pursued this suit.

;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)
BTW, I've just discovered no-one has patented the return key or the space
bar, so I've done it myself.  Anyone who doesn't want to get sued should
contact me for liscencing agreements, or desist using them immediately...
;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

--
Dave Schaumann      | Is this question undecidable?

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Dan Zerk » Tue, 26 Feb 1991 09:43:57



>BTW, does anyone think that AT&T can make a viable claim off this?

No, they can't.  However, there are a whole lot of companies out there
that would rather spend the money on the "license" than spend a whole
lot of money on lawyers to challenge the inevitable suit from AT&T.
AT&T is simply * that everybody will meekly pay up.

Obviously, this will have serious detrimental effects on users.
Either they will pay more for their packages, or they will get
software with inferior performance.  This is the problem with
litigation over software.  Most people don't even argue about it, even
when it is wrong.  It's cheaper to just pay up.  It is not the direct
effects on companies that is really harmful, but rather the stifling,
indirect effects that slow down innovation, and prevent people from
using good ideas in their products.

In this particular case, it might be worth challenging.  If anybody
can show that there was any kind of a system before 1985 (the date of
AT&T's patent) that used a backing store, it will be provable that the
idea was widely known before the patent, and therefore the idea is not
patentable.  Come to think of it, there is a certain system that uses
a backing store for its windows, and it came out right around
1985....


           Amiga...  Because life is too short for boring computers.

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Robert I. Each » Tue, 26 Feb 1991 23:02:53


     Very interesting...but AT&T is stupid (couldn't resist)...

     Actually the Amiga has two mechanisms for doing window overlaps.
When the graphics chips mix images on the fly from various bit-maps in
memory, it does not violate this patent (actually it is impossible to
infringe an invalid patent but...)  When you use simple refresh, the
layers library does the sort of slice and dice that this patent
describes, but I'm not sure if the algorithms are the same.

     In any case, I think both Sun and Xerox probably have sufficent
prior art.

     We need a better way to recognize the technical innovations of
software developers, but this type of patent sure ain't it.

--

                                        Robert I. Eachus

     Our troops will have the best possible support in the entire
world.  And they will not be asked to fight with one hand tied behind
their back.  President George Bush, January 16, 1991

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by john g » Wed, 27 Feb 1991 01:14:16




>>BTW, does anyone think that AT&T can make a viable claim off this?

> No, they can't.  However, there are a whole lot of companies out there

Unfortunately, yes they can.  They way the patent system works today they can.
There are quite a few current patents that are obvious that have been upheld
in court.  Among these is the XOR cursor technique that Cadtrak "owns" even
though it was used years before the patent was granted and is considered an
obvious technique by most software people.  The irony of the AT&T patent is
that it was used by MIT in the Lisp Machine System way before AT&T patented
it.  Since it was not documented very well, this may not count as prior art.
BTW, there is also a rumor that the use of include files (#include <stdio.h>)
has been patented.  At this time it is just a rumor, but a very persistent one.
For more info see the "Software Patents" article in the November 1990 issue of
Dr. Dobb's Journal.  Also check the gnu groups for on going discussions.

Then get pissed and join The League for Programming Freedom and write
your congress person and senator.  If you don't, you may end up having to
either write software only for a very large company (one that can afford the
legal hassle (cost, big $$) of patent searches, cross-licensing, etc. or
work in a different country in order to avoid some of the patent bullshit.
Of course this will be limited to the countries that don't have or recognize
algorithmic and software patents.

john gay.

No, I don't speak for my company (they don't even know that I can speak).

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Dan Zerk » Thu, 28 Feb 1991 12:35:34



>Then get pissed and join The League for Programming Freedom and write
>your congress person and senator.  

Can someone post information on the League?  I've heard of it but I
don't know how to join.


           Amiga...  Because life is too short for boring computers.

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by john g » Fri, 01 Mar 1991 04:09:27




>>Then get pissed and join The League for Programming Freedom and write
>>your congress person and senator.  

> Can someone post information on the League?  I've heard of it but I
> don't know how to join.

To contact the League for Programming Freedom:
phone : (617)243-4091

address : The League for Programming Freedom
          1 Kendall Square #143
          P.O. Box 9171
          Cambridge, MA 02139

Annual dues: Professionals - $42
             Students      - $10.50
             others          $21

john gay.

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by David S. Masters » Fri, 01 Mar 1991 04:28:39




John> Then get pissed and join The League for Programming Freedom and write
John> your congress person and senator.  

Dan> Can someone post information on the League?  I've heard of it but I don't
Dan> know how to join.

Just post something in gnu.misc.discuss.  You should get more than you want on
the League.
--
====================================================================
David Masterson                                 Consilium, Inc.
(415) 691-6311                                  640 Clyde Ct.
uunet!cimshop!davidm                            Mtn. View, CA  94043
====================================================================
"If someone thinks they know what I said, then I didn't say it!"

 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by Craig Burl » Fri, 01 Mar 1991 19:00:51



information on the League for Programming Freedom.
--


 
 
 

AT&T using patent to go after people using X

Post by John Hensl » Sun, 03 Mar 1991 02:43:03



>Can someone post information on the League?  I've heard of it but I
>don't know how to join.


if you're interested in discussing this issue, it's going great guns in
gnu.misc.discuss (surprise).

John Hensley                 // "These are your important years, you'd better

 
 
 

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