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View Full Version : so, does patent #7712086 mean no more live USBs?



SIGTERMer
August 31st, 2010, 07:22 PM
The following patent has just been brought to my attention (issued on the 4th of may, 2010 to Microsoft):
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7712086.html

From the description:


A portable storage device includes an interface and one or more flash memories. The one or more flash memories store one or more executable files that can be executed by a host computer to which the device is coupled without altering any environment settings on the host computer even though the one or more executable files include instructions to access environment settings. Additionally, the application is bound to the portable storage device during an activation process.


So are live USBs off?

TriBlox6432
August 31st, 2010, 07:49 PM
Fml. I hope not. But you can bet Microsoft will try to sue Canonical for providing instructions and the means to "violate" that patent.

Also probably the end of Portable Apps.

tubezninja
August 31st, 2010, 07:53 PM
Fml. I hope not. But you can bet Microsoft will try to sue Canonical for providing instructions and the means to "violate" that patent.


Please name a lawsuit that Microsoft has filed against Canonical for any alleged patent violations.

Austin25
August 31st, 2010, 08:00 PM
I'm tired of these kinds of abstract patents. I'm just going to do it anyways.

TriBlox6432
August 31st, 2010, 08:04 PM
Please name a lawsuit that Microsoft has filed against Canonical for any alleged patent violations.

They haven't yet. That's why I said "You can bet that Microsoft will . . ."

Austin25
August 31st, 2010, 08:06 PM
They haven't yet. That's why I said "You can bet that Microsoft will . . ."
I wanna move to another country where they can't sue me, but I'm only 15.

KiwiNZ
August 31st, 2010, 08:16 PM
Do you really think they would go out looking for individuals sitting in their study's using USB flash drive on a Thursday night to reload Ubuntu 10.4 ?;-)

tubezninja
August 31st, 2010, 08:30 PM
They haven't yet. That's why I said "You can bet that Microsoft will . . ."

And this isn't the first time someone here has said "I bet Micro$$$$$$$$$oft wil sue Canonical for x patent." That's why I said "name one..."

Madspyman
August 31st, 2010, 08:35 PM
Do you really think they would go out looking for individuals sitting in their study's using USB flash drive on a Thursday night to reload Ubuntu 10.4 ?;-)

No but some companies (including Canonical (http://shop.canonical.com/product_info.php?products_id=707)) sell USB drives with their distro preloaded. Microsoft may use this patent to put pressure on said companies to sign deals that would imply Microsoft owns Linux.

Calash
August 31st, 2010, 08:42 PM
This sounds more like they are trying to patent HP Quickweb or other "Instant On" pre-OS than USB bootable media, at least to me.

KiwiNZ
August 31st, 2010, 08:44 PM
No but some companies (including Canonical (http://shop.canonical.com/product_info.php?products_id=707)) sell USB drives with their distro preloaded. Microsoft may use this patent to put pressure on said companies to sign deals that would imply Microsoft owns Linux.

If in fact the patent includes USB bootable OS's , as yet to be determined then suppliers of said bootable devices may have to pay royalties if Microsoft enforces this. Of course at this point Microsoft have said nothing so its all crystal ball gazing.

To say MS asserts you have a Distribution on a USB drive therefore we own Linux is a quantum leap into pure FUD.

beew
August 31st, 2010, 10:21 PM
If you download an iso and install it on an usb either using the command line or a tool like unetbootin instead of getting a preinstalled live usb would that be covered?

Dustin2128
August 31st, 2010, 10:21 PM
filing a patent on a common task that's been done for years? How is thi- oh, right, U.S. Not like that's going to stop me from selling flash drive OSes which I've been doing for 2 years, and I think any court would agree.

zekopeko
August 31st, 2010, 11:05 PM
Always makes me LOL when people point to a patent and say it is the end of the world. A quick Google search produces this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_USB#History

Oh look something resembling prior art. Who would have thought it.

spupy
August 31st, 2010, 11:11 PM
Always makes me LOL when people point to a patent and say it is the end of the world. A quick Google search produces this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_USB#History

Oh look something resembling prior art. Who would have thought it.

Yes, I don't think bootable USB and portable programs didn't exist before 2004 when this patent was filed.

Madspyman
August 31st, 2010, 11:16 PM
To say MS asserts you have a Distribution on a USB drive therefore we own Linux is a quantum leap into pure FUD.

It's not far of a leap from the MS patent deal with Amazon.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10457989-56.html (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10457989-56.html)


The deal covers both Amazon's Kindle product as well as the company's use of Linux-based servers. Microsoft has maintained that many implementations of Linux infringe on its patents and has signed numerous licensing deals that cover Linux with both companies that sell Linux-based software and those that use the operating system in their hardware.

How is this any different then if MS said, "hey Canonical, you're selling a thumb drive with Linux on it, we think we own Linux, and we have a USB app patent you're infringing upon, if you sign this deal and we won't sue, and also you'll be covered for using Linux."

Now, for an actual FUD example.


A portable storage device includes an interface and one or more flash memories. The one or more flash memories store one or more executable files that can be executed by a host computer to which the device is coupled without altering any environment settings on the host computer even though the one or more executable files include instructions to access environment settings. Additionally, the application is bound to the portable storage device during an activation process.


You can install and boot any app from a sdd. Couldn't any type of removable solid state storage be counted as portable? Wouldn't that mean any apps on them (even the ones inside an installed OS) are portable as well. Loosely just by using a sdd you're infringing on MS patents. This has been you're FUD for the day, thank you.

Austin25
September 1st, 2010, 12:48 AM
Well if they act on this, we can create something else portable to boot off of, like a mini TFTP server that plugs right into the ethernet port.

MasterNetra
September 1st, 2010, 02:19 AM
Yea, even if this is a legit patent, I doubt Microsoft will do much of anything with it, its probably reserved in the event they come across a situation where they can bully some company into some deal with it. I doubt it would be useful in court.

Dustin2128
September 1st, 2010, 02:20 AM
ridiculous, microsoft regulating the usage of linux by leveraging patents that never should have been awarded/those that may or may not exist. This is an outrage I say! *remembers to file patents for usage of memresistors for the good of the community*

NCLI
September 1st, 2010, 04:32 AM
As someone has already said, there's prior art on this. That patent is worthless.

PaulReaver
September 1st, 2010, 04:54 AM
The following patent has just been brought to my attention (issued on the 4th of may, 2010 to Microsoft):
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7712086.html

So are live USBs off?

nope, for one main reason, Canonical is an English registered company. Manufacture and Publishing are forms of patenting in Europe, Canonical would just have to prove that they were running live usb sticks first.

they might not be able to sell usb sticks in the USA but who cares?
U.S. Americans would still be able to make their own usb sticks with unetbootin.

phrostbyte
September 1st, 2010, 05:17 AM
No, it means the patent system is broken. :)

I propose any time someone files a patent that has obvious prior art, they get a massive fine and are prohibited from filing patents in the future.

KiwiNZ
September 1st, 2010, 05:27 AM
They don't grant themselves the Patent , it is granted to them by an independent body.

pommie
September 1st, 2010, 06:14 AM
Might I say 'much ado about nothing'

Ok, I was bored so I took a look at the patent, the quoted portion that the OP posted has been taken waaaaaay out of context, it is just the part that describes what a 'portable device' is, what the patent is about is having portable applications that register them selves to a particular memory stick, as they all have different identifying numbers, instead of a particular computer.
As I read it, and I did only scan it, pages of tech crap, they now own the patent on registering programs to a particular memory stick, this means that any software company that wants to do this has to pay MicroSoft a licensing fee,
and as this, to my knowledge, has not yet been done they have just pulled a money making coop.

Quote from page 14
"Initially, the device identifier and portable application key are obtained.
The device identifier can be obtained by retrieving the identifier previously stored to the portable storage device, or alternatively by generating the identifier (eg a signature of the portable storage devices discussed above). The portable application key can be obtained in different manners, but is typically obtained by the user manually entering the key into the host computer that the portable storage device is coupled to."

Reading it is like swimming uphill in molasses, there is a lot more but that's enough to get the general idea.

plain English version :P
Instead of the program registering itself in the Windows registry it 'phones home' and registers the memory stick to the program.

Cheers David

DoubleClicker
September 1st, 2010, 06:58 AM
There are thousands of frivolous patents, most of which are totally unenforceable. Might I remind you that Microsoft filled a patent on the page up and page down keys.


Even the for loop has been patented.

TNT1
September 1st, 2010, 07:02 AM
Do you really think they would go out looking for individuals sitting in their study's using USB flash drive on a Thursday night to reload Ubuntu 10.4 ?;-)
Well, steve jobs is already watching everything you do, so they might:o

Chronon
September 1st, 2010, 07:14 AM
If it went to court the patent would be thrown out. The prior art has clearly existed for some years before the patent was issued, so MS cannot patent this idea. Only new inventions can be patented, not matters of public knowledge.

Dr. C
September 1st, 2010, 07:27 AM
... wherein activation binds the application uniquely to the portable storage device through use of an identifier identifying the portable storage device so the application can only be executed from the bound portable storage device, wherein activation comprises writing activation information to the portable storage device, and wherein activation allows execution of each application for each time after the first time by the host computer or by another computer to which the portable storage device is coupled. From http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7712086.html

There is a critical DRM component to this patent that is incompatible with GPL v3 software. As long as the software in the USB does not contain DRM, and in particular if it contains GPL v3 code, it is hard to see how this patent applies. So GNU / Linux and FLOSS distributors with GPL v3 code are fine, but Apple and its DRM that is quite another matter. By the way the DRM requirement may protect the patent from prior art particularly if the prior art involves FLOSS.

McNils
September 1st, 2010, 07:38 AM
You must read the claims. Its the claims that defines what is patented.

del_diablo
September 1st, 2010, 11:01 AM
As someone has already said, there's prior art on this. That patent is worthless.

As I wanted to say, yupp.
Can we not get into a legal group that sues people attempting to make abstract patents over prior art?

grahammechanical
September 1st, 2010, 02:21 PM
I have not read all the document but I ask has Microsoft actually invented such a device and the so-called portable applications? To win any court cases do they not have to show that there was not any prior invention? I notice that the article mentions product activation. Perhaps they want to produce a Live Windows USB drive and they want to prevent it being copied and sold on. Live CDs or DVDs are not mentioned. The description of the so-called portable device is limited to USB.

Regards

Dr. C
September 1st, 2010, 03:00 PM
I have not read all the document but I ask has Microsoft actually invented such a device and the so-called portable applications? To win any court cases do they not have to show that there was not any prior invention? I notice that the article mentions product activation. Perhaps they want to produce a Live Windows USB drive and they want to prevent it being copied and sold on. Live CDs or DVDs are not mentioned. The description of the so-called portable device is limited to USB.

Regards

They may very well have invented the device and portable applications with DRM or as RMS would say malicious features. Take the malicious features out and then there is prior art. So how does this affect Free Libre Open Source Software?

koleoptero
September 1st, 2010, 04:14 PM
Do you really think they would go out looking for individuals sitting in their study's using USB flash drive on a Thursday night to reload Ubuntu 10.4 ?;-)

Thursday's are weird, aren't they?

keithpeter
September 1st, 2010, 06:13 PM
Hello All

May I respectfully suggest that any US citizens who reply to this thread to try some lobbying about the patenting of software? At least shorter monopoly times and some kind of sensible scope. I believe there are bills being proposed. I recollect that there were a couple of different ones.

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=bf1bfdf9-f3d9-41d1-a731-e509b66259b5

There was some serious lobbying about a European patent law that was around some years ago...

http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/intro/index.html

...but remember that in Europe, patent infringement cases are conducted in special courts, with judges who are patent lawyers. The cases have to be water tight. Mind you, the existence of prior art does NOT invalidate a patent in Euroland...

Zorgoth
September 1st, 2010, 06:33 PM
A quick google search reveals that the concept of live USBs is several years older than the filing of that patent. It's a blatantly bad patent if that is what is is intended to cover. Microsoft probably knows that it would never stand up in court. Software companies make patents like this all the time.

Zorgoth
September 1st, 2010, 07:03 PM
A quick google search reveals that the concept of live USBs is several years older than the filing of that patent. It's a blatantly bad patent if that is what is is intended to cover. Microsoft probably knows that it would never stand up in court. Software companies make patents like this all the time.

EDIT: I couldn't actually find USB flash drives from that time - however, the concept of Live USB hard drives is at least 12 years old, and Live CDs are also much older than the filing of that patent. I am pretty sure that the idea of moving from CDs/hard drives -> Flash is not patentable. That would be like EA patenting installing games on an SSD rather than an HDD - there is no innovation whatsoever involved in that step, and in fact no effort.

sdowney717
September 1st, 2010, 08:16 PM
Threaten years of expensive legal wrangling to wear down an opponent.
or EXTORT (offer) a settlement payment. Case closed.
software patents equals lots of opportunities to harass using the legal system. Whether they have any merit or not matters little.

KiwiNZ
September 1st, 2010, 08:22 PM
This thread is a case of "Cart before the Horse" as no one really knows for sure what the patent means and what the intent of the patent holder is.

And in the end its affect on individuals no doubt will be minimal.

MaxIBoy
September 1st, 2010, 08:32 PM
Wow, even their own products are prior art-- DOS on a floppy is exactly what they describe, if you s/flash/magnetic medium/g. I don't think that specifying "flash" is a meaningful distinction in the context of this patent.

EDIT: Not to mention the U3 crapware/firmware which includes a portable applications market that installs stuff to your flash drive for use when manipulating files on said drive; that is prior art for nontrivial (all of the?) aspects of the patent claim. In fact, I'd say that's a much closer match to this patent than bootable external media such as DOS floppies and liveUSBs. After reading more of this patent, I'm pretty sure that they specify that the OS itself is still installed on non-removable media.

alexfish
September 1st, 2010, 08:48 PM
Looks like they are protecting the OS from a security point of view

I for one would hate to think plugging a dongle in could have the potential to harm the
system IE: Win7