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Microsoft guilty in VPN patent case

Microsoft guilty in VPN patent case

Microsoft's implementation of VPN technologies in Windows falls foul of two VirnetX patents, rules a jury.

Microsoft has found itself in legal hot water - and at the wrong end of a particularly expensive ruling - following claims that it had infringed on a patent regarding virtual private networking technologies.

As reported over on DigitalTrends, a jury in Tyler, Texas has found Microsoft guilty of willful infringement of two patents on VPN technologies originally developed by the Science Applications International Corporation for the US Central Intelligence Agency, and currently owned by VPN specialist VirnetX.

The case, which has been ongoing since 2007, claimed that Microsoft infringed a pair of SAIC patents in its implementation of virtual private networking - the ability to create an encrypted tunnel to another network over the Internet and act as a local machine to that network - in the Windows operating system, and sought $242 million in damages.

While the jury hasn't awarded VirnetX the full amount it was asking for, it has prompted the court to order Microsoft to pay $105.6 million (£62.3 million) in damages to the company - a figure which the judge has the option of trebling due to the willful nature of Microsoft's infringement.

Microsoft will almost certainly be appealing the ruling, and has previously claimed that its VPN technology was developed completely independently of SAIC's implementation and as a result does not fall foul of the patents.

Do you think Microsoft should pay up, or could a guilty verdict be the start of a slippery slope for anyone who relies on VPN technology? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

20 Comments

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javaman 19th March 2010, 11:15 Quote
Makes a change from hearing apple suing x, y and z. While patent laws are good, I just think its reached the point now where you can't even breath without someone having a patent on that =/

Guess Microsoft should be thankful for such a lienant ruling.
eddtox 19th March 2010, 11:22 Quote
Great, more software patents. Something really needs to be done about the sorry state of affairs we've gotten ourselves in, with regards to patent law. We do need a system which recognises innovation and allows people to profit from it but we can't be having these lawsuits coming out of the woodwork every other day. Still, I can't pretend to understand all the intricacies and ramifications of such wide-sweeping changes. Although I'm sure there are people/organisations who stand to lose vast ammounts of money if this were to happen and I'm sure they'll fight tooth and nail to prevent it.
RichCreedy 19th March 2010, 13:43 Quote
grumble moan grumble, i hate patents, grumble moan

people who have read my other patent responses know what i think
blood69 19th March 2010, 15:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by javaman
Makes a change from hearing apple suing x, y and z. While patent laws are good, I just think its reached the point now where you can't even breath without someone having a patent on that =/

Guess Microsoft should be thankful for such a lienant ruling.

Lol, agree Javaman.
The Patent law in the USA and UK, is one of the most stupid things on earth.
I even say more, its going to reach a point when we can't even Fart without being Sued.
Its time to Microsoft suing many companies using their technology and intellectual property.
karx11erx 19th March 2010, 18:27 Quote
Quote:
Microsoft ... has previously claimed that its VPN technology was developed completely independently of SAIC's implementation and as a result does not fall foul of the patents

Ummm ... what?

If you develop some technology completely independently and on your own, and someone had developed and patented the same tech before you, you still infringe on that patent. That's the nature of a patent.
thehippoz 19th March 2010, 20:01 Quote
yeah if they knew about the patent.. I don't see how they couldn't being as big as they are
RichCreedy 19th March 2010, 20:55 Quote
how long have virnetx had the patent?, did they buy it after microsoft had already implimented the vpn stuff, and so bought thinking, ahhh we can get some money out of microsoft for this?

virtnetx, didnt create the patent, if i understand the article correctly, the transfer of patents should not be allowed, and they should last no longer than 5 yrs
HourBeforeDawn 19th March 2010, 22:02 Quote
The Patent system has now been turned into a Joke.... it needs a serious overhual... at this point all Patents are doing is slowing down the progress of Tech because of jokers like Apple who patent obscure items to then go after other companies to make some green.
LordPyrinc 20th March 2010, 02:54 Quote
I believe that many patents these days are being granted on the basis of very generic wording.

US PATENT 345.6789.012 states the following: Provide a mechanisim for rendering textual information to a display apparatus that can then be transmitted to other individuals via an electronic data transfer to their respective display apparatuses. Input of said textual information is initiated via physical depression of plastic pieces that are marked with symbols resembling the textual information displayed on previously mentioned display apparatuses.
Fozzy 20th March 2010, 05:35 Quote
Honestly I'm growing weary of all the lawsuits directed at Microsoft. It feels like everyone's trying to make a buck off of microsoft's success. Patent infringement is huge, especially when it comes to branding. If I were to make a carbonated drink and called it Cokee' to benifit off of the Coke label then obvioiusly I would be infringing on Coke's brand name. But this, I believe, is just lawyers finding loop-holes and abusing their legal abilities.

(not useing firefox so I take zero responsibility for typos lol)
alpha0ne23 20th March 2010, 09:21 Quote
Its normal practice for MS to willfully use other ppl's software

If you do not have the funds to take them to court (like most ppl) then MS are laughing all the way to the bank, its only a few companies with enough $ who finally get back what MS blatently stole
knutjb 20th March 2010, 20:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
I believe that many patents these days are being granted on the basis of very generic wording.

US PATENT 345.6789.012 states the following: Provide a mechanisim for rendering textual information to a display apparatus that can then be transmitted to other individuals via an electronic data transfer to their respective display apparatuses. Input of said textual information is initiated via physical depression of plastic pieces that are marked with symbols resembling the textual information displayed on previously mentioned display apparatuses.

I agree, the technical capacity of the patent office is not up to the task. It does need revising because of the speed and volume of patent filings. Plus, did Microsoft develop their version parallel to SAIC? Additionally, the patent office needs to require specific design intents on how the design is to be used. Anyone can take a known widget, add to it for a different use, and patent that use. What has happened is filers have been allowed to provide such a broad and intentionally vague description of said use so when anyone, like MS, comes up with something similar, BAM a law suit is filed in a part of the country that is overly favorable to small companies over big ones, regardless of the merits.

I think the patent office could require more specificity WITHOUT congressional involvement which would be the best for all. Right now congress can't find their way out of an open box with a map and flashlight and I for one don't want them to get involved.

Patents aren't perfect but they can't go away either. Anarchy stops research.
TheUn4seen 20th March 2010, 20:35 Quote
To people saying that software patents are bad: you are idiots, you haven't developed squat, so stfu. If not for the patents, small companies would face instant death, because big ones could just take whatever they develop and sell as theirs. That's what Microsoft was doing for many years, not to mention Google and basically any other big company. Patents are the only way small companies can defend themselves or at least get some compensation.
RichCreedy 20th March 2010, 21:16 Quote
the big companies are only big because they have managed to "sell" the product, if the small companies want to get big they need to learn to "sell" their products, not sit behind patents waiting for someone to make it a success, then sue them.
MiT 20th March 2010, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
the big companies are only big because they have managed to "sell" the product, if the small companies want to get big they need to learn to "sell" their products, not sit behind patents waiting for someone to make it a success, then sue them.

total agree.
TheUn4seen 21st March 2010, 05:04 Quote
RichCreedy, my first sentence seems to apply to you perfectly. Tell me, how do you manage to sell your product if bigger company just takes it and starts selling it as theirs? They have lots of resources so they can sell it cheaper than you would ever manage to, especially that they don't have to cover the r&d costs (because you did it for them).

What do you think Schmidt, Brin and Page did first? They patented the hell out of their every idea, if not for patent protection Microsoft would just take everything they invented. The same goes to Gates - if there were no patents IBM would take everything and you would be using IBM Windows.

So please, if you have no idea about the topic, stop wasting bandwith and database space. "Blessed is the man who, having nothing to stay, abstains from giving us worthy evidence of the fact".
alpha0ne23 21st March 2010, 08:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUn4seen


So please, if you have no idea about the topic, stop wasting bandwith and database space. "Blessed is the man who, having nothing to stay, abstains from giving us worthy evidence of the fact".

But but that applies to ~ 95% of these socially inept k/board warriors :|
javaman 21st March 2010, 15:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUn4seen
To people saying that software patents are bad: you are idiots, you haven't developed squat, so stfu. If not for the patents, small companies would face instant death, because big ones could just take whatever they develop and sell as theirs. That's what Microsoft was doing for many years, not to mention Google and basically any other big company. Patents are the only way small companies can defend themselves or at least get some compensation.

You sir have totally missed the point of what a lot of people are saying. Yes the system is necessary to product such inovations by smaller companies but in its current form it open to abuse. Companies are using it to come up with an idea they have no plans of producing or the technology is not avaible to produce and waiting for these evil big companies to do the donkey work so they can sue them. The system has gone so far that apple successfully sue a school over logo infringement. Not only is the apple regarded as a symbol of learning in its own right, the school logo didn't look similar to apples logo.

What if physics engines where patented by one company and another company want to have objects move in their game. The second company then develops their own algorithms even call it something different. Would you be happy to let the first company be able to destroy the second simply because some bent system has strangle hold over the market? In its current form the patent system prevents competition and allows a company (big or small) to make easy money if someone else tries to do the leg work.

I agree that companies need their ideas protected and microsoft are guilty especially in the example you gave, but comming on and telling people to stfu just because they don't agree with you and your clear love of an easily bent system. If anything your guilty of doing the same thing your accusing them of only from the opposite view. Now drop the attitude and change your tone. You point is very valid but how you are putting it across is nothing more than flamming.
RichCreedy 21st March 2010, 19:23 Quote
TheUn4seen, you should not presume, i know nothing of patent law, i know why it was brought in, they have been around in one form or another since around 500 bc, and i also know that all the current patents are based on the british patent laws, which the first british patent was given by king Henry VI for 20yrs( what a current patent is issued for until renewed*) for the making of coloured glass.

patents are not a right to build something, they are merely to protect the inventer from would be builders. in the spirit of patents, the inventer is supposed to build the patented item and make its use public, currently all people seem to be doing is patenting an idea, and not actually bringing it to the public domain, but waiting for someone else to, and then sue the pants off them.

*this is what i disagree with, 20 years is to long, and i think people should be forced to bring their idea to market within 5 yrs, and then if they don't , they loose all rights to said patent, and it becomes a free for all item.
RichCreedy 21st March 2010, 19:27 Quote
excuse my grammer, i never was any good at english
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