Microsoft, Apple sued for offering online updates

Companies accused of infringing a patent that covers Web-enabled software update technologies

BTG (Britain) and Teleshuttle (NY) claim to hold a patent on… updating software over the Internet!

Anyone knows what exactly is covered by this patent?

McAfee is goin down!

They are going to have a really hard time going anywhere with this case, I’ll wager. Hundreds–and possibly thousands–of software companies have been providing online updates for many years. I’m not sure how patent law works, precisely, but if it’s anything like copyright law, you have to enforce your rights as intellectual property owner in order to keep them.

Do any of the lawyer types here know anything about this–how much leverage would you have in a patent case if you allow your patented system to become common industry practice, and then let just about every other company in the industry use it for years before you said anything?

I’m not a lawyer, but last I checked there was no “in common use for last several years” stipulation like there is for copyrights.

The way out of this for AOL/Microsoft is to show prior work (there’s a technical term here I’m forgetting) existed before the patent was filed, thereby making the patent invalid.

Anyway, good luck to those guys. I seriously doubt they’ve got a legit patent though.

I checked the patent filing on the USPTO web site. Accorinding to the abstract, it’s a patent for remotely distributing software updates by providing a list of software to choose from based on what is already installed on the local computer. It’s not a patent on software distribution over the net in general.

There’s no requirement in patents to enforce a patent or lose it. That’s an attribute of trademarks. That’s why you see stories about Disney coming down hard on a daycare for painting a Mickey Mouse mural. As I udnerstand it, patents can be invalidated in several ways. Chief among them are a patent that is overly broad, or there is prior art.

There very well may be prior art. There’s been lots of software distribution schemes. Certainly if one substract the phase “over the internet” installers have existed that checked for installed components and offered a list of reminaing items to install.

I have the patent for reading words on the internet. You must each pay me .05 cents per page or face my ravening horde of avenging lawyers!!

Thanks for the clarification. I agree that this is still is very broad category that very likely was not an original creation to begin with. Come on, some old Unix fart must have a shell script that looks for existing files before downloading new ones…

How old is the patent? We’ve been using an over the 'net update system that updates based on end machine content for UNIX systems for ~12 years that was developed on campus.

Here is the patent on the US Patent Office web site. According to the information there, it was filed April 20, 2000.

If it was filed in 2000, then who are they trying to fucking kid? Windows Update itself dates back to at least Win 98, doesn’t it? Not to mention all the antivirus programs back then.

Frankly, I’d totally support a counter-suit for completely frivalous waste of fucking time.

OS X came out in 1999 and I’m pretty sure it had Software Update from the beginning. In fact OS 9 has it, too, IIRC.

The patent system is completely broken at this point (witness Amazon’s moronic 1-click patent) and should be overhauled or scrapped.