14th Aug, 2010

My Patents in Oracle vs Google Android Lawsuit!

Everyone by now has seen yesterday’s news that Oracle sued Google over alledged patent infringements relating to Android. I thought “OK, interesting”, and went on with other more pressing tasks at hand. Then I got pinged by someone asking if I was the inventor of 2 of the 7 patents Oracle cited in the lawsuit. I perked up and checked out the complaint itself, and there they are, black ink on white paper, two of my patents listed as No.1 and No.2 in the lawsuit:

  • #6,125,447: Protection domains to provide security in a computer system (filed Dec 11, 1997, issued Sep 26, 2000)
  • #6,192,476: Controlling access to a resource (filed Dec 11, 1997, issued Feb 20, 2001)

So I was right that this was interesting — especially when one’s decade old patents have starring roles in such a major corporate battle!

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So come on.. we need to know your feelings on the issue…

(Personally, I hold 4 software patents, or more accurately my ex-employers do, I’ve never stopped feeling slightly ashamed of the them, far too broad and of dubious novelty like so many…)

I’m surprised you weren’t directly contacted as a witness or at least to let you know that you might get some questions.

(Tom – I have a software patent pending for my ex-employer (1.5 years so far), and I’ve always felt slightly ashamed for the exact same reasons as you. I’m quite happy I’m not alone.)

It depends on how your contract was then with the corp… It may well be that you still own some rights on these patents. Do i get a 1% share from you for this tip ? ;-)

I certainly do not think there is any direct financial interest in this matter for me. (So nothing to share with folks here!) But the episode is amusing and it led me to catch up on some of James Gosling’s blog (see http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/ ) where he has very strong comments on the lawsuit — one of the seven patents cited is his.

James was at Sun much earlier and much longer than I was, so my insight into Sun cannot compare with his. But I do confirm one thing he stated in his blog, that Sun always said (at least internally) that applying those patents was for defensive purposes only. I remember being told, when Sun sued Microsoft, that it was practically the first time Sun sued anybody.

One more note on James Gosling’s blog site — it displays an ad prominently (among a few others) on the left hand side pane, something called Patent Invention Services.

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