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Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj Updated 2Xs
Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 06:50 PM EDT

Rackspace is going after a troll, Parallel Iron and its "agent", IP Navigation (or IPNav), bringing a declaratory judgment of noninfringement action against Parallel Iron, because it owns the patents and is asserting them against the Open Source Hadoop distributed file system ( Parallel's patents being on storage-area-network and network-attached-storage equipment) and a breach of contract action against both. Since Rackspace says, as the H Online reports, one goal is "to highlight the tactics that IP Nav uses to divert hard-earned profits and precious capital from American businesses", I thought we could pitch in and spread the word.

And if you are free to do so, why not look for any prior art on the patents involved? There are three, but once again, we have a continuation loop, so it's really just one with some variations on the theme and some doodads. Don't read on if you are not supposed to look at patents.

Here's a portion of what Alan Schoenbaum, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Rackspace, tells us as background:

Last week, a patent assertion entity (PAE) called Parallel Iron sued Rackspace and 11 other defendants in Delaware for allegedly infringing on a trio of patents that Parallel Iron says cover the use of the open source Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). This is the newest in a series of 23 similar suits Parallel Iron has filed in Delaware since last June, which is when Parallel Iron was forced to dismiss an earlier set of lawsuits on another patent it could not enforce. Parallel Iron is the latest in a string of shell companies created to do nothing more than assert patent-infringement claims as part of a typical patent troll scheme of pressuring companies to pay up or else face crippling litigation costs . At least that is what it looks like on the surface.

In actuality, it is a bit more complicated. Our dealings with this particular troll reach back to December 2010 when IP Navigation Group (IP Nav), as agent for a supposedly secret patent owner, now known as Parallel Iron, accused Rackspace of patent infringement. IP Nav told us that they could not divulge the details of their infringement claims – not even the patent numbers or the patent owner – unless we entered into a “forbearance agreement” – basically, an agreement that we would not sue them. IP Nav was worried that as soon as we found out what their patents and claims actually were, Rackspace would sue to invalidate their patents or for a declaration that Rackspace does not infringe. We were unwilling to enter into such a one-sided agreement, so we negotiated a mutual forbearance agreement that required either party to give 30 days’ notice before bringing suit.... True to form, Parallel Iron sued Rackspace in Delaware without providing any notice, breaking the agreement they insisted upon.

We aren’t going to take it. We have sued IP Nav and Parallel Iron in federal court in San Antonio, Texas, where our headquarters is located (see the complaint [PDF] here). We are asking the court to award Rackspace damages for breach of contract, and to enter a declaratory judgment that Rackspace does not infringe Parallel Iron’s patents.

So, the target they are going after is Hadoop. Natch. As usual, as soon as you are successful, blood suckers show up wanting to drink your blood. Schoenbaum indicates that IPNav wanted Rackspace to sign a forbearance agreement before it would tell them which patents were involved because it was worried that if they revealed the patents, Rackspace would try to invalidate them by bringing a declaratory judgment action. So... here they are, doing just that, and if that is their fear, it probably wouldn't hurt to bring forward any prior art you happen to know about, if you are free to look. Rackspace and Red Hat recently felled another troll's patent, Uniloc, after all, even in Texas. This new litigation is in Texas also.

Google Patents has the three patents at issue in the complaint:

There's a fourth, 7,415,565 but it got dropped because when passing the patents from shell to shell, as I understand the story, some brainiac lawyer noticed that it was subject to a terminal disclaimer, requiring that the patent be commonly owned with an earlier patent, as the complaint describes the shuffle. When that was noticed, it resulted in more shuffling, Parallel Iron was born, and refiled, but it was too late for some of the targets, who had already paid to get the troll off their backs. Anyway, my point is that you don't need to do any prior art searching on that one.

If you notice, each patent has an October 31, 2002 priority date, so that date has to be beaten by a year. To qualify as prior art, for a year or more before the application was filed, the same functionality must have been patented or described in a printed publication in the US, or a foreign country, or it was in public use or on sale in the US. Keep in mind, though, that obviousness is also useful, so even materials that may not match all the claims perfectly might still be worth mentioning.

The '662 patent shows this:

Also published as
US7543177
US7958388
US20040088393
US20070174646
US20090240976
So there is a loop, and once again, just like with Nokia, we see continuations, and as was explained to us in the Nokia context, that often indicates an attempt to make the patent broader, to cover what the owner sees happening in the marketplace, not that their lawyers would agree that this is a correct description of what a continuation means.

The description of '622 says:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application relates to the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,278 by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Storage System Including and Improved Switch,” and the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,268 by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Memory Section,” both of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

And the '177 patent says it's a contination of '622:
RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of and claims benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,199, filed Oct. 31, 2002, and relates to the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,278, filed Oct. 31, 2002 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,197,622, by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Storage System Including an Improved Switch,” and the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,268, filed Oct. 31, 2002, by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Memory Section,” all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

And '388 is a continuation of '177:
RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of and claims benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/710,407, filed Feb. 26, 2007 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,543,177, which is a continuation of and claims benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,199, filed Oct. 31, 2002, (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,197,662) and relates to the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,278, filed Oct. 31, 2002, by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Storage System Including an Improved Switch,” and the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/284,268, filed Oct. 31, 2002, by M. James Bullen, Steven L. Dodd, David J. Herbison, and William T. Lynch, entitled “Methods and Systems for a Memory Section,” all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

I don't know why being related to an application matters. I thought it had to be to an issued patent, and I have an email out to a patent lawyer, and when I hear back, I'll let you know. But let's assume that we have the date right for now.

[ Update: I heard back from my friend, and he says he doesn't know what they mean by "related". "The cover of the '662 patent doesn't claim priority to those other applications, and a review of PUBLIC Pair also shows no claim of priority. So the effective filing date for the '662 sould be the same as the actual filing date, which is October 31, 2002."]

How to Help Find Prior Art:

By the way, there is another new tool I just learned about, called Searcher.io. It's a paid service, $299 per patent, designed more for startups to find out if a planned product is going to hit the patent wall, and it's another to add to the collection.

You guys know where to find prior art, though, because you've lived computer history. These patents are all about data storage, three called the same thing, "Methods and systems for a storage system". Is there any prior art that you know about?

There are resources on Groklaw to help you figure out how to do prior art searching. Here's an article on how to do prior art searching, with links to audio from PubPat, as Ogg and mp3s. Here are the slides [PDF] that go with the audio, with details on what qualifies as prior art.

And here's Groklaw's dedicated Patents Reference page, which has a section on patent searching. There are references with links to others doing this type of work, under the heading Patent Busting. And under the heading Patent Resources there are links to info on USPTO's rules regarding prior art, along with their manuals. More patent references are on our Legal Research page.

What I personally have found useful is to look at the list of references listed on a patent, the prior art they list that they know about. Sometimes, if you go to the patents listed there and look at the references they list, etc., you do sometimes find gold.

You have to read the claims closely. They are similar, but the wording isn't identical. For example, here's claim 1 (out of 21) of '662:

1. A storage system, comprising:
one or more memory sections, including

one or more memory devices having storage locations for storing data, and

a memory section controller capable of detecting faults in the memory section and transmitting a fault message in response to the detected faults; and one or more switches, including

one or more interfaces for connecting to one or more external devices; and

a switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the external device interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the external device interfaces based on an algorithm; and

a management system capable of receiving fault messages from the memory section controllers and removing from service the memory section from which the fault message was received, and wherein the management system is further capable of determining an algorithm for use by a switch fabric in interconnecting the memory sections and the external device interfaces, and instructing the switch to execute the determined algorithm,

wherein an interface of the switch is connected to a non-volatile storage device, and wherein the management system is further capable of instructing the non-volatile storage device to load data into one or more of the memory sections via the switch.

The '388 is similar, but not identical in language:
1. A storage system, comprising:
one or more memory sections, including:

one or more memory devices having storage locations for storing data, and

a memory section controller capable of detecting faults in the memory section and transmitting a fault message in response to the detected faults;

one or more switches, including

one or more interfaces for connecting to one or more external devices;

a switch controller that executes software, including a routing algorithm; and

a selectively configurable switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the one or more interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces based on the routing algorithm; and

a management system capable of receiving fault messages from the memory section controllers and inactivating the memory section corresponding to the fault message received by changing the routing algorithm, and wherein the management system is further capable of determining the routing algorithm for use by the selectively configurable switch fabric in interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces, and providing the routing algorithm to the switch controller.

And here's claim one of '177:
1. A storage system, comprising:
one or more memory sections, including:

one or more memory devices having storage locations for storing data, and

a memory section controller capable of detecting faults in the memory section and transmitting a fault message in response to the detected faults;

one or more switches, including:

one or more interfaces for connecting to one or more external devices;

a switch controller that executes software, including a routing algorithm; and

a selectively configurable switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the one or more interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces based on the routing algorithm stored in the switch controller; and

a management system capable of receiving fault messages from the memory section controllers and inactivating the memory section corresponding to the fault message received by changing the routing algorithm, and wherein the management system is further capable of determining and changing the routing algorithm for use by the selectively configurable switch fabric in interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces, providing the determined routing algorithm to the switch controller, and instructing the switch controller to execute the determined routing algorithm.

My point is, you have to read the claims very carefully. For example, in claim 1 of the '622 patent, it says:
a switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the external device interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the external device interfaces based on an algorithm
In claim 1 of '388, it says:
a switch controller that executes software, including a routing algorithm; and a selectively configurable switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the one or more interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces based on the routing algorithm
I have no idea if that is the same thing or just close but no cigar. Some of you will know. I'm just highlighting that you have to look closely at each of the claims. The rest isn't important. It's the claims that matter, not the description.

In fact, '388 has only 17 claims, not 21. And '177 has 19. So there are some differences. And as PubPat's Executive Director Dan Ravicher explained once, "To be worthwhile, the prior art has to be exactly the same or any differences between it and the targeted patent have to fall within the judicially narrowed concept of obviousness that exists in patent law today, which is much, much less than what most reasonable technologists would consider obvious."

So, you can either post anything useful in a comment or email me. Happy hunting!

Update 2: TechDirt has some fascinating background:

While some of the reporting out there suggests that Rackspace's reference to "the most notorious patent troll" is about the company Parallel Iron, it's really Spangenberg who is the target.

First, some background. Spangenberg has built up quite a business for himself by buying up awful patents and suing tons of companies, often getting them to pay up. He's claimed in the past that he likes to sue first and ask questions later. He famously got in trouble a few years back for shuffling some of his patents around and suing Daimler Chrysler twice over the same patent even though the company had settled the original lawsuit and licensed the patent. That didn't go well for Spangenberg, as he was told to pay $4 million. Remember that story, because it seems like Spangenberg's apparent sloppiness in actually living up to the terms of deals he signs may be part of why he's likely to be on the hook against Rackspace....

Rackspace also notes that it "has been forced to expend time and money to defend" this "wrongfully brought" lawsuit, suggesting they're going to seek attorneys' fees as well.


  


Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj Updated 2Xs | 167 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 08:05 PM EDT
Clustered computing anyone? Available on the VAX 1994 or
thereabouts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

RAID1
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 08:39 PM EDT
surely the claims of the '662 patent simply describes RAID1

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, April 07 2013 @ 10:08 PM EDT
"1. A storage system, comprising:

one or more memory sections, including

one or more memory devices having storage locations for storing data, and

a memory section controller capable of detecting faults in the memory
section and transmitting a fault message in response to the detected faults; and
one or more switches, including

one or more interfaces for connecting to one or more external devices; and

a switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the external
device interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the external
device interfaces based on an algorithm; and

a management system capable of receiving fault messages from the memory
section controllers and removing from service the memory section from which the
fault message was received, and wherein the management system is further capable
of determining an algorithm for use by a switch fabric in interconnecting the
memory sections and the external device interfaces, and instructing the switch
to execute the determined algorithm,

wherein an interface of the switch is connected to a non-volatile storage
device, and wherein the management system is further capable of instructing the
non-volatile storage device to load data into one or more of the memory sections
via the switch."

As I have mentioned previously on Groklaw, years ago, I used to be a computer
technician, working on minicomputers. One system I worked on was the Collins
C-8500, used in the Air Canada reservation system. One unique thing of this
system was that *EVERYTHING* was connected by what is now known as a
"LAN". All the various devices, such as tape stands, disk drives and
more were connected directly to this LAN. It was a Time Division Multiplexing
ring, rather than packet based, as is Ethernet. One feature of this system was
the "order wire" where things like status, including errors were
reported back to the CPU. That sounds suspiciously like the error reporting
claimed above. In fact the whole system had a lot of error detection built into
it. The "storage system" had several disk drives, again connected via
that LAN, which could certainly be considered "one or more memory devices
having storage locations for storing data". Then we get to "and
wherein the management system is further capable of determining an algorithm for
use by a switch fabric in interconnecting the memory sections and the external
device interfaces, and instructing the switch to execute the determined
algorithm". Well, the CPU could command the various devices to attach to
the ring, transfer data and then drop off. With the disk & tape drives out
on the LAN, that Collins system could certainly be considers a "Storage
Area Network" I worked on this system starting in 1978, but it and the
earlier B-8500, with a similar, but slower, TDM ring, had been in service for
several years by then.


http://www.vintagepaperads.com/1969-Collins-C-8500-Computers-Ad--New-C-System_p_
77473.html

http://www.antiquehistory.net/Collins/#_ftn1
Click on this link and scroll down to "1968: Monstrous Computers and Huge
Disk Drives" to see some B-8500 equipment as installed in the office where
I worked, along with some C-8500 gear. The cabinets marked C-8500 disk drive
were actually attached to the B-8500 system. They had hydraulic servos and the
heads were about the size of the platters in notebook drives today. The drives
connected to the C-8500 system I worked on were phsically much smaller, but just
about everything on both systems was water cooled.

---
The following program contains immature subject matter.
Viewer discretion is advised.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A lot of these things are obvious based on technology limitations
Authored by: artp on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 12:05 AM EDT
If the technology is such that component A can only operate
at speed i or less and component B can only operate at speed
j or less and component C can only operate at speed k or
less ....

Then certain design decisions are forced on you, no matter
how creative you are. Change the technology limitations and
WHAMMO!, you have new solutions available. None of it is
creative. You have only changed the parameters of the
simultaneous equations to allow different solutions.

I will try to look up some speed limits on things like 10M
LAN/IDE drives and 100M LAN/SCSI drives, etc to see when it
became feasible to build a SAN as a dedicated device.

SANs are just subsets of generalized computing. They are
degenerate cases of systems that can be applied more
broadly. When I came up with the solution of downloading
large files through TCP/IP over T1 instead of SNA over X.25,
it was obvious because [several] someone[s] had done the
preliminary footwork. I was just the one who had the
application that could benefit from it, and the problem that
made it worth pursuing. No rocket science here, but I was
the first person in the company to put TCP/IP file transfer
into production use [in that company].

Also, I remember using fabric switches back in 1998, and
there were at least two competitors at that time that I
used. Brocade was one. Maybe I'll remember the other.

I was working on HP9000 systems with redundant everything.
Maybe there too I will remember the application and the
architecture. One of the applications was for a NOC [Network
Operation Center] to be used to monitor multiple external
clients. The other was probably a telecom company billing
system.

Just wanted to get the juices flowing for people who may
have worked on similar things that I [and maybe they too]
just thought of as something that you just look up in the
instruction manual. System administrators and consultants
always come up with things that aren't quite within the box.
The world would not work as we know it if we didn't.

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

How external is external?
Authored by: Ian Al on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 03:25 AM EDT
a switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the external device interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the external device interfaces based on an algorithm.
a switch controller that executes software, including a routing algorithm; and a selectively configurable switch fabric connected to one or more memory sections and the one or more interfaces and interconnecting the memory sections and the one or more interfaces based on the routing algorithm
I have in mind a memory system that has a memory fabric comprising one or more memory sections. The system has the problem that the speed or capacity of each memory strip in the memory section can vary considerably and also that segments of each strip can fail, but with the majority of the memory fabric having a considerable remaining life.

The memory system has an external controller which has a number of functions including a segment failure recovery algorithm, a memory section/strip/segment electromechanical switch controller, algorithms to deal with varying strip speeds/capacities and a spare segment system that swaps faulty segments out and swaps good segments in from a spare segment pool. The external controller is connected to the electromechanical switch and memory subsystem via a short, flat ribbon cable. The systems can have one or more memory sections (each containing multiple memory fields and associated electromagnetic interfaces. The controller provides a single virtual memory address space to the accessing system which it maps to known good sections in the memory fabric.

The system is, of course, the hard disk drive and the controller is usually a microprocessor controller external to the memory fabric which comprises concentric rings on one or more magnetic film platters (memory sections). The electromechanical memory switch is a swinging arm with a magnetic field detector at its tip(s) which can be switched to access each of the elements in the memory fabric. The different speeds are a result of the increased path lengths at the outer strips of memory fabric. For optimal read and write speed/capacity, an HDD will institute a zoned-bit sector creation algorithm which forms more sectors on outer memory tracks.

This IBM white paper (December 1997) explains that hard drive media defect management has always been an essential feature of hard drives since they were first manufactured.
Due to the complexity of HDD's and the nature of the technology, media defects are a fact of life in ALL HDD's manufactured today. However, HDD's employ effective error correction techniques and data threshold analysis and reassignments to help prevent data loss.
HDD defect management HDD's employ sophisticated defect management techniques to prevent data loss and promote data integrity. Earlier it was stated that there are many more sectors available in the drive beyond the drive advertised capacity. Typically each track has an additional sector beyond the required number of sectors and a drive may have thousands of spare sectors available. Those sectors are used in the event that a data sector becomes defective. In the case of defective sectors, the data is recovered (if possible) and rewritten onto the spare sector. The new sector is now part of the drive sector map and no loss of capacity or data has occurred.

---
Regards
Ian Al
Software Patents: It's the disclosed functions in the patent, stupid!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 03:56 AM EDT
Other areas it might be worth looking at (Sorry I have no specifics and will
have to rely on someone who knows in detail)

NUMA

Tandem NonStop

Christian Rovsing CR220

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 05:12 AM EDT
Why is it the case that description does not matter? Should not description be
examined if it doesn't match the infringing product, then it's not infringing?
Otherwise I could claim a cat and describe actually a dog.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 06:11 AM EDT
I was at CERN in the early nineties. VAX clusters were all over the place, but
the functionality was mostly nfs-like, i.e. exporting disk volumes to other
machines. The patent looks to me more RAID-like. Multi disk volumes with
redundancy and some volume manager that deals with failures.

Tandem computers, later bought by digital and subsequently HP had
non-stop-business machines in the middle eighties. Disk, and everything else,
was doubled. It was supposed to always keep running and switch to the mirror
volume after a crash. The crashed disked could than be hot-swapped.

Nicolo

[ Reply to This | # ]

Non-infringement, anyone?
Authored by: scav on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 06:54 AM EDT
It seems the declaratory judgement sought is not for invalidation of the
patents (which is hard because of presumed validity and such nonsense) but
for non-infringement, which may be a lower hurdle to clear.

If anyone has reasons why HDFS doesn't infringe the patents, or the claims
don't accurately describe what HDFS does, then speak up, because that is
another prong of the defence against the trolls too.

Non-infringement was a big part of why Oracle's Java patent attacks against
Google fell apart - the language of the claims was found to describe
something other than what dalvik actually did (and other than what the JVM
did too, funnily enough).

---
The emperor, undaunted by overwhelming evidence that he had no clothes,
redoubled his siege of Antarctica to extort tribute from the penguins.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 08:31 AM EDT
I don't have an account - so can someone create the
correct/permanent thread sometime?

My correction:
So, the target they are going after Hadoop -> So, the target
they are going after is Hadoop

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic - Someone Signed In Please create a thread and copy
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 09:43 AM EDT

Since somehow no one has after 24 hours....

Wayne
http://madhatter.ca

[ Reply to This | # ]

Maybe some prior art in virtual memory systems?
Authored by: NobodyYouKnow on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 11:05 AM EDT
Some of claims in 7197662 look reminiscent of what happens in paging virtual
memory systems.

The memory sections would be RAM pages, the faults would be page faults, and the
non-volatile storage device would be the swap partition or file.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Thread
Authored by: artp on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 11:10 AM EDT
Finally - a non-anonymous corrections thread.

I was so tired when I got home last night I didn't notice the
lack of canonicals.

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thread
Authored by: artp on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 11:11 AM EDT
What were we talking about again? Not here!


---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Thread
Authored by: artp on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 11:12 AM EDT
URL, please.

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Comes Goes Here
Authored by: artp on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 11:14 AM EDT
See the link above for details: "Comes v. MS"

---
Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

SGI - multi-processing Units
Authored by: capt.Hij on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 12:40 PM EDT
In the mid to late nineties SGI was building multiple
processor, shared memory machines which allowed you to
purchase separate boards. When you added a new board you
essentially added a multi-processing computer with shared
memory within that board. Those machines must have required
solutions like those described above.

Also, any multi-threaded application has to implement those
sorts of constraints in software. Anybody doing multi-
threaded applications prior to that date must have a
rudimentary application of those techniques.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Promise not to invalidate
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 01:25 PM EDT

Requiring a promise not to invalidate one's patents speaks rather strongly to one's own belief in the validity of one's patents.

RAS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art, Anyone? - A question for Mark and PJ
Authored by: webster on Monday, April 08 2013 @ 02:37 PM EDT
.

This is a question for a patent attorney.

With the understanding that Prior Art is used to attack the
validity of a patent by showing that the patent is not new
or innovative, ....

Can the Prior Art also be used:

1) ... to show that the alleged infringement practices the
Prior Art(s) and not the patent; and ...

2) ... to argue to the extent that the alleged infringement
practices the prior art, the damages must be diminished?

Thanks.

~webster~

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One last thing, I'm noticing. A Storage system can also be temporary storage
Authored by: celtic_hackr on Tuesday, April 09 2013 @ 01:34 AM EDT
Nothing in the patents indicates it requires storage in a harddisk or other
media. A RAM storage system is just as pertinent. Hence why I've been
highlighting RAM, ROM and the like. Nothing in these patents implements anything
that wasn't known already in the 1970s. Why even UNISYS and it's predecessor
Burroughs implemented everything in these patents. Also, while not pertinent
full-duplex Ethernet cards also have crossbar switching or fabric switching, or
matrix switching, whichever term floats your boat.

We should all sue the PTO for all our lost time, due to the gross-negligence,
imo, in approving patents that should never have been granted. I don't care what
their excuse is, understaffed, not allowed to look in certain places. Doesn't
matter. They shouldn't be granting patents for things that have been in the
field for a decade.

If they don't know they granted patents for an old invention, then they aren't
qualified to grant them in the first place. I'm pretty sure I'd be locked up
pretty quick for performing brain surgery or practicing law, and claiming
ignorance of not knowing there were actual qualified brain surgeons or lawyers
who could have done it wouldn't fly as an excuse. Time for bed, I'm getting
cranky.

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Look for telecom HW
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 09 2013 @ 02:53 AM EDT
Nokia Telecommunications (now NSN) phone switches have had 2N and N+1 backup for
a very long time (since end of 1980's at least). This can be said to include
"memory" since many of the processes running on the hardware implement
just a kind of database (for subscriber data, billing and so on). The units
communicate on a message bus, in failure case requests are routed to a spare
unit with no downtime.

Probably Nokia/NSN has even patents about aspects related to this, at one time
they tried to make patents of everything. In any case handling failures on the
fly has always been a normal requirement in traditional telecoms, so you should
look for prior art there, either on patents or trade publications.

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US5134619 from 1990 seems pretty much the same patent
Authored by: bugstomper on Tuesday, April 09 2013 @ 06:04 AM EDT
This looks like a remarkably close match, or am I missing something?

US 5134619 A Failure-tolerant mass storage system

Abstract

A mass memory system for digital computers is disclosed. The system has a plurality of disk drives coupled to a plurality of small buffers. An Error Correction Controller is coupled to a plurality of X-bar switches, the X-bar switches being connected between each disk drive and its buffers. Data is read from and written to the disk drives in parallel and error correction is also performed in parallel. The X-bar switches are used to couple and decouple functional and nonfunctional disk drives to the system as necessary. Likewise, the buffers can be disconnected from the system should they fail. The parallel architecture, combined with a Reed-Solomon error detection and correction scheme and X-bar switches allows the system to tolerate and correct any two failed drives, allowing for high fault-tolerance operation.

Comparing claim 1 of '388 to this patent's Claim 2 and 3:

A storage system A system for storing data

one or more memory sections a plurality of memory storage means

one or more memory devices having storage locations for storing data a plurality of output buffer means

a memory section controller capable of detecting faults in the memory section control means, coupled to the error detection and correction means, for controlling the error detection and correction means.

and transmitting a fault message in response to the detected faults; control means is additionally coupled to the data storage means and the buffer means, the control means receiving from the data storage means and the buffer means the locations of failed buffer means and failed data storage means, the control means electronically decoupling the failed buffer means and/or data storage means from the system.

one or more switches, including one or more interfaces for connecting to one or more external devices; a plurality of switching means, each switching means being coupled both to a data storage means by a bi-directional bus means and to a buffer means by a bi-directional bus means

a switch controller that executes software, including a routing algorithm; and (see below)

The rest of '388 Claim 1 is pretty wordy and is repeated elsewhere on this page, but I think Claims 4, 6, and 7 cover that exactly:

4. An error correction system for a plurality of data storage means comprising:

a plurality of data buffer means coupled to the data storage means; and

error correction means coupled to the data buffer means and the data storage means, the error correction means receiving data from both the data buffer means and the data storage means, detecting and correcting errors in the received data and transmitting the corrected data to the data buffer means and the data storage means.

6. The system of claim 5 further comprising a plurality of switches coupling said data buffer means to said data storage means and control means coupled to said switches for electronically removing from the system any data storage means and data buffer means which transmits erroneous data.

7. The system of claim 4 further comprising a plurality of switches coupling said data buffer means to said data storage means and control means for routing data from any data buffer means to any data storage means and from any data storage means to any data buffer means.

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Prior Art, Anyone? - The Parallel Iron/IPNav Patents That Rackspace Is Going After ~pj Updated 2Xs
Authored by: iraskygazer on Friday, April 19 2013 @ 12:33 PM EDT
Doesn't the simple inclusion of the word 'algorithm' immediately create
uncertainty about the validity of the patent?
Is an algorithm patentable? And what about those things in the patent that touch
the algorithm. When did we start patenting mathematics?

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