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Microsoft Sued Over Windows Update

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 47 comments
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Looks as though Microsoft is being smacked around left and right, as this time the company faces a patent infringement regarding the Windows Update process. Doh.

Windows Update has been a part of Microsoft's operating system since... well, at least since Windows 98. The system is part of the OS backbone, providing security fixes, feature improvements, and updated drivers imperative to the operating system's continued functionality. However, it seems that Microsoft has crossed the line somehow by providing this embedded technology, infringing on a 1999 patent filed by Israeli company Backweb Technologies (PDF). Now Microsoft faces a full-fledged lawsuit, filed in the San Francisco federal court this past Friday.

To be quick to the point, the actual filing reads as follows: "Method and apparatus for transmitting and displaying information between a remote network and a local computer." The lawsuit charges that Microsoft's Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), originally released in Windows XP back in 2001, actually infringes on four U.S. patents owned by Backweb. The company is seeking damages, an injunction, and a declaration by the Court that Microsoft's software update technologies infringe BackWeb's patents. Unfortunately for Microsoft, not only is the BITS product used regularly for Office, Internet Explorer, and Windows, but other companies developing Windows-based applications use BITS as well.

Although debuted back in 2001, the BITS technology is now an embedded service within Windows Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008. BITS is actually a file transfer service, performing either in the foreground or background, and throttles the transfers to preserve the responsiveness of other network applications. The BITS service thus automatically resumes file transfers after machine reboots and network disconnects. Microsoft began to commercially distribute v3.0 back in 2007, granting the capability to transfer files in a peer-to-peer networking fashion.

"Microsoft manufactures, uses, and sells products that infringe the three Transparent Update Patents," reads the complaint. "With the introduction of BITS Ver. 3.0, Microsoft has also infringed BackWeb's '289 Patent.'"

Microsoft has been under fire for some time now, facing charges that the company allegedly knew about faulty Xbox 360 hardware issues before shipping the initial batch. Microsoft also recently settled another patent-infringement issue with PalTalk holdings in relation to the Xbox Live Service. The company has also faced recent problems overseas, accused of monopolizing the browser market by embedding Internet Explorer into the Windows operating system; the browser is now optional.

For the moment, Microsoft has not issued an official statement, only claiming that the company has yet to receive the complaint.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    fuser , March 24, 2009 8:10 PM
    If you don't have a business plan the next best option is to sue Microsoft.
  • 11 Hide
    fuser , March 24, 2009 8:14 PM
    High Damage, let me get this straight. The fact that Microsoft gets sued frequently means that Microsoft only cares about money? That's logical.
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    hellwig , March 24, 2009 8:06 PM
    Did Israel just now get Windows XP released in a localised version, why the delay in filing a lawsuit? I doubt Microsoft knew of these patents (which, thankfully, isn't an excuse for patent violation), but to wait 8 years to file doens't make them sound very legitamate.

    I'm also a little skepticle about an Israeli patent house. I work in the aerospace industry, and there's a lot of sentiment about less than reputable Israeli companies and stolen technology.
  • Display all 47 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , March 24, 2009 8:08 PM
    Why wait EIGHT YEARS to file suit?
  • 20 Hide
    fuser , March 24, 2009 8:10 PM
    If you don't have a business plan the next best option is to sue Microsoft.
  • -9 Hide
    ispyamoose , March 24, 2009 8:12 PM
    It looks as if Microsoft could be paying some kind of royalty fee..
  • 11 Hide
    fuser , March 24, 2009 8:14 PM
    High Damage, let me get this straight. The fact that Microsoft gets sued frequently means that Microsoft only cares about money? That's logical.
  • 5 Hide
    lire210 , March 24, 2009 8:18 PM
    bourgeoisdudeWhy wait EIGHT YEARS to file suit?

    because they are having bad year because of the economy. it is a world wide problem.
  • 1 Hide
    hurbt , March 24, 2009 8:21 PM
    Doubt this will go anywhere... at worst, MS will pay them off in a settlement.

    And if hellwig (above) works "in the aerospace industry," then I'm a fricken astronaut.
  • -5 Hide
    lire210 , March 24, 2009 8:24 PM
    bourgeoisdudeWhy wait EIGHT YEARS to file suit?

    because they are having bad year because of the economy. it is a world wide problem.
  • 4 Hide
    mavroxur , March 24, 2009 8:32 PM
    hurbtAnd if hellwig (above) works "in the aerospace industry," then I'm a fricken astronaut.




    That's a relief, I just assumed you were in the fast food industry.
  • 5 Hide
    w4ffles , March 24, 2009 8:49 PM
    "Method and apparatus for transmitting and displaying information between a remote network and a local computer."
    Isn't that what the INTERNET is? I call bull**** on this one. It's another case of a worthless patent troll. What kind of technology has that Israeli company released based on that patent?
  • 4 Hide
    seboj , March 24, 2009 9:18 PM
    fuserIf you don't have a business plan the next best option is to sue Microsoft.


    Qft.
  • 0 Hide
    greenspoon , March 24, 2009 9:28 PM
    I am pretty sure I have heard of this Backweb Technologies in patent lawsuits before. To my knowledge (which is limited) they are one of those companies that see something, patents it, and then tries to sue the users after the fact.
  • 9 Hide
    cabose369 , March 24, 2009 9:47 PM
    this just shows how broken our patent system is...
  • 2 Hide
    lukeiamyourfather , March 24, 2009 9:56 PM
    Software patents were a horrible idea, this is exactly why. There's a bit of satisfaction though since Microsoft has been patent trolling with others like TomTom. What goes around, comes around.
  • -6 Hide
    brendano257 , March 24, 2009 10:01 PM
    If I was that company I would disown Windows Update....it's a disaster, no wonder they make restore points before updating. Windows update reset my pc overnight without consent, killed some downloads and that's just plain annoying.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2009 10:27 PM
    If they patented this technology, then they must have made a product using this technology right? I don't see anything anywhere stating that they've used this technology in an products of theirs. This looks to me like they patented the idea and waited to see who would try to make it first, then sue the hell out of them once they get into a tight spot.
  • 1 Hide
    jsloan , March 24, 2009 11:14 PM
    the patent system is broken, the charges or giving patents, charges for patent disputes, so it has no insentive for fixing it, it basically settled by the coarts. what did you think it was only our financial system that was broken, corrupt, ect...
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