Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hey look, this guy created Identity.

Yes, I am being smug about this. I used to work for ATG and we got sued by Broadvision because Broadvision had a patent that basically said Broadvision invented E Commerce so they had a right to sue anyone in the eCommerce space. So they went after ATG, their chief competitor (who was kicking the crap out of them in the marketplace BTW) and ATG is still in business, Broadvision went public, went private. Broadvision also sold their name to Black & Veatch (bv.com) so my guess is that ATG has done a little better.

Anyway, this guy Reid is seeking unspecified damages (a.k.a. whatever he can get) and I also noticed that he is not going after companies worth less than several billion. Guess he owes a lawyer friend or two a favor. Best of luck Mr. Reid.

Note to developers - study the patent, find the loophole, and write an alternative application that AD users can port over to quickly. You'll make more than Reid...

Looking at the patent, it's pretty broad, and the Patent keeps referring to a 'Master Directory' which in practical terms doesn't exist. Is it the HR database, AD, LDAP? It doesn't mention access to files/content explicitly which is why people connect to the network to begin with, right?

Check out the Sept 29, 2006 post at my pal Sean O Neill's blog about this very topic. This guy's legal team has its work cut out for it...


A former IBM scientist claims that the network identity-management systems used by corporate giants Charles Schwab, General Motors, and Halliburton violate a seven-year old patent he holds. The inventor also claims that Microsoft's Active Directory technology infringes on his intellectual property.

In court papers filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, William Reid claims that the network ID management systems used by the defendants violate U.S. patent 6,131,120, which Reid owns and which describes an "Enterprise Network Management Directory Containing Network Addresses Of Users And Devices."

"Microsoft has been and continues to infringe directly and indirectly on one or more claims of the [patent]," according to Reid's suit, which was originally filed in 2005. A so-called Markman hearing, during which a judge will rule on the meaning of terms used in the complaint, is scheduled for May.

Virtually all corporations use such systems to authenticate and verify the identity of individuals logging onto their computer networks.

In his suit, Reid claims that Halliburton's use of Microsoft's Active Directory technology to create its ID management system violates the patent. Reid further claims that Active Directory itself, as well as Microsoft products that embed the technology, including Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003, violate his patent.

In court filings, Microsoft, GM, Schwab, and Halliburton all deny violating Reid's patent. Halliburton, however, has asked Microsoft for indemnification should it lose the case. "Microsoft stands behind its technology. As such, Halliburton has tendered an indemnity demand to Microsoft if Halliburton is found to infringe in this case," Microsoft says in a related filing.
In an interview, Reid, who says he worked on artificial intelligence for IBM from 2000 to 2002, says he determined that GM, Schwab, and Halliburton were violating his patent after visiting a trade show. Reid says he watched presentations by IT officials from the companies while attending the Burton Group's Catalyst conference. "They made presentations and distributed material that described their architectures," says Reid.

Word of the suit marks the latest in a series of legal headaches for Microsoft. On Monday, it emerged that the company is being sued over its use of the Office Live name for a suite of online business productivity tools. Last week, Microsoft was ordered to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion for violating patents related to the MP3 music format.

Reid is seeking unspecified damages.


Blogger Dave Kearns said...

Don't know how I missed this post at the time, Mark - good take. Bill Reid has also gone thru a lot of different legal firms on his way to trying for his big payday. A few years ago one of them contacted me to hire me as an expert witness. Not only did I find the patent overly broad, and less than specific, but Reid himself became an obnoxious frequent emailer when I wouldn't immediately back him unequivocally. Still, it does go to show that there's always a lawyer ready to take on your case (for a sufficiently large anticipated payoff) no matter how little merit it has.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 12:02:00 PM  

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