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Doug's Mailbag: MultiPoint and Lawsuit Thoughts

Here are some of your MultiPoint and Terminal Service thoughts:

It sounds like IT is coming full (or almost full) circle in the area communication. Way back in the 1960s and 1970s we were working with 'large' terminal networks using 'MultiPoint Bi-Synchronous' communication lines connecting 'dumb' terminals to a central computer (main frame). Now the same theory of communication goes by the fancy names currently in vogue (i.e. LAN, WAN, VPN, etc.) and the 'dumb' terminals are now called 'thin clients'...

Back in those days we were operating a rather substantial network of banking terminals on the east coast consisting of up to 900 'dumb' terminals. Since we were operating in an environment that required almost instantaneous response time, we were very proud to be able to honestly state that our average response time at the terminal end was approximately seven seconds -- all this over Bisynchronous Communication lines running at a maximum of 9600Baud. Does any one remember what 9600Baud meant? Compare that to today's Internet and private T channel speeds of 15mbps with response times averaging in the area of minutes.

We have certainly come a long way, baby. I am just not sure that after all the expenses and trials and tribulations that we have come in the right direction...

TS is now known as 'Remote Desktop Licenses' both in User and Device CALS.

MultiPoint is as you said, a server that pushes to thin clients -- HP is probably the only one making a real effort at selling it and to the Academic space.

Happy Holidays mate!

Readers chime in on whether Paul Allen is going too far with his patent lawsuits push:

I don't know about the validity of the patents, but the wealth of the patent holder doesn't seem relevant in making that determination. I agree that there have been many patent cases lately where the patent claims seemed overly broad. But I suppose if I were the patent holder, I'd have a different view of it.

Some of these techniques may have been 'innovative' at the time they were conceived and implemented. But many years have now passed -- and many of the so-called patents, like "browsing audio/visual data" have become common-place and obvious.

A technique which is 'obvious' is specifically not covered under patent law. These techniques deserve the same fate as the 'trade name' aspirin. That was originally a brand name, but over a number of years, it lost its trade-name status; it became a generic word -- just as these techniques deserve to become generic techniques, and no longer patentable.

What was innovative twenty years ago is no longer.

Paul Allen is way down on the list of patent trolls. You should look at someone like Ronald A. Katz. His patent suits over Integrated Voice Response (IVR) technology are legendary. Back in the 1960s he was one of the first people to use caller identification (ANI) to look up account information though automated voice systems. It wasn't until business processes could be patented in the mid 1980s that he filed a patent for the technology. He later amended the patent to expand the scope. He started hitting small companies with the threat of law suits and in some cases he won and others he settled for licensing. Bottom line is it was cheaper to license the technology than face the potential law suit. His current list of licensees include the likes of AT&T, Bank of America, Citibank, Delta, HP, HSN, IBM, Microsoft, Sears, Wachovia, Wells Fargo and TD Ameritrade. He is now worth billions. The amazing part is I've never seen any information that says Katz actually developed the technology. Just nobody has been able to prove that he didn't.

So if Paul Allen wants to play the same game, why not? The law is skewed in his favor. He may have gone about it the wrong way and may lose if his lawyers don't have their ducks in a row. It might actually be a good thing and may get some of the absurd patent laws overhauled.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 12/20/2010 at 1:18 PM


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