Tag Archives: litigation

SAFE Corporation Awarded Patent Number Six for its CodeSuite Software Forensics Tool

The CodeCross function of CodeSuite compares functional source code to commented-out source code

CUPERTINO, CA (February 9, 2015) – Software Analysis & Forensic Engineering Corporation, the leading provider of forensic tools for software copyright and trade secret analysis, had its sixth patent allowed covering its CodeSuite® tool for comparing software code to help detect copyright infringement.

This latest patent is entitled “Detecting Plagiarism in Computer Source Code” and covers the CodeCross functionality that compares functional code to non-functional code. CodeSuite is the only commercially successful tool for comparing computer source code and object code to find infringement that has been accepted by the courts. It has been used successfully in over 70 intellectual property litigations worldwide. CodeSuite has been recognized by the USPTO as a unique invention. Our customers agree.

“Other programs that compare software don’t provide any understanding about the comparison or the results,” according to Gary Stringham of Gary Stringham & Associates, who has used CodeSuite in his expert witness cases. “Things match or they don’t. Only CodeSuite allows me to delve into the reasons for the matches, search the Internet for comparable third-party code, and then systematically filter out false positives. This means I can focus on possible infringement very quickly. Or, if nothing is left after filtering, I have a very strong argument against infringement.”

“CodeSuite has survived every challenge in court that it’s ever faced,” says Bob Zeidman, president of SAFE Corporation and inventor of CodeSuite. “Judges and juries like the quantitative, objective measurements produced by CodeSuite when they’re produced by a qualified expert trained in the tool. We provide online certification courses that give lawyers confidence that the expert knows how to use the tool and produce rock solid results that will stand up to scrutiny in court.”

CodeSuite 4.7 is available now and can be purchased on a term license or project basis. Project pricing is based on the size of code analyzed and the specific function used for the analysis. Pricing varies from $10 per megabyte for CodeCross® to $400 per megabyte for CodeMatch®. A six-month unlimited use license for CodeSuite is $50,000. A limited feature version of the program, CodeSuite-LT, is available for a six-month unlimited license for $3,000. Free trial licenses can be requested by contacting sales@SAFE-corp.biz.

Be a Pioneer in the Field of Software Forensics

I hope you’re all aware of my book The Software IP Detective’s Handbook: Measurement, Comparison, and Infringement Detection. It’s the first book on Software Forensics, a field that I pioneered at Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering and Zeidman Consulting. Whereas Digital Forensics deals with bits and files, without any detailed knowledge of the meaning of the data, Software Forensics deals with analysis of software using detailed knowledge of its syntax and functionality to perform analysis to find stolen code and stolen trade secrets. The algorithms described in the book have been used in many court cases. The book also describes algorithms for measuring software evolution, particularly as it relates to IP changes.

If you are a teacher, this is a great time to incorporate the materials in the book into your courses on software development, intellectual property law, business management, and computer science. There’s something for everyone in the various chapters of the book. Your students and you will be at the forefront of an important and very new field of study.

If you’re interested, please contact me.

Do Non-Practicing Entities Impede Progress?

On April 12 an op-ed was published in the Wall Street Journal  entitled Patent Trolls vs. Progress by Andy Kessler, a former hedge-fund manager. I would like to correct some inaccuracies. Mr. Kessler attributes Microsoft’s recent purchase of AOL’s patents and Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility (presumably for its patents) as protection against non-practicing entities (“NPEs”) also disparagingly known as “patent trolls.” First, no portfolio of patents will ever protect against an NPE. This is because an NPE, by definition, does not produce a product. In a patent litigation between two companies, the typical scenario is that company A owns a patent and attempts to license that patent to company B that it believes is infringing. Company B can pay a fee to company A or it can refuse to pay. Or company A may attempt to get an injunction against company B to prevent it from selling its product that incorporates the invention described by the patent. If company A wants an injunction or requests a fee that company B refuses to pay, then company A will almost
certainly take company B to court. At that point, company B takes some combination of three possible countermeasures. Company B can attempt to show that the patent is invalid. Company B can attempt to show that its product does not infringe the patent. Company B can countersue company A for infringement of some patent of its own. Typically after months of threats, legal maneuvers, and negotiations, the companies will settle on some payment from one company to the other. The cases rarely go to court. Now suppose that company A is an NPE. Company B’s third option of countersuing is not an option because company A produces no product and thus cannot infringe on any patent. Thus buying patents provides zero defense against an NPE, contrary to what Mr. Kessler asserts.

Mr. Kessler reaches back seven years to 2005 for the case of NTP v. Research-In-Motion, the famous case against the Blackberry manufacturer, for his justification and concern about NPEs, but in recent years it is the major players in high tech have been suing each other over patents. The companies in the news for patent sales, patent purchases, and patent lawsuits are not NPEs but the high tech goliaths including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, Oracle, Facebook, AOL, and Yahoo among others. Purchasing patent portfolios can be used defensively against other companies and just as easily these patent purchases can be used, and are being used, as offensive weapons against competitors. Patent trolls are simply the bogeymen used by large companies to convince politicians to “reform” patent laws.

Mr. Kessler argues that the extension of the patent term to 20 years, enacted in 1995 to make U.S. patent law consistent with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), is a problem because “in technology things move a lot faster.” I do not understand the reasoning behind this complaint. If technology moves so fast, then a patent becomes worthless long before the term is over. What does it matter if a patent is valid for five years or 50 years if the patent is worthless after five years?

Mr. Kessler states the “we have to stop allowing juries to establish the value of patents… the market… [should] determine value. ” In fact, the market does determine value. The majority of patent lawsuits are settled before reaching court, and both parties determine a fair value based on free market principles. A negotiation between two parties is a great example of such free market principles where each party determines the value of the patent with respect to its own interests, free from other considerations. For cases that reach a jury, the jurists are provided information by economists and accountants who determine the value of a patent based on the market value of the products that embody the patented inventions. Of course we can argue about whether their models and calculations are correct, but our entire justice system is based on juries determining values and awarding damages and so if Mr. Kessler believes that juries are incapable of determining value, then he is implying that our entire legal system-at least the civil system-is flawed. If that is true, then it is the legal system as a whole that needs to be revised.

Perhaps the most disturbing recommendation is to require patent holders to manufacture or sell products. This requirement would fundamentally damage the patent system. Patents allow small, cash-strapped inventors to create something new and protect that invention from large corporations that have the money and resources to kill it or steal it before the inventor can get funding or market share. I know this from experience. Years ago I created a software tool that I sold to a large company that enabled that company to sell their expensive hardware to customers in the communications industry. Each software package, that sold for about $25,000, enabled this company to sell their multimillion dollar equipment to communications companies that otherwise would never have been customers. The arrangement seemed good to me, but the large company made it clear that they did not like being beholden to me, so after several years of buying my software, they created their own. My sales immediately went to zero-in other words I became a non-practicing entity. Fortunately I had patented my invention and so I had more leverage than the large company expected. Had Mr. Kessler’s recommendation been in effect, I would have had no recourse against that large company.

According to Kessler, James Madison was the man behind Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, giving Congress the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Historical documents suggest that Thomas Jefferson and Charles Pinckney also lobbied for this clause. In any case, this section of the Constitution has been the justification for our patent system for over 200 years. Mr. Kessler believes that Mr. Madison did not understand what he was doing or, at best, did not foresee the expense that patent litigation would involve in the 21st century. In fact, the founding fathers knew exactly what they were doing when writing the intellectual property clause into the U.S. Constitution. They were protecting the individual from the overwhelming power of large entities. They were enacting the very principles of American society for which we fought the Revolutionary War. Since 1790 the U.S. patent system has contributed to America becoming the most innovative society in the history of the world. Fundamentally changing the system in the ways suggested by Mr. Kessler would stifle that innovation.

Guidelines for lawyers dealing with experts

Most lawyers know the importance of treating experts with respect. Even if we turn out to be ignorant, arrogant, immature idiots, we hold the keys to presenting the facts and the analysis that will win your client’s case or at least put it in the best light possible given all of the facts. If we’re going to testify, you want us feeling good about it, about the client, about you, and about ourselves. Most attorneys know this but some, in the emotion of the “battle,” forget this. Here’s a checklist to serve as a reminder.

  • Have us give input into schedules. We know best how much work an analysis is going to take. And some of us have lives outside of work (not me, but I’ve heard that others do). Don’t give us a schedule without our input and expect us to meet it.
  • Don’t hire us just to keep us off the other side. I’ve had this happen. It’s flattering, but it’s also unethical. I need to make a living. Also I will never work for you again, and I will warn my colleagues about you.
  • Involve us with crafting the strategy. Don’t let us work in the dark and then complain, for example, that our invalidity argument hurts the non-infringement argument or vice-versa. And by the way, a great argument for one will always make the other much more difficult to show.
  • Involve us with claim construction. We have the appropriate experience to figure out a decent claim construction. Too often I’m called into a case where the claim construction makes little sense to me. I need to be educated about how the claims are construed and then I need to see if I can work with them. Sometimes adding or removing a word from the claim construction would make things significantly easier for me to understand and explain to the judge and jury.
  • Give us enough time to do our jobs. Maybe this is a pipe dream. Lately, cases have been more and more compressed and I’m brought in later, probably to save costs. But it hurts the case and stresses us out.
  • Don’t antagonize us. We’re they guys who are going to help your client by clarifying their position and explaining difficult concepts to the judge and/or jury. You don’t want us ticked off, even if we really are stupid jerks. You want us in a good frame of mind and happy about what we’re doing. At least until we’re done testifying.
  • Explain your positions to us patiently. If you can’t get us to understand it and adopt it, how can you get a judge or jury?
  • Don’t tell us we have to adopt your positions or we’ll lose the case. We’re independent and unbiased. The threat of losing the case is not a reason for us to support your position, and stating this can come back to haunt both of us eventually.
  • If things aren’t going well, meet face-to-face. It’s easier to communicate about difficult subjects. It’s easier to wave hands, draw diagrams, point to things. And it’s more likely for both to see each other as humans, not someone being difficult.
  • Don’t expect us to understand all the legal issues. I’ve met lawyers who didn’t understand all the legal issues. I actually do understand legal issues more than most experts because of my experience and my writing on the topic. Yet there are still gaps. And the lawyers can disagree. I’ve been in many long sessions where lawyers argued about legal issues.
  • Don’t believe you understand all the technical issues. Some of the lawyers I’ve met were once great engineers. Others have no engineering experience whatsoever. Some will take my word completely and others will fight me. I don’t mind reasoned debate—in fact I enjoy it. But remember that my understanding of the technical issues is ultimately what I will present in my reports and my testimony.
  • Be clear in your instructions. We know you’re in a hurry, but this is critical to getting good information. I’ve had cases where I got a quick call to do some analysis and then spent the weekend setting up equipment, getting results, and writing a report, only to find there had been a miscommunication about what was needed. Sure I get paid per hour, but I’d still like to know I’m doing something useful. I’m sure you and your client prefer that too.
  • Have us sit in on depositions. We can add a lot of knowledge and we can help craft the direction of the questioning. I was in one deposition where, searching the Internet, I found an expert’s presentation slides promoting a software method while she was testifying she would never ever use such an “unreliable” method. I’ve also had lawyers call me after a “very successful” deposition where they thought they’d uncovered some really useful facts but were asking questions about the wrong technology.
  • Don’t write the reports and expect us to just sign it. Our reputations and careers are on the line, not yours. Unfortunately, some experts do this and collect their checks. I won’t and neither will any expert worth his or her hourly rate.
  • Expect us to sleep some time. OK, the lawyers themselves get little sleep during a case. Me too. I just prefer that you act as though you care about my getting rest even though we both know I won’t. So don’t tell me to be available at midnight, ask me if I can please make myself available at midnight even though you know it’s a burden. It just sounds nicer.
  • Pay us on time or be honest about any problems. Sometimes clients run into financial trouble. I prefer to work for a client who is honest about financial trouble than one who constantly tells me “the check is in the mail.” Usually this is an issue with the client not the lawyer, but I’ve had lawyers misplace my final invoice, simply because they had moved onto other more pressing matters. My payment is a pressing matter, and a late or missing payment means I’m unlikely to be available the next time you need my expertise.
  • Don’t negotiate our fees after the case is over. This is just poor business practice and makes me not want to work with you again. The time for negotiation is before hiring me, not after I’ve put in time on the case.
  • Remember that our job is to be honest and unbiased. Expect us to point out the bad along with the good. If we find your client’s case doesn’t have merit, at least be happy we discovered that before the other party’s expert informed you at trial. You can settle early or limit the damages or just know that you did the right thing.

Wikipedia: reliable reference or biased blathering?

When I began writing my book on software intellectual property, I often needed definitions of terms, lawsuit citations, technical references, and historical facts. In those long ago pre-Internet times, this meant reserving whole days at local libraries to sort through catalogs, walk through mazes of bookshelves, run my fingers along Dewey Decimal-coded book spines, pull heavy volumes off the shelves, spread them across big wooden tables, flip back and forth between indexes and pages, and skim dense paragraphs of text. Now I just Google, and usually it’s Wikipedia that comes up.

As I wrote my book it became filled with references from Wikipedia. Some of the information I knew was correct but I needed a formal reference and Wikipedia seemed good enough. Other information I could verify at multiple sites, but the Wikipedia definition was always concise. I had been told by many attorneys that Wikipedia references were not considered legitimate in court, and I never use them in expert reports for litigation, but I figured it was good enough for my book. It was only when one of the reviewers pointed out that using Wikipedia would hurt the reputation of my book, especially among lawyers, that I gave it a second thought. I went back and found alternate references and though the main concepts that I was referencing in Wikipedia were essentially correct, it was the details that Wikipedia often got wrong.

And I knew this fact already. My Cornell roommate Rob Smigel had gone on to be a fairly famous comedy writer for Saturday Night Live. The Wikipedia page originally said he had graduated from Cornell. I figured this needed correction, because Rob dropped out (before nearly failing out) and transferred to NYU where his dad sat on the board. Rob’s story is actually that old cliché where his dad insisted he become a dentist like himself, but Rob only wanted to be a comedian, a career that his dad strongly disapproved. My corrections to the page were regularly removed because I couldn’t document this fact with external references, yet most of the other information in the bio was unreferenced.

This points out one significant problem with Wikipedia. In the early days, people entered what they wanted with little if any fact checking required. Eventually those early pages, and there are probably millions of them, became accepted as incontrovertible fact. I have at least one friend whose Wikipedia page was created by colleagues as a joke, yet it gets quoted as true.

Later I submitted a reference to a Rolling Stone interview with my roommate Rob Smigel where he mentions not completing a degree at Cornell, but somehow a Wikipedia editor did not find even this credible enough and edited my sentence into a short phrase that has since been removed. In fact, as of today all references to Cornell have been removed from Rob’s bio even though he attended for two years.

So this points out yet another significant problem with Wikipedia. There are now editors who have taken it upon themselves to be the correctness police. They go about removing edits of others if they don’t conform to their own beliefs. Many of these editors boast tens of thousands of page edits. Wikipedia has set up rules for editing, but there is only a long process and many level of effort to disputing an edit, that still rely on these same biased Wikipedia editors who do not necessarily have any expertise in anything let alone the subject under consideration. In fact, although my company and my software is the most widely used copyright infringement detection software in court cases, even simple links to our website in Wikipedia have all been eventually removed by an editor who says this is self-promotion. Why is self-promotion bad if the facts are provably true?

Even Wikipedia states that the information on its site may be incorrect, as confirmed in this Wikipedia page about using Wikipedia1:

Wikipedia’s most dramatic weaknesses are closely associated with its greatest strengths. Wikipedia’s radical openness means that any given article may be, at any given moment, in a bad state: for example it could be in the middle of a large edit or it could have been recently vandalized…

Where does Wikipedia stand in courts? There have been many references to Wikipedia in court cases, but the rule is that it’s a bad thing to do. Recent studies have shown that courts are allowing Wikipedia references much less than in the past2, 3, 4, 5.

So my advice is that Wikipedia is great for cocktail party banter, but don’t rely on it for critical facts. The anonymity of its contributors, the poor fact-checking on the early contributions, and the bias of unqualified volunteer editors make it an increasingly inaccurate source that is losing its initial attraction for many.

1. Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia
2. The Citation of Blogs in Judicial Opinions
3. Badasa v. Mukasy, 2008
4. Bing Shun Li v. Holder, 2010
5. Cohen v. Google, 2010

The Software IP Detective’s Handbook

My book on software intellectual property, a labor of love (and hate) for the last two years, has just been published by Prentice-Hall. The book is intended for several different audiences including computer scientists, computer programmers, business managers, lawyers, engineering consultants, expert witnesses, and high-tech entrepreneurs. Some chapters give easy-to-understand explanations of intellectual property concepts including copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. Other chapters are highly mathematical treatments describing quantitative ways of comparing and measuring software and software IP. The first chapter of the book outlines which chapters are most important for the different audiences.

Overall the book covers the following topics:

  • Key concepts of software intellectual property
  • Comparing and correlating source code for signs of theft or infringement
  • Uncovering signs of copying in object code when source code is inaccessible
  • Tracking malware and third-party code in applications
  • Using software clean rooms to avoid IP infringement
  • Understanding IP issues associated with patents, open source, and DMCA

You can purchase your copy from Amazon.com here.

Do patents really kill innovation?

In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled Digital Innovators vs. the Patent Trolls, Peter Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that software patents are the shotguns that kill innovation (my analogy) and that non-practicing entities (NPEs derisively referred to as “patent trolls”) are pulling the trigger (again, my analogy). I disagree.

Peter Huber makes some contradictory and misleading arguments where he claims that non-practicing entities are ruining innovation in America. On the one hand, he acknowledges that only a small percentage of patents, roughly 2% by his own estimate, end up court. Yet he also believes that “[o]ur patent laws have drifted way off course.” He states that “[t]he patent office now grants more than 4,000 patents a week” but neglects to mention that the total number of patent applications and the number of patent rejections have both similarly risen. And one major goal of USPTO director David Kappos, appointed in 2009 by President Obama, is to reduce the backlog of 1.2 million patents around the time he took office. Many more patents are being submitted and examined than ever before-—a sign of the vigorous spirit of innovation in America.

Dr. Huber’s logic is equally baffling when he claims that companies rarely sue each other but that companies spend lots of money collecting patents. Why would a company spend so much on worthless patents? Patents are used to protect their investments in technology, and the vast majority of patent lawsuits are between large corporations like the recent ones between Oracle and Google, Apple and Samsung, Dish Network and Tivo, and many, many others.

Dr. Huber claims that the Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos somehow agrees with his view that patentability must be restricted. In fact, this decision did just the opposite. While business method patents were rejected by the court, as expected, the patentability of software was expanded.

Dr. Huber claims that plaintiffs in the Eastern District of Texas almost blindly reward plaintiffs in patent cases, but a recent study by the Stanford
Intellectual Property Clearinghouse
showed that plaintiffs in that jurisdiction win only 40.3% of the time.

Finally Dr. Huber gets to his point. Patent examiners and juries just aren’t smart enough to figure out which patents are good and which are “sketchy.” So instead, he wants the patent system changed to restrict inventors from owning the fruits of their intellectual labor. As an individual inventor I object to his condescension and to his attempt to limit this constitutionally protected driver of American innovation.

SAFE introduces CodeSuite-LT

CodeSuite-LT® is a less expensive, limited version of the full CodeSuite tool. Each tool in the suite produces a readable report that can be used to find copying. CodeSuite-LT includes BitMatch, CodeCross, CodeDiff, CodeMatch, FileCount, and FileIsolate. It also includes the ability to filter results using SourceDetective. CodeSuite-LT does not produce a database and does not allow post-process filtering of results. Instead, it generates an easy-to-read report that can be used to pinpoint copying.

Which is Right For You?

Which product is right for you, CodeSuite or CodeSuite-LT? Click here for a table that compares the features of both programs so you can choose the right solution.

The age of copyright trolls?

Robert Zelnick, an attorney at McDermott Will & Emery, recently wrote an interesting article on Righthaven LLC, a company that buys up copyrights and then licenses them to, or threatens legal action against, organizations and individuals that post them on the web. This article about the new “copyright troll” is interesting and illuminating. There are, however, a few oversimplifications and at least one point overlooked. First, “don’t copy” is just too simple a solution. As an expert witness in copyright litigation, I know that things can look the same without being copied. Also, there are the fair use exceptions that leave lots of wiggle room. So even if someone doesn’t copy at all, there’s a chance of being hit with a lawsuit because two texts are surprisingly similar. And not copying at all means society will lose important works of commentary, satire, and news.

Second, Zelnick doesn’t foresee the possible ultimate business model of Righthaven. While I don’t agree or disagree with Righthaven’s motives, I believe I see where they’re going. Jerome Lemelson was perhaps the first patent troll, but definitely the first to reach $1 billion in personal fortune from his effort. My understanding is that he started by bringing actions against small companies that could not easily defend themselves and Japanese companies that didn’t understand U.S. patent law. These companies saw his royalty fees as small compared to the costs of hiring lawyers to study and defend the patent infringement suits he brought. After amassing a huge war chest, Lemelson went after bigger and bigger companies and sought bigger and bigger payments. The more capital he had, the easier it was to win these battles.

While Righthaven will probably never collect the multimillion dollar awards that Lemelson did, consider that nearly everyone in the world writes. There are thousands of novelists, thousands of journalists, thousands of researchers, and millions of bloggers. And copyright also applies to artists, filmmakers, and computer programmers. Righthaven, and companies like it, can potentially collect more than Lemelson even hoped for, and at less expense.

I believe that Righthaven and its business model should not be underestimated. The solution to protecting yourself is more complex than simply not copying. The exciting part is that this new business model will create new areas of legal effort and will require the best technology to allow the protection of both copyrights and free speech.

Marc Dreier’s story

Marc Dreier was the founding partner of the New York law firm Dreier Stein and Kahan. At its peak in 2009 the firm was reportedly bringing in about $100 million in revenue. You might have heard of Marc Dreier if he had not been overshadowed by Bernie Madoff. But Dreier ran his own Ponzi scheme, cheating clients out of “only” $400 million. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 145 years. Defense attorney requested a 20 year sentence. He got the shorter sentence.

Maybe you’ve wondered, like I have, what’s going through the minds of these people. Do they think they won’t get caught? Do they not care? Maybe they figure they’ll live it up while they can? Dreier’s letter to the judge in the case, prior to sentencing (downloadable here) might give some insight into Dreier’s state of mind. Some say this was just a way to get sympathy from the court (in which case it appears to have worked). To me it seems sincere. It definitely doesn’t excuse Dreier’s behavior, but it does possibly explain how such a successful man could end up in his situation and what was going on in his mind.