US5584023: Computer system including a transparent and secure file transform mechanism

Posted 23 Apr 2002 at 11:30 UTC by lkcl Share This

came across this patent. it claims a patent on any transparent transformation mechanism - encryption, compression, encoding, translation and conversion, and presumably also virus scanning and blocking - between a computer and its storage media.

what are the implications for open source?

discuss (and enjoy).

delphion URL, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 11:32 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

Other related patents?, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 12:11 UTC by rmk » (Master)

US Patent Nr 6185681 (Method of transparent encryption and decryption for an electronic document management system) also came up recently on The Register, and 5584023 seems to incorporate and predate 6185681. I'm sure there's a subtle difference there somewhere though. 8/

If anyone can find evidence of the Linux loop block device (with encryption), certain people would be really interested to know. The earliest so far that I'm aware of is 16 June 1997.

Welcome to Software Patents.

Why are you wasting your time on this?, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 14:00 UTC by Zooko » (Master)

If you intend to fully comply with all relevant patents in your free software work, then you will not get any work done, because it will take all of your time and then some to study the patents which might apply, determine whether they do apply, decide which ones are unenforceable due to prior art, and so on.

Seriously, even if you spent 40 hours a week on the "patent compliance project", there are probably new patents being filed so fast that you will not have finished analyzing all possibly applicable patents for decades (by which time the first ones that you started with will have expired).

Stop wasting your time getting all excited about whatever patent randomly happens to cross your radar and go back to coding please.


diff between 6185681 and 5584023, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 18:16 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

5584023 i would hazard is much more general. it refers to "transform" mechanisms which would include stacker, doublespace, microsoft's encrypted file system, linux loopback filesystem, open source transparent encrypted fileystems - the whole works.

6185681 appears to be specifically related to applications _on_ computers, and additionally covers exactly what 5584023 covers [transparent "transforms"] but only cryptographic transforms.

i think this is fascinating.

zooko, i assume that you are talking rhetorically and political-soap-boxey. you can't be referring to me: i have not written a single line of open source code for over six months, and am proud of the fact that i am such a scary person that no US-based corporation will sponsor me to do open source coding. enjoy! :)

who should ignore patents and code, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 19:20 UTC by Zooko » (Master)

You're right, I meant "THE READER" as the one who should stop freaking out about random patents and go write code.


You (lkcl in specific as well as "THE READER") are welcome to contribute code to the Mnet project but we're definitely not going to give you money.


mounts, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 23:19 UTC by splork » (Master)

rmk: break out of the "linux == innovation" mindset (its not true in most cases). loop mounts have been in BSD since the early ages. Also look at BSDs union mounts (mounting one FS on top of another; getting some combination of both through).

The implications are nil, posted 23 Apr 2002 at 23:31 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

This patent is so bogus as to be completely laughable, and there's tons of prior art. Authors of open source programs shouldn't worry about it. Those that are nervous should just look for techniques that existed before the filing date: patents can't protect prior art.

The very first Unix filesystems violate the patent: you can read the disk device in raw mode, or you can read it via the filesystem interface. That's a transformation.

"But I can't take that kind of legal risk!" you say. Fair enough; in that case, you must halt all open source development, because there are thousands of bogus, extremely broad software patents on the books, covering so much that almost every significant program you write will infringe on at least one.

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