Re: XOR [ was: Linux stifles innovation.]

Date: Sun Feb 18 2001 - 03:44:56 EST

Dan Hollis <> wrote:

>Did you ignore it or did you pay up?
>FWIW I recall there was prior art dating back to 1974 at the very least...

Here is editing version of some correspondence that answers your question.

> > > > US Patent #4,197,590 held by NuGraphics, Inc.

> >On Fri, Feb 16, 2001 at 09:20:34PM -0500, David Relson wrote:
> > > The patent was for using the technique of using XOR for dragging/moving
> > > parts of a graphics image without erasing other parts. Also, since the
> > > patent was granted in 1980, the inventors have had their 17 years of

Brian Litzinger wrote:

> >In 1984 I received a demand letter for $10,000 from a company,
> >representing itself as the owner of the patent discuss above, as a
> >unlimited license for use of the patent and another patent. At the
> >time I ran a company that made graphics cards for IBM PCs.

On Sat, Feb 17, 2001 at 01:59:59PM -0500, David Relson wrote:
> Ouch! What did you do?

While I was President, the company was large enough that I can't
be certain of the details.

I do recall that I railed against the company. I had actually met the
people at the company making the demand some years earlier. I went on
and on about the same things you see today about patents and copyrights.

Our graphics platform had support for both XOR and save under cursors.

I believe we did the following:

   made 'save under cursor' the default

   argued that since NEC made the graphics chips (7220A), which included
      the XOR function, that NEC rightly was the target of their
      demands, and that we would be a licensee as a part of having paid
      for the chip which included the technology.

The other patent that was represented that they held had to do with the
movement of bits from a memory storage device to an memory device that
was mapped to a display.

    We argued mountains of prior art

My instructions where that we were not to pay. We might have paid though.
Not only might someone in the legal department have authorized the
payment, but someone within the company was embezzling money at the time,
so they might have sneaked out $10K under the guise of paying the

About a year later I was talking with a group of business owners who had
also received a similar demand letter. Some paid, some didn't. Those
who didn't pay were not pursued other than the occasional copy of the
demand letter.

Since that time, about 1986, I learned that there is a whole cottage
industry of going through old, but not too old, patents and seeing how
they can be misconstrued to apply to current technology, buying the
patent for cheap, and then threatening "infringers". More or less
an extortion racket. Generally the license fee demanded is low enough
that is more cost effective, in the short term, to pay. And with
shareholder lawsuits the way they are, short term thinking
is the only thinking shareholders accept, and the extortionists
know it.

Brian Litzinger <>

Copyright (c) 2000 By Brian Litzinger, All Rights Reserved

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-- Brian Litzinger <>

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