Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 3rd May 2010 17:56 UTC
Multimedia, AV Are you guys sick of the H264 debate already? Yes? Too bad, because we've got more. Microsoft's decision late last week to restrict Internet Explorer 9 to H264 was met with a rather immense amount of criticism, so the company decided to publish a new blog post responding to some of that criticism. While Microsoft makes a few good points, the overall feeling is still that of 'fear, uncertainty, and doubt'.
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LACHES, The Anti-FUD Law...
by curio on Mon 3rd May 2010 19:10 UTC
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The doctrine of laches which may pertain to companies like Microsoft and MPEG LA continually FUDing about their IP being infringed but never acting on it. Instead just using unsubstantiated threats to damage their competition by instilling Fear Uncertainty and Doubt in people who might otherwise use their competitors products. Thereby, in real terms damaging them.

"LACHES, DOCTRINE OF (legal definition)

Based on the maxim that equity aids the vigilant and not those who procrastinate regarding

their rights; Neglect to assert a right or claim that, together with lapse of time and other

circumstances, prejudices an adverse party. Neglecting to do what should or could, have been

done to assert a claim or right for an unreasonable and unjustified time causing

disadvantage to another.

Laches is similar to 'statute of limitations' except is equitable rather than statutory and

is a common affirmative defense raised in civil actions.

Laches is derived from the French 'lecher' and is nearly synonymous with negligence.

In general, when a party has been guilty of laches in enforcing his right by great delay and

lapse of time, this circumstance will at common law prejudice and sometimes operate in bar

of a remedy which is discretionary for the court to afford. In courts of equity delay will

also generally be prejudicial.

But laches may be excused from ignorance of the party's rights; from the obscurity of the

transaction; by the pendency of a suit, and; where the party labors under a legal

disability, as insanity, infancy and the like."

By my understanding of this, a submarine patent may be upheld if the patent holder can claim ignorance (believably)of the infringement, but in Microsoft's and MPEG LA's case the allegedly offending codec's are open source so they can't claim ignorance. They've been claiming for years that their patents have been infringed by others but they never act.

In the very least we should be able to use this point as counter-FUD.

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