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Michael Aivaliotis

Softwire

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I've sent a few emails to both Softwire (Measurment Computing Corp.) and National Instruments management, regarding this legal action. First it was because I was angry with MCC, then based on their response I was a little angry with NI. Now I don't know what to think.

I am posting the email dialog here in cronological order for those who are interested. At one time I had the crazy idea that we might actually be able to convince one or both companies to back off, but now it seems that they are both determined to see this legal action through to the end regardless of consequences.

This is a fairly long dialog, but I learned a lot from the responses of both companies, so thought I'd pass them along.

Here is my first email to MCC managment:

Hello,

I am a test engineer with Northrop Grumman.  I am writing this email to

express my personal opinion regarding your lawsuit against National

Instruments.  My views do not reflect the views of my company.  However,

they are probably typical views of most LabVIEW programmers.

I just learned about the lawsuit in a Control Engineering article

http://email.controleng.com/cgi-bin2/DM/y/...REC0GXT0B6Ni0An.

My first reaction was shock and anger directed at MCC.  I have calmed down

now, and am simply writing to express my opinion that this lawsuit will

likely be counter productive for your company.

By seeking an order prohibiting NI from continuing to sell LabVIEW, you are

not only targeting NI, you are targeting the LabVIEW users as well.  I'm

sure you already know that the LabVIEW user base is huge.  That is a LOT of

potential customers that you are alienating.  Even though I would never use

SoftWire, I have often considered using MCC hardware and just simply haven't

had the need to yet.  However - if you proceed with this portion of the

lawsuit - I will likely never buy MCC hardware.  I highly suspect many

LabVIEW users will feel the same way.

Just my thoughts for now.

Thanks for listening,

John Howard

Response from Ben Bailey (MCC Founder/CEO):

Hi John,

Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion.  I hope that at the end

of this letter you will take the time to express your opinion to National

Instruments' management as well.

Following is the quote from the article you site, which is simply a press

release we issued.

----------------------------------

These two patents reportedly predate the earliest of NI's patents. SoftWIRE

is seeking unspecified damages for past sales of LabView. SoftWIRE is also

seeking an order prohibiting NI from continuing to sell LabView.

Measurement Computing and SoftWIRE filed their lawsuit against NI on Jan.

15, 2003. They initially sought a ruling from the federal court that

SoftWIRE did not infringe on five patents that NI reportedly claimed

SoftWIRE had violated, or a judgment that those patents were invalid.

SoftWIRE added a sixth NI patent to its lawsuit in February 2003, and added

three more patents in May 2003, after NI reportedly charged SoftWIRE with

infringing them as well.

---------------------------------------

I draw your attention to both paragraphs and ask you to note that NI first

threatened MCC/SoftWIRE and demanded that we take SoftWIRE off the market.

NI has used the courts to remove competing software from the market.  Ask

any of the owners of Intelligent Instrumentation's now banned software.  So

far they have done so with simple threats to sue, or filed suits that were

quickly settled out of court.

Currently NI is involved in a lawsuit against The Mathworks who's aim is to

take Simulink off the market.  NI won at the first trial and sought and won

an injunction to force The Mathworks to stop selling Simulink.  The judge

has stayed the injunction pending an appeal.  Imagine how the tens of

thousands of users of Simulink and the many honest employees of The

Mathworks feel about that?  How do you feel about that?

I characterize NI's use of its patents as extremely hard line.  To my

knowledge they have never licensed their patents to another company.  They

have either stopped the sale of the product or used the dire straights the

smaller company found themselves in to make a financially (to NI)

advantageous acquisition.

Compare this to Hewlett Packard (now Agilent) who have patents they could

widely assert, and never do.  The HP strategy was always to patent

technology inventions defensively, and never to use its patents to bludgeon

smaller competitors.  Thanks to HP we have the GPIB bus (originally HPIB) to

which NI owes its very existence.  HP gave the world that very valuable bus.

Now that is taking the high ground!

Let me now turn to your concerns with our suit against NI.  Our initial

action was simply self-defense.  NI wrote us two threatening letters.  We

lost a significant investment opportunity for our technology because of

those letters which of course we were bound to show potential investors. 

We sued NI for a declaratory judgment because we believe that the NI patents

will not withstand a trial and that we do not infringe.  That suit will cost

us $2-4 million, not a penny of which can we get from NI if we win. The

courts allow us to file for a declaratory judgment because the law

recognizes it is an unfair burden for a company to have to live under

threats and lose opportunities as a result.  NI brought our suit upon

themselves.  In the process of researching prior art we found and purchased

the Fluke patents referenced in the press release.

NI has set the bar John.  NI has taken an extremely hard line approach to

the field of graphical programming and demands to own it all.  They have

sued smaller competitors and chosen battles that in my opinion were easier

to win.  If NI really wanted to put a stake in the ground then years ago

they should have sued Agilent (HP) over VEE, which is virtually identical to

LabView.

Why don't you write NI management and ask them to reasonably license their

patents and quit trying to monopolize graphical programming in test and

measurement?  I like your drive and willingness to speak up.  I appreciate

your desire to prevent a problem.  I would however suggest that you direct

your efforts at the real source of the problem.

Why not speak up at the next LabView users group?  Why not try to get other

LabView users to assess NI's patent enforcement strategy and suggest they

take the high ground like HP did?  If you do that, you might make a real

contribution to our industry.

I wish you luck, but until NI changes its methods we will pursue our rights

in court.

Best regards,

Bendrix Bailey

Founder/CEO

My response to MCC:
Thanks for responding to my concerns.  You have brought to my attention a

lot of information I was previously unaware of.

I am going to try to write NI management as you suggested.  I may also bring

these issues to the LabVIEW user community.  Right now I am feeling rather

betrayed.  Until now, I have been a fiercely loyal NI customer.  Partly

because LabVIEW is such a great product, and also because NI has been so

helpful with everything I have done over the last few years.  However, the

best products and service in the world can not justify or make up for the

hardline tactics you describe.

I still wish you guys didn't have to lower yourself to the level of NI, and

I am hoping you are not successful - at least with prohibiting sales of

LabVIEW.  However, I understand better now, and will focus on making NI

listen to us - the LabVIEW users.

Would it be OK for me to pass your letter on to other LabVIEW users who may

be as confused as myself?

Thanks!

John Howard

Mr. Bailey's second response to me:

Hi John,

Thanks for your very positive response.  This is the sort of dialog that may

benefit the community.  I know from experience (working in the PC industry

since 1979) that open beats closed any day, and everyone is better off.

If you want to share my response to your email with others then I have no

objection.  I sent you the response and it is yours to do with as you wish.

As for the outcome of the dispute between NI and MCC, NI is very much in

control of that.  We can only respond to the way NI conducts itself and we

only want a level playing field on which to compete.

My personal feelings on intellectual property are that royalties for

invention are good.  They encourage and reward investment in risky

innovations.  Injunctions, cutting off competitive offerings, stifling

innovation through closed control; all those things hurt us all and hurt the

advancement of science.

My very best regards,

Ben

My first email to NI managment:
Hello, and sorry for the unsolicited email.  I am just guessing at all these email addresses, so hopefully at least one of them is right.

I am a test engineer with Northrop Grumman, and a long time LabVIEW programmer.  I would just like to make a few comments regarding the recent lawsuit by Measurement Computing Corp. (MCC) brought against NI.

As a LabVIEW user, I was initially shocked and angered when I found out that MCC was asking for an order prohibiting NI from continuing to sell LabVIEW.  I have been a LabVIEW programmer for over 5 years, and have been a fiercely loyal NI customer, so I consider such an attack to be against myself as well as NI.

Rather than sit on the sidelines, I contacted MCC management to express my distaste for such a low blow tactic that directly affects the LabVIEW community.  To my surprise I received a response directly from Bendrix Bailey - the Founder/CEO of MCC.  He explained to me some of the history behind the lawsuit, including previous legal actions taken by NI of a similar nature.

It turns out that it was NI that first brought suit against MCC/SoftWire.  Furthermore, it appears that NI has been actively involved in legal action and acquisitions, which in my opinion attempts to stifle competition rather than encourage it.  Also, it seems that NI does not even provide the option of paying licensing fees or royalties for many patents which NI holds.

Clearly these issues are more complicated than can be easily explained in a short email.  However, it appears that your legal maneuvering has now put your own customers at risk!  I realize that the likely hood of LabVIEW being taken off the market is probably low - but the possibility now exists, and I think NI is largely to blame for taking such an aggressive legal approach with regard to patent enforcement.  It appears to me that NI has been blinded by corporate ambition, and has lost sight of those people most important to your company - your customers!  I have not taken these issues to the LabVIEW community yet.  I will wait for a response from NI in the hopes that maybe I still do not see the big picture.  However, I am very disappointed in what I have learned about NI thus far.

Thanks for listening!

Regards,

John Howard

Response from Peter Zogas (NI's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing):

Dear Mr. Howard,

Thanks very much for sharing your concerns as an NI customer and

LabVIEW user.  We appreciate the opportunity to clear the air on an

issue of great importance to NI and all LabVIEW users.

You correctly guess that there are two sides to this story, and we

think ours is much nearer the truth.

First, as you probably know from your own experience with a company

like Northrop Grumman, breakthroughs like LabVIEW are the result of

good ideas, the hard work needed to make them a reality, and the

willingness to take risks. In the case of LabVIEW, those ideas were

rewarded by the government granting to NI a number of patents on the

core concepts, and many other patents on related features and

enhancements.  The patent system is designed to encourage companies

like NI (and no doubt your company) to develop ideas that ultimately

benefit users like you, by making it worth their while to invest in

those ideas in the first place.

Second, unfortunately, and as often happens in the case of a

successful pioneer, others come along after the fact and try to cash

in on the pioneer's success.  Where a competitor does their own

homework and builds a better mousetrap, we have no quarrel.  That is

the way things are supposed to work, and the competitor is often

rewarded with its own patents. But where someone uses what a pioneer

like NI has done instead, without having their own ideas, doing their

own work or taking their own risks, the system provides NI a way of

putting a stop to the piracy by enforcing its patents.

We have done this on several occasions in the past for our LabVIEW

patents.  In every case, the company piggy-backing on our efforts has

agreed in the end to change its product or has been found by the Court

to have violated NI's rights and ordered to pay for that.  Put simply,

the LabVIEW patents have been tested and vindicated a number of times.

None of these efforts, of course, has resulted in any adverse impact

on LabVIEW users.  To the contrary, by reinforcing the value of the

LabVIEW technology, these prior efforts by NI have reaffirmed NI's

commitment to continue developing and supporting that technology.

MCC knew about these prior actions proving the worth of LabVIEW, knew

about the patents that protect it, and knew that it had a problem of

its own.  As you may know, MCC and SoftWIRE are sister companies

controlled by Mr. Bailey.  Their mission is clear: imitate what NI

does related to LabVIEW and DAQ, but sell it more cheaply.  The

SoftWIRE product in particular is an obvious imitation of LabVIEW. Of

course, we don't think their products really are as good as ours (and

we hope you agree!), but the point relevant here is that what they do

is not fair to NI and is not good for customers in the long run.  Why?

Because if MCC can get away with it, companies like NI will stop

investing the time and money to develop new ideas -- there would not

be another LabVIEW.

Knowing they had a problem, MCC and SoftWIRE started a lawsuit in

their home town of Boston.  NI did not sue first.  They did.

MCC's "answer" to all this in its press releases and marketing

materials has been that NI really invented nothing at all, and that

others had previously come up with technology like LabVIEW. Other

companies have tried the same argument and failed.  We think MCC will

fail for the same reasons.  Thousands of customers like you are not

wrong -- LabVIEW was new, it was different, and it was better.

We understand that SoftWIRE very much wants a license to the LabVIEW

technology.  It certainly needs one.  But neither NI nor its customers

has any need to give SoftWIRE what it wants, and there is no reason in

fairness why they should be rewarded for these actions.  LabVIEW is

NI's technology and NI has worked hard, and will continue to work

hard, to make it the best it can be for all customers.  Competitors

like SoftWIRE are free to develop and sell their own technology. They

just cannot copy ours.

Finally, let me comment on the prospect of LabVIEW customers being

impacted by this lawsuit.  As I have already explained, NI thinks it

is extremely unlikely that anything will come of the suit from a

customer's perspective.  It is SoftWIRE/MCC that went out, well after it

realized the problem it had, and searched out and acquired patents

from another company that it believes give it the ability to shut down

LabVIEW. Rather than simply defending its own actions or relying on

"home-grown" technology, SoftWIRE had to manufacture a legal action

against LabVIEW, even though the original owner never suggested that

those patents covered LabVIEW.

I hope you can appreciate that further comment on  NI's legal position

is not possible given the lawsuit that MCC has started.  However, I

wanted to assure you, and all NI customers, that  -- now that MCC has

started this fight -- NI wants only to protect its own technology and

make sure that its customers are safe in continuing to use it.

Sincerely,

Pete Zogas

My final email to MCC:
Hello Mr. Bailey,

As suggested, I contacted NI management, and expressed my opinions regarding their aggressive tactics.

In response, I received an email from Peter Zogas, NI's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, in which he simply defended NI's position.  In this email he states "Knowing they had a problem, MCC and SoftWIRE started a lawsuit in their home town of Boston.  NI did not sue first.  They did.".

Before I try to get the LabVIEW community involved, I would really like to understand both sides of this dispute.  Is Mr. Zogas telling the truth?  If so, what is your position regarding the lawsuit in Boston?  I'd really appreciate some clarification of this matter.

Thanks!

John Howard

MCC's most recent response:

Hi John,

Thanks for writing.  I don't have Pete Zogas' response to you so cannot comment on it directly, but I can comment on the statement in quotes that you included in this email to me.

Mr. Zogas is accurate in stating that MCC "had a problem" and that MCC did go to court first.  The problem we had is the problem I described to you below.  NI sent us threatening letters and those letters scared off an investor.  NI did start the process that lead to the suit by sending us not one, but two threatening letters.

Mr. Zogas may not understand the law as it pertains to declaratory judgment suits.  A company (MCC) can only sue for declaratory judgment in response to threats from another company (NI).  It is not possible for a company to create an infringing product, find the rightful owners of the patents to the invention, and initiate lawsuits.

You might ask Mr. Zogas if NI did send us threatening letters and also ask him if NI did mean its threats.  Did NI honestly intend to sue MCC as they said they would?  If they were not truthful letters, meaning they had no intention of suing, but rather would have preferred another course of action, why did NI send threats to sue? 

It is good to learn that Mr. Zogas is willing to communicate with you.  That shows his interest in the problems created when one company enjoins another from sale of their products.  Why don't you also ask Mr. Zogas why NI wants to enjoin The Math Works from selling Simulink?  Is that fair?  If he denies they sought an injunction, you can refer him to NI's investor relations web site where the matter is discussed in SEC filings.

Good luck with this John.  I applaud your efforts at open dialog and fact finding.  The issues that concern you should be of concern to many people.  I hope your efforts prove fruitful.

Best regards,

Ben

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It's apparent that the rep from NI refuses to confront the issue. His "marketing" language alone

"we don't think their products really are as good as ours (and we hope you agree!)"
and
MCC's "answer" to all this in its press releases and marketing

materials has been that NI really invented nothing at all

is a blatant diversion from addressing the issues that were brought up by MMC. Mr. Zogas is attempting to make NI look like it is the one under attack by a large threat. By his logic, any software that is ever created that uses a graphical wire to tie an output to an input is not simply riding on the coat-tails of LV but trying to steal their idea. It is difficult if not impossible to make a wheel that is not round, just as it is near impossible to make a graphical program/language w/out wires.

I agree that patents should be adhered to and fought for, but just observing the series of NI "acquisitions" over the past few years makes me wonder about their ethics. After hearing from Ben Bailey and his feelings on how they were treated from the beginning from NI raises my suspicion even more.

I would like to see a NI reply from someone not in marketing and who will be more forthcoming about the details of this conflict as MMC has done.

I would hope that this dialog continues between LV useres, LAVA, MMC and NI.

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Thanks for posting this to the forum. As a past user of other software that was more or less killed by NI's legal actions, I'm very interested in watching how this plays out.

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I've sent one more 'request for clarification' to NI. I'll post here when (if) I get a response.

John Howard

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Where can anyone find out more information regarding this issue and it's status. :book: As in status of the lawsuit and any results.

Also it would be great to see even more input from the LAVA members, maybe someone at LTR.

Someone wise said once Involvement preceeds interest

-Norm

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I still haven't heard from NI. Maybe I am approaching this wrong? Here is what I wrote:

Dear Mr. Zogas,

Thanks for your lengthy response to my concerns.  I really appreciate you taking the time to attempt to clarify the situation.  However, there are still some issues that are bothering me.

Firstly, according to Ben Baily, even thought they did file suit first, it was only in response to two threatening letters which they received from NI.  These letters threatened a law suit and 'scared off an investor'.  Did NI honestly intend to sue MCC?

Also, I don't understand the need for threatening MCC in the first place.  When you take this kind of action, you just look like the 'big bully'.  There is no way anyone would think that Softwire could be a serious threat to NI.  I believe HP VEE was a lot bigger player at one time and to my knowledge you never pursued legal action against them!

This brings me to my final point.  It seems as though this type of legal action is becoming very normal for NI.  Intelligent Instrumentation, Mathworks, and now MCC.  Where does all this end?  Where is the benefit to your customers in all of this?  I still don't see why you feel the need to spend all these resources going after smaller companies who are not serious threats to NI.  It just isn't right!  If not down right unethical it isn't very honorable behavior in my opinion.

Just to completely above board here.  I will be posting this email dialog online so that other LabVIEW users who have the same questions and concerns as myself can hopefully have some of their questions answered.  We are all asking the same question - how is this going to affect us?  Is NI really looking out for our best interests?  We'll see.

Thanks again on behalf of the LabVIEW community for addressing these concerns.

Sincerely,

John Howard

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Well John I think there are a few things that Mr. Z will throw back in our faces with your reply. He is going to continue to use the Intillectual property shield to block any claims of NI bullying anyone around. He/NI feel immune to anyones attacks because they feel it is only moral to stand up for their legal rights to protect their "original idea".

I think the most important piece of information that we need to see is the letters from NI to MMC.

Also, I would like to hear NI's answer to this question, "Does any software that uses graphical wires to connnect one piece of information to the next infringe on NI's patents?" From NI's actions against other companies it appears that they belive so.

Until we ask these questions and get answers, NI will feel very righteous about defending their rights, againsts any company large or small, and that is how they protect us as customers.

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It seems that this dispute places much weight on the fluke patents and software. For those of us who have never seen the software, is there any place where we can see the patent or old software :question:

-Norm

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It seems that this dispute places much weight on the fluke patents and software. For those of us who have never seen the software, is there any place where we can see the patent or old software :question:

Yes, this information is all in the public domain. I just spent a few hours perusing :book: the United States patent and trademark office website. What a treasuretrove of fascinating information :!:

I found the original NI patent in question:

United States Patent: 4,901,221

It's interesting to view the original screenshots of the MAC version of LabVIEW.

Images.

The Fluke patent is here:

United States Patent: 4,849,880

Images

Of course there are dozens of other patents that have come out since then that are somehow related both from NI and SoftWIRE.

As I was going through the various patents I noticed that there were other companies with patents describing similer graphical technologies. I guess the decision on who sues who is decided based on certain criteria such as, can the case be won or not. There must be lawyers out there who's sole purpose in life is to read patents and consult there clients on who they should sue next.

We'll have to keep monitoring this topic...

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You're right about the lawyers. I know a few people, recent graduates who are trying to get into technical patent law. Lots of cases and not enough patent lawers $$$. I was hoping that viewing these might help me understand more. All I have now is, :blink: well more lumps on my forehead :headbang:

-Norm

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:wacko: Maybe I'm just dense - but differential equations and vector calculus seemed less intimidating than this patent law stuff. Must be why the lawyers get the big bucks.

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Congratulations John Howard. The debate you initiated has spilled over into the financail community and onto a stock discussion site:

http://messages.yahoo.com/bbs?.mm=FN&actio...687160&mid=1237

One of the postings (besides mine) mention LAVA as the place to learn about this debate.

Just last evening John wrote me wondering if the public debate and his efforts to reach NI management were worth it; would it yeild results? Please join me in encouraging John to continue. Open public debate is the foundation of liberty. Ideas are the motive power behind action and without open debate ideas are suffocated. Who knows what may come of any debate, perhaps nothing, perhaps much. I suspect the debate that led to the revolution that resulted in the founding of this most powerful country on earth began in some small corner. Many have sacrificed much for our right to engage in public debate, let's never squander their sacrifice.

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JohnRH & Mr. Bailey,

Thanks for taking your time in educating us regarding this lawsuit. Although a long read, its been very educational!

Mr Bailey, I'm still wondering, if your company were to 'win' this court case, would Softwire actively pursue "prohibiting NI from continuing to sell LabView"?

just another Labview user,

Regis

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I finally got a response from NI:

Dear Mr. Howard,

I can appreciate that you have a host of questions regarding this issue,

but as I explained in my last email, NI simply cannot comment further on

our legal position other than to reiterate our belief that MCC has

infringed on our LabVIEW patents and that we must defend our intellectual

property.  I can assure you that NI finds it most regrettable the MCC has

chosen this course of action.  Litigation can be complex, however, NI

remains committed to its customers and to developing, supporting, and

ultimately protecting LabVIEW innovative and revolutionary technology.

We thank you for being open with your concerns as well as your on-going

dedication to LabVIEW.

Sincerely,

Pete Zogas

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Also, since I'm sure Mr. Bailey won't mind. Here is the email we exchanged yesterday:

Hello Mr. Bailey,

Thanks for posting your comments on the LAVA web site.  At the very

least, some of us are sure learning a lot from this dialog.

I do have some more questions.  In the VERY unlikely event that NI would

ever agree that their previous tactics were uncalled for, withdraw

any/all legal action against MCC, and perhaps even offer an apology to

MCC.  Would you be inclined to withdraw the lawsuit which requests a

stop to the sales of LabVIEW?  (or at least modify it to not include

that particular request?)  If not, then under what circumstances would

you consider doing so?  It is probably very naive of me to even be

asking these questions.  I am just wondering if it is even worth the

effort of trying to communicate with NI.

Thanks!

John Howard

And his response:
Hi John,

Glad to hear from you again.  I was pleased to see our correspondence posted and encourage you; never lose faith in the power of open dialog.  I will be happy to answer your question although I have to couch the answer somewhat.  Let me explain why.  If I make a statement to you regarding a willingness to settle or specifying a settlement proposal, that statement could be used by NI, against me, in a very unfavorable way.  That is the nature of lawsuits and the constraint of being a principle in one.  I do have to be careful while trying to be as open to the public as possible.

To answer your question as best I can, let me tell you this.  Measurement Computing is not in the business of running lawsuits or stealing intellectual property in spite of what Zogas may say.  Since I designed my first (one of the first available) CPU board around the 8086 in 1979, and later that year one for the 8088, I have been in the business of innovating around the personal computer revolution.  SoftWIRE is truly innovative and so are many of our other products.  What I like to do is invent (I hold several patents from software to lighting), to lead and to run businesses.  I have founded several.

The legal system is very interesting John, but not pleasant to be involved in.  It is expensive and adversarial by design.  My father is the attorney F. Lee Bailey, and trust me, I had plenty of opportunity to enter the legal profession had I so desired.  My chosen vocation is business, (Babson College BSBA 79) and my passion is computing.  All my engineering is self or mentor taught, but hey, don't so many of us in the world of the PC share that background.

Would I have sued NI without the threats and the cost to my business that the NI threats caused?  Simply answered; no.  I would not have wanted to spend the time and money to sue NI, nor been afforded the right to sue.  Once attacked by a large and dangerous competitor will I fight?  You bet I will!  I have seen several small companies with good products just disappear under the pressure of threats or suit from NI.  NI claims to have a right to an entire technology; that of graphical programming for measurement.  I happen to believe they have no such right, and that if properly tested they would lose the patents that they claim give them that right.  I intend to test those patents in court and free not only SoftWIRE but the myriad other yet to be born innovative programs that will never be written if NI is not stopped. 

I can say without question that we will not stop the process we have started until those patents are tested in court.  I believe the test will prove they are not valid.  Having said that, and in spite of Zogas' claims that without the ability to block all competition in the field you would be denied the benefit of LabVIEW, I don't believe NI would be hurt at all by some competition, unless they failed to compete.  As one of the LAVA readers pointed out, has VEE hurt LabVIEW at all?  I believe there is a reason that  NI wants a monopoly on software for measurement and it benefits nobody by NI management and stockholders, but I cannot speculate about it here.

As for your concern that we would turn a deaf ear to an overture from NI to negotiate, you should not be concerned.  I am a businessman with over 25 years experience.  No wise businessman refuses to consider all the possible options. We have never discussed negotiation with NI, I doubt we ever will, but it will not be because I refused to listen to a reasonable suggestion.

Remain encouraged John, look at the dialog you have initiated.

Best regards,

Ben

To be honest, my only concern is the effort to "prohibiting NI from continuing to sell LabView" as Regis pointed out. All this dialog is very interesting and educational, but unless we can make a difference regarding this very specific threat, it almost seems like a waste of time.

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"I suspect the debate that led to the revolution that resulted in the founding of this most powerful country on earth began in some small corner. Many have sacrificed much for our right to engage in public debate, let's never squander their sacrifice. " - Ben Bailey

WHEW !

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson

I had no idea that MCC was on the side of liberty, our soldiers and the USA. I think National Instruments better sign up for Apple Pie and Motherhood if they want to stand a chance in this debate.

:D

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You can make light of the fact that Mr. Baily has gone a bit overboard with his patriotism but you can not deny the fact that all evidence points to NI's lack of virtue. I did not know much of the information that has been brought to light through this forum and respect the fact that people are willing to discuss whats going on and give us all sides of the story. I certainly have less respect for NI as a company than I did before.

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I would also like to add that I think Mr. Baily has spoken with candor about the issues surrounding the pending litigation. I pose to you this question: If NI is in the right as they say and just defending what is theirs, if they are really doing this in everyones best interest then where is their open and honest reply? Why do they choose to remain silent? In my opinion its because they have nothing positive to say. I believe in being honorable and I believe in acting morally and ethically. If you do these things then you should have nothing to hide like Mr. Baily. Remember, just because something is legal doesn't mean its moral or ethical.

The other thing is think about is how you would feel if someone attacked your creation or your lively hood and you felt it was unjust? If Mr. Baily's company was in fact attacked in the manner described above I can certainly understand his indignation and willingness to fight. What ever happened to fighting the good fight and competing on the quality of your product and company?

In closing I am not interested in LabView being taken of the market but I am interested in people and companies competing in fair and just manners. I believe strongly in capitalism and if NI feels that LabView is the best product out there then let others compete. It shouldn't matter if they do given the advantages in size that NI has both in cash resources and market penetration. Capitalism is founded on these ideas. Using the courts as a competitive tool is more the "last refuge of a scoundrel" than expressing your appreciation that we live in a society that allows us affect the majority through open disscussion of ideas and opinions.

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I'd like to remind everyone that Measurement Computing and SoftWire is charging National Instruments not the other way around.

http://forums.lavausergroup.org/index.php?...=findpost&p=290

It is also possible that Mr. Bailey is using this LabVIEW forum to sway public opinion his way. The fact that NI remains silent just means that they probably don't want these comments to effect their litigation. So let's not get our panties in a bunch.

Also, if the courts and the legal system are irrelavent then what is the point of getting a patent? Why not have a free-for-all of ideas an inventions? Of course this could be another thread altogether. NO, I don't want to see LabVIEW dissapear from the market. Doing so would mean I would be out of a job, but more so I would lose one of the most exciting and fun software tools on the market. :(

If Measurement Computing and SoftWire think they are getting some brownie points (freedom and the American Dream) then they should think again.

Besides... I'm Canadian... eh? :)

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WOW, am I glad somone finally lightened the tenor of the thread a bit :P . Yes, Mr. Baily has been banging the liberty bell a bit, but it's good to hear it ever so often anyways.

It is obvious that the comments expressed so far have swayed many peoples opinions of NI, and the lack of comments from NI has lead to an unbalanced argument. Has NI been overly aggressive in defending their patents :unsure: ? Their track record leaves it up to personal opinion. Does it show poorly that NI hasn't said much as compared to MMC? Yes, but NI is a much larger company than MMC and the fact that we have heard from the head of their marketing department is promising.

Finally the $20 question is should NI have an exclusive right to graphical programming. I say no. :nono: Should they protect what they have and make sure no one tries to make another LabVIEW, of course. But I think we can all agree that if you look at MMC's software, it is not another LabVIEW. Neither was Simulink though. If you look at older versions of daisyLAB and ElectronicsWorkbench, two companies that are now merged / or something else, they really had the feel of LabVIEW minus the programming aspect. Did they get their ideas for their software from NI. Who knows? But for now they have evolved/upgraded/merged.

For now it is out of our hands and into the court.

-Norm

btw: when is the court date set for ?

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I still haven't heard from NI.  Maybe I am approaching this wrong?  Here is what I wrote:

I am assuming that you all reading these messages are also against the music industry lawsuits? Why are they taking legal action against all of these people "stealing" their property? I look at it from a different perspective...If I were to invent something or write a #1 song I would try my hardest to protect it. Does it make you a bully for trying to do this? Yes, NI has taken legal action against other companies but what would you rather have them do? Sit back and let this happen? Let people take from the ideas and claim them as their own?

graphical programming does not have to be anything like LabVIEW. Its all about paradigm paralysis. We see whats working and try to build off it. That can be tough and that will often cause problems. When the inventors of LabVIEW came up with idea it was a shift from the paradigm of text-based programming. I'm sure in the future some intelligent 12 yr old will develop the future of programming. And it will probably be without "wires."

I am defenitely against frivelous lawsuits, but I am a firm believer in an owner receiving all credit for his creation....If I build my product X, why should I license it out if it doesn't benefit me? If its mine, I'll do with it what I please and protect it all costs.

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I am assuming that you all reading these messages are also against the music industry lawsuits?  Why are they taking legal action against all of these people "stealing" their property?  I look at it from a different perspective...If I were to invent something or write a #1 song I would try my hardest to protect it.  Does it make you a bully for trying to do this?  Yes, NI has taken legal action against other companies but what would you rather have them do? Sit back and let this happen?  Let people take from the ideas and claim them as their own?

graphical programming does not have to be anything like LabVIEW.  Its all about paradigm paralysis.  We see whats working and try to build off it.  That can be tough and that will often cause problems.  When the inventors of LabVIEW came up with idea it was a shift from the paradigm of text-based programming.  I'm sure in the future some intelligent  12 yr old will develop the future of programming. And it will probably be without "wires."

I am defenitely against frivelous lawsuits, but I am a firm believer in an owner receiving all credit for his creation....If I build my product X, why should I license it out if it doesn't benefit me?  If its mine, I'll do with it what I please and protect it all costs.

I agree - as long as 'protecting' patents doesn't turn into simply trying to eliminate competition. One could argue that copying music is simply stealing, but to apply the same argument to the SoftWire/LabVIEW lawsuit is stretching things a little. To me, SoftWire and LabVIEW appear to be very different from eachother. One is a way to graphicly program with Visual Basic, while the other is esentially a new programming language altogether. If SoftWire infringes on LabVIEW's patents, then what is the next product that will infringe? What about UML diagram editors that automatically generate code? Where do you draw the line? Drawing diagrams is an intuitivly human way of communicating ideas, and programming with diagrams is such an obvious evolution for programming that no one company should have exclusive rights to this method. (in my opinion) :)

But, when it comes right down to it. The details of the patents are not as simple as just programming by drawing diagrams, so NI might actually have a case. Not having the expertise or the patience to review the patents in detail, there is no way I can know this. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Thanks for the input!

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