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Heatherington patent

 
 
Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      12-24-2006
Here's the infamous patent <http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT4549302>
issued to Hayes the modem maker in 1985. Remember when modems had to
be "Hayes-compatible"? A crucial part of that was the way, after a data
connection was established, that you switched the modem back to command
mode. The Hayes method was a 1-second pause, then the entry of "+++" (3
plus characters), then another 1-second pause. The patent that Hayes held
was on that pause; and nobody could make their modems fully
Hayes-compatible without licensing this patent.

Without the pause, any sequence of 3 plus signs that happened to occur in
the transmitted data could cause the modem to switch back to command mode
when you didn't want it to--in short, to behave strangely. Thus, other
modem vendors had no choice but to license the patent--no one was able to
come up with another way of escaping to command mode that worked nearly as
well. As I recall, there were two separate court cases launched to overturn
the patent, but it was upheld in both of them.
 
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