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Re: RC4 Legal Issues

Phil Karn <[email protected]> wrote:
> This was my understanding *before* the recent jury decision in the
> Microsoft vs Stac Electronics countersuit. When Stac sued Microsoft
> for infringing their patents on disk compression, Microsoft
> countersued Stac for trade secret infringement for having
> reverse-engineered some hidden system calls in MS-DOS. Not only did
> the jury uphold Stac's bogus software patent, but they also found in
> favor of Microsoft on their ridiculous trade secret accusation!
> Needless to say, this creates a very troubling precedent. Now you can
> now apparently infringe a trade secret merely by examining fully
> public information (e.g., commercially available object code.)

Do juries get to decide on points of law and create precedents in the
US legal system?

No wonder you have such odd laws. In the UK, legal argument is taken by the
judge in the absence of the jury, (and in most civil cases there
is no jury anyway -- I think that we only have juries in criminal cases and
libel, but someone more knowledgable may be able to correct this). Anyway,
the role of the jury is to decide on the facts e.g: A says X, B says Y,
who do we believe?

Also, the ability of judges in lower courts to create precedents is restricted.
A case like Microsoft v Stac would end up going right up through the
appeal process.

Richard Parratt.