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The Patent Comedy is Real

Posted in Courtroom, EFF, Microsoft, Patents at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…And it’s painful, not painfully funny

It is important that everyone recognises just how misguided and flawed the patent system has become. To demonstrate the severity of the problem, we present a few jaw-dropping items from the news. The first would have to be this one. [via Digital Majority]

Creating A List From A Database? Prepare For A Patent Infringement Suit

…Channel Intelligence, a company that owns a ridiculously broad and obvious patent on creating a list from a database and is now suing a whole bunch of small websites that offer things like wishlists.

More visual details you will find in Techcrunch. How about this one, which has just been invalidated by the EFF?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced another victory for its Patent Busting Project last Friday, this time against NeoMedia. The company received a comprehensive set of patents that covered information lookups via scanned input.

Yes, bar codes too are considered non-trivial, no matter their ubiquity.

Here are some more details about the lawsuit against Silverlight and the patent/holder involved. It’s truly ridiculous. The Wall Street Journal has just published this followup to a recent similar complaint which it published a week ago.

In “Patent Gridlock Suppresses Innovation” (Information Age, July 14), L. Gordon Crovitz asserts “that for most industries today’s patent system does more harm than good.” He paints with too broad a brush. The “most industries” he refers to are those heavily involved with software, e.g., Verizon, Cisco ,Google, RIM and HP, which he cites. Such companies have indeed suffered grief because of patents on software and so-called “methods of doing business,” like double-clicking something to place an order. Such patents basically didn’t exist as little as 15 years ago. The appropriate way to deal with these problems would be for Congress to declare such subject matter to be unpatentable.

Photo from the public domain

Part of the problem may be attitudinal, and it includes the likes of Facebook and its junk patents. Those patents are not just defensive and they were reported as morally offensive just weeks ago. The company now uses them to defend its monopoly through a lawsuit.

ACEBOOK FILED an intellectual property lawsuit against StudiVZ, a German company accused of operating a virtual replica of the social networking site.

Watch the ‘invention’. The writing of public messages from one person to another…

This isn’t too shocking given Facebook’s corporate neighborhood. It’s friends with Microsoft and with Amazon (of 'one-click shopping' infamy), both of which are aggressive with patents too. The CEO is even a close (visiting) friend of Microsoft executives. Here are just a few recent articles of relevance:

1. What does the Microsoft “partnership” with Facebook mean for users?

First, Microsoft had a very instructive failure with Passport, and the “Hailstorm” effort of which it was a part.

2. From Business Journal: [expired now]

In a collaboration with Redmond-based Microsoft Inc.’s Popfly, Facebook users can create applications and add them to the profiles with no programming.

It was actually over a year ago that Facebook users were discouraged from participating if they dread becoming Microsoft’s inheritance (like Hormail).

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  1. aeshna23 said,

    July 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm


    I called Senator Casey’s office urging him to vote against software patents and told his aid about the dangers of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The aid was quite bored, but managed to squeal out the word “open-source”. I suppose to be effective we need a more organized campaign.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm


    There’s some good news about the former:

    “The Death of Google’s Patents”

    Some interpret this as the beginning of important change. Will post an update tomorrow.

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