12.23.17

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Erich Spangenberg’s IPwe and Motivational Health Messaging Are Patent Trolls With Nothing But Bad Patents and Bad Intentions

Posted in America, Patents at 1:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Motivational Health Messaging patent

Summary: The plague of patent trolls in the United States — typically trolls who rely on software patents — as outlined in the media over the past week

Prof. James Bessen, who wrote a lot about patent trolls half a decade ago when he researched their impact on the US economy, seems concerned about Erich Spangenberg, a highly notorious patent troll whom we mentioned the other day because of a report from CNBC. Spangenberg spent an extraordinary amount of money buying utterly useless things using money that he extracted by extorting over a thousand businesses, using patents which were later invalidated anyway. Spangenberg symbolises some of the rogue elements of society.

Patent trolls like Erich Spangenberg are not doing so well; not anymore. Some of them shut down their so-called ‘businesses’. Ray Niro, the father of patent trolling, died last year and earlier this year his business died too. His son is now engaged in legal bullying against bloggers/journalists, just like his father (a few days ago his name made it into the media for suing Ars Technica on behalf of a client).

Going back to Bessen, he linked to this article about blockchain and Spangenberg’s imminent threats to it, even if software patents lost their ‘teeth’. To quote:

Patent troll Erich Spangenberg, who is hated in Silicon Valley for challenging the patents on all sorts of technology, is eyeing the cryptocurrency market next.

Citing a recent blog by Spangenberg, CNBC reported news that he has created a new group to unlock the value in blockchain intellectual property, arguing that while the press is focused on bitcoin, another important story that gets less coverage is the technology that underpins it: blockchain.

The patent troll is amassing a treasure trove of blockchain patents that he can enforce as the distributed ledger technology takes off. Spangenberg has started a company dubbed IPwe that has 20 full-time employees and a team of consultants. They are tasked with applying “blockchain, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve patents,” Spangenberg wrote in the blog post. “It is a curious path how a collection of misfit trolls, geeks and wonks ended up here — but we are going to crush it and make a fortune.”

This is just a classic patent troll, not a “company” as the above puts it (they create nothing at all). Here in Europe, based on this days-old article, there are cases involving “design protection [sic] for car spare parts, in two cases involving Acacia” (Acacia is a bunch patent trolls with different shells associated with it).

There’s also that silly ‘company’ called Motivational Health Messaging. No homepage, no reference; nothing! It’s yet another LLC, so what can imagine what its ‘operations’ amount to and the EFF explained its supposed asset a few days ago in “Stupid Patent of the Month” (last of the year).

To quote:

Have you ever sent a motivational text to a friend? If you have, perhaps you tailored your message to an activity or location by saying “Good luck in the race!” or “Have fun in New York!” Now, imagine doing this automatically with a computer. What a great invention. Actually, no. That’s not a good invention, it’s our latest Stupid Patent of the Month.

U.S. Patent No. 9,069,648 is titled “Systems and methods for delivering activity based suggestive (ABS) messages.” The patent describes sending “motivational messages,” based “on the current or anticipated activity of the user,” to a “personal electronic device.” The patent provides examples such as sending the message “don’t give up” when the user is running up a hill. The examples aren’t limited to health or exercise. For example, the patent suggests sending messages like “do not fear” and “God is with you” when a “user enters a dangerous neighborhood.”

The patent’s description of its invention is filled with silly, non-standard acronyms like ABS for “activity based suggestive” messages or EBIF for “electronic based intelligence function.” These silly acronyms create an illusion of complexity where plain, descriptive language would reveal the mundane nature of the supposed invention. For example, what the patent grandly calls EBIF appears to be nothing more than standard computer processing.

We are pretty certain that, if properly challenged citing Alice, this patent will vanish pretty quickly, leaving Motivational Health Messaging with nothing but an EFF blog post calling them “Stupid”.

As for Spangenberg and IPwe? Expect them to get some good ‘spanking’ in the courts and lose a lot of patents. To common sense…

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