01.18.11

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TechCrunch Sued by Gooseberry Natural Resources LLC, Complains About Patents, Receives “Extremely Nasty Personal Attacks”

Posted in Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Psycho cat

Summary: TechCrunch is sued using a patent on “[s]ystem and method for structured news release generation and distribution” and it starts complaining more and more about such USPTO-endorsed abomination

AS PART of AOL or even without it, TechCrunch has been attracting lawsuits for a while. In light of lawsuits such as this new one, TechCrunch seems to have become a vocal opponent of software patents, especially through the narrative of Vivek Wadhwa, whose personal pieces on the subject we mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is the latest puddle of mud TechCrunch finds itself in:

Oh no, we’ve been sued. This week’s hopeful plaintiff is Gooseberry Natural Resources LLC, who filed a complaint in a Los Angeles federal court against Reddit, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Digg, Fark, Geeknet, TechCrunch, Newsvine, Yahoo and others.

We, along with our fellow defendants, have allegedly been violating US Patent No. 6,370,535, titled System and method for structured news release generation and distribution. The invention underlying the patent appears to be the notion of typing text into an admin system, storing that text on a server, and then publishing it on the Internet. The patent was awarded in 2002.

Vivek Wadhwa, a patent holder with regrets about what he did, is once again explaining that patents are counter-productive. In his polite piece “Let’s Compete on Innovation Rather Than Patents” he says that “[i]n the tech world, patents don’t foster innovation; they inhibit it” and later on he writes: “[s]eems my patents piece shook many people up. Woke up to some extremely nasty personal attacks. means I hit the nail on the head.” Here is part of this piece.

The next generations of telecom technologies are called “LTE” or “4G”. China’s Huawei believes that by 2015, it will hold 15–20% of the worldwide patents in these technologies, and that these will earn it at least 1.5% of the sales price of every device—every cell phone, laptop, and tablet—that uses them. Huawei is on track to achieve its goals: in 2007, it held just 152 patents; by the end of 2009, it had applied for 42,543 patents, of which 11,339 had been granted in China, 215 in the United States, and 1282 in Europe. Huawei’s rival, ZTE, claims to hold 7% of the world’s LTE patents and plans to increase this to 10% by 2012.

Emboldened by these successes, the Chinese government has initiated a nationwide program to make China the world leader in patents in every important industry. The New York Times reported that the government is offering cash bonuses, better housing, and tax breaks to individuals and companies filing the most patent applications. According to the Times, China’s goal is to increase the number of its yearly “invention” patent filings from this year’s 300,000 to one million by 2015. And it wants another one million “utility-model patents”, which typically cover items like engineering features in a product. In comparison, there are 500,000 invention patents granted every year in the U.S. The requirements for “utility-model patents” are so mundane that they are not even recognized in the U.S. as a legitimate criterion for the existence of intellectual property.

We were never big fans of of TechCrunch/Michael Arrington, but this site’s persistent opposition to software patents definitely helps reconsider these views.

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