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NTP Sues Palm, Alleging Patent Violation 121

Posted by Zonk
from the thrilling dept.
mikesd81 writes "The Seattle Time reports that NTP is now going after Palm for patent infringement on technology used in their devices. The suit asks the court to bar Palm from continuing to infringe on NTP's patents and seeks monetary damages for the alleged past infringements. At issues are eleven patents, dating from 1995 to 2001, according to the lawsuit. Five of the patents were part of NTP's lawsuit against RIM. The Palm complaint also centers on products, services and systems that integrate e-mail systems with wireless communications, including the Treo, Palm VII, Palm i700 and Tungsten products." You may recall NTP from the just-finished Blackberry case. Good to know they're staying busy.
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NTP Sues Palm, Alleging Patent Violation

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  • by pete.com (741064) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:48AM (#16750581)
    .... you have to make money somehow. Seems NTP's choice is to extort money using the court system.
    • Yeah...and now there's an unfortunate precedent in NTPs favour showing they can be successful at it.

      Quite the business model...
      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:41AM (#16751123) Homepage Journal
        Yeah...and now there's an unfortunate precedent in NTPs favour showing they can be successful at it.

        Actually not. While they did settle with Blackberry for a healthy sum, shortly after the settlement agreement, all 7 of NTP's patents were found to be invalid by the USPTO.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pete.com (741064)
          Actually yes...They settled to avoid a protracted court case. Patents being invalid or the entire case being baseless has nothing to do with battling in court, ask IBM. How much do you think IBM has pissed away already fighting the bogus SCO case?
        • by darkchubs (814225)
          I Spend a lot of time studying IP patents and overturn. Most of these Idea patents are literally obvious or old. But that being said; if my company were to be sued by a holder, there is not a chance in hell we could ever settle, or afford a defense. Whats more is that 90% could be overturned but that too takes millions and just about every owner of any website is infringing on countless IP patents. a Prior art example is a common way to halt litigation almost instantly in a scenario where you find yourself
          • Publish every Idea you get on the internet. if everyone did that. the foundation for Idea patents would erode even further.

            For someone who professes to study patents and IP, it doesn't seem like you know very much about patent law.

            A published idea != prior art. For there to be prior art, the idea actually has to be implemented. If I say, "I've got this idea for a device that would transport material through space/time. It would work like this ... yada yada," that's not necessarily prior art. Now if I ac

        • ...what grounds do they have for suing? I'm absolutely baffled. I mean, I know the US patent system is more geborken than the Swedish Chef himself, but how can NTP sue if the patents they're basing the case on have already been invalidated? Are things really that screwed up?

          • Yes. See the next (anonymous) post below yours. Whoever it is is right: it's not whether or not you have a case, it's whether or not you can use the case to extort money out of your victims, which is exactly what NTP has done.

    • by canuck57 (662392)

      you have to make money somehow. Seems NTP's choice is to extort money using the court system.

      We all knew it was extortion the first time.

      What will truly be interesting is now that it is an American company on the block will the courts descion be any different? The fundimentals are exactly the same. So in theory Palm needs to cough up a lot of cash.

      Until of course there is a anti-preditory law to put the NTPs out of business.

      • by smbarbour (893880)
        Here's my proposal for a partial solution law:

        Upon the transfer of any patent from one owner to another, any use of said patent that predates the transfer of said patent is ineligible for attempts to collect royalties. Additionally, no patent holder may solicit royalty payments on an infringement of a patent after the infringing product has been available for over 6 months.

        Perhaps it should be changed such that patents are non-transferable. With this proposal, we would discourage the formation of patent h
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you don't manufacture anything... ... then you should be barred from making patent-based lawsuits.

      The whole basis of the social contract of patents is to protect your enterprise during manufacturing. If you are not using the patent to manufacture anything, then you are just a parasite working against the very concept of patents and against the community.

      But then, everyone knows that lawyers are just parasites anyway. I recommend DDT.
      • by Targon (17348)
        Actually, patents are granted to those who either manufacture or plan to manufacture a product with the proposed "new idea". You don't NEED to have a product to get a patent, but you do need to have a desire to make the product.

        So, if a company files a patent, but then doesn't act to turn the idea into a product, the patent should go away.

        So, come up with an idea, patent it, and then continue on to manufacture that product, or sell the rights to someone else.
    • As per usual, the US patent system is doing a great job of stifling even the most minor innovation.

      Email over a non-copper transport. Wow. What an intelligent patent. Using wireless IP networks as they were designed.

      My contempt and disgust for what passes for "justice" south of the border knows no bounds. Justice is dead -- long live the court leeches!

      • I see the solution to the US patent roulette as simple: Don't establish a US office. Force all customers to contract with a head office in a nation that has SANE laws that aren't sold to the highest bidder. Force them to deal with fair courts, and cut them off if they don't abide by agreements.

        If necessary, establish offices in a jurisdiction like Germany where innovation and privacy trump companies that have no products.

        • by letxa2000 (215841)
          Heheheh. What a great way to attack the American market: By not expanding into it. :)

        • Except... (Score:3, Informative)

          by DeadCatX2 (950953)
          RIM is a Canadian company, and that didn't work for them.

          Even if your offices are out of the US, US courts still have the jurisdiction to shut down your operations in the US.
          • by msobkow (48369)
            US courts still have the jurisdiction to shut down your operations in the US.

            Not all business models require a corporate presence in the US, nor services provided by US hardware, nor even travel to the US. While it's a significant market to sacrifice, it may be better to focus on a global customer base rather than risk interference from a division corp's legal hassles.

      • by asamad (658115)
        So what came first fibre networks or NTP's patent ? Or what about the old days when tape reels were used to send info between computer sites (including mail ?)
    • It's the new American Way!

      1) Patent something
      2) Sit on it until someone does something similar
      3) Sue!
      4) Profit!

      Now we know what goes in place of "???"

      Yes, this is a repeat! That's actually one of the worst parts -- that this stuff keeps on happening!
      • by pete.com (741064)
        I'm sorry but you violated my patent on replacing puctuation with letters or numbers on a message board... see you in court!
    • by marafa (745042)
      say does the american court system and the american patent system take a percentage of ntp's wins in this court case? or the settlement if there is one? i mean why else would they protect something so stupid like the patent system? btw. i patented fire and the wheel. oh and also the use of water as a drinking fluid ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#16750619)
    Just as I thought... NTP is an evilcompany (tm) that wants to hurt me personally.
    Although I have two palms (and two hands, two arms, etc), I don't like the fact that the Network Time Protocol has suddenly gone through the Intarweb tubes to the lawyers and is taking legal action against parts of my body.
    What's next? HTTP suing my big toe? Telnet suing my liver? When will it all end?!? Ohh the humanity...

    TDz.

  • eBlackMail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:52AM (#16750631) Homepage Journal
    When you pay a blackmailer to leave you alone, even if they do, you've paid them to stay alive long enough to bother someone else.

    And when the cops won't stop them, they're unstoppable.
    • And when the cops won't stop them, they're unstoppable.
      When justice fails, people turn to vigilanteism. I'm surprised that the USPTO hasn't been firebombed long before now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Vigilanteism usually reacts in the mode in which it was incited. So I'm not surprised that people in the info biz, like programmers, are so casual about violating these kinds of bonds, like piracy and enthusiasm for open source. What's the patent version of building a gallows? Is it contributing to Linux?
    • I find the whole thing hilarious: the first palm that had an IRDA port had an app for 'wireless email'
      • by Steve001 (955086)

        Breakfast Pants wrote:

        I find the whole thing hilarious: the first palm that had an IRDA port had an app for 'wireless email'

        The IR port was intended to allow users to pass data (such as address book entries) between Palm PDAs and was effective for a distance of about 3 feet. You could also designate an address book entry as a business card and easily send it to someone else from the main screen.

        The first Palm that could do wireless e-mail was the Palm VII, and it could also do web clipping. Web cl

  • NTP (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:53AM (#16750649)
    What products does NTP make? I was thinking of performing a boycott of what seems to be an overly-litigious company, but can't find any targets.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ilex (261136)

      What products does NTP make? I was thinking of performing a boycott of what seems to be an overly-litigious company, but can't find any targets.


      Sadly their products are lawsuits.

      Pity there isn't a way to boycott those :(
    • by Gr8Apes (679165)
      They're an extremely innovative company that produces lawsuits.

      Lawsuits, unlike regular suits, are not available for sale, they're given to you like the evil eye. They don't even have the courtesy of being rejectable, and upon offering, proceed to suck every dime it can out of the intended recipients hide. The more innovative the lawsuit, the faster and longer it can suck dimes.

    • by canuck57 (662392)

      What products does NTP make? I was thinking of performing a boycott of what seems to be an overly-litigious company, but can't find any targets.

      Their product is legal extortion. There are no avenues for you or I to boycot them. And since it worked the first time, the investors of NTP are looking for a second big payout. It would take an act of congress, literally to stop them. So write you congress person is the best you can do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by asuffield (111848)

      What products does NTP make?

      To expand on what others have already said:

      NTP is a classic example of a patent troll [wikipedia.org]. They purchase patents from other companies and then sue people for violations of those patents, and try to get people to pay them protection money ("license fees") to leave them alone. At no point do they produce or use anything, so they are completely exempt from "defensive" patents - nobody can countersue NTP for patent violations because NTP do nothing that could violate any patents. Similar

  • by fitten (521191) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:54AM (#16750665)
    At issues is even patents, dating from 1995 to 2001, according to the lawsuit.


    The even ones? How many is that?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would never have guessed this of them... Let's face it. NTP is a patent troll. They produce nothing, they have no assets (well except for the money they extort). Why would anybody be suprised about this? Until these bogus patents run their course they will continue to extort more money. The question you have to ask of yourself is this... If you were in the same position and could get lots of money the same way... wouldn't you be doing the same thing? They are not breaking any laws.
    • by bogado (25959)
      The question is why is it possible under the law to have a company that produces nothing and sue all the companies that do produce? This is absurd, patents should not exist at all, but ok let's pretend that they are useful for something, the company that hold the patent should at least have a product (or products) that each of the details in the patent contest.

      This is my opinion, patents are road blocks to innovation and even to freedom. As it is today every programmer in the world has already breached at l
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by k12linux (627320)
        I just want to know how they were harmed that they deserve damages. Was the sales of their non-existent products harmed by sales of Palms?

        The patent itself is rediculous and a perfect example of why software patents must go. You have a PC-like device capable of displaying and inputting text. Just how inventive do you have to be to think, "Hey, you could use this for email!" That's patentable??
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by edwardpickman (965122)
        This particular company is looking leachlike but the intent of patents is positive. Without them there would be very little incentive to develope new technology. Why spend a 100 million developing a new computer chip when six months from now a competitor can have a knock off on the market and under cut your price because they don't have to repay development costs. It's one of the reasons China has embraced piracy, it saves a bundle. Most of the world is getting tired of it and they are starting to threaten
        • So disallow patent rights to those who cannot produce commercial quanitites for sale, or require mandatory precriptive licensing fees, set by the USPTO, for those who do not or cannot produce. Since different patents have different market sizes, set the bar based on end units produced, with fees due on an annual or biannual basis (to allow time for quantities to be determined). Start at $1,000 for single unit quantities, and drop the amount by $5 for every unit produced until you reach $5. After 1000 units
        • by Qzukk (229616)
          Why spend a 100 million developing a new computer chip when six months from now a competitor can have a knock off on the market and under cut your price because they don't have to repay development costs

          Why spend 100 million dollars developing a new computer chip when you can lock up the market for 20 years with your top of the line, state of the art 8086 chip?
        • Without them there would be very little incentive to develope new technology.

          Without them, the world saw lots of inventions and technological development for hundreds if not thousands of years.
          There is absolutely no evidence that your assertion is true, while there is a lot of evidence suggesting it is false.

          Why spend a 100 million developing a new computer chip when six months from now a competitor can have a knock off on the market and under cut your price because they don't have to repay development cost
  • Dear NTP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210)
    Dear NTP:

    Please eat excrement and die.
  • "The Palm complaint also centers on products, services and systems that integrate e-mail systems with wireless communications, including the Treo, Palm VII, Palm i700 and Tungsten products." How is that even possible? Owning a patent for email-via-wireless? Unless I'm mistaken, that's been done since the beginning of wireless.
    • The Treo 700w doesn't even use any palm applications to receive mail wirelessly. It uses Microsoft's OS and mail servers in order to push email out.... I love how NTP isn't going after Microsoft...must be being used as a front company for them.
      • by joshetc (955226)
        I dont think they can as microsoft's webservers and e-mail applications are from the "old wired web" NTP is talking about the new, hip, totally different wireless internet. That is a great point though because if that got out everyone would be like "hey, wait.. its the same damn thing with an invisible cord! Fuck NTP!!"
  • I'm so confused. Why would a protocol sue anyone?
  • Regulation is good.
  • I would wish everyone that worked for this company would burn in hell. Well, here is hoping for a painful death for all of them anyhow.
  • What pisses me off is that Palm isn't that big of a company nor is it the healthiest. If they weren't lucky enough to get Handspring, which gave them a big heads up on the upcoming smartphone market, they might have been crushed by now by the declining PDA market and Microsoft. NTP is just grabbing at every straw it can for money. Why don't they try sueing MS for doing email over wireless? Probably because MS has enough money to slap them back with a legal team worth more than RIM's settlement itself.
    • Probably because MS has enough money to slap them back with a legal team worth more than RIM's settlement itself.

      You got it! They looked at their competitors in the lawsuit-as-business-model industry [sco.com], saw how well they were doing [groklaw.net] in their lawsuit with a truly deep-pockets company [ibm.com] and opted for a much smaller target.

      Microsoft may not have quite the nazgul that IBM has, but they definitely have the pockets and know where to find them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eck011219 (851729)

      Indeed. And what really chaps my butt is that a year from now, a Treo is going to cost me $50 more than it otherwise would have because Palm has to figure out how to pay the lawyers they'll need to defend against this silliness. I think a lot of people (not so many here on Slashdot, but people in general) forget about that aspect of the frivolous lawsuit -- no matter who wins or loses, the attorneys get paid. And this creates higher prices, wipes out the companies with tighter margins (but possibly better

      • Well, there's always the "letter to your congressman" angle, and the "letter to the editor" angle, and the "give money to help Palm hire better lawyers" angle, and the "march in front of NTP's headquarters with a placard" angle, and the "get a job reviewing patents" angle. If you put your mind to it, I'm sure you could come up with some actions to address the situation.
  • Palm's Response (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scyber (539694) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:18AM (#16750875)
    http://investor.palm.com/pressdetail.cfm?ReleaseID =217480 [palm.com]

    The NTP lawsuit claims that certain Palm products infringe seven NTP patents. All seven of the patents asserted are being re-examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and have been rejected by the re-examiners as invalid. Palm also noted that the NTP patents disclose a pager-based email service that has nothing in common with the mobile-computing devices invented by Palm. Palm has been in occasional contact with NTP concerning a license to these patents. When Palm last communicated with NTP many months ago, however, each of the patents already was the subject of re-examination proceedings by the PTO. Palm is disappointed that, after many months of silence and repeated rejections of NTP's claims by the PTO, NTP has chosen to sue on patents of doubtful validity. Palm respects legitimate intellectual property rights, but will defend itself vigorously against the attempted misuse of the patent and judicial systems to extract monetary value for rights to patents that may ultimately have no value at all.

    • I was reading an editorial in a trade magazine at work a few months ago on the RIM patent case with NTP and where things would go now that RIM had settled. The article suggested that NTP's next target would be Palm and then went on to explain their rationale and that NTP had stirred the pot perhaps a bit too much as many of their patents were up for re-examination.

      I hope for once that NTP gets their ass handed to them when they have no patents left to assert in court, but that's wishful thinking. The Slashd
  • Well, another example that the world is reaching new extremes, and US is (usually) the first place for any extreme to occur. SO now it's perfectly normal to make money doing nothing, more: using the system that should provide the protection to the inventors to further encourage the development of new stuff.

    Sometimes I really believe that self-destruction (or more often, self-mutilation) is something that people cannot live without.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)
      See now. With all the jobs being outsourced and offshored, we don't have much more to do that see if we can get patents into the lame Patent Office and sue so we can continue to drive 3mpg Hummers and 10mpg SUV's and live way out in the boonies so we have to drive everywhere.

      (FYI, I work from home and drive a 52mpg motorcycle when I have to go somewhere. :) )

      [John]
      • exactly... when sh*t hits the fan in the near future, some people will feel the falling down very harshly... greetz,
  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:45AM (#16751157)
    I hope the judge doesn't give them the time of day!
  • If memory serves correctly, NTP sued RIM because of the technology they used to push email violated one of their patents. Palm--to my knowledge--doesn't have technology to push email to their devices. That's where companies like http://www.good.com/ [good.com], and (at the time) http://www.jpmobile.com/ [jpmobile.com] came in. (3rd party addons to add push email to palm devices)
    It seems NTP should go after Good--and now Microsoft (For their Exchange/AS Push) if anyone, but not palm.

    Then again, what I do know, IANAL.
    • Palm presumably has a big patent portfolio that covers the fundamental ideas of handheld computing. Good.com has a domain name and some mail servers. Which do you think NTP wants more?
  • So typically editors, edit submissions to some degree and make sure some basic guidelines are followed. One of those is making sure acronyms are defined the first time they are used, especially if it is a really common acronym like Network Time Protocol, but you're using it to mean something else. For more information please read the Chicago Manual of Style.

    • by Buran (150348)
      Uhm, it's the name of the company. So do I have to write "Coca-Cola, which produces sodas and other types of beverages" or "Honda, maker of cars, motorcycles, marine engines and other large industrial products" or "Apple, producer of computers, music players, and online music distributor"? It's not the job of a writer to baby readers by telling them every little bit of extraneous information. The editor already provided some context by reminding us that NTP was mentioned in the past in another story and lin
      • Uhm, it's the name of the company.

        No, "NTP Incorporated" is the name of the company.

        So do I have to write "Coca-Cola, which produces sodas and other types of beverages"

        That depends, is there something else called Coca-Cola, aside from the company, that is the most common use of the term and is Coca-Cola the company an obscure firm that produces nothing and is known only to a few lawyers?

        It's not the job of a writer to baby readers by telling them every little bit of extraneous information.

        No, it'

  • make those ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers look good. They do not manufacture, implement, design, or even simply "dream up" anything to do with technology. They simply acquire patents (which are bogus in my humble opinion) and sue based on someone else's hard work.

    If Dante were still around, he would have a special place in hell for these bastards.
    • If Dante were still around, he would have a special place in hell for these bastards.


      There is. In fact, that special place was implemented back in late 1998. It's called Corpadverticus [theonion.com].
  • Dear NTP,

    Palm is a company dedicated to innovation and a fair marketplace, and as such would like to offer a conditional out of court settlement in this matter.

    The conditions of the offer are as follows:

    1. NTP issues a public statement withdrawing it's claims of patent infringement against Palm.

    2. Agree that this settlement will indemnify Palm, it's directors and any third-parties licensing our technology against future claims.

    3. This agreement by bound by the laws of the State of Californ
    • by MS-06FZ (832329)
      It's not "it's", its proper spelling is "its".
      • by pr0digy25 (915443)
        To me " 's " is a possessive... as in John's baseball, and in this case it is an entity.
        • To me " 's " is a possessive... as in John's baseball, and in this case it is an entity.
          Ah, well, to each hi's own.
  • A US Patent Troll attempting to sue a US company in US courts - Not A Chance. These priviledges are reserved for the "benefit" of non-US entities to enhance the wealth of American corporations in a "fair" market system.
  • I can't believe that the Network time Protocol would sue anyone.
  • No surprises here. As long as there's no penalty for using the patent and legal system as an ATM, companies like NTP will continue to do so. Even as their patents are being found to be invalid, they continue to sue. Oh well, I guess allegedly evil companies and allegedly evil lawyers have to keep busy.
  • *** News Flash *** News Flash *** News Flash ***

    SCO acquired by NTP.

    That should keep the courts busy for the next millenium.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danegeld [wikipedia.org]

    Basically, they're like the old Danish Vikings. To quote Kipling "That if once you have paid him the Danegeld, You never get rid of the Dane." Once people started paying them off, they'd leave for a while, then come back. Historians have found more Anglo-Saxon pence of this period in Denmark than in England.

    This is just the modern day version, and they're not the only company doing it. We've just traded in swords and shields for lawyers with pens.

    Personally, I think we'd
  • You may recall NTP from the just-finished Blackberry case. Good to know they're staying busy.

    You mean, as in filing baseless lawsuits over patents that have been rejected by the USPTO? You're glad that blatant extortion is going on? It seems to me like fertile grounds for a countersuit on extortion grounds if nothing else
  • Too bad it's illegal to kill extortionists.
  • Since a judge threw out most of NTPs claims against RIM, NTP does not have much to stand on this time around. I think that NTP needs to be put back in its place. How? Heres a hint: RIM and Palm partnership, simultaneous countersuits, and hilarity!
  • by DeadCatX2 (950953)
    Okay, you have a point, not all business models require US presence. Just most of the ones that any big corporation will use.

    Such a practice is not feasible on a large scale. It doesn't even suffice as a workaround for the broken system.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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