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'Troll' Loses Cloudflare Lawsuit, Has Weaponized Patent Invalidated (arstechnica.com) 49

A federal judge in San Francisco has unequivocally ruled against a non-practicing entity that had sued Cloudflare for patent infringement. From a report: The judicial order effectively ends the case that Blackbird -- which Cloudflare had dubbed a "patent troll" -- had brought against the well-known security firm and content delivery network. "Abstract ideas are not patentable," US District Judge Vincent Chhabria wrote in a Monday order. The case revolved around US Patent No. 6,453,335, which describes providing a "third party data channel" online. When the case was filed in May 2017, the invention claims it can incorporate third-party data into an existing Internet connection "in a convenient and flexible way."
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'Troll' Loses Cloudflare Lawsuit, Has Weaponized Patent Invalidated

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  • That description sounds more like hacking than a beneficial tool.

    That or serving ads at will.

    • It sounds like a filtering proxy server. DansGuardian, Privoxy, etc. monitor a connection and modify the contents.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This decision was brought to you in part by the Supreme Court ruling against the logic that anything on the internet that's accessible in the Eastern District of Texas could be filed there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @02:33PM (#56117045)

    "Abstract ideas are not patentable"

    Oh, please let this be a strong precedent in nullifying crappy patents.

    SO many patents are "a system and methodology for doing something kinda like this, which is an analog for a real world scenario we have, but with a computer and a network".

    I would love to know how many patents would be vacated under this, because a patent should not encompass "doing something we do every day but with a computer".

    • Wouldn't that be "obvious"? I have a socket wrench and an impact wrench, both of which can remove lug nuts. Now I've patented a method of removing lug nuts from a car's wheel, but using an impact wrench.

      A method of achieving a certain outcome with a computer is novel if the usual way of achieving that outcome involved a different process. For example: if you were to mix paints, you would get colors. On a computer, you ... can't do that. Somebody at some point worked out an algorithm for taking two c

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The precedent is that it is effectively impossible to invalidate a patent in court on the grounds that it is obvious. Similarly, the patent office applies no test for obviousness. The only thing the patent office checks for is whether a patent for the same thing already exists, and even then they often issue patents on things that were already patented. Also, we do allow business method patents: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_method_patent.

      • In the context of business, this was non-obvious (nobody did this during the years and years of many e-commerce stores)

        But that's the thing, that's not the case at all.

        The one-click patent did have prior art in e-commerce, but it just took time and effort [arstechnica.com] to uncover, prove, and file the paperwork (including paying the $2,520.00 filing fee!).

        • Poor example, but you get the point. One-Click was novel and non-obvious (ignoring the prior art), but was it an invention? If, in a world where you went to a bakery and bought bread, a baker partnered with a milk carrier in a small town to use the excess space on his cart so as to deliver bread, would that be patentable? "Invention: using a milk cart to also deliver bread!"

          If you invent a method for producing a result--a method for computing protein folding, for modeling pigment mixing, or whatever,

    • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:28PM (#56117407)
      To Whom It May Concern,

      Cease and deists, your actions are in violation of patent #23942, "Sensible Correspondence on the computer", that my firm owns. The royalties are 1 MILLION DOLLARS for each post you critical of patent system you make.

      Sincerely Yours,
      Patent Trolls
    • This feels like the day we've been waiting for.
  • To what do we owe this sudden attack of sanity on our courts? Has God finally opened His eyes?

    The process, take any existing patent, add "But on the internet" to the description and file. That used to work so well.

    Internet itself was an abstract entity to most judges, so they did not even understand how trivial these ideas were before. Finally once they learned to post selfies on the net and log in to see the pictures of their grandkids, they seem to see these stupid patents under different light. May be

    • The news covers spectacular car crashes. They don't cover the millions of car trips that go well every day.

      About once a month, Slashdot covers another patent application that sounds rather questionable, based on the summary posted to Slashdot. Maybe half of those ARE actually bad patent applications, so several per year. There are half a million patent applications, and 250,000 patents issued, every year that don't make an interesting article, because they are bog-standard patents, with everything good an

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        And, as per your analysis, a patent case coming to a decision that seems reasonable is newsworthy. At least one involving a technical matter.

      • 250,000 patents issued, every year

        The problem lies right there, 250,000 patent every year, how often do you hear about a revolutionary idea, that would be newsworthy not even once a year, but let say once a year.

        That means 249,999 patents are for minor improvements, which every business should be checking so as not to violate anybodies patents and have to implement work arounds if they don't want to pay a licensing fee. I would not be surprised if most patents where just violated by accident. In this system the cost of the system is far hi

        • > if you want to keep it secret do so.

          So your suggestion is that products should be made impossible to open, no matter what tools a competitor uses, so that can't see how it works? Some kind of self-destruct mechanism that sets off burning metal if the case is opened?

          > If someone can copy it then your idea wasn't that innovative in the first place

          You do realize that "a new idea" and "hard to copy" have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, right? For millennia people lifted water in buckets. Th

    • by Xtifr ( 1323 )

      To what do we owe this sudden attack of sanity on our courts?

      A couple of things. Most directly, probably, Alice v CLS Bank [wikipedia.org]. Though In Re Bilski and Mayo v Prometheus were pretty helpful too.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @02:56PM (#56117215)

    USPTO keeps validating these bullshit patents because their system rewards passing patents but never punishes passing bad patents. The result is that just about anything can be patented and is expensive to fight in court. If you're lucky, you will win and by win I mean you will have spent millions of dollars fighting a bad patent and get nothing in return.

    This is a serious problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Should the USPTO really be punished or should the punishment befall the ones that set them up to work that way?

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        The USPTO shouldn't be punish, it should be abolished, and all it's prior decisions invalidated.

        Then, perhaps, it might be advisable to start a new patent office based on the law that set up the first US one. With STRICT limitations on the length of patent validity related to the legitimate up-front costs of development, a 5 year renewal, arbitrarily renewable for additional 5 year terms, but the cost of each renewal the square of the cost of prior one measured in cents, and a first renewal fee of less tha

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's true, and the only way to fight it is to file dozens of stupid defensive patents yourself. Of course, defensive patents don't work when a troll has no business.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:39PM (#56117519) Journal
      This is not true.

      Our company has filed two patents for my work. Very difficult paper work. The patent examiners are actually good. When the lawyers went through the work and rewrote it in legalese it took me weeks to understand all the import of what the application says. But the examiners got it, got to the crux of the matter and raised valid and relevant objections. They cited proper prior art. I was actually impressed by the quality of the patent examiners. After all, Albert Einstein started out as patent examiner, just saying.

      We were able to explain the differences, and what was the invention and what was prior art. They made us reduce some of the expansive language added by our lawyers. So they are not all bad.

      It makes me suspect if these companies game the system by filing multiple similar patents, dropping the ones that get assigned to competent examiners and pursuing the ones assigned to the weak ones.

      It is like terrorism. The terrorists have to succeed only once. The law enforcement has to succeed every time.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )

      This is a serious problem.

      Not for the people who write, file, and defend the patents.

  • Summary Service (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For those too lazy to read the article and patent, it's a patent on intercepting traffic with a device (e.g. proxy) and altering the data based on third party settings, like changing a 404 page to an ad.

    It was tossed out because it was broad enough to basically say "intercept stuff and change it."

  • by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:14PM (#56117309)
    Specifically, the "examiner(s)" that ultimately approved the "patent", causing waste of taxpayer money in not only the worthless approval process, but also in the resulting pointless court case (though I guess you could argue the case has the merit of proving the PTO is run by a bunch of rubber-stamping monkeys).

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan