greenbird writes: When a patent involves legal processes the obviousness is obvious to the courts. In "In Re Stephen Comiskey" the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled (pdf warning) Comiskey's "method or system for mandatory arbitration involving legal documents such as wills or contracts" was obvious and therefore not patentable. One argument for rejecting the patent is that applying a computer to automate a manual process is obvious and thus not patentable. There are also some interesting statements in the ruling referencing the original "State Street" decision by the same court that ushered in the patentability of business processes. Legal blogs are interpreting it as a significant reigning in of what's patentable in a number ways. The ruling is somewhat clouded by legal wrangling over the fact that the patent was rejected by the court for different reasons than those used by the USPTO, which is interesting in and of itself. Oral arguments (pdf warning) are here. This appears to represent a turning of the tide since the CAFC has in the past leaned way towards expanding patent holding rights.
greenbird writes: Does the US Patent Office even read the patents before granting them? Here's a patent for putting an LED in a recharger that was filed April 17, 2002 and granted June 22, 2004. Their first extortion victim is Apple who they have sued in every patent trolls favorite court in Marshall, Texas. A great quote via Techdirt from their patent lawyer: "They [Apple] pay us millions of dollars, that's the next step.". How on earth could this patent get approved? I can't recall seeing a recharger without an LED for the last 10 years.
greenbird writes: Another patent fiasco has started. From Wired, a patent on location based internet searches was filed in 1996 and granted in 1999. A patent troll company name Geomas acquired the patent and has filed what they claim will be a long line of lawsuits in none other than Marshall, Texas against Verizon. Geomas has amassed a $20 million war chest in venture capital to use for getting rich off of a clearly obvious idea. When will it end?
greenbird writes: It's the beginning of the end (in the US at least). This Forbes article starts with information about a company, DeepNines, who is suing McAfee over a patent that covers combining an IDS and firewall in a single device. The patent was filed on May 17, 2000 and issued on June 6, 2006. Aside from the thousands of linux boxes configured as prior art (including several by me) and the fact that it took 6 years to issue the patent, DeepNines in a January 29, 2003 press release announced a partnership with McAfee to deliver just such integrated solutions.
The Forbes article then goes on to recount the coming apocalypse in the form of investment companies gathering billions of dollars exclusively to fund patent troll companies and lawsuits from such companies one of which is using innovative investment technique's to fund DeepNines in the above lawsuit against McAfee. Is this the end of the tech industry in the United States? Will we all have to move to Europe or Antigua to develop anything new? Will the US manage to drag the Europe into this IP cesspool leaving China, Russia and India as the tech innovators of the world?
greenbird writes: Techdirt has information from Daniel Berninger documenting prior art in the Verizon patents being used to destroy Vonage. So a successful company and possible an entire market may be undermined or destroyed by blatantly invalid patents. From the article:
"In particular, the claims in both patents were anticipated by open standards assembled by the VoIP Forum (H.323) in 1996 and published in January 1997 with the participation of members from Cisco Systems, Microsoft, IBM, Nortel, Intel, Motorola, Lucent, and Vocaltec Communications, among others."
"The Eric Voit patent applications reflect, in particular, contributions made by VocalTec Communication to the VoIP Forum during 1996 and formally published at the same time as a separate document."