Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Twitter Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the stupid-but-predictable dept.

Patents 236

Digital Dan writes "Twitter is being sued for patent infringement. Surprised? OK, probably not, but you'd think the plaintiff would at least wait for Twitter to actually make money before striking. According to TechCrunch: 'Twitter is being sued ... by TechRadium, a Texas-based technology company which makes mass notification systems for public safety organizations, the military, and utilities.' The abstract to patent #7130389 describes it: 'A digital notification and response system utilizes an administrator interface to transmit a message from an administrator to a user contact device. The system comprises a dynamic information database that includes user contact data, priority information, and response data. The administrator initiates distribution of the message based upon grouping information, priority information, and the priority order.' Two other patents are involved as well."

cancel ×

236 comments

I for one... (5, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959859)

think there is bound to be a bit of prior art here... like the teletext, sms, wordprocessors and even digital radiotransmissions. Who grants this stuf anyway?

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28959897)

Who grants this stuf anyway? People who take bribes I would guess.

Re:I for one... (3, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960391)

People who are pressured to meet review quotas despite being severely understaffed, underfunded, and severely backlogged all while not being - or having access to - anything approaching an expert in the appropriate technologies.

The USPTO has been unable to keep up and apparently resorts to strictly procedural methods for approval. Dot your "i"s and cross your "t"s and I bet you could get anything patented nowadays.
=Smidge=

Re:I for one... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960477)

Yup, a sad artifact of the fact that all money the USPTO brings in from various fees goes into a general government budget pool that the USPTO has to fight for access to and receives no consideration for the fact that the money is there in the first place due to them.

Re:I for one... (3, Insightful)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959965)

think there is bound to be a bit of prior art here... like the teletext, sms, wordprocessors and even digital radiotransmissions.

At the very least the wall command comes to mind as prior art:

http://unixhelp.ed.ac.uk/CGI/man-cgi?wall [ed.ac.uk]

Look at claims, NOT the abstract (3, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960323)

Here's a clue for all of you that posted so far: The abstract of a patent is not the patent, and means diddly-squat in court. It's the CLAIMS that are important (how many times does this need to be repeated here?). In fact, abstracts are NOT supposed to describe the exact material that the patent claims as an invention, but to describe generally the area of the patent.
Here's the second clue: the patent has one independent claim (claim 1), and all other claims are specificly narrowed cases of claim 1. Here's claim 1:

1. A digital notification and response system, comprising:
a. an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;
b. a dynamic information database for storing the message, wherein the dynamic information database comprises;
i. user contact data comprising:
1. user contact device information; and
2. user selected priority information that indicates a contact order for the user contact device;
ii. user selected grouping information comprising:
1. at least one group associated with each user contact device; and
2. a priority order for contacting each user contact device within the group;
iii. response data comprising:
1. user response information that indicates individual user contact devices have received the message; and
2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices;
wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

Now, to interpret the meaning of the claims, it is necessary to read the specification, to see if the terms used have special definitions. Studying the exemplary embodiments described in the specification may also be informative (or not, depending).

Re:Look at claims, NOT the abstract (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960389)

It is utterly preposterous that the above claim was not deemed obvious.

Re:Look at claims, NOT the abstract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960517)

Ah legal jargon to make it sound like it's actually something novel. Seriously, any programmer will think of this amazingly ingenious method if he were tasked to do something like this. The only reason this got patented was the absurd use of legal jargon to impress people who have no idea what they're doing (the PTO).

Re:Look at claims, NOT the abstract (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960563)

Does this patent event fit Twitter? Things I think don't fit:

1a
1bi2
1bii1
1bii2
1biii1
1biii2 ... In other words, most of it.

Re:Look at claims, NOT the abstract (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960767)

2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices; wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

Other than this piece of nonsense, which I take to mean "you can use just about any channel for communications", the patent is very similar to a soccer team call-down list.

They have patented a common sense process which has already been implemented on telephones and claimed its novel because you can do it with the internet. It's like patenting turning a screw driver using "forms of industry standard energy including coal based electricity, petroleum fuel based electricity, battery power, or nuclear based electricity or combination thereof where at least one turn of the screw uses these industry standard power sources." It's total bullshit. Understaffed? The guys approving these patents must not be spending more than 5 minutes on them. I'd say they are understaffed.

Re:I for one... (3, Informative)

zrelativity (963547) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960081)

What you think is irrelevant. Read the patents in question, read the claims (and how it is refined by the body), then let us know the relevant prior art. Better even, draw up a claim chart with every single element of the claim, as I am sure TechRadium would have done.

Re:I for one... (2, Interesting)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960183)

The worst part about your post is that you are right.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960249)

But how do you tell which claims are actionable, when reading a patent? We're always told to "read the claims!" but the fact is, most patents are full of boilerplate claims like "Claim 1: A digital device, containing RAM, ROM, and a central processing unit."

Re:I for one... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960543)

You read all the claims. You can focus on the independent claims. Then for each claim, make a list of elements. Elements are features, items, actions, etc. Now think Boolean. If that entire list of elements existed before in one place (in prior art), then that claim shouldn't have been granted*. If your device is missing anything from the list, then the claim doesn't cover your device. If there is any ambiguity in what an element is, then you read the specification for clarification. Repeat for each claim.

Notice that the abstract doesn't come into play. That's why some of us groan when people quote the abstract.

*obviousness is a trickier defense. Best to stick with prior art.

Re:I for one... (1)

drukawski (1083675) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960371)

Who grants this stuf anyway?

A mixture between your tax dollars and an archaic law thats been so perverted from it's original concept that its a sick joke.

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. ...ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition..."
-Thomas Jefferson

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960423)

who grants this stuff? The same people that will control your health care if barack obama and the democrats have their way.

Re:I for one... (3, Insightful)

Ardaen (1099611) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960485)

who grants this stuff? The same people that will control your health care if barack obama and the democrats have their way.

An underfunded and understaffed department that could do a lot of good if properly run but doesn't due to neglect, abuse and cutbacks for which there are better run equivilants in other countries?

Re:I for one... (2, Funny)

TW Burger (646637) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960691)

Yeah, Obama is evil and the Democrats are psychotic control freaks who want to do weird medical experiments on the US people and create an army of mutant zombie liberals that derive pleasure only by paying 80% taxes...

For crying out loud, boy, get a grip. The people at your HMO will do everything that they legally can to kill you rather than pay for your medical treatment. You should fear the people who want everything to be the same.

Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

Re:I for one... (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960789)

Been watching FOX-news haven't we? I could go on about why it is wrong that only the rich people have access to good medical help, but since you are an anonymous coward and I actually have a karma to think about I think I will let this one go. It's completely offtopic and seems a bit like trolling to me.

Re:I for one... (2, Insightful)

Ardaen (1099611) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960435)

The claim does sound a little like a subset of the internet.

Re:I for one... (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960529)

I do think it's rather dumb to sue a company that isn't making any money and has no real prospects for doing so, but that just makes them dumb too; not a patent troll.

It's not so dumb if you consider that they could lose customers if their customers realize they could use Twitter for free as a replacement for their product that they're probably paying lots of money for. Maybe they're simply seeking an injunction to protect their business model? I'm not condoning their actions, as I support the notion that increased competition forces competitors to create better products.

Prior Art (2, Interesting)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960613)

I personally maintained a system that went into production in 1968 which had twitter like features.

A message was limited to an 80 character TTY line.

The first five characters were addressing information, a space and the rest free form text.

Carriage return dispatched the message which was spooled to drum then picked up and distributed to a single entity or a group (depending upon the first five characters as I mentioned).

So, ya. I think there is prior art.

Re:I for one... (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960711)

Having read the first claim as posted below, I believe this may be legitimate. Yes, there are tons of prior art for broadcasting a message. But the meat of the claim is that the message is broadcast via multiple mediums, with priority set by the user as to which type of messages get through AND which medium has priority.

So their patent claim isn't that they send broadcast messages on some random medium, but that they integrate the use of preexisting mediums in a specific manner, and that the manner is configurable by the user. There may be prior art for this, but it's not as simple as "Well, my Mom used a call-down list for daycare, duh".

Re:I for one... (1)

superflippy (442879) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960773)

No kidding. I'm thinking of the notification systems the research group I work for developed back in the 90's - the way they worked was very similar to this patent. And we were not by any means the only player in the business of notification software.

I'm honestly surprised... (5, Interesting)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959899)

A Texas based patent lawsuit that doesn't, at first blush, appear to be a patent troll.

TechRadium actually has a website (http://www.techradium.com/) and appears to sell products.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960007)

Who cares. They are still a patent troll if they're trying to milk money out of somebody because of a bogus patent that never should have been granted.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (4, Insightful)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960051)

No, a patent troll is a company that exists solely for the purpose of patenting things and then filing lawsuits.

This company, as they actually have products, is not such a troll; I make no statement as to the validity of their patent, or whether or not it should have been granted.

As they aren't an NPE or NME, the normal defintion of patent troll doesn't apply.

I do think it's rather dumb to sue a company that isn't making any money and has no real prospects for doing so, but that just makes them dumb too; not a patent troll.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960103)

I do think it's rather dumb to sue a company that isn't making any money and has no real prospects for doing so, but that just makes them dumb too; not a patent troll.

Why is it dumb? Presumably they have assets that could be taken to satisfy a judgment. Waiting until they start making millions of bucks and then filing your lawsuit would seem to be more questionable than just filing it. The former suggests that you are only in it for the money. The latter suggests that you may actually care about your patent.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Insightful)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960347)

"The former suggests that you are only in it for the money. The latter suggests that you may actually care about your patent."

Honestly, whats the difference in today's profit-above-all-else world?

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (3, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960409)

And don't forget the entire purpose of the patent in the first place... to provide the patent holder a limited duration monopoly on the products described by the patent. By suing, they can force twitter to shut down, or at least force them into a licensing agreement which will eliminate them as a competitor.

Now, whether twitter actually IS a potential competitor, or whether the patent should have been granted in the first place, are completely different issues.

-Restil

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Insightful)

LabRat007 (765435) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960431)

The former suggests that you are only in it for the money. The latter suggests that you may actually care about your patent.

Patents ARE about money. There is probably a strategy behind the timing, but rest assured patents are about money. If they weren't no one would file them.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960745)

Eh, I didn't say it wasn't about the money. I was commenting on the appearance of waiting to file your lawsuit until the defendant is making more money.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (1)

spyowl (838397) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960311)

I do think it's rather dumb to sue a company that isn't making any money and has no real prospects for doing so, but that just makes them dumb too; not a patent troll.

Twitter has money. They are not turning a profit, but that's not the same thing as not having money.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (4, Funny)

maraist (68387) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960399)

Patents are evil, they should never have been added to our constitution. They serve no useful social role. Processes are what people come up with to get something useful done. They are not themselves the goal of any useful society or societal actor. The original (ill-conceived) intent of patents was to allow clever commoners to make a living by doing nothing but thinking things up. What this does is create artificial 'property' out of an otherwise unlimited resource (e.g. thought). Producing scarcity where none SHOULD exist.

So instead of negotiating price on prime real-estate. Or convincing somebody to give up their precious time to labor on your behalf, we instead have royalties, and more importantly, denial of service. Namely, I can prevent your innovation by strategically patenting random otherwise-useless things that I know can prevent you from accomplishing real work (that otherwise benefits society).

If I were strategically buying up land to prevent your rail-road, it would be the same thing.. Or if I were hiring the only people technically capable of doing your work (i.e. MS paying off big Linux gurus), then it would be the same thing. But, in those situations, we're dealing with real materials. IP is fictionally held ransom by the US founders. If we'd been founded 100 years before or 100 years later, we wouldn't have had IP. It's right up there with our funky archaic embeded masonic imagery.

Therefore suing for patent infringement is trolling. Constitution be dammned.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (5, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960627)

The concept of patents for the designs of mechanical engineers seems to have at least the fundamentals of a good idea. It takes quite a bit of effort to get some mechanical device created, a process developed to make the thing, distributed to various retail outlets (or to potential customers for devices intended more for businesses than ordinary consumers), and the cash flow coming back to the group that made the thing in the first place.

Keep in mind that the constitutional provision asserts that purpose of both patents and copyright is to "promote the useful arts and science".

Where the problem has come in not only this case but a great many others is the expansion of the role of a patent to cover things like business methods, genetic sequences, computer software (originally unpatentable), and other more nebulous ideas and theoretical constructs that have nothing to do with an actual tangible item. None of these should have patent protection, and IMHO it is an abuse of constitutional authority to even grant these kind of patents.

Furthermore, I would have to agree that patents in and of themselves, even in regards to mechanical patents, are a waste of government bureaucrats and courts. They don't do what they claim (protecting the independent entrepreneur/inventor), nor to they really provide any benefit for society as a whole, nor even promote scientific endeavors. I dare anybody to show an independent private "inventor" who creates something and makes money by selling the idea to some mega-corporation for royalties. It doesn't happen.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960065)

Yes, but they patented sending messages between people.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960221)

You can't patent the sending of messages between people...hold on phone's ringing. Dammit, I'll get my wallet.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960091)

You mean that they're only a part-time patent troll.

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960497)

After every tragic event, from Katrina to the VT shootings, companies would be calling me (I was network manager at a small college) constantly wanting to sell me their product to send texts to people in case of an emergency. They charged an ungodly amount of money. Considering all the different patents and stuff these guys claim to have had, they are going to all wipe each other off the face of the earth.

On a side note, we put a list of common Email to SMS gateways up for our students(ie xxx-xxx-xxxx@sms.cellcompany.com), and asked them to fill in an EMAIL address, then we could truly get them anywhere that they choose, if they choose.

Has /. become ... (3, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960765)

... the official newsite for ridiculous lawsuits?

Student Sues cause she's unemployable [slashdot.org]
Student Sues amazon [slashdot.org]
Touchpad patent holder sues everybody [slashdot.org]
Family Sues Genie [slashdot.org]
Wells Fargo Sues Itself [slashdot.org]
Rosetta Stone Sues Google [slashdot.org]
City Sues Man for rotting meat [slashdot.org]


Keep in mind those stories were all in the last 30 days!

Re:I'm honestly surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960795)

East TX is well known as the best place to file patent lawsuits:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071005/020748.shtml

FTA: The court famously sided with patent holders at a much higher rate than any other court....more patent lawsuits have been filed in Marshall, TX this year than all of last year (during which more such lawsuits were filed than the previous two years combined).

Not again (1)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959907)

So despite Twitter being around for years, this firm just now decided that they're infringing on patents? Furthermore, is it just me or does the concept of "mass notification systems that allow a group administrator or 'message Author' to originate a single message that will be delivered simultaneously via multiple communication gateways to members of a group of 'message Subscribers'" encompass things such as newspapers and cable TV?

Re:Not again (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959963)

<Lord Vetinari> I believe the Guild of Town Criers will have something to say about this...</Lord Vetinari>

Re:Not again (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959973)

Yeah, fails on the obvious part. It appears to be just a database hooked to a bunch of different communication devices that can be rigged for group broadcasting. Interesting perhaps, useful perhaps. Patentable? Maybe, just maybe, the specific implementation but as a general concept can we say "broadcast fax"? I knew we could!

It looks like the USPO is using a very lax definition of 'someone skilled in the art' for these sorts of patents. Maybe they thought Idiocracy was a documentary?

Re:Not again (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959977)

it would also include pagers, I would think. When those were in widespread use we could easily send pages to certain pre-designated groups of people.

Re:Not again (5, Insightful)

sixteenraisins (67316) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960069)

...is it just me or does the concept of "mass notification systems that allow a group administrator or 'message Author' to originate a single message that will be delivered simultaneously via multiple communication gateways to members of a group of 'message Subscribers'" encompass things such as newspapers and cable TV?

Yes, it does encompass those things, IMO.

It does not I believe, include Twitter.

Why?

Because Twitter (1) does not use an administrator to originate a message, and (2) doesn't "deliver" a message. It posts a message, where it must then be retrieved. Push vs. pull. Big difference.

Re:Not again (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960177)

Because Twitter (1) does not use an administrator to originate a message, and (2) doesn't "deliver" a message. It posts a message, where it must then be retrieved. Push vs. pull. Big difference.

"Administrator" could just mean anyone who has followers, not necessarily somebody whom the site design allows or encourages to have more followers than others.

Re:Not again (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960215)

Because Twitter [...] posts a message, where it must then be retrieved. Push vs. pull. Big difference.

I thought the whole "big thing" about Twitter is that it can send SMS messages to subscriber's phones? That's "push" pretty much by definition, isn't it?

Re:Not again (1)

kaputtfurleben (818568) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960415)

I'm pretty sure that 'subscribing' counts as pulling, since subscribing is an 'opt-in' type behavior.

Re:Not again (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960537)

I am the administrator of my twitter account. The message is delivered when the client retrieves it. Okay, not really, I don't use twitter, but everyone who posts is effectively the administrator of their own account.

The push vs pull argument is retarded as in almost every case with just a slightly different point of view you can make it appear the exact opposite. In a TCP connection, which side is pushing and which side is pulling? The initiator or the listener? Hmm? Depends on which level you're looking at it and which why you'd like for it to appear. If you look at it at the high level with common sense, its clear, but if you really muck about and throw some one who argues like a lawyer at it, the lines get blurry real quick.

Either way, if you read the patent, push vs pull doesn't matter the way its written, only that it makes it to a client.

Re:Not again (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960603)

Youa re the administrator of your twitter account.
from the patent:
"an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;"

How this is different then talk, or any UNIX command for sending text to a terminal is beyond me.

Re:Not again (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960131)

Or email lists??

the patent's sorta like... (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959933)

... email too?

NET SEND (4, Insightful)

ThatSteve (1442191) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959935)

Maybe they can use net send to communicate the failure of their suit.....

pager? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28959951)

Why does this patent sound like a pager to me?

Re:pager? (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960145)

Fuck, it sounds like the text messaging on frickin' cell phone.

Message/alert systems have been around for decades. I remember working on a Xenix box with a half a dozen dumb terminals attached and we could zap messages back and forth.

When will everyone come to their senses and start making fraudulent patent applications criminal offenses with crippling fines and jail time?

Re:pager? (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960437)

When will everyone come to their senses and start making fraudulent patent applications criminal offenses with crippling fines and jail time?

  Probably about the same time that the patent system gets fixed...

SB

Re:pager? (1)

Vladus2000 (1363929) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960519)

Pretty much never. As long as there is money to be made throwing patents through the system and politicians to bribe, it will never happen. The general public is too stupid to care.

Re:pager? (1)

tekproxy2 (1386447) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960581)

If a law like that was ever passed I would throw an actual party in celebration. There may even be girls there.

Re:pager? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960707)

Where cell phones doing it in 1999?

Give me a break ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28959959)

Otherwise known as "E-Mail auto-responders"

They patented email! (5, Interesting)

jholder (22001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959987)

As far as I can tell, email distribution lists and automated rules for re-sending email after receiving them from an email list is also covered under the claims in this patent. How did the patent examiners fail to see this?

Re:They patented email! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960639)

They didn't our USPTO has made a decision to allow 99% of all crap and let the lawyers fight it out. I'd bet if you followed the money, you would find a ton of money given to congress and USPTO officials both above and below the table. Our government is corrupt from the top to the bottom.

Ummm....Robo-callers perhaps? (3, Informative)

Gorm the DBA (581373) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959993)

I would think automated Robotic Calling programs, which have been around for...sheesh...at least a decade now...would qualify as prior art here.

I acknowledge that at least the suing company is in the market of actually selling something to 911's, EMS's and the like, and the increasing use of twitter for "Follow me for important safety updates" is probably cutting into their business...dramatically....but...I don't think this lawsuit deserves legs.

Get rid of patents (2, Interesting)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | more than 4 years ago | (#28959995)

The problem with patents is that one can sit in a dark room and dream up every conceivable thing that may plausibly be invented, patent it and then sit back and either watch the cash roll in for doing bugger all ... or the whole of human development has to wait for your patent to expire. I am sick of it. We should scrap patents completely. If you have got a secret way of doing something, then it is up to you to exploit it and keep it secret. If somebody else discovers, either independently or through espionage, what you are doing, and they can do it better, cheaper, then you are fair game. SIMPLE + NO LEGAL TEAM FEES!!! E.g. India etc.. should be flooding our markets with what at the moment would be called "stolen drug technologies", but are in fact just reverse engineered. I don't care if the big biotechs bitch that without patenting it would not be worth their while investing in R&D - they should invest in R&D to keep their stuff secret if it concerns them that much, or better still, be more efficient on the production line.

Re:Get rid of patents (0, Flamebait)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960089)

Would you be ok with someone putting a gun to your head and forcing you to disclose your secrets?

Because espionage is only a few steps below that.

Re:Get rid of patents (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960681)

"Would you be ok with someone putting a gun to your head and forcing you to disclose your secrets?" Yes. I am okay with that. "Because espionage is only a few steps below that." So is head hunting key members of a research team. Would you ban head hunting too?

Re:Get rid of patents (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960755)

My point was that if you're ok with a system where patents can be busted by fair AND foul means, then it's a potential slippery slope.

Heck, the rule of law is probably the only thing stopping patent trolls from engaging in outright extortion.

Re:Get rid of patents (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960201)

If you have got a secret way of doing something, then it is up to you to exploit it and keep it secret.

they should invest in R&D to keep their stuff secret if it concerns them that much, or better still, be more efficient on the production line.

The problem with the idea that companies should just "keep their stuff secret" is that they will do exactly that. And if/when this company no longer exists, the knowledge about their new technology will be lost to history and humanity at large. That's the problem that we currently face with the DMCA and all of these DRM technologies which are quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) locking away literary and artistic works "protected" by them. So yes, the patent system is flawed, and our technological advances must suffer under the burden of these flaws (until we decide they're not worth the "benefits" they provide). But hoarding knowledge and keeping it a secret is not a better alternative.

Re:Get rid of patents (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960807)

I know where you are coming from but in the end it is their right to keep it secret, i.e. not tell anybody ... it is called privacy ... it is a right. What is not a right is to stop somebody else from doing things, like inventing/developing things independently, just because you started doing it, or even just thinking about doing it, first.

How was that patent granted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960013)

Which idiotic organization saw fit to authorize that patent? They have effectively patented two-way communication!

Will I get sued for my use of my A-Team walkie-talkies when I was a kid?

@TechRadium (3, Funny)

fpgaprogrammer (1086859) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960015)

@TechRadium, your #lawsuit is #bullshit.

Their lawyers should have read the Bilski decision (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960017)

TechRadium's lawyers really should have a read the Bilski decision before launching the suit since it invalidated this kind of patent.

Re:Their lawyers should have read the Bilski decis (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960749)

Well, just looking at claim 1, there is no Bilski problem. It's a system claim; not a method. A system claim will likely survive any review under Bilski since it's going to be tied to a particular machine. In particular, an administrator interface and a database would be sufficient not to mention the fact that it has to be capable of receiving user input. Good try though.

Hey USPTO (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960019)

Shit like this shouldn't be patentable.

A digital notification and response system utilizes an administrator interface to transmit a message from an administrator to a user contact device. The system comprises a dynamic information database that includes user contact data, priority information, and response data. The administrator initiates distribution of the message based upon grouping information, priority information, and the priority order.

This patent was filed in ... 2005. (1)

toby (759) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960169)

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

No prior art here. OMG HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Not even Jabber or XMPP, let alone SMTP. And those are just what immediately come to mind.

Claim 1 (4, Informative)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960187)

1. A digital notification and response system, comprising:

a. an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;

b. a dynamic information database for storing the message, wherein the dynamic information database comprises;
i. user contact data comprising:
1. user contact device information; and
2. user selected priority information that indicates a contact order for the user contact device;
ii. user selected grouping information comprising:
1. at least one group associated with each user contact device; and
2. a priority order for contacting each user contact device within the group;
iii. response data comprising:
1. user response information that indicates individual user contact devices have received the message; and
2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices;
wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

Re:Claim 1 (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960775)

Does twitter use "two industry standard gateways simultaneously"?

Anyone know how twitter works?

Back to the drawing board... (0, Troll)

Lord Jester (88423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960195)

I guess a big part of my new development project has to be rewritten.

New entry in the user manual:

Updates:

Users must check their notification page(s) regularly for new content, comments or results. (I know e-mail, sms, etc would be easier, but we cannot risk a lawsuit to make, you, the user's life easier. Sorry. Please send complaints to idiots@techradium.com.)

Re:Back to the drawing board... (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960345)

Actually, as per the language quoted in TFS, the concept of the notification page is infringing as well. You (the administrator) are transmitting a message to a user communication device (the web server) with grouping information (directories), user contact information (their login info) and response data (a return email address).

The whole thing is so vague...

Bad patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960205)

I'd like to submit any bulk spamming software (that uses a mailing list) as prior art.

Bogus patents really get to me. I feel that companies should be required to demonstrate a prototype prior to receiving a patent, but that wouldn't help in this case.

I'd like to submit a patent for "A procedure for clearing flat spaces using a linen transfer device" - after all I'm the only person who's ever thought of clearing off my bed by just pulling off the top sheet...

Um... isn't the point... (1, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960269)

It's not patent infringement if the patented device has been improved upon.

Re:Um... isn't the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960475)

Just because you have improved on a patented thing, doesn't mean you can practice your invention if it encompasses all of the patented thing you improved on.

Example: I patent a frame with two axles, four wheels and a motor to drive two of the wheels. You patent a frame with two axles, four wheels, a motor to drive two of the wheels, and a radio. You can't make and sell your dingus without infringing mine. On the other hand, if you came up with something with two axles and only two wheels, you'd be clear of my invention.

Re:Um... isn't the point... (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960715)

I patent a frame with two axles, four wheels and a motor to drive two of the wheels. You patent a frame with two axles, four wheels, a motor to drive two of the wheels, and a radio. You can't make and sell your dingus without infringing mine.

Of course I can. Patents were made to encourage innovation, not cauterize entire branches of invention through the greed of a single, well-worded man. Perhaps a few court cases disagree, but the intent of the system was clear on this.

Overly broad patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960275)

>The abstract to patent #7130389 describes it: 'A digital notification and response system...

Sounds like they tried to patent e-mail...

Prior art (2, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960283)

So what year was wall created?

Re:Prior art (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960397)

Man page for wall on Mac OS X says (under "history") that "wall" appeared in PWB UNIX. Last major version of PWB UNIX was 1977. Not the same, though, considering the exact text of the patent. Then again, requiring a confirmation response from the "device" means Twitter doesn't apply, either. Twitter appears to "fire and forget".

Fuck the USPTO (2, Interesting)

chickenarise (1597941) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960303)

Not only do the tax payers have to fund the USPTO and all of its horrible miserableness, but we also have to fund all the fucking terrible trials that inevitably pop up from their failings.

Too General of a Patent (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960315)

This patent pretty much describe any sort of automated notification system; hell I have a modem at work that monitor the power into our building and when we have issue(s) it automatically call me and my manager.

Does no judge know this word? (1)

hessian (467078) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960417)

"Vague."

Common sense -- which used to exist, but in order to be equal we had to separate out the better discernment of others -- would have us realize that vague patents are time bombs.

I've just patented the act of hiding information in physical and virtual objects. You all owe me your life savings. That's my socialized healthcare and retirement plan, right there!

"Get off my lawn!" patent infringement . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960427)

. . . whoever owns the "Method and Process of Opening the Window and Screaming at the Neighborhood Kids, 'Get off my lawn!' patent is going to totally sue the Slashdot crew . . .

. . . you have been warned . . .

uuugh (1)

Russell2566 (1205416) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960451)

What level of stupid do you have be at to be an employee of and to approved stuff for the patent office?

I'm tired of seeing pathetic patents for generic terms, technology and thought.

I just read some of the other patents they have... (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960479)

While they no doubt have actual products based on those patents, looking at when they applied for the ones that resemble wall, sms, email, instant messaging and other similar technologies, it appears that they started applying for many of them around 2000ish... that is long after those services I listed were in existence. They do seem to have a few valid patents though, one involving travel reservation system and such that was filed in 1988, although I have not looked into the details of that patent. They have so many.

Either way, I won't go so far as stating they are patent trolls, but at the same time, they have some pretty obvious patents that never should have been granted in the first place.

Make the USPTO smarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960525)

USPTO should hire smarter examiners. After the amazon's one click shopping patent debacle how can they still grant such obvious use case patents. It seems you just need to hire a smart-a$$ lawyer and get you patent granted. If you work for Google, IBM or Microsoft the lawyers are already there to beat the poor examiners. Looks like the examiners do not even dare to ask the right questions.

Lawsuit against Twitter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960609)

What will this do the sockpuppets? Won't somebody please think of twitter's numerous sockpuppets?

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28960633)

I almost care.

Broad Interpretation (1)

aarenz (1009365) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960723)

We need to get these guys to sue all people that send out SPAM. I think their patent covers that as well. This would be awesome. Stop the drug emails for good!!!

Prior art (1)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960753)

net send /domain:CONASTA "Anyone want a beer after work."

One 2 Many (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#28960809)

Sounds like a one-to-many distribution or broadcast. Wow, that's original. Patents like this should have failed the obviousness test and if the patent holder had some novel method that made it work better than any other system, then protect it by a trade secret.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...