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NTP Sues Six Major Tech Companies Over Wireless Email Patents

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the going-for-the-gusto dept.

Patents 197

rgraham writes "NTP, the same company that sued and eventually settled with RIM for $612.5 million over an IP dispute, has now sued Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft and Motorola for infringement of wireless email patents. In the press release, NTP co-founder Donald Stout said, 'Use of NTP's intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property.'"

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Fundamental technology (5, Insightful)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854592)

inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based

Really? Which technology would that be: wireless or email?

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854610)

I was wondering the same thing.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855014)

I was wondering of it was 2006 all over again.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855028)

And on top of that, I was wondering of it was 2006 all over again.

Re:Fundamental technology (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855058)

Well I was wondering of it was 2006 all over again - via the internet

Re:Fundamental technology (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855090)

Oh yeah? I was wondering of it was 2006 all over again - via the ... ummm... radio internet.

Re:Fundamental technology (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855132)

I was wondering what a stack overflow is.

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855236)

See: Your mom.

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854616)

The software, or in this case, a patent of the software

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854628)

So they own SMTP? POP3? IMAP4? sendmail?!

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855240)

Well, I would say maybe they think they own UUCP, but they've declared SMTP is "just a copy" of their UUCP technology, since (somehow), it accomplishes the same result of transmitting e-mail.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855300)

Their UUCP technology? Seriously?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUCP [wikipedia.org]

That stuff is older than I am (and I don't even think it's actually used anymore).

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Insightful)

mercutioviz (1350573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854746)

DarkKnightRadick is correct: there's nothing "fundamental" that can be "owned" (as in property) in all this. You can't patent abstract concepts. Unless the patent describes a very specific process that is both non-obvious to someone skilled in the art and is not already revealed in other prior art/pre-existing technologies then this is totally bogus. I know I used the word "if" in the previous sentence, but I think we all know that there's no if about it: NTP are patent-trolling douchebags.

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Insightful)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854954)

I know I used the word "if" in the previous sentence,

Actually... you didn't

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Funny)

mercutioviz (1350573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855146)

Haha, you're right. I used "unless". I suck.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855202)

I was going to reply to your initial post, but I see someone already found that flaw. I want to add, though, that "unless" is merely "!if", in Perl -- so your statement is TMTOWTDI-compliant. :)

Re:Fundamental technology (5, Funny)

binkzz (779594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854662)

inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based

Really? Which technology would that be: wireless or email?

Nono, it's the combination of it.

Millions of people put peanutbutter on their bread. Millions of other people put jelly on their bread. But it takes a genius to think of combining these things, and should therefore be reasonably compensated for their services to mankind.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854692)

WHAT? People put peanut butter AND jelly on their bread without paying license fees to me? I need to call my lawyer!

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854914)

Personally, I spread my peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat. So you can't sue me, but the RIAA might...

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854998)

Personally, I spread my peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.

Where he at?

Re:Fundamental technology (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854982)

People put peanut butter AND jelly on their bread without paying license fees to me?

My specific innovation (patent applied for) was to spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread and the jelly on the second slice of bread, then putting them together.

It's all about the process.

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854848)

Wasn't NTP's key patent ruled invalid, but the judge made RIM pay anyways?

And it seems to me that the "email + wireless" patent would be invalid under KSR v. Teleflex [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855106)

No the USPTO is still in the review of the patent but the judge in RIM's case refused to wait until the USPTO finished it's review.

Re:Fundamental technology (5, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855194)

My understanding was the the patent was held invalid but only after RIM settled out of court - and since that was a voluntary surrender on their part it's tough bastard titty for RIM[1]. But there have been so many of these retarded cases that I could well be confused.

[1] serves them right, the soft bastards.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854884)

Millions of people put peanutbutter on their bread. Millions of other people put jelly on their bread. But it takes a genius to think of combining these things, and should therefore be reasonably compensated for their services to mankind.

Brilliant! [smuckers.com]

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855188)

Too true. But you know, I have this idea of writing a script to download the entries for every patent that exists, change the names to my name, automatically add "with/using quantum entanglement", resubmit, and then wait for the money to roll in.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855274)

Thousands of people make news websites.

Thousands of people run (forum) sites where people can post comments about news.

But it takes a genius to figure out that it would be cool to have a news website where people can post comments about articles.

Therefore, comments on /. = infringing?

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854696)

Sending email over a wireless communication. I guess if the military uses morse code over radio or satellite, with a printout in English at the end, they should be afforded some rewards for IP infringement, too.

Re:Fundamental technology (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854842)

SYSTEM FOR INTERCONNECTING ELECTRONIC MAIL SYSTEMS BY RF COMMUNICATIONS AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF

Says the United States Patent Office. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. I need to start thinking abstractly and patenting anything and everything that will be tried. I mean, touch interfaces are becoming popular. Can I patent the use of multi-touch interfaces and Email clients? Can I patent the use of non-touch hand gestures to operate a computer? What else could I just sit on that will be done eventually...

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855238)

Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, RIM, and dozens of others should get together and sue the patent office for issuing the patent in the first place. A brief skimming through the patent seems to indicate that transmitting email over a microwave link, or even reading email over WIFI would be covered.

Actually, "each of the plurality of electronic mail systems transmits other information from its plurality of originating processors to its plurality of destination processors through a wireline without using the RF information transmission network" sounds like it could describe the internet itself.

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855280)

Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. I need to start thinking abstractly and patenting anything and everything that will be tried. I mean, touch interfaces are becoming popular. Can I patent the use of multi-touch interfaces and Email clients? Can I patent the use of non-touch hand gestures to operate a computer? What else could I just sit on that will be done eventually...

You could make a nice business out of patent trolling like this. You just need the capital to file all these bogus patents, and then threaten companies when they inevitably make working versions of these ideas (since the patents no longer require any kind of working prototype any more).

To avoid having your patents declared invalid, you just need to keep your company and operation small, and negotiate for smaller settlements or license fees. Large enough to be profitable, but small enough that it isn't worth it for the companies to take it to court. NTP seems like they're being too greedy in this regard, and that causes the companies they threaten to go ahead and litigate; if they settled for, say, $100k or $500k, the companies probably wouldn't bother and would just write a check.

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854880)

Push Email [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fundamental technology (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854952)

Working quite well on my iRedMail server at home, pushing mail to my Android K-9 mail client, thank you very much!

Re:Fundamental technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854970)

as far as i know, the iphone pulls email. at least that's how it's set up on mine from work. the phone goes out and fetches it like any other mail client.

Those who can't create, acquire IP and litigate! (2, Insightful)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854598)

Step 2: FUD+Lawsuit

Re:Those who can't create, acquire IP and litigate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854640)

There are only 3 steps in the underpants gnome plans. Step 2 would be: ???. HTH HAND

Re:Those who can't create, acquire IP and litigate (1)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854744)

the other thing to consider is that if step two involves lawyers, it doesn't matter how many steps follow, there will never be Profit!!

Re:Those who can't create, acquire IP and litigate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854844)

Perhaps step two should be "Go to law school".

Re:Those who can't create, acquire IP and litigate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855252)

The lawyers seem to profit. Maybe step one should be to become a patent lawyer...

NTP (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854644)

Nasty Patent Troll?

Hmmm..... (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854650)

First, it seems they forgot to sue Nokia.

Second, I see six very big companies who suddenly have a reason to work together. The $600M NTP got from RIM is a penitence compared to what these people can afford on legal.

Re:Hmmm..... (1, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854684)

The $600M NTP got from RIM is a penitence compared to what these people can afford on legal.

$600 million is a state of sorrow for sins or faults? What the hell does that mean? I believe you mean "pittance".

Re:Hmmm..... (1, Funny)

beschra (1424727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854728)

Maybe it wasn't intentional, but penitence kind of works in this context.

Re:Hmmm..... (-1, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855222)

Actually, you illiterate little wog, it doesn't.

Re:Hmmm..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854724)

FTFA, Nokia licensed their technology.

Re:Hmmm..... (4, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854738)

They may have been penitent, but I believe the word you are looking for is pittance.

Re:Hmmm..... (5, Informative)

Gouru (1568313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854836)

They didn't forget. Nokia has a license from NTP so can't be included in this suit.

Re:Hmmm..... (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854874)

Moreover that might be a strategic move from RIM, since they know that NTP can suck much more money from other companies, and that might hurt their competition power. I guess, RIM wanted to fund them to give headache to its competitors.

Re:Hmmm..... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854942)

The first companies that cave usually get really easy licensing terms, because the patent-holders know it sets a precedent for other future pursuits.

So, yeah, Nokia and RIM probably both had a good reason to cough up a few bucks, in the hopes that their competition would try to fight the good fight and end up losing a LOT more.

Re:Hmmm..... (1)

Funk_dat69 (215898) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854990)

Only the penitent company shall pass.

Re:Hmmm..... (2, Informative)

astro (20275) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855170)

Nokia already licenses from NTP.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTP,_Inc.#Patent_licenses

Re:Hmmm..... (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855178)

I believe Nokia is paying a licensing fee

Their patents are bullshit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854680)

Email is over 20 years old, so there's no way they could patent it. Combining email with IP-over-GSM is simply combining two existing technologies, which isn't patent worthy, so they couldn't have patented that. And, if they had patented something at the transport layer or higher, they wouldn't have called their patents "wireless email patents", they would have called them "wireless networking patents". So, their patents can't possibly be valid. I'd look them up and show exactly why - but they were so ashamed of how much they abused the patent system, that they wouldn't even tell us which patents they are. FTA:

What are these patents? We can only guess, as the one-page release issued by NTP's public-relations firm does not name them.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

xanthines-R-yummy (635710) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854748)

True, but that doesn't stop NTP from suing and wasting everyone's time and money.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854774)

Mods, please read the back story. [slashdot.org]

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854926)

e-mail is actually over 40 years old, as it dates back to 1969.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854976)

What are these patents? We can only guess, as the one-page release issued by NTP's public-relations firm does not name them.

Probably the ones held by this guy linked in his wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Campana_Jr [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Their patents are bullshit (5, Informative)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855078)

And in case the wiki somehow gets edited (never know!):

        * #6,317,592 - Omnidirectional and directional antenna assembly
        * #6,272,190 - System for wireless transmission and receiving of information and method of operation thereof
        * #6,198,783 - System for wireless serial transmission of encoded information
        * #6,067,451 - System and method of radio transmission between a radio transmitter and radio receiver
        * #5,819,172 - Electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile radios
        * #5,751,773 - System for wireless serial transmission of encoded information
        * #5,745,532 - System for wireless transmission and receiving of information and method of operation thereof
        * U.S. Patent 5,631,946 - System for transferring information from an RF receiver to a processor under control of a program stored by the processor and method of operation thereof
        * #5,625,670 - Electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile processor
        * #5,438,611 - Electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile processors originating from outside of the electronic mail system and method of operation thereof

Re:Their patents are bullshit (3, Insightful)

stevew (4845) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855022)

What I don't understand is why Ham Radio Packet communications wouldn't be considered prior art for all of these patents. Hams were sending email through automated gateways to MOBILE stations back in the 80s. Why isn't this adequate prior art?

In looking at the patent:

"A system (100) for connecting a plurality of mail systems (1-N) each transmitting information from one of a plurality of originating processors (A-N) to at least one of a plurality of destination processors (A-N) which may be transported during operation in accordance with the invention includes at least one interface switch (304), an interface switch being coupled to each of the plurality of electronic mail systems of receiving information originating from an originating processor in one of the electronic mail systems for transmission to a destination processor in another electronic mail system; and a RF information transmission network (302), coupled to the at least one interface switch, for transmitting stored information received from one of the at least one interface switch originating from an originating processor in one electronic mail system by RF transmission to at least one RF receiver which relays the information to a destination processor within the another electronic mail system. "

The big difference is that there is an RF link....Ham Packet Radio fits the bill.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855044)

It would be this pantents:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTP,_Inc.#Patents_in_question

Re:Their patents are bullshit (2, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855074)

So, their patents can't possibly be valid. I'd look them up and show exactly why

It's no secret which patents NTP owns [google.com] , and the patents will necessarily be named in the complaint filed with the court, which like most federal court documents will be available on the PACER [pacer.gov] system for a nominal fee. I don't why you'd expect NTP to name the patents in its press release.

Combining email with IP-over-GSM is simply combining two existing technologies, which isn't patent worthy, so they couldn't have patented that

In fact, combining two existing technologies is patent worthy if the combination is new, useful, nonobvious, and adequately described in the patent application. So after you review that list of patents I linked, you'll need to show that the claimed inventions (i.e., the claims as read in light of the specification) are either fully described in a single piece of prior art (i.e., anticipated) or that there exist multiple pieces of prior art that can be combined to fully describe the invention (i.e., that the invention was obvious at the time). Good luck with that, since several massive companies (RIM included) have already had millions of dollars worth of incentives to find said prior art. By the way, most of the patents date back to around 1995, so your prior art will need to be from roughly around 1994. In one case your prior art will need to be from around 1990. What seems perfectly obvious now was probably not so obvious back then.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855174)

I have no position on the validity of the specific patents, and I do agree with what you've written here... but I would point out that the age of the patents is a double-edged sword. You mention one case whre prior art would have to be from 1990, so I assume you mean that one was filed in 1991; when was it issued? Isn't the patent term 17 years?

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855276)

In one case your prior art will need to be from around 1990. What seems perfectly obvious now was probably not so obvious back then.

HAM radio BBSes.

Re:Their patents are bullshit (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855206)

Combining email with IP-over-GSM is simply combining two existing technologies

Like a screen and a mouse pad and call it a touch screen? The patent system needs to be reviewed.

In other news (5, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854698)

Network Time Protocol sues NTP for maligning their good name.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854784)

You might not have gotten modded up, but this is the best comment on the whole thread so far. I appreciate your humor. I was thinking the same thing.

Re:In other news (0)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854872)

What next? GIMP suing gimps for giving them a bad name?

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854978)

I think you have that reversed.

(disclaimer: I use and absolutely love GIMP)

Re:In other news (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854984)

I think it'd be the other way around, actually.

Re:In other news (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854932)

Oh no, that'll open a floodgate of other frivolous lawsuits.

Automative Racing Products, MAC cosmetics, even /. !

Re:In other news (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855212)

I thought of that joke first! You'll hear from lawyer.

Bring back lynching (5, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854736)

You know, I think society was fundamentally better when people were physically afraid of screwing over their neighbors too badly. Yeah, I understand the downsides to vigilantism and a lynchmob mentality, but I'm not completely convinced that the tradeoff has been worth it.

Re:Bring back lynching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854822)

Well, it has saved mad scientists from having to buy a castle (and fire insurance) every time they want to do some crazy experiment...

Re:Bring back lynching (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854860)

There was a Hostory Channel show on the vigilantes. The cause of the vigilatteism was corrupt government and police that were not accountable to anyone and perverted democracy. In the case of our own corporate-run governments these days...

Re:Bring back lynching (2, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855008)

vigilatteism

People making their own espresso-and-steamed-milk-based beverages? Savages!

(I know what word you meant, but I liked the typo better.)

Re:Bring back lynching (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855306)

I'm a vigilettante. I deal out fairly rough justice to suspected lawbreakers, but only when I've nothing better to do.

Stating the obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854944)

I think society was fundamentally better when people were physically afraid of screwing over their neighbors too badly

No, it wasn't.

Re:Bring back lynching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855112)

Nope. All vigilantism means is that one rabble rouser gets a crowd to hang someone from a high object regardless of actual crimes committed or anything about guilt or innocence.

Just look in the history of what once was Confederate parts of the US.

Re:Bring back lynching (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855152)

How do you go vigilante on a megacorp? I mean, you can certainly try, but the odds are very much not in your favor.

Prior art already exists... (5, Funny)

lumbercartel.ca (944801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854764)

Prior art probably already exists for this patent...

I had an assistant print my eMails for me so that I could read them years before wireless internet routers were even being produced (back in the early 1990s). By holding those hardcopy eMails in my hands to read them, I was reading my eMail in a wireless fashion.

Re:Prior art already exists... (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855224)

Donald Knuth, is that you ?

I'm suing their slimy rears back to the stone age. (4, Funny)

Irick (1842362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854770)

I hold the US patent 38967, regarding the design of generally worded patents with the goal of making a quick buck off of multinational corporations well after the fact. The wonton disregaurd of my IP will not go undealt with.

Re:I'm suing their slimy rears back to the stone a (2, Informative)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854834)

wonton disregaurd

Would that be fried wonton, or wonton soup? I'm not even going to guess on "disregaurd"

Re:I'm suing their slimy rears back to the stone a (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855140)

He meant to say disregourd, as in the process of undoing the readding of a gourd to said wonton soup. It's delicious without the gourd that was there (again).

Re:I'm suing their slimy rears back to the stone a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855016)

My God! James A. Lawsof? How did it feel in 1863 when you were granted this patent?

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=vgoAAAAAEBAJ&dq=38967 [google.com]

Stupid patent trolls (3, Insightful)

blackdragon07 (1357701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854800)

Quick we need to patent an idea so we can sue someone and make money...i hate these damn patent trolls... Open Source all the way then anyone using any open source has to publish under that so no more patent trolls or would that make more because they would go after the idea and concept then???

Appears to be related to wireless communications (2, Informative)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854868)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Campana,_Jr. [slashdot.org]

It looks like he wrote a bunch of patents regarding wireless data communications.

He isn't even alive anymore which is funny that they mention his name and getting recognition

I don't expect apple et.al to take this sitting down.

Re:Appears to be related to wireless communication (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855012)

They did pay him while he was alive though.

Re:Appears to be related to wireless communication (2, Informative)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855108)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Campana,_Jr [wikipedia.org] .

Making your link link to the site it says, for those too lazy to cut-n-paste.

Electronic Mail for People on the Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32854878)

And RTP's NDA muzzle on Geoff Goodfellow and his prior art bites six more companies in the ass.

A Bit of History and Some Perspective (5, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854918)

While it's true that NTP received a $612.5 million damages award from RIM, it's important to remember that NTP initially offered to settle with RIM for approximately $6 million. Remember too that RIM was found to have been a willful infringer, so its damages were increased and included attorney's fees. It also engaged in some courtroom shenanigans that likely contributed to the increased damages award. Another reason the eventual settlement was so high was that it was a full and final settlement (i.e., accounted for future use of the patented invention), not just a payment of damages that had already accrued. Finally, the litigation took 6 years, and in that time (2000-2006) the market for smart phones exploded, so RIM effectively racked up a lot of damages.

The point is that a lot of the large settlement was RIM's fault: it chose to fight a losing battle, it was a willful infringer, and it behaved unethically in the courtroom. It's hard to have a lot of sympathy for them.

In any event, the cost to end users was not that great. RIM has sold ~100 million BlackBerries. The cost of the settlement amounts to roughly $6 per unit, which is about a 2-5% royalty on the cost of each device. Compared to the cost of owning a smartphone (often well over $1000 per year when you factor in the voice and data plans), $6 isn't much.

Many of you may now be saying, sure 2-5% isn't much, but it adds up fast if you have to settle with multiple patent owners, each of which wants their 2-5%. That's true, and a significant litigation reform effort is building behind allowing defendants in patent infringement suits to present evidence regarding the royalty rates for patents other than the ones in suit. Right now, the jury doesn't get to hear that you have to pay royalties on X other patents for each device sold and that those royalties are typically very small (e.g., pennies per unit or .1% of the cost or somesuch), so it's common for the jury to award comparatively high royalties. There is an effort to change that to allow juries to work with a much more complete picture of how royalty structures work in the real world rather than viewing only the patents in suit in isolation.

Re:A Bit of History and Some Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855040)

but it adds up fast if you have to settle with multiple patent owners, each of which wants their 2-5%

Luckily it's only the patent trolls that want a real cut. Companies with legitimate business usually work their way into cross-patent licensing agreements with each other, which for them avoids the cost of litigation and thus prevents that cost from hitting consumers.

frak (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32854966)

All these patent trolls make me want to just come out and make a list of "ideas" just to establish "prior art". So, say I think teleportation would be cool. The fact that I thought of it here will be prior art for anyone who invents it later and patents it.

So ya, I hearby already thought of teleportation. Any of you really smart physics majors out there thinking of inventing it, don't bother, its mine.

Re:frak (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855046)

You have violated my patent on listing random ideas as a method of establishing prior art. Prepare to hear from my lawyers!

is this like double or nothing? (1)

klimax (973035) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855004)

I'm on the side of the lawyers on this one. NTP got lucky when RIM treated them with the contempt they deserved and the courts took offence. This time it will be the lawyers who get lucky, not NTP. How big a hole will NTP punch in their stake?

It looks like wireless & mail one is dead alre (5, Informative)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855056)

http://news.cnet.com/Patent-office-issues-final-rejection-of-NTP-patent/2100-1047_3-6042049.html [cnet.com]

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a final rejection of one of the five patents at issue in NTP's long-running case against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

The final rejection was posted on the Patent Office's Web site for the NTP-held patent, which covers a system for sending e-mails over a wireless network to a mobile device. The Patent Office has already issued nonfinal actions rejecting the claims in four out of the five NTP patents in question, but a final rejection is required before the appeals process can begin.

All in 2006...

WOW (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855148)

Wow, that's really big. Anyone has any doubts left of the EVIL IP PATENT laws???

I knew this would happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32855150)

It was clearly just a matter of time before Network Time Protocol became sentient and turned on its masters.

But they didn't sue Garmin... (3, Insightful)

CompMD (522020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32855248)

...because they have a track record of smacking down patent trolls, like today. [bizjournals.com] Maybe some of those companies can toughen up and follow the example.

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