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The Real Inventor of Wireless Email?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-invented-the-hippo dept.

106

theodp writes "The NY Times reports on Geoff Goodfellow, possibly the real inventor of wireless e-mail, who says NTP was concerned that his earlier work might undermine its patent claims and went to some lengths to ensure that it did not, including gagging Goodfellow during the RIM lawsuit. Not only did high-school dropout Goodfellow - who hung out as a teen in the lab of Doug Englebart - describe wireless e-Mail in 1982, he implemented it in the early 1990's."

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Ya know... (4, Insightful)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137723)

For a guy who has some great moral opposition to patents, he didn't seem to mind taking a 20k payoff to help a company exploit a patent to extort millions from RIM. Doesn't that seem a bit hypocritical to anyone else?

Re:Ya know... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137763)

It does. True creativity is not only open source. It is also anonymous.

Re:Ya know... (4, Insightful)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137865)

I hate the kind of comments that carry out character assassination based on flimsy evidence. Mr Goodfellow was retained by NTP's lawyers to provide consulting services. He probably did not even fully understand the situation when he signed the nondisclosure agreement. Sleazy lawyers silenced him for peanuts when he could (if he was that kind of a guy) have negotiated a lot more from RiM.

What puzzles me is how RiM failed to get in touch with him anyway. According to TFA, RiM was part of the partnership that brought RadioMail to market.

Re:Ya know... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139224)

How much damages could they seriously charge him with if he broke the NDA? The price of the contract? Surely (hypothetically) if he spoke with RiM they NTP couldn't blame a loss in court on him. I would imagine the proceedings of justice take a front row seat over profits. Even if he didn't understand the consequences of his actions, what was the cost to him to change his mind once he realized them? I'd imagine RiM might have gladly shouldered this cost, had it been in the ballpark range of what he was paid.

You're right though, in this context, RiM shoud have gotten ahold of this dude. Maybe they did and he refused co-operate, or maybe they had some plan to use his prior art. Maybe RiM did some calculations and decided that owning a liscence to the NTP patent would set a high barrier to entry on competitors, and invalidating the patent would not open them up to competition, but place the burden of correcting the NTP patent situation on them.

Buttered and Toasted, beware the NDA. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138008)

For a guy who has some great moral opposition to patents, he didn't seem to mind taking a 20k payoff to help a company exploit a patent to extort millions from RIM. Doesn't that seem a bit hypocritical to anyone else?

It looks hypocritical but it should be a lesson to all of us. First, they flattered him by remembering who he was. Then they just wanted to talk to him to learn more of that history. Then came the "standard" NDA. The alarm bells should have sounded, but he was too close to the picture to even imagine what he knew was hard to find out. You can only imagine what kind of threats they could have leveled at him after he signed. The lesson here is that NDAs are always anti-social and have the potential for greater harm than you might realize. I can only hope that this backfires bigtime on the lawyers. In the meantime, beware and seek independent legal help when things don't seem right. Hiding evidence sure sounds like a crime. [slashdot.org]

RIM will not comment on the situation because they too are restrained. As the fine article has it:

"The moral of the story is that for a long time now the patent system has been misused," said Mitchell D. Kapor, founder of the Lotus Development Corporation, the software publisher, and an adviser to Mr. Goodfellow in the early 1990's. "If it had been properly used, NTP would never have been issued its patents, and they never would have had a basis to pursue a lawsuit against R.I.M."

They had the basis and they extracted the payment and fear of an injunction is going to keep them quit, forever:

Although the NTP patents have been tentatively invalidated by the United States Patent Office, a jury upheld NTP's infringement suit in 2002, and R.I.M. chose to settle the legal fight for fear of a federal court injunction against its popular service.

Half of the burn you smell is provided by NDAs. Non disclosure is an enemy of the truth and that's where abuse happens.

Re:Buttered and Toasted, beware the NDA. (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140807)

I can only hope that this backfires bigtime on the lawyers.
those aren't lawyers, they're comedians. check out this gem FTA :
In any case, Mr. Wallace added, "the devil is in the details. "Suppose I write something saying that teleportation is possible by merely converting matter to energy, beaming the energy to a distant location and reconverting energy back to matter," he said. "Does this mean that my statements compromise the patents of the first person to actually make such a system work? No patent attorney would argue such a thing."
well, SOME attorney (not gonna name names) was just in court arguing that NTP has valid claim to a patent that RIM in fact implemented

Re:Ya know... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138035)

> For a guy who has some great moral opposition to patents,

I heartily encourage him to work hard for little reward and for my improved quality of life.

Re:Ya know... (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138106)

No, not hypocritical at all. It's strictly business, and he was not the cause of the fight nor did he ask to profit from it. $20K is so small it might as well be nothing.

Hypocritical would have been using the patent system for his own financial gain but, even then, business is amoral to begin with. The real hypocrites are those who realized that prior art existed and sought to prevent evidence of it from coming to light.

Re:Ya know... (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139776)

Hypocritical would have been using the patent system for his own financial gain

Er, which is what he did. He took 20K to keep his mouth shut about a miscarriage of justice involving the patent system.

business is amoral to begin with

Only because it's run by immoral people who try to pass off their immorality by claiming that because they are in business they should be allowed to act like shits and not be run out of town on a rail. The simple answer to which is: "shut the fuck up and get on the rail before we beat you brains out with it instead."

Business is in reality a social activity and as such is deeply connected with what is and is not judged to be moral by society, ie by the people who live in that society. This is called "democracy". Business deciding what is moral is called "plutocracy". There is no actual reason to believe that business people should be held to any less accountability than everyone else.

If I pour oil into your drinking water for fun it's no different from doing the exact same action because I don't want to spend the money to dispose of it somewhere else, is it?

So, don't give me this business is "amoral" crap when you actually mean "this particular business is immoral but I don't care".

TWW

No (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138166)

As has been pointed out, he did some consulting - signed and NDA and stood by the conditions of it.
The thing that makes my mind boggle a bit, is that RIM doesn't seem to have made a big deal out of this. You'd think if you were trying to defend agaisnt a patent, you might try to invalidate that patent by point out prior art. Yes?
The impression I came away from this with is there's a guy who invented a great concept, walked away when the instance went belly-up and happily got on with his life.
There's NTP who made a fortune by lawyering up and leveraging their patents to shake down a market gorilla.
Finally there's RIM who built a great business out of other people's ideas - and seemingly were completely clueless as to the origins of the technology they've built their entire business model around. Personally I have little sorrow for the amount they had to pay NTP off with.

Re:Ya know... (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140253)

I'm not defending him or convicting him, but just because a person is against patents, doesn't mean they're against compensation for their own work.

A great reason to be against patents is when they squelch innovation, but if we could all be creative and something we create takes off I'm sure we'd all want some sort of compensation. Be that compensation material wealth, recognition, or simply the joy that what we made is helping others, it doesn't matter, we all probably want some compensation.

Slow day? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137724)

no comments yet, hmm

Geoff was my friend and mentor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137726)

To tackle the multinational death machine that Mr. Geoff Goodfellow is currently constructing, we need to begin with a frank acknowledgment of the basic humanness of each of us. And we must acknowledge that Geoff's treatises are sheer idiocy. Here's my side of the story: Geoff is thoroughly gung-ho about blackguardism because he lacks more pressing soapbox issues. Although there are no formal, external validating criteria for his nutty, disgraceful claims, I think we can safely say that I should note that ever since Geoff decided to establish tacit boundaries and ground rules for the permissible spectrum of opinion, his consistent, unvarying line has been that this is the best of all possible worlds and that he is the best of all possible people. Why does antipluralism exist? What causes it? And does Geoff realize he's more indelicate than a combative usurer? To understand the answers to those questions, you first have to realize that this is a free country, and I, not being one of the many abusive fanatics of this world, claim we ought to keep it that way.

The important point here is not that Geoff's power is built on lies. The vital matter is that if we take Geoff's attitudes to their logical conclusion, we see that before you know it, Geoff will create an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment. Worst of all, our children's children would never forgive us for letting him sully my reputation. Do his patsies ratchet up our level of understanding? No, that would be the correct and logical thing to do. Instead, they break up society's solidarity and cohesiveness. We don't need to demonize Geoff; he is already a demon, and furthermore, he holds onto power like the eunuch mandarins of the Forbidden City -- sterile obstacles to progress who shred the basic compact between the people and their government.

Geoff is absolutely mistaken if he believes that his belief systems are our final line of defense against tyrrany. He seems to have recently added the word "interparenthetically" to his otherwise simplistic vocabulary. I suppose Geoff intends to use big words like that to obscure the fact that it is almost funny (but is actually rather scary) to see how far he will go to spawn delusions of antagonism's resplendence. Geoff's lickspittles probably don't realize that, because it's not mentioned in the funny papers or in the movies. Nevertheless, if he makes fun of me or insults me, I hear it, and it hurts. But I take solace in the fact that I am still able to put inexorable pressure on him to be a bit more careful about what he says and does. Every time Geoff utters or writes a statement that supports recidivism -- even indirectly -- it sends a message that national-security interests can and should be sidestepped whenever Geoff's personal interests are at stake. I believe we mustn't let him make such statements, partly because the few imprudent spivs who deny this are not only wrong, they are willfully hotheaded, but primarily because he is a big fan of vigilante justice. That's pretty transparent. What's not so transparent is the answer to the following question: Why can't we simply agree to disagree? A clue might be that his maudlin, kissy-pooh, feel-good, touchy-feely opinions are actually quite aberrent when you look at them a bit closer. End of story. Actually, I should add that he yields to the mammalian desire to assert individuality by attracting attention. Unfortunately, for Geoff, "attract attention" usually implies "defy the rules of logic". Even when Geoff isn't lying, he's using facts, emphasizing facts, bearing down on facts, sliding off facts, quietly ignoring facts, and, above all, interpreting facts in a way that will enable him to boss others around. In general, it remains to be seen if he will wipe out delicate ecosystems faster than you can say "counterexcommunication". Sure, there are exceptions, but the picture I am presenting need not be confined to his metanarratives. It applies to everything Geoff says and does. Plainly stated, he believes that he is entitled to bring ugliness and nastiness into our lives. Sorry, but I have to call foul on that one. In short, we all have a moral obligation to stand up together and forcefully oppose Mr. Geoff Goodfellow's vengeful diatribes. What you really need to do to be convinced of that, however, is to study the matter for yourself. I'll be happy to send you enough facts to get you started. Just write to me.

Database maintenance is currently taking place. Some items such as comment posting and moderation are currently unavailable. Good work Taco, you fucking lazy raft nigger.

OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communicate! (5, Insightful)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137728)

Who invented Morse code over wireless? Morse code with signal lights? Who 'invented' putting Usenet articles on magtape to ship them to Australia, before the cables went that far?

I get steamed when people suggest that every new combination of communications channel and message format is an invention. A new communications channel is an invention, and a new communication format is an invention, but merely thinking "hey, we could do that over this"?

I think not.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (2, Funny)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137738)

More importantly, who first said, "You've got mail"?

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138015)

Some goon who was crap at grammar.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139337)

"You've got mail" is grammatically correct.

Try saying "You have have mail" vs. "You have got mail"

Diagram the sentence if you must.

If you have got to be a grammar nazi, at least make sure you're correct.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141882)

Where does the "have have" come from? The comparison is between "you have mail" and "you have got mail", and the former is better than the latter.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137757)

I hereby declare prior art for non-obvious method and concept of wireless e-mail while high (*).

*) While high also implies such concepts as "on weed", "stoned" and any other such concept derivable from THC based mind fuck.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (4, Funny)

fatphil (181876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137847)

And what did the staff and students at the university of Hawaii use back in the 60s to exchange data digitally and near-instantatiously?

My goodness - they did things like invent the 'aloha' protocal that's still in use today on various media.

Nothing's new...

FP.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137929)

A new communications channel is an invention, and a new communication format is an invention, but merely thinking "hey, we could do that over this"?

Thomas Jefferson, the original formulator of what is and is not patentable in America would disagree with you somewhat. He was rather stricter in his ideas of what was a patentable invention, i.e., the sort of invention that could be given a government enforced monopoly on copying.

He understood the difference between invention as an idea which could be passed mind to mind and no man or government has the right to control and the invention which was a device which required manufacturing; and thus could be held as a monopoly by force of arms.

Under Jefferson the Morse Code would not have been patenable, because it is a just an alternative alphabet. A pure abstract idea; and one already prevelant at that.

It was the telegraph that was patentable.

KFG

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (2, Interesting)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138082)

Thomas Jefferson, the original formulator of what is and is not patentable in America would disagree with you somewhat.

WTF do I care what some guy who's been dead for a few centuries *may* have thought? I've got two centuries of history on him, in a field (human innovation) which has evolved beyond his possible imaginings. If you want to resurrect him and get him up to speed opn what he missed, I'd love to talk it over with him. But speculating on what he may have thought absent such knowledge, and worse yet, giving his thoughts the weight of some sort of prophet? Pathetic. Think for yourself about what's changed. That's what he'd have done, I'm sure.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (2, Interesting)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138208)

Jefferson is one of the people that helped write the Constitution, wrote quite a few papers back in the day pertaining to our government, and generally set the mood until Andrew Jackson came along and screwed everything up. We know quite clearly what he intended because he wrote about it. Same with the other founding fathers. Anyway, the beauty of this is that we don't care what technology you use. We only care about what it does. Yes, technology moves on. But the basic fundamentals of how it works, remarkably, don't advance as much as you'd think. The internet is similar to the telegraph networks of old, but you guessed it, technology makes it much more advanced. Still, the basic ideas are the same -- electronic signals going back and forth between two locations (with a few pit stops in the middle).

The reason people talk about Jefferson and friends is that they had a much smaller view of what government should do. Even with all the technology we have now, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, et al. would never have passed the DMCA, would never have given in to the media cartels, would never have allowed patents to be as frivilous and prevalent as they are today. Even the founding fathers who were more for restrictive government (I restrain from liberal/conservative as those lines have shifted significantly over time) would cringe at some of the junk that goes on today. I think we need to get back to the old-school way of thinking with our government. While they didn't have the internet back then, didn't have wireless email, didn't have DVDs and CSS, etc., I would trust them to regulate it a lot more than I do the current, post-WW2 regime. That is, they wouldn't regulate it. Companies would be free to restrict us, and we'd be free to circumvent that restriction. Patents for wireless email would never be granted.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141167)

That's just bullshit. If Jefferson were alive today he would take a big payoff from Disney corporation, pass the DMCA, and retire somewhere nice. That wasn't really an option in his day.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141782)

Jefferson is one of the people that helped write the Constitution

No. Jefferson did not help write the Constitution. It was primarily written by Madison. Jefferson was not at the Constitutional Convention, he was in France.

Jefferson didn't like the Constitution.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (0, Redundant)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138215)

WTF do I care what some guy who's been dead for a few centuries *may* have thought?

Because he *may* have got it right? And because even if he got it wrong there may be instruction in examining the error?

But speculating on what he may have thought. . .

I am not speculating, because he communicated using exactly the same communications technology we use today, hence his thoughts are still available.

Having examined his thoughts and relating them to the two and half centuries of history I have on him I know that:

Think for yourself about what's changed.

Absolutely nothing that has any relevance to his thoughts has changed, because his thoughts were not based on protecting your job; and, oddly enough, he appears to have had thousands of years of history on you, because he knew his history, and you do not appear to.

You cannot "think about it yourself" until you have supplied yourself with the relevant ideas to think about.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go formulate laws of motion. I understand there was some guy about 350 years ago who formulated some, and a guy 100 years ago who refined them somewhat, but those guys are long dead. What do I care about what they *may* have thought about motion?

It would just be a waste of my time to even read them and try to understand them, because so much has changed since then.

KFG

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139119)

Funny that Thomas Jefferson is mentioned. Isn't he one of the authors of a document known as the US Constitution that, last time I heard, is still quite relevant today? People who think "WWJD" must care what an idealization of some centuries dead prophet might have thought. I want to know what the giants, centuries dead or not, thought. Then, being an independent thinker, maybe I'll agree with them, maybe not.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139788)

last time I heard, is still quite relevant today

Could have fooled me... the Bill of Rights certainly seems to have been torn up and tread upon.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137962)

Who invented Morse code over wireless? Morse code with signal lights?

What kind of lights? e.g. should using LEDs vs incandscent lamps mean a different patent? Does it matter which colour light is used? What about using non-visible light...

The way things are at the moment you could probably get a patent on sending Morse code by waving a flag (so long as nobody else beats you to the patent office.)

I get steamed when people suggest that every new combination of communications channel and message format is an invention. A new communications channel is an invention, and a new communication format is an invention, but merely thinking "hey, we could do that over this"?

Even then a new "invention" only really deserves a patent if it is sufficently different from what has gone before. e.g. using frequency modulated light to carry information probably shouldn't get a patent. But a frequency modulator for light might well be deserving of one.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137993)

Ok, I officially declare you can't get a patent on the following:

1. Doing something wirelessly that is now done with wires.

Why? The point of a wireless network is to make it transparent to the higher application layer as to whether it's wireless or wired.

Now, that doesn't mean a particular implementation can't be patented -- there's plenty of room for clever solutions to do things wirelessly to overcome the lag and chatty interaction problems.

2. Simulation of any real-world, or real-worldish thing on a computer.

Why? It's brutally obvious that someone may want to simulate something that already exists.

Now, that doesn't mean a particular implementation can't be patented. There's plenty of room for efficient implementations of simulations, or for clever algorithms to actually do the simulation. But the concept of a simulation of XYZ itself should not be patented.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138721)

Algorithms shouldn't be patentable either, that's math. Notice I said [b]shouldn't[/b], the real world may say different.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139519)

And something like phase change cooling isn't just very simple applied mechanics and physics? I find it very hard to see why a reasonably complex algorithm should be lesss "practical" than a reasonably complex mechanical machine.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140191)

Patents should have to be specific. I know someone who has a patent on using X general purpose algorithm to do absolutely anything in Y huge and varied field. Come again?

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139729)

Hey, morse code communication via blue LED isn't patented, nor is blue OLED. I have to hurry and patent that QUICK.

Re:OMG, a comms channel. We could, like, communica (1)

I Like Pudding (323363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141091)

Who invented Morse code over wireless?

Fucking Marconi. [wikipedia.org] The art, she does not get much more prior.

Wallace should be disbarred and fined (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137729)

The first page should ample reason for research into claims that should result in this lawyer being disbarred and financially punished. For an officer of the court to intentionally conceal knowledge from the courts is a terrible terrible thing. In the first page, there is confirmation of prior art and conspiracy to conceal it.

For those reasons alone NTP should also have its relevant patents revoked and RIM shouldn't be paying a dime to them.

Re:Wallace should be disbarred and fined (2, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137875)

For those reasons alone NTP should also have its relevant patents revoked and RIM shouldn't be paying a dime to them.

NTP is already close to certain to lose their patents. Under the threat of an injunction, RIM was forced to pay $600 million to NTP, nonrefundable. NTP knew that their patents would fall, so they made sure there was no "give it back if your patents are finally declared bogus, with no more appeals" conditions.

Re:Wallace should be disbarred and fined (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137903)

Conspiracy to defraud? Okay maybe not. I don't know what the official name for this "wrong" is, but it's WRONG.

Re:Wallace should be disbarred and fined (1)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138347)

I don't know what the official name for this "wrong" is

"erroneous"?

Sorry, couldn't resist. ;-)

Re:Wallace should be disbarred and fined (1)

jim_redwagon (845837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141687)

Where are the Lawyers Who Lurk (copyright applied for) here? What are the possibilites that RIM knew of this guy? Let NTP think different, allow Mr. Wallace to dig his own hole deeper and deeper, settle the case, wait until all the NTP patents are thrown out and file a civil case where the monetary damages can be added on to by a group of jury members? Maybe even get some DA to file criminal for good measure? Just a thought, cause I would hope the company has someone who was paying attention.

Stiffer penalties (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139957)

So NTP sues for patent infringement while silencing the inventor of the prior art that would have invalidated those patents? For that, NTP should be financially executed. Their company should be liquidated, if they actually own anything other than $600 million of RiM's money, and used to pay for operating costs for the patent office and legal system that they so flagrantly abused.

"including gagging Goodfellow during the lawsuit" (5, Insightful)

Ahaldra (534852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137766)

I just imagined an NTP lawyer strangling Mr. Goodfellow. But no, he just received less than 20K for not talking to anyone else than NTP during trial.
To me the most interesting part of the article was
To this day, Port 99 remains set aside for Mr. Goodfellow's original brainstorm: pushing an electronic mail message to a wireless pager.
Yet another brilliant illustration why patents don't help independent inventors. Is there a site collecting all these stories?

Re:"including gagging Goodfellow during the lawsui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15138750)

Seems like a good idea for a site either in cooperation with Groklaw or through Wikipedia. Following their model folks could enter tidbits on obscure inventions to create a central repository for prior art. Such a site could influence the patent granting process. Folks can even anticipate future patent suits by establishing prior art on recent patent grants (from MS, Apple, etc.) as they make the news.

Can what Groklaw has done for the SCO case be done for the patenting process?

Tesla did it (3, Informative)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137775)


http://www.teslascience.org/ [teslascience.org]

His equipment was not very portable though.

Is there any validity to this patent (5, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137780)

I mean, email was invented first, and I am sure someone has a patent for that. Just because the transport medium is wireless instead of over a wire, is there any validity in a patent for "wireless" email? If I had patented email, I would have said over ANY approrpirate digital transport, wired or wireless. Shouldn't the original email patent holder basically hold the patent for "wireless" email?

This is where patents break down, when people simply mash two patents together and feel they are justified for having a patent based on other people's work. Wireless communcations is patented, as well as the concept of email. Someone saying, hey, lets patent wireless-email should be shot.

I am sure there were inherent difficulties and specific problems that had to be resolved before making wireless email work properly, but come on. This is the application of two existing patented process, not the INVENTION of a new process.

This is why patents are failing to encourage innovation, because people with a law degree are simply taking combinations of other peoples inventions, mashing them together, and hoping that someone one day might use the right combination of inventions so they can sue them in courts for stealing their "innovation".

Patents are stifling innovation because they are being filed by people with no intention of developing the process, simply sitting on them until someone that actually makes the idea work is successful enough to earn them millions in a lawsuit for infringement.

Patents are shyster documents designed to make shysters richer.

Re:Is there any validity to this patent (1)

rholliday (754515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137884)

Exactly. I read the title of this story and was disgusted. Watch Amazon get a patent for inventing a way of selling things over wireless. Microsoft can get a patent for inventing a way of showing web pages over wireless. We need a new GIF patent, I hear they can be shown over wireless.

Total crap.

Re:Is there any validity to this patent (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137959)

Abstracting any innovation to a high degree will render it obvious under the prior art. For example, a huge consortium probably owns a patent on 802.11 wireless. Do we say that since Marconi already sent messages over wireless a century ago this patent should be rendered obvious? Is it really obvious? Is there a difference between a 747 and a the Wright Brother's plane? NTP holds a patent over something more substantial than "e-mail over wireless". It's an implementation that allows for faster updating.

I guess when you invent something, you wouldn't patent it. And I'm sure that you haven't invented anything because of those shyster patents have stifled your creativity. Or wait. Perhaps you would want to invent something because you can get one of those shyster patents and sue someone for a whole bunch of money.

Re:Is there any validity to this patent (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138020)

I mean, email was invented first, and I am sure someone has a patent for that.

Wrong tense, email (in a form recognisable as that which we use now) was invented over 30 years ago. A patent from then would have expired, even if patents did last that long telegrams and telex messages predate "email" and rely on electrical/electronic telecommunications.

Just because the transport medium is wireless instead of over a wire, is there any validity in a patent for "wireless" email?

There's also the issue of why "wireless" should be of any relevence anyway. Electronic telecommunication systems often are hybrids of various wired (including fibre optic) and wireless connections. This has been the case for over a century with telephone networks, with no easy way for the end user to know how their connection is actually being made.

Re:Is there any validity to this patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141470)

the patent(or at least the wording we are discussing) is more in reference to the receiving device than connectivity elsewhere

Re:Is there any validity to this patent (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140207)

Hm... I get all my e-mail over wireless with my notebook. Actually, when I first started using the Internet in the early nineties I was getting all my e-mail over wireless too. There's a microwave link between the town I lived in and the small city that had the nearest ISP.

Very few things are done for the first time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137784)

Very few things are really done for the very first time.

A high-school dropout, Mr. Goodfellow had his light-bulb moment in 1982, when he came up with the idea of sending electronic mail messages wirelessly to a portable device -- like a BlackBerry.

Morse code to portable radios is WW I and field radios would qualify as a message over wireless to a portable device.

See Wiki wireless [wikipedia.org] and note the part about telegraphs being sent.

The sum of it is this guy is a publicity whore and these patents are all frivolous so should be treated as such. Or perhaps it is more correct to say all these patents are patents on prior art. Take you pick, like NTP they are fraudsters.

Re:Very few things are done for the first time (2, Informative)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137907)

this guy is a publicity whore

Only to the extent that anybody who has a product that they're selling is a publicity whore. Yes, Geoff did an implementation of wireless email many years ago, and was arguably the first inventor of it. At some trade show I went to, he had hired women to walk around like cigarette girls with a laptop and attached radio to invite people to send wireless email.

Re:Very few things are done for the first time (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138034)

Morse code to portable radios is WW I and field radios would qualify as a message over wireless to a portable device.

"Portable" radios were probably around for quite a while before. WWI simply encouraged them to be developed to be more rugged and easily portable. Wars tend to have this effect on any technology useful in fighting a war.

Re:Very few things are done for the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141307)

That'll Never Work...
The first camcorder patent was issued to the prolific American inventor Jerome Lemelson in 1980. Lemelson, who passed away in 1997, had tried to patent the idea for a camcorder in 1977, but the U.S. Patent Office rejected him, claiming the idea was too far-fetched and that no company could ever be able to manufacture and sell the device. Among other things, Lemelson also invented crucial components for the VCR, Walkman, ATM and barcode scanner.

Goodnight? (2, Informative)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137785)

Not only did high-school dropout Goodnight - who hung out as a teen in the lab of Doug Englebart

Am I missing something? Maybe theodp needs some sleep?

Radiomail? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137786)

"Mr. Wallace [the NTP lawyer] maintained that Mr. Goodfellow was retained because he had been mentioned in news articles from the early 1990's "regarding a product called RadioMail" -- his effort to commercialize the wireless e-mail idea -- but that Mr. Goodfellow "could not locate any documentation beyond these articles regarding the product.""

Wow, it's [google.com] a good [interesting-people.org] thing google [vt.edu] wasn't around [palmtoppaper.com] at the time [highbeam.com] to help.

Sheesh, I knew that RIM was getting some of their own medicine, so I was only partially sympathetic (both companies deserve a good legal slapping for pursuing such ridiculously obvious patents), but I had no idea NTP was THAT scummy. They knew about prior art. They hired the guy that was practically the embodiment of that prior art -- a guy that didn't merely have something on paper, but actually once ran a business on the principles NTP claimed to be a novel invention at the time of its patents. And they paid him to sign a contract to shut up.

Can this Mr. Wallace be disbarred for such unethical behaviour?

Re:Radiomail? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137918)

They knew about prior art.

My understanding of the patent system is that you are required to reveal all prior art of which you are aware. Otherwise your patent is invalid. Er, or something like that. Anyway, not disclosing prior art is a Bozo no-no [snopes.com] .

Re:Radiomail? (1)

jefp (90879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137997)

Yeah, it makes me wonder if RIM has grounds for invalidating the settlement.

And I'm pretty sure I have a RadioMail t-shirt hanging around the attic somewhere.

Re:Radiomail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15138286)

Can this Mr. Wallace be disbarred for such unethical behaviour?

Surely you have no expectation that a lawyer would engage in ethical behavior, do you? By definition lawyers concern themselves neither with ethics nor truth, but rather what they can get away with under law. I would suggest that any instance of ethical behavior is nothing more than chance happenstance. Therefore, with no presumption of ethical behavior, it would be difficult to foresee Mr Wallace's disbarrment. He's merely acting as a lawyer.

Re:Radiomail? (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138759)

Maybe ... but judges take a very dim view of such things: those boys hate like hell to have anything hidden from them. Wallace may very well have a comeuppance in his future.

Re:Radiomail? (1)

seann (307009) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139411)

" He is an active user of RadioMail, a network that picks up
electronic messages from wireless modems and channels them into the
Internet, which makes them instantaneously available to computer
users around the planet. Within seconds of the quake's beginning,
Mr. Opfer flashed a message to a broad list of subscribers around
the nation."

Wow.

Prior Prior art (0, Offtopic)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137791)

Isn't there documented evidence of a much earlier wireless email system in operation?

Wasn't it Moses who came down from the hilltops saying he had received a message from god?

Now, that was either a beta crackberry or someone's having a laugh at our gullibility.

high-school dropout Goodnight? (1)

mOOzilla (962027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137794)

And his buddy GoodMorning?

Re:high-school dropout Goodnight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137821)

Or his Australian cousin, G'day!

patents AKA fraud/extortion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15137815)

Doesn't this mean NTP sued for damages using a patent they knew to be invalid? Doesn't this mean the USPTO knew the patent was invalid? Thanks to all the morons involved in this case for showing the world how broken the patent system is, you guys couldn't have done a better job if you had been competent enough to attempt such a thing. This case just keeps getting better and better, when are RIM going to file for damages against the USPTO? That is what it's going to take to draw the line in the sand, are RIM company enough to step up to the plate? I think not but I've been proven wrong before.

SLASHDOT IS GAY (0, Troll)

tronue16jkxjtATkern. (968599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137816)

Mod this down or reply to this comment if you agree

Typo (4, Funny)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137824)

So is his name Goodfellow or Goodnight?

We need more Goodeditors.

Re:Typo (1)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137999)

double plus goodeditors.

Re:Typo (4, Funny)

bad_fx (493443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138055)

Goodluck.

Re:Typo (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140037)

"So is his name Goodfellow or Goodnight?"

Lemme gues, he's working at Goodmail [goodmailsystems.com] .

A new patent frenzy... this time it's wireless! (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137909)

I can see it already... every 'internet' patent out there will now be 'reinvented' as a 'wireless' patent...

IPL A) "My client patented 'wireless' streaming media!, time for a lawsuit party!"

IPL B) "hold on, my client patented 'wireless' one-click buying... you won't get very far with that streaming media without me!"

IPL C) "Hey now, my client patented 'wireless' media plugins for 'wireless' browsers'... neither of you gets bupkiss without me!

IPL D) "Haha, my client trumps you all... 'wireless' Linux!"

IPLs A, B and C) "Stupid D, Linux is GPL ;-p you can't make any money there..."

IPL D) "But, but, but my client SWEARS that he invented it and has promised me like 30% of the winnings!!!!!!, well I'll get paid a boat load to fight for it anyways!"

All IP Lawyers: "SWEET!!!!!!!"

...then the world will end, judgement day at last, damn you 'wireless' technology, ARGHHHHH....

Re:A new patent frenzy... this time it's wireless! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15138540)

That's why I no longer fear WWIII. This world is SO messed up, it needs a major house-cleaning and needs a lot of people to just go away. Especially the damn lawyers.

Even if WWIII doesn't come during my lifetime (and I figure we have ten years tops so it should be in my lifetime), I've made the choice to not have kids or worry about getting married or any of that stuff people do "for the future" or to pass on the genes.

There's no point if everything's going to get blown away and I wouldn't want any kid of mine or anyone I care about to manage to live through whatever happens when everything gets nuked. They'd be better off dead.

Like the lawyers.

Nothing like thinking ahead... (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137954)

...so I'm submitting my patent for spintronic [wikipedia.org] email now. I've a hunch there's something similar in the retail line. One-spintro-clicking? Spin-one-tricking? Spin-one-tron-clicking? Inventing is hard. I'm sure that if I could just see the right combination of spintronics and one-click I'd be rich.

I patent thee QuantuMail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15141171)

Quantum computing email, the ultimate in non-commital responses!

"Did you email me that report?"
"Well, I did and I didn't..."

IANAL (3, Insightful)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137989)

But you have to wonder how the heck it can be legitimate to knowingly surpress facts in a court case. Ahh well I have always felt these suits were what happen when people that should be honest criminals become lawyers.

Re:IANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15138605)

I assume during discovery that Blackberry asked for any prior art known to the plaintiff and its representatives. So, I would think that a very long prison sentence is in order for any attorneys that sought to and succeeded in this fraud upon the court. Unfortunately, the court likes protecting its own at the expense of not its own. So, I expect no action to be taken on this.

As more and more conservative judges have been appointed to the courts, ignoring wrongdoing has become a specialty of the system.

Re:IANAL (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138773)

It's not legitimate and Wallace may very well find himself in hot water, but given the size of the judgment (I don't know what his share was and I'm too tired to bother Googling it) he probably figured it was worth the risk. If nothing else, he should have plenty of money to hire a good defense attorney if he ever does get hauled into court over this.

Wireless Email Prior Art (3, Insightful)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137992)

Morse, Tesla, Marconi, Edison... And their patents already expired.

SMTP over packet radio? Decades ago, not just nineties.

Packet radio (1)

zarozarozaro (756135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138069)

Um hams have been doing this for a while...

Look at 73 magazine from the 70's. (1)

gorehog (534288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138086)

Hams have been doing email over packet radio since the 70's! They've also been doing wireless email over radio teletype before that! And if the issue is the portable receiver then I must still stand by those who were using tandy handhelds for packet.

RTTY in WWII (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138272)

Were the RTTY machines aboard a WWII destroyer a "portable machine"?

Invent??? (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138121)

Ugh got wireless. Ugh got email. Is Ugh too stupid to put the two together? Maybe if Ugh is a patent examiner at the USPTO. For everybody else, this is obvious.

What about amateur radio? (2, Informative)

hardwarehacker (748474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138490)

The one thing that concerns me about this whole "wireless e-mail" patent business is that this basic functionality has been available in the amateur radio community for DECADES. Packet radio was pioneering in 1978 by hams in Montreal, Canada. Hams established "wireless" BBS systems through the 1980's, which provided an e-mail like feature via the message board. Further with the rise of the Internet hams have provided e-mail over the amateur radio bands; i.e. wireless e-mail. Perhap's I'm missing something, but this appears to be a pretty compelling prior art arguement. http://www.tapr.org/history.html [tapr.org] http://www.winlink.org/History.htm [winlink.org]

Winlink is EVIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15138824)

just say no to winlink

The patent (2, Interesting)

forrie (695122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138882)

From my understanding, the patent in dispute here has to do with the ability to "push" email content to a device. RIM's solution to this was, as I understand, to change their methodology so that the client software asks "Do you want to read this?" and then PULLS the message instead.

If my understanding of it is correct, that's one helluva frivilous patent.

Re:The patent (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140313)

So the first case is kind of like a pager or my satellite receiver (where the manufacturer can push useless e-mail to the receiver box)?

And the second is kind of like, oh, POP, or IMAP?

Re:The patent (1)

forrie (695122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140423)

I'm not really sure, but that's probably a good analogy. I just find it rather crude that something so basic as push/pull of content could be "patented" and cause as much legal drama as it has.

It is a "method" but one that isn't entirely original. It's really a basic functionality of many different subsystems.

What if the NTP patent is invalidated? (2, Interesting)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15138948)

If someone discovers prior art does that mean the settlement between RIM and NTP is void? Can RIM go after NTP for damages?

Wow.. (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139197)

Check out all my new 'inventions'!

- Wireless [insert previously wired device here]
- Wired [insert previously wirless device here]

I'm so smart!@!!@onEONE!! I PWN YUOR FCAE!

Point: Just making something wireless doesn't make you an inventor.

Re:Wow.. (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140154)

Oooh ooh! Dibs on the wired cellphone.

text of telecom digest 2:33 (4, Informative)

trb (8509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139341)

You can find Geoff Goodfellow's note [mit.edu] at the Telecom Digest [mit.edu] archives. Note that the Telecom Digest has been running continuously since 1981, on the Internet and its predecessor (the ARPAnet), and is in some sense, the original ancestor of services like Slashdot.

other implementations in the early 90s (1)

cmoss (14324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139522)

I worked for a company TVAnswer (renamed to Eon) that had wireless 2 way email working probably around 1993-4. It did not predate the NTP patents but it does show that it wasn't such a novel idea that other people did not think of it. It never went full production because the owners of the spectrum did not roll out base station in all markets but we did have very good connectivity in Reston Virginia a few sites in other states and several international cells. (Mexico City)

The Eon implementation used the IVDS spectrum, satellite based cell stations, a local rf link, connected to a handheld Casio Boss PDA (qwerty keyboard). We had direct Internet email addresses for all users.

Chuck

wireless email = pager? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15139650)

wireless email, that would be an alpha-numeric PAGER? prior art?

Predating Geoff Goodfellow (1)

ngkdc (810481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15139676)

I suppose that anything that the US Government does that is not classified might prove to be in the public domain, and as such would invalidate NTP's claims altogether. The real deal is that in 1989, one of the agencies of the US Government used unencrypted radio to interconnect e-mail between facilities 700 miles apart. This was a hands-free, no operator intervention system (well, the operators DID have to change the HF radio frequencies every 4 hours or so due to propagation) that send and received E-Mail as transparently as with a 2400 baud telephone modem. Before that, amateur radio operators in the San Francisco Bay area had an automated e-mail system running on radio teletype on a VHF repeater ... you did have to log in to check and receive your mail, but this was in the 1981-1982 time frame ... predating the US Govt initiative. Not to take anything away from Geoff Goodfellow ... I applaud his efforts.

I saw a Demo .... (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140124)

Just before the time RIM got going from an Asian company that had something similar working somehow using a pager network.

I told my superiors they should get involved because it was insanely handy. To this day, I wonder if that's where the basic tech came from those guys.

I once heard some kind of pop star say, "more money. more problems." I think that sums it up pretty good.

Bogus Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15140290)

Invention: description of design of an innovative machine to perform a task.

The TCP/IP network stack is designed such that application layers like e-mail are not affected if a new physical layer is invented. Because TCP/IP hides the physical layer implementation details from the application layer, *absolutely* nothing is required to enable email.

That is, nothing was *invented* in this case, because Blackberry takes an "already existing email application layer" and connects it with an "already existing wireless physical layer" via TCP/IP.

Why the F*** is the USPTO granting such trivial patents??

I did packet radio email in the 1980's (2, Informative)

hqm (49964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140438)

Around 1987 I was doing email SMTP over packet radio, using Phil Karn's network TCP/IP package for DOS.

There ought to be a death penalty for frivolous or fraudulent packet claims.

Honest Doubt of Wireless Email Patentability (1)

ironfroggy (262096) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140520)

If a patent like this is able to succeed, then shouldn't it be a violation of the patent to use any device which utilizes any form of wireless networking and SMTP over that connection?

The real real inventor! (1)

Icephreak1 (267199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140963)

Al Gore invented this too.

Seriously.

- IP

From the TTY of Geoffrey S Goodfellow (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141007)

Isn't he the dude with the TTY [google.com] ?

-Don

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