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Smartphones Patented — Just About Everyone Sued 1 Minute Later

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the definition-of-a-patent-troll dept.

Patents 407

This week the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a surprisingly (although I guess it shouldn't be) broad patent for a "mobile entertainment and communication device". Upon closer inspection you may notice that it pretty much outlines the ubiquitous smartphone concept. "It's a patent for a mobile phone with removable storage, an internet connection, a camera and the ability to download audio or video files. The patent holding firm who has the rights to this patent wasted no time at all. At 12:01am Tuesday morning, it filed three separate lawsuits against just about everyone you can think of, including Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sprint, ATT, HP, Motorola, Helio, HTC, Sony Ericsson, UTStarcomm, Samsung and a bunch of others. Amusingly, the company actually first filed the lawsuits on Monday, but realized it was jumping the gun and pulled them, only to refile just past the stroke of midnight. "

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407 comments

Prior art? (0, Redundant)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188194)

anyone?

Mind as sharp as a knife for carving meat with (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188290)

That's an informative first post you've got there, networkBoy! You sure are quick thinker, Buddy! I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to expand on your ideas. I'll begin by examining this more closely: this company, who ever they are, obviously have some kind of patent on this sort of thing, and they are really taking advantage of it! Maybe, in this instance at least, someone could find some example of prior art, where another company had produced something similar in the past? Or maybe, as this sort of technology is so new, an announcement or some kind of design was announced in the past?

Re:Prior art? (2, Informative)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188560)

I'm going to guess one of the parties being sued is going to try to kill this patent in short order, but who really knows? Of note, the patent (US7321783) is likely claiming priority to US6278884 which was filed in April '97 so any useful prior art would likely have to be around that time frame or before

If I had invented the smartphone... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188210)

I would be pissed that all these tech companies rake in the money by ripping off my invention. Good thing the patent system protects our geniuses from intellectual property theft.

not very smrt (5, Informative)

brian1078 (230523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188218)

no "smartphone" required. my 2 year old Verizon LG VX8300 is a "... mobile phone with removable storage, an internet connection, a camera and the ability to download audio or video files ..."

Re:not very smrt (3, Informative)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188300)

A quick glance at the patent shows a priority date of 1997. I'm not sure what all's covered by the initial application they filed in '97, but prior art references will have to be from 1996 to be iron tight.

Re:not very smrt (5, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188404)

The main problem here is "continuation filings". Using these, you can take longer and longer to amend your patent. Of course, that means that you can amend your patent to cover things that are already in the market. So file in '97 and file enough continuations until 2000 or so and you've just retroactively patented 3 years worth of progress.

What needs to happen is that if you file a continuation, the clock gets reset to that continuation. So file in '97 and file a continuation in 2000 means that anything in '98 and '99 now counts as prior art.

Re:not very smrt (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188510)

The main problem here is "continuation filings". Using these, you can take longer and longer to amend your patent. Of course, that means that you can amend your patent to cover things that are already in the market. So file in '97 and file enough continuations until 2000 or so and you've just retroactively patented 3 years worth of progress.

You can only amend your patent to include new claims based on your description (from '97). So, while it may be that if you weren't sure about this internet thingy in '97, and you were running low on claims (only so many are allowed), you might have opted to include a claim only for BBSes and later switched it to the Internet, you cannot invent things out of whole cloth.

Re:not very smrt (5, Informative)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188526)

If you add new matter, its prior art date is of the continuation in part that you filed to add the new matter. Otherwise, all of the adjustments must have support in the original filing. Essentially, what you propose is the way the system works now.

Re:not very smrt (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188380)

no "smartphone" required. my 2 year old Verizon LG VX8300 is a "... mobile phone with removable storage, an internet connection, a camera and the ability to download audio or video files ..." Not good enough United States Patent 7,321,783 Filed: November 20, 2003

Good luck (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188220)

These guys will be smashed into paste by hordes of the highest paid lawyers on planet Earth first thing Monday morning.

Re:Good luck (1)

hc5duke (930493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188272)

Seriously - how do they expect to fight a war on 10 different fronts? I really hope these companies don't settle and carry this on for 3-5 years in courts until they go bankrupt.

What I don't Get... (5, Informative)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188318)

I just roll my eyes and think is the USPO as dumb as the Fed?

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

The first smart phone was developed way back when. But let's consider a more recent example:

The Nokia Communicator line was the first of Nokia's smartphones starting with the Nokia 9000, released in 1996.

The earlier chained patents was 1997. So I really wonder what pot, and I do mean pot, the people in the patent office are smoking.

Re:What I don't Get... (3, Funny)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188456)

I doubt it's pot. If they were smoking a bunch of weed, they probably would be too stoned to go through the applications without laughing their asses off.

Re:What I don't Get... (1, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188682)

Yeah, everyone I know have always assumed crack to be their inhaled narcotic of choice. It has a nice rich smell with hints of oak, coffee,hazelnut and goes well with their crazy pills.

Re:What I don't Get... (2, Funny)

b100dian (771163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188500)

A little more patent files like this and USPO will be history.
Really, if someone patents the phone, then the windows, then the weapons of mass destruction, USPO will be gone forever. I mean it.

Re:What I don't Get... (2, Funny)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188536)

Failing government services are rarely abolished, just half-assedly reformed until they appear to work better while in fact degrading the quality of service.

Re:Good luck (5, Funny)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188360)

how do they expect to fight a war on 10 different fronts...

... I hear Darl McBride will be available on the job market very soon...

Re:Good luck (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188678)

... I hear Darl McBride will be available on the job market very soon...
Sure. After he's discharged from the smokin' hole that remains of The SCO Group, I'm sure he'll be available in 10-15 years. ;)

Re:Good luck (2, Informative)

jumpinp (1144189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188386)

There are probably lawyers behind all these crazy patent apps. Just trying to rake in the fees.

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188434)

Honestly this is the fault of the US patent office. In response all cell phone carriers should stop all service immediately and as the whole thing is blowing up in everyones face just point the finger at the patent office and US Government. Bet we could get those US officials to move their asses a little faster to see what a pile of crap the patent system is and pass something that is a little more sound.

Re:Good luck (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188596)

Do they like the highest paid lawyers on earth in rural Texas? If they do proceedings will be moved to some swamp in Florida or wherever the best venue for patent trolling is and human nature prefers the local utter bastard to a sauve lawyer working for a large Japanese or Swedish company.

If it's not just trying to make a point... (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188658)

...then they should just be shot[2]. Or strung up. Or drug behind horses til dead. Whatever. Good old fashioned wild west justice.[1]

[1] Sorry for the syntax; there's a national comma shortage.
[2] And if they are then it's an awfully expensive way to make that point for everyone else.

I have a question, your honour (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188240)

Can you hear me now?

abusive behaviour (5, Interesting)

Atreide (16473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188242)

putting abusive people in jail would make them think twice

they cost money to other companies, but also to state and law
how can tribunal tolerate such behaviour and not fine a big toll ?

apply the corporate death penalty, too (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188544)

Companies that do this kind of bullshit should not only have their officers face legal action, but their corporate charter revoked and their assets liquidated.

A hardship for the shareholders? Maybe, but also, too fucking bad.

Re:abusive behaviour (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188674)

putting abusive people in jail would make them think twice

So now we want to put people in jail for exercising their legal rights?
 
 

they cost money to other companies, but also to state and law how can tribunal tolerate such behaviour and not fine a big toll ?

Because, when a tribunal is faced with somebody doing something completely legal and supported both by precedent and black letter law - the courts have little choice but to tolerate it.

Great news (-1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188258)

This is good news in several ways. First, I really don't care for smartphones (except for the iPhone), so I'm glad to see their makers all sued. The iPhone sucks too, since it's locked down to one provider, though it's a lot better than all the other smartphones. I'm glad to see any kind of shakeup in the cellular space.

Second, one of those sued is RIM. Hopefully, this patent troll will demand an injunction shutting down ALL smartphone service, including RIM's Crackberry. That'll get the attention of those morons on Capitol Hill, and maybe they'll do something about this patent mess. I just hope they don't settle for some reasonable amount of money; I want them to totally shut down everything. We all need to see how bad this patent system is, and why it should be abolished.

Re:Great news (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188696)

But the patent is vague enough to cover non-'smartphone's. Removable storage, camera and media player is a pretty common set of features on most phones, even those not designed to run your life. That's your first point gone.

Second one, however, sounds good to me.

hahaohwow (2, Insightful)

TheSpengo (1148351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188262)

Do these people think they can actually win any of those lawsuits? They have to realize that all those organizations have hordes of lawyer minions at their disposal that will beat them into a fiscal pulp!

Re:yes, they can and will (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188342)

Patent trolls wouldn't exist if this type of asshatery didn't work. Not only can they win this but they likely will at least see large amounts of cash from some source that is much bigger than them and seeks to improve their patent portfolio which will be used to trade for the use rights of other corporations' patents.

No, they will make their blood money, lawyers will be happy, and the barrier to entry in this industry will be raised higher.

Overhaul the U.S. patent system now!

Good (1)

cfoushee (803584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188266)

I hope this serves to further put an end to this ridicules state the patent have become. I've been wanting to actually patent the idea of patenting things that were so obvious that I could then sue everyone that infringed upon my patent...that way I could sue all these patent holding companies.

Awesome` (5, Interesting)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188280)

Finally, a firm got enough balls to blatantly abuse the living crap out of the patent system. Maybe this will start the much needed rework of the patent system.

Tougher standard for obvious (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188282)

Instead of the standard being that you cant patent what's obvious, the standard should be that you can't patent something unless its clever. And the twenty year patent period needs to be shortened in these days of rapid tech progress.

Re:Tougher standard for obvious (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188572)

This comment has been appearing on /. for the last umpteen years ever since the double click, one click order, mouse, voip, keyboard, cell phone, touchscreen, gui etc. patents started appearing. Nothing changed in all these years because the persons that have the money to file these patents also have the money to bribe^W contribute to legislators

Good for them! (4, Insightful)

nwf (25607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188284)

I say, "good for them!".

Perhaps this is just what we need to make congress re-think our amazingly incompetent patent office. Clearly, computers can do all of this stuff, and a cell phone / PDA is just a hand-held version of a computer. Nothing really novel, but that never stopped the patent office.

Unfortunately, I missed my chance to patent patent trolling and further patenting the patenting of patent trolling. Etc.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188426)

Speaking of "novel": Someone makes this kind of post in every single patent-related story, going back to the beginning of Slashdot time. So far no reform has happened, and Slashdot users have continued to make jokes about patenting the idea of patent trolling.

Prediction: I expect this state of affairs to continue into the future.

Manufacturers to release hardware fix (4, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188288)

Update kit consists of one drop of superglue, which you apply to the flash card. Presto -- no removable storage.
Who's laughing now, Mr. Patent Troll?

Re:Manufacturers to release hardware fix (5, Funny)

trickno (1227142) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188506)

I don't have removable storage for my phone. I have a removable phone for my storage.

Re:Manufacturers to release hardware fix (4, Funny)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188586)

I call mine MemorySkin. It completely covers and protects my memory from harm (me dropping it.) I even found one that covers both my memory and my camera!

Re:Manufacturers to release hardware fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188580)

What a marveous idea I just had. In fact, I have just submitted:

A patent for a device or mechanism by which a removable or temporary attachment, insertion, or addition to an object may be made permanent through the careful application of a chemical bonding substance.

I can't wait to sue the makers of Duct Tape for Accessory to Commit Patent Crimes!!!

It gets better... (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188650)

Even better idea: Every new phone is described on the box as "unassembled/assembly required before use."
Each phone ships with a dropper of superglue and a flyer which instructs the owner to superglue the media card in place before use.

Now if the owner chooses not to blatently disregard the assembly instructions that's not the manufacturer's fault, is it?

Do patent trolls ever win? (4, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188292)

I have always wondered what patent troll companies got out of filing for patents that obviously have loads of prior art. Have any of them ever been successful at sueing a big company for an obvious concept that has tons of prior art? I cant imagine that any of the companies listed would want to just give money to the patent troll for fear of attracting more of them.

Three words ... Initial Public Offering (2, Informative)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188328)

If you get such a patent, put it in a shell company, sell the stock, many billions, move on, goto 10.

Re:Three words ... Initial Public Offering (1)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188424)

If you get such a patent, put it in a shell company, sell the stock, many billions, move on, goto 10.
Yeah - but I think the original question is worth repeating. Has anyone actually ever done this successfully?

Re:Do patent trolls ever win? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188392)

It's worth a shot, no? In some cases, if they've got a small chance it could be worth it, especially if they can annoy the other group to just settle to avoid the hassle. This, though, seems nigh impossible to win, so I can't quite see the point other than a really, really quick settlement to just get it over with. There are some companies you just don't screw with, and you certainly don't screw with 33 of them.

Yes (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188432)

Sometimes they do .. for example the RIMM versus a patent holding company called NTP:

http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/03/technology/rimm_ntp/ [cnn.com]

Other situations companies settle such as this one where a company claimed it owned rights to JPEG

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2005/02/21/daily14.html [bizjournals.com]

So yeah, patent trolling can be quite lucrative from a financial standpoint .. but I dunno what it does to the conscience.

Re:Do patent trolls ever win? (2, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188646)

This isn't about winning the lawsuits... this is about companies paying them to go away -- usually paying them slightly less than it would cost to defeat them in court. If you can get enough companies to do this, you can make millions off of a bogus patent without ever going to court.

Of course, if one of the companies calls you on it, you lose in court and that patent's revenue dries up.

I can only hope (0, Redundant)

shadylookin (1209874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188302)

I can only hope that continued use of these (in my opinion frivolous) patent lawsuits will eventually force a revamp of how the patent system works.

Crock of horse manure (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188306)

The company filed a nonsense obvious patent. The examiner was overworked and didn't understand it anyway, tossed a coin and it was heads, passed the patent. Company gets lucky and tries to sue everyone.

America, America, America. I'm afraid you all have to stay behind after school.

They sued WHO? (5, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188312)

They do realize that IBM, from it's lofty perch near the top of the Fortune 500, doesn't take too kindly to patent extortion? Especially pathetic ones like this? The same IBM that is a company that does not manufacture phones of any kind, smart or otherwise? The same IBM that has a larger patent portfolio than the next-highest competitor by a substantial margin? The same company that probably has a patent on breathing and a another patent on filing patent lawsuits? The same IBM with a quite famous, take-no-prisoners legal strategy? The same IBM that just spent more in legal fees fighting SCO than the company was worth?

Methinks a couple of those plaintiffs are going to get dropped from the suit, quite quickly. Unless of course IBM wants to make an example of them (not out of the question), in which case they will have their patent forcibly invalidated, with maybe some Sherman Act sprinkled on top for good measure.

SirWired

Re:They sued WHO? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188598)

Unfortunately, these patent troll companies are immune to counter-suits by other companies with large patent portfolios becuase they don't actually make anything. The defacto balance of power is maintained primarilly through Mutually Assured Destruction. The trolls exploit this to their advantage.

Re:They sued WHO? (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188618)

The same IBM that has a larger patent portfolio than the next-highest competitor by a substantial margin?
A large patent portfolio is only a threat against companies that actually make something. Standard operating procedure these days is to spin off separate companies to do the patent trolling.

The fact that IBM's lawyers are colloquially known as 'Nazgul' should probably be more worrying to them.

Minerva Industries. (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188640)

The patent in question is owned by a company called Minerva Industries. If you look at their web site their "products" consist of nothing more than their accumulated portfolio of patents. It's safe to say that this company has no products to speak of and is simply your typical patent troll.

IBM's expansive patent portfolio would appear to be worthless as a legal lever against a company that neither manufactures nor sells anything, unless some portion of Minerva's smartphone patent is covered by other patents IBM retains.

Regardless, I have to agree with you that Minerva taking on the biggest of the big in the technology sector with this legal challenge is sheer stupidity.

Someone Making a Point (4, Insightful)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188334)

I'd wager that this is someone trying to make a point about how broke the patent system is.

Hmmm...maybe it is Vonage!

Re:Someone Making a Point (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188564)

A potentially brilliant plan on Vonage's part if it's them. One problem though- do you think the people in charge here are going to get the point? I mean- they're the ones who let this through in the first place...

Re:Someone Making a Point (1)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188574)

I'd also wager that:

1. They are likely a /. reader.
2. They likely have posted in this thread.
3. Could have been the OP.

I'm just sayin'.

They forgot to sue one party (2, Funny)

ady1 (873490) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188348)

I noticed that they left out God...!!!!

Re:They forgot to sue one party (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188412)

But they got Apple, makers of the Jesusphone, so it all evens out.

Re:They forgot to sue one party (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188642)

A serious mistake, since that would be their easiest victory. After all, where would God get a lawyer?

On the other hand, they did sue IBM, and so can be expecting a visit from the Nazgûl [wikipedia.org] real soon now...

patent exposure is good (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188350)

Maybe this kind of exposure is good to illuminate some of the shortcomings of our patent system.

I'd like to Patent a Business Model Please (2, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188368)

Do you think I could patent the business model of patent trolling? Then sue all the companies needlessly tying up our legal and patent systems with this crap. Just a thought... maybe Ive just been at work too long.

Amateurs (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188378)

The way to patent troll is to go after a few small companies that can't afford to fight back, score those victories, then use the precedent to go after the big money.

Strange sort of patent (2, Insightful)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188382)

Generally a patent cannot just be a bunch of parts thrown together. There has to be coherence to it, an unexpected synergy that makes the whole more than the sum of the parts.

I'm trying to find the synergy here. Pure convenience, perhaps?

Way to go.... (1)

Llian (615902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188422)

WTG USPO! WTG USA for making and allowing such a system that is so easily abused by patent trolls. Where is the incentive NOT to do shit like this?

Re:Way to go.... (0)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188688)

I really don't understand why the US does this to itself. Here in the UK, I am can implement any software I want and sell it in pretty much any market. If it's good, then US consumers are penalised, because I can't sell it over there, and US-based competitors are penalised because they can't develop competing solutions using the same algorithms without being beset by patent suits. My development costs are lower, because I don't have to worry about someone having patented the isNot operator, or other trivia. It's almost as if the US government has made a conscious decision to avoid being competitive in the next decade.

Wow is this thing broad (4, Informative)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188442)

It details 125 combinations of things in a hand-held device.

Here's the first the rest are an extensive list of variations on the theme:

1. A mobile entertainment and communication device for communicating with the Internet and remotely located telephones, comprising: a housing of a palm-held size; a cellphone provided in said housing, said cellphone adapted for selectively and wirelessly connecting to the Internet and remotely located telephones and adapted for controlling selection of at least one of (1) downloading data or uploading data from or to the Internet, or (2) downloading data to a computer or other electronic device and said cellphone having at least one of (1) voice controlled dialing, (2) a wireless earphone or (3) a wire connection jack earphone with a microphone for operation of the mobile entertainment and communication device; a memory operatively connected to said cellphone; a microprocessor operatively connected to said memory; said microprocessor adapted for storing data to said memory that is received from the Internet or a remotely located telephone; and a display panel operatively connected to said microprocessor, said display panel adapted for reproducing images or other data from at least one of said memory or the Internet, said other data including at least one of moving images, combined sounds and moving images, or music with or without images.

The whole thing looks like the product of a brainstorming session with everything under the sun included in the list.

The patent was filed on Nov 20, 2003. It lists an inventor but they haven't invented anything as far as I can tell only tried to be the first ones to list these items together in a patent application. In going over the list I doubt there's anything to terribly non-obvious in there. I'd be surprised if this isn't challenged rather than just paid out, but that's just an opinion and IANAL.

Are they asleep at the patent office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188450)

They did what now? Are they asleep at the patent office? I regularly read here about stupid patents being pursued, but according to the story, this patent was actually issued. How can you patent something that others have already thought of? And evidently the only use of this patent is making money by sueing people who have thought of something after claiming it. I always thought there were smart people at patent offices, after all, they need to be able to check thoroughly if something isn't already patented in some way and didn't Einstein work as a patent clerk? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#Patent_office [wikipedia.org] But apparantly, I was wrong.

Patents should be used to protect years of hard work and investments, not used as a ploy in order to blackmail others. That is what they are attempting to do, extortion.

Patents are being abused on all sides. To stifle competition (Microsoft and others), to extort money from others (these guys) but nobody appears to be doing anything about this.

This is unfair, but worst of all, these activities can't be good for innovation. Patents were invented to promote innovation, to protect the work that had gone into them. But if patents are now abused to protect companies from competition or make money off of someone else's back, then who will want to do the hard work needed to create something new?

Manipulatin' me! (2, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188474)

Seriously, soon as I RTFA, the first thought that went through my head was that SOMEBODY has had enough of the USPO and decided to make as big a splash as possible, using a device that most people own, as a means to bring the entire issue to the PUBLIC, at large.

I doubt they are trying to actually win this thing, but merely point out that there are some SERIOUS problems with the patent system.

What better way to do so then to do it in grand fashion? The media are going to put up articles stating such stuff as "Is your cellphone doomed?", etc. etc.

Let the media do the ground work.

So, calm down. If it works, the patent system will get the desperately needed overhaul it deserves as a result.

Re:Manipulatin' me! (1)

IdeaMan (216340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188628)

That was my immediate thought too.
The problem is, the corporations fighting the case Want patents to continue because they've each built up their own costly portfolio of them. Even if new laws are proposed, the congressmen are in the pockets of those same corporations. The end result is a little money lost in lawsuits and no meaningful change to the laws.

Patent Document is a Reqs Doc, Not Design (5, Insightful)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188498)

Basically you can gather a list of blue sky requirements, write them up in legalese and then apply for a patent. Easy! Any half-witted project manager can do that in their sleep.

It's trivial to list requirements. Actually solving the many problems in realising the requirements is where all the work is, and applications like this indicate nothing like that.

There is no technical detail here that indicates the patent applicant ever intended to make anything or worse - ever solved any of the problems involved in designing a product like this.

That's where I think the patent system fails - you can essentially patent a requirements document without ever needing to progress further. It's not rewarding an inventor, because an inventor would have either created a prototype or created a design sufficiently detailed to allow a prototype to be built.

Patents like this reward the wrong people.

patent lawyers (4, Interesting)

intthis (525681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188514)

i've been going through the motions of getting some software patented (using a specialist law firm in chicago) and mid-way through the process, i stopped proceedings to entirely rework / rethink the project, because some troll like this had written a patent for something disturbingly simple, and worded it such that it expanded miles beyond it's scope... to a point that it encroached on... well... everything...

every time i see cases like this, i have to wonder... do i just need shadier patent lawyers? or should i just rely on the people who review these things to be completely blind to all prior art?

Re:patent lawyers (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188608)

Of course - it's the "trolls" and "lawyers" fault. It's not even possible for you to be the one in the wrong.

No Surprise (1)

michael.j.jarvis (969145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188550)

I guess in the end, given the debacle that was the NTP/RIM lawsuit, I would not be completely surprised. What bothers me, and just about everyone else out there is that there is nothing, well, at least nothing that I'm hearing or reading about, being done to put an end to this. Just because people here on /. talk about it doesn't mean that anything is ever going to get done. This is of concern to me because I have a BlackBerry. I am a BB Admin at work, and I deal with these things daily. What I don't understand is how patent holding companies are not squashed out of existence. Obviously the founding fathers had no idea the "system" would be abused the way that it has, and that the judicial system is for the most part rather uneducated regarding technology, meaning we see "unfair" judgments regarding these cases. Secondly, I feel that we need someone, at least one person that has some semblance of common sense in the USPTO. Hey, I can wish, can't I? It really is disappointing that nothing is made of this, and that this isn't making at least CNN bottom of the news hour. We have really messed our priorities up here in the US. It is really something that all of us can be ashamed of. Lets stop just talking about change, and really go out and at the very least, try to make something happen.

FYI (3, Interesting)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188576)

From el Wiki on prior art [wikipedia.org]

"Every country other than the United States uses a first-to-file system. This means that, regardless of who the first inventor was, the person or legal entity who files a patent application first is the one who can be granted a patent for the invention. The first-to-invent versus first-to-file rule is one of the major differences between U.S. patent law and the patents systems of other nations."

Negotiate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22188624)

Don't they have to try to negotiate on good faith with these companies before filing a suit?

Can someone explain to me how this happens? (1)

bluephone (200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188656)

I was looking up what "prior art" really means, and I found this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_to_file_and_first_to_invent [wikipedia.org]
A cursory Google search seems to reinforce that the US is NOT first-to-file but first-to-invent. So, my question is how the hell do people still get patents on things already invented? The smartphone has been around for a long time now, and this patents is just continuation after continuation after continuation. How does this stuff make it through? Are patent examiners REALLY so stupid as to not understand cell phones have been doing these things for YEARS? Do they even LOOK at applications anymore? I honestly don't understand this level of absurdity.

Does this ever work? (1)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188660)

I'm really curious if this ever works out in the favor of the bad-guy. I see this pop up in the news quite frequently, so I assume someone must actually cave in and give these guys money? Anyone know?

Literally (2, Funny)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188690)

I thought the title of the submission was just figuratively describing the speed of the lawsuits by saying "1 minute later" but that's exactly what happened.
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