Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents The Internet

URLs Patented, Domain Registrars Sued 650

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the getting-worse-before-getting-better dept.
theodp writes "A newly formed company is suing Network Solutions and Register.com for infringing on its e-mail and domain naming patent, which covers assigning each member of a group a URL of the form 'name.subdomain.domain' and an e-mail address of the form 'name@subdomain.domain.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

URLs Patented, Domain Registrars Sued

Comments Filter:
  • by Cyberglich (525256) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#7992979)
    The World has gone mad. Beam be up i am out of here.
  • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#7992983) Homepage Journal
    So when is amazon going to sue them for violating their sue-for-something-obvious-and-not-patentable patent? Not that they were the first to do such a thing, but hey, that never stopped them from getting patents before, right?

    [sigh]
    • by Frymaster (171343) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:28PM (#7993489) Homepage Journal
      this made me think of a business plan!

      i'm going to patent the idea that a business plan can be suing people who break alleged patents. then sue all the companies that sue companies for break patents because it breaks my patent.

      or something like that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:30PM (#7993509)
      Back in the days, before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals was created by corporations and Reagan, Patent Examiners used to be able to reject patent claims.

      Sometimes, when someone files claims as blindingly obvious as these, the Examiners would be permitted to reject the claims as an "obvious design choice". This was something appropriate to do when the choice made by the "inventor" did not add any new functionality to the thing sought to be patented, but was merely shuffling around design features that did nothing in and of themselves.

      That is exactly what is happening here with these claims. The naming scheme here is no more functional than is a scheme of naming your own children.

      Hey, here is a patent claim for ya that I just made up!
      1. A method comprising: a set of parents naming their first child Thomas, their second child Zebedee, and their third child Squeamish.

      Since a patent examiner looking at such a claim could not find a "motivation" in the "prior art" for one to name their children those precise names in that exact order, one could easily get a patent.
      Time to name the Enemy: the Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit. They are the malfeasors who have tied the hands of the US Patent Examiners so that they can no longer apply the laws of obviousness, but instead have to jump through absurd hoops looking for "motivation" to do that which take zero mental effort, like.... naming URLs (or kids, for that matter).
  • by fname (199759) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#7992987) Journal
    Just when you thought they'd run out of silly patents to sue over, here comes another one. According to the good folks at News.com, a couple of Nizzas (the name of their company) have sued Network Solutions and Register.com [com.com]. As Marguerite Reardon so eloquently puts it, "Two Internet entrepreneurs are suing Network Solutions and Register.com for allegedly infringing on their e-mail and domain naming patent." I take issue with the term entrepeneurs, as scum-sucking bottom feeders seems more appropriate, but you get the idea. Basically, they patented the method of assigning an email address of fake@name.com to the guy with the website fake.name.com. This might be the lamest excuse for a patent ever granted; a 2-year old could have come up with this idea.
    • by niko9 (315647) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:45PM (#7993042)
      I take issue with the term entrepeneurs, as scum-sucking bottom feeders seems more appropriate, but you get the idea.

      Reminds me of an apropos joke:

      What's the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?

      One is a scum suking bottom dweller, and the other is a fish.

      Thank you /bow/ thank you, I'm here every Thursday night at Club Slashdot...

      --
    • by Kris_J (10111) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:50PM (#7993102) Journal
      And if you want to comment on the news.com.com article, you can send an email to news@com.com.
    • by FatHogByTheAss (257292) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:08PM (#7993305)
      I suppose the good news is that these things are clearly defined via RFC, so identifying prior art shouldn't be a problem.
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:33PM (#7994445)
      ... entrepeneurs, as scum-sucking bottom feeders seems more appropriate

      Indeed. In the article they're described as "Javaher and Weyer were part of the original group that launched the .md domain in the United States in 1998. With the .md domain, physicians could register URLs ending in .md, such as www.janesmith.md."

      No mention that ".md" is just another of those small countries (Moldova in this case) who've signed away rights to some scumbags who think that they can pretend the letters stand for something else. Similar ones: .la (Laos, pretending to be Los Angeles/Latin America (!)/Lousiana), .tv (Tuvalu, pretending to be television). Hopefully all these idiots get burnt when the national governments cancel their domains without compensation or unilaterally multiply the fees.

  • by WasterDave (20047) <davep&zedkep,com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#7992990)
    A good two and a half months before 1st April. Go join the queue. Behind SCO.

    Dave
  • Not as bad as SCO. (Score:5, Informative)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:41PM (#7992991)
    According to CNET, these were the people responsible for launching the .md TLD in the USA to represent "medical doctor" when in reality, .md belongs to the Republic of Moldova. [checkurl.info] These people are definitely not scared of ruining Internet conventions when they stand in the way of a quick buck.

    However, the one thing we can relax on is that this doesn't affect .com, .net, .org, .edu, .us etc., just .name because what the patent covers is selling a 3rd-level domain for web use that equates to a username on the 2nd-level domain's mailserver. (If the registrant of john.doe.name gets the john@doe.name e-mail address... and an unrelated jane.doe.name gets jane@doe.name, and the registrar of .name is keeping doe.name, smith.name, jones.name, etc. for this kind of reselling... that's what the patent covers.)

    So, this isn't exactly a sky-is-falling situation, but it's shysters trying to make a quick buck off of patent law....
    • I haven't actually dug through the patent, but even if it just covers third-level domains, it most certainly could be applied to .com, .net, .org and so on. What's to stop someone who owns example.com and uses emails like user@example.com from also using user.example.com as a website?

      For an example a little closer to home, look at sourceforge.net. project.sourceforge.net is how they hand out URLS. If they allow email addresses project@sourceforge.net, they'd be violating this patent as well, right?
    • by rcpitt (711863)
      IMHO the prior art is in the proposal to create the .name TLD since the use of second and third level domain names for owners' names was implicit in its creation
    • by Nakito (702386)
      Just a reminder of the standard that must be met:

      United States Code, 35 USC Section 103:
      Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter
      (a) A patent may not be obtained . . . if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains.

      So -- is this a trivial, obvious extension of the
    • .md belongs to the Republic of Moldova

      They name countries after fridge leftovers? Is there a Slimistan? Rottovia? Burntoastan? Meltedicecreamatia? Drippingpizzanica? Beercannia?
  • Oh. C'mon! (Score:3, Funny)

    by holzp (87423) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:42PM (#7992999)
    I just patented freaking letters and numbers. So I am going to sue everyone! Sheesh!
  • by JoshWurzel (320371) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:42PM (#7993004) Homepage
    I've already patented the letters U, R, and L! After Microsoft patented 1's and 0's [http://www.theonion.com/onion3311/microsoftpatent s.html], I had to find a way to get even! Now, they can't even spell their own name without paying me.

    Oh yeah, and CmdrTaco owes me $0.10 every time he says "CmdrTaco". And $0.50 every time the name "slashdot" appears.
  • What the.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TypoNAM (695420) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#7993006)
    OK since when can we patent how URLs and email addresses are assigned? That is the most bullshit non-sense I've ever seen to this day! Whoever is approving these patents needs to be taken out back of their home and shot!
    • Re:What the.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:50PM (#7993109)
      The patent's more specific than that... their patent is a TLD operator selling people not true domains, but instead 3rd level web domains paired with matching 2nd level e-mail services. It's a specific product that they developed for .md that seems to have been duplicated by .name... the good news is that this only effects those who hold .name addresses, .com, .net, .org, .us, etc. can still go to sleep tonight...
  • SCO (Score:2, Funny)

    by roadfeldt (83931) *
    Is the company named SCO???
  • SCO (Score:3, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) <.mark. .at. .seventhcycle.net.> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#7993011) Homepage

    Darl would be proud!

    Fight on, brave righteous patent warriors!

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#7993012) Homepage Journal
    I think that the next patent that ought to be pursued in court is the symbolic representation of language as phonetically derived characters. 'Twas recently discovered to be the proerty of a company forming just next week, to assume such rights.
    • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:10PM (#7993326)
      I think that the next patent that ought to be pursued in court is the symbolic representation of language as phonetically derived characters. 'Twas recently discovered to be the proerty of a company forming just next week, to assume such rights.

      You forgot to include the phrases "a system for implementing" and "on a computer."

      a system for implementing the symbolic representation of language as phonetically derived characters on a computer

      See, much better! Now watch the royalties roll in. BTW, I own the patent on this method, so you should just endorse those royalty checks over to me....

      Cheers,
      IT
  • by RobPiano (471698) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#7993013)
    hen I first saw this, I thought it was a hoax! But its mentioned a few times on google already.

    A brief check on the authors shows that there isn't much on the web about these guys.

    Troy Javaher is listed as being at ICANN 99 here, and the other guy here [216.239.37.104].

    Dotmd is a strange site [dotmd.com]

    Either way... When did the business model "I created a patent just so I could sue you" a socially acceptable business practice? I have no love for register.com, but I don't think that this is an acceptable thing to do to anyone.
  • Newsflash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#7993015)
    Anybody can sue anyone about anything. It's only newsworthy if there's a slightest shred of the plaintiff winning.
  • I guess it's time for me to patent 'alphanumeric symbols combined to create grammatical constructs'.

    I'd better hurry, before someone else grabs it up from under my nose.
    • Re:Alphabet (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)
      yes, however
      'alphanumeric symbols combined to create grammatical constructs on the internet'
      will probably be OK.
  • Prior Art Anyone? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jmt9581 (554192)

    Here's a link to the patent. [com.com]

    So, anyone have a website log or e-mail from before November 23,1999?
  • WTF? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:44PM (#7993031) Homepage Journal
    What is claimed is:

    1. A method for assigning URL's and e-mail addresses to members of a group comprising the steps of:

    assigning each member of said group a URL of the form "name.subdomain.domain"; and

    assigning each member of said group an e-mail address of the form "name@subdomain.domain;"

    wherein the "name" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is the same and unique for each particular one of said members such that an only difference between said URL and said e-mail address for said member is that in said URL the "@" symbol of the e-mail address is replaced with a "." and wherein said "subdomain" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is the same for all members of said group.

    2. The method of claim 1 wherein said members of said group comprise members of a licensed profession.


    Now... I'm going to try to remain calm here but HOW THE FUCK WAS THIS PATENTED?! Nothing is *invented* here, it's a method of organizing a system which ALREADY EXISTS (email and DNS). This just further shows the US Patent Office's stupidity.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bssea (79248) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:53PM (#7993136) Journal
      Actually.. to file a patent you don't have to *invent* anything. You just have to show "the use of an idea for a process, machine, item of manufacture, or composition of matter". The mere writing it down is considered the "invention".

      On a side note.. the idea is also supposed to be "novel, useful, AND, nonobvious". This topic fails on at least two of the cases. It's neither novel, nor nonobvious. This is U.S. Patent Law. If you don't like it, talk to your congressman.

      --sea

      Credit of quotes: class notes (Computers and the Law.. yeah who the hell needs to look stuff up?)
      • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        Well, U.S. patent law used to be far more pragmatic: for example, you had to actually demonstrate a working invention before you could patent it. Doesn't mean you had to have a finished production model, but you sure had to provide the examiner more than a piece of paper. Re-instituting that requirement would go a long way towards restoring balance here, I think.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mabinogi (74033)
      The thing that bothers me the most is the second claim.

      The first one is ridiculous enough, and obviously the one that they're getting uptight about, but the second one shows a far scarier thing.

      "Exactly the same as 1, but different when doctors use it"
      The proffession of the members of the group should have no bearing on the technical implementation of something like this, so why the hell is it in the list of claims?
  • No, its the USPTO this time.

    Only the money ladden will survive.
  • And countersue them for gross incompetence in making it ass-backwards from every other system - phone numbers are msd-lsd, ip addys are msB-lsB, folders, etc. Everything goes big-to-small except friggin' domains. Remember that old plan to bridge phone numbers into the DNS system? It would have been a hundred times easier if it was the other way around.
  • by teetam (584150) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:46PM (#7993051) Homepage
    In related news, India has decided to patent its invention of zero and the place value number system, which is the basis for decimal, octal, hexadecimal and binary number systems.

    Unless all computers in the world switch to Roman numerals soon, India will become the world's wealthiest nation soon!

    • India is by no means the only contender for the "who invented zero" title.

      Maybe Iraq could get a leg up on reconstruction by contesting that claim [andrews.edu] in an X-TREME CRADLE-OF-CIVILAZATION *SMACKDOWN*.

    • Microsoft already done that! See This [theonion.com] Article. Granted it doesnt cover so many numerical systems, it still covers most computers today.

      Tm

    • I I NIHIL I I NIHIL NIHIL I I NIHIL

      DEFECTVS SEGMENTATIONIS

      Svre, i can manage that. Lvcky that I, as one, live in Italy ;)

      Once we've settled the prior art dispvte vvith the Greeks (damn their alphas and betas, by Jove, vve'll have to invade them again), ovr nation shall rise again!

      All your ascii are belong to vs.
  • by BOFH Supreme (680103) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:46PM (#7993057)
    ..and I feel fine.

    Seriously, old fat women that go to Wal-Mart and fall on the wet floor have made their way to IT.

    Just they are now heads of companies, heads that somehow rocketed up the company's ass so far that they cannot see reality.

    *sigh*

    STEEEEMPY, YOU EEEDIOT
  • by lukior (727393) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:46PM (#7993063)
    Am I the only one that thinks the patent system is out of control. I thought patents were designed to further scientific knowledge for the betterment of mankind or something like that. Now there are cases where research is being hindered because you're not allowed to use prior patented research. Patents helped a lot of scientists in the early days make a living but now it is just a way to strengthen megacorps. It disgusts me when a big company is sold not because of anything produced by it or because of it's quality of it's employees but because of the size of it's patent library. Changes need to be made.

  • Under this patent I can't set up a hosting site (lets say professions.com or something) and then give out subdomains with maching emails. For example I couldn't set up a website for a doctor at http://tomsmith.doctors.professions.com and give him the matching email address tomsmith@doctors.professions.com without having to worry about infringing on this patent.

    I can't believe the US Patent and Trademark office let this kind of stuff through. Its just like the ActiveBuddy patent. Stuff like this makes me s
  • whoops.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lxy (80823) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:49PM (#7993091) Journal
    These guys are morons. They patent a technology and sue with groundless accusations. Usually when a company claims patent infringement, they try to find a small defenseless company in hope they can set precident. These guys? They go after NetSol and Register.com, two companies with enough legal firepower to make just about any company disappear.

    This will be a fun one to watch.
  • G 'n R (Score:5, Funny)

    by fiftyLou (472705) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:50PM (#7993104)
    "GNR manages the registry, and they're also potential infringers"

    G'nR ?? I thought they broke up when Slash went solo.

    Take me down
    To the paradise city
    Where the grass is green
    And the girls are pretty
  • Just this week I patented an invention for a "systematic lettering system for user input" that should allow me to effectively sue every keyboard manufacturer on the planet!!!

    But I don't really care about the money... I'm a blood thirsty Luddite looking to cure you all of your dependency on technology... getting rich will be just a happy side effect.
    You may hate me now, but you'll be thanking me later.
  • Oh, my God... how in the blue fucking hell did these two clowns get a patent for this shit????

    I knew the USPTO was full of 'tards, but this just takes the fucking cake.. Only a freaking chimpanzee could think this patent deserved to be granted... no, wait, I take that back... a moderately intelligent chimp could see through this...

    AAaaagggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These fools are gonna cause me to pull every last hair I have out of my head....
  • by RT Alec (608475) * <alec@NOspaM.slashdot.chuckle.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:54PM (#7993150) Homepage Journal

    From the patent documentation:

    1. A method for assigning URL's and e-mail addresses to members of a group comprising the steps of:


    assigning each member of said group a URL of the form "name.subdomain.domain"; and

    assigning each member of said group an e-mail address of the form "name@subdomain.domain;"

    wherein the "name" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is the same and unique for each particular one of said members such that an only difference between said URL and said e-mail address for said member is that in said URL the "@" symbol of the e-mail address is replaced with a "." and wherein said "subdomain" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is the same for all members of said group.

    This is the precice format for e-mail addresses in DNS zone file, for the SOA record. See RFC 1034 [faqs.org], section 3.3. Date of prior art, 1987.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:15PM (#7993358) Journal
      Wish I had a mod point for you. I knew this existed, although I thought it was older than this. You are absolutely correct, this RFC is much more descriptive of the process than the actual patent is, and describes in better detail the exact same contents of the patent, 22 YEARS before the patent was applied for.

      It explicitly covers email addresses for subdomains, and even how some older software (pre-87) will break with it. (Thus the Request For Comment, to set a standard).

      There needs to be some kind of punitive damage for people who attempt to patent things that are not only covered by prior art, but are in the Public Domain, for over 20 years before the application.
      • by NtroP (649992) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:04PM (#7993739)

        There needs to be some kind of punitive damage for people who attempt to patent things that are not only covered by prior art, but has been in the Public Domain, for over 20 years before the application.
        No. There needs to be some kind of punitive damage for the people who approve a patent application that is not only covered by prior art, but are in the Public Domain, for over 20 years before the application!

        I say we need to start holding the U.S. Patent Office accountable for the actions of their "lazy, incompetent, government" employees.

        BTW, I am a government employee. And if I did my job as poorly as they do, I'd expect to get my ass booted out into the cold, pronto!

    • by anti-NAT (709310) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:55PM (#7993680) Homepage

      URLs start with the "http://" prefix, or probably more correctly "|protocol|://" prefix.

      They have a domain name there, that is all, not a URL.

      If they get the terminology wrong in a patent, does that mean it is invalid, because the "inventor" doesn't understand the topic well enough to be explicitly correct ? I would have thought patents have to be explicitly correct, as the government is granting the patent holder a monopoly, and therefore, the patent must be very clear and correct.

  • by chrootstrap (699364) <chrootstrap@yaTIGERhoo.com minus cat> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:56PM (#7993179) Homepage
    ...and see for yourself how techno-jargon and a tremendous effort at obfuscation through over-complexity passed this patent through the filter. CowboyNeal's pithy sentence describes the near totality of the patent yet the patent itself spews reams of steps, trivia, and jargon to hide as well as possible the actual application of the patent. What a bunch of bullshit!

    I think there ought to be penalties for the use of these nuisance patents. A judge then could not only strike down the patent's validity (which will obviously happen here), but could also impose a heavy fine to deter this kind of litigious crap from happening.
  • by TekPolitik (147802) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:57PM (#7993193) Journal
    MailBank (Now NetIdentity) has been doing exactly this since 1996 [netidentity.com]. I don't see these cretins getting very far.
  • by kafka93 (243640) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:59PM (#7993202)
    With apologies if it's been posted before..

    The Prior-Art-O-Matic [thesurrealist.co.uk]
  • It's a joke, folks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donutello (88309) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:03PM (#7993255) Homepage
    The patent application was filed in 1999. Reading through the text of the patent, it describes something completely different: an email-to-fax/telephone/snail mail gateway and not the idea of having blah@foo.bar

    My guess is this is someone trying to prove how idiotic the USPTO is.
  • by jocknerd (29758) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:05PM (#7993265)
    The first was in the 1890's when the Supreme Court gave corporations Eminent Domain which meant they had the rights of citizens but without the consequences.

    The second was in the 1980's when they relaxed the patent process for software. Up till that time, software was considered to be nothing more than mathematical formulas which could not be patented.

    How I long for the glory days!
  • by goon america (536413) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:11PM (#7993337) Homepage Journal
    Why is this a good thing? Because this time, the fake-patenters got overzealous and attacked someone who actually has the legal resources to fight back. If they get smashed (and I hope they do) it will create a legal precedence that will make this practice much harder to do in the future.
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:31PM (#7993520) Homepage Journal
    ...when someone obtains a ridiculous patent, gets some goofy Federal judge (and there are plenty of those) to uphold it in such a way to completely devastate an industry or even adversly affect the whole American economy.

    It's like the Iraq WMD situation... except this time they're waiting for someone to drop the Big One before doing something about it.

    Of course if I'm the one with the patent, then everything will be OK. ;-)
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:40PM (#7994068) Homepage Journal
    Any person (examiner) who approves a patent this bad should be forced to stand unprotected in the (newly established) "stoning court" outside the USPTO should their patent failt the slash-dot "that's really stupid" test.

    The only thing(s) the patent examiner may use as a shield are the materials he gathered together that he can demonstrate are in support the patent, or the bodies of the person or persons who submitted the patent in the first place. The attendence of those persons is mandatory.

    The galery has one half of one hour to act as they see fit... stones varing in size from golf-ball to basketball will be amply provided by the FTC.
  • by jjgm (663044) on Friday January 16, 2004 @03:55AM (#7996164)

    At least one specific recommendation by a governing body for using hostmaster.example.com. as a DNS label to represent "hostmaster@example.com" can be found here [ripe.net], published well before this patent was filed.

    This can also be seen in RFC 1912 [ietf.org] (section 2.2), published in 1996.

    These muppets have patented something published in one of the very standards they should be familiar with.

    - J

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.

Working...