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USPTO Grants CA Lawyer Domain-Naming Patent 387

Posted by timothy
from the sure-why-not-it's-only-a-patent dept.
SpecialAgentXXX writes "Geek.com reports that as of Dec 30, 2003, CA lawyer Frank Weyer holds patent #6,671,714 which is '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.' He's now, in SCO-like fashion, suing Network Solutions and Register.com for infringing on his patent. This is nonsense. My friend who ran for political office in 2000 used this exact naming scheme for his web site. All of us here can see how asinine this is. Will our legal system?"
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USPTO Grants CA Lawyer Domain-Naming Patent

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  • USPTO, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xandu (99419) * <matt&truch,net> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#8112758) Homepage Journal
    you have pissed us off too many times.
    Prepare to be slashdotted.
    • finally we recognize that the USPTO deserves to be trolled just as bad as they deserved to be treated like trolls. /me mods the uspto troll(0)
    • Re:USPTO, (Score:4, Funny)

      by nocomment (239368) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:50PM (#8113702) Homepage Journal
      "Slashdotted" nothin', I just released Yourdoomed.zip into the "wild". We'll see what that does.
    • by waterbear (190559) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:55PM (#8114380)
      USPTO, you have pissed us off too many times.
      Prepare to be slashdotted.


      This sure does look to me like yet another patent without any apparent ingenuity at all.

      But before getting ignored by the USPTO, /.ers might like to note first, that the filing date of the application leading to this wretched patent was Nov 23, 1999, so anything done in 2000 can't be relied on as prior art.

      Second, the subject of the patent appears to be the coordinated allocation of email addresses and matching web addresses, such as an email address of willrobinson@physicians.org, along with a web address of http://willrobinson.physicians.org.

      While I would personally agree that this is a case of 'Eureka - not!', that won't cut any ice at the USPTO. In reality, evidence of relevant prior art would be needed to take this out.

      The prior art would include (a) anything that was used in the US or published in print before 23 Nov 1998, (b) anything used in the US or published in print in the period 11/23/98-11/22/99 -- except insofar as the 'inventors' don't prove that they 'invented' it first, and (c) anything 'invented' in the US before the named inventors did it, whenever that was.

      -wb-

      • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:27PM (#8114710)
        I thought they were not supposed to be obvious to anyone skilled in the field. This is so damned obvious that anyone in or out of the field can see it. What the hell happened to common sense?
        • It is obvious as you say.

          The problem is with the USPTO's argument. If it is so obvious, then why didn't anyone do it earlier? Thus you need prior art to invalidate it.

          The USPTO is badly broken.
      • by rifter (147452) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:31PM (#8114750) Homepage

        "USPTO, you have pissed us off too many times.
        Prepare to be slashdotted."

        This sure does look to me like yet another patent without any apparent ingenuity at all.

        But before getting ignored by the USPTO, /.ers might like to note first, that the filing date of the application leading to this wretched patent was Nov 23, 1999, so anything done in 2000 can't be relied on as prior art.

        Second, the subject of the patent appears to be the coordinated allocation of email addresses and matching web addresses, such as an email address of willrobinson@physicians.org, along with a web address of http://willrobinson.physicians.org.

        While I would personally agree that this is a case of 'Eureka - not!', that won't cut any ice at the USPTO. In reality, evidence of relevant prior art would be needed to take this out.

        The prior art would include (a) anything that was used in the US or published in print before 23 Nov 1998, (b) anything used in the US or published in print in the period 11/23/98-11/22/99 -- except insofar as the 'inventors' don't prove that they 'invented' it first, and (c) anything 'invented' in the US before the named inventors did it, whenever that was.

        -wb-

        Firstly, this story is a dupe. Secondly, as was pointed out in the first story, what you (and the patent) describe has been common practice since the beginning of DNS, so it should not be a problem finding prior art. What is a problem is that the USPTO seems so intent on allowing clueless morons make such important decisions about technology patents. They really need to be reviewed by people who are "sufficiently skilled in the art" so that patents on thinsg which are obvious to such people (or known by them to be previously done / common practice ) will no longer be granted.

        I am getting really tired of this pattern of

        1) Find something a lot of people are already doing

        2) File for a patent describing just that

        3) Sue everyone

        4) ???

        5) Profit!

        We need to make doing this a federal crime punishable by hundreds of years in pound-me-in-the-ass prison or else we will continue to suffer the consequences.

      • by HDlife (714246) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:51PM (#8114904)
        Here it is, exactly, in 1998 at Mailbank.

        Mailbank.com at Archive.org, Nov. 11, 1998. [archive.org]

        Just send me my reward money now. I've been using those domain hijackers for years for email/web.

      • by tonyr60 (32153) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:55PM (#8114947)
        Well this appears to be an example oif prior art...

        http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc0799.txt?number=0799

        And dated September 1981!
  • DUPE. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mekkab (133181) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#8112760) Homepage Journal
    And I warned the "On Duty" editor, [slashdot.org] but i guess they're just asleep at the wheel.

    All we need now are:
    1) references to the McDonalds coffee lawsuit
    2) SCO jokes
    3) a comparison to Falling down at Walmart
    4) Posts bemoaning the loss of Goatse

    And it'll be a typical Wednesday morning on Slashdot!
    • You know, I half thought that when I was typing my post.

      I'm starting to think that Slashdot is becoming its own recursive Wayback Machine. If we wait around long enough, I'm sure the Y2K bug will appear again and all those out of work programmers will be back in demand writing patches.
    • Re:DUPE. (Score:4, Funny)

      by nate1138 (325593) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:43AM (#8112985)
      Did you hear the REAL reason that goatse.cx was taken down?

      Darl McBride fell down in a Walmart, spilling his scalding hot coffee on his (very shrivelled) member. He got so hopping mad he called David Boies and said "SUE EVERYBODY". In the resulting shitstorm, a Cease and Decist was accidentally sent to goatse.cx.

      And that's how it happened.
    • Prior Art (Score:2, Informative)

      by djb (19374)
      www.netidentity.com have been doing this since at least 1998 when I got my account with them.
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#8112764) Journal
    This patent was filed on November 23, 1999.

    There has to be prior art out there that shoots this down.
  • This is GOOD news. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#8112773)
    Patents like this cannot be enforced. With enough of these, the feds will be forced to re-examine the system.

    Don't get mad. This is good news. It means we're one day closer to patent reform.

    • by slimme (84675)
      Someone should patent something politicians use and the sue. Then things will change.

      Some internet fundraising method? Patent it and sue whoever uses your patented idea. That's what patents are all about.
    • With enough of these, the feds will be forced to re-examine the system.

      *sniff* [Wipes tear from eye] Man, you're such a kidder.

      The government will never reign in one of its few offices that actually has a positive revenue flow.
    • by jfengel (409917)
      Sadly, you're wrong on two counts.

      One, it doesn't take federal enforcement for a patent to be effective. If these guys come up to, say, a big ISP, which has better things to do than fight patents, they'll often pay rather than fight.

      Two, every single patent thread on Slashdot includes somebody saying, "Hey, we'll finally get the feds to realize the system is broken." It hasn't happened yet, and I doubt this is the straw that breaks the camel's back.
  • ...already, when two Australians copyrighted all phone numbers [iafrica.com] way back in 2001.
  • Link To Patent Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mateito (746185) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:27AM (#8112799) Homepage

    Link to patent text [uspto.gov]

    Its not like the patent office don't deserve a good slashdotting.

  • Oh no~ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gmiley01 (734988)
    I am now in danger of stepping on his IP!! Technically couldn't this guy sue any website owner under the 'name@subdomain.domain' portion? Is it possible this person is doing this, though, for a good cause? Maybe he is sick of seeing this sort of thing happen so he worked out this scheme to make the legal system look at how rediculous alot of these patents are? It's just a theory. I sure hope that is the case though.
    • ...perhaps he can blackmail these guys [idiot.com] out of their doman, it would be the perfect one for him.
    • Only if they owned the domain and were assigning the user.subdomain portion. If, however, I signed up for a somedomain.net account and got given a website at http://adrianbaugh.somedomain.net then I couldn't be sued because it wasn't me that assigned adrianbaugh.somedomain.net, it was the admin software belonging to somedomain.net; they would have to be sued.
  • Wake the patent office up and sue THEM! :)

  • This was pretty much standard practice in a lot of places before November 22, 1998, the date before which the knowledge would have to be "public" in order to count as prior art against this particular submarine patent.

    Too bad someone has to waste a lot of resources fighting something like this.
  • by haplo21112 (184264) <haplo@NOSPAM.epithna.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:29AM (#8112825) Homepage
    This really needs to be a presidential election issue. I'll vote for whoever says they will end Internet Technology patents.
  • by Guyle (79593) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:29AM (#8112827) Homepage
    It's most definitely a case of "Hey, I wonder if I can nab this now and later screw the world out of their money..." Though when it comes right down to the letter of his patent, how can he sue Network Solutions and Registrar.com? THEY'RE not the ones who's actually DOING the process - all they're doing is lining up domains with IP addresses. It's all of the individual websites and ISPs that are supposedly infringing his patent - at least, the ones that set up e-mail and websites the way he describes.

    This case won't stand up in court, and for it to stand up at all, it would have to be against an ISP or organization that assigns URLs and e-mails in the precise fashion his patent states - like my old website (now defunct) guy.thetaint.org with my e-mail having had been guy@thetaint.org.
  • All of us here can see how asinine this is. Will our legal system?

    Yes.

    Next story?

  • Please do! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:30AM (#8112836) Homepage
    I'm going to patent a method of manually stimulating the male organ to orgasm. And watch out, I have lawyers.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:32AM (#8112863) Homepage
    When I worked for an ISP many years ago (Galaxy Star Systems), we did that very thing with the domain "tulsa.net". We put their webpages at hostname.tulsa.net. Any email to hostname.tulsa.net was forwarded to their single email account.

    We're talking 1995 technology here, and it was obvious at the time.
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:34AM (#8112887) Homepage Journal
    I think the message is pretty clear after all these stories: a lot of really dumb patents are granted.

    Is this just a minor side effect of a basically beneficial system that will simply work itself out as the patents are challenged? Or does this have to be fought?

    If this is something that needs fighting, it would be good to know who is doing this, either on a grassroots level or as elected officials.

    • Is this just a minor side effect of a basically beneficial system that will simply work itself out as the patents are challenged? Or does this have to be fought?

      This is a new business model. (I probably should patent it but there's too much prior art... Wait, the USPTO will never notice... brb!)

      Basically, some company or person is granted a rediculous patent and then sues the bejesus out of everyone. Most people will settle paying up the licensing fees since it's cheaper than laywers and court costs.

      It'
    • Is this just a minor side effect of a basically beneficial system that will simply work itself out as the patents are challenged? Or does this have to be fought?

      Software/business method patents are not a basically beneficial system. That's agreed upon by most people, organisations and studies, from the FTC [ffii.org.uk] to even the owners of several mp3 patents, the Fraunhofer Institute [bmwa.bund.de]. Even Andy Grove (you know, the guy that runs Intel) recently said [bsa.org] they have a lot of negative effects (page 11 of the transcript, ne

  • Oh the irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:35AM (#8112897)
    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.'

    You know what's funny? the USPTO is supposed to do prior art research to grant patents. Well guess where you can find prior art for this method? at the USPTO itself. Here for example:

    estta.uspto.gov [uspto.gov] is a live server, and
    estta@uspto.gov [mailto] is a valid email address at USPTO.

    You gotta love these guys ...
    • Well, not that there isn't prior art for this out there somewhere, but are you sure that both that domain and that address existed before the patent was filed in 2000?
  • Well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:36AM (#8112906) Homepage Journal
    I'll just link to my previous comment [slashdot.org] ;^)
  • Date problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:37AM (#8112918) Homepage Journal
    Given your friend ran for office in 2000 and this patent was filed in 1999 that doesn't constitute prior art. It just means that your friend might have been violating the patent.

    I think it's stupid and it sucks but that's the worst-thought-out "reason" for having a patent overturned I've heard since... well, for a good few days at least.
    • Given your friend ran for office in 2000 and this patent was filed in 1999 that doesn't constitute prior art. It just means that your friend might have been violating the patent.

      I'm sure his friend will thank him for turning him in. ;)

      I thought you couldn't be nailed for vioaling a *pending* patent (this one was granted in 2003).

  • Contact Info (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:38AM (#8112922)
    Get angry, folks, and tell these people what you think. Hell hath no fury like a Slashdotter.

    Frank Weyer,
    Beverly Hills patent attorney
    also the founder of EveryMD.com

    EveryMD.com
    323/874-2567
    866-EveryMD (866/383-7963)
    fweyer@everymd.com

    His address:
    264 S. La Cienega Blvd., #1224, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:39AM (#8112940)
    "Case dismissed, suing party shot for being total asshole."
  • assigning each member of said group an e-mail address of the form "name@subdomain.domain;"
    If only the spammers would use this and add semicolons at the end of all the addresses. [catb.org]
  • by leoaugust (665240) <leoaugust@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:53AM (#8113103) Journal

    As long as I can remember I got addresses from Hypermart like:

    and the email address was accordingly

    name@testpharm.hypermart.net [mailto]

    Also as far as I can remember Yahoo had addresses that I could use to go directly to the relevant page rather than going via the home page - like

    And /. has addresses like

    These are some of the applications I remember offhand, and I am sure there has to be stuff like this that was there before this patent was filed.

    As it is, it is pretty stupid to give a patent for something that is quite functional - but is it innovative ? And worse, should you be able to prevent others from using it without paying extortion money ?

  • What I want to patent is a method for self-identification and verification.

    What is claimed

    1. That an individual may identify themselves.
    2. That the identity of the individual is made regardless of wether the individual is present or otherwise.
    3. The individual itentifies themselves by a mark or impression.
    4. The individuals unique mark or impression may be stored by another individual for verification purposes.
    5. The individuals unique mark or impression may be represented on any media by either descripti
  • D'oh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Decaffeinated Jedi (648571) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:12PM (#8113304) Homepage Journal
    Aww, man... and I just had business cards printed up with my email address.
  • Each time after such news I think that USPTO is contributing to job outsourcing from USA to overseas just together with labor price differences. If US citizens should blame someones then they should blame themselves for electing a gang of morons to represent their goverment.

    Hey, Americans, wake up until it's too late! You should upgrade your govermental system or stop expecting any good changes in your life! Your economy is stagnating more and more, and USPTO is not the last contributor to it!

  • patent every rfc? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drteknikal (67280) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:14PM (#8113325) Homepage
    Are we reaching a point where every RFC should be submitted as a patent application, just to prevent others from doing it than suing everyone who follows a standard?
  • Don't Forget (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pastpolls (585509)
    As absurd as this is, this guy is an attorney. He has the knowledge and ability to fight this as long as he likes. He can also file any number of countless lawsuits and fight them all himself thus costing millions of dollars in attorney fees to those he is sueing. He could make the arguement.. it is better to settle than fight this forever. Extorsion.
  • by Snags (18929) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:19PM (#8113373) Journal
    URLs don't come in the form "name.subdomain.domain". According to the syntax for URLs in RFC2396 [ietf.org], a URI (or URL) starts with the scheme (like http). So the patent should be about assigning URLs in the form "http://name.subdomain.domain/". The patent should be summarily thrown out for being incorrect.
  • by aprentic (1832)
    This guy can't really be serious. My bet is that this is either a joke or it's intended to make the patent office look silly.
    Kind of like that "method for swininging sideways" patent.
  • by the bluebrain (443451) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:35PM (#8113543)
    Reading this article, and the many that came before on the subject of "silly patents", the following occurs to me:

    - There is hardly a workday that passes where I am not called upon to come up with several solutions to problems that, by the standards given by this patent, are eminently patentable.
    - The solutions I come up with that make me happy, about once a fortnight - meaning that I drink my next cup of coffee with a smile - are pure fucking genius, and by rights ought to make me richer than Bill.
    - The solutions I come up with, about once every couple of months, where I actually wave my co-workers over and go "lookit this!", and am disappointed if they don't go "neeet! ... so how's it done?", lift me into god-like status, blinding all those in a three-mile radius around me with my sheer brilliance.

    The fact that the people in my immediate environment are not blind tells me either A) that, in fact, most people working in IT have gained this god-like status and are immune to the blinding light, or B) that the people who came up with those patents that do hit the /. frontpage belong to some arcane subgroup of humanity the members of which should strike through one, if not both of the "sapiens" following the implied description of their species.

    /end rant

    Well, at least guys like this make SCO feel less alone in the world.
  • by iPaul (559200) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:04PM (#8113824) Homepage
    The author asks what the legal system will do. He files suit against Register and Network Solutions. He asks for a $20,000 licensing fee, which they will agree to because their attorney's don't wipe their own ass for less than $500 an hour. They could win - after $500,000 in legal costs - and gain not much.

    Even if prior art is found, patents are assumed by courts to be of good quality. So, even if someone argues, successfully, prior art, some of the patent claims could still be used against other defendants. Basically, this is legal extortion by the patent holder and a make-work program for attourneys. And guess what! Attourneys are one of the most powerful and well funded political organizations in the United States!

    So yes, keep the PTO broken - so the legal system will "work" just fine. Where's my LSAT prep book?

  • Innovative (Score:3, Funny)

    by jsebrech (525647) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:17PM (#8114618)
    Now the lawyers are getting patents. This was to be expected. If they have to wait for some semi-fraudulent IP business to hire them, they might have to wait several weeks or even months. This way, they get immediate and full benefit from their lowlife tactics. Ingenious.
  • by Dashing Leech (688077) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:19PM (#8114639)
    I'm thinking of patenting:

    "A Process to Patent Methods that are Obvious"

    "A Process to Patent Methods that have Prior Art"

    Then, all of these people will be violating my patents when they do these sorts of things. It'll stop the stupid patents and/or make me rich. Either way, I'm happy.

    If it doesn't pan out, I might follow up by patenting "A Method for Patenting Inventions". That should shut the whole patent office down since they would be violating my patent each time they award any patent.

  • Prior art from 1995 (Score:3, Informative)

    by kaip (92449) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:25PM (#8114688) Homepage

    The patent claims functionality that IKI.FI [www.iki.fi], among others, has been providing publicly for thousands of users since 1995.

    IKI.FI has a web page that documents the prior art for the patent 6,617,714 [www.iki.fi].

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