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Last NTP Patent Tentatively Thrown Out 198

Posted by Zonk
from the congressmen-rejoice dept.
pcause writes "Reuters reports that the fifth NTP patent has been rejected. What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?" From the article: "The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has sided with BlackBerry portable e-mail device maker Research in Motion Ltd. by issuing a non-final rejection of a fifth patent at the center of its legal battle with patent holding company NTP Inc. The decision means the patent agency has now issued non-final rejections of all five patents at issue in a BlackBerry patent-infringement case before a federal judge."
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Last NTP Patent Tentatively Thrown Out

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  • by drhamad (868567) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:45AM (#14626210)
    As easy as it is for me to want to side with RIM, and be excited that this last patent was thrown out...

    I'd like to know several things. First, what WAS the last patent? The article doesn't say - I'm sure someone could dig it up, though. Also, why was it rejected, and if there was good cause to reject it, why did it survive so much previous scrutiny? While the USPTO will accept almost anything at first - they don't do rigorous review of everything submitted, until it is challenged - they start scrutinizing them once court cases come up. So how did it survive previously if it could not survive now? Could this perhaps be only a political decision? The USPTO bowing to administration pressure?
    • Under pressure... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuaintRealist (905302) <quaintrealist@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:59AM (#14626362) Homepage Journal
      "What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?"

      This is a political decision, but related more to the US Senate/House than to the administration. I have been waiting for the politicos to stuff this one, and as the deadline for RIM drew near, they are doing so.

      Now we can just hope that this has an effect on the USPTO beyond just the RIM case, extending to the other questionable patents they have approved...
      • Maybe in this case the outcome is good, but I wonder what if the patents were good? I don't think that pressure was applied to the USPTO because it isn't issuing good patents, it was pressured because it was issuing inconvenient patents.

        I don't know - I can't tell if the checks and balances in the system are working or broken.

        Will the USPTO learn the lesson to issue better patents, or will they learn the lesson to check with congress before they issue a patent?
        • In this case I don't think you need to worry about that.

          NTP is the one gaming the system here -- the NY Times called them a "virtual corporation" (according to Engadget [engadget.com]), and they're nothing but a holding company with a fat war chest set up to create landmine lawsuits over the patents that they hold.

          In terms of patent abuse, these guys make Microsoft look like Mother Teresa. They don't make anything (except lawsuits), they don't do anything, and the only way they have of making money is by going after the '
          • Well but...didn't they acquire some IP some way? Purchase it, or develop it? So they are producing something, just nothing material.
            • They basically wrote up some specs as to how to do what RIM does,
              and submitted that for the patents. If I told you to come up with
              some way of doing e-mail over wireless, you would likely come up
              with the same thing. In other words, it's obvious stuff, and
              clearly should not have been granted a patent in the first place.
            • First off, the patents NTP acquired were rather low-originality concepts (basically using an interrupt scheme instead of polling to save battery life, IIRC). Second, they were trying to patent something which already existed as prior art (RIM's failed court demonstration aside). Shame on the Patent Office for handing out weapons to parasitic companies like NTP by not examining patent requests more carefully.

              I think the most ideal solution for cases like this would be for the court to throw out the paten

        • ..whether the patents were good? They patented email in a mobile device. How good does that get?
      • Re:Under pressure... (Score:3, Informative)

        by coolgeek (140561)
        Nice hat you have there? Is that tin foil?

        Really, calling a non-final decision on these patents "politically motivated" is a stretch. If your conspiracy theory held any water, the USPTO would have issued final decisions, thereby removing any possibility that the patents may be upheld when NTP appeals the non-final decision. Yes, I know that hat of yours is telling you that the USPTO will control the review process and it will be a sham, however that theory overlooks the fact that NTP will be able to file
        • The problem here, so far as I can see it, is that RIM, while probably now unfettered, still racked up a rather large number of legal bills fighting one of these fine companies whose business model amounts to extorting licensing fees through the patent system. There's no recourse for recovery. NTP's defense is that they thought the patents were legitimate. The various courts' defense is that it's not their job to decide the validity of patents. The patent office itself is just going to go "Well, we have
          • LOL...wouldn't it be poetic to stick the Feds with the lawyer's fees? Tack it on to the patent office's budget, perhaps. Take it out of management's raises and bonuses.
            • LOL...wouldn't it be poetic to stick the Feds with the lawyer's fees? Tack it on to the patent office's budget, perhaps. Take it out of management's raises and bonuses.

              You and I both know that it won't be management paying for any legal fees. It'll be us taxpayers. So, no, I don't think the Feds should pay the fees. Now, if you could direct the fees to certain congressmen who have failed to improve the situation, *that* would be poetic justice.

      • The patent office is literally filled to the brim with what? Lawyers.

        They like to have disputes litigated in court. So the conciously let weak patents through, approving them on the idea that they will be litigated if it becomes "important".

        This results in full employment for what? Lawyers, again.

        Hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees, settlements where litigation is too expensive, and all that comes with it, when what they should be doing is rejecting most of those ridiculous patent app
      • You're right that this was a political situation - not to appease people who would be upset about losing their blackberry, but rather to preserve the status-quo in the patent system.

        If RIM got shutdown, the outcry for patent reform would have been overwhelming. There are too many many powerful entities interested in preserving the current, broken, system.

        The government couldn't care less if we have blackberries. It's the campaign contributions from companies with lots of bad patents that they're worried a
    • by sbowles (602816) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:13PM (#14626507)
      This OBJ Article [ottawabusi...ournal.com] doesn't discuss the particular patent that was thrown out, but it does indicate that new evidence of prior art presented by RIM was instumental in the decision.

      The above article also indicates that other patents held by InPro where overturned by German and UK officials in the last week.

    • RIM hired a whole bunch of lobbyists who argued that Blackberries were necessary for national security. Congressmen backed them up, saying that in the aftermath of 9/11, cellphones did not work but Blackberries kept going. The subtext is that if Blackberries were eliminated, there would be no way for Congressmen and other civilian organizations to communicate. The patents here have already been scrutinized by a district court and upheld as valid and infringed. Suddenly, the PTO gets through these reviews in
      • Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Blackberries of old (circa 2000/2001) use the pager network instead of cellular? If so, then I doubt the current Blackberries will fare much better than cell phones in the next disaster. Kind of makes that "Blackberries kept working after 9/11" argument a little weak.
        • Not quite, consider that blackberries are packet data whereas voice on cell phones is streaming data. You need a constant, uninterrupted connection to do anything useful with the voice part of cell phones, but you can send and receive sms and blackberry email even with very sporatic and overloaded cell infrastructure. It will take longer, but the messages generally eventually get through.

          Cell infrastructure is not designed to handle peak usage, it is only able to handle "average" usage. In emergencies it al
      • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:45PM (#14626887) Journal
        The patents here have already been scrutinized by a district court and upheld as valid and infringed.

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but the district court specifically DOES NOT have any say on whether or not a patent is valid (they can only rely on the patents current status with the USPO. So the the USPO has granted a valid patent, the court doesn't do any scrutinizing on whether its valid or not, it just decides if it was infringed upon. The courts must rule based on the assumption the patent is valid cause it just ain't thier job to decide either way.
        • They usually leave it up to the courts to decide if the patent is valid or not rather than review it themselves when its disputed. That's the entire point of bringing prior art to the judge. The problem is that judges don't have a clue about tech so tech patents stand up in court when they shouldn't.
        • Courts certainly (district, appeals) can and do rule that some patents are invalid. It may be that they can only make this ruling on narrower grounds (fraud by patent applicant, failure to disclose prior art, etc) than the USPTO, but I'm not a lawyer so I don't know.

          The grandparent poster's question is valid. Perhaps an IP attorney can enlighten us?
        • Invalidity is an affirmative defense to infringement:

          35 U.S.C. 282 Presumption of validity; defenses.
          The following shall be defenses in any action involving the validity or infringement of a patent and shall be pleaded:
          (1) Noninfringement, absence of liability for infringement, or unenforceability,
          (2)Invalidity of the patent or any claim in suit on any ground specified in part II of this title as a condition for patentability,
          (3)Invalidity of the patent or any claim in suit for failure to comply with any
        • Correct me if I'm wrong...

          You are wrong. A court may hold the patents invalid despite what the patent office may think. Odd, huh? A court may rule that the patents were obtained by fraud upon the patent office during prosecution. Or a court may find prior art renders a patent obvious. The patent office is granted deference, however. Obviousness arguments usually win if you come up with prior art that was NOT before the patent office. However, there is nothing preventing the court from invalidating the paten
    • by weisen (461536)
      Do you have actual knowledge that these patents "survive[d] so much previous scrutiny" or is this the first actual challenge at the patent office?

      The previous challenge was in court which, as far as I know, came to the conclusion that RIM infringed the patents, not that the patents were valid. What seems to be happening is a race between the patent review process and the legal process.

      The USPTO has a history of issuing patents for which there exists prior art both to "little guys" and "big guys." The resu
    • by Astin (177479)
      I think (although I'm not positive) that it's more a case of the reviews being fasttracked through the system. Usually, it could take years to get to a review because of the backlog. I'd imagine some political pressure was applied to move this to the front of the line, but not necessarily to influence the final decision.
    • The article stated that this was a "non-final" rejection. In my personal experience nearly 95-99% of all patent applications that ultimately issue receive at least one "non-final" rejection. This story is, well, a non-story.
    • by werdna (39029) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:51PM (#14626973) Journal
      As easy as it is for me to want to side with RIM, and be excited that this last patent was thrown out...

      That isn't the case. The USPTO, on its own motion, placed these patents through a process called reexamination, in which each patent claim allowed is subject to review for subtantial new questions of patentability not previously considered by the office. So an examiner takes a new bite at the apple, based on new prior art, and reexamines te claims in view of the new art.

      All that happened here, is that what is called an "iniitial official action" was issued, laying out the examiner's case that there existed new prior art that could invalidate the patent. First action rejection of all claims, which didn't happen in this case, is ROUTINE in ALMOST EVERY patent examination, and rarely indicates that the patent claims are in doubt. The next step is that the applicant files a response, either defending the claims as originally allowed, or introducing amendments or amended claims and defending them. It is then ROUTINE in MOST applications, that some or all patent claims are allowed to issue, either as originally filed or with some amendments.

      So, if a single claim of a single patent survives unscathed, or allowed and amended claims are narrower but still infringed, nothing gets better for RIM.

      The fact of initial rejections indicate nothing -- it is just another point of leverage for a settlement negotiation.

      This is not the first time this has been pointed out in these letters.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOspaM.tpno-co.org> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:46AM (#14626224) Homepage
    They all have a crackberry.
  • Connections (Score:5, Funny)

    by bohemian72 (898284) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:46AM (#14626227)
    It means that those government employees, all the way up to the Congress, who were worried about their Blackberry service made some calls to some people in the Patent Office.
    • Re:Connections (Score:4, Insightful)

      by blueZhift (652272) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:01PM (#14626392) Homepage Journal
      Far from a funny, I think you are absolutely right. Once this patent issue became something real for those in power, you can bet that calls were made. In the end, if the rejections all stand, perhaps this will be a warning to those playing the patent and sue strategy not to overplay their hands.
    • actually, i know this is a joke, but it's wrong.

      the government can breach any IP law, trademark, patent etc it likes.

      it's the government. (no really, it's written into the patent law statutes)
      • by werdna (39029)
        I don't think there is any statutory exemption for the U.S. government in the patent act. (There is an express statement that States are not exempt, although the Supreme Court struck that down a few years back.) If I am mistaken, I'd be pleased to see a citation to the provision.

        What government can do, of course, is to seize the patent, indeed ANY PROPERTY, all or in part through its power of eminent domain. Thus, no injunction can issue against the government. It's good to be the king.

        The problem here
  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by revery (456516) <charles AT cac2 DOT net> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:49AM (#14626258) Homepage
    Well, it kinds of throws the supreme value of having the government as a client into sharp relief, doesn't it?

  • It's About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:51AM (#14626285)
    It's about time these patents were thrown out, although I would have preferred a court ruling that said patent law does not extend beyond the US border. I may love my country, but that doesn't mean I think they're always right.
    • Ummm...

      US patent law only covers the US... so I think your wish is granted.

      • Re:It's About Time (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drhamad (868567)
        Correct, US Patent Law technically only covers the US - although by treaty, it'll include more - much more. But I agree, I think the posters wish has already happened ;) If a company does business in the US though, they are then subject to US patent law, of course. And that is what RIM has done - could anyone seriously contend that RIM doesn't need to honor US patents when doing business in the US? That would be ridiculous.
        • That would be ridiculous.


          Indeed. Patently ridiculous.
        • Even under treaty, a U.S. Patent only covers the U.S. Treaties simply allow patents to be filed in other countries that are based on a patent filed in a WIPO member country. For example, I file a patent in the U.S. I can then file a "copy" patent in Canada or another WIPO member country (pretty much ALL countries) within 18 months and get the same "priority date" or date of filing in the WIPO member country as I did in the U.S.
        • Re:It's About Time (Score:3, Insightful)

          by davecb (6526) *
          Arguably they don't have to honor U.S. patents on a program which is not in the U.S.

          The interesting question is whether by connecting to a sever in Canada, a U.S. customer makes the Canadian server subject to U.S. patents.

          This is somewhat similar to the arguement that by serving a web page in Canada you're subjct to the laws of every country where it is viewed.

          --dave

    • Actually, it's not about time. This article has nothing do with clock synchronisation, which left me very disappointed.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:51AM (#14626289) Homepage Journal
    They started this patent war, they were the ones who were suing a bunch of smaller firms doing the same thing as RIM, that's why the late Thomas Campana even started his lawsuit on the first place - he saw a newspaper article about RIM suing other firms for patent infringements, the same sort of patents NTP was sitting on.
    • "They started this patent war, they were the ones who were suing a bunch of smaller firms "

      Absolutely true, and RIM should be lambasted continually until they apologize for their unethical business behaviour.

      But it is also important to remember that this is a victory for true technology companies, inventors, and innovators. While RIM did use the same tactics as NTP there is a core difference between RIM and NTP. RIM is a company that makes and sells a product, they have individuals within the company who in
  • I was just getting ready to photoshop a picture of Heston with a blackberry: "Not from my cold dead hands". Guess I don't need to now.
  • It Says... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:53AM (#14626304) Homepage
    What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?

    It says that the USPTO has and will continue to issue bullshit patents on anything put in front of them, but that when a patent affects 25% of the government, regardless of validity, they will toss it out so they don't risk actual reform. No need to fret, however, any bullshit patents that only act as a cudgel for big businesses to kill or blackmail small businesses will remain inviolate.
    • no it says that if you have enough money and contacts you can get anything done.

      how about all the BULLSHIT patents that rim holds and have been using to keep smaller companies from making a similar service?

      This is not a win for anyone.

    • It says that the USPTO has and will continue to issue bullshit patents on anything put in front of them, but that when a patent affects 25% of the government, regardless of validity, they will toss it out so they don't risk actual reform.

      All evidence is to the contrary. What is your basis for suggesting these patents are truly in trouble? A kazillion dollars were spent in defense of RIM at trial, including multi-kazillion dollars in an effort to identify real prior art to invalidate the claims of the pate
      • All evidence is to the contrary. What is your basis for suggesting these patents are truly in trouble?

        "RIM shares were up 9.42 percent to $73.89 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq."

        The market as a whole knows more about the law than you do (and much more than I do).

        A kazillion dollars were spent in defense of RIM at trial, including multi-kazillion dollars in an effort to identify real prior art to invalidate the claims of the patents in suit. After that, a judge and jury, dealing with legal and factual que
        • So if your point is that the patents are valid

          My point was simply that the validity of the patents in view of the prior art considered by the Court has been fully litigated and reviewed on appeal.

          , I would have to question whether the USPTO is answerable to courts regarding its decisions

          Well, the USPTO appears to think so. Manual of Patent Examination Practice 2659 (decisions of federal courts binding during reexamination)

          - because it is most certainly answerable to the whims of congress (my initial point
  • by king-manic (409855) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:55AM (#14626324)
    This is just one step in a grand conspiracy by those sneaky canucks to take over the word.

    I for one welcome our touque wearing overlords.
  • How does a judge have the expertise to decide this. Are expert witnesses providing the rationale behind the decision or is this a case of political pressure on the court influencing its decision. Definitely something that needs to be clarified.

    http://www.commodore69.com/ [commodore69.com]
    • This was not a court decision, this was a USPTO decision.

      That being said, there would be a massive amount of expert testimony and testimony of those involved if it did come down to the judge to have to decide. I'm not sure why "this needs to be clarified" though - trials are not held to please the public's interpretation of them. If you want it clarified, go to court and watch the proceedings. And read the final decisions - those will tell you what the judge (at least expressly) based his decisions o
  • What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?

    That the PTO had its head up its collective @$$ on computer patents in the 1990s (which everyone here knew) and that there is the slim possibility that the PTO has now pulled its head back out (which most people don't believe yet).
    • That the PTO had its head up its collective @$$ on computer patents in the 1990s (which everyone here knew) and that there is the slim possibility that the PTO has now pulled its head back out (which most people don't believe yet).

      At least in this case, all evidence is to the contrary. These patents have been super-litigated and held up. The PTO reexam is highly unlikely to change that result, and if it did, would be highly unlikely to survive an appeal. Think about it. If there really was killer art fo
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:01PM (#14626389)
    This action by the USPTO will have HUGE implications for anyone that has a patent on anything.

    A patent is supposed to secure, for a limited time, exclusive use of the patented item for the inventor. What the USPTO has effectively done here is said:

    "We rubber stamp almost everything. You shouldn't build a business on a patent until it has been tried in the courts."

    Of course, most patents will not be tried in courts until there is money (and a big business) at stake....catch 22.

    A patent is supposed to be a guarantee - the due diligence should have been done before the patent was granted. Now, no business based on a patent has any reason to believe that their business is safe, or that they will recoup the costs of their investment until the courts decide so.

    The patents granted by the USPTO are effectively paper tigers and not worthy of investment trust.

    -ted
    • by mpsmps (178373)
      Actually, I think it will have the opposite result. Since it looks like NTP will end up getting hundreds of millions of dollars for invalid patents, people will start filing many more patents that they know won't stand up in court.
      • So are saying that you can sue if the USPTO approves your patent and then later decides it is invalid?
        • No; but there is a certain question of whether the invalidity of the patents affects the lawsuit or not.

          It's a rather bizarre thing, really, but the judge (at least based on what I've heard) at some point basically said that he wasn't going to get into the issue of the validity of the patents one way or the other, and that everything was going by the assumption that they were valid, because the USPTO issued them, and they were valid when the suit was filed.

          I don't know whether there's some flexibility in th
    • tent is supposed to be a guarantee - the due diligence should have been done before the patent was granted. Now, no business based on a patent has any reason to believe that their business is safe, or that they will recoup the costs of their investment until the courts decide so.

      One the one hand, that's just wrong. I somehow doubt this is the first set of patents to ever be invalidated.

      On the other hand, W00T! Software patents were just marked as really, really stupidly risky things to base a business

    • What the USPTO has effectively done here is said:

      "We rubber stamp almost everything. You shouldn't build a business on a patent until it has been tried in the courts."


      That's just plain silly, of course. The patents in this case have withstood intense scrutiny, and been affirmed by the trial court and the Federal Circuit. There is no indication yet that these patents issued, if at all, for failure to adequately examine them for the initial application fee.

      A patent is supposed to be a guarantee - the due di
  • It certainly implies to the man on the street that they can be bought by Crackberry addicted CEOs and similiar people with enough influence to apply pressure, be it political, financial or something else. Just when you thought that the USPTO could not be more of a laughing stock, they go and pull a stunt like this. If they had any sense, they would have let the courts decide the outcome and place the responsibility for any service disruptions or invalidated patents on the legal system.

    Still, look on the

    • by Hoi Polloi (522990)
      All of those points are moot unless they are backed up by changes in the law. To rely on policy instead of force of law is a recipe for further political manipulation. All patents should be treated the same, not just the ones that draw enough attention.

      They can start by eliminating (as I understand it) the use of patent fees to fund the USPTO. Those fees should go into the general fund and the USPTO should have a budget like everyone else. That way the USPTO isn't encouraged to allow every patent that c
  • It shows... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mopslik (688435) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:02PM (#14626406)

    What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?

    • It says nothing about software patents in general, only something about these particular patents.
    • It suggests that, despite some rather glaring inefficiencies, that there is some hope that patents can be overturned when shown to be invalid.
  • by sphealey (2855) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:05PM (#14626428)
    It means that 20 Senators, 100 Congressmen, and 1000 federal judges, along with Tommy Lee Jones in a US Marshall's uniform, called upon the USPTO and told them that they could either find a way to invalidate the patents or they could all find themselves drafted under secret provisions of various secret laws and assigned as the US Navy's designated patent examiners at the secret underground Antarctic base for the rest of their lives, with no vacation time or days off. And no funeral; their bodies would just be tossed out for leapord seals to eat sometime around 2030.

    And believe me, that was probably the only true BIPARTISAN delegation Washington DC has seen in 13 years.

    sPh
  • Prior Art (Score:5, Informative)

    by hipster_doofus (670671) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:12PM (#14626495) Homepage
    There was an article - I believe in the Wall Street Journal - about these patents being rejected within the last week. The USPTO only does a very minimal prior art search during the initial application process because there is just too much data to dig through in order to complete an exhaustive search for prior art. Once the patent is issued, if a patent disput arises, then normally the two sides of the dispute will provide additional information to the USPTO that supports their side of the argument. In this instance, RIM was able to find prior art in Europe that pre-dated NTP's patent applications by a year, or so. This prior art was the basis for the non-final rejections that have been recently returned by the USPTO.
  • Uh, huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by typical (886006) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:16PM (#14626530) Journal
    Wouldn't it have been easier to just disallow patenting this in the *first* place?

    The five patents are 5,625,670 [uspto.gov], 5,631,946 [uspto.gov], 5,819,172 [uspto.gov],
    6,067,451 [uspto.gov],
    and 6,317,592 [uspto.gov].

    Let's take a look at the first of these patents:



    1. A system for transmitting information from one of a plurality of originating processors contained in an electronic mail system to at least one of a plurality of destination processors contained in an electronic mail system with the information including originated information originating from one of the plurality of originating processors and being transmitted by an RF information transmission network to at least one of the plurality of destination processors and other originated information originating from one of the originating processors is transmitted with the electronic mail system without using the RF information transmission network to at least one of the destination processors comprising:

    at least one interface, one of the at least one interface connecting the electronic mail system containing the plurality of originating processors to the RF information transmission network; and wherein

    the originated information is transmitted in association with an address of the one interface from the one of the plurality of originating processors to the one interface with the electronic mail system responding to the address of the one interface to direct the originated information from the one of the plurality of originating processors to the one interface; and

    the originated information is transmitted from the one of the at least one interface to the RF information transmission network with an address of the at least one of the plurality of destination processors to receive the originated information being added at the originating processor originating the originated information, or by either the electronic mail system that contains the plurality of originating processors or the one interface.


    So, basically, written as confusingly as possible, these turkeys have filed for a patent that covers any email system in which some information is sent via RF and some is not and the devices involved have addresses. The last is pretty much a given, and the first is pretty straightforward.

    I'm serious. Advances in device development simply do not require patents. This is stupid. Why should anyone be granted a monopoly over this? Why does the production of RF devices require a patent at all? Say I'm an engineer. I want to send email from a mobile computer (hardly a stretch to envision). So I select a data transmission medium. Well, there's RF, IR, etc. These all have different properties. I choose the one that is most appropriate -- RF.

    Yes, this patent got thrown out, but what I'm saying is that this is not a field in which patents -- guaranteed, time-limited government monopolies -- are necessary to produce advancements. The lifecycle of a new device is mayb
    • stunningly, she has chosen to produce a *readable patent*

      Now THAT process is worth patenting!
    • Re:Uh, huh (Score:4, Informative)

      by ab762 (138582) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:00PM (#14627789) Homepage
      It's the claims, not the general description, that are the enforceable part of the patent. (There are 276 of them.)

      But, in the tail end is this little note:

      An Appendix containing a listing of control programs for controlling the transmission of information between an RF receiver and a destination processor and controlling the operation of an interface switch in accordance with the invention is attached. The programs are written in the C programming language. The program for controlling the transmission of information from the RF receiver to the destination processor appears at pages 1-9 and the program for controlling the operation of the interface switch appears at pages 10-12. The Appendix contains subject matter which is copyrighted. A limited license is granted to anyone who requires a copy of the program disclosed therein for purposes of understanding or analyzing the invention, but no license is granted to make a copy for any other purposes including the loading of a processing device with code in any form or language.

      So some work was really done to justify this patent as an invention.

  • by up2ng (110551) <.chucklepatch. .at. .up2ng.com.> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:18PM (#14626562) Homepage
    I guess if the IRS came up with "One Click" tax returns Amazon's patent would have to be removed.

    At least the US Gov. could have been a little more transparent about it.

    "Go back to bed America, You are free to do what we tell you"
  • by Cyno (85911)
    Dismantle the patent system completely. Software patents make no sense. As long as someone wants to push for software patents I call for no patents whatsoever.

    I vote to dismantle the patent office.

    Who's with me?
    • Re:I vote (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Slowping (63788) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:41PM (#14626828) Homepage Journal
      I agree... partially.

      I think the patent system should not be granted by a centralised and under-staffed authority like the patent office. Rather, patents should be peer reviewed. After all, granted patents become publicly disclosed anyways. The patent office simply acts like a program committee. The patent office receives patent applications and, depending on the domain of the patent, picks random reviewers from a pool. The reviews are returned and weighted differently depending on reviewer's association with the applying party. The patent office then chooses whether or not to grant a patent. All patent applications and their reviews are made public. Not perfect, but I think it's a good compromise.

      First, companies or individuals can register as reviewers for specific categories of patents. They are then added to the pool of reviewers for said category. If patent applications are given to a pool of a dozen or so random reviewers, the odds are small that a small group of companies can collude to push their own stuff through.

      Right now there's no penalty for companies to file a ton of patents. But a peer-review system ensures that anything they wish to patent will be pre-examined by their competitors. I think this will automatically push most things off the patent treadmill and into trade-secret territory.

      Second, instead of patent clerks trying to digest the mangled legalese that most companies file, their competitors have a vested intrest in using their own lawyers to demangle and pick apart any application. The clerks then have access to a relatively clarified view of whether or not an application is valid.
  • What does it mean? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759)
    It means the system works. It does not work the way lots of people would like, but then, those people aren't in charge, aren't looking to be in charge, and wouldn't make it if they tried to take charge. It may be inconvenient, but governments will apply their authority until it is taken from them by force. Nobody seems to be upset enough about this issue to stage a coup, so the status quo prevails.
  • by werdna (39029) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:42PM (#14626842) Journal
    What does it say about the US Patent office and software patents that these patents have made it through trials, appeals, etc and only now has the Patent Office decided they weren't any good in the first place?

    This is ridiculous question. What do you think it says? The timing arises from a corrupt decision led by pure politics, driven by the U.S. Senate, caused the PTO to take up a Commissioner's reexamination, to protect a non-US company from an injunction.

    Does it mean that the initial examination by the PTO was substandard? Of course not -- in fact, that very question was the point of the trial and two appeals. RIM, spending kazillions to search the world for prior art and multi-kazillions on lawyers to tear the patent and PTO to shreds, couldn't convince either a jury or the Federal Circuit that the patents were less than airtight. It was simply the economic and political fallout of a possible injunction that led to this "hail mary" pass.

    Does this mean that the present rejections raise new doubt about the patents? Not necessarily, and probably not. It is ROUTINE for the PTO to initially reject all claims of a patent on an initial office action, and this may be nothing more than a perfunctory "through the paces" rejection. I don't really know how much trouble the patents are in (and not all claims were rejected by the way), because I have not studied the documents, but I find it astonishing that there would be any better prior art than was considered by the courts before. So much money was spent to defend RIM in this all-or-nothing case, it is hard to believe that any substantial new question of patentability could now arise. In any case, only time will tell. And even if there is a final rejection of each adjudicated infringed claim in each patent, there will be an administrative appeal, and then an appeal to the Federal Courts, which have so far been unimpressed by the claims of invaliidty.

    Do not be surprised, however, if the patents reissue with the original claims (only one claim of many asserted is needed!), or claims not materially weaker than they began.
  • Call your senators [senate.gov] and ask them to please gut the patent system.

    But more directly, you can contact NTP. NTP is a legal fiction of a business invented by an author of legal fiction by the name of Donald Stout. He is a partner at Antonelli Terry Stout & Kraus, LLP [antonelli.com]. Their phone number is 703-312-6600.

    A thousand polite calls will be more effective than a thousand rude ones. Though honestly a few dozen rude ones wouldn't start WWIII.

    Once you call, ask for Don Stout and then say "Please stop abusing

  • by SQLz (564901)
    This day, the technology of sending a UDP packet to a device after checking a POP account is vindicated!! Now, all those people who thought of it before and were doing it for years can breathe freely!
  • If I read the article correctly, all the patents that NTP is holding over RIM's
    head have been declared NFG, yet NTP STILL is seeking an injunction agains RIM to
    shut them down for infringement! Are they smoking crack? Is the judge trying the
    infringement case on drugs? This should be a slam dunk get the F#$! out of my
    courtroom verdict against NTP!
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:19PM (#14628650) Homepage
    A non-final rejection is quite common. That's how the USPTO says "prove that this is patentable". The applicant then sends in more evidence.

    I went through this with a patent on game physics engines. The USPTO rejected some claims as an insufficent advance over prior art. So I sent in published reviews of games that didn't use my technology. "This game really sucked". "Worst game I ever played". "Game physics terrible". "Objects randomly flying off into space after a collision".

    The USPTO then accepted the claims without any further argument. That's how you prove non-obviousness - show previous failure. If others tried and failed, but yours works, then you must have invented something.

I wish you humans would leave me alone.

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