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Forgent Patent Troll Loses Again 95

Posted by Zonk
from the system-kinda-sorta-works dept.
anagama writes "Forgent Networks, a patent troll, got the slap down by a TX jury in May when it invalidated a patent Forgent held regarding video teleconferencing over telephone lines, and today, its motion for a new trial against EchoStar was denied. In fact, the court awarded EchoStar $90k in costs. Forgent probably isn't crying that much though, it already extorted $28m from other defendants. Some of you may recall that Forgent made a business out of cheating companies for jpeg use — till their patent was largely invalidated on that front as well."
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Forgent Patent Troll Loses Again

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  • Re:Patent reform (Score:2, Interesting)

    by asc99c (938635) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:59PM (#20204617) Homepage
    This sounds like the right sort of idea - making the earliest stage of the process quicker and cheaper. I think another very worthwhile idea would be that as soon as any proceedings are filed on any patent claim, the patent in question should immediately be re-submitted for more thorough examination by the patent office. If the re-examination fails, the case is thrown out before it's begun.

    Too many patents mean that there isn't enough resources to check each one as well as would be desired, but for the small proportion on which lawsuits are brought, a much better check could be carried out before-hand. This also means that patent trolls buying up the broad patents would in many cases be buying worthless pieces of paper that would be invalidated before they caused havoc.
  • Re:Patent reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eiapoce (1049910) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @02:12PM (#20204697)
    The States are seriously in need of a Law Reform. Here in italy if you threaten a suite you'd better be ready to do it. Else the treathened part can sue you back! Treathening a lawsuit without evidence for the sole scope of gaining a unlawful advantage is a felony here.
  • Re:Patent reform (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @02:37PM (#20204851) Homepage Journal

    Unlike copyright the patent concept is easy to defend. The benefit for progress of engineering and technological culture can be logically demonstrated - and unlike copyright the limits on duration are not totally insane.

    I don't care whether it can be logically demonstrated. It's been around for quite a while, so the question isn't "logically, should this work", but rather "has this been observed to *actually* work". And I kinda get the impression that the answer to that is "it depends" and "somewhat, but not as well as we'd think".

  • Re:Patent reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rcw-home (122017) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @02:42PM (#20204895)

    Unlike copyright the patent concept is easy to defend. The benefit for progress of engineering and technological culture can be logically demonstrated

    The patent system was originally an alternative to the guilds, who would keep the important knowledge of their trade a secret from those who wished to compete. Not only was the knowledge at risk of being lost over time, but the guilds actively worked to prevent non-guild members from competing in their trade. So now, we have government-granted temporary monopolies as an incentive to share these secrets.

    The problem is, the "secrets" going into the patent system these days are about as useful to someone skilled in the art as a list of ingredients on a box of food is to a chef. They are purposefully written in an obfuscated manner. One never hears of someone poring over prior patents for enlightenment - in fact, company lawyers often recommend to their employees never to research patents because then they would be knowingly infringing on anything they stumbled upon.

    I believe there are more powerful mechanisms at work that would prevent the reformation of a guild system today if the patent system disappeared. For starters, employees switch jobs much more regularly. Legal limits to non-compete contracts would be effective in keeping this mechanism in place. The Internet has promoted a worldwide culture of knowledge-sharing. Corporate secrets are regularly and anonymously leaked to the public.

    So in my mind the question is not whether patents are necessary to protect knowledge sharing. The question is whether the incentive to innovate would remain, and whether that incentive is truly tied to money. I am increasingly dubious.

  • Re:Patent reform (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @03:04PM (#20205061)
    That's an interesting idea. I have another -- I may have heard this before on Slashdot, I can't remember.

    When a person or business files a patent application with the Patent Office, they pay a filing fee. If the Patent Office can find prior art documentation that causes them to reject the patent, the filer agrees to pay them an additional "sorry to have wasted your time" fee. [To avoid the Patent Office rejecting every application they receive, they should be required to file documentation. including expert testimony, when they choose this option.] If they can't, they publish the provisional patent for review.

    At this point, the provisional patent is a full-fledged patent, except that the general public can offer prior art that the patent holder and the Patent Office missed to the Patent Office for review (without going through the court system). If any of that prior art invalidates the patent, the filer pays the person or business that found the prior art a "bounty" -- the amount of the bounty to vary depending on how well-known the prior art is. If the filer missed a front page article in the New York Times that invalidates their patent, that deserves a larger penalty than if the missed prior art was an article in "the Western Elbonian Journal of Soil Engineering and other Science". Under this proposal, some people may actually create companies whose sole business is invalidating patents.
  • by 8ball629 (963244) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:34PM (#20205713) Homepage
    How about this for reform? If you file 3 consecutive BS claims, you can no longer file claims for 10 years.
  • Re:Patent reform (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khaed (544779) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @08:00PM (#20207065)
    and unlike copyright the limits on duration are not totally insane.

    the limits didn't use to be insane on copyrights, either. They were originally fourteen years. I would have no object to copyright at that point: most every NES game, all 80s music, and every book written up to today's date in 1993 would be legally public domain.

    Give it time for some chode to get patents made engineer's life plus ninety-nine years...

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