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Patents Your Rights Online

EFF Busts Illegitimate Subdomain Patent 96

Posted by kdawson
from the method-and-device-for-breathing-in-then-breathing-out dept.
eldavojohn writes "Unlike a lot of community support protection programs, the EFF's Patent Busting Project is starting to bear real fruit instead of just leveling the finger at offenders. The USPTO is revoking an illegitimate patent granted in 2004 that sounds like automatically assigning subdomains. Sites like Wordpress, LiveJournal, or basically anyone with generated subdomains have been doing this for quite some time. If you have some extra cash, now's the time to pony up a few bucks so the EFF can carry on as one of the few organizations genuinely protecting your interests."
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EFF Busts Illegitimate Subdomain Patent

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  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:00AM (#28388457)

    Just one clarification is needed.

    Will donation money be used to send ninjas to the offending party?

    • by commlinx (1068272)

      Will donation money be used to send ninjas to the offending party?

      Yes, David Carradine is no longer available.

    • by fugue (4373)
      This is a funny question, but also insightful. That is--will the patent examiners who approved this one be fired for incompetence? This ruling means nothing unless it successfully pushes for accountability. Treat ninja as a proxy for some form of punishment, and answer me this: who is the guilty party, exactly? What will be done to them?
      • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday June 19, 2009 @01:52PM (#28392549) Homepage

        will the patent examiners who approved this one be fired for incompetence?

        Probably not because they probably weren't. The patent was issued in 2004 under the guidelines that obtained at that time. KSR v Teleflex [wikipedia.org], which redefined the rules for determining obviousness, was only decided in 2007. If they issued this patent today (or at any time post-KSR), then we might be able to make a case for gross incompetence, but as it is, I think the examiners were just doing their job as it was defined at the time. Blame for the messed up state of affairs we used to have goes much higher up.

        • Yeah, but those are elected officials :(

        • by jacquesm (154384)

          There are probably plenty of examples of prior art, but IÂll submit mine here, camarades.com, the forerunner of ww.com did this in march 1998.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:02AM (#28388481)

    A method to autonomously direct the expansion and contraction of lungs for the purpose of oxygen extraction.

  • Is it just me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GreenTech11 (1471589) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:02AM (#28388483)
    Is it just me, or is this essentially a fundraising article?

    Donate to us, because we got a patent revoked.

    • It is just you. Although that is a good idea. EFF could use any funds you send them for other cases too.
    • by Ltap (1572175) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:13AM (#28388635) Homepage
      Not to me - it's proof that they can actually do what they say. Although, depending on how you look at it, every article is a fundraising article.
      • One case is hardly proof, by that logic, if I can do run a km, I can run a marathon. I'm not saying it isn't a good thing that they got the patent revoked, I just think that this rather blatant advertising.
        • by qortra (591818) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:33AM (#28388887)

          [GP] it's proof that they can actually do what they say.

          [P] One case is hardly proof

          If they say that they can successfully thwart illegitimate patent, of course it is. If I say I can do 'X', and I do 'X', have I not proved my claim? Do you think that there's some larger claim that they can thwart 42 patents? I haven't seen any.

          I just think that this rather blatant advertising.

          By whom? Infozine? Did you even read the article, or are you saying this purely based on the summary? I see you already got a response from the submitter himself, so I won't bother explaining to you here the difference between advertising vs advocacy.

        • they are doing what they have told they would be doing. SO ? what are you doing ? trying to garner points by playing devil's advocate unnecessarily ?

          get out.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          It only counts as a Slashvertisement when the hivemind is upset that it doesn't promote the locally accepted viewpoint. When it's the EFF it's just good community thinking because all right-minded people agree with them.

          • No, it only counts as "hivemind" when people cannot explain why they believe something, which you know goddamned well is not the case here.
      • Not to me - it's proof that they can actually do what they say. Although, depending on how you look at it, every article is a fundraising article.

        Whenever a non-profit communicates with the public through the press, the Internet, etc., the intended purpose, directly or indirectly, is to generate funds, yes. The reason being, if they don't keep in the public eye, donations will drop off. Out of sight; out of mind. They depend on those donations for continued operation. Without them they would cease to exist.

    • by qortra (591818) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:17AM (#28388681)
      It didn't read that way to me either.

      But it occurs to me that even if it did, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Any organization that exists through donations really ought to prove that they're worth a donation. This is once piece of evidence that the EFF is worth your money.

      Moreover, to those people who have already donated, this is a form of accountability. Articles like this tell those people that they have not wasted their money - it is being put to good use doing the work that organization was created to do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      Is it just me, or is this essentially a fundraising article?

      As a regular submitter, I assure you that when I wrote the fourth sentence as nothing but a request for donations I had no idea anyone would bother to read that far into the summary.

      Disclaimer: I do not work for the EFF but I do send them a twenty every now and then.

      Donate to us, because we got a patent revoked.

      I was hoping it would sound more like "Donate to us because we can get more patents revoked." And really, who else is working towards that? Once the USPTO grants a patent, it's done. They don't get as much from me as I give to public rad

      • I'm apologise if I caused offence, I always enjoy reading your submissions and in this case I was guilty of not reading the feature article.
    • by ergo98 (9391)

      Is it just me, or is this essentially a fundraising article?

      Donate to us, because we got a patent revoked.

      They're showing how they are fulfilling their mandate. What's the problem?

      I would think that a lot of big companies would be filling the EFF's coffers, working together to take down the wolves that pray on those they can separate from the herd. Of course that won't happen, because many of those big companies occasionally become the target of the EFF.

    • does 'being a fundraising article' damage the article or the cause or the organization ?

    • by shentino (1139071)
      Asking for money isn't evil.

      After all, the EFF patent attorneys who do the grunt work of getting the patents busted still have to eat.

      I for one would be happy to donate to them if I wasn't already broke.

      Thanks a lot economy.
    • You must be new here. In fact, your user ID # proves that you are, even more so than I am. In my months as a frequent but not regular /.er, I have noticed that most of those who frequently comment consider censorship to be fully included in the category "stuff that matters" and that those who self-identify, either implicitly or explicitly, as "nerds" tend strongly to oppose censorship. I suspect that you will either come around to this way of thinking, at least learn to appreciate its merits even if you

  • A sudden outbreak of common sense!
  • by Jay Maynard (54798) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:12AM (#28388611) Homepage

    I'll donate to the EFF when they get a clue about spam. Their official position is that spam is protected free speech, and measures to fight it are far worse than the problem. They don't understand that spam is highly destructive to the net as a form of communication.

    • by russotto (537200) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:24AM (#28388767) Journal

      I'll donate to the EFF when they get a clue about spam. Their official position is that spam is protected free speech, and measures to fight it are far worse than the problem.

      Perhaps because in many cases, they are. Anti-spammers often end up "destroying the village in order to save it", doing things like blacklisting legitimate mail users and then refusing to talk to them on the grounds that they are spammers. The one actual spam case I recall the EFF getting involved in, was one where sending an e-mail to a company was ruled to be a "tresspass against chattels". That sort of ruling would be far more destructive to communication than spammers; it would mean you'd committed a actionable offense any time someone didn't like an e-mail you sent them.

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        and having to sift through thousands of emails perday just to get one legitimate message isn't disrupting communications?

    • They don't understand that spam is highly destructive to the net as a form of communication.

      it's quite a risky stance to claim to know what the EFF understands and what it does not understand.

      • I've had this argument with several big-name EFF supporters (Cory Doctorow springs immediately to mind). If the EFF weren't anti-spam blocking, there would be no issue.

        • which in no way changes my stance that it is quite brave to claim to know what the EFF understands and what it does not understand. it's quite possible they have a different opinion to yours while at the same time understanding the issues involved.
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          I'd wager that the EFF isn't against all spam blocking. They're against institutional spam-blocking. If you want to do it for your users, on your network, for yourself, fine. But an ISP shouldn't be doing that without being very clear of what you're doing, and a way to disable it. Because spam blocking can often have false positives, and it can also create a situation where anything you don't like is classified as spam, rather than just v1@gr4 pitches. Spam filtering on a large scale is a step down the slop
    • by IP_Troll (1097511)
      Not everyone is going to agree on everything and making donations a Boolean value is pretty silly.

      Instead of punishing them for having a view point that doesn't completely match your own, how about rewarding them for doing a good job on the stuff you do agree on.

      If you hate spam 70% of the time, hate patent trolls 30% of the time and would have donated $100, then donate $30.
    • please fuck off. eff is fighting a LOT of shit that you rant against in slashdot. so dont bring irrelevant bullshit like spam. so you got a few emails, SO what ?

      • I block tens of thousands of spams sent to my system weekly. That's a lot more than "a few emails". Your argument is the same as the spammers' "just hit delete".

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          I'll bet the EFF has no problem with your blocking spam on your own. What I'd bet they have issue with is someone else upstream from you blocking what they deem spam... who knows what that could entail? Political speech they don't like? Email should never go into a black hole... filter it however you want, but don't prevent it from going through.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)
      The EFF is not there to fight spam. It has nothing to do with their mission. That's like a gun owner refusing to donate to the NRA because of they don't do anything to stop spam.
      • If they ignored spam, I wouldn't have a problem. They've actively fought anti-spam measures, though, and that puts them squarely on the wrong side of the line.

        • I'm giving up mod privileges to post this. But nobody has made this point, so I need to.

          The flaw in your argument is your failure to recognize that the spam "solutions" that the EFF have opposed were worse than the spam problem. Solutions that restrict rights online or which are so vague as to permit abuse in non-spam situations are more dangerous than a few hundred pen!s oil ads.

          The EFF are one of the few NPOs that I give to, because they actually are effective and coincide with my values. If they don't coincide with yours, fine. Don't give. I also advise that you don't trash talk them either, at least not here...

          • by Dan541 (1032000)

            I also advise that you don't trash talk them either, at least not here...

            Why? surely the EFF would not have a problem with it.

  • If someone licensed the patent for a period extending past the date of revocation, can they successfully sue for a pro-rated refund?

  • it helps sets a precedent of what is patentable software technology. This helps other foundations that wish to fight patent trolls.
    • The patent was invalidated on the basis of obviousness over the prior art, not because of it being software.

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Fortunately, 90% of all software patents fail any trivial obviousness test, as they're almost invariable just some standard procedure or method with "using a compuer" or "over the Internet" tacked onto the end.

        Meanwhile, we'll just have to see how Bilski plays out....

  • extra cash? (Score:3, Funny)

    by sdaemon (25357) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:29AM (#28388823)

    what is this "extra cash" of which you speak?

  • Sites like Wordpress, LiveJournal, or basically anyone with generated subdomains have been doing this for quite some time.

    Wordpress first appeared in 2003. This patent was filed in 1999.
    Not saying it's novel or nonobvious, or that there isn't other prior art, but citing Wordpress is like saying "cars aren't anything new and Ford didn't invent anything. Why, the Toyota Prius has been around for quite some time."

    • Well, they obviously haven't been protecting it. Isn't that one of the requirements of keeping a patent?
      • Well, they obviously haven't been protecting it. Isn't that one of the requirements of keeping a patent?

        Nope, that only applies to trademarks.

      • No it is not in any jurisdiction that I know of. You're thinking of trademarks.
      • Well, they obviously haven't been protecting it. Isn't that one of the requirements of keeping a patent?

        Nope.

  • by slashdotmsiriv (922939) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:53AM (#28389205)

    Brian Shuster, Johnson Leong, Matthew Price, Brian Lam, Desmond Ford Johnson.

    So that their names show up in this /. post every time somebody googles them ...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      If you actually do a google search for "Brian Shuster Ideaflood Inc" you find this article about a porn-baron with a patent for pop-up ads. Truly a modern day Nikolai Tesla...

      (From http://www.out-law.com/page-3551 [out-law.com]):

      Ideaflood Inc. is an intellectual property holding company owned by Brian Shuster. He previously ran porn web sites that were accused by the Federal Trade Commission of deceptively charging customers. While he is said to have made millions from internet porn, with which he is still involved, he n

  • Every time there's a mention of the EFF on Slashdot there's a plea for money in the summary. I don't recall any other group getting such treatment.

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