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Twitter Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the stupid-but-predictable dept.
Digital Dan writes "Twitter is being sued for patent infringement. Surprised? OK, probably not, but you'd think the plaintiff would at least wait for Twitter to actually make money before striking. According to TechCrunch: 'Twitter is being sued ... by TechRadium, a Texas-based technology company which makes mass notification systems for public safety organizations, the military, and utilities.' The abstract to patent #7130389 describes it: 'A digital notification and response system utilizes an administrator interface to transmit a message from an administrator to a user contact device. The system comprises a dynamic information database that includes user contact data, priority information, and response data. The administrator initiates distribution of the message based upon grouping information, priority information, and the priority order.' Two other patents are involved as well."
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Twitter Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit

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  • by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:20PM (#28959993) Journal
    I would think automated Robotic Calling programs, which have been around for...sheesh...at least a decade now...would qualify as prior art here.

    I acknowledge that at least the suing company is in the market of actually selling something to 911's, EMS's and the like, and the increasing use of twitter for "Follow me for important safety updates" is probably cutting into their business...dramatically....but...I don't think this lawsuit deserves legs.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Informative)

    by zrelativity (963547) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:26PM (#28960081)
    What you think is irrelevant. Read the patents in question, read the claims (and how it is refined by the body), then let us know the relevant prior art. Better even, draw up a claim chart with every single element of the claim, as I am sure TechRadium would have done.
  • Re:pager? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:30PM (#28960145) Journal

    Fuck, it sounds like the text messaging on frickin' cell phone.

    Message/alert systems have been around for decades. I remember working on a Xenix box with a half a dozen dumb terminals attached and we could zap messages back and forth.

    When will everyone come to their senses and start making fraudulent patent applications criminal offenses with crippling fines and jail time?

  • Claim 1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Absolut187 (816431) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:32PM (#28960187) Homepage

    1. A digital notification and response system, comprising:

    a. an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;

    b. a dynamic information database for storing the message, wherein the dynamic information database comprises;
    i. user contact data comprising:
    1. user contact device information; and
    2. user selected priority information that indicates a contact order for the user contact device;
    ii. user selected grouping information comprising:
    1. at least one group associated with each user contact device; and
    2. a priority order for contacting each user contact device within the group;
    iii. response data comprising:
    1. user response information that indicates individual user contact devices have received the message; and
    2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices;
    wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:42PM (#28960323) Journal
    Here's a clue for all of you that posted so far: The abstract of a patent is not the patent, and means diddly-squat in court. It's the CLAIMS that are important (how many times does this need to be repeated here?). In fact, abstracts are NOT supposed to describe the exact material that the patent claims as an invention, but to describe generally the area of the patent.
    Here's the second clue: the patent has one independent claim (claim 1), and all other claims are specificly narrowed cases of claim 1. Here's claim 1:

    1. A digital notification and response system, comprising:
    a. an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;
    b. a dynamic information database for storing the message, wherein the dynamic information database comprises;
    i. user contact data comprising:
    1. user contact device information; and
    2. user selected priority information that indicates a contact order for the user contact device;
    ii. user selected grouping information comprising:
    1. at least one group associated with each user contact device; and
    2. a priority order for contacting each user contact device within the group;
    iii. response data comprising:
    1. user response information that indicates individual user contact devices have received the message; and
    2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices;
    wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

    Now, to interpret the meaning of the claims, it is necessary to read the specification, to see if the terms used have special definitions. Studying the exemplary embodiments described in the specification may also be informative (or not, depending).

  • Re:I for one... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:47PM (#28960391) Journal

    People who are pressured to meet review quotas despite being severely understaffed, underfunded, and severely backlogged all while not being - or having access to - anything approaching an expert in the appropriate technologies.

    The USPTO has been unable to keep up and apparently resorts to strictly procedural methods for approval. Dot your "i"s and cross your "t"s and I bet you could get anything patented nowadays.
    =Smidge=

  • Re:Prior art (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:47PM (#28960397)

    Man page for wall on Mac OS X says (under "history") that "wall" appeared in PWB UNIX. Last major version of PWB UNIX was 1977. Not the same, though, considering the exact text of the patent. Then again, requiring a confirmation response from the "device" means Twitter doesn't apply, either. Twitter appears to "fire and forget".

  • Has /. become ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @02:14PM (#28960765)
    ... the official newsite for ridiculous lawsuits?

    Student Sues cause she's unemployable [slashdot.org]
    Student Sues amazon [slashdot.org]
    Touchpad patent holder sues everybody [slashdot.org]
    Family Sues Genie [slashdot.org]
    Wells Fargo Sues Itself [slashdot.org]
    Rosetta Stone Sues Google [slashdot.org]
    City Sues Man for rotting meat [slashdot.org]


    Keep in mind those stories were all in the last 30 days!
  • Or a megaphone (Score:2, Informative)

    by tcampb01 (101714) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @02:48PM (#28961217)

    The patent appears to be specific as to purpose and how it would work. So specific, in fact, that Twitter doesn't intrude at all. In order to make Twitter fit so as to be intruding into their patents, you have to broaden the application of the idea so that the technical implementation is no longer important.

    Upon broadening the interpretation, a lot of prior art clouds the validity of TechRadium's patents (e.g. using a megaphone to shout at a large crowd is technically a "message sender" sending out one message to a whole lot of "message receivers" who "subscribed" to listen to the message (by showing up at the event) -- so apparently the idea itself isn't really new.

    It doesn't stop there.

    You may think the megaphone is a silly comparison or clumsy implementation of it... the point is the idea is not new, nor did TechRadium invent it. So what did they invent? Further delve in with some of the things that make their message broadcast system more elegant (yes, well we added this nifty little database so we can manage a publish/scriber model that's a managed and able to be quite a bit more selective than using a megaphone to shout at a crowd), then there's lots of prior art to show that the concept of the pub/sub model in IT predates their oldest patent by many years. The reason the concept was coined the "pub/sub" model is because it worked just like a newspaper or magazine that publishes content and subscribers (a.k.a. customers or readers) could choose to subscribe and, in the case of a publisher with different kinds of magazines, they could even decide which magazines they want to receive. They would of course use some sort of record keeping system so as not confuse what each subscriber wanted to receive. So apparently that idea isn't new either.

    Essentially what Twitter "copies" is all the same stuff TechRadium had to also copy in order to come up with their implementation. This is mildly reminiscent of Apple's lawsuit against Microsoft back in the mid 80's when they claimed MS used their desktop GUI idea -- then it turned out BOTH of them got the idea from Xerox. Twitter's implementation would be (a) different and (b) probably a lot more scalable. Twitter has to handle millions of subscribers... TechRadium's solution probably only has to handle a few hundred and *maybe* a couple thousand.... tops. In order to achieve these differences in scale, the implementation is likely to be radically different.

  • How to read claims (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @04:33PM (#28962665)

    The few times a US patent interested me enough to try to read it I found I could read the claims and still not figure out what they were claiming.
    This [bpmlegal.com] page explains how claims are structured. The complete explanation on reading patents starts here [bpmlegal.com].

    Yes, it has been pointed out often enough that the claims matter. But if people need explaining THAT they have to read the claims then it stands to reason that they need an explanation on HOW to read the claims as well.

    One of the things that I didn't understand automagically the first time I read a patent was that the function of the mix of broader and narrower claims is. What is it exactly that they're claiming? The idea is that broader claims yield a bigger base for calculating royalties but have a smaller chance of being awarded by a court. If you don't know that then patents can be pretty confusing.

    So if you feel the need to give people a clue about reading patents you'd be much more effective if you pointed to a resource like the one I linked to above.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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