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Acacia Sues Amazon Over Kindle Fire 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the trollin'-trollin'-trollin' dept.
walterbyrd writes "A company called Smartphone Technologies filed the suit last Friday in Texas Eastern District Court accusing the Kindle Fire tablet of violating four of its patents. Smartphone Technologies is owned by Acacia Research, a firm that buys and licenses patents and is seen by many as a patent troll. 'One patent cited in the suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562, simply refers to a method for using a touch screen to enter commands on a handheld computer. Another patent in question relates to a method for storing calendars on a PDA and was initially issued to Palm in 2002.'"
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Acacia Sues Amazon Over Kindle Fire

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  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @12:23AM (#37686880)

    A PDA is just a weak computer in a small form factor, so why did palm even get it in 2002 when a calender on a computer was decades old before then?

    Patents are worthless, and are choking what little creativity is left in our country.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @02:54AM (#37687438)

      http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/09/21/riddle-me-this-do-patent-trolls-create-wealth-or-d.aspx

      Boston University study concludes that $88 billion has been wiped off the value of US companies by these trolls, raking in less than $8 billion in return, and since these trolls don't make things or really invent things, no manufacturing was made by them, and no scientists employed and no research done.

      What the USPTO has done is a disaster for the USA, and the reforms don't fix anything.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        It's served it's purpose which is apparently to make lawyers filthy rich. It's impossible to do business in the US without a legal warfare unit. Small businesses are so screwed because they lack the necessary lawyers to protect them from patent trolls who are armed with thousands of impossibly vague, broad and obvious patents and huge legal teams that will wait until a startup has begun making money off of something that comes under the heading of a series of these bogus patents and then it's off to East

      • Actually it was our "founding fathers'" disaster. Specifically James Madison and Charles Pinckney, but of course adopted and enshrined by the whole cabal. It was a good intentioned but very naive notion that never considered possibilities such as the mess we're facing presently. Ultimately I suspect it unlikely that our technological progress would have been hindered though the actors probably different. More than likely we would have progressed even further since monies wouldn't have been sunk into the

    • So not only can you patent any bullshit by adding "on the Internet" or "on a computer," but also "on a handheld computer."

      Quick, everybody patent "$common_everyday_task on an implanted computer!"

      • That's not funny. But if I had the money I probably would. I'd also include "wearable computer," "biological computer," "with rounded corners," "with square corners," "with direct neural interface," "with indirect neural interface," "with direct neural interface having rounded corners," "..."
  • Amazon has the resources to go after these guys, to remove them from the gene pool. But will they bother?

    (Seeing how tenaciously they hold on to the One-Click patent I somehow doubt it, but it would be nice.)

    • by Redbaran (918344)
      Amazon has recently been involved in disputes with much larger and more legitimate entities attempting to increase their costs and in all cases they didn't bend like a wet noodle. I'm referring to the multitude of states attempting to force Amazon to collect sales tax, therefore, I say they fight it. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_tax [wikipedia.org]
    • Amazon has the resources to go after these guys, to remove them from the gene pool. But will they bother?

      The worldwide community of geeks have the resources, the time (at least, some of us have), and the tenacity, to invalidate most patents given enough motivation, or at least seriously water them down to render them ineffective, but why would we do anything in this case? Let's just wait until they go after the little guy, or a company we really care about (just not Amazon). In that respect, the patent troll made the right decision. That's what Jackals do. They go after the animal that the rest of the herd in

      • the animal that the rest of the herd in the same boat

        I thought we used car analogies, not ark analogies...

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @12:25AM (#37686890) Journal

    Evil bastards sue evil bastards. News at 11.

    • There's a difference: Amazon are evil bastards who actually deliver useful products, while Acacia are evil bastards who exist solely to make money by threatening to keep other people (whether evil bastards or not) from delivering useful products. The world is full of evil bastards, and that's probably not going to change any time soon; until and unless it does, I know which set of evil bastards I'd rather deal with.

      • Re:Yawn... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @01:29AM (#37687162)

        Amazon are evil bastards who actually deliver useful products

        Actually nowadays I am noticing more and more often that Amazon isn't actually selling me products, they are merely providing a storefront for someone else.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          Dude, I totes just heard that UPS doesn't even make all the things that it delivers! What a bunch of scammers!
        • And that's what a lot of people like about them. They feel more "confident" buying from the same retailer via amazon marketplace, than direct from the retailer, as they feel that they are more likely to be refunded if the retailer goes bust, etc.

        • The main thing that Amazon brings to the table is consistent experience. Same as Apple, really, just in their own area.

    • The news is: it hurts everybody else. It stifles innovation, and makes life nearly impossible for some start-ups.

  • Sue Sue Sue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @12:31AM (#37686908)

    Slashdot these days is little more than lawsuits, settlements and the ongoings of such. This is what our industry has turned into huh? Sad.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @12:38AM (#37686942) Homepage Journal

    Without them taking companies to court over issues that should never have been patentable in the first place, no one would realize or believe just how seriously screwed up the patent system is.

    • by alienzed (732782)
      Is it really the patent system or just a huge influx of technical patents that the patent office didn't have the man power to actually do any homework on. I mean, do you actually think that the people accepting those patents fully understood them before inking the stamp and certifying that garbage?
      • by msobkow (48369)

        If they don't understand the patents, they have NO BUSINESS issuing the patents.

        The patent office is supposed to REVIEW patents for content, not rubber-stamp them. It is NOT supposed to be the job of the courts to do the filtering at some point down the road.

        Do you really think underfunding, ignorance, and incompetence should be tolerated or forgiven when it costs the industry so many millions (if not billions) of dollars in legal fees to deal with the resulting morass?

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Really, the patent system would be pretty good if only its clerks knew an obvious idea when they heard one. That calendar patent basically sounds like "Method for Storing Data on a Computer". If the bar to get a patent was much, much higher than it is today, no other major changes would be necessary.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Read about Tesla vs Marconi and it looks pretty screwed up even way back then. Of course it's a lot worse now (trading patents WTF?) but I can't see any signs of anyone trying to fix it, only signs of trying to export the damage to other countries that know better but cannot resist the lure of "free" trade agreements.
  • It's looking like the patent courts - in a manner of speaking, as I suppose there is really no single "patent court" - like the courts are becoming a sort of platform for marketing by obscure companies with uncertain patents on file - but not just any obscure companies, obscure companies with lawyers. Well, that's the judiciary's side of things to address.

    In other words: Yawn. Next news item?

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @01:26AM (#37687150) Homepage Journal

      It's looking like the patent courts - in a manner of speaking, as I suppose there is really no single "patent court" - like the courts are becoming a sort of platform for marketing by obscure companies with uncertain patents on file - but not just any obscure companies, obscure companies with lawyers.

      Specifically, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas became nothing but a "platform for ... obscure companies with lawyers" some time ago. There seems to be something particularly toxic about this particular court's combination of judges, jury pools, and court rules that attracts this type of activity.

      • by Pope (17780)

        I still don't understand why the litigants get to choose their venue, especially if the plaintiffs are not headquartered there.

  • I think it's pretty much certain that if you've developed any useful technology since the dawn of software patents, you've accidentally stepped on at least a couple actionable patents, and you just have to hope that the patent holder either doesn't find out about it or doesn't extort you for too much of your revenues. Is there a name for this principle yet? I'd love to slap mine on it if there isn't...
    • by Noughmad (1044096)

      If you do, please consider changing your name first. Somehow, the Bieber principle doesn't sound quite right.

      • by bieber (998013)
        Oh, come on...I have to do something to reclaim the Google search results from Justin.
  • by GoodnaGuy (1861652) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @01:11AM (#37687084)
    I have been reading about these patent wars for ages now. Most peoples reaction seems to be to grumble but put up with it. Is there nothing can be done? Our leaders seem unable or not interested. This is killing innovation in the electronics industry. Soon we'll be left with just a few big fish controlling everything. Maybe its time for the revolution!
    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Our leaders are very interested in this problem. They just passed some legislation to make things much worse.

    • Well, what could be done is obvious and simple: get rid of the patent office altogether. The problem with that is really in how to do the above, which is really hard and there's actually two issues: One, most people think a patent office helps, especially in areas other than computers, like medicine, when in fact the same problems exist there. It's just that in our industry, it moves much faster so we can see the problems more clearly, but they do exist in all industries as well. It's also mentioned in
    • The problem with revolutions is: things have to be really bad before killing people will make things better, and there's a fairly decent chance that things will actually get worse (see for example, Egypt).
    • The real problem is that there are two camps that are competing for patent legislature.
      1. Software/hardware patents. Enough is said about that on Slashdot.
      2. Pharma patents. If you bind two chemicals it does wonders for a particular disease patents.

      Developing a patent for the pharma group genuinely costs a lot of money (research, test groups etc.) whereas a software/hardware patent not necessarily does (think of an idea "People need blue handsets" and document it). Both camps have a ton of money and both ha

  • "One patent cited in the suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562, simply refers to a method for using a touch screen to enter commands on a handheld computer."

    Go read it, it is essentially a "stylus-free" input method on a tablet, i.e. fingers. I guess you could use your wang or toes if you wanted to, though, since it does not explicitly say "fingers," just non-stylus. (Though I would love to see someone write up a patent for "dong-centered system input.")

    Oh, yeah, patent troll, blah blah.

  • has anyone else noticed almost every patent suit is filed in Eastern Texas? it's like there is something pulling them there. very strange indeed.

    • by Zorque (894011)

      I think the courts there are generally viewed as being very kind towards patent trolls like this, so they make every attempt to have their cases tried there.

      • thanks captain obvious.

        • by Zorque (894011)

          Uh... you're the one who seemed confused as to why the suits all happened there. Sorry I was trying to clarify it for you, shitstain.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Uh... you're the one who seemed confused as to why the suits all happened there. Sorry I was trying to clarify it for you, shitstain.

            I suppose you think irony is something you do to your favourite shirt before a job interview?

            • by canajin56 (660655)
              That's probably better than thinking irony is feigning ignorance in order to make no point whatsoever.
        • by amiga3D (567632)

          Maybe he can get a patent for it?

  • Hard to feel sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @07:12AM (#37688414) Journal
    As much as I dislike patent trolls, it's really hard to feel sorry for Amazon in this one. They are the ones who patented one-click-purchase, after all. What goes around comes around.
    • It's not about Amazon, it's about the US patent system.

    • As much as I dislike patent trolls, it's really hard to feel sorry for Amazon in this one. They are the ones who patented one-click-purchase, after all. What goes around comes around.

      It isn't that Amazon patented 1-click. That could simply have been defensive to keep asshats like Acacia off of their backs. It's that they tried to enforce it afterwards that makes them less sympathetic now.

      • Indeed, and at the time claimed to be against software patents, while at the time using them to extort money from other people.
    • As much as I dislike patent trolls, it's really hard to feel sorry for Amazon in this one. They are the ones who patented one-click-purchase, after all. What goes around comes around.

      That's a really good indicator that you don't know what you're talking about. The Amazon "one-click" patent wasn't a patent on clicking once. It was a pretty detailed and relatively narrow patent on one specific implementation of a shopping cart. It has survived a reexamination with every piece of prior art that Slashdot and the EFF could throw at it... at this point, it's one of the strongest patents around. But, wait, it has an easily understood colloquial name, so therefore it must be obvious, right?

      Wro

      • Right dude, read the patent [uspto.gov]. Tell me you couldn't have come up with it easily on your own. The fact that something like that is patentable is an example of what's wrong with the patent system.

        I don't know who you've been listening to, but anyone with half a brain knows that it's an obvious technique.
        • Right dude, read the patent [uspto.gov]. Tell me you couldn't have come up with it easily on your own.

          Wrong, dude. Don't read the patent. Come up with the same idea on your own, out of the blue, and then read the patent and see if they're the same. That you can think something is obvious in hindsight is meaningless. I can draw a model of an internal combustion engine on the back of a napkin right now. Does that mean that it was obvious in the 1800s? Hell, no... I've seen them.

          So, you can do the same thing: you can read a patent, and then you can regurgitate it, and claim that that makes the patent obvious.

          • Wrong, dude. Don't read the patent. Come up with the same idea on your own, out of the blue, and then read the patent and see if they're the same.

            Sure. And if you couldn't have come up with the idea of one-click purchase, and how to do it (assuming you know how to program), then you are a complete, moronic, brain-dead idiot. The problem with the patent system is it's easy to come up with ideas others have come patented without realizing it, exactly because such obvious things can be patented.

            • Wrong, dude. Don't read the patent. Come up with the same idea on your own, out of the blue, and then read the patent and see if they're the same.

              Sure. And if you couldn't have come up with the idea of one-click purchase, and how to do it (assuming you know how to program), then you are a complete, moronic, brain-dead idiot.

              [Citation needed].
              No one was doing it, so while it's very easy to call every single programmer in the 1990s other than the ones at Amazon a "complete, moronic, brain-dead idiot," it's probably not going to persuade anyone you're right.

              The problem with the patent system is it's easy to come up with ideas others have come patented without realizing it, exactly because such obvious things can be patented.

              The problem the anti-patent people like yourself is that it's easy to disparage an idea as being obvious after the fact, once you've read the patent. Your hindsight may be 20/20, but it has no legal weight whatsoever.

              • No one was doing it,

                No one was doing it, therefore it's not obvious, eh? Brilliant test of obviousness. I like the supreme court's test more than yours.

                so while it's very easy to call every single programmer in the 1990s other than the ones at Amazon a "complete, moronic, brain-dead idiot,"

                I am not calling every single programmer in the 1990s other than the ones at Amazon anything, otherwise I would be insulting myself. I AM however, calling you one, if you are unable to come up with that solution to that problem on your own. Amazon was one of the earliest in e-commerce so it is not surprising they were the first to come up with that particular solution.

                • No one was doing it,

                  No one was doing it, therefore it's not obvious, eh? Brilliant test of obviousness. I like the supreme court's test more than yours.

                  Me too. Look up "secondary considerations". If no one is using a method, and it's commercially valuable - as one-click shopping was - then it's likely non-obvious... otherwise people would have been doing it. And yes, that's the Supreme Court's test (specifically, see Graham v. John Deere).

                  so while it's very easy to call every single programmer in the 1990s other than the ones at Amazon a "complete, moronic, brain-dead idiot,"

                  I am not calling every single programmer in the 1990s other than the ones at Amazon anything, otherwise I would be insulting myself.

                  No, you did... You said that people who didn't come up with the idea prior to Amazon patenting it were "complete, moronic, brain-dead idiots[s]." Frankly, I wouldn't go that far, nor would I insult you as you've done. Ins

                  • ok, apparently you believe that one-click purchase is not obvious. That is a valid opinion, people can have that opinion.

                    However, you must also be one of those people who hear the words "one click purchase" and cannot think of four different ways to implement it, one of which will very likely match the method described in the patent.

                    As such, I pity you greatly, for you lack reasonable creativity, or you are retarded from birth. The other option is, of course, that you are not a programmer, in which cas
                    • As such, I pity you greatly, for you lack reasonable creativity, or you are retarded from birth.

                      As I said earlier, ad hominems are not going to convince anyone you're right. They have the opposite effect, in fact. They also make you look like a fucking douchebag.

                      The other option is, of course, that you are not a programmer, in which case I forgive your stupidity, however, the fact that you even think you have an argument here is really quite amusing to me. You sincerely think that one-click purchasing deserves a patent?

                      You sincerely think that inventions have to be "worthy" and "deserve" a patent? You have no concept of how the patent system works. There is no measure of "worth". Patents are not rewards, provided you've spent enough brow-sweat. You want a reward, go get a Nobel prize. Patents are incentives for public disclosure of ideas that no one else has

                    • As I said earlier, ad hominems are not going to convince anyone you're right. They have the opposite effect, in fact

                      That's ok, I'm arguing over the internet, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I mainly do it because I'm entertained.

                      Say any engineer could come up with an idea in 100 hours... And there are 1000 engineers at 1000 companies in the industry. That means that they're spending 100,000 hours of wasted, repetitive work. If the first one reveals the idea, the others can move on to the next idea, and we've saved 99,900 hours

                      That's a lovely theory. I suppose it probably works that way in the biotech industry or something, but in the software industry, in practice, no one ever reads patents to figure out how someone does something. In fact, we are often given the opposite advice, to not read patents so we don't become 'tainted,' that is, a knowing offender, which would increase damages significantly, a

                    • You don't have to read patents - instead, you can read user guides, functional specifications, source code, white papers, presentations, changelogs, etc. And none of those would exist if people were using trade secrets instead of patents, since they all destroy secrecy. Patents encourage all disclosure, not just the patent itself.

                      lol, I know, I and many programmers like me had to attend many conferences and study for many years to figure out how to do one-click-purchasing. It was so hard. I'm so grateful to Amazon for showing the true way.

                      I'm pretty sure you're just parroting some opinion you heard somewhere, and you haven't thought this through for yourself. Go, do so, and you will come up with a much more reasonable opinion.

              • Incidentally, are you also going to defend patent 5443036 [google.com] as non-obvious? Because it's really obvious.
  • I'm gonna patent "Doing something to affect something".

    I'm gonna be soooo rich!

  • This situation strikes me as very similar to what happens in financial markets. The whole industry is not creating any value, since they primary occupation is buying paper and then selling it at a higher price. Some may argues, that the traders add efficiency and liquidity to company price formation. Can we apply the same argument to patent trolls?
  • the patent laws. If "storing a calendar on a PDA device" is patentable, then I don't care what Good Things (tm) patents bring to the table, the current patent system has to be sent to /dev/null.
  • If Acacia isn't presently selling actual products with their patented technology then they have no real loses and deserve to lose those patents -- in a sane society, at least.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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