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Facebook Patents Politics

Candidates Sued By Patent Troll For Using Facebook 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the status:-not-gonna-happen dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "Ars is reporting that the 'inventor' of the concept of 'providing individual online presences for each of a plurality of members of a group of members,' claims that four million Facebook business account holders, including at least three major presidential candidates, are guilty of infringing his patent. He's suing Facebook for infringing on his patent as well as the three candidates. A Patent Office examiner rejected the patent claims, but the rejections have been appealed."
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Candidates Sued By Patent Troll For Using Facebook

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe now eliminating software patents will gain support?

    Or will they try to use patents to silence their political opposition?

    • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Funny)

      by V-similitude (2186590) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:15PM (#39193227)
      Except it's not really a software patent, is it? It's really just an idiotic patent, and looks like our system actually managed to catch it this time. So the summary really should read: "Idiot who filed idiotic patent can't handle rejection."
      • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:24PM (#39193293)

        Suing without a patent in hand has got to be a pretty risky business model.

        Rejected is rejected till its accepted. And its not going to be accepted. Prior art goes way back to CompuServe days, well before his 1995 filing.

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          more than a risky model, i suspect that he would face sanctions in court
          • Re:Hurray! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:35AM (#39193837)

            Actually, this fellow seems interesting. Having read into a few articles, I saw this interesting snippet:

            Prior to law school, Weyer was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho and now works as a volunteer engineer in Antarctic expeditions.

            and this:

            In an earlier case Weyer sued Network Solutions and Register.com for violating his patent on the selection of an e-mail address based on a domain name. He has also sued Harley Davidson, Bosch, and MySpace. Those cases have all settled.

            It seems more like this guy is fraking the system over to allow him the freedom to go out and make a difference. You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

            • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Funny)

              by khallow (566160) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:12AM (#39194067)

              It seems more like this guy is fraking the system over to allow him the freedom to go out and make a difference. You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

              That's a rather ugly parasite, if true. I see it as doing a lot of harm in order to practice token charity. Isn't the eighth circle of Hell reserved for that crap?

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                I dunno; is it bad to steal money from evil people who've gotten that money in unethical ways (like by stealing it from other people)? That list of companies he's sued isn't exactly a list of fine, upstanding companies that make the world a better place, with the possible exception of Bosch. In fact, if he managed to squeeze any money out of MySpace he should get an award.

                • by khallow (566160)

                  is it bad to steal money from evil people who've gotten that money in unethical ways (like by stealing it from other people)?

                  I think so actually. But let's take this a step further. How do you know that the money was obtained unethically? What process do you use to make sure that theft only occurs from people who have obtained such money unethically?

                  Humans, especially the kind who steal, often have all sorts of rationalizations for why they do things. And a primary one is to rationalize after the fact that the victim didn't deserve the money or property of value.

                  This guy is potentially even worse. He's doing good. So it do

                • by bloodhawk (813939)
                  much of that money he is stealing is everyday tax payers that have to fund the court system, patent office etc etc etc. So damn right it is evil and makes him one of the worst sorts of parasites. Not to mention the companies he sues just pass on the costs to everyone else anyway.
                  • by Grishnakh (216268)

                    Well in the case of Facebook at least, we don't have to worry about that as it's free for users.

                    As for funding the courts and patent office, first I thought the USPTO was self-funded by its fees, and second he's no more a parasite than all the other patent trolls out there, including all kinds of big companies like MS, Amazon, Apple, etc.

                    • by bloodhawk (813939)
                      Ahhh so because there are other evil companies out there it doesn't matter that we add one more evil doer to the list. great philosophy/
                    • by MrMickS (568778)

                      Well in the case of Facebook at least, we don't have to worry about that as it's free for users.

                      As for funding the courts and patent office, first I thought the USPTO was self-funded by its fees, and second he's no more a parasite than all the other patent trolls out there, including all kinds of big companies like MS, Amazon, Apple, etc.

                      If there is a broken system that is being used by patent trolls to extort money off dubious inventions doesn't it make sense for large companies to file their own patents to protect themselves?

                      If people then profit from using those patents without obtaining some sort of agreement from the company then wouldn't it show a lack of due diligence in corporate governance if they didn't seek legal redress?

                      It appears that you are using the pejorative term 'evil' to describe these companies based on the populist, il

                    • by Grishnakh (216268)

                      Well, the idea is that if an evildoer just screws over other evildoers, it's really not that big a deal. It's like when violent criminals kill each other rather than attack innocent people; people just don't care that much when one thug kills another one over some drug deal gone bad or whatever. But when they invade someone's home, rape the wife and daughter and burn the family to death, then people get upset.

                    • by Grishnakh (216268)

                      Oh please. You don't need to get patents like the one-click patent to protect your business. In fact you don't need any patents at all for obvious "inventions", you just need to document them so you can easily prove you have prior art in case some patent troll tries to sue you for something you came up with on your own.

                • by RobCull (1658279)

                  Myspace has money?

                  • by Grishnakh (216268)

                    Yep, it's just like Radio Shack. They have money and continue to operate, and no one has the slightest clue how they do it.

              • by crutchy (1949900) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @05:22AM (#39195113)
                no, actually the eighth circle of hell is reserved for facebook
              • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Funny)

                by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:40AM (#39195631)

                Isn't the eighth circle of Hell reserved for that crap?

                No, that would be for the dev teams of Windows ME and Vista.

            • by OakDragon (885217)

              ...You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

              Oh, here we go with the fat cat bashing. [snpp.com]

              Well, what do you expect? These yokels are pure Baltic Avenue. Heh-heh. [looks at watch] Uh-oh! I'm late for the Short Line Railroad!

            • by operagost (62405)

              You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

              I wouldn't, because it's still immoral. Everyday people use Bosch tools and parts, and ride Harleys... you're indirectly giving them the finger, too. When I think of immoral "fat cat" companies, Bosch and Harley-Davidson don't usually come to mind. Harley runs a non-profit foundation and the Bosch brand is actually owned by a pr

            • by hemo_jr (1122113)

              It seems more like this guy is fraking the system over to allow him the freedom to go out and make a difference. You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

              Seems you are saying the ends justify the means. That is not a philosophy I would espouse.

            • It seems more like this guy is fraking the system over to allow him the freedom to go out and make a difference. You know, if I had a way to pick the pockets of fat cats while giving me the time to spend volunteering in third world countries or doing explorative expeditions - I just might.

              Even neglecting the fact the guy is trying to troll without a patent to sue EVERY CORPORATION ON THE INTERNET - that's actually more despicable than Facebook in my opinion (and not much makes it that low). The guy is a thief, he attempts to steal from the rich and give, not just to the poor, but to the poor in countries with technology so backwards they have little to no hope to make a contribution to the rest of Humanity within the foreseeable future. The only difference this sick bastard is making is to

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          Maybe he'll also patent that business model.

        • Re:Hurray! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:00AM (#39193569) Journal

          SCO sued with a bunch of printouts and a complete inability to point out the offending code.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            SCO sued with a bunch of printouts and a complete inability to point out the offending code.

            But they sued over copyright, not patents.

            Just sayin'.

            • by jackbird (721605)

              Actually, it was both in the beginning, but the patent claims dropped out fairly early on.

              Of course they didn't even have printouts in hand when they started - that was what the yearlong battle over giving them access to IBM's entire CVS repository for AIX was about.

        • Re:Hurray! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:50AM (#39194269)

          I for one hope this rejection is overturned. This patent is no less valid than countless other business method patents or software patents, such as the one-click patent, and prior art is irrelevant, as again, countless other patents have prior art yet are approved by the USPTO. This patent needs to be approved so this guy can get busy suing the Presidential candidates and lots of other politicians, and maybe then we'll finally have some real reform of the patent system.

        • Prior art goes way back to CompuServe days, well before his 1995 filing.

          Unlikely, considering his claims require URLs, and they were only invented in 1994.

          • by rioki (1328185)
            They "existed" well beforehand, the RFC 1738 was written to get things standardized, actually like most internet technology...
        • 1995 filing? Maybe I'm missing something, but the US Patent Office site says he filed January 15, 2007: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/7644122

          If this is true, then he's suing Facebook (launched in February 2004), for doing something for 3 years before he filed his (not yet accepted) patent. This patent troll isn't just stupid, he's idiotic!

      • by Skapare (16644)

        As long as WE are claiming SOFTWARE as the reason patents should be invalid, then we will NOT be stopping the REAL reason MOST patents should be invalid, which is that they are STUPID ... lacking any genuine INNOVATION.

      • > Except it's not really a software patent, is it? It's really just an idiotic patent, and looks like

        Uh, first you say it's not really a software patent, and then you say it's really just a software patent.

        As far as rejection goes... he simply needs to resubmit, this time adding the phrase, "on a mobile device".

    • Or how about, it'll get rejected again, and the goverment will use this to show that the patent system is infact working and not broken. ensuring the patent system can continue in it's current form.
    • This is horrible! This makes patents look like the best thing to come along since the McCain-Feingold Act! Someone who can tell politicians to sit down and shut up, and legally enforce that?

      This could start a new era of rule by patent! The sky will fall and there will be anarchy in the streets!

      Until... I sue rioters because I hold the patent on anarchy for large groups in public locations for the purpose of civil unrest but not gathered for a particular reason, Patent #828238271238414235

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:09PM (#39193195) Homepage Journal

    Now that East Texas has finally started rejecting patent troll claims, maybe Texas justice will take hold and they'll clean the gene pool a little by just SHOOTING idiots like this on their way out of court.

    • No; it's Central District California. Complaint [patentlyo.com]
  • I'll settle (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:14PM (#39193225)

    My royalty payment is in an envelope, just behind my SUV [slashdot.org].

  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:16PM (#39193237)
    I tried that with the girls in high school -- it never worked.
    • I tried that with the girls in high school -- it never worked.

      Who has jurisdiction to hear the appeal, the mother or the best friend?

      • I think you just redirected commentary on patent trolls to look like something from the Jerry Springer show. On second thought, the antics of patent trolls rival anything I've ever seen on Springer, so yeah, never mind.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        I'd think it's the Dad with an extensive firearm collection. He can play executioner as well as judge ;).
      • Her sister, actually, hence why it was damn difficult to continue dating.. I overruled her sister.. eventually. Thanks for asking.

        In relation to the article, your question provides an apt example of why the American system is so broken... an appropriate authority should be in place to determine a correct path - in particular for appeals - and where the party doing so has a personal interest in the outcome.. the outcome is unlikely to be fair and equitable.

    • Crying isn't appealing

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:26PM (#39193309)

    Everybody calm down. Even if this is appealed it will be struck down for the useless crap it is. The appeals process is normal, and the "inventor" has a very real financial incentive to appeal. But keep in mind the patent examiner has lready struck it down, so it's not an actionable patent yet, and will definitely never be.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:11AM (#39193657)

      Everybody calm down. Even if this is appealed it will be struck down for the useless crap it is. The appeals process is normal, and the "inventor" has a very real financial incentive to appeal. But keep in mind the patent examiner has lready struck it down, so it's not an actionable patent yet, and will definitely never be.

      No the summary and article are bad. This actually produced an issued patent, # 7,644,122 [uspto.gov] (which issued in 2010). But the patent is now under inter partes reexamination (# 95/001,411; you can look up that application number in Public PAIR [uspto.gov]), and that reexamination of the patent has resulted in all claims rejected. The right of appeal notice (it's not exactly a final rejection; inter partes reexamination works a little differently than ex parte prosecution) is under appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. It may take awhile to get a decision though given the backlog at the Board.

      When that is done, there is an appeal route to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. When the proceeding and all of the litigation is complete, the Office will issue a reexamination certificate, which would cancel all of the claims (if the rejections of record hold up).

      Technically there's nothing stopping the patent owner from suing someone else in federal court, but such litigation would surely get stayed in light of the reexamination in the USPTO.

      • It is worth noting that this is not his first filing on the topic. He has previous patent 6,671,714 [uspto.gov] filed in late 1999 that issued in 2003. That patent is for a cute scheme to assign standard email names to everyone.

        The claims of that older patent are:

        1. A method for assigning URL's and e-mail addresses to members of a group comprising the steps of: assigning each member of said group a URL of the form "name.subdomain.domain"; and assigning each member of said group an e-mail address of the form "nam

    • by mug funky (910186)

      next we work on getting patents like this rejected on application, rather than when it's involved in a costly lawsuit...

    • by sjames (1099)

      It's is total garbage. It's a shame crap like this is allowed to cost the defendants even a bit of time and money. The courts should be able to shoot crap like this down before the defendants even have to hear about it.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        No, the USPTO shouldn't issue these shitty patents in the first place. I hope they change their decision and un-reject this patent, so it can go to court. The only way we're going to get reform of the USPTO is if the wrong politician gets burned by their antics, otherwise they'll keep inflicting us with this BS.

    • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:26AM (#39194431) Journal

      Even if this is appealed it will be struck down for the useless crap it is.

      He is hoping that it won't be struck down before Facebook's IPO and that Facebook might decide that it would be prudent to keep their IPO paperwork clean of pending patent litigation by paying him some money to go away (AKA "settling the case").

      Nice IPO you have there, it would be a shame if you lost a few $B on the IPO because of a little lawsuit, wouldn't it?

  • by PatPending (953482) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:30PM (#39193337)

    Political Candidates Sued for Patent Infringement [patentlyo.com]

    Complaint [patentlyo.com]

    P.S. And no it's not in East Texas; it's Central District California.

    • by PatPending (953482) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:22AM (#39193749)

      Here is the plaintiff's website [everymd.com].

      Golly, I haven't seen a website using frameset/frame since 2000.

      This page uses frames, but your browser doesn't support them.

      Joking aside, there's this noteworthy paragraph from their February 21, 2012 [everymd.com] news release:

      According to EveryMD's attorney Frank Weyer, the timing of Facebook's IPO Prospectus could not have been better. "Earlier in the litigation, we had offered our patent to Facebook for a minimal fee, representing a one-time fee of less than $.02 per Facebook member at the time--an almost negligible amount given the vast sums of money that Facebook intends to make off its users," says Weyer. "Instead, Facebook rejected that offer and tried to overwhelm us with their team of high-priced attorneys. We are now pleased that Facebook did not take us up on our earlier offer. Thanks to Facebook's IPO prospectus, we realize our earlier offer was greatly undervalued. It will now take a substantially higher sum to resolve this ongoing patent dispute."

  • Ahem. Four candidates.

    Paul
    Romney
    Santorum

    oh

    and Gingrich. Everyone forgets him.

    • It's one candidate and a bunch of unelectable lunatics.

  • So this guy is suing for patent infringement over a patent HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE? How is this not instantly thrown out and the lawyers fined a hefty sum for this stupidity?

  • Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:42PM (#39193439)
    We need MORE patent trolls to beat up on the presidential candidates with completely bogus nonsense to help bring attention to the brokenness of the current system. Set up a WikiTrolls organization to sue every major politician.
    • by Spykk (823586)
      No judge will side with the trolls when the victim is as high-profile as a presidential candidate. This will just give them an excuse to say "See, the system works!" Meanwhile countless little guys who can't afford legislation will be swept under the carpet.
    • Even after the PacMen have gone batshit deranged on the corporations-have-Constitutional-rights-to-buy-elections-too Republican candidates, not a single candidate has changed his mind about their legality. Their only response is "We need more money for ours".

  • Huzzah! For once the politicians are feeling the bite of their badly influenced decisions!
    • Re:YES!!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KermodeBear (738243) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:08AM (#39194035) Homepage

      And this is a good way to get it fixed. Contact the candidates involved in the lawsuit. Encourage them to take the matter seriously and to look into the abuses of the patent system. Use Righthaven as an example of a Patent Troll.

      We all know that a vast majority of our representation in the government is technologically ignorant. They probably don't know that this kind of stuff is a real and serious problem; they likely see this lawsuit as some crazy on-off event.

      It's not. Contact these people. Make sure they understand.

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)

        RightHaven wasn't a patent troll.

        God. Sometime slashdotters are so ignorant it's really sad.

  • I'd laugh out load on this, but I might be infringing someone else's patent.

  • Just pointing out an error in the headline. A "troll" is "non-practicing entity" AKA NPE. This guy has a working web site and business built around the patent. I am just saying ...
    • by greg1104 (461138)

      That's why he's certainly never going to profit from this move. NPE patent trolls survive only because they can't be destroyed with a coutersuit, when the larger company finds something in their patent pool that applies well enough to launch the suit. The proper trolls have no product that can be infringing, making them immune to that fear. The minute this guy gets any real traction, he's going to be countersued into oblivion. You can't play something almost like the patent troll game but while having a

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Around what patent? The patent office rejected the patent claims. There is no patent.

      • by xkr (786629)
        The patent has been granted. It is currently in, but not out of, re-examination. However, the current progress in re-exam doesn't look favorable for the patent holder.
  • From the article:

    The lawsuit was filed by Weyer's company EVERYMD. That company provides communications services to over 300,000 medical doctors.

    But I suppose "Small company fights uphill battle against Facebook over willful infringement of their patents" doesn't make as good a headline.

    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:46AM (#39194773) Homepage

      How about "small company temporarily patents the obvious and loses a lot of money to lawyers" instead then? That's where this is going; the fact that they do have a product just means they can be counter-sued to death, a problem true patent trolls are immune to.

      Can't be sympathetic for the small company when it's yet another variation on the " but on the web now!" patent nonsense. The idea that this was novel is 2007 makes the one-click ordering patent look like genius innovation; at least that hadn't been going on for a decade, all over the world, by the time of filing. I had a database-backed web site communicating among groups of people (the various divisions of my employer being one set) with an e-mail to FAX gateway in 1995. It was new then, but even at that point I considered it an obvious step, once the infrastructure was available.

      • How about "small company temporarily patents the obvious and loses a lot of money to lawyers" instead then? That's where this is going; the fact that they do have a product just means they can be counter-sued to death, a problem true patent trolls are immune to.

        Can't be sympathetic for the small company when it's yet another variation on the " but on the web now!" patent nonsense. The idea that this was novel is 2007 makes the one-click ordering patent look like genius innovation; at least that hadn't been going on for a decade, all over the world, by the time of filing.

        Unlikely, since the time of filing was 1996, and the claims include URLs, which were only invented in 1995.

        I had a database-backed web site communicating among groups of people (the various divisions of my employer being one set) with an e-mail to FAX gateway in 1995. It was new then, but even at that point I considered it an obvious step, once the infrastructure was available.

        Maybe you should've talked to a patent attorney rather than essentially representing yourself and deciding you had nothing.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @04:25AM (#39194913) Homepage Journal
    As more candidates get burned by IP issues, they ARE going to wake up to how bad the system has become. Since it affects them individually, you know they're going to want to fix the system. Mostly so they can use whatever they want royalty-free. Romney and Newt both have been burned by copyright issues in this season. If a multi-million-dollar presidential candidate can't get this shit right, you think an average Joe has any chance? So yeah, keep picking on the candidates. We'll see how long those pesky laws remain on the books...
    • by Apothem (1921856)
      Heh, it'd be funny to just start assaulting all the candidates with every crappy lawsuit one could come up with. I'm not even saying just throw random stuff, but more of watch not only the patent trolls but also DMCA law and all the horrors associated. It'd be a dream to see an entire campaign site get a DMCA takedown notice.
    • As more candidates get burned by IP issues, they ARE going to wake up to how bad the system has become. Since it affects them individually, you know they're going to want to fix the system. Mostly so they can use whatever they want royalty-free. Romney and Newt both have been burned by copyright issues in this season. If a multi-million-dollar presidential candidate can't get this shit right, you think an average Joe has any chance? So yeah, keep picking on the candidates. We'll see how long those pesky laws remain on the books...

      I seem to remember that when Jackson Browne sued John McCain for copyright violation over McCain's use of "Running On Empty", McCain's first response was to propose legislation exempting political ads from copyright law (although a quick google search just shows lots of results on him losing the fight with Browne and settling out of court.) So my suspicion is that we'd see the same thing: politicians would exempt themselves but leave the rest of us in the same situation we're currently in.

  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @08:56AM (#39196111)
    Hold on a tick - the Patent Office rejected a claim? The United States Patent Office? Are you sure about that?

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