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Eolas Sues Again: This Time, Facebook, Disney and Wal-Mart 97

Posted by timothy
from the little-people dept.
judgecorp writes "Eolas, which claims to have patented key aspects to web browsers, is suing again, this time targeting Facebook, Disney and Wal-Mart for infringing hypertext patents. Eolas settled with Microsoft and has sold licenses to other players — but two of the four patents in this case have previously been declared invalid."
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Eolas Sues Again: This Time, Facebook, Disney and Wal-Mart

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  • Please sue (Score:3, Funny)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:41PM (#41326313) Homepage

    you know who.

    Pretty please?

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:46PM (#41326367) Homepage Journal

    I claim prior art to the use of the word delcared.

    All your words are belong to me.

    • Won't get quite as much money patent trolling a misspelled word, but good luck with that!

      • Actually, the article post is misleading in the title. The primary patent holder is in fact UCLA. You'd be surprised how many patents universities hold and then license.

        Sometimes, having the primary patent holder be a public university means that nobody gets to engage in patent wars, as public universities have no incentive to do things that are not in the public good like that. Thus disarming Facebook, Disney, and Wal-Mart (china) from killing off their competitors.

        • Actually, the article post is misleading in the title. The primary patent holder is in fact UCLA.

          That's UCLA as in University of California, Los Angeles, right?

          Isn't UCLA a state school?

          Isn't everything generated by the state considered Public Domain?

          Either I'm way off base, or something smell fishy in Denmark...

          • by Desler (1608317)

            You're off base. Public universities holding patents is nothing even remotely new. Welcome to the results of the Bayh-Dole Act passed in 1980.

            • You're off base. Public universities holding patents is nothing even remotely new. Welcome to the results of the Bayh-Dole Act passed in 1980.

              From reading the Wikipedia entry for the Bayh-Dole Act, it seems that, unless Eolas is acting on behalf of UCLA, they have no right to claim patent rights (assuming these patents really are owned by UCLA).

              Of course, IANA Patent Attorney, so I readily admit I really don't know how this crap works.

              • by Desler (1608317)

                They are an excusive licensee of the patents. That's how they have standing.

                • by Desler (1608317)

                  Forgot to add, being an 'exclusive licensee' doesn't mean you're the only licensee. See 'WiAV Solutions v. Motorola.'.

                  • Forgot to add, being an 'exclusive licensee' doesn't mean you're the only licensee. See 'WiAV Solutions v. Motorola.'.

                    ...

                    Thanks for the info, but at this point I've gotta say 'fuck it, not worth the brainpower...'

          • Isn't everything generated by the state considered Public Domain?

            AFAIK, with regard to most federal IP law, U.S. states are no different than private entities. The federal government is a different story, though.

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            Isn't UCLA a state school?
            Isn't everything generated by the state considered Public Domain?

            You are confusing "a state" with "The State".

    • Can we wait until they finish suing Facebook before we declare prior art? Just this once
  • only outcome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder (754090) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:47PM (#41326383) Journal

    is that lawyers are getting paid.

  • Lobbying (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:53PM (#41326451) Journal

    Why do nerds raise $100ks on kickstarter for computer games, but not the equivalent to lobby government to repeal stupid patent laws?

    It would have a much more positive effect on software development in the long run, you know...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because it would take billions of dollars to outbid the current lobyists?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It would also help to have a coherent narrative about why it needs to be fixed and exactly how to go about it. Almost every single user on here knows intuitively and also based on evidence that "something should be done". Some few of us might even agree on what must be done. However getting more than a few folks to agree on what to do to fix the problem - enough to actually sway the day - we'd need some plan that had the support of a lot of folks. I don't see that today. I see a bunch of "we should do" and
    • Re:Lobbying (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MatrixCubed (583402) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:58PM (#41326503) Homepage

      Wikipedia:

      "Lobbying (USA): Lobbying in the United States describes paid activity in which special interests hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress."

      "Bribery: Bribery is an act of implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient."

      Feeding a broken machine the very stuff that makes it broken doesn't make its problems go away.

      • Well, in lobbying, you are bribing the lawyers to do something for you, so it releases you from liability. Besides, it's not like they are giving them money directly, only campaign fund contributions, which may or may not be go to their slush fund, so they can keep making money themselves. Think of it as onion routing your bribe.
      • Going further off topic...

        Wikipedia:

        "Bribery: Bribery is an act of implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient."

        How is this marked +5 insightful? Wikipedia is blatantly wrong here. If this were a correct definition of bribery, then buying groceries would be bribery.

        Bribery is the offering of value in order to persuade someone to do something illegal, or something that is considered should be illegal, or something against a policy such as a workplace policy. Giving a cashier money so you can leave with groceries isn't bribery because no one thinks buying groceries should be illegal. Givin

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @02:00PM (#41326531) Journal

      The reason we don't raise $100,000s to repeal foolish laws is because that's somewhere in the neighborhood of three to five orders of magnitude too low two actually have an impact on the way IP law is written in the US.

      There are ~470 members of congress, all of which need to fund multi-million dollar campaigns every 2 years, and we're looking at probably a 10 year time horizon to enact real, meaningful change. At the same time, there are multiple Billion dollar a year industries which reply on patents and copyrights to protect their business model and cash flow.

      $100,000 is like pissing into a hurricane.

      • Don't people have regular incomes? Anyway, you mostly need the attention of the guys at the top, no? Buy the ear of the people who matter. Sponsor the presidential campaigns, &c.

        It's worked in the EU, kinda. Government is cheap. And some of them would enjoy the attention they get from going against the grain - if they'd just wanted money, they'd have stayed in business.

        • Don't people have regular incomes? Anyway, you mostly need the attention of the guys at the top, no? Buy the ear of the people who matter.

          Right.

          The problem is, those ears are already bought and paid for by groups with far, far more resources than all of geekdom combined.

          Money isn't everything, you know. There's also free stuff/food/hookers/etc., job offers, cushy positions as congressional lobbyists...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Fortunately in the EU case the cheap ones were the patent lobby offering as bribes ice creams.
          Pro-patent lobby in sticky situation over ice-cream offer [zdnet.com]

        • by Lithdren (605362)
          You're right! People do have regular incomes! Of course, the answer is so simple!

          First, setup an organization that takes payments from its members, small 'donations', but its important we keep who and how much a secret as we dont want to altert those who wish to oversee what we're up to. Now, take this money and hire some influence in the DC area, I figure some old lawyer friends or something should work...err...anyway these people could argue... on behalf of the donators to have the laws changed as t
      • by tgd (2822)

        IP law isn't the problem, funding of the patent office is. The problem with junk patents isn't the patent system, but the load and backlog the patent examiners have.

        There's two solutions -- vastly increase the cost of patents, shutting out individual investors, or fund it to the tune of an order of magnitude more money from taxes.

    • by gutnor (872759)

      Lobbying is not only about one-off money - you don't just send money to a few congressmen and they are bought. It is more subtle than that. You need to have people dedicated, long term plan/strategies, contact with people of influence and most importantly, revolving doors.

      Money is gas but you need an engine to use it with.

  • by JWW (79176) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @01:59PM (#41326527)

    I feel awful that I have to say this, but it makes me wish that Tim Berners-Lee would have taken out a defensive patent on the web.

    Then he could slam ELOAS for all the money they have.

    Or to put it more bluntly. I had it with these mother#$%@$ patent trolls on this mother%@$()$ internet!!

    • Re:Makes me wish (Score:4, Informative)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:43PM (#41327803) Journal

      I feel awful that I have to say this, but it makes me wish that Tim Berners-Lee would have taken out a defensive patent on the web.

      Nope. The thing is, Eolas have no products and produce nothing, so they cannot be sued for patent infringement. Even if others have patents on braodly the same kind of thing.

  • Wow, if I was going to start suing people, I don't know that I'd go for three huge corporations with billions of dollars -- they could just bury you in lawyers.

    Unfortunately, TFA is a little thin on the actual patents. Though it seems likely to be yet another set of ones which were probably fairly obvious even in the early days of the web. Interesting that two of them have been invalidated.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Why? They sued and got Microsoft to settle back in 2007. They also got companies like TI, JP Morgan Chase and Oracle to also license their patents. They've also still have outstaninding lawsuits against bigger companies. Facebook and Disney are small potatoes versus a Microsoft or Apple that they've already sued.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Facebook and Disney are small potatoes versus a Microsoft or Apple that they've already sued.

        All valid points. But in the case of Disney, I've always felt their lawyers were much more ... er ... aggressive for this kind of thing.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Never heard of Apple or Oracle have you? Both setttled with Eolas.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Never heard of Apple or Oracle have you?

            Why, no -- who are they? Do they make potato chips or anything I'd have heard of? A TV show maybe? ;-)

            The reality is, someone else settling doesn't establish any form of legal precedent. It just means they wanted it to go away.

            It really doesn't preclude someone else saying "fuck it, see you in court". And, if two of the four patents have been invalidated by a jury since then, one wonders what the second round might look like. I also have no idea of the content o

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Adding to my previous comment, a win in court or a settlement with a big firm (like they did with Microsoft) also makes it more likely others will follow suit (which also happened in this case). Then this means you can move on to smaller and even more vulnerable targets.

  • What these trolls depend upon is a growing list of high-profile companies who settle these lawsuits. If you are a large company, even a settlement of $100k is cheaper than the work involved in actually "fighting" the suit, and so companies pay these "nuisance lawsuits" while making sure that whatever agreement they sign makes it clear that settlement doesn't imply that they *believe* the suit (or patent) has merit.

    Which is fine for the troll... they get $$ plus are able to say "Look at all these big compani

  • When Eolas won the patent case against Microsoft many years ago, lots of people around here were pumping their fist in the air, happy that Microsoft had finally gotten a black-eye over their browser. I remember posting something to the effect of: "You don't actually want Eolas to win this one. If they win against Microsoft, they can win against anybody."

    Today I think Slashdotters would agree with me. It's a nice change.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      They also got other big corps to settle like Oracle, JP Morgan Chase, etc. It's no different to the current mobile patent war where people who proclaim to hate software patents or patents in general cheer when the side they hate loses. Even when it means that the very software patents they claim to dislike only gain further legitimacy in the courts. Fanboism trumps logic every time.

    • When Eolas won the patent case against Microsoft many years ago, lots of people around here were pumping their fist in the air, happy that Microsoft had finally gotten a black-eye over their browser.

      Wasn't that because Eolas specifically promised to not sue Mozilla or any other open source browser?

      • Wasn't that because Eolas specifically promised to not sue Mozilla or any other open source browser?

        Yep, which is a pretty weak reason to celebrate. If Eolas has the power, there's nothing preventing any other company from gaining that power, too.

        This is why it's a bad idea to blind-rage against any company.

        • by dkf (304284)

          Yep, which is a pretty weak reason to celebrate. If Eolas has the power, there's nothing preventing any other company from gaining that power, too.

          Nothing in law anyway. They'd still have to actually have something that they can sue over or the court will throw it out immediately.

          This is why it's a bad idea to blind-rage against any company.

          Oh, there are a few that it's worth saving the ire for, ones that have a history of killing employees, customers and the general public through their lax safety controls or their corrupt entanglements with crooked governments. Let's save the rage for where it's actually justified.

          • Oh, there are a few that it's worth saving the ire for, ones that have a history of killing employees, customers and the general public through their lax safety controls or their corrupt entanglements with crooked governments. Let's save the rage for where it's actually justified.

            Is there a company we routinely bitch about here on Slashdot that fits this bill?

  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @02:22PM (#41326755) Homepage

    They are suing over 4 patents, two of which have already been ruled invalid. Shouldn't they suffer a significant penalty for knowingly suing over an invalid patent?

    • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:28PM (#41327583) Homepage Journal

      They are suing over 4 patents, two of which have already been ruled invalid. Shouldn't they suffer a significant penalty for knowingly suing over an invalid patent?

      I was curious about that, too, so I just looked up the filing documents on PACER. The patents were declared invalid in the Eolas v. Google et al. trial, and Eolas has appealed that decision to the Federal Circuit (which they're allowed to do). This suit was filed with a request to stay all deadlines, pending the outcome of the Appeal in the Google suit.

      Basically, this reserves Eolas' filing date for the suit, which may be important for statute of limitations issues or other issues, but it's going to sit there with no requirement for Facebook or anyone else to even respond until the other suit is done. If the Federal Circuit reverses the jury decision and finds the patents valid, then this one can go ahead, and they haven't sued over an invalid patent. If the Federal Circuit affirms the jury decision, then they can amend the complaint to remove the two invalid patents. Either way, Facebook et al don't have to even reply for a year or two.

  • for issuing such insane patents it the first place?
    • You can sue just about anyone for just about anything.

      Whether you can win such a lawsuit -- rather than losing and being ordered to pay the other guys costs on top of it -- is a different story.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @02:44PM (#41327055)

    i read that years ago that wal mart fights every lawsuit, no matter how minor

    in this case, i hope so

  • What are the patent numbers?
    I've been clicking on links since the mid-90's. Surely patents around that are due to expire some time soon.
  • Individual claims in each patent get invalidated. It is quite possible (and typical) for a patent to have some valid claims and some invalid claims. Typically this happens when broader claims are invalidated by prior art that was not located during examination.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some years back, Slashdotters helped end the career of a spammer. Million of people signed the offending gentleman up for junk mail. The idiot started receiving multiple truckloads of junk mail. The cost of managing tons of garbage daily as I say, ended his career as a spammer.

    There must be a way for Slashdotters to file nuisance lawsuits against patent trolls, nothing that would stand up to serious scrutiny mind you, just something that would result in about 5 million separate cases these scumbags would ha

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