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Communications Networking Patents Technology

USPTO To Review Controversial VoIP Patent 35

alphadogg writes "The US Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to review a controversial patent issued in 2001 that is claimed to cover much of the technology underlying VoIP. The patent, held by a small company called C2 Communications Technologies, is one of 10 that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been trying to strike down for several years through its Patent Busting Project. On Friday, the patent office granted the EFF's request for a re-examination. The digital civil-liberties organization argued that another applicant had submitted basically some of the same technology to the patent office before C2 did. Patent No. 6,243,373, 'Method and apparatus for implementing a computer network/Internet telephone system,' is credited to David L. Turock as inventor and is owned by C2, previously called Acceris Communications Technologies."
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USPTO To Review Controversial VoIP Patent

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  • Patentese (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @02:43PM (#31047020) Homepage

    I love how prefixing anything with "Method and apparatus for implementing..." makes the obvious sound non-obvious, at least to an (un)reasonable person.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:02PM (#31047128) Homepage Journal
    I just read what I wrote -- and I realize that now I understand. This is a diabolical CmdrTaco ploy to get us to RTFA -- you sneaky, sneaky devil you.
  • Stop the madness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:58PM (#31047462)

    When TCP/IP (and other protocols) were "invented" back in the 1970s under ARPA contract, they were envisioned as generic methods for routing digital data over a series of networks. Following that, its been a mad dash to submit patents to do X over TCP/IP (or UDP). Where X is prior art and has been for 20, 30 or 40 years*.

    TCP/IP and its relatives might have been patentable back when Kahn, Cerf and others developed them. But thanks to ARPA, they are in the public domain. Since the general case is addressed, moving generic digital data, is in the public domain, then why are specific subsets of this technology patentable?

    *Voice over packet switched networks is old news. A company I worked for over 30 years ago had just such a PBX phone system. They routed phone calls along with other data over their own microwave system, leased telco lines and various other media in what looked very much like an Intranet. It just wasn't described by RFCs.

  • by 56 ( 527333 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:57PM (#31047858)
    Ahh ok so it's an issue of it being a linear development of an existing invention, rather than a new invention in and of itself. That makes sense!

    I was thinking that he was saying that, because the parent invention is public domain, all subsequent inventions based on it must therefore also be public domain - which sounded ridiculous.

    I'm not sure if I agree with him about VOIP, but I can see the logic of the argument.


  • by deblau ( 68023 ) <> on Sunday February 07, 2010 @02:14PM (#31053564) Journal
    The Supreme Court fairly well nixed "Internet patents" with its (unanimous) decision in KSR []. Specifically:

    The subject matter of the patent before the Court [in one case] was a device combining two pre-existing elements: a radiant-heat burner and a paving machine. The device, the Court concluded, did not create some new synergy: The radiant-heat burner functioned just as a burner was expected to function; and the paving machine did the same. The two in combination did no more than they would in separate, sequential operation. In those circumstances, "while the combination of old elements performed a useful function, it added nothing to the nature and quality of the radiant-heat burner already patented," and the patent failed...

    Finally, in [a later case], the Court derived from the precedents the conclusion that when a patent "simply arranges old elements with each performing the same function it had been known to perform" and yields no more than one would expect from such an arrangement, the combination is obvious.

    If the combination of some technology with the Internet yields more than the sum of the parts, or if new tech solves a known, fundamental problem with the Internet, then perhaps you have non-obvious subject matter. But that's not true in the vast majority of software and/or Internet patent applications these days.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.