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Electronic Frontier Foundation Patents Australia The Courts

Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back (arstechnica.com) 68

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a 'classic patent troll' in a June 2016 blog post entitled: Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer." An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post -- but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the U.S.
GEMSA's attorneys reportedly threatened to have the EFF's post de-indexed from search engine listings -- on the basis of the Australian court order -- so now the EFF "seeks a court order declaring the Australian injunction 'repugnant' to the U.S. Constitution and unenforceable in the United States."

The Register reports that GEMSA has already sued 37 companies, "including big-name tech companies Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and eBay. In each case, GEMSA accused the company's website design of somehow trampling on the GUI patent without permission." But things were different after the EFF's article, according to Courthouse News. "GEMSA said the article made it harder to enforce its patents in the United States, citing its legal opponents' 'reduced interest in pursuing pre-trial settlement negotiations.'"
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Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back

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  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @01:50PM (#54240367)

    I have to love it, "Their article made it harder to enforce ridiculous patents"

    He does realize most people's response will be GOOD !

  • The court order wont be enforced in the US - it will be enforced in Australia, by an Australian court, and if the EFF refuse to comply, then the Australian court will issue contempt proceedings, in Australia.

    If the court fines the EFF, then that fine can be pursued in the US under separate law, but it probably wont need to be.

    And I'm on the EFFs side in this battle, I just think their filing in the SF court is ridiculous and a waste of money, as any court ruling in SF will have utterly no effect on this ord

    • by pem ( 1013437 )

      If the court fines the EFF, then that fine can be pursued in the US under separate law, but it probably wont need to be.

      Umm, no.

      Have you actually read the SPEECH act?

      Or even the very first sentence [wikipedia.org] of the wikipedia article on it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Right, and you do realise that the SPEECH act does not matter to the Australian judicial system, right? If its bounced out of the US, the EFF had better hope it never has any funds or assets in Australia, because they will be seized under contempt of court, and contempt of court rulings aren't covered by the SPEECH act even if the contempt is based on an original case which is, so any fines issued under contempt of court *can* be pursued in US courts against its US assets.

        The SPEECH act is not a "get out o

        • by pem ( 1013437 )

          and contempt of court rulings aren't covered by the SPEECH act even if the contempt is based on an original case which is, so any fines issued under contempt of court *can* be pursued in US courts against its US assets.

          Bzzzt!!!

          We have a loser. Contempt doesn't work that way in Australia, and even if it did, a US court wouldn't separate costs, fees, or fines from the underlying judgment.

        • The SPEECH act prevents the enforcement of ANY legal action covered by the SPEECH act.

          The EFF isn't going to be paying anything and you should give up the armchair lawyer card because you aren't any good at it.

          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            You are presuming that they will win their case. I agree that they *should* win their case, but that's a different statement.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          To clarify free speech in Australia is the right to express your 'opinion' and not the right to express false statements of facts not matter what the hell you believe. The EFF is making a serious blunder in saying nayh nyah Australian law does not apply in the US because that would cripple legal process between Australia and the US in both directions. The EFF was required to prove that the stupid patent of the month was a valid claim and an accurate statement of fact or that it was an opinion a line from th

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            PS just to make it clear, civil court in Australia is like a poker game, where you can bluff and raise the bet, beyond the ability of the other player to call and they must fold, and pay not only all they have bet but everything you have bet. So seriously dangerous exercise which is why not many bullshit patent claims in Australia (note the patent part if most definitely occurring in the US).

            • by pem ( 1013437 )
              P.S. Just to make it clear, that still doesn't give the EFF a reason to give a shit about what happens in Australia.
          • by pem ( 1013437 )

            The EFF is making a serious blunder in saying nayh nyah Australian law does not apply in the US because that would cripple legal process between Australia and the US in both directions.

            Actually, no. The EFF is doing just fine. They reason they don't give a shit about what some court rules on the other side of the world is that they don't have a legal reason to give a shit.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @03:08PM (#54240641) Journal

      But the SF court case will establish a record that GEMSA will find more difficult to get delisted, even in Australia.

      I don't think that it is libellous to report on the SF case. Assuming the EFF wins the case, it would be a factual statement to say (hypothetically) "a court in the USA agreed with the EFF that GEMSA's patent 6,690,400 is stupid".

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Oh hell yes. That's too damn good to pass up.

      • A US court would not issue a declaratory judgment that the patent is stupid. It might issue a declaratory judgment that the EFF has a right, protected by the First Amendment, to say that the patent is stupid, even though an Australian court ruled against the EFF by default.

        • by pem ( 1013437 )
          Yeah, but it's possible that all the reasoning that goes into that judgment could result in some juicy judicial quotes. Given all the prior art pointed out by the EFF, the characterization of the patent as "stupid" is eminently reasonable, and doesn't even rise to the level of hyperbole.
  • A surgeon would just cut the cancer out and follow up with chemo and radiation to be sure.
    • A surgeon would just cut the cancer out and follow up with chemo and radiation to be sure.

      My understanding is that one must nuke it from orbit to be sure.

  • virtual cabinets? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @02:45PM (#54240553) Homepage Journal

    > This month’s stupid patent, US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the ’400 patent), claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organization.

    "Magic Desk" for the Commodore 64 (released in 1983) used virtual file cabinets.
    So did GEOS applications, IIRC.

    • Oh, and I forgot to add:
      This is a stupid patent.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      It's like the people that issue these patents have never seen a computer.

      • It's like the people that issue these patents have never seen a computer.

        Of course. Only lawyers submit, examine and issue patents.

    • Heck, I also had a computer running GEM. (Graphic Environment Manager)
      Other than the operating system switch by clicking on a directory/folder/virtual cabinet (all 3 are the same thing in a graphic environment) I don't see anything that wasn't already available in the 80s, and even that might have existed.
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        I'm not sure, it's been a long time, and I didn't work on it that much, but didn't the Wang Word Processing system describe collection of directories as cabinets? It's true they didn't use pictures of them, at least on the computer (but possibly in the documentation).

        In fact, I vaguely remember some IBM 360 documentation that used the image of file cabinets to depict collections of files...

    • The cabinets shown in the patent illustration look almost exactly like those used in AmigaDOS v1.x. They even open the same way. The Amiga was released in 1985, and the patent was filed in 1999.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday April 15, 2017 @03:04PM (#54240627)

    Well too fucking bad, because I'm reposting it instead. COME AT ME BRO!

    Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer

    How do you store your paper files? Perhaps you leave them scattered on your desk or piled on the floor. If you're more organized, you might keep them in a cabinet. This month's stupid patent, US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the '400 patent), claims the idea of using "virtual cabinets" to graphically represent data storage and organization. While this is bad, the worse news is that the patent's owner is suing just about anyone who runs a website.

    The '400 patent is owned by Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. ("GEMSA") which seems to be a classic patent troll. GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors. The '400 patent describes a graphical user interface for this system. The interface allows users to interact with "graphical depictions of cabinets" that represent memory partitions and different operating systems.

    GEMSA says that Flash VOS moved the computer industry a "quantum leap forwarded in the late 90's when it invented Systems Virtualization." But Flash VOS didn't invent partitions, didn't invent virtual machines, and didn't invent running multiple operating systems on a single computer. All of these concepts predate its patent application, some by decades. In any event, the '400 patent claims only a very specific, and in our view, quite mundane user interface.

    Importantly, the '400 patent's claims require very specific structures. For example, claim 1 requires "a secondary storage partitions window" and "at least one visible cabinet representing a discrete operating system." A user interface must have all of these features to infringe the claim.

    In the past year, GEMSA has sued dozens of companies, ranging from Airbnb to Zillow. In each case, it makes the bare assertion that the defendant's website infringes the '400 patent. For example, it simply states that "AIRBNB maintains, controls and/or operates a website with a graphical user interface ("GUI") at www.airbnb.com that infringes one or more claims of the '400 patent."

    GEMSA doesn't explain how Airbnb's website satisfies highly specific claim limitations like "a virtual cabinet representing a discrete operating system." In fact, the accused website bears almost no similarity to GEMSA's supposed invention:

    As far as we can tell, GEMSA seems to think that anyone with a website that links to hosted content infringes its patent. Complaints with such sparse, and implausible, infringement allegations should be thrown out immediately for failure to state a claim.

    There will be no prizes for guessing where GEMSA has filed its litigation. Every one of its cases was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, where we have long complained that local rules favor patent trolls like GEMSA. Venue reform legislation currently before Congress would stop trolls flocking to the Eastern District of Texas. That might help reduce abusive patent trolling. But we still need broader patent reform to ensure that such weak patents don't lead to abusive troll litigation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What is the funniest part of this is Australia doesn't even have software patents.

      So this Australian company is registering a patent in a foreign land that it just could not do at home.

      • by Dantoo ( 176555 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @06:39PM (#54241451)

        There may be something else interesting here too. I'm not clear on it and may have it wrong, but the Trans Pacific Partnership was touted as allowing for the enforcement of cross jurisdiction ruling for things like this.

        Did Trump just save the world from another round of vexatious patent trolling that uses cross-border court rulings as a weapon?

        Ummmm....Yay Trump....Yaaayyy....ummm.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It would have required all patent systems in the partnership to be as stupid as the US one, that's one of the major reasons other countries didn't want it. We didn't want US style patent trolling.

  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @03:50PM (#54240835) Homepage

    Just put a hit on the guy. Faster and certainly cheaper.

  • I wanna see a scenario where all the companies involved go for a counter suit and refuses to settle.

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