Showing posts with label patent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label patent. Show all posts

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Judges fighting litigation with Supreme Court's "obvious" patent ruling

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You might recall that the Supreme Court recently handed down a decision which loosened the definition of "obvious" as applied to patent interpretation, saying that if a person of ordinary skill could "fit the teaching of multiple patents together like pieces of a puzzle," the patent is obvious and unenforceable. That decision, which has been called the most important patent ruling in decades, is starting to affect several longstanding patent disputes, most notably a case brought against Real Networks in 2003 by a company called Friskit. In the first instance of a judge applying the new rule, Friskit's patents have been deemed unenforceable as obvious, a change from an earlier ruling allowing the case to go forward. Friskit is of course considering an appeal, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more of these suits decided early on the basis of obviousness. [Via TechDirt]


Saturday, May 19, 2007 - Searchable Patent Database

Looking for a patent? is a fully searchable US patent text database, with images and PDF documents as well. Whether the patent is active, expired, abandoned or pending, you can find it on this site. Of course there is a fee for this...$10 for a basic monthly membership or you can buy credits for a certain number of downloads. You can also bulk download patents on zip files, or email, post, or blog patents. They have a particularly informative blog on all the latest and greatest with patent disputes and issues, which would undoubtedly be of great interest to those dependent on patents for their business ventures. In their own words: is a patent search and document downloading site built with smart user focused features and tools for the average user and the most experienced patent searchers. Users can quickly scan front pages, build a list of patents to save and download and then choose free single patent downloads or bulk downloads for a fee. has a fully searchable data base of US issued patents with timely data updates. Why it might be a killer: This site is meeting a key niche of finding patents for entrepreneurs and those in other business ventures. The site is comprehensive, thorough and constantly in motion to make sure they are up-to-date and meeting their member's needs. Some questions: Can they make a profit charging only $10 a month membership? How many employees do they have to manage this ever-changing site? Are they open to redesigning the layout of the site, as it has a bland 2-color scheme and doesn't appear as professional looking as it should for a serious business. » original news


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vonage Appeal Cites Supreme Court Patent Ruling

A new Verizon appeal cites a Supreme Court decision that may make it easier to invalidate patent claims.
Caron Carlson, Network World

Thursday, May 10, 2007 10:00 AM PDT   

In its appeal of a jury verdict in the patent infringement case brought against it by Verizon, Vonage has turned to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that some analysts see as making it easier to invalidate patent claims.

In a brief filed May 9 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Vonage argued that the March jury verdict relied on a standard of analysis that the Supreme Court has since rejected. The jury found that Vonage's service infringed three patents, and the VoIP provider was ordered to pay US$58 million in damages. Vonage asked the appeals court to rule Verizon's patent claims invalid or to at least order a new trial.

Vonage's argument rests on a decision by the Supreme Court in late April in KSR International vs. Teleflex.  In that decision, the Supreme Court looked at the standard for determining whether a patent claim is obvious. It ruled that courts should consider whether an alleged improvement to an invention is more than just the predictable use of existing elements.  If, for example, at the time of an invention there was a known problem with an obvious solution, a patent claim may not be valid.

Rather than using this functional approach to determine whether Verizon's patent claims were obvious, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia instructed the jury to use a more rigid standard.

"The District Court's erroneous jury instruction on the wrong standard for [obviousness], thus, materially prejudiced Vonage's ability to present its invalidity case, and is strong grounds for vacating the validity finding," Vonage told the appeals court on May 9.

Verizon's patent claims are invalid because they are based on combinations of predictable elements that already exist, Vonage argued.  In other words, it would have been obvious to try the solutions in the patent claims. 

"Under KSR, [experts] would have found it obvious to try uniting the VocalTec Iphone software on the Harvard wireless laptops talking to the Internet wirelessly," Vonage said about one of the patents. About another patent, it said that experts "would have found it obvious to try using routing control records, or other similar table lookups, to perform the conditional analysis translation . . . "

Verizon is scheduled to file its brief with the appeals court May 23, and Vonage's reply is due May 30.  The court is scheduled to hear arguments June 25.

While the appeal is pending, Vonage is permitted to continue signing up new customers, and the company remains determined to increase its business.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Verizon/Vonage Lawsuit As A Proxy For What's Wrong With The Patent System

With the news that the federal appeals court has granted a permanent stay on enforcing the injunction placed on Vonage preventing it from signing up new customers, Tim Lee has written up a good article about how the case demonstrates many of the problems with the patent system, from software patents to obvious ideas getting patented to overly broad patents to the fact that companies are now using patents for nuclear stockpiling purposes rather than for innovation. It's an idea that we've discussed here quite a bit, and as Tim says, "Vonage's fundamental mistake was that it chose not to join this arms race. As a result, when Verizon sued, it was completely defenseless." We keep asking for people to explain to us how this is beneficial for promoting innovation, but no one seems to have a good answer. On a related note, Tim points out the latest ridiculous patent on tabbed windows, wondering "would anyone seriously claim that granting legal monopolies on the general characteristics of windowing systems is either necessary or helpful to the progress of the software industry?" Anyone?