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Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, Others

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the going-for-the-gusto dept.

The Courts 219

mewshi_nya writes "A firm run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen filed suit alleging 11 technology companies are violating patents developed at a Silicon Valley lab that Allen financed more than a decade ago. Named in the lawsuit: Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and Google's YouTube subsidiary. The suit doesn't name Microsoft, Amazon.com or other tech companies in Seattle where Allen is based, and it doesn't estimate a damage amount. The suit lists violations of four patents (PDF) for technology that appear to be key components of the operations of the companies — and that of e-commerce and Internet search companies in general."

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Why now? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33397874)

For what reason has he waited all of this time to file said suit? It's not like the timing is great.... economy is still down, if he had waited a bit longer, perhaps the companies would have more money?

Re:Why now? (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 4 years ago | (#33397884)

For what reason has he waited all of this time to file said suit? It's not like the timing is great.... economy is still down, if he had waited a bit longer, perhaps the companies would have more money?

Patents are over a decade old... maybe he wanted to try and get his gold before they expired.

Re:Why now? (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33397990)

No no no, he financed the development of this a little over a decade ago. He filed for these about a decade ago and they were only actually issued about 5 years ago - Now, why he waited 5 years to sue is beyond me, but that seems to be the growing trend nowadays. Wait until the most profitable organizations are using it and then sue them for infringement and make a bit of profit.

Is he trolling? Well, kind of, yes. But its not like he bought up these patents and are now suing anyone he wants, he actually did have invested interest in these and they were actually developed. He's playing favourites of course, he co-founded Microsoft.

I don't think he is trolling anymore than he is just 'playing the game'. I mean how many times have Nokia and Apple gone toe to toe with infringement?

Re:Why now? (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#33398146)

Mr. Allen, a pioneer of computer software, didn't develop any of the technology himself but owns the patents.

So, he didn't buy them ... and didn't develop them ... so does that make him a bankrolling patent troll?

Re:Why now? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33398218)

Better that the patent trolls fight amongst themselves than smaller startups though, right?

Re:Why now? (2, Interesting)

initdeep (1073290) | about 4 years ago | (#33398810)

no more so than El Jobso is....

after all, His Steveness' name is on just about every patent that Apple files, yet he has very little if anything to do with the actual development of them.

So when Apple file suit against Nokia, it's actually His Steveness that's filing in most cases since he is the patent holder and Apple is merely the Licensee.

Re:Why now? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398894)

El Jobso

His Steveness

Thanks for making your trolling so obvious you do Slashdot a service by making it so easy to ignore anything you have to say so we can spend time on more serious posts.

Re:Why now? (5, Interesting)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 4 years ago | (#33398766)

Having licensed a few of my own patents to big companies, it's very likely he's been in negotiations for 3-4 years and they finally broke down. It's not at all uncommon to take 2-3 years to negotiate a license agreement, and that usually only starts after the patent is actually issued AND the potential licensee has had 6-12 months to read and fully comprehend the issued patent.

Re:Why now? (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33398588)

The 507 patent ()2001) falls to prior art - RoboBoard, bbs that downloaded graphic primitives and let you navigate through a virtual world (never mind just audio-visual data). Also the Space Quest and Kings Quest games, etc.

The 602 and 314 patents "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device." is preceded by, among other things, those annoying tickertape displays that have been around for decades, wall clocks for anyone sitting in front of a computer at 4:55 PM, etc.

The 682 patent "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest." (2004) is anticipated by the flag on your mailbox that lets you know you have mail, your doorbell, TV Guide magazine, the front page of any newspaper sitting at the news stand, etc. And of course, "You have mail".

Maybe this will the the one that finally puts the end to stupid software patents.

Re:Why now? (2, Funny)

initdeep (1073290) | about 4 years ago | (#33398822)

actually none of your examples gold up.

there is a difference between doing something physically and doing something electronically.

Re:Why now? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398884)

Don't tell me you're still of the opinion that patent law and common sense have anything to do with each other.

Re:Why now? (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#33398002)

He's not trying to get damages out of them; he's trying to get them to settle by buying "licenses" to make the problem go away. Plus, he's suing companies that HAVE money, while they still do have some assets. If I was trying to get money out of AOL, I'd be in a big hurry too!

Re:Why now? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33398032)

If I was trying to get money out of AOL, I'd be in a big hurry too!

That's worth at least +1 Funny.

Re:Why now? (5, Funny)

1729 (581437) | about 4 years ago | (#33398140)

If I was trying to get money out of AOL, I'd be in a big hurry too!

Me, too!

Re:Why now? (1)

HiggsBison (678319) | about 4 years ago | (#33398286)

Plus, he's suing companies that HAVE money...

So, maybe the fact that he's not suing Microsoft can be taken as good news.

He can't win (5, Funny)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 4 years ago | (#33398020)

Why am I not surprised? (1)

itomato (91092) | about 4 years ago | (#33398154)

Assignee: Halliburton Energy Services Inc.

I'd like to run this through my legalese relationship parser to generate some relational diagrams between the methods and the claims.

Something tells me there are some sploits to be found..

Re:He can't win (1)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | about 4 years ago | (#33398172)

that, is hilarious

Re:He can't win (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33398298)

I patented patenting.

I also patented suing.

You're in deep kim-che, friend.

Re:He can't win (1)

toriver (11308) | about 4 years ago | (#33398390)

I patented posting. Aaaanndd... writing English. You are going down!

Re:He can't win (1)

xenapan (1012909) | about 4 years ago | (#33398804)

I patent communication in all its various forms!

Re:He can't win (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 4 years ago | (#33398342)

OK, yes, that's brilliant.

Re:He can't win (2, Insightful)

ExploHD (888637) | about 4 years ago | (#33398694)

You are my HERO!!!

And/Or

Congratulations, you just divided by zero!

Re:He can't win (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about 4 years ago | (#33398826)

Are you REALLY going to make us look for prior art?

MSFT stock price same as 1998 (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#33398698)

Paul cant make any money off his old stock anymore

Re:Why now? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33398842)

I think it is more telling that suits were only filed against non-Seattle companies. Seems like they are interested in avoiding a motion of change of venue. If both the plaintiff and defendant are in the same area, a local court should be used. I guess I really ought to read the article for more details but it is pretty telling that he doesn't sue his neighbors... I guess I will see which venue was selected.

Re:Why now? (2, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33398922)

Well.. now I'm stumped... it was FILED in Seattle... I expected E.Texas... Oh well...

Is it just me... (5, Insightful)

magsol (1406749) | about 4 years ago | (#33397912)

...or do the patent lawsuits that show up on /. seem frivolous to the point of absurdity?

If so, is that sample bias? Or are all patent lawsuits intrinsically ridiculous?

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 years ago | (#33397936)

It's a fine example of what's wrong with patenting lines of code, vs a product. Welcome to screwed up city. Population: Everyone.

Re:Is it just me... (3, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | about 4 years ago | (#33398012)

...or do the patent lawsuits that show up on /. seem frivolous to the point of absurdity?
If so, is that sample bias? Or are all patent lawsuits intrinsically ridiculous?

More like: nine times out of ten, when it's not frivolous, it's not news because it's settled by negotiation behind closed doors. Companies have to want to make a public stand against a patent to choose to let it go to court, which means most cases involve a troll at one end or another. The tenth case is just the one where negotiations fell through. And you can tell those because they're inevitably answered by countersuits where the defendant returns fire against the plaintiff until somebody settles.

Re:Is it just me... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#33398046)

The lawsuits mentioned on slashdot sound more frivolous because you're only hearing half of the story. This of course doesn't explain the SCO Group case, for which the only rational response must be "WTF?!?", even if (especially if) both sides arguments are carefully examined.

Trial by fire (3, Interesting)

Fuseboy (414663) | about 4 years ago | (#33397940)

I think this is a great idea. I hope he wins, and internet search and ecommerce are shut down en masse by injunction. Whee! Then we could have a nice look at this business of patents and how we feel about them.

I wonder, is there such a thing as an inverse class action - by which I mean, could a whole raft of internet companies join the defending side as a show of solidarity, claiming that if the current defendants are violating, then they are too?

Re:Trial by fire (5, Insightful)

TheEyes (1686556) | about 4 years ago | (#33398136)

Ah, but did you notice that Paul Allen did not sue Microsoft? Yup, he went down the list of the top search engines--number 1, 3, 4, 5, etc--but "somehow" forgot about Bing, the number 2 engine.

No, allowing this lawsuit to succeed will play right into his hands. It's SCO all over again: Microsoft can't compete in the free market, so they trot out another sleeper cell patent troll with its portfolio of submarine patents to try to sink their competition in the courts. And they'll keep doing it, as long as they have the money and software patents continue to be as stupid as they are.

Re:Trial by fire (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33398224)

... or he still owns a boatload of Microsoft stock and didn't want to essentially sue himself?

I mean, there are simpler evil explanations than your convoluted evil explanation.

Re:Trial by fire (3, Interesting)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 years ago | (#33398376)

He owns a boatload of Microsoft stock and didn't want to sue himself AND he owns a boatload of Microsoft stock and wants to sue Microsoft's competitors.

Seems that Simple and 'convoluted' evil can exist at the same time.

You know, like shooting somebody after the sharks with laser beams.

Re:Trial by fire (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#33398912)

It's probably because he's using this to demonstrate to the Microsoft Board of Directors that he's shameless enough to be Microsoft's CEO after they boot out Ballmer.

Re:Trial by fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398220)

Then we could have a nice look at this business of patents and how we feel about them.

Patents are serving their actual purpose nicely. When a large corporation sues an independent competitor for patent violation, the large corporation wins. When an independent competitor sues a large corporation for patent violation, the large corporation wins.

In both cases, the large corporation gets a legally-enforced market monopoly. In no case can its business be threatened by the innovation of independents. That is exactly the goal (I know it isn't the stated goal, but it is the goal in practice).

Patents were designed to protect the RnD investment of wealthy corporations, which is why only wealthy corporations can successfully defend them. In some cases, the patent violation lawsuits are between two wealthy corporations, and of course the fireworks really fly when that happens. But neither corporation would want to throw the system away after all is said and done.

The only people who don't like the patent system have no money, and hence don't matter.

Re:Trial by fire (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 4 years ago | (#33398568)

When an independent competitor sues a large corporation for patent violation, the large corporation wins.

Except that's not how it usually goes. What happens in reality is that the small "competitor," who has never actually produced anything in his life, sues the large corporation in a particular court district in East Bumblefuck, Texas. There, it's apparently easy to convince the local hayseeds on the jury that the most trivial standard techniques are "innovative," and that the Big Evil Megacorp is exploiting the innocent, naive Little Guy.

At some point you'd think the big evil corporations would realize that software patents are a much greater black-swan liability than they could ever be worth as legitimate assets, and buy a Congressman or two to get rid of the problem for everybody. But it never seems to work that way.

Re:Trial by fire (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#33398760)

Sorry for the ignorance, but isn't Houston in East Texas? Are these patent suits all filed in some little town in east Texas somewhere, or in Houston? Houston isn't a small town. However, it's not exactly known for being a tech hub or a place of great intelligence either. If all these patent trials were held in Austin, I think things would be very different.

Re:Trial by fire (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 4 years ago | (#33398938)

My understanding is that the district most famous as a happy hunting ground for plaintiffs is the Eastern district [wikipedia.org] , located in a small town called Tyler, a couple hundred miles north of Houston.

Re:Trial by fire (1)

gerddie (173963) | about 4 years ago | (#33398940)

When an independent competitor sues a large corporation for patent violation, the large corporation wins.

Except that's not how it usually goes. What happens in reality is that the small "competitor," who has never actually produced anything in his life, sues the large corporation

It is my understanding that for doing so, the "competitor" usually bought these patents somewhere, and that entering a law suite of this type actually requires some deep pockets. In other words, this "competitor" is by no means a poor little guy and grandpa is right:

The only people who don't like the patent system have no money, and hence don't matter.

And here I thought (2, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 years ago | (#33397944)

That Allen was the non-evil guy from MS. Guess I was wrong.

Re:And here I thought (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#33398058)

He is the proverbial "lesser of two weasels".

Re:And here I thought (2, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | about 4 years ago | (#33398262)

Hey now, that's defamatory speech. Against weasels.

Re:And here I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398258)

You go guy!
Think of all the atrving ;awyers

Re:And here I thought (1)

zulux (112259) | about 4 years ago | (#33398486)

Search Google for "Paul Allen harassment"

I'm counting about four victims.

Re:And here I thought (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | about 4 years ago | (#33398672)

He was always the quiet guy in the background. Perhaps he's the REAL mastermind behind all of Microsoft's evil schemes ;)

Re:And here I thought (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 years ago | (#33398830)

Picard was the good guy until got assimilated by the Borg. And Microsoft is even worse than the Borg, there is no easy way out, even if you quit the evilness remains.

Really? (3, Funny)

xrayspx (13127) | about 4 years ago | (#33397946)

Does he really need another ivory backscratcher that badly?

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 4 years ago | (#33398378)

He's hoping to get an asian one to go with her.

Hmmm. Low on cash. What to do? (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | about 4 years ago | (#33397950)

So Paul is running out of money, huh?

A snippet from the suit [wsj.com] :

Defendant Apple has infringed and continues to infringe one or more claims of the ’507 patent [Patent No. 6,263,507]. Apple is liable for infringing the ’507 patent under 35 U.S.C. 271 by making and using websites, hardware, and software to categorize, compare, and display segments of a body of information as claimed in the patent.

I haven't tried to follow all of the claims in that patent, but I did skim the first page. Based on what I read there and the summary in the snippet, I suspect that nearly every web site on the internet is violation. Going after Apple et. al. is a blatant attempt at a money grab. Not naming other companies that probably violate the same patents the same way is blatant favoritism.

Talk about a misuse of the system (which is already sorely misused, I know).

Re:Hmmm. Low on cash. What to do? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33398018)

Yeah.

All of those companies certainly are violating Allen's patents. The problem is, those patents (completely irrespective of how you feel about software patents in general) should never have been granted -- there's just far too much prior art for each of the four.

Re:Hmmm. Low on cash. What to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398642)

If you skimed the first page, then you can't possibly know if anyone violates it. All of the claims in a patent have to be matched with the infringing product, otherwise its not infringed.

Lots of companies, obvious patents (4, Informative)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | about 4 years ago | (#33397962)

He's sued AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube (so Google ... again!). For some strange reason he did not sue Microsoft. Here are the two primary super-genius patents representing ideas no one else could have come up with:

  • 6,263,507, "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data"
  • 6,757,682, "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest"

Having alerted you users all to these items of interest, I will now proceed to pay Paul Allen.

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (3, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | about 4 years ago | (#33398074)

  • 6,263,507, "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data"
  • 6,757,682, "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest"

Having alerted you users all to these items of interest, I will now proceed to pay Paul Allen.

Gasp! And you used my browser to do it, you patent-cheating fiend!

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (5, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | about 4 years ago | (#33398076)

And yet Microsoft goes to great lengths to convince people that, this time, we can trust them not to sue (see the story on .NET/Android). They learned to protect their image better in the 90s; now they use proxies like Allen's company and SCO to attack their enemies. And if some company is dumb enough to take them at their word, they can always pull out the knives once their patents are used in successful products.

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (0, Redundant)

benjymouse (756774) | about 4 years ago | (#33398222)

Uhm, Paul Allen is not Microsoft, nor is this company owned fully or partially by Microsoft. Rather they have a common owner, Paul Allen - that is if Paul Allen still owns Microsoft stock - which I presume.

But saying that this is a Microsoft deed is a stretch. Microsoft had no hand in these patents.

But if mr. Allen still owns a lot of Microsoft stock, suing MS would be a bit like suing yourself. A bit awkward.

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398670)

Whatever. Paul Allen is microsoft scum. They are all part of the same gang.

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#33398336)

Suing Microsoft would be suing himself. His company could do it but it might not make much sense financially.

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (3, Informative)

JImbob0i0 (1202835) | about 4 years ago | (#33398492)

Microsoft could have settled with him and then he could have used that as an example to go after others... ;)

Re:Lots of companies, obvious patents (1)

gerddie (173963) | about 4 years ago | (#33398960)

You, Sir, are an evil genius.

Patented inventions (5, Interesting)

roothog (635998) | about 4 years ago | (#33397970)

I read these patents as:
* Patenting text summarization.
* Patenting rating systems.

The idea that either of those is a patentable invention is absurd. Specific algorithms to do either one, sure, but you can't patent general concepts.

Re:Patented inventions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398128)

Even if the details of these patents are way more specific than the summary would lead you to believe, if eleven companies are infringing independently, then your patents are probably too vague or obvious to be valid. I think if anyone can independently duplicate your patented technology without copying, it should be invalidated. But even if that is too radical, a limit of 2 or 3 defendants would at least be reasonable. More than that, and it's too obvious to patent.

Re:Patented inventions (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | about 4 years ago | (#33398490)

What's to stop a large conglomerate, then, from creating 11 shadow companies and 'independently' discovering the invention?

Re:Patented inventions (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 4 years ago | (#33398428)

Specific algorithms to do either one, sure, but you can't patent general concepts.

Actually patenting algorithms is also absurd, although allowed under our bizarre patent system.

He can't manage The Trail Blazers... (1)

DittoBox (978894) | about 4 years ago | (#33398024)

What gives him the idea he can take on a dozen major tech companies out of the Valley?

Re:He can't manage The Trail Blazers... (2, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | about 4 years ago | (#33398126)

What gives him the idea he can take on a dozen major tech companies out of the Valley?

That would be patent 5714015... [freepatentsonline.com]

Re:He can't manage The Trail Blazers... (1)

mckinnsb (984522) | about 4 years ago | (#33398144)

What gives him the idea that all of the lawyers for all of those companies would even *fit into a single courtroom?* They would need to take it to the local auditorium.

Re:He can't manage The Trail Blazers... (1)

DittoBox (978894) | about 4 years ago | (#33398288)

Like the Rose Garden? I'm sure Mr. Allen rent it out to everyone for a tidy fee.

Re:He can't manage The Trail Blazers... (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 4 years ago | (#33398148)

Somebody (certainly not him) needs to pay for his bad investments!

Patents In question (3, Interesting)

N_Piper (940061) | about 4 years ago | (#33398030)

TL;DR summing up
But the first patent '507 seems to be for "browsing audiovisual data" or a web browser
Patent '652 and '314 are patents for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device" or Advertisments.
Patent '682 is for "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest." or Targeted Advertisements.
Yea you legally filed patents
No you can't patent advertising or web browsing
Sorry your claim is BS go back to your bridge you troll.

Re:Patents In question (3, Interesting)

bpkiwi (1190575) | about 4 years ago | (#33398712)

It's even worse, you should have a look at the patents themselves, such as the '507 patent...
We claim:
1. A system for acquiring and reviewing a body of information, wherein the body of information includes a plurality of segments, each segment representing a defined set of information in the body of information, the system comprising:

means for acquiring data representing the body of information;

means for storing the acquired data;

first display means for generating a display of a first segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data; means for comparing data representing a segment of the body of information to data representing a different segment of the body of information to determine whether, according to one or more predetermined criteria, the compared segments are related; and

second display means for generating a display of a portion of, or a representation of, a second segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data, wherein the second display means displays the portion or representation of the second segment in response to the display by the first display means of a first segment to which the second segment is related.

So .... they appear to claim they invented diff in 1996. All other claims are based from this claim. Unfortunatly for them diff was invented in the early 1970s.

Want to stimulate the economy? (3, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | about 4 years ago | (#33398034)

If Obama and Congress want to stimulate the US (and, really, the whole world) economy, the BEST thing they could do would be to invalidate all copyrights and patents that are more than 10 years old, and abolish ALL "business practice" patents, and ALL software patents.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#33398124)

In the United States, the federal government is prohibited from passing ex post facto laws by clause 3 of Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. Some would argue that prematurely terminating existing copyrights and patents violates that provision. However, but the same token, extending currently copyrights should also be seen as a violation of that provision. To be logical, the laws that were in place at the time the intellectual property protection was initially filed for should apply for the entire lifetime of that protection. All we can really do is to prevent douchebags from doing this in the future, and then wait 20 years for existing obvious patents to age out.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | about 4 years ago | (#33398250)

not sure if lawyers would be able to successfully argue that or not, but the intent of that provision was that you couldn't criminalize something and then try someone for committing the crime prior to it being a law. invalidating patent/copyright protections would not be making them criminal nor trying to prosecute a person or corporation for claiming a patent/copyright.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) | about 4 years ago | (#33398300)

Ha, government is hardly that powerless. Perhaps they could pass clarification of what non-obvious means; construing the term very strictly. The patent office would then be instructed to review every software patent for compliance with the definition, and the fees for the review hearing raised to a million dollars, should the patent owner wish to attend the review. Otherwise the patent would be summarily declared invalid.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398646)

The intent is that it is not possible for the government to make things illegal retroactively, as in: An act that is done when it is legal (and only then), will remain legal forever even if the same act becomes illegal some time later.

A patent monopoly is a government granted monopoly, and imho the government is not required to keep granting that monopoly, even for previous grants. For example: If from tomorrow on, the parent law is crossed out (or superseded by something new and different), then from tomorrow on, it's not possible anymore to infringe on a patent, because there is no law that says so, and the courts will only consider the laws that exist at the time of the act. And it's not illegal for the government to remove a law.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#33398792)

Violating a patent isn't a crime, it's a tort.

And as someone else pointed out, patents are supposed to be only for things "not obvious to a practitioner of the art". Congress just needs to clarify the word "obvious" (as in, we really mean it!) and order the USPTO to stop ignoring that phrase. All patents that are obvious can immediately be invalidated.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

Americano (920576) | about 4 years ago | (#33398700)

Ex post facto has to do with criminalizing something, and then going after someone for something they did *before* the act was criminalized. The following would be a violation of that, to illustrate:

1) Paul Allen granted Patent # 500 for Method and apparatus for drawing Mr. Poopypants in your browser window in year 1, a browser-based friend similar to MS Office's Clippy.
2) Patent expires after 20 years.
3) Google implements a browser which draws Mr. Poopypants in your browser window in year 25.
4) US Gov't extends terms of patents to 40 years in year 27.
5) Paul Allen sues Google for violating his patent for drawing Mr. Poopypants in year 30, claiming that Google is in violation of his patent and owes him money, and wins, because Google was found guilty of violating a patent in year 25 when the patent had already expired, and had then subsequently been extended.

(Note: the big losers in all of this are the consumers, whose opportunity to have a friendly and technologically advanced Mr. Poopypants implementation in their browser suffers due to the chilling effect of patent litigation and intellectual property laws.)

This would be an example of an ex post facto laws, and Paul Allen would probably be laughed out of court for trying this sort of strategy.

I don't think terminating them early would qualify as the passage of an ex post facto law, because they are not criminalizing something and then prosecuting you for something that wasn't illegal when you did it. There might be legal challenges to the earlier termination of patents, but they should not be prevented from doing so by the prohibition of ex post facto laws.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (4, Informative)

hoggoth (414195) | about 4 years ago | (#33398248)

Obama and Congress will do what their bosses tell them to do.
Their bosses are the ones who WROTE the current patent laws. Congress doesn't write laws. Corporate ghost writers write laws and Congress signs them.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

xclay (924789) | about 4 years ago | (#33398354)

They would effectively kill their lucrative IP clauses in their CAFTA, NAFTA, FAFTA, WAFTA, AAFTA, BAFTA, DAFTA agreements.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 years ago | (#33398658)

How about complicated software/algorithm patents which required tons of talent, time, money, energy, creativity and insight?

Going to the other extreme doesn't make it okay.

Re:Want to stimulate the economy? (0, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#33398848)

Obama and Congress don't give two shits about the economy. They, like all politicians, only care about helping out their golf buddies and the people who give them the biggest campaign donations.

INFRINGEMENT OF U.S. PATENT NO........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398162)

On July 17, 2001, United States Patent No. 6,263,507 (“the ’507 patent”) was duly and legally issued for an invention entitled “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.” Interval was assigned the ’507 patent and continues to hold all rights and interest in the ’507 patent.

On March 7, 2000, United States Patent No. 6,034,652 (“the ’652 patent”) was duly and legally issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.” Interval was assigned the ’652 patent and continues to hold all rights and interest in the ’652 patent.

On September 7, 2004, United States Patent No. 6,788,314 (“the ’314 patent”) was duly and legally issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.” Interval was assigned the ’314 patent and continues to hold all rights and interest in the ’314 patent.

On June 29, 2004, United States Patent No. 6,757,682 (“the ’682 patent”) was duly and legally issued for an invention entitled “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.” Interval was assigned the ’682 patent and continues to hold all rights and interest in the ’682 patent.

Re:INFRINGEMENT OF U.S. PATENT NO........ (1)

JImbob0i0 (1202835) | about 4 years ago | (#33398706)

Mod parent up for some useful info!

As they say in Seattle.... (1)

Blackbrain (94923) | about 4 years ago | (#33398196)

Thank You Mr. Luthor!

Let's see Paul Allen's card... (0, Troll)

EVOL_HEL (1480145) | about 4 years ago | (#33398252)

I killed Paul Allen with an axe in the face, his body is dissolving in a bathtub in Hell's Kitchen. TRY GETTING A RESERVATION AT DORSIA NOW YOU FUCKING STUPID BASTARD! YOU, FUCKING BASTARD!

Microsoft (2, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 4 years ago | (#33398278)

I think software patents are pure, unadulterated crap, but I think the most likely reason that MS is not named in the suits is because MS licensed them already. For a penny.

Stop it. Now. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 4 years ago | (#33398282)

If the USPTO continues to grant idiotic patents like these, very soon every company will start patenting everything all the time.

If they thought they have a backlog now, they have exciting times ahead.

Geez (2, Insightful)

carrier lost (222597) | about 4 years ago | (#33398294)

Times must be tough if Paul Allen is running out of money too.

Re:Geez (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398530)

Times must be tough if Paul Allen is running out of money too.

Perhaps Paul Allen should sell one of his two or three Superyachts.

Re:Geez (1)

city (1189205) | about 4 years ago | (#33398902)

Maybe he just realized how much he has given away [nwsource.com] .

patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398398)

http://speechable.com/view?p=jl08790r

Lessons learned. (1)

Dr.D.IS.GREAT (1249946) | about 4 years ago | (#33398590)

Microsoft and all of its previous cohorts / comrades / skinheads / nazis / etc.. have taught us that you can not take a shit with out a law suit. mostly because in the fine print somewhere in that damn eula it says they have already patented the mechanism for shiting. therefor and there hence no shitting; or we sue you.

and we thought just the microsoft boyz were bad...

more to come at 11:00

Fantastic (2, Insightful)

jvkjvk (102057) | about 4 years ago | (#33398598)

Eventually, either the economic conditions in the US will become so risky that it drives businesses elsewhere or there will be some sanity introduced.

Who want's to bet that the "sanity" further consolidated power and becomes worse that the current situation?

Regards.

Ok everyone, send Paul Allen stuff he might like (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 years ago | (#33398656)

Violate one of his patents by using your browsers to highlight some disguised goat.cx links, Rick Astley videos and annoying sites with a million pop up windows with background music and send them to Paul Allen and his lawyers.

Not even... close. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398730)

I mean, the '507 patent is absurd. It has no citations to pre-existing web browsing technologies, web sites or even mentions such prior art. It claims to invent a "news browsing invention", yet CNN was already online by 1995. Including AOL must have been gut wrenching as well - as they have had a graphical interface, news interfaces, and other graphical "browser" technology which had been developed since the Commodore 64 was a viable home PC. Plus AOL probably still holds some of the original Netscape patents as well.

I find it absurd that such an invention could even be a patent. The claims are useless, anyway.

The 6,034,652 patent might be positioned to reap some rewards - except is was filed in 1999! Online Advertising had already exploded onto the internet, early content management software already started blossoming (FatWire, Open Market) and advertising managers (Goto/Idealab/Overture) not to mention the numerous ad networks already in place since the late 90's (DoubleClick 1997; HotWired/GNN 1994;Google, 1999; Prodigy, 1992)

Overall there's nothing new in these patents, they're badly cited and IMHO there's too much pre-history to capitalize much money.

Re:Not even... close. (1)

Panaflex (13191) | about 4 years ago | (#33398932)

Oh, let's not forget France's Minitel online service.

It's the litigious mantra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33398808)

IP lawsuits begin when IP creativity departs. So long Paul, we hardly knew ya...

BIAS (1)

Alanonfire (1415379) | about 4 years ago | (#33398952)

I have a feeling these comments would be completely different if Paul Allen was never associated with Microsoft. He has the right to go after people for violating his patents. Who cares if people are "patent trolling" ? The point of patents are to protect your inventions and ideas, otherwise he may as well just have burned all his money and companies like Microsoft and friends would just be stealing more and more than they already do from people and getting paid.
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