Google Latest To Face Patent Troll Situation

from the ah,-the-fun-of- dept

Gary Price, over at the Search Engine Watch site, is breaking the news that Google is being sued for patent infringement concerning the Google Talk IM/VoIP client. Price points to a very thorough look at RTI, the company doing the suing, by Rich Tehrani. The company tries to position itself as not being a patent troll -- but again, they do seem to be suing companies who are innovating in areas that RTI isn't doing anything. The two (one and two) patents at issue are focused on "least cost routing," basically figuring out the cheapest way to make a phone call and selecting that route. You can make a very reasonable argument that this is a non-trivial matter -- but is it so difficult that it's somehow non-obvious to those skilled in telephony? Either way, it's still unclear how Google is infringing on either patent, as it doesn't appear that Google Talk connects to the traditional (PSTN) phone system these days. So, how are they violating patents concerning least cost routing on the telephone network when they never touch the telephone network? It's quite likely that Google Talk will eventually interconnect with the PSTN, but it seems like this patent suit might be a bit premature.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mousky, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 4:03pm

    You have to be kidding

    I remember learning Least Cost Routing in a joint fourth year/graduate university course on spatial geography back in 1989/1990. I even wrote a computer program that determine the least cost route from point A to point B. How can something that is nothing more than an algorithm and something that has been taught forever be patented?

    I recently reread the editorial by The Economist about the RIM/NTP case and can't believe how wrong The Economist is in their viewpoint. It's quite shocking to see such a well recognized journal get something so wrong.

    This is just another case of a patent troll or some industry association looking to extort money from Google. Sometimes it sucks being successful.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Mike Lat, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 5:02pm

    No Subject Given

    I have a solution for this: Why don't they create some kind of law or patent guideline that they have to produce evidence that they are actively using and developing the patent? I bet patent trolls like the jpg compression people and this one would be disregarded, thus keeping innovation and progress in the technological industry.

    I'm sick of these lazy morons who can't make their own money by making good products, so instead they have to sue everybody because their patent vaguely relates to a technology that people developed that actually has practical use.

    "The company tries to position itself as not being a patent troll" yeah, good luck with that. It's like calling a murder as if it were "population management". No matter how you position yourself, its the same thing.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    small guy with just one patent (a.k.a., Dec 27th, 2005 @ 6:21pm

    Don't be ignorant assholes

    I am fucking tired of lame people here and elsewhere making uninformed and downright stupid
    comments and insulting me and many other people who actually contributed a lot to the state of the art in technology.
    Just tell me how I am supposed to "make a product" with just one patent on a very critical computational algorithm which can be used in a large number of products but doesn't make a product by itself.
    Should I also get patents for the rest of the stuff I would need to make even the smallest product (propably dozens of them), or license them from "big boys" ?
    Guess what, "big boys" never play by the rules - they want to use your stuff for free, but would not even cross-license their patents with you for free (Read the latest IBM proposal for cross-licensing with start-ups - very generous)
    So, just tell me, the clueless people of techdirt, what I should do with my very own patent, on which I spent years of my life researching things you can't even comprehend.
    I guess your answer is to let "big boys" use it without paying a dime and cut my losses...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 6:29pm

    It seems like this patent suit is in the way...

    Other than that i'm sure they'll move ahead with tthis branch of software development. Anyone capable would be foolish not to. The capacity alone is worth the upgrade especially if costs can be kept down at the same time.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    and let's not forget patents go for minimum 5k a pop these days.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    I'm uninformed? I guess I am. I've never heard about you, your company, or anything you tried to do with such a technology.

    You made something, got the patent, but didn't do anything with it. Thats exactly why Google Talk has been out for months already, but you choose now to start sueing everybody. Why? Because you only "noticed" you had the patent laying around somewhere.

    Really. They had no idea you owned the patent, and you weren't using it. Now that google started using technology you couldn't do anything useful with, they are apparently now "violating your rights". How thoughtless of google to make technology more useful then you ever attempted.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Sv, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    You spent years researching matter that you can't convert into a business model so now it's everybody else's fault?

    Well it's not enough to just research stuff. You need to research for something you have a business model for.

    And suing around for patent infringements is not a business model, in case one might wonder.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Joe, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 7:59pm

    Patents

    If I would only have patented the idea of pulling a patent lawsuit out my ass. Now that would really be worth something these days!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2005 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    Unfortunately the patent concept is so screwed up at this point - Two people research the same thimg. "A" develops the idea before "B" and gets a patent. "B" is totally unaware of "A" 's patent and develops not just the idea but a product.

    How the hell B "steal" A's idea?

    Dumb idiot A sits on forever just so that one day he can sue someone and become rich? YES !

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    giafly, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 1:43am

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    Re: I am fucking tired of lame people here and elsewhere making uninformed and downright stupid comments and insulting me and many other people who actually contributed a lot to the state of the art in technology.

    I have studied dozens of computer-related patents, but have never seen even one that contributed a lot to the state of the art.
    If it's as good as you say, please could you provide a link to your patent, or at least include its reference number, so the rest of us can see this phenomenum.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Mousky, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 5:45am

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    Well if your algorithm (which is nothing more than a mathematical equation or function) is so critical and can be used in a "large number of products", why are you not selling or licensing your patent to the developers of these "products"? If your patent is so wonderful, how about posting a link to it at the USPTO? Otherwise, go away patent troll.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 7:23am

    Ever tried to license your patent ?

    Don't worry, I will leave your alone, the clueless people of Techdirt, because reading Techdirt and especially Slashdot these days upsets me a lot and gives me high blood pressure - so many idiots out there, it's just unbelievable..
    As far as my patent is concerned, it is in a very narrow and highly technical field - you would not be able to understand even the abstract.
    But for this narrow field it is what RSA patent used to be for the entire field of applied cryptography.
    It is published in US and EPO patent applications, and in a couple of technical articles in scientific journals - all at my personal expense.
    When it was published 3 years ago, I sent about 100 letters to all of the major potential users of this technology offering them to license it very cheap or sell it outright, and even to do some consulting and implementation work for them to suit their product requirements.
    Guess what, I have never heard from any of them, but from what I hear these days, they didn't loose any time implementing my algorithms from published patent application and articles.
    So far I have spent 5 years of my life and about 42,000 $ straight out of my pocket (EPO patents cost more than US patents, but EPO prior art search and examination processes are so much better that any US patent with EPO counterpart has a higher presumption of validity)
    What would you do under such circumstances ? Just cut your losses OR try to sell the patents to some real nasty "patent troll" with enough financial resources to try to kick some corporate ass... ?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Ben McNelly, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 8:18am

    Re: Ever tried to license your patent ?

    hey small guy with one patent... Link??
    I didn't think so.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Richard Ahlquist, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 8:24am

    Re: Ever tried to license your patent ?

    Yes we are utterly clueless. We people who read techdirt. I don't have a clue why someone would want to patent something and not have the wherewithal to create something with it. If your item is that important instead of hiding it behind claiming our ignorance perhaps you should share the information about the patent. That way maybe someone who wants to license just such a item may find it.
    I personally think the current patent systems are an abomination grown out of corporate greed. A patent shouldn't be issued for a process like deciding who goes to the bathroom next ( http://news.com.com/2100-1017-961803.html ). Patents should only have ever been used to protect a physical invention. IOW if I built the first toaster oven that uses a new device for automatically cleaning up the crumbs then I should be able to patent that to prevent 'knock offs' from taking my product and building a clone. For a limited time only. However if I create such an item, patent it and never produce anything with that patent it should either become part of the public domain in short order (2-3 years), or the patent should be invalidated.
    For example if I wanted to design and patent an ION washer for spacecraft I damn well better be able to build it and put it on the market. However if I don't have the ability, or the drive to do such a thing then it shouldn't be a squandered idea. I understand the concept of 'but it was my idea, I made it! I designed it! I should own it!' however after a certain point it becomes likely that in the same given circumstances, and an equally educated person desiring the same end result will come up with the same or an idea so similar that you will infringe.
    A mouse trap is a good example. Lets say I were to have say patented "a spring loaded device which when a interference fit trigger is tampered with causes the release of said spring and its load which then holds the mouse in place with a blunt object"
    Pretty broad scope there and IANAL so I don't know if that would be allowable. Now I have that patent, and maybe a prototype. Now I decide that because nobody is beating a path to my door to sit on it and wait. A short time later someone with an engineering degree figures out something very similar. Note I said figured out, not copied my design, not stole my prototype. This person then finds someone to build the device and market it, then they should be allowed to do so. Your squandered idea has eliminated its worth.
    The recipe for Coke is worth billions of dollars only because Coke was made and marketed. Not because someone filled out a recipe card and put it in a safe. A patented idea that is not developed on is just as worthless IMHO and should not provide its owner with the blanket ability to SQUASH another innovative idea that comes to market.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Rikko, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 8:52am

    Re: You have to be kidding

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you remove "telephone" from the patent, isn't this the age-old travelling salesman problem that is a staple for computer science algorithm analysis?

    Little patent guy: if you read most of the comments in context and objectively you will see them in a new light. Ignore the "me too" comments that are always there. The RSA patent was a good one - an algorithm that they developed, turned into a business model, and converted into a successful business years after the patent expired.

    Constrast to some of the really stupid ones akin to "a patent describing how to move the point of focus on a computer monitor" (eg. how to move your cursor).

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 9:15am

    About RSA patent

    The RSA patent is indeed a perfect example of a breakthrough invention initially lacking good business model: after all, the patent dates back to mid 80's and SSL wasn't implemented in web-browsers until mid 90's.
    RSA Data Security was started by 3 original
    inventors out of their 2-bedroom appartment and went nearly broke a couple years later...
    It was a miserable business venture until they found a new CEO - a guy named Jim Bidzos, who had a drive and vision and ultimately kicked some corporate ass... including NSA agency.
    Scientists and inventors are not supposed to be shrewd entrepreneurs after all...

     

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  17.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 28th, 2005 @ 9:26am

    Re: Ever tried to license your patent ?

    Small guy,

    Making money takes effort. You can't just expect to send out 100 letters and have the world beat a path to your door. I could paint the greatest painting in the world, but if I know nothing about the art world and how to sell it, I won't sell it. That's not the world's fault -- it's my fault for not figuring out how to make a business out of it. Don't blame all of us for your own lack of business acumen.

    And, while you may think the patent is hugely important, others may not. The fact that you refuse to even link to it suggests that perhaps it really isn't what you claim. The fact that you also claim that none of us would understand it also raises all sorts of alarm bells. If you have proof that your patent is being infringed on, and especially that companies figured out the algorithm only because you sent it to them.

    Complaining that the world didn't beat a path to your door just because you sent out 100 letters for a patent that only you understand and only you think is the next best thing to sliced bread doesn't do much to make us feel any better about the patent system. It just highlights the "entitlement" problem of people who get patents and assume that's all they need to do.

    I have lots of ideas for business ventures all the time -- and I may think they're all great. But the only way to know for sure is to put them in practice and see what the market says. Not to sit back and whine that someone else is doing it.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 9:46am

    Re: Ever tried to license your patent ?

    Mike, as far as I can see we speak different languages...
    I am a scientist with a Ph.D. in Physics.
    I am NOT a businessman and don't want to become one.
    I just want to be fairly paid for the stuff I created on my own time and money and other companies are already starting to use commercially, that's all.
    Do you have any problem with that ?
    And the only way to get paid is through the patent system: no patent = no pay.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    go, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 9:51am

    Re: Don't be ignorant assholes

    Look idiot,

    The company had nothing to do with the tech in question. NOTHING. Its a troll and thats all.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 28th, 2005 @ 10:09am

    Re: Ever tried to license your patent ?

    Small guy,

    I am NOT a businessman and don't want to become one.
    I just want to be fairly paid for the stuff I created on my own time and money


    Yeah, and I'm just a writer and not a business man. I just want to be paid for the stuff I write.

    What? No one's rushing to my door to pay me unless I come up with a business model that works? That's how the real world works.

    If you don't want to be a businessman, that's fine. Find one you can team up with to commercialize what you have. There's more to life than patents, and expecting the world to beat a path to your door just because you have some patents is silly. The world never beats a path to your door.

    It's not the only way to get paid. It's the only way you think you can get paid -- which are two very different things.

    My problem isn't with you wanting to get paid. My problem is with this grudge you seem to have against all of us (including calling us all sorts of nasty and uncalled for names) because of your inability to come up with a reasonable business model in order to get paid. Don't blame us for your failures.

    Let's say I open a restaurant, and it's REALLY good. But, it's in a bad spot or I didn't advertise it properly, and I'm not making any money. Should I blame everyone else for not knowing that I opened this awesome restaurant? Should I complain that the restaurant down the street is doing much better -- serving similar food? What if they even copied the style of my restaurant, but happen to have done it better, picked a better spot, priced more reasonably and found a better chef? Isn't that competition?

    However, you're saying that I should sit around and blame everyone else for my own failings or try to shut down this other restaurant that has done it right. Sorry, that's not the world I want to live in.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 10:51am

    Go jump in a lake, pal !

    This place is becoming a lot like Slashdot: retards all the way down...
    I am not qualified myself to immediately speak about the merits of this particular patent infringement lawsuit, and neither any of you...
    Each of the two mentioned patents at uspto.gov has a lot of links to other patents referencing them: this fact alone gives a strong presumption of validity...

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:06am

    Re: Go jump in a lake, pal !

    Small guy,

    Funny. I'm trying to have a serious discussion with you and all I (and others) get back are insults.

    Do you understand why it's tough to take you seriously? You don't show us the supposedly wonderful patent you have, you tell us we'd never understand, and then you call us names like "retards."

    It doesn't do much for your credibility.

    If you want to discuss actual issues around the patent system, I'm more than willing to do so. If you want to act like a child, please go somewhere else.

    As for the patents, I didn't question their validity, I only questioned whether or not Google actually infringes on them -- which doesn't appear to be the case. Secondly, having others reference them is hardly a "presumption of validity" in this day and age, where people try to patent just about everything. As someone else pointed out in the comments, there appears to be some prior art on the topic.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:15am

    Read US Constitution often !

    Mike, your brains are completely wrapped around some silly business concepts...
    Patent system was established "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" and scientific progress has nothing to do with successful business model.
    And human rights come first, including "the right to exclude others from making,
    using, or selling a patented invention during the term of the patent".
    If you write a book, for a example, you have a copyright on your book and nobody can sell your book without your permission.
    Similar thing with patents (I mean with *valid* patents). This is so clearly spelled in
    the US Constitution (Article I, Section 8).
    Read it often and stop posting foolish comments about patents and US Patent System.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Dana Tellier, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:25am

    Re: Read US Constitution often !

    PLEASE POST A LINK TO YOUR PATENT, SMALL GUY, SO WE MIGHT ACTUALLY TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY.

    There, now you can't say you didn't see us asking...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Dan, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:38am

    Re: Read US Constitution often !

    U.S. Constitution
    Article I, Section 8
    ...
    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries
    ....

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    small guy with one patent, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:41am

    I am not suing you


    I don't care if you take me seriously or not: I am not suing anyone here for patent infringement.
    Companies which I will have to sue eventually know all too well what they are doing.
    They take their risks, and so do I.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:51am

    Re: Read US Constitution often !

    Patent system was established "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" and scientific progress has nothing to do with successful business model.

    Actually, that's not true at all. The progress of science and useful arts has EVERYTHING to do with successful business models. There's no progress and there's nothing useful if something doesn't reach the market.

    How is it promoting progress of science and useful arts to sit on a patent and complain about the companies that *are* progressing and *are* making things useful?

    And human rights come first, including "the right to exclude others from making,
    using, or selling a patented invention during the term of the patent".


    You put that in quotes, but I've never seen that in any copy of the Constitution I've read. Since you're the expert, however, can you cite the reference in the Constitution?

    If you write a book, for a example, you have a copyright on your book and nobody can sell your book without your permission.

    Again, not true at all. If I buy a book, I can then sell it without the author's permission. But, either way, you're confusing copyright -- which is on a specific set of words, with patents, which are about ideas. It's quite different.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Dan, Dec 28th, 2005 @ 11:53am

    Re: Read US Constitution often !

    So please explain to me (not in your case Small Guy) how a business trying to get money from those that are actually creating innovate products because that business has a piece of paper that was transferred from one company to another and was ‘sitting on a shelf’ for 10 years helps to progress science and useful arts.

    I believe that both companies and small inventors are capable of being ‘trolls’. I am worried that the balance of IP is becoming such that being a troll is more beneficial then actually innovating and inventing.

    I think the whole point of the original article is that there needs to be more balance introduced into IP.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Big Guy, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 1:36pm

    Re: I am not suing you

    Small Guy, your delusions of self importance bring a smile to my face.

    You're adorable! Like a little child, or a puppy.

    In your mind, no one respects you, so that gives you carte blanche to disrespect other people. You project your feelings of inferiority on other's.

    "You can't understand my genius! It's too amazing for you little people".

    Of course, for someone who doesn't care what other people think about you, you go out of your way to talk about how intelligent and awe inspiring your creations are.

    It's obvious you're not trying to convince us that you're intelligent. You don't care about that.

    You're trying to convince yourself.

    You really need to work on your self-esteem issues.

    Though you don't have to. You can stay the little insecure boy that you are, small guy. If nothing else, you make the world a more amusing place to live in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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