Seems like today's been quite the day for patent related stories. Just as we were discussing the question of obviousness when it comes to patents, comes the news of mobile operator Leap Wireless' patent lawsuit against Metro PCS. Apparently, Leap was able to get a business method patent on offering flat-rate pricing for a mobile phone service. Note that this patent was filed in 2001, when flat-rate pricing was very much the standard for internet access. It seems positively obvious that someone would eventually offer flat-rate service for mobile phones as well. In fact, there were flat-rate, no roaming charge mobile plans well before 2001. I remember AT&T Wireless (the old one) offering such a plan around 1998. Reading the patent, though, Leap makes it sound like some amazing new invention that has wonderfully mysterious properties to increase capacity while lowering peak capacity. So, can someone explain how this idea could possibly be called "new and non-obvious"? Then, can you explain how it helps the market in the slightest to have Leap try to block the competition from offering a flat-rate pricing plan as well?
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