Facebook Sued For Patent Infringement

from the welcome-to-the-big-time dept

It's pretty much a rite of passage for any tech company these days, as you get larger and more recognized, some company that has an overly broad and probably obvious patent will sue you for patent infringement. For the company in question, the lawsuit is as much a publicity event as it is an attempt to squeeze revenue from an actual innovator. The latest example of this is with an Ohio company no one's heard of called Leader Technologies, who is suing Facebook for patent infringement, and was kind enough to send out a press release announcing this before Facebook even got to see the lawsuit. Clearly, this is a publicity stunt.

As for the patent itself, it basically describes the rather obvious process of associating a piece of data with multiple categories. It's almost surprising that the company is suing Facebook instead of Google. While I'm not a heavy Facebook user, I'm not sure where Facebook uses such a system. Google, however, has made widespread use of a similar idea with its Gmail "labels." The idea is that rather than sorting data into a specific folder or category, it can be associated with multiple categories. If that seems rather obvious and ridiculously broad, well, that's the patent system for you these days.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    anon, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:02am

    If this company owns such a patent, they could make a ton of money off of a ton of different companies.

    come on, "associating a piece of data with multiple categories"?? we all do that at least a million times a day! these frivolous litigators should really just shut the fuck up and stick their "patent" up there ass where it came from.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Diamond, Oct 10th, 2010 @ 12:06am

      Re: Tech behavior

      If it's design than pay the piper.
      Also, everyone want something for free like music so I recommend that you create it and give it away. What's is your is your and you have a right to do what you want to do with it.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Wow, they should sue every database vendor on the planet as associating data in such a manner has been part of relational theory since day 1.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Hmmm, I think I have prior art sitting on my desk. I have a report labeled with variously colored stickies on each page so I can quickly thumb to a given topic.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Bassman, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      But your missing the point of the patent, this idea uses technology! It may be easy for you in real life, but no one knows how to apply basic sorting to data in a computer.

       

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    So It's Come To This: (profile), Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:19am

    Sue EVERYONE!!

    Just like Anon said, you can sue every database company. You can also sue anyone who uses tags like Yahoo's Flickr, blogs like WordPress and TypePad, and Delicious simply because they assign meta data to data.

    Not only is this idea obvious, the chances of someone ELSE owning such a patent is likely given the widespread use of such a broad patent years before the Internet was handed over to the public domain.

    FAIL

     

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    identicon
    XPO, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    Don't print the names of these companies or links to their press releases. Your just giving them what they want.

     

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      Noah Callaway, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      "Don't print the names of these companies or links to their press releases. Your just giving them what they want."

      Seconded.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:37am

    Let me see if I have this right. A company, Leader Technologies, files a provisional application in 2002, converts it into a regular application in 2003, has the patent issue in 2006, along the way has to distinguish how its invention differs from other inventions by lunimaries such as Xerox, Microsoft, IBM, and MCI (among others), has a technology savvy examiner in the patent office go back and forth over about 3 years time to narrow the patent claims so that the distinguish over the prior art in terms of both novelty and nonobviousness, asserts the patent against a company it believes may be infringing the patent, and then has techdirt come along and opine by a non-technical person lacking substantive technical knowledge in the details of the described and claimed subject matter that the patent is "rather obvious"...once again implying that yet another unwarranted patent has issued.

    Seriously, Mr. Masnick, are you such an expert in the technology field that you can make such a statement without even having reviewed the application as originally filed, together with the file wrapper history associated with its prosecution before the patent office?

    I urge you to stick with your economic arguments and view that patents and copyrights are "monopolies", and resist the urge to dip your feet into "legal waters in which you have no substantive experience. The former is within your area of expertise. The latter most certainly is not.

     

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      angry dude, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:48am

      Re:

      Mikey's area of expertise is brainwashing techdirt lemming-punks until they belive him
      He knows nothing about real economy and even less about tech
      His degree is in PR

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:55am

      Re:

      The patent is linked to in the article with the original filed paperwork. Looking at it myself it looks exactly like what Mike said.

      Unless I'm mistaken, this patent is on the definition of database.

       

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      slimcat (profile), Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:38am

      acdc

      "...a technology savvy examiner in the patent office..."

      I didn't realize you were being ironic until I got to this bit.

       

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  •  
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    jonnyq, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 7:44am

    RDBMS

    Someone patented the many-to-many relationship and, apparently, tagging?

     

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    That Guy, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    ?

    Software patents are so ambiguous its ridiculous. They need to revamp the entire system

    Visit P2P Tech Time http://www.p2ptechtime.com

     

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    identicon
    Amazed, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 8:06am

    The patent defines almost any trivial web application today.

    I cannot believe this patent made it through the system. It is a basic overview of how almost all web apps store and relate data with users. It has been around well before 2006.
    I should patent the process of requiring users to click on links for site navigation. Now that is novel!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Tamtammy MacPatentTroll, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 8:55am

    i'm going to patent chewing and make billions

    System includes teeth, jaw, muscular tissue, and some form of food and/or recreational material. Process involves tightening of muscular tissue causing one set of teeth (referred to as "upper teeth") to come into contact with another set of teeth (referred to as "lower teeth"). During this process, Upper Teeth and Lower Teeth crush the food or recreational material (e.g. gum) modifying the consistency of the food or releasing flavor or nutrients.

    Refers to previous patent #100,230,994,202,451 for process called "Sense of Taste".

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Link, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    Trolls

    Don't feed the trolls. Don't give them attention of any sort. It's the worst thing we can possibly do to them.

     

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    identicon
    Sankaran Nampoothiri, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    What Next? a Lawsuit for breathing oxygen, maybe?

    If this can become a subject of lawsuit, they'll have to spend several trillions just to file lawsuits! And can end up the richest company in the world!
    Has someone patented the 'process of breathing in and breathing out', yet? Must check out right away!

     

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    identicon
    TriZz, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Labels...

    ...this may have to do with the "networks" that you belong to. Same as Gmail and being able to add multiple labels to an email, Facebook allows you to join multiple networks. Me, for example, am apart of the Washington DC network, my university network and my companies network.

     

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    snowburn14, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Never heard of them before, eh?

    But surely you must remember the folks who "were relied upon by the Governor of Louisiana to support the entire state's response to Hurricane Katrina"? (quote taken from their website, for which I shall expect a lawsuit for copyright infringement)
    Now there's something to hang your hat on... If my business had anything whatsoever to do with the government's response to that disaster, I'd be doing everything in my power NOT to publicize it.

     

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    identicon
    tracker1, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    Many-Many Joins..

    Obviously this company never heard of the premise of a many to many data relationship. I think IBM will be sued next for it's implementation in SQL.

     

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      identicon
      Jon, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 2:20am

      Re: Many-Many Joins..

      ...and IBM will fire back with its own patents, which it most surely has given that this functionality has been present in Lotus Notes (it's called "views" in Notes), since oh, the early 90s or so.

      As SCO learned, going up against IBM in a patent battle is anything but trivial.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Sos, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:25pm

    I like this bit

    16. The method of claim 9, further comprising accessing the user environment via a portable wireless device.

    How does this have anything to do with the design of the system???

     

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      identicon
      Willton, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 10:42am

      Re: I like this bit

      How does this have anything to do with the design of the system???

      It likely doesn't, but nothing says that an infringing article must infringe every claim of a patent. It only needs to infringe one claim.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    MGA, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Quicker is keeper

    It is like finder is keeper: "Quicker is keeper". Doesn't make sense to me. They can not win, there could be two separate algorithms. To win patent case, everything has to be identical. No way, especially for such a commodotized feature...LOL

     

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    identicon
    Diamonds, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 11:19am

    That sucks, this patent is so broad that he can almost every major company.

     

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    identicon
    Jessica, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 5:55am

    Right. Does anyone have a patent to the many-to-many relationship concept? Or to many-to-one? Or, maybe, one-to-many...

     

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    identicon
    Pat, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    I thought that when you OWN the rights, that was it! So now, when you do not own, you are allowed to run all over the person or company that owns the rights?
    Pat

     

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    identicon
    Calm down sparky, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Has anyone considered that the "obvious and broad" aspects of the patent were in fact, not understood or utilized say, 15 years ago before the internet was so commonplace? If you read the patent you'll see that it allows for the storage and access of information in a totally different way than was previously available.

    It is extremely common for a small company to release a press release just before doing something extreme, like filing a lawsuit against a major corperation, because they need some real and factual information out in the media so that when someone searches the topic they don't just end up with a bullshit, unresearched article from Techdirt.

    Do you really think that a small business, like Leader, would invest an unimaginable amount of time and money into a lawsuit that they thought or knew was bullshit? Also, if the patent and the lawsuit are indeed a load of shit, as you make clear is your opinion, why was it not tossed out? Why did it make it all the way to trial?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2010 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      Database systems have been around well before the current widespread use of the Internet. and the reason it made it to trial is because I don't expect lawyers, judges, or juries to know anything about technology being that, except for juries, law is their field of expertise and not tech.

       

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