And Of Course: Twitter Sued For Patent Infringement In Texas

from the where-else? dept

This should hardly be a surprise, but with Twitter being so popular lately, it was only a matter of time until it was targeted in patent infringement lawsuits. At the very least, the company suing them appears to (a) actually be based in Texas and (b) have a product on the market. But... that doesn't make TechRadium's lawsuit against Twitter any more reasonable or sensible. Take a look at the patents in question:
  • 7,130,389: Digital notification and response system
  • 7,496,183: Method for providing digital notification
  • 7,519,165: Method for providing digital notification and receiving responses
Read through the claims on each of these patents and try not to gag on the obviousness of all three. If you picked any competent programmer (or, should we say, one who is "skilled in the art") and discussed messaging systems, this is pretty much what any of them would develop. There's nothing particularly unique or special in what's described in these patents. And, now, unfortunately, Twitter needs to waste time and money defending itself for doing something (ahem) obvious.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    angry dude, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

    Does anybody have a patent to sue Mikey and his shitty blog out of existence ?

     

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    •  
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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:12pm

      Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

      No, but I hear you can pay him a million or so $$$ to quiet the website for a year.

      ***I trolled with angry dude!***

       

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    •  
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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

      Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

      It speaks volumes that you think of patents as a way to sue and not an incentive to create.

      Not that you'd know, you probably don't even have a patent.

      ***I trolled angry dude!***

       

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      •  
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        Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 4:06pm

        Re: Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

        "A method for decreasing the quality of the average user's online experience comprising: not knowing what one is talking about; commenting anyway; swearing."

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Angry Troll Buster, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

      Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

      Angry Dude... or Should I say ANGRY TROLL... please go back with the rest of your herd of sheep and quietly accept the constant erosion of our rights by politicians and the courts.

      Go ahead... go quietly into the night.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        angry dude, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

        All you Mike Lovers out there can drop your pants and let me suck you off!

        STFU!

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Dan Butler, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

          sounds like fun, I never knew you went my way.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Spuds, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 4:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

          Heh. Apparently, Angry dude is offering free BJs. Get 'em while he's hot.

           

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        •  
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          Mikael (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 7:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

          Wow...didn't know offering a BJ was an effective way of telling someone off. lol I think I'll pass though :D

           

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    •  
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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

      All I'm Sayin'

      ***I trolled with angry dude!***

       

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    •  
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      senshikaze (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

      Re: Mikey is doing his regular patent-pissing routine

      So having an article on a stupid patent trolling company makes it "patent-pissing"? Instead of uselessly being a dumbass, why not just, now read this part carefully, quit reading his damned blog? It's not like anyone is forcing you to, nor is anyone forcing you to agree with his POV on patent's and what not. Instead of being a fucker, why not just leave us the hell alone? The patent system does need change and if no one ever showed the general populace how bad it actually is, nothing would change.

      Fuck off.

       

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  •  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    But seriously..

    Now, I'm largely, if not entirely, in the dark when it comes to the ins and outs of patents and the patent system, but looking at the three patents listed above, aren't they all patents on ideas?

    I saw nothing on *how* to implement, I only saw *what* to implement.

    I'm probably missing something fundamental, so any insight would probably make my head stop hurting.

     

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    •  
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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

      Re: But seriously..

      It is also possible to patent a "process"

      For example, should you invent a cost-effective way of transmuting beans into titanium; you patent to process.

       

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    •  
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      Kevin Stapp (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

      Re: But seriously..

      Welcome to the patents of today. You don't actually have to invent anything, just describe the idea. I think the single greatest mistake the PTO ever made was to dispense with the requirement to provide a working model of an 'invention'. Most of these concept patents would fail outright simply because the 'inventor' couldn't actually build/code what they describe. And if they did actually build/code the 'invention' the prior art and unique/non-obvious analysis would be much easier to assess.

       

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      Fred McTaker (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

      Re: But seriously..

      You're right Infamous Joe. You're not supposed to be able to patent ideas -- only implementations, and hardware implementations at that. Unfortunately, the corporate lawsuit-loving courts confused all that in the "State Street" decision. Court precedent matters a great deal in patent law, because the USPTO has basically given up their responsibilities, and rubber stamped just about every form that comes through their offices, and instituted things like quota systems to help them pass even more dumb patents faster. It's harder to get a bad patent invalidated than it is to get it passed, especially if the right set of patent lawyers have their name on it. Patents are no longer about inventions -- they're all about the potential for lucrative lawsuits. Now things are nearly being set back to "normal" via the "Bilsky" decision, but the Supreme Court still has the option to take another look at "Bilsky" and screw that up too.

      Of course, if the patent examiners weren't also practically monster-corp lackeys, currently on the "inside" half of the revolving door system at the USPTO, maybe these patents wouldn't get granted in the first place. Most patents can be kept from being accepted on simple grounds like *prior art* and *obviousness*. As Mike and other comments have noted in this case, all three patents are ridiculously obvious, and have a long history of prior art, even if you discount the pagers that were so ubiquitous in the 1980's. Patent renewals max out at 25 years, so any pager patents should have expired by now. Any patents on things you could do with UNIX in the 70's should have expired in the last century.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        MikeIP, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re: But seriously..

        Where did you get the idea that only hardware implementations are patentable? One key to determining eligible subject matter is to determine whether a claim recites an idea as applied or merely recites an idea in the abstract. You guys should stop your whining about patents until you actually pick up a book or two and read up on the actual law rather than what's spouted without knowledge on the interwebs.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    droneone, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    There is a difference though...

    Mike, there is a difference between this lawsuit, and your standard patent lawsuit that you write about.

    Namely, the plaintiff is an actual company with an actual product built around said patent, said plaintiff is a (real, not troll) company based in Texas, and Twitter could conceivably could be seen as a threat to its customer base.

    While I'm not making any judgment about the viability of the patent, it would be useful to note the stark differences between this lawsuit and the ones you usually write about.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

      Re: There is a difference though...

      Mike, there is a difference between this lawsuit, and your standard patent lawsuit that you write about.

      Namely, the plaintiff is an actual company with an actual product built around said patent, said plaintiff is a (real, not troll) company based in Texas, and Twitter could conceivably could be seen as a threat to its customer base.


      You say that as if I didn't say that in the post itself. But I did: "At the very least, the company suing them appears to (a) actually be based in Texas and (b) have a product on the market."

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Angrier Dude, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    I'm angrier then you angry dude. Piss off with your trolling!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Business Model

    A very rich business man told me just patent everything and sue. No actual need to attempt any real business model or do any actual work, just be vague enough in your patents. It may or may not apply to your victims but that is up to the courts to decide. Needless to say he holds several such vaguely worded patents and sues often and then settles for far less (typically less than the legal fees). He has made his millions doing on his own in a relatively small scale.

    A patent should be clear enough that someone in the field could duplicate the patent. The patent should also not be obvious as tested by a statical majority individuals in the field.

     

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  •  
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    SimonTek (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    Isn't basically twitter a new form of IRC, or heck BBS, when you think of it?

     

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    •  
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      Kevin Stapp (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      Or relay chat that has been around since the 70's

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:54pm

      Re:

      Yes. There is nothing innovative or new about twitter at all. There was essentially nothing to infringe upon since its entire operation is built around prior work with decades of examples. It is 'succeeding' right now due to timing as the form of rapid (and nearly constant feed) textual communication goes mainstream, but its nothing new.

       

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      senshikaze (profile), Aug 6th, 2009 @ 6:58am

      Re:

      or regular inane conversations that have been around for 1000's of years.

       

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  •  
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    inc (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    that patent is so wide open it seems as if they are trying to patent the Internet itself. hat it describes sounds like emailing to your phone and getting a text message.


    1. A digital notification and response system, comprising:

    a. an administrator interface for preparing and transmitting a message from an administrator to at least one user contact device;

    b. a dynamic information database for storing the message, wherein the dynamic information database comprises;

    i. user contact data comprising:

    1. user contact device information; and
    2. user selected priority information that indicates a contact order for the user contact device;
    ii. user selected grouping information comprising:
    1. at least one group associated with each user contact device; and
    2. a priority order for contacting each user contact device within the group;
    iii. response data comprising:
    1. user response information that indicates individual user contact devices have received the message; and
    2. response information that indicates when insufficient user contact device information exists to contact the user contact devices;
    wherein the administrator initiates distribution of the message using the grouping information, priority information, and the priority order, and wherein the message is transmitted through at least two industry standard gateways simultaneously, wherein the two industry standard gateways are selected from the group consisting of: a SMTP gateway a SIP, an H.323, an ISDN gateway, a PSTN gateway, a softswitch, and combinations thereof, wherein the message is received by the at least one user contact device, and the at least one user contact device transmits a response through the industry standard gateways to the dynamic information database.

     

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    another mike (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    wired has this too

    I saw this story on Wired first.

    They have my new favorite quote of all time. From Twitter documents released on TechCrunch, "We will be sued for patent infringement, repeatedly and often."

    That really just says it all doesn't it?

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    Funny Stuff ....

    Being an engineer / programmer I have to say the patents are so stupid and obvious in 1995 (+ -) I set up a system that used pagers, e-mail, and voice mail to notify people of events and allow them to respond.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:59pm

      Re: Funny Stuff ....

      I'm not in the least bit an engineer/programmer, but I have toyed with various languages to make stupid games and a simple CMS and things like that for years... and almost ever time I hear about one of these software patents, it seems blatantly obvious even to me. My only "skill" at programming is an ability to look at a problem in a logical way and find what I hope is the most elegant solution (and then scour tutorial websites to find the few commands I need for whatever language I am trying to use).

      So I guess what I'm saying is, these ideas are obvious to people even beyond those "skilled in the art". I'm pretty confident that many electricians or plumbers or city planners or what-have-yous with a rudimentary understanding of how computers work could come up with these solutions, even if they didn't know precisely how to implement them.

      And here I was hoping that, as computer education improves, a basic understanding of programming concepts and the ability to write simple scripts would become more and more common knowledge. I guess that's prohibited... arg

       

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 4:02pm

    come to think of it...

    How is a computer program method *really* different from a mathematical formula?

    And imagine if THOSE were patentable! (And if Pi was a registered trademark of Archimedecorp)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 9:50pm

    Twitter has no profit plan... what are they suing for? NOT making money off someone else's patented innovation is not really infringement.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    staff1, Aug 6th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    a shilling we will go

    from the shill is a shill department...

    "Read through the claims on each of these patents and try not to gag on the obviousness of all three..."

    Do you have any concept of what obviousness means? Of course you don't, yet you continue to rail away. So how much do Cisco
    and the rest of the patent deform crowd pay you to write this trash?

     

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  •  
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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 6th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Oh my god! About 1 hour after I learned to use network sockets, I violated ALL THREE of these patents. I'm going to need to hire a lawyer.
    Wow. Apparently, it's possible to patent the first thing you think of to try out your new skill after completing a tutorial. Programming is dangerous. I'm waiting for a patent on converting text files into executable code any time now...

     

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


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