Google Fights Back And Wins Against Bogus Patent Lawsuit From Guy Who Couldn't Even Code His 'Invention'

from the a-win-in-east-texas! dept

Joe Mullin, in his usual incredibly thorough manner, has a detailed blog post about Google emerging victorious in a patent infringement lawsuit in East Texas, against one of many non-practicing entities to sue Google claiming patent infringement in the last few years (Mullin notes 46 filed since 2007). In this case, a husband and wife team received two patents (7,240,025 and 7,249,059) on putting ads on other websites, and claimed that Google's AdSense infringed. While there was no assertion whatsoever that Google got the idea from these patents -- and everyone seems to recognize that Google came up with, implemented and built up AdSense entirely independently, the holder of the patent thought he deserved 20% of all of Google's AdSense profits. Oh, and the kicker? He never even finished building the system himself, because the programming was beyond him:
While being questioned by one of his lawyers, Dean told the jury that his limited knowledge of code-writing--derived from a junior college programming class--wasn't sufficient to allow him to complete the project. Instead, he hired his programming teacher to finish the job. Unfortunately, Dean and Stone ran out of money before the teacher was done. Dean insisted to the jury, though, that he could have finished the project...
And yet he felt he deserves 20% of all of Google's AdSense revenue? Someone is clearly overvaluing the idea vs. the implementation. Thankfully, though, the jury actually recognized that Google was the victim here. Beyond finding that Google didn't infringe, the jury also found parts of the two patents to be invalid.

As Mullin notes, Google appears to be one of a rather small number of big tech companies who are willing to stand up to such bogus patent lawsuits, rather than just paying them off to go away. Many other companies realize that it's cheaper to just pay off the patent holder than to fight it in court, but Google recognizes -- correctly -- that this just encourages more lawsuits of the same nature, and perpetuates the problem.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Richard Corsale (profile), Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    hes delusional if he thinks patents can be used like this? He's probably been taken in by one of those "inventor networks" ...

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Elishia Wwindfohr, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 8:29pm

    Google

    I agree with Richard he probably did get taken by some inventor club! Sad these get rich clubs forget to tell them about the Laws that govern whatever there pitching!

    Elishia Windfohr

     

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

  3.  
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    Aaron Von Gauss, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 8:34pm

    Flip Side

    There are tons, and tons, of examples of how software and maybe to a lesser degree business process patents (imo) are silly, destructive and a complete waste of everyones time. My question is, are there any real success stories?

     

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

  4.  
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    Jon B., Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Flip Side

    As a programmer, I can't think of a single software related idea that makes me think "someone should invent that" because that's just not how software works.

    I can think of a few hardware ideas (in computing and otherwise) that make me thing "someone should invent that..." They're just different...

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Flip Side

    A while back IP maximists used to claim that the overwhelming majority of patents were good and that the patent system was a success and improved innovation. We used to give all sorts of examples of bogus patents and IP maximists would say that those were the exception, not the rule. So I started a little game. We would give examples of bad patents and how they harmed innovation and they would give examples of good patents and how they helped innovation. Result? They tried to give examples of good patents and how they helped innovation and we refuted them 99 percent of the time, and even with the other one percent we substantially weakened their argument by noting how much money was wasted on patent litigation in the inventions they mentioned, and how that money could instead be further invested into more innovation. Yet we at techdirt are able to come up with many many good examples of bogus patents and how IP harms innovation. There is little to NO evidence that IP helps innovation and the overwhelming majority of evidence suggests it harms innovation.

     

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

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 10:15pm

    Realistically though, these days the mythical small inventor who comes up with a great idea only to have the big evil corporations steal it is likely to have trouble implementing everything too...

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Dohn Joe, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 10:27pm

    Wiser to Fight

    It probably costs less in the long run to fight these garbage claims since settling makes you a low-hanging fruit for future parasites!

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 11:03pm

    technically right

    at least in europe, the patent covers the idea, not the implementation. So it doesn't matter if this guy didn't have a clue how to implement his idea. It doesn't matter whether google 'honestly' thought about this independently

    so just on these grounds the claim of this guy was valid

    of course I don't know if his patent was valid or relevant to the case!

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 12:25am

    Re: technically right

    Yurp? Which country is that? Is it close to Norway, the capital of Iceland?

     

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

  10.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 24th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Re: technically right

    at least in europe, the patent covers the idea, not the implementation.

    That isn't true of any national patent law in Europe. Unfortunately it isn't a bad description of how the EPO (European Patent Office) operates.

    Fortunately these patents have to be enforced under national law - which isn't required to follow the same rules.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    I cannot speak to the merits of demerits of the noted patents, but it is useful to keep in mind that only rarely does an inventor have the broad skillset necessary to ultimately produce a working embodiment of his/her invention. This does not mean that an invention is not present, but only that other technical disciplines may later need to become involved to place the invention in a condition appropriate for eventual market introduction.

     

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

  12.  
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    staff1, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    shill!!!

    "Guy Who Couldn't Even Code His 'Invention'"

    Permit me to educate you...Edison hired various skilled artisans to assist him on his inventions who provided skills or knowledge he was lacking in. Similarly, so did Bell on the telephone and Farnsworth on the TV. Often times 'inventors' as you say have the foresight, but lack specific knowledge or ability to complete their invention alone. You might consider that GM has more than one engineer working on the Corvette. Gawd, you are such a shill for invention theives!!!

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Exception, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 9:41pm

    Re: Re: Flip Side

    Mostly agreed, with exception to certain graphic rendering/cryptographic/compression related implementations. Those algorithms deserves the name "invention".

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Vic Kley, Feb 24th, 2010 @ 10:23pm

    Inventor who is reputed to not be a strong programmer

    A patent does not require that the patented invention be fully reduced to practice. Indeed it is the exception rather then the rule that such is the case. Particularly in software, elements of the invention can be tried and their logical results checked even though implementation of the whole integrated invention is beyond the resources of the inventor. Many such "proof of concept" demos exist and are very useful in getting funding to complete the product work.

    It is unlikely that the author Mr. Masnick knows all the ins and outs of his server, or the other codes and code structures that permit him to denigrate something he really knows not a thing about.

    Or in a less polite way- SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE MASNICK.

     

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


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