As Google Voice Opens For All... It's Hit With Patent Infringement Claims

from the it's-all-in-the-timing dept

I've used Google Voice for years -- since back when it was Grand Central -- and over the past few months have been ramping up how much I use it, as it really is quite useful, especially as someone who has multiple phone lines. I've recommended it to a few different people, and it's nice to see that Google has finally opened it up to anyone in the US, after years of keeping it only open to legacy users (like me) or those lucky enough to get an invite. However, there's some interesting timing here, as just as Google announced that Google Voice was open to the public, it was hit with a patent lawsuit from Frontier Communications, who just got the patent in question (7,742,468), yesterday, the same day that it sued. The patent itself basically describes some of the core functionality of Google Voice: the ability to ring multiple lines from a single number being the main one.

It's difficult to see how there's much of a claim here. The patent was filed for in September of 2009, but is a continuation patent (ah, that old trick again) of another patent filed on February 9, 2007. The problem? Well, in October of 2006, I attended the DEMO show with a bunch of other reporters and investors, and we all got to see GrandCentral demo its technology that does pretty much exactly what's described in the claims in the patent. Google didn't acquire the company until July of 2007, but it's difficult to see how the 2006 demonstration of the technology shouldn't be seen as prior art that invalidates the patent. Of course, it would have been nice if the patent examiner on the case had bothered to look around and find such prior art, but apparently that's too difficult these days.

Oh, and if you want to see how continuation patents are abused, you can check out the original patent application, which focuses on something quite different than the eventual patent. It's much more about switching calls from one line to another. It's only in the later patent (not filed until well after Google Voice was widely established in the market), that Frontier made the patent sound a lot more like what Google Voice actually does.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    Proposal:
    Let's get rid of copyright laws, trademark laws and patent laws.
    Let's free the market to true competition. After all that's what these apologists for these types of laws claim to want, a free market?

    Everyone can have an idea, work those out, without fear of violating anyones 'intellectual property'.
    No one is entitled to get all the money, even though it was their idea in the first place, but instead popular ideas will get copied in abundance, and improved upon wherever possible.
    That should inspire innovation, as you have to innovate in order to stay on top of the market.

    If you can apply for a patent, and then later before the original patent is approved you change the terms using a continuation.... then that patent should become null and void to begin with. It's absolutely ridiculous that these practices are at all possible. Right now there is nothing in these laws that you can call fair and balanced. It's all skewered towards the big money, and to the scam artists, the swindlers and hustlers.

     

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  2.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:17pm

    Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    Free Markets?! What are you, a COMMUNIST???

     

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  3.  
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    AdamBv1 (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:17pm

    Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    Thank you for saying that better than i ever could.

    My only point of disagreement would be trademark law where it at least serves some purpose but has lately expanded to allow things that trademark law was never supposed to do.

     

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  4.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    Oh there's a free market.

    It just comes at a price we can't afford.

     

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  5.  
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    Craig (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    Agreed, save for one point; we should get rid of the lawyers, not the laws, per se. The legal system was invented by lawyers, for the benefit of, for and to lawyers and judges.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    whoa now, slow down cowboy.

    Trademark law is consumer friendly when used properly.

    However, patents and copyright are pure malignities to society.

     

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  7.  
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    Chris, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Prior art?

    Or how about Nortel's feature on some of their digital switch/PBX's almost ten years ago... a feature called Sim-Ring that rang your home, office, and cell phone numbers - always or at a schedule you could set (do not ring home phone after 6 PM, ring cell always, etc).

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Abolish The Patent System

    The patent system is a conspiracy against the rest of us by the patent bar. It is the patent bar that is the sole supporter of the patent system, since they are the only people making any money out of it. The patent system has never achieved what it is supposed to achieve, and it never will. All attempts at "reform" have been and will remain useless, serving only to make the situation worse. The patent system is a failed experiment in handing out government-granted monopoly privileges. It took economists hundreds of years to work out that, it is commercial competition that gives ordinary people better products at cheaper prices. That fact was not so well understood at the time of the beginning of the patent system. Hence the terrible mistake was made, of starting the patent system. It is now time to correct that mistake, otherwise yet more damage will be done to the economy.

    The granting of patents should be stopped. The offence of patent infringement should be removed from the law. All patent litigation should be thrown out of the courts. The patent library should become a branch of the Library of Congress.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Patents are a welfare system for failed lawyers. The ones who graduated expecting billions of dollars from liability suits ended being legalized prostitutes, and whore themselves out for bullshit like this.

    We need a moratorium on lawyers. The market is saturated with dumbass shmucks who dont even understand the laws they "use".

     

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  10.  
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    Sargent Patent, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:30pm

    THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    Why the hell do you people insist on defending the blatant theft of mental property. Look, just because the inventor didn't actually "invent" the invention, that doesn't make it any less inventive. Remember, prior art vis-a-vis process patents have to be 1. implemented and 2. exposed in it's entirety. This means that I can patent something like twitter and assuming there is no open source implementation (there are thousands now..).

    This is because the patent system is designed by Jesus, to TEACH everyone how twitter works! It's not just about making me rich. So it matters not that the process was already "well known" or "implemented". It was not opensource, therefore; it was eligible for patent protection to someone who would actually be willing to DISCLOSE the process. That's every man's God given right!! Google STOLE this companies PROPERTY even though they technically invented it. We in the patent business refer to this as "Post Encroachment of Conceptual Kit Enforceable Retroactively"

    When Marty went "Back To The Future" did he not steal the floating skateboard? OF COURSE HE DID! TIMELINES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEFT!

    -Dismissed

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:48pm

    "It's only in the later patent (not filed until well after Google Voice was widely established in the market), that Frontier made the patent sound a lot more like what Google Voice actually does."

    You mean the public market that Google just entered.... today? And for one country? Everyone can be criticized @ Techdirt but Google.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:48pm

    When you say "ALL" what you really mean is just the USA.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 4:57pm

    Re:

    I've had Google voice for quite some time now. and no one said that everyone but Google can be criticized, if you have a criticism criticize away. and if your criticism is valid I'll agree with you too.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Also note how Mike criticized google about the whole wifi thing too. Sure, Google did nothing illegal and they didn't do it intentionally, but what they did was rather negligent and they should have been more careful (and at the time that I thought it was intentional before I understood the situation I criticized them too). and there are a couple other posts (among others I can't remember off the top of my head) on techdirt where Mike and others criticize Google. If there is a valid criticism against Google people point it out and I will do the same thing too. The problem with you TAM is that you usually don't have a valid criticism. You want us to criticize Google just for the sake of criticizing Google. That's not good enough.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Can't be TAM; there was usage of capital letters and proper punctuation. I'd assign it a Darrylian tag.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    Re:

    You mean the public market that Google just entered.... today?

    Uh, no. The service has been available since 2007 -- as noted in the post, and as you could have found out if you had just looked. It was just that it was invite only. But it was very much on the market and used by thousands. Google had been giving out invites for quite some time.

    But... details... not so important to you.

    Everyone can be criticized @ Techdirt but Google.

    I criticize Google when it's appropriate and that does happen regularly enough. For example: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20100610/1358039772.shtml

    But, that goes against your attempt to smear me so I doubt you'll acknowledge it.

    In the meantime, do you have a single substantive thing to say about this particular case?

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:38pm

    Re: THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    Please tell me that was satire. If so, it's brilliant.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    it's called a "hub"

    it's been around for a while now. same idea.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:50pm

    Continuations are not the "evil" you seem to suggest. Prior to the shift from "17 years from the date of issue" to "20 years from the date of filing" it was possible for some to "game" the system. One purpose of the shift was to ameliorate this possibility.

    One purpose of continuations is to afford an inventor the opportunity to better claim that which he regards as his invention. While "better claims" can be presented during the pendency of the originally filed application, prosecution of such claims is almost universally facilitated by their presentation in a continuation.

    Anent the dates mentioned, US patent law provides a grace period of one (1) year that pertains to what qualifies as "prior art". The relevant conditions for the grace period appear at 35 USC 102(b).

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    Poe's Law says you can never be sure.

    Though I would be inclined to call "satire" only because of the "interesting" acronym at the end of the second paragraph.

     

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  21.  
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    Art (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    Re: THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    Ahh, your posts have been sarcastic. See, if you'd included a Jesus reference in your last post, I wouldn't have bothered responding. This one's actually kind of funny.

     

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  22.  
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    DesignSmith, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    obvious combination of features

    how did this pass the review for non-obvious?
    This is a common feature of large commercial phone systems for quite some time and some cell providers have advertised one number features as a reason to switch carriers.

    Was it really patentable to enable commercial and cell features for residential lines as well?

    ------------------------

    Of course the possible benefit to this is that Frontier could sue and shut down most telemarketing call centers around. But then many customer support centers would have to go as well. (unless the commercial phone system providers pay the license fees to continue offering their existing feature set)

     

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  23.  
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    abc gum, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    Hell - Yeah or ... I thought so.

     

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  24.  
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    TMT2, Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    Re:

    All meaning no invitation required. Nothing to read here; move on troll..

     

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  25.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2010 @ 11:18pm

    Re:

    Continuations are not the "evil" you seem to suggest.

    It's an opinion. I've seen no evidence that they make sense or help. And as I pointed out in this post -- which you did not refute -- it seems quite clear that Frontier monitored the market and changed their patent to cover what others were doing.

    That certainly seems pretty evil in my book.

    Your moral compass apparently points in a different direction.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 12:24am

    Perhaps you have seen no evidence because to my knowledge you have not been involved in the practice of prosecuting applications for letters patent.

    What seems clear to you is ambiguous, at best, to me because as yet it has no evidentiary support.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:17am

    Re:

    Perhaps you have seen no evidence because to my knowledge you have not been involved in the practice of prosecuting applications for letters patent.

    I am waiting for you, oh mighty knowledgeable expert to provide some evidence. I find it odd that on a daily basis you come here and yet you never provide a single shred of evidence to back up any of your positions. Instead, you wag your condescending finger and *tsk* *tsk* about how only you could possibly understand this stuff.

    I continue to wait for you to actually provide a shred of evidence, beyond your pretentious insistence that no one outside of your background could possibly understand the details.

    What seems clear to you is ambiguous, at best, to me because as yet it has no evidentiary support.


    Really? Then you are either ignorant or intellectually dishonest. It is clear to anyone who is familiar with this technology that it has been on the market for some time. It is also clear from the differences between the initial patent and the continuation patent that the continuation involved making the patent look more like what was on the market already (even prior to the initial patent). That you don't believe this is a problem speaks volumes about what you do for a living.

     

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  28.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:27am

    Re: Re: ...Ok, that's it, I'm convinced now...

    "when used properly" well therein lies the rub.
    You can say that by any of the mentioned laws. If used properly, copyright can work, and patent law can work. But it isn't used properly. We have one company suing another company over a word that similarly typeset, despite the fact that the name's different, and that they are both not in the same market.
    We have colours that are trademarked. (T-Mobile's purple for instance)
    And there are numerous other examples.

    No, let's get rid of the whole shabang.

    If you as a company are so deathly afraid of people using similar logos, then something is not right in your marketing department. And instead of suing first, there could also be the route of conversation first. Why not go and talk with the owners of the company that uses a similar logo. Public and civil discourse has been replaced by these sue-happy lawyer types at the top.

     

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  29.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:31am

    Re: Re:

    Well, it's a valid criticism, but it was mentioned in the article that it was US only.

    I'm over in Europe, and I don't have access to Google Voice. Much to my dismay, as I really like the idea of it.

     

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  30.  
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    The Patent Examiner Guy (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 3:42am

    We get all the blame... jeezz...

    "Of course, it would have been nice if the patent examiner on the case had bothered to look around and find such prior art, but apparently that's too difficult these days."

    As always, patent examiners get blamed for all the crappy patents going around. Look, this is how it works: if you show something in public, but do not disclose EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS, you can always state that you showed the car but not what's under the hood, so people don't really understand HOW it works but just WHAT it does. So, as patent examiners, we know damn well that citing press releases or any other kind of silly publicity stunts won't get us anywhere except into a big discussion with the patent attorney in question. That's the pure plain simple truth. The average citizen has no idea of the crap we get from inventors and their attorneys, and the 100 page arguments about why there is reasonable doubt that something should be prior art. Being a patent examiner, is, definitively, one of the most damaging jobs out there. Our hands are tied, stop blaming us for the administrations that tie our hands. You have no idea of the thousands of applications we just so badly want to reject, but can't... :(

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re:

    "That you don't believe this is a problem speaks volumes about what you do for a living."

    He's a crook. albeit a legal crook, he's still a crook, just like our legal system.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 6:13am

    Re: We get all the blame... jeezz...

    "and the 100 page arguments about why there is reasonable doubt that something should be prior art."

    No no no no, they should have to prove that it's NOT prior art. If there is reasonable doubt that something has no prior art then prior art should be assumed.

    Kinda like in a criminal case. You know s/he did it with 90 percent certainty but there is a reasonable (10 percent) doubt, so you declare them not guilty. The burden of proof should be on the person who wants the patent to prove that there is no prior art and they should have to prove their case within no reasonable doubt.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    (and just like our crooked government).

    Seriously, how did us as citizens raise such a criminal government. Our government should be jailed, along with all the lobbyists and big corporations that control it, but instead they get paid tons of money to scam us.

     

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  34.  
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    jsf (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Prior art seems to mean nothing

    So the fact that the old school telephone companies have been able to do this kind of thing for decades didn't count as prior art either.

     

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  35.  
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    Michael, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Prior art seems to mean nothing

    Nope - and Vonage having the SimulRing feature for the past 5 years - that means nothing.

    This is the patent system. All that matters is that you are the first person to get an extension to your 15 year old patent for a totally different technology.

    Does anyone else think our patent examiners live in the dark ages? How did anyone read this thing and not go "Hey! I used that feature while Ford was still selling the Pinto!"?

    I think the first step in fixing the patent system is actually to fire all of the examiners and hire some that don't live in a hole. It may really help to have used some things that have been invented in the past couple of decades - or at least be able to do a simple Google search for something before concluding that it was just invented.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re:

    "Service available" Does not equal "widely established" and it certainly doesn't mean "invite only select in select U.S. markets."

    I would say details aren't important to you. I notice this a lot with many articles you cover with Google, you gloss over the issues, such as how they committed a crime in many of these countries, yet that doesn't seem to matter to the point of your story. Crimes are crimes, it doesn't matter if it's intentional or not. Perhaps the sentence can be reduced as a result of Google's oversight, but they still committed a crime.

    The article you linked to was claiming a company isn't "open" about their product. Big Fucking whoop? How damaging is that that a company keep it's core product under lock and key? Hardly unique or evil in this case. Have any other articles knocking Google, because I can't find ones that matter, like the Gaia breach in January and how Google did not disclose the extent of the breach when it occurred, only 4 months later, exposing hundreds of millions of records to prying eyes..

     

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  37.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Re: Prior art?

    Try 20 years ago on key systems, PBX's, Central Office switches (as a feature of course!) and so on. Same for AT&T, Alcatel and a ton of other providers in that space.

    The patent is pure crap.

     

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  38.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Prior art?

    Try 20 years ago on key systems, PBX's, Central Office switches (as a feature of course!) and so on. Same for AT&T, Alcatel and a ton of other providers in that space.

    i believe in telco parlance it's known as a ring group, or a method for ringing multiple extensions (numbers) at the same time. this is different from a hunt group, where a group of numbers ring sequentially.

     

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  39.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: THE Google THEFT CONTINUES

    He gave it away as satire (brilliantly executed, I agree) with the line "Post Encroachment of Conceptual Kit Enforceable Retroactively", whose acronym would be PECKER :)

     

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  40.  
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    staff, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    stop the shilling

    "it's difficult to see how the 2006 demonstration of the technology shouldn't be seen as prior art that invalidates the patent"

    One may file up to 1 year after first public disclosure. Why dont't you ask a patent attorney before you write these things? All you do is spread misinformation -just like the big companies who are trying to push through what they call "patent reform".

     

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  41.  
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    mkam (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is this Scott Cleland?

    What crime? Please list statutes where it is illegal to capture parts of the RF spectrum from public places? I really don't understand your argument at all. How is WiFi mapping illegal? There are a bunch of companies that do this for a living. Lots of times campuses and colleges will call them in to look for coverage.

    Since you are in a Google is evil no matter what they do mode, you should mention the Google Buzz incident that they messed up on and later apologized for.

     

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  42.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    "Then you are either ignorant or intellectually dishonest."

    Given a choice I'd go for Door #2.

    Still, if it's ignorance I suppose it's just minutely possible that he hasn't used a key system or PBX in the last 30 years that has done this sort of thing as part of the standard package.

    And it's just minutely possible that he doesn't realize that for at least that long (longer actually) that if two are in a different physical location that they communicate using TCP/IP and other protocols one would normally associate with the Internet (interwebs, intertubes or whatevers) and that's also how one can set the time on them should the tech and customer so desire.

    And its done under software control. All of it. Not a relay in sight!

    I still vote for Door #2 and I further vote this idiot off the Island or any other geographic feature he currently occupies as a total waste of space.

    There, I feel better now.

     

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  43.  
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    vic kley, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Google is gagging on Open Voice someone else shouted first!

    Masnick for a guy who is constantly criticizing and "reforming" the patent system you are extraordinarily ignorant (or choose to pretend to be) of what a patent is. Let me clarify.

    A patent is a three part document Specification, Drawings and Claims. A Specification describes via an Abstract (short summary) and then a detailed description the invention, and its embodiments, which Specification is connected by description with Drawings detailing aspects of the invention said drawings being labeled to further elucidate the detailed explanations in the Specification. The third and final part of any patent is the Claims.

    The Drawings and Specification can never be changed but the claims are mutable. Lawyers and examiners fight over claims and new or changed claims can appear and disappear before and after a patent is allowed and published. Furthermore it is usually impossible to know for any broad and basic invention which elements are most deserving of the expensive effort to obtain claims. All a continuation is, is new claims. For the continuation to be valid the Specification cannot change only the claims can change (and must change in order for a new continued patent). It can take years of work and lots of money and effort to find out what else makes sense to claim about any given invention, just as a piece of land you bought can take years to develop into a farm, or housing development or oilfield. You don't get the oil field though unless there is indeed oil under your land.

    So the fact that Google emphasized one element of the invention, the element challenging Google in the suit does not make Google the inventor. The fact that a continuation was written focused on this use and said continuation was designed to get royalties or some other value for the invention vis a vis Google just shows the owners have good sense and are willing to demand their well earned rights as owners of the invention Google is infringing. Frontier will have to prove in court their priority (or show Google some reason for Google to fold their tent and pay them).

    Obviously Masnick you believe Google infringes you say so in your article. You say in referring to a 2006 demo by the company Google acquired "GrandCentral demo its technology that does pretty much exactly what's described in the claims in the patent." Back to the oil field if your neighbor is slant drilling into your property you can and should stop them, sue them if necessary. Of course if you had your way Masnick anyone who failed to prove up all their property rights all at once could just bend over when the wealthy bully company comes along to take rather then pay for someone elses rights.

     

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  44.  
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    vic kley, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re:

    YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR PATENT can you at least understand this Masnick? You can try to convince an examiner that the patent you filed SPECIFIED matters that support a new claim. You cannot add or change anything in the body of the patent, no words, no drawings.

    If you did not invent it your CONTINUATION cannot claim it. Of course the arguments can circulate about the allowed claim was the examiner right etc. but just as claims can be canceled, claims can only arise from the Specification.

    So Masnick get it right for once say you believe Frontier OBTAINED NEW CLAIMS for their invention focused on actual infringers (doers) or on the area of the Frontier invention Google is allegedly infringing.

     

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  45.  
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    AMusingFool (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    prior art

    Centigram communications (later part of ADC, then split off to become SS8 Networks; not sure about corporate history since then) was working on this back in 2000/2001. Well, actually, we were working on that when I was there, then. But it wasn't anything new to the company even back then.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Mike, I thought you gave up on Google Voice because they refused to pay for your toll calls to FreeConferenceCall.com. Nice to see you still have support for this free and innovative service.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    I am waiting for you, oh mighty knowledgeable expert to provide some evidence.

    Religion doesn't need evidence.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Given a choice I'd go for Door #2.

    I think I'd say "both".

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: We get all the blame... jeezz...

    if you show something in public, but do not disclose EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS, you can always state that you showed the car but not what's under the hood, so people don't really understand HOW it works but just WHAT it does.

    But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about cases where it was previously disclosed in public "EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS", and yet still was awarded a patent, not your straw man to the contrary.

    So, as patent examiners, we know damn well that citing press releases or any other kind of silly publicity stunts won't get us anywhere...

    Again, that's not what we're talking about, so please quit pretending it is.

    ...except into a big discussion with the patent attorney in question. That's the pure plain simple truth. The average citizen has no idea of the crap we get from inventors and their attorneys, and the 100 page arguments about why there is reasonable doubt that something should be prior art.

    And the real reason finally comes out; it's just easier to give them whatever they want because the public doesn't have an attorney breathing down your neck. And this is what people are complaining about concerning patent examiners: that they are essentially lazy cowards more interested in avoiding confrontations with patent attorneys than protecting the public good and, as a consequence, are basically selling out the public.

    Being a patent examiner, is, definitively, one of the most damaging jobs out there.

    If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Re: stop the shilling

    Why dont't you ask a patent attorney before you write these things?

    Perhaps you should take your own advice.

     

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  51.  
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    GIG, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Google is gagging on Open Voice someone else shouted first!

    just as a piece of land you bought can take years to develop into a farm, or housing development or oilfield.

    To continue (pun intended) with your land analogy, what goes on with patents is akin to refiling deeds with different border claims, depending on what land the neighbors are developing, in order to claim some of their developed land as your own. It's basically legalized theft, and the patent office is a willing conspirator.

    You don't get the oil field though unless there is indeed oil under your land.

    Unless you just change your deed claim to include someone else's land that just so happens to have oil, eh? Yeah, that's a lot easier. As expensive as lawyers are, oil exploration is even more so.

    Frontier will have to prove in court their priority (or show Google some reason for Google to fold their tent and pay them).

    Err, no. We're talking about the issuance of bogus patents, like Frontier's, and for that you don't have to go to court at all.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re:

    "Mike, I thought you gave up on Google Voice because they refused to pay for your toll calls to FreeConferenceCall.com."

    The best I remember, he supported them on that.

     

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  53.  
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    truetorment, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Google is gagging on Open Voice someone else shouted first!

    I don't really understand how you can say that Mike believes that Google is infringing... he says that the original company had a 2006 demo, which is PRIOR to the filing of the patent. Granted that they have "up to" a year, but we don't have any information in front of us as to when exactly in '07 the patent was filed, or when exactly in '06 the demo occurred.

    Again, you provided some great information on the patents process, but your analogies are poor and your obvious bias towards patents is coloring all of your conclusions.

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually, many people do "understand this stuff". However, based upon your many missives relating to patent law, in my opinion you are not one of them.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    truetorment, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    Re: stop the shilling

    You do have up to 1 year to file, but what Mike is saying is that it appears that the prior art of GrandCentral should invalidate this patent. Nowhere in Mike's post do we have the exact dates of the demo or the patent filing, so it's entirely possible that it was more than a year.

    I'm personally willing to give Mike the benefit of the doubt and assume he's acting in good faith. Clearly you aren't willing to do that.

     

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  56.  
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    truetorment, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nowhere does Mike claim that they changed their patent at all, so I'm not quite sure why you're so up in arms here.

    Mike's claims boil down to this: he believes that there is prior art for the patent that should invalidate it.

    I get that you want him to use specific terminology, but he's paraphrasing for an audience without a background in patent law.

    I don't see how that's a bad thing. Feel free to explain why you feel differently.

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Erin, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    patent infringement

    Patent Infringement is a growing problem. Since law does not require manufacturers to inform patent owners that they are using the patent owner’s invention, Patent infringement can be unintentional. In most cases, it will be up to the owner of the patent to pursue Patent Litigation, a costly and time consuming process. It is always a good idea, if you are going to get a patent, that you do extensive research to make sure that no one already has a patent, and that you continue to monitor the industry to ensure that no one uses your patent with out your consent.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, he did say the patent was changed at the time the continuation application was filed by the presentation of a new set of claims.

    Yes, he does believe a presentation in late 2006 should constitute prior art. Unfortunately, he then goes on to excoriate those who try and interject that US law provides a grace period that is unique among developed nations. A less defensive posture by him when things like this are mentioned would go a long way in relieving some of the argumemtative posts that inevitably arise.

    Merely FYI, the definition of what is not deemed to be prior art is stated in Title 35 of the US Code at Section 102.

     

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

  59.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 10:20pm

    Re:

    Mike, I thought you gave up on Google Voice because they refused to pay for your toll calls to FreeConferenceCall.com. Nice to see you still have support for this free and innovative service.

    Nope. Nor did I say I did. Search engines are your friend. They let you avoid looking stupid:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090925/1607516327.shtml

    If you actually read, I said I don't think blocking such calls makes sense, but the problem is the regulatory laws that allow these sevices to exist.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    How specific of you, oh master of vague generalities.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One who consistently deals with the patent system at the working level would certainly not view such comments as vague generalities.

    If you have a specific question(s) of interest to you, please feel free to ask.

     

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


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