Romney, Santorum & Gingrich Sued For Patent Infringement Over Facebook Usage... Along With Millions Of FB Users

from the wow dept

I'm kind of wondering if Hollywood-based patent attorney and patent holder Frank Weyer is trying to turn the Republican presidential field anti-patent. Weyer, via his company EVERYMD, holds US Patent 7,644,122 concerning internet groups, which the USPTO granted in January of 2010 (but which goes back to a patent application filed in 1999, and then a continuation patent built off of that). To suggest the patent is broad is to state the extremely obvious. But, more or less, EVERYMD appears to be claiming that Facebook business accounts that offer home pages for members of a group (that also allow the ability to send messages/comments) infringes on the patent.

To make things even more insane, EVERYMD is suing Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as the three named defendants, and then every other Facebook business account holder as a (as yet unnamed) Doe account. Suing the three Republican Presidential candidates is clearly a publicity gambit here -- most likely an attempt to get Facebook itself to pay up. As the lawsuit makes clear, EVERYMD first went after Facebook, offering to sell it the patent. Facebook apparently wasn't interested -- and, instead, went to the USPTO requesting that it re-examine the patent. That re-exam process is not going well for EVERYMD. The USPTO issued a final rejection on all of the claims -- but EVERYMD is appealing.

It seems kind of silly to then go after Facebook's users -- and specifically three presidential candidates -- except as an attempt to try to embarrass Facebook into buying or licensing the patent before the USPTO kills it entirely. Or as an attempt to show these presidential candidates just how screwed up the patent system is today, though that seems unlikely. As Patently-O notes, Weyer has some history in using patents to go after companies for what seem like basic and obvious features.

To make this even more ridiculous, EVERYMD also claims that, back in January 2011, it opened up a "licensing program" through which anyone could buy a license to the patent at the "reduced price" of $500 per account, but no one took them up on this offer, which is no longer available. What a shock. Some company that no one has heard of suddenly puts up a page asking for $500 so you can keep running your Facebook page? Who would actually fork over money in such a situation? Even if this is not Weyer's intention, maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    A head in the Polls

    "Or as an attempt to show these presidential candidates just how screwed up the patent system is today, though that seems unlikely."
    I'm voting for this one, it has the best potential outcome, I believe...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Wishful thinking...

    Even if this is not Weyer's intention, maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose.

    I highly doubt that. The presidential candidates probably won't bat an eye to this, especially if EVERYMD is fighting a losing battle. This'll probably just be pushed under the rug and no one will hear of it again...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:33am

    What the fuck is going on here.......why is there such a fucking big interest in the internet all of a sudden?

    Assholes of an old era, trying to turn the internet into something that goes against its origins........limiting, and moulding to suit their needs..........fuck em, they dont give a shit, why should we?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

    But that raises a question: why didn't someone at the USPTO turn this down, citing prior art, in 5 minutes and be done with it?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:45am

      Re: This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

      Cite Prior art: 5 minutes
      Rubber stamp and say you did the job: 0.5 minutes.

      Good gig if you can get it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

        Plus, accepting a patent request is less likely to lead to an appeal from the requester, whereas denying one is more likely to force the USPTO through a time consuming and expensive appellate process. Better to accept it and let those on the receiving end of a patent suit fight the courts.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

      Re: This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

      Maybe because the USPTO is automated now?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:11pm

      Re: This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

      Because the USPTO is motivated to approve every patent, even the most ridiculous ones. It is all about making ways for the patent bar to clock up billable hours. The patent bar is where examiners go, once they get kicked out of the USPTO for being too old. Any examiner, who does not approve just about everything, gets into serious trouble with their bosses at the USPTO. That is why nearly every patent is a junk patent. The participants in the patent system do not wish to reform it, expecting otherwise is unrealistic. The answer is abolition, which will have to happen in the teeth of the most determined opposition from the patent bar.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    The fact that anyone could and DID do this for years before the patent was even granted shows just how bogus it is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    The USPTO issued a final rejection on all of the claims -- but EVERYMD is appealing.

    I love how, in USPTO-world, "final" isn't.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    There should be some sort of hefty fine system for waste of court time (or is there?)

     

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      Torg (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:07pm

      Re:

      Well, court costs are apparently fairly pricey. When EVERYMD loses this case that'll at least be money out the window. If Facebook is feeling vindictive they should be able to waste court time right back and bury them under legal fees. But no, there's no official punishment for this unless you think you can get contempt of court to stick.

       

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    kraabeasa (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Another attorney win

    This guy's attorney must love him. He's laughing all the way to the bank.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    'maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose.'

    got no chance. will take more than a little thing like this to bring the problems home!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:26pm

    Tie a big ol ribbon

    Well now 'Susan G. Komen for the Cure' can't donate to any of them!

     

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      PRMan, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

      Re: Tie a big ol ribbon

      Well, since they're friends with Planned Parenthood, it's not likely they were supporting Republican candidates in the first place...

       

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        letherial (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: Tie a big ol ribbon

        I didn't realize that support for planned parent hood automatically puts yourself against the republican party. Is this some law?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: Tie a big ol ribbon

          The Republican party has been captured by the religious right, who are anti-abortion. Planned parenthood supports a woman's right to choose, so they are out.

           

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            Niall (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 2:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Tie a big ol ribbon

            Planned Parenthood supports a woman's right not to get pregnant or infected, and her right not to be a baby-bearing chattel. That sets them right in the Rethuglican targets.

             

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    Once again, they got you talking about it. Right or wrong, if they are attention whoring you have pretty much fed them their lunch.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    "maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose."

    Are you DENSE? They could give a furry rat's behind.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    WHY WASNT DR. PAUL INCLUDED IN THE LAWSUIT? IS IT CAUSE HE ISNT A COMPLETE JERK?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:16pm

    Talk about ambulance chasing lawyers.

     

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    Jacob Blaustein, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    New topic for debates.

    I can see the presidential canidates shocked that they are being sued, then used it as a platform saying that patents are going too far. What was this company thinking?

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 7:06pm

    Wow I was doing and creating this sort of interface way back in the 1980s with MultiUser BBS's. Then again with MUDs then with chatsites like Bianca's (1994), Palace (1996), and "The Well" (1991).

    Then we had user owned group spaces like Geocities.

    And these are just some prior art of this amazing and unique patent that Weyer is yabbering over.

    The US Patent system is basically pointless nowadays and the rest of the world just laughs at it

     

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    Keroberos (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 7:30pm

    Looks like their suing now hoping to get some settlements before the patent is invalidated.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 7:38pm

    "As Patently-O notes, Weyer has some history in using patents to go after companies for what seem like basic and obvious features."

    The above quote gives me the impression that all of it is attributable to P-O. Importantly, DC has not expressed any opinion concerning the validity of this and the other patents held by Mr. Weyer.

     

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    Ganja Man, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Belated update

    EVERYMD has apparently lost its appeal to the USPTO on this patent. The USPTO recently upheld the rejection of all claims of this patent (the patent was challenged by Facebook back in 2010 by seeking reexamination). Unclear if EVERYMD will seek to further appeal the decision or not.

     

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