Palm, Others May Violate Patent On Credit Card Sized Devices

from the great dept

Yet another example of anti-innovation patent decisions. A holding company named E-Pass has a patent for a “credit card-sized computer” that holds secure information. How is that possibly patentable? I have no idea. Basically, it’s a patent for the idea that computers will get smaller and still be able to do what bigger computers do. That’s not non-obvious at all. The patent holder brought suit against 3Com when they owned Palm – but it was thrown on because the Palm device is larger than a credit card. Now, an appeals judge has ruled that the Palm and other handhelds are covered by the patent. Actually, I agree that the patent shouldn’t be based on the “size” of the device. Basically, as long as you kept the device any size other than credit card-sized you would be okay. However, the patent itself seems ridiculous. And, once again, it’s being held by a company that isn’t actually trying to do anything or innovate – but just to sue everyone they possibly can.

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Comments on “Palm, Others May Violate Patent On Credit Card Sized Devices”

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Munich says:

Check the Patent

Mike, you and I have disagreed on the basic patent issue for a while, so, I read the actual judge’s ruling, as well as the patent: Patent No. 5,276,311

It is not as cut and dry and the article would describe. While size was definitely a major factor in the ruling, there were other issues as well. The emphasis on size could also be since that was what Palm was using as its defence, when it should have used the “obvious” defence – if Palm went to him and said, “this patent is not valid because of our size”, he doesn’t say, “no, it’s invalid because it’s obvious,” he rules on the Palm claim. You may have to lay this problem on the attourneys rather than the system.

But like I stated on my previous patent post, it is easy to find outrages in any system, but overall, our patent system is pretty good and I haven’t seen a better one ranging from very lawful countries to ones where patents have no meaning.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Check the Patent

But like I stated on my previous patent post, it is easy to find outrages in any system, but overall, our patent system is pretty good and I haven’t seen a better one ranging from very lawful countries to ones where patents have no meaning.

You don’t think you could create a better system? Just because no one has one doesn’t mean the system we have is worth keeping.

It’s positively dreadful. The number of cases where someone who doesn’t do anything with their idea sues someone who does is a huge problem.

The point is to encourage innovation – and it’s not doing that. Do you really think Palm sat around and looked at this patent and then took the idea? No, they came up with their idea on their own, and now they have to pay because someone else came up with a similar idea? That makes no sense.

Kelly D. Talcott (user link) says:

Palm in Violation of Credit Card Sized Device?

What the court actually did in this case was send the matter back to the judge because the judge accepted Palm’s argument that this patent was limited to standard credit card-sized devices. The instructions to the lower court were to determine the ordinary meaning of the phrase “electronic multi-function card” and to decide Palm’s motion for summary judgment using that definition. The focus on remand will be what a “card” is; so Palm is not necessarily in bad shape here. It’s just that in the view of the Federal Circuit, the judge adopted an unjustifiably narrow definition of card.

Patent Pete says:

A better alternative ...

Can someone give me a reasonably ” good ” explanation on why our patent law gives such broad based patents to individuals & companies ?
I thought patent law was to cover SPECIFIC ideas ?
” One Click Purchasing ” is not a revolutionary process like in the case of Amazon.
Wouldn’t it make better sense to change existing patent laws so that if the idea/patent is not either properly licensed or actually produced by the patent holder in say 5 years, then the patent is revoked ?
Just a thought and would be interested in others views regarding this topic.

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