Stay Tuned For The Next Episode Of 'As The Invalid NTP Patents Turns…'

from the ntp-soap-opera dept

The soap opera of the NTP patents continues. After NTP sued Palm over its already rejected patents, Palm has said that they will fight NTP on these charges. However, it may not be that easy. After all, the reason that RIM finally settled was that the potential liability kept getting bigger, and that upset RIM’s shareholders. In the days after RIM agreed to pay $612 million to NTP, its stock rose to more than make up the difference. So it should come as no surprise to see Forbes recommending Palm settle the case for the sake of its shareholders — even while admitting that the patents are probably bogus and it’s a bad result. Instead of letting Palm stand up and fight it, Forbes argues that we should all be lobbying for changes in the patent system.

In the meantime, however, the greed around these bogus patents continues to drag in lots of others trying to make a quick buck. You may recall (or perhaps not) that during the RIM-NTP case, another company called CLI showed up claiming that NTP didn’t really own the patents it claimed to own, and that they were really CLI’s. You see, (follow this carefully) the patents in question were created based on work originally done for Telefind. Telefind had leased equipment from a company named CLI. Telefind eventually went broke, defaulting on the lease. CLI claimed that the terms of the lease required the patents be handed over to CLI. Instead, the guy who originally wrote the technology, Thomas Campana, shifted the patents to a separate entity he created called ESA, which eventually handed the patents over to a new firm NTP (which was basically Campana and a lawyer, who specifically did nothing until they realized they could use these patents for lawsuit shakedowns). Got all that? The courts eventually found that CLI’s claim on the patents were a bunch of bunk, but it appears CLI isn’t the only one who wants this particular set of immensely valuable invalid patents.

Ben S writes in to point out that a former employee of Telefind claims that he really invented wireless email, and then secretly (yes, secretly) went to work for Campana at ESA to create the necessary software (which, by the way, never actually worked — which is a whole different idiotic discussion). Thus, he claims that at least part of the patent belongs to him, despite the fact that he wasn’t named on the patent at all. So, to sum it all up, we’ve got a group of seven highly disputed patents that the Patent Office admits were granted in error, which cover both broad and obvious areas of research that had well known prior art, and for which the technology never worked. Those patents, then have been shuffled from company to company until they got to a bunch of lawyers who sued a company that entirely independently made the technology work and made it useful (i.e., did the actual innovation), and then held them hostage until their shareholders forced them to cough up over half a billion dollars — and now that they’re trying to do it again (even as the Patent Office continues to say the patents aren’t valid), someone else is now saying that he was the real inventor of the non-working technology on the invalid patents — and therefore, he deserves a piece of the multi-million dollar pie. Who says our patent system needs fixing?

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Comments on “Stay Tuned For The Next Episode Of 'As The Invalid NTP Patents Turns…'”

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Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

No, I invented wireless email!

when I flew paper airplanes with secret notes to fellow classmates in 2nd grade.

Later I invented the wireless bulk mail delivery system where I would packetize the message (crumple into a ball for easy delivery) and then send the message to the heads of other 2nd graders. The receiptent was notified with a light tap on the head, “You’ve got mail.”

Sanguine Dream says:

I've said it before...

and I’ll say it again. When someone files a lawsuit for patent infringment like this they should have to at least be able to prove that their technology was working (or that you were ACTIVELY working on it at the time the infringment occured). And unless all the events covered in this post occured very recently isn’t there a statue of limitations on this stuff?

Something just hit me. Patents are awarded for non-obvious creations right? Well if there are this many entities arguing over the patent doesn’t that toss the non-obvious requirment out the window?

I render the patent null, render it unpatentable in the future and give RIM its money back since they and Palm are the only entities in this entire post that are actually trying to innovate.

Chris says:

Quote of some relevence

I forget who said it, but I think it sums this whole situation up rather nicely.

“If you have an original idea, dont worry about people stealing it or trying to copy it, becauase you’ll have a hell of a time trying to convince anyone to accept it”

aka, most everything’s already been done before and anytime someone comes up with a ‘new invention’ they’re really just modifying something that’s already been created. Take for instance the Segway, it’s inventor though he had a new original idea, that would sweep the nation and cure the world of congested traffic. However, all he did was make a scooter that took care of acceleration and balance for you.

Then you look at someone like the Wright brothers, who thought they could actualy invent a flying aircraft, sure it had been attempted before, and anyone who sought such an endevor was thought to be more or less insane for ever thinking man could fly.

My point is if you have 7 (think I saw a seven somewhere in the post..) companies arguing over the same “original idea” then it’s blatently obvious it’s not.

Joe Smith says:


The problem for PALM is that the patents are presumed to be valid until at least the next stage of the appeal process is complete. NTP is dragging out the Patent Office appeal by launching personal attacks on patent office staff and the patent office is going slow hoping that the Supreme Court in KSR will give it additional reasons to invalidate the NTP patents.

Palm needs to do a full out defence including bringing in the two examples of prior art which Judge Spencer (wrongly in my opinion) excluded at the RIM/NTP trial.

Todd says:


The reason RIM was forced to settle with NTP was not because the liability was growing large, but instead because Judge Spencer had issued an injunction that threatened to shut down RIM’s US operations.

The prior art was developed by Telenor of Norway, and was published well before Campana applied for his patents. Telenor never bothered to apply for patents, so Campana changed a few things and did.

james (user link) says:


That’s it, no more patents. None. Game over.

The reason the patent office was created was not to offer protection, but to act as a library of ideas, the protection was the free-bee given away to get people to buy in. Since we have better and faster methods of disseminating information now, we no longer need the patent office for that function.

Time to go back to a real free market, first to make a viable product wins. This will drive more innovation as you can exclusively sell only your new idea, so you work harder to make new ideas and spend less time trying to protect an old one. The potential profit then shifts from legal battles over patent ownership to the creation of new ideas. Image all those lawyers going into engineering and putting as much time in making new ideas as they spend now fighting over old ideas.

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