Over In The UK, Court Tosses Out Silly Patent Claims Against RIM

from the stop-abusing-the-system dept

In some ways, it’s a little difficult to feel sorry for RIM concerning the various patent infringement lawsuits they’ve been facing. RIM’s management brought it on the company by being one of the more aggressive patent enforcers before NTP knocked them for a loop and cost them over $600 million for a bunch of invalid patents. Over in the UK, however, it seems that the courts are at least a little more reasonable. In a different suit from yet another patent hoarding company, InPro, the court has ruled that the patents they were suing RIM over were not valid and should be revoked. That’s not the most interesting part, however. Rather, the court ruling highlighted how ridiculous many of these patent suits are — especially ones that touch on a minor feature that has become quite common. In this case, the patent was for a way that portable devices surfed the web. The ruling noted that RIM’s device came out three years after the patent was granted, and appeared not to be influenced by the patent at all, and (more importantly) did a hell of a lot more than what the patents described. In fact, the ruling noted that: “three years is a long time in the world of computers, where speed of computing, of connection and size of memory and price change so rapidly.” This probably will horrify some patent attorneys, but it’s part of the reason that many people feel that tech patents should have a much shorter shelf-life. Everything advances so quickly and so many people are designing similar things that it seems silly to give too much control to whoever files a patent on an idea that becomes more and more obvious as computing power increases.

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Comments on “Over In The UK, Court Tosses Out Silly Patent Claims Against RIM”

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crypto says:

patent smatent

First I agree that frivolous litigation concerning minor enablement/process infringement clogs the purpose of IP/patents. On the other hand Apple Inc display/human interface deserves the right to protect its use. They properly patented its methods as they were perfecting them in the lab. It may proof out over time to be a completely innovative way for humans to interface with machines. (MMI) I support such patent use. Kodak years ago discovered they had patented the way digital images were converted to binary files; stored, retrieved, and redisplayed. Even though at that time no such device existed inside Kodak nor around the world. Digital cameras, camera phones they discovered were utilizing this IP. Shouldn’t one have rights to participate in the revenue if one discovered and perfected. Even though they didn’t manufacture such enablement’s when patented. To say that because speed of discovery negates implied protection, is narrow. All creative persons discover Ideas that have no form when though up. That is the creative process. Consumers view this tension as just give it away. To make an analogy, then give the keys to your sports car to me because you do not really have “ownership” to it. One will be arrested sent to jail for taking another’s possessions when discovered/found. We haven’t elegantly come up with a way to midigate ownership of digital anything. Digital Patent applications and issuances are owners attempting to provide such protection that atom based product owners have enjoyed for Centuries. The digital age accelerates knowledge, not wisdom..

SFGary (user link) says:

I am sure that someone with expertise in this subject will jump in but from what I’ve heard the U.S. Patent office is overstretched and some dubious claims are validated or something that should not be patentable slides through.

I think having protection from patents is important and required for IP but some of these cases highlights the bad side.

BTW do you know of any third party that examined the NTP claims and render an unofficial “verdict?”

Paul K says:

Software patents are the problem

The problem is software patents in particular. These are so far from what was intended by the founders, it is not even funny. Software patents are allowed because of a lawsuit years ago that contended that software could be re-embodied in transistors (no matter how many and how complex and absurd that would be). But, that is a weak argument at best, since it does not relate to what is reasonably patented in hardware. It is time to put limits on both software patents and business methods. Both short shelf-life, and also a higher test for novel and inventive. Many of these software patents simply take existing concepts (GUI, UI, OS, etc) and then apply it to devices not yet using them (such as web browsing on a handheld device).

Paul K says:

Re: Software patents are the problem

Mousky, I do think patents are important for devices, chemicals, and manufacturing machinery. The point is to provide protection to recoup costs, yet then release the knowledge to the world after enough time. Generic drugs are a good example. The generics get the formula from the patents, and can make them after 17 years.
I have done many electronics IP patents, and some device ones too. If these were not there, I likely could not get funding to develop the product, since some better financed (but less innovative) company would just rip me off before I could recover the costs.
That said, I think software ones are absurd (and yes, I have a couple, which I hate). The probably is that software ones are rarely even complex algorithms which could benefit the world, but are normally very obvious and visible techniques which are not a big inventive step by any standards. I could see someone patenting a complex game physics algorithm, or complex compression technology (that is not just combining the usual approaches), but not slight variations of hyperlinks and the like.

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