Judge Shoots Down Flight Simulator Patent Suit Against Google Earth

from the nice-to-see dept

These days, it’s increasingly rare to hear about bad patent lawsuits getting tossed — as almost all the news stories seem to be about patent holders winning lawsuits, often with questionable patents. However, it appears that Google has prevailed in the latest case where a judge dismissed the lawsuit brought forth by a company that makes flight simulator software, who had claimed that Google Earth violated one of its patents. The judge had earlier denied an attempt by the company to force Google to stop distributing the software, so there had been some skepticism there already. When we last wrote about this lawsuit, we pointed to a nice dissection of the patent by Tim Lee, where he points out how the patent is both excessively broad and dangerously obvious. It’s nice to see that the courts weren’t taken in by it.

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Comments on “Judge Shoots Down Flight Simulator Patent Suit Against Google Earth”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: Reply to Mr. Masnick

Its moot to talk about its scope and obviousness other than the fact that Google’s technology was ruled not be be covered by the patent.

Noel. I didn’t realize I needed to run my posts by you for approval first. 😉

I believe that the ridiculous scope and obviousness of the patent are very much worth mentioning, because it’s an important point. That the judge didn’t base the decision on that doesn’t change the scope and obviousness.

Noel Le (user link) says:

Another reply to Masnick

I see a grain of salt in this “victory,” even if an obvious or ridiculous patent was not enforced.

Remember RIM and NTP. Had the case not ended so abruptly, we would not have any more problems wth NTP. But thats not the situation, NTP is pursuing other litigants as we speak (and probably using RIM’s money to do it).

In the current case, it may have been better had the judge allowed the validity of the patent in question to be determined.

I agree that whether the implicated Google technology even falls under the scope of the patent is a threshhold issue, but instead of potentially uncovering a bad patent and stop trolling where I may arise in the future, what we are left with is simply a meritless accusation of patent infringement.

Chris says:

Howard Aiken said it best

““Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Patetns I view like plagerism, sure you might be the first person to put something in a particualr order or arrange it in a certian fashion as to make it unquie. However, the odds are greatly against your favor that you’ve truely come up with an original piece of work, and it’s not just a slight variation of many things that have come before it.

JoeBob says:

But...it's a valid point

Noel. I didn’t realize I needed to run my posts by you for approval first. 😉

Glad to see you’re spending your valuable time being arrogantly condescending towards your readers, Mike (and no, the winkycon doesn’t automatically make a mean-spirited comment OK).

I believe that the ridiculous scope and obviousness of the patent are very much worth mentioning, because it’s an important point. That the judge didn’t base the decision on that doesn’t change the scope and obviousness.

But the fact that the judge didn’t use “scope or obviousness” as his basis for denying the claim means that what you present above as fact is merely your (or Tim Lee’s) opinion/interpretation. While that has value, as Noel said above, it’s not the same as actually being the basis for the judge’s comment.

If I complain on a blog somewhere that a company makes crappy products and then the company goes bankrupt, it’s incorrect for me to state as fact that it was indeed the company’s crappy products that led to the bankruptcy if there’s no information to back up that specific claim. In the case above, we not only don’t have information suggesting scope/obviousness were the reasons the case was dumped, the judge actually said he wasn’t ruling on those issues. So there’s absolutely no causal linkage between Lee’s analysis and the case’s outcome.

Interpretation is good — that’s why many of us read your site — but don’t start passing off interpretation/analysis as fact unless it’s actually the case. We, your readers/customers, deserve that…and a modicum of respect…from you and your staff.

Casper says:

Re: But...it's a valid point

Could you please use the right link to respond? It really does make it pointless the have a thread view when people don’t use the damn button.

Anyway, I don’t really want to jump into a private debate, but there was nothing disrespectful about his response. You criticized his response, he clarified and criticized yours. It sounds like you are actually the one trying to play high and mighty. Why do you think your critique was above reproach?

The fact is that I agree with Mike. It was a valid bit of additional information of his posting to reference the fact that the patent was obviously broad and the scope was unreasonable. When people read about a patent for the first time, it is good to know regardless of the out come of the ruling, the background and practicality of the patent. The implications, while not ruled directly on this patent, is that at least some progress was made. I am a reader, I am a commentor, and I liked that part of the posting. If you have a problem with the way he posts, maybe you shouldn’t read his?

JoeBob says:

Re: Re: But...it's a valid point

Um, I’m not Noel Le, just someone who agreed with his point.

And actually, it’s not a “fact” that “the patent was obviously broad and the scope was unreasonable.” That’s your opinion. I certainly don’t disagree with that opinion, but that doesn’t make it a fact (unless you’re a religious fundamentalist).

The point was that combining facts (journalism) with analysis is fine as long as the latter isn’t passed of as the former, which is what seemed to be the case in the original post. Oh, and the snarky comment, which seemed out of place on a professionally run site like Techdirt.

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