131 Companies Sued Over Global Text Messaging Patent

from the couldn't-find-anyone-else? dept

The anonymous Patent Troll Tracker points us to a new patent case that appears to involve an astounding 131 defendants, including T-Mobile, Vodafone, China Resources Peoples Telephone Company Ltd, AT&T, Samsung, Palm, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, all concerning patents related to sending text messages internationally, using the internet for part of the trip. Not surprisingly, the patent in question is a continuation patent, which even the USPTO is trying to cut back on, after seeing them abused too often. The patent was just granted last month. Shouldn’t it make someone scratch their head to wonder how 131 different companies could all be infringing on a patent just issued? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the idea is fairly obvious and never should have received a patent. Now, obviously, you can go back to 1996, when the original patent was filed, but again, the concept seems like the natural progression of the space, which is perhaps why so many companies use it in some way or another.

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Comments on “131 Companies Sued Over Global Text Messaging Patent”

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Shohat says:

Mike, come on.

With all due respect, in 1996, such a patent is FAR beyond obvious, it’s even far beyond innovation.

Just because the system is slow, does not mean that the patent is the problem. Today’s equivalent to that patent would be something like practical implementation of wireless power, or airborne agriculture.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Mike, come on.

With all due respect, in 1996, such a patent is FAR beyond obvious, it’s even far beyond innovation.

Compare the ’96 patent to the ’07 patent. The recent patent made changes to fit with what was actually happening now (the continuation). The ’96 patent doesn’t really cover what’s happening now at all.

Either way, the point of the patent system is to encourage what wouldn’t be invented otherwise. Clearly, this service became an obvious and normal progression of the work, and the patent had nothing to do with it.

So why reward this guy?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike, come on.

With all due respect, in 1996, such a patent is FAR beyond obvious, it’s even far beyond innovation.

On course it was, and is, obvious to “one practiced in the art”. The fact that so many came up with it is testament to that fact.

You seem to be forgetting the purpose of patents: to promote invention. Clearly no patent was needed to promote this so-called “invention” considering its prevalence even before the issuance of the patent.

Kevin says:

The 1996 date is irrelevant in an obviousness test

The key sentence is:

“the patent in question is a continuation patent”

From Wikipedia:

“A ‘continuation application’ is a patent application filed by an applicant who wants to pursue additional claims to an invention disclosed in an earlier application of the applicant (the ‘parent’ application) that has not yet been issued or abandoned. The continuation uses the same specification as the pending parent application, claims filing date priority of the parent, and must name at least one of the same inventors as in the parent.”

These continuation patents are frequently abused by patent trolls. They usually find an older patent that might be somehow related to the thing that they want to patent now, and then file the patent for the new tech as a continuation claim to the original patent. This way they get the newer tech covered by the old patent, with the old patent date. Which is a nice way to do an end-run around prior art and obviousness tests. Which is why the patent trolls love them so much. Which is also why the USPTO is trying to cut back on them.

It would be nice if people could actually read and understand the blog posts before they comment on them…

Justin G says:

A lot of people seem to be arguing that such a patent was non obvious back in 1996, but I think there are 2 critical points here. First, the patent’s abstract describes the use of the internet to implement a paging system. It was probably not uncommon at the time to send such messages over a packet switched network. Second, the patent is a continuation patent meaning that some of the claims in the granted patent were probably not covered by the original filing and were added to broaden the patent to cover text messaging as it rose in popularity.

I Text and Drive says:


I think just the mere fact that 131 companies have been doing this for so long with out filing for patents on this makes it obvious or natural progression. As far as obvious and natural progressions go, has anyone filed a patent on attaching more than one wheel on a common plain? If not i can sue every car manufacturer!

Dave Newman says:

SMS text messages started in 1992

Although the ideas in the patent might have been new in the USA in 1996, they were not new in Europe. GSM was defined in 1990, the first commercial services started in 1991, the first SMS text message was sent in 1992, GSM Phase 2 data/fax services were launched in 1994, and FAX/data/SMS roaming started in 1995.

Ben Robinson says:

Been around for years

I used to work in the telecomms industry and exchanging text messages via the internet is simply how it is done. SMPP has been around for years and is how one smc (think mail server for text messages) communicates with another. It is a network based protocol that usually uses TCP or X25. Carriers tend to communicate with each other via IPSEC based VPNs, this is just how text messaging works and to patent it is just silly. The only other way is to use an actual private network like MPLS or a straight forward leased line connection with every carrier in the world. When you think about it like that, using a VPN over the internet is incredibly obvious and the only really practicle solution.

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