Digg And Others Sued For Infringing Infamous Computer Solitaire Patent

from the aren't-patents-great? dept

The Patent Troll Tracker is back from holiday vacation and he’s got quite a post listing out a bunch of interesting (i.e., depressing) lawsuits involving questionable patents and even more questionable patent holders. In one case, the Troll Tracker even manages to track down a bizarre set of circumstances making it look like an associate at a well known IP law firm spent millions of dollars scooping up a bunch of patents for himself.

However, perhaps the most interesting is the third case discussed by the Troll Tracker. It involves the somewhat infamous patents of Sheldon Goldberg, which got plenty of attention back in 2004 when he started claiming that computer solitaire was covered by his patents. The two key patents are for a network gaming system and a method for playing games on a network.

It appears that after years of threats about these patents, Goldberg has now actually started filing lawsuits — and some of the targets are a bit surprising. The one that stood out was Digg, as you don’t often see companies like Digg involved in patent infringement suits (and, as far as I can tell, the news that Digg was being sued for patent infringement hasn’t been mentioned anywhere else). Others sued over those same patents include some of the “usual targets” such as Google, AOL and Yahoo. However, it also includes a variety of media properties both big and small — including the NY Times, The Washington Post, CNET, Tribune Interactive and (another slightly odd one) eBaum’s World. While the patents themselves seem quite questionable, it’s even harder to understand how these sites could possibly be violating those patents. Either way, perhaps the fact that Digg is now on the receiving end of a silly patent infringement lawsuit, it’ll get more of the Digg crowd even more interested in the massive problems with the patent system. Update: Since a few people asked, the story is on Digg itself now.

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Companies: aol, cnet, digg, google, ign, ny times, yahoo, youtube

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Comments on “Digg And Others Sued For Infringing Infamous Computer Solitaire Patent”

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51 Comments
Anonymous of Course says:

Maybe there will be consequences

Geez, I hope the Diggites get fired up
over this and the newspapers too. Cnet
should be interesting reading.

Maybe it will help bring an end to these
crap patents. I was looking at some IBM
patents last week. One of them was the
most obvious example of prior art I’d ever
seen patented. But they’re going after Asus
for infringing.

For every little guy getting screwed, and
I’ve been there, there are billions of dollars
wasted in this patent wars exchange. It’s a
drain on industry and ultimately that’s where
most people get their bread. So it’s bad.

angry dude says:

Re: Maybe there will be consequences

Hey, dude

the little guy usually gets screwed the other way:
big corps don’t sue the little guy, they just steal little guy’s inventions, patented or not, they just don’t fucking care
haven’t done you homework, bro,
you are sitting at the kiddies table tonight

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Maybe there will be consequences

the little guy usually gets screwed the other way:

This is simply untrue, and angry dude knows it — though refuses to admit it. Look at recent stats on patent infringement lawsuits:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071221/012831.shtml

Note the pattern? A ton of patent holding companies made up of a couple of patent attorneys suing big companies who actually innovate.

haven’t done you homework, bro,

As per usual, angry dude’s insults are more accurately describing himself, rather than his targets.

Angry dude, we’ve asked you in the past to stop these types of comments. You’ve admitted to lying repeatedly on this site, and you come back and do so again.

Once again, I’ll ask you to refrain.

Hellsville (user link) says:

ya...but....

Seriously tho… WTF does digg have to do with it?

I cant stand the site, or its netizens… but still, what does digg have to do with it?

Mayhaps this is just a way to get massive (close to viral) publicity in an attempt to get the biggest fastest settlement to make the issue go away?

If thats the case… then the best case scenario is that the netizens of digg completely ignore the bait… but we should all know that’s not likely…

how unsettling

angry dude says:

ignorance is no defense

“…even more questionable patent holders”

Mike is playing ignorant as usual

While there are “questionable” (correct legal term is “invalid”) patents there are no “questionable
patent holders”

Patents, simply put, are PROPERTY, they can be bought and sold to anybody just like any other property

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ignorance is no defense

Except patents are not analogous to real physical property.

They’re monopoly rights over a particular idea. They allow you to prevent others from bringing products to the marketplace based on your patent.

A physical property only let you have a monopoly over that particular item/land/whatever, but not similar items owned by somebody else.

Even free software better fit the definition of property.

Steve says:

Re: ignorance is no defense

Back in the stone age (the 60s) we used to say that property is theft. I still subscribe to this philosophy, and it is nowhere more apparent than the current abomination about what intellectual property is. Monsanto patents include a (scientifically approved description of a) folk remedy used in India for centuries. I read that Monsanto has used this to stop Indians form using certain indigenous plants to heal people by virtue of this intellectual “property.” Is this what we intended?

Steve says:

Re: ignorance is no defense

Back in the stone age (the 60s) we used to say that property is theft. I still subscribe to this philosophy, and it is nowhere more apparent than the current abomination about what intellectual property is. Monsanto patents include a (scientifically approved description of a) folk remedy used in India for centuries. I read that Monsanto has used this to stop Indians form using certain indigenous plants to heal people by virtue of this intellectual “property.” Is this what we intended?

angry dude says:

Re: Re: ignorance is no defense

Dude,

If somebody intrudes my (heavily fenced) real property, I first warn them that I would shoot if they don’t leave immediately and then shoot the bastards
All the courts in this country will agree that it’s my constitutional right to shoot (the potentially dangerous intruders) on my very own (fenced) property

If somebody is *willfully* infringing on my valid US patent I will first warn them to stop infringing and then sue the hell out of thiefing bastards and all the courts in this country will agree that it’s my constitutional right to do so

Just shut the fuck up
This is none of your fucking business cause apparently you don’t own any property you need to protect from thiefs
This is America, dude
And as far as Intellectual Property is concerned this is Wild Wild West

Anonymous Coward says:

Easy there tiger...

I wouldn’t hassle the guy about it Mike, that dude already looks pretty angry.

You and I both know hes just some troll with a dead hamster rotting in his bowel, but no sense enraging him, I’m surprised you even bothered to reply to such a pedantic terminology complaint in the first place…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Easy there tiger...

I wouldn’t hassle the guy about it Mike, that dude already looks pretty angry.

True, true.

You and I both know hes just some troll with a dead hamster rotting in his bowel, but no sense enraging him, I’m surprised you even bothered to reply to such a pedantic terminology complaint in the first place…

Consider me the eternal optimist, that one day, maybe he’ll actually take the time to understand what we’re talking about. Crazy. I know.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Easy there tiger...

“dead hamster rotting in his bowel”

Ha-ha-ha
More like dusty patent in a closet (valid patent BTW)

And Mikey, it is me not you in the trenches
You just don’t have a fucking clue about the subject
Heck, you are not alone, most folks in US Congress have about the same depth of understanding how patents work in the real world

If I don’t know something I am not ashamed to ask
Ask real american inventors Mikey, not the anonymous corporate stooges like Troll Tracker

boomhauer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Easy there tiger...

angry, i own a collection of patents, and Mike is right. the system is f@#$’ed. if i want to defend one of my patents, which i spent many thousands to procure, the avergae litigation cost is several million. so as a small inventor, there is an icecubes chance in hell i’ll ever be able to force someone from using my technology. on the other hand, ive had several companies issue C&D’s to me for bullshit IP they claim to own. what choice to i have? i cant afford to defend myself, so i either pay huge licensing for BS or i quit producing this product. Meanwhile, these trolls are making the bucks by stealing from innovators. There is nothing good left in the system, and Im not even bothering getting any more patents.Ive lost years of my life to this stupid process and I hope they fix it someday, but Im not waiting for it.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Easy there tiger...

Hey, dude, you are absolutely right

The system is broken

Yet, the purpose of the current patent “reform” is not to abolish the entire fucking patent system but to make it a sport of kings so only the wealthy multinationals can play the patent game

I say: Fuck It!!!

Ether change the US Constitution and abolisht the entire patent system or play by the rules of the game which are the same for garage inventors and the biggest multinationals

Patent Troll Tracker (user link) says:

Re: Solitaire and digg???

Hey everyone, I don’t usually post on other websites, and I hope you aren’t tracking my IP address and/or won’t divulge it, but I just had to weigh in here. The problem is that even though the TITLE of the patent is related to computer gaming, and the ENTIRE specification relates to computer gaming, the patentee and his clever lawyer were able to sneak in a claim or 2 into each patent that are not facially related to gaming. So, for example, in US Patent 6,712,702, claim 53, which is longer than my forearm, is probably the only claim that Goldberg will assert in the Digg litigation. In 6,183,366, which has 132 claims, claim 116 is merely “a method of providing a presentation on a network,” and claim 121 is merely “a method of providing information regarding products or services on the Internet.” How much do you want to bet the Examiner never even noticed those claims had nothing to do with gaming? This is the problem with many of the patent cases out there now (but not all of them, angry dude). It was cases like this one that motivated me to start a blog.

Random Poster says:

Flaw with Patenting

The main problem with patenting is they only check to ensure that the invention being patented is not making use of laws of nature of mathematics. It doesn’t check to see if the idea has already been done.

For example, let’s say my friend invents something. If I later invent something that is identical and then apply to have it patented, I will be granted the patent even though I wasn’t the first one to think of it.

This is where the patenting system is failing and people are using it to make fast bucks. I’ve seen this recently when some guy went and patented a “rotating weight mechanism” and then took on the like of Sony and Nintendo over the rumble features in their consoles.

Sadly, the guy has solid standing, thus Nintendo and Microsoft pay the royalties to the guy while Sony has just removed the feature altogether.

Random Poster says:

Re: Re: Flaw with Patenting

First of all, if you have a point make sure you have some manners with it first. We maybe online but the rules of the real world still apply.

When it comes to Prior Art, the patent office does care. The only time the patent office cares about prior art is if there is a patent on it in the past.

The only consolidation is patents expire and cannot be renewed. This is countered by patents still lasting 50 years which stinks anyway.

Random Poster says:

Re: GFY

There are better ways to say I’m off the mark. I implore you. There is no need for that kind of language. If you have a problem find another way to vent off steam rather than take it out on people who are just saying their point of view.

And for your information I have been educated but have not had the time to check on resent changes in what I have learned from then.

What I was taught then also applies to computer software where developers seek patents to protect trade secrets in software that copyrights cannot protect.

Patents are sought by software developers because copyright will only protect the object/byte code. What developers want to protect is the algorithms and processing steps behind the program. As algorithms are not protected by copyright, a patent is sought instead because it protect both the code and the algorithms.

This is what I was taught from the text books three years ago so the knowledge I know cannot be must older than five years old given the age of the book itself.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: GFY

OK, Ok

Relax now

at least you know that copyright does not protect software
so you are much ahead of those FSF software communists and their chief of staff RMS (helped by that perverted lawyer guy named Eben Moglen)

You should know however that patents last for 17 years from the date of issue or 20 years from the date of filing

Random Poster says:

Re: Re: Re: GFY

Thankyou. I also went and checked and yes, I was wrong about the patent life.

It still doesn’t help though. Granted that when patents expire the invention goes into the public domain, but 20 years is a long time to go about cause havoc to other hardworking people.

This guy is getting away as algorithms and architectures count as processes. At first people though patents cannot be allowed on software due to the fact that software doesn’t exist in a material form.

What software does is changes internal switches in the CPU, etc. But as algorithms are a series of steps and actions taken to an given state, it is possible to pass it off as a process as a process is also a set of steps and reactions based on a state.

I looked at this guy’s patent. Hopefully it was the right one, it was referencing black jack, not solitaire, and it’s just a series of labeled boxes and arrows. I fail to see how this patent can hold as network gaming architecture has as much diversity as humanity itself.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Mike: Uninformed Drivel

Mike, I see you are still spewing uninformed drivel about patent cases.

The only way to get at the truth in these cases is via the court. None of us can know rather a patent is silly or brilliant until the fat lady sings.

What we do know is that patent pirating transnational corporations routinely steal other’s intellectual property. We also know that you virtually always characterize such lawsuits, the patents, and the inventors behind the patents as evil doers.

Yet patent pirates are routinely being handed their heads by the courts. Which means that after all the arguments were heard that the courts are finding that the inventions are important, that they are legitimate, and that the teams you are cheering for are found to be thieves.

How about you go back and do a review of how many cases you called right? I bet you could count them on one hand.

The problem with you and most of your fan club is that you don’t know how to read and interpret what a patent says. You jump to ridiculous conclusions based on a profound ignorance of what the patents actually cover.

One last point, Cisco and their Troll Tracker are going to be buying personal lube in case qualities. Boy, they have really screwed up royal! Backing patent piracy can be a rather painful process 🙂

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.patentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

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