JPEG Patent's Single Claim Rejected (And Smacked Down For Good Measure)

from the a-good-first-step dept

We’ve been covering the ongoing saga of an old patent we’ve referred to as the “JPEG Patent.” This actually isn’t the first patent we’ve called the JPEG Patent, because multiple people claimed to hold patents over the technology that goes into a JPEG image. But, this one was rather special. The patent had been used, repeatedly, by lawyer Ray Niro, against a wide range of opponents, including a patent system critic. The end result was a drawn out review process where all of the original claims were rejected, but a single new claim was added to the patent, which Niro insisted covered JPEGs on a website.

Earlier this year, the Patent Office agreed to re-examine that claim. On top of that, a judge overseeing one of the lawsuits involving the patent decided to put the suit on hold pending the outcome of the re-exam. Of course, the re-exam will take some time, but the initial re-exam came out recently and it does not look good for this patent:

The one remaining claim was rejected on 19 different grounds, and then the examiner went on for over 40 pages, explaining in great detail, why the claim (and, thus, the entire patent) were not valid. Kinda makes you wonder why it was approved in the first place, but that’s a different discussion for a different day. This is, of course, just the initial re-exam. Niro gets to respond, but given the amount of detail that goes into rejecting a single claim, he’s got quite an uphill battle.

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Comments on “JPEG Patent's Single Claim Rejected (And Smacked Down For Good Measure)”

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Juan says:

It’s interesting that one of the grounds for rejection was based on the way the CompuServe on-line service allowed users to download GIF files back in 1989. Brings back a lot of memories…

As someone who reads a lot of Office Actions, I’ve never seen a patent examiner spend so many pages trashing a single claim. It could be that the Patent Office assigned its “A-Team” to this patent given its storied history and the high profile treatment it receives from this blog and others.

IPesq (user link) says:

Re: God, How retarded!

I would imagine that at some point, somebody did or could have patented the composition of paper or the method of making paper. While the JPEG seems old, it only came out towards the end of the 80s. The compression standard came out in 92 or so, but these things are patentable. Now the question is, is the patent in question novel and non-obvious in light of what was out BEFORE the application was filed. That is what is being determined.

Anonymous of Course says:

JPEG; Joint Photographic Experts Group

It was developed by a consortium at first used
mainly for transmission of photos from space

I suppose one of the members could have pulled
a rambus and gone after a patent but there was
more integrity in the JPEG group.

They started work about 1987 and the first draft
was released around 1990. Digital Equipment Corp.
was one of the consortium members.

At least that’s how I remember it.

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