Facebook Sued For Patent Infringement

from the welcome-to-the-big-time dept

It’s pretty much a rite of passage for any tech company these days, as you get larger and more recognized, some company that has an overly broad and probably obvious patent will sue you for patent infringement. For the company in question, the lawsuit is as much a publicity event as it is an attempt to squeeze revenue from an actual innovator. The latest example of this is with an Ohio company no one’s heard of called Leader Technologies, who is suing Facebook for patent infringement, and was kind enough to send out a press release announcing this before Facebook even got to see the lawsuit. Clearly, this is a publicity stunt.

As for the patent itself, it basically describes the rather obvious process of associating a piece of data with multiple categories. It’s almost surprising that the company is suing Facebook instead of Google. While I’m not a heavy Facebook user, I’m not sure where Facebook uses such a system. Google, however, has made widespread use of a similar idea with its Gmail “labels.” The idea is that rather than sorting data into a specific folder or category, it can be associated with multiple categories. If that seems rather obvious and ridiculously broad, well, that’s the patent system for you these days.

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Companies: facebook, leader technologies

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Comments on “Facebook Sued For Patent Infringement”

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30 Comments
anon says:

If this company owns such a patent, they could make a ton of money off of a ton of different companies.

come on, “associating a piece of data with multiple categories”?? we all do that at least a million times a day! these frivolous litigators should really just shut the fuck up and stick their “patent” up there ass where it came from.

So It's Come To This: (profile) says:

Sue EVERYONE!!

Just like Anon said, you can sue every database company. You can also sue anyone who uses tags like Yahoo’s Flickr, blogs like WordPress and TypePad, and Delicious simply because they assign meta data to data.

Not only is this idea obvious, the chances of someone ELSE owning such a patent is likely given the widespread use of such a broad patent years before the Internet was handed over to the public domain.

FAIL

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me see if I have this right. A company, Leader Technologies, files a provisional application in 2002, converts it into a regular application in 2003, has the patent issue in 2006, along the way has to distinguish how its invention differs from other inventions by lunimaries such as Xerox, Microsoft, IBM, and MCI (among others), has a technology savvy examiner in the patent office go back and forth over about 3 years time to narrow the patent claims so that the distinguish over the prior art in terms of both novelty and nonobviousness, asserts the patent against a company it believes may be infringing the patent, and then has techdirt come along and opine by a non-technical person lacking substantive technical knowledge in the details of the described and claimed subject matter that the patent is “rather obvious”…once again implying that yet another unwarranted patent has issued.

Seriously, Mr. Masnick, are you such an expert in the technology field that you can make such a statement without even having reviewed the application as originally filed, together with the file wrapper history associated with its prosecution before the patent office?

I urge you to stick with your economic arguments and view that patents and copyrights are “monopolies”, and resist the urge to dip your feet into “legal waters in which you have no substantive experience. The former is within your area of expertise. The latter most certainly is not.

Tamtammy MacPatentTroll says:

i'm going to patent chewing and make billions

System includes teeth, jaw, muscular tissue, and some form of food and/or recreational material. Process involves tightening of muscular tissue causing one set of teeth (referred to as “upper teeth”) to come into contact with another set of teeth (referred to as “lower teeth”). During this process, Upper Teeth and Lower Teeth crush the food or recreational material (e.g. gum) modifying the consistency of the food or releasing flavor or nutrients.

Refers to previous patent #100,230,994,202,451 for process called “Sense of Taste”.

snowburn14 says:

Never heard of them before, eh?

But surely you must remember the folks who “were relied upon by the Governor of Louisiana to support the entire state’s response to Hurricane Katrina”? (quote taken from their website, for which I shall expect a lawsuit for copyright infringement)
Now there’s something to hang your hat on… If my business had anything whatsoever to do with the government’s response to that disaster, I’d be doing everything in my power NOT to publicize it.

Calm down sparky says:

Has anyone considered that the “obvious and broad” aspects of the patent were in fact, not understood or utilized say, 15 years ago before the internet was so commonplace? If you read the patent you’ll see that it allows for the storage and access of information in a totally different way than was previously available.

It is extremely common for a small company to release a press release just before doing something extreme, like filing a lawsuit against a major corperation, because they need some real and factual information out in the media so that when someone searches the topic they don’t just end up with a bullshit, unresearched article from Techdirt.

Do you really think that a small business, like Leader, would invest an unimaginable amount of time and money into a lawsuit that they thought or knew was bullshit? Also, if the patent and the lawsuit are indeed a load of shit, as you make clear is your opinion, why was it not tossed out? Why did it make it all the way to trial?

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