Guy Claims His Patent Covers Everyone Making Computers, Cell Phones, Hard Drives, DVD Players, HDTV & MRIs

from the you-probably-infringe-just-for-breathing dept

Joe Mullin has been digging into the saga of Gregory Bender — a guy no one seems to know anything about, but who just a few weeks ago started suing some big name companies, such as Broadcom, Freescale, AMD and National Semiconductor for patent infringement. A week later, he had also sued IBM, Agilent, Cirrus Logic, Siemens, Nokia, Sony, Motorola, and ST Microelectronics. Apparently that wasn’t enough, as a week later, he filed new lawsuits against AT&T, AT&T Mobility, Sony-Ericsson, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Hitachi, Seagate and Western Digital. At latest count, in the last month or so, he’s filed 22 lawsuits against 28 different companies.

The patent in question? It’s for a <a href=”,103,188 target=”_new”>buffered transconductance amplifier, and Bender is claiming that basically all computers, mobile phones, hard drives, DVD players, HDTVs and MRI machines violate the patents. Bender may or may not have a valid claim… but the patent was granted in 1992, and it appears it will expire at the beginning of August, so it’s not entirely clear why Bender waited until now to sue — or what he’s been doing with his life in the interim. Mullin’s questions concerning that were answered with a: “He is a private person. He does not want publicity.” Then, perhaps he shouldn’t have sued pretty much every high tech company out there claiming they owe him money…

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Comments on “Guy Claims His Patent Covers Everyone Making Computers, Cell Phones, Hard Drives, DVD Players, HDTV & MRIs”

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Lonnie E. Holder says:


Mike is correct. This patent will expire 04 August 2009.

Mike’s question regarding why he waited this long is an extremely valid question. There are two issues here.

First, you can only claim royalties going back six years.

Second, since the value of these electronics have gone down, the amount of the royalties will be substantially less per unit than they would have been a decade ago.

Third, I suspect that he will have to explain why he waited so long to sue. His patent has existed for nearly 20 years. All of the defendants will argue estoppel because of the length of time his “invention” has been practiced.

Of course, any of the defendants could pretty much stop this litigation in its tracks by requesting a re-examination of the patent. Most courts will halt litigation until the re-examination is complete, which would delay litigation for years.

Will he get very far? I do not know. However, he has put himself in a position where his chances of success have been significantly reduced because of his failure to act.

Incidentally, he let his patent expire when the third maintenance fee became due. He petitioned the USPTO to accept the late maintenance fee because “the dog ate his homework.” Just kidding. He says that his computer fell victim to Y2K, and then it got a virus. He though he had all his important dates added to his calendar, but missed this one. You can guarantee that defendants will make use of that little tidbit as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Interesting...

>Mike’s question regarding why he waited this
>long is an extremely valid question.

How about he really needs some money and asked a patent lawyer if his patent was worth anything. The lawyers go nuts and the guy looks like an idiot. Just a guess mind you but someone could get a movie out of this.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Interesting...

I knew someone with a patent on gaming consoles (taken out, as a graduate student, in the first half of the 70s decade) who also let the patent expire.

He was a very nice person. Lawyers wanted him to act. Lawsuits are not in everyone’s blood. It affects your life negatively (these are engineers, remember).

Not sure what was his deal. He did have great plans for using the money to improve the technology infrastructure of the country where he was born. He also planned to fund a one person company he owned which was prototyping (with very inexpensive parts) some products to cater to the electronic hobbyist. He was on top of the state of the art (as well as you can be when you don’t work in special labs) in a number of tech disciplines. He loved to spend the day on engineering. Did I mention he was a nice guy?

Perhaps not everyone that takes out a patent feels good about it afterwards. After all, no man is an island. Is having an idea a few months or years or seconds before anyone else worth a 20 year monopoly on the general concept or worth a guaranteed income stream? And to add insult to injury, a patent writer likely is not the first person to think fully of the particular invention, but merely the first person to file for a patent on it.

Having waited so long, likely didn’t help either. The fear of change and of ensuing court battles may have also played a part. Finally, one probably expects to have the media’s (and new well-funded enemy’s) cynical microscope placed on your life. People that don’t live normal lifestyles can get extra apprehensive about the inevitable public focus that would ensue.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Obviously Bender wanted to maximize his profits so he waited until his glorious invention was used in as many devices as possible. So immediately after patenting his buffered transconductance amplifier, he used it to build a time machine and went into the future, our present, to file his lawsuit.

This also explains why there’s so little information about him, because he has not exited in our time-line for several years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


The problem I have with waiting so long is what I stated above. Sales of these devices peaked and then declined. Also, the relative value of his design has decreased because the price of all these devices has declined. He also waited too long. I see a lot of questions being asked that may lead to him getting nothing.

angry dude says:

retards as usual

Has it ever occured to you, my little retarded friends, that in many cases it is almost impossible to detect the fact of infringement

if a patented feature is buried inside a very complex high-tech device (like cell phone) it is vurtually impossible for one guy with no resources to reverse-engineer the device to find infringment

I can only guess which company out there infringes my patent (unless somebody on the inside tips me…)

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: retards as usual

angry dude uses the word “retard” because that’s what all the school kids called him each morning when he stepped off the “short bus”, and being one of little mind, he uses it as some form of retaliation against his bullies from back in the day.

Tell us about your extra chromosome, angry dude. While you’re at it, tell us all about ALL YOUR INVENTIONS!!! You talk about them so much but never seem willing to actually describe them.

Steve says:

Direct ripoff of Comlinear Corporation work

I worked for Comlinear starting in 1984 designing amplifiers. We had a core technology–current feedback as applied to op amps–that no other competitor had at the time. This is the core technology in Bender’s patent, but our *products* predated his patent by a decade. Wikipedia has fairly accurate info:
You may have to splice the url.
Bender does not have anything original in his core idea. I did not wade through all the claims.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Direct ripoff of Comlinear Corporation work

Bender does not have anything original in his core idea. I did not wade through all the claims.

I didn’t either. When I saw his claim that his amplifier had “no slew” I decided that he was probably full of kaka and didn’t read much further.

Steve says:

Re: Re: Direct ripoff of Comlinear Corporation work

Actually, ‘no slew’ is true in an ideal world, on paper. Comp cap charging current does not come from a fixed current source (tail current in traditional), but rather from the output stage via Rf. If the output and the input buffers can support the current, there is no slew limit (ideally speaking). Practically, it is quite high, far higher than voltage feedback amps.

Current feedback op amps are one of those paradigm changing things. They act very similar from the outside in a lot of ways, and quite differently in some details.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Direct ripoff of Comlinear Corporation work

Actually, ‘no slew’ is true in an ideal world, on paper.

Only using imaginary ideal components, which do not exist. You could build also build perpetual motion machines if you had imaginary ideal components. But in reality, you can’t. So this guy’s claim of having invented an amplifier with zero slew is obviously bunk. And the patent office didn’t even catch it. Of course people have gotten patents for other similarly impossible things, like faster-than-light warp engines for spaceships, so that’s no real surprise.

Practically, it is quite high, far higher than voltage feedback amps.

Far higher than voltage feedback amps, true, but still very far from infinity.

Omali (user link) says:

Here’s hoping Gregory gets barred from filing patents, and sulks back under his bridge with the other patent trolls.

Gregory’s playing Russian Roulette with the judicial system, throwing out a pistol and seeing who ends up shooting themselves with it. Here’s hoping he gets laughed out of court.

And if that poster above me is indeed Gregory; Just because you got a patent on something you didn’t invent, don’t market, and only have to suck money out of it doesn’t mean you get to sue every company out there just in case they may be infringing on your bogus patent.

“my little retarded friends,”

You’re not one to talk.

angry dude says:

Re: Re:

Dear techdirt moron

for your information patents are property
there is no law requiring you to market your invention

also, judges do not like fishing expeditions – you gotta have a pretty solid case of infringement otherwise no litigator will take your case – the court can sanction plaintiff attorneyes for lack of due diligence

YOu are sitting at the kiddie table tonight, punk

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

for your information patents are property
there is no law requiring you to market your invention

I thought the entire purpose of the patent system was to give incentive to creators to invent something for the betterment of society by giving them a temporary monopoly. If you invent something and sit on it, or worse, use it to stop *others* from bringing the invention to the market, then you’re clearly acting counter to the entire purpose of the system.

So, hiding behind the patent system to pressure (or outright take) money from other businesses that you have no sensible claim to is a perversion of the entire system, and is what gives the patent system the appearance of being broken.

Sam Anwar says:

How to steal inventions?

I don’t understand much about this whole concept of stealing ideas from obscure patents that were never implemented or marketed, so I am just curious as to how all those large companies such as IBM, Sony, etc… “stole” the “invention” from the original “inventor”? Or did they? I mean was it a coincident? Or do all those companies have dedicated people that just spend their day searching for inventions to steal? How does it work?

Heather Lucero (user link) says:

Gregory Bender Patent Infringement

The question was “who is Gregory Bender and why has he waited so long to sue?”. The answer is that Gregory Bender is an eccentric genius with some personal issues (not unlike some other inventors of the 20th century: Nicola Tesla ring a bell?). He is, however, brilliantly creative and was working on this technology since the mid-1980’s when we would sit in his dorm room staring at an oscilloscope and making diy circuits with materials from Radio Shack. He deserves to have his contribution recognized and compensated just as surely as the “rabbit ears” guy and the intermittent windshield wiper guy. And, yes, they made movies from those, too.

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