Encyclopaedia Britannica Loses Patent Battle… Yet Again
from the keep-it-up dept
Last year, we wrote about the incredible story of how Encyclopaedia Britannica had ended up with an infamous patent (5,241,671) and was using it to claim ownership over basic GPS functionality. The patent had originally been granted to Compton’s back in 1993, and was insanely broad. Compton’s quickly told the world that pretty much any and all multimedia systems out there (such as CD-ROMs) violated the patent. The outcry was so great that the commissioner of the patent office initiated the re-exam of the patent himself, and eventually tossed out the whole thing. But, as things go, there was some back-and-forth, and eventually a few greatly narrowed claims were allowed. EB ended up with the patents as an investor in Compton’s, and then not only got some other patents based on the 671 patent, but claimed that they could be asserted against GPS systems. And, just like that, rather than doing something useful, like figuring out how to compete with Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica started filing bogus patent infringement lawsuits.
We wrote about it last November to note that a court had thrown out the entire 671 patent as invalid. While EB is appealing that ruling, it also pushed ahead with the lawsuits based on the other patents it had received that were built on the 671 patent. However, Slashdot alerts us that the same court that tossed out the 671 patent has now dumped these two patents as well. EB, of course is expected to appeal this as well.
This seems like a subject that could use a decent Wikipedia entry, doesn’t it?