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?

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Companies: encyclopeadia britannica

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Comments on “Encyclopaedia Britannica Loses Patent Battle… Yet Again”

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wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Re: When you can 't compete

in your business, then sue. They don’t seem to think that this type of activity alienates possible customers.

You’d think people would learn this after a while. Here in the USA we have two outfits which seem to have adopted this business model, the RIAA and its associated record companies, and the SCO Group, a two-bit software company which has been carrying on a nuisance lawsuit against four of its customers for six years now and refuses to quit. And neither seems to understand why its business is tanking.

You reap what you sow.

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