Science Fiction Movie Accused Of Patent Infringement

from the we've-reached-a-new-level-of-insanity dept

Famed author Arthur C. Clarke once explained that he never patented the the concept of geostationary communications satellites, which many say he invented, because a lawyer told him the concept was “too far-fetched to be taken seriously.” But what about things going in the other direction. If, in a book or a movie, you describe or display a technology that has already been patented, is it infringement? Most people would dismiss such a concept as flat-out ridiculous. But a company called Global Findability apparently disagrees. It has sued Summit Entertainment, the producers of the sci-fi film, Knowing, an apparently otherwise dreadful flick that includes — as a central plot point — an “encoded message [that] predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years.”

Yes, Global Findability is claiming that its patent on “Integrated information processing system for geospatial media” (Patent 7107286) was infringed by this fictional device. Eriq Gardner, at THREsq, sums it up nicely:

We’re familiar with patent troll lawsuits. We’re also aware that Hollywood is prone to allegations of idea theft. But what we seem to have here is a strange new genre-bending legal claim where one can infringe technology in fiction similar to the way one can defame a person in fiction.

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Companies: global findability, summit entertainment

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Comments on “Science Fiction Movie Accused Of Patent Infringement”

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57 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Correct. Basically a time capsule is buried, one of the items is a list of numbers, 50 years later it’s unburied, scientist (or something) figures out that most of the numbers relate to disasters since the capsule was buried, tries to figure out/stop the disasters predicted by the remaining numbers.

Unfortunately he’s never able to stop the biggest disaster: the movie.

Robert Ring (profile) says:

As an active participant in the sci-fi world, I feel like I need to say something here, but there’s nothing really to say other than: This is stupid. So, patents are supposed to protect creators against fictional characters’ usage of a device? And how does this divert any revenue that the patent holder would have received? Are we playing with Monopoly money here or something?

PS – Knowing was actually better than a lot of people gave it credit for.

thublihnk (profile) says:

This is another one of those Techdirt stories that I almost have to refuse to believe is true. I keep reading and reading and yes. They are accusing someone of patent infringement because something they patented was used as a plot device in a movie.

Does this mean Dodge can sue the makers of Vanishing Point? (sure, that was probably paid product placement, but still)

senshikaze (profile) says:

i thought the movie was decent, but i think it was one of those love it or hate films.

Oh the patent BS…
Well this is retarded for two reasons:
1)It just is
2)how on earth did they violate? what the hell does geospatial mean? I see no violation here. The movie had no video frames in the capsule. just pieces of paper. So. freaking. retarded.

Please, Mr./Madam Judge, throw this out. For the children, if not for general sanity’s sake.

Blatant Coward (profile) says:

Arg.

First off Syfy is a channel with monster movies and wrasslin.

Second, there was no device other than a pencil and paper along with a girl having visions, how does that make a process?

If a list of numbers written down is a patent violation, then everyone who’s ever played Yahtzee, Keno, or Bingo needs to be put against the wall and shot.

And shoot some of them wrasslers too. Their acting is awful, almost as bad as Nick’s fake hair.

gfgross (profile) says:

patent infringement????

I have read the patent. Effectively what it claims is a system of hardware/software that tags video and/or audio clips with date, time and geographical location. In other words, if you are viewing a video clip, you will be able to tell when the clip was made and where it was made (using GPS co-ordinates). What was shown in the movie was a continuing string of numbers that if properly separated would give you a date, the number of people killed and the GPS location of the event. Patent infringement? Bull shit!
Here is my infringement:
1202091402701754817

This means that 1 person will die on 12/02/09 at the GPS co-ordinates given. That 1 person is me laughing to death at how rediculous this infringement claim is. I will let it up to the readers to determine where I live.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Clarke

Arthur gave several answers to the question of why he didn’t patent the geostationary communications satellite. My favorite:

“I’m often asked why I didn’t try to patent the idea of communications satellites. My answer is always, ‘A patent is really a license to be sued.'”

It should be noted that the guy who worked on the Echo project (which put one there) maintained that he came up with the idea independently.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Hollywood has been nailed repeatedly.

Hollywood does steal others intellectual property on a regular basis. I have some personal experience with this.

Meanwhile, Mike Masnick constantly rationalizes that uninventive companies whose claim to fame is marketing and manufacturing might should be able to take inventors work under the guise that combining others inventions into a product is innovation when it is really an example of parasitic activity.

It seems to me that the legal system does a pretty good job of sorting these things out and assessing the merits and that the rest of us cannot do this because we do not have all the facts.

What I do know is that someone is risking at least two million and perhaps tens of millions of dollars because they think that their patent is being infringed. People do not wager that kind of money with being certain that they have a good case. That being the case, if they win the case I will expect Mike to acknowledge that once again he spewed a bunch of nonsense about a patent case.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Hollywood has been nailed repeatedly.

“It seems to me that the legal system does a pretty good job of sorting these things out and assessing the merits”

It seems to me that the legal system does an incredibly bad job at this, given that with few exception, the winner is the one with the most money to spend on courts.

But given that the patent system (as currently implemented) itself is so broken as to be a joke and harms innovation and invention in order to benefit large corporate interests and lawyers, perhaps that is it’s intended purpose. In which case I concede that you are correct, that the legal system does indeed further this end.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hollywood has been nailed repeatedly.

It is true that one needs money to get justice. For many years, actually many decades disreputable business interests were able to steal average people’s inventions with impunity. That started to change in the 1970s.

The reason patent pirating companies whine about patent trolls is that when the scope of their larcenary became big enough capitalism produced a remedy for their conduct in the form of patent enforcement entities.

This changed the nature of the fight and inventors are winning those fights today.

There still is no justice if the infringement is below about ten million dollars and between ten and a hundred million dollars it is case specific. Over a hundred million in infringement an inventor can usually get a patent enforcement entity to bankroll their case.

Think about how many billions of dollars are being stolen in cases below a hundred million dollars. This theft is usually being committed by transnational corporations. They ship jobs and the prosperity those inventions produce out of the country. The impact on our competitiveness is staggering.

Now returning to the issue of the legal system. It is inherent that deep pockets bias things and there really are not any viable solutions to this. But in the case of patents an average John Doe can take on the biggest companies in the world and extract retribution. We are doing this daily and doing so with considerable success. The system has in this case produced a solution to address the worst cases. It may not be perfect but it has been effective enough to make the most disreputable companies whine like five year old children.

What is interesting is that TechDIRT has business associations with some of the naughtiest companies and coincidentally they mostly push those same companies patent agenda. Chicken or egg, I am trying to figure out what came first 🙂

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Steve R. (profile) says:

"A subscription to PACER is required" - Humbug

Part of Mikes post could have included the inability of the public to access PACER.

Seems to me that we should be able to look-up the lawsuites and filings without having to pay or register.

GLOBAL FINDABILITY, INC. v. SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, LLC et al.

“Access additional case information on PACER
Use the links below to access additional information about this case on the US Court’s PACER system. A subscription to PACER is required.”

Any alternatives for accessing the lawsuit?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

To funny ....

Again unintended consequences creep in …. this time bitting the ass of the people lobbying for tighter IP laws … oh the irony

“Irony takes many forms. In irony of situation, the result of an action is the reverse of what the actor expected. Macbeth murders his king hoping that in becoming king he will achieve great happiness. Actually, Macbeth never knows another moment of peace, and finally is beheaded for his murderous act.”

…. nuff said ….

Dale B. Halling (profile) says:

GIGO

Your article insinuates that it is absurd that the movie could violate patent 7,107,286, but it is clear that you did not actually read the patent or did not understand the patent. Since you did not read the patent and probably do not know how to read the claims, the rest of your article is clearly nonsense. It is amazing the number of people who refuse to read patents, let alone actual understand the claims that seem to think they are qualified to determine whether a patent is infringed or valid.

While I do not know if the patent was violated, I can give you numerous examples of how a movie could violate a patent – as opposed to your obviously contrived example. For instance, a movie could violate multiple patents owned by Dolby for sound recordings. A movie could violate patents on computerized animation. In this case, it is possible that the movie used the technology of the patent in question to create scenes related to satellite images. Reading patents and interpreting the claims is hard work. Since you are either of unwilling or incapable of undertaking this work, you should not insinuate that it is absurd that a movie could violate a patent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: GIGO

“I can give you numerous examples of how a movie could violate a patent – as opposed to your obviously contrived example. For instance, a movie could violate multiple patents owned by Dolby for sound recordings. A movie could violate patents on computerized animation. In this case, it is possible that the movie used the technology of the patent in question to create scenes related to satellite images. Reading patents and interpreting the claims is hard work.”

Um, no.

The examples that you give are related to the production of a movie. Not the movie. A movie is a set of information recorded on a medium. It is not a machine, process, composition of matter. Nor would it fall within the ambit of so-called “software CRM claims.”

Playing a movie might infringe a process patent, but that covers the projection process, not the movie. The actual plots, scenes, dialogs, actions in the movie might include a record of infringement of a patent, but the movie itself infringes nothing.

Under current law, I cannot conceive of a valid patent that any movie (sitting on a shelf) would infringe. Even Sony/Phillips DVD and DRM patent portfolios would only cover the DVD and DRM aspects not the motion picture.

Anonymous1 says:

People do not wager that kind of money with being certain that they have a good case..

Sure they do. They do it all the time, and I can list, and link to multiple examples. It’s callled being greedy and money hungry. It often gets in the way of anything that looks like common sense. Would you care to come back and try to justify your claim? Of course not. Why? You’re full of $hit.

Mike Edward Moras (user link) says:

Science Fiction Movie Accused Of Patent Infringement

To keep it short:

1) Global Findability has patented a “time capsule”?

Wrong. A simple example: the time-capsule was most commonly used in old Egypt. Anyone interested in Archeology will agree and confirm that, so the patent is void.

to be more precise: the “Book of Dead” describes a “capsule” that holds information the person who died can use in “the afterworld”. No one really knows what “the afterworld” was really meant to be, but since archeologists have been opening graves, opening capsules, reading old scrolls and still try to interpret them… the “afterworld” might just be what it is: “the world after the world as we know it today”… which can easy be translated to “the future”.

2) Global Findability has patented the process and use of an “encoded message [that] predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years.”?

Wrong. The first maps were created about 5000 years ago in old China. To protect these maps they were crypted. They also commonly contained military information about troup strengths of enemies which was “expected” to exist and possible outcome of war scenarios.

This is another reason for the patent to be void.

3) Part of the patent is simply not theirs, so someone at the patent office must have been sleeping!

Geo-spacial means that you can calculate the distance between two points. Also, it means that you can see the “relevance” between the two points. If Global Findability claims they have a patent on that too, they should be aware that they will have to sue: NASA, French Airospace, German Airospace (DLRF), etc. and even some funny companies like National Geographics.

Conclusion

Global Findability should be aware of the fact that a patent can be withdrawn even if it is in effect now, because someone proves that the patent has been issued illegally or based on false information.

Now let’s get really dirty:

I looked up my ancestors… finding out that I have a grand-grand-grand-grand-grandfather that indeed was in the industry of mapping Europe, the coastlines of both North- and South-America and even mapped some stars to find out the possible relevance between earth-locations, star locations and the time-related movement of both. This involved a whole bunch of calcullations and theories, including the theory that one possibly coul predict “happenings” (may they be good or bad for mankind) on earth, based on the earths location in relevance to several stars. This theory has been put to paper the first time in 1692!!! This included predictions close to the ones Nostradamus made, but with a little more accurancy. (Not that the theories really worked, but the theories have been used by several people in the 1600s.

Therefore, the issued patent is void due to the fact that you can not patent formerly copyrighted stuff that’s older than 100 years.

Funny thing is. I could even go out and sue Global Findability for copyright infringement being a next-of-kin, which will probably fail due to the same reasons: “The copyright in question is older than 100 years.”

I also could sue them for applying for a patent based on false information because they claim they invented something that apperently is “common knowledge” for several hundred years.

LOL, if they actually get some big cash on the issue, I’m sure thinking about going to fetch my piece of the cake from them, just to show them that fiction can indeed become fact… and that facts can hurt if you get them wrong.

They will have to prove that their patent is based on intellectual property that is older than 400 years and I know they can not, because neither Global Findability, nor it’s founders are old enough. If they were, they would have rather patented “being vampires” or at least having found “the fountain of youth”.

This is such balony that I an convinced of the fact that the law suit will be denied by court.

If not, I’m eager to see if I can get a patent on “the use of 2 dimensional graphics that transport information in a coded, 2 dimensional space.”

Why? Well, then I could sue anyone in the universe who has written something on a piece of paper, or anything else that seems to be 2d (like the wall of a pyramid, a cave in Africa or an ancient, mayan temple wall in South America or a simple papyrus or paper scroll), using an I-do-not-care-which-alphabet…

That’s all folks.

I just love patents: they are so… useless!

Lawrence Baker (profile) says:

American innovation

Fact: American green energy innovation and ingenuity, science really, hasn’t been funded since 2001.
http://www.eere.energy.gov/inventions
New renewable energy inventors have no stimulus grant money to develop their inventions. The Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and in particular, Dr. Chu, has snuffed any new green energy advancements. Their agenda is to do research and development of product line for the multinational corporations and keep American innovation down.
Old patented green energy inventions were bought up by the multinational corporations and kept off of the market so that they would not upset their New World Order agenda. The last World conquer was Hitler.
Yes, it’s a win- win for Communist China and the multinational corporations and a loss- loss for Democracy and Freedom and the American people. Remember, the American manufacturing base moved to China for cheap labor; (graduate engineer $7,000 a year and most everyone else $700 a year) their allegiance is now with Communist China.
Bush played the bad cop, Obama plays the good cop, but the fact is we are still on the same agenda. There is no change, the free press is gone. The treason of the multinational corporations and their owned and controlled congress continues. There will be no rebuilding of America’s manufacturing capabilities from the ground up with new inventions. There will only be more debt for the American people and dominance of our government by the multinational corporations New World Order agenda.
Ask your government representatives WHY there is no funding for new inventions (advancement in science) to build a new American economy.

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