Smart Phone Motion Control Patented; Held By Shell Company
from the let-the-lawsuits-roll dept
Aubrey Wells was the first of a lot of folks to send over John Paczkowski’s excellent analysis of a highly questionable patent that was issued recently concerning motion control on a smartphone. The patent (7,679,604) is incredibly broad, and appears to cover technology that is in use in many current devices. What’s odd, however, is that the inventors on the patent appear to be Google and Apple engineers, but the patent itself appears to be held by a shell company, of which there is little available information. This suggests (though, it’s not definite) that it’s a typical patent litigation setup. It’s pretty common for patent holders to set up shell companies to sue others with — in part because it allows them to hide who’s really behind the patent, and who’s funding the litigation. No lawsuits have been filed yet, as far as we know, but with a patent so broad, it seems likely that we’ll see something soon.
Of course, this is the same old story. The idea behind motion sensing in a mobile device is hardly a new or non-obvious idea — the problem was really just that the hardware wasn’t there yet. There were, certainly, other motion sensing technology out there, and there is absolutely nothing in this patent that furthered the art. This sort of interface was coming whether or not it was patented. But that’s what happens with so many patents these days — the focus is on patenting the obvious and then suing everyone who implemented it.
Update: Hmm. The plot thickens. There’s some evidence that this may be one of Intellectual Ventures 1000+ shell companies. The shell company discussed here, Durham Logistics, is apparently owned by Memscom LLC, according to the Nevada corporations listings. Memscom’s address is the identical address (suite and all) to an Intellectual Ventures office. Could be a coincidence… but… certainly there’s some evidence that this patent is held or controlled by Intellectual Ventures. Why is IV controlling a patent created by Google and Apple inventors?
Update 2: Thanks to some sleuthing in our comments and various others via email, it looks like the engineers in question both worked at Arraycomm back in the day when this patent was filed, but Arraycomm dumped some of its patent portfolio along the way, and somehow or another, this patent appears to have ended up with this company — almost certainly a part of Intellectual Ventures. Notice how far this patent is from any actual innovation. This is not how the system is supposed to work.