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NTP Keeps On Making The Case For Patent Reform As It Sues More Companies

from the milking-it dept

NTP, a patent holding firm that is really just a bunch of lawyers with incredibly broad and questionable patents, is at it again. As you probably know, NTP was locked in a long and contentious patent fight with RIM over NTP’s claimed patents covering the concept of mobile email. Even as the US Patent Office was telling the world that NTP’s patents almost certainly weren’t valid, pressure from investors (and the judge in the case who refused to wait for the Patent Office’s final rejection of the patents) resulted in RIM settling the case for $612.5 million. For RIM, it became something of a no brainer. Even though its legal position was strong, its investors were killing the company over the uncertainty (there were threats that the judge could issue an injunction shutting down the entire Blackberry network). Settling the case helped RIM’s stock price jump up (increasing its market cap more than the cost of the settlement).

But, from a legal perspective, the lawsuit and the end result became the centerpiece of attention for efforts at patent reform. While I still think that the patent reform process in Congress has been misguided and the end result probably a lot more damaging than helpful, many of the politicians involved will point to the RIM-NTP case as evidence of the problems with the patent system. You might think, then, that NTP’s investors might sit back and enjoy the spoils of the RIM settlement, but the company quickly went back out and sued all the major mobile operators in the US for violating its patents. However, judges in those other suits said (unlike the judge in the RIM case) that those trials should wait until the Patent Office has made a final decision on the validity of NTP’s ridiculously overbroad patents.

However, NTP is not waiting around. It’s now suing again. This time, rather than the mobile operators, it’s going after device makers and platform vendors, suing Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG and Motorola. Basically, it appears that NTP has decided that if anyone does email on a phone, they have to pay NTP.

There might not be a better example of how incredibly screwed up the patent system is than this. NTP was involved in an attempt to do mobile email ages ago (and it wasn’t the first actually… but NTP paid off some folks who had prior art). The idea itself wasn’t new or all that innovative, and the timing was off, so NTP failed. In a functioning free market, that’s a good thing. If a company can’t execute, it should fail. Unfortunately, thanks to a ridiculously overbroad patent award, NTP has been able to live on as a bunch of lawyers suing any company that does figure out how to execute.

Perhaps the only good thing coming out of this is that it may help draw more attention to just how broken the patent system is.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: apple, google, htc, lg, microsoft, motorola, ntp, rim

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Comments on “NTP Keeps On Making The Case For Patent Reform As It Sues More Companies”

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39 Comments
coldbrew says:

Somehow I missed the specifics in NTP vs RIMM, and I actually thought the patent had merit in the eyes of the courts. None of the other coverage I read today mentioned that, so thanks.

O/T
Masnick: Is there any chance TD could start putting word-slugs and dates in the URLs for each post rather than these number strings? It makes it much easier to tell which post (and from what time frame) you are referencing w/o clicking through? Just thought I’d add a new “gripe” to the non-news-Friday 🙂

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“Somehow I missed the specifics in NTP vs RIMM”

Where’ve you been – freeze dried or on Mars ?

“I actually thought the patent had merit in the eyes of the courts”

Courts do not have eyes, justice is supposed to be blind.

NTP are leeches upon society. It would be nice if they could be removed.

Narcuru (profile) says:

Re: Techdirt Urls

Actually they do put the dates in the urls, they are just in an odd manner. Take today’s url: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100709/11531110156.shtml the first set of numbers are the date: 2010 07 09 (year month day). I do however agree with you in adding “word slugs” (I didnt know this was an actual term?) instead of the number counter (the second string of numbers) would be beneficial.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Where did all the trolls come from

the comments arent silly and yes they are from one ip address.

you see, the stories that are here on the front page will be stuck her until monday, because mike hasnt figured out that the internet runs 7 days a week. so rather than cue up stories to roll out over the weekend, he piles up a bunch of stuff (usually techdirt pinatas that the faithful can swing at happily for the weekend) and things are done.

he has a double urge this week to post a lot, because he needs about 7 more posts to push that embarrassing story about kenya off the front page. we wont want to talk about forgetting to mention someone is from the pirate party. the sooner that one sails off of page 1, the happier mike will be.

coldbrew says:

Re: Re: Where did all the trolls come from

Seriously though, you are always one of the first to comment. It’s like you are obsessed, and you believe that by making some poorly formated, usually tangential, and always contrarian comment, you will somehow change the minds of some of us.

Masnick’s posts usually demonstrate the logic being used and point to 3rd party sources to back up the claims being made. If you are so certain of your position(s), you should simply start your own blog where you can set the record straight. If using WordPress or Blogger (both free) is too much, at least try to substantiate your argument to some extent.

he needs about 7 more posts to push that embarrassing story about kenya [sic] off the front page.

See? How the hell do you know? Why would he publish if he were embarrassed? You don’t make any sense. If there aren’t 7 more posts before the weekend will you retract your accusation? Have you ever been wrong in your entire life?

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Where did all the trolls come from

“the sooner that one sails off of page 1, the happier mike will be.”

Yeah! If only there were a way that Masnick, owner of the site, editor, main writer, CEO of Floor64, could remove a story from the site, then he would surely do it…But, obviously he cannot, thus we shall mock him with the certainty that he is embarrassed but impotent to hide his shame.

On a scale of 0-100 I rate your logic as: tofu.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: gosh, masnik at it again

Before publishing yet another tirade such as the article here, if one does want to figure out where things stand with these various patents held by NTP it would help to actually read the published opinions to date.

Final decisions rendered by the BPAI (some affirm, some reverse, etc.) can be found at:

http://des.uspto.gov/Foia/DispatchBPAIServlet?Objtype=inv&SearchId=NTP&SearchRng=decDt&txtInput_StartDate=&txtInput_EndDate=&docTextSearch=&page=60

Obviously, the next step is a trip over to the CAFC by both the USPTO and the BPAI. Given the complex set of facts that underlie all of the decisions by the BPAI, I daresay that the final determination regarding the validity of these patents is well into the future.

If these patents were as easy and obvious as so many here seem inclined to opine upon, then perhaps reading the decisions will serve to demonstrate that things are seldom what they seem, particularly when it comes to analyses of inventions pursuant to 102, 103 and 112.

Josef says:

I was wondering....

Now that NTP is going after anyone who facilitates mobile data (email), it’s certain that their patent will be reviewed and a determination on it’s validity will be made.

If the patent is valid then there will probably be a HUGE payout for NTP, but I was wondering what happens if the patent is invalid. Will RIM be able to go after NTP for damages?

The Dixter (user link) says:

Dell, IBM, and HP Are Next

This is truly obtuse. A mobile device consists of a “modem” which transmits and receives data, and a “processor” which provides applications for the user. Sound familiar?

It’s a PC, basically. And all of your laptops are more mobile than ever. And they all do email.

No joke guys. A smart phone is the same. Linux (Android) and FreeBSD (iPhone) are real operating systems just like Windows. And the architecture is little different from a Built-In Wifi, or Built-In Cellular Connection on your cute little netbook.

Make no mistake. If Motorola, HTC, and others are stupid enough to tolerate this behavior, NTP will rule the world. These idiots plan to sue us all; we need some massive lawsuits against NTP for harassment.

staff says:

Patent reform is a fraud

“NTP, a patent holding firm that is really just a bunch of lawyers with incredibly broad and questionable patents…”

definition of “questionable patents”:
patents owned by firms other than the ones that pay you to write these lies.

Patent reform is a fraud on America. It is patently un-American.
Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

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