Romney, Santorum & Gingrich Sued For Patent Infringement Over Facebook Usage… Along With Millions Of FB Users

from the wow dept

I’m kind of wondering if Hollywood-based patent attorney and patent holder Frank Weyer is trying to turn the Republican presidential field anti-patent. Weyer, via his company EVERYMD, holds US Patent 7,644,122 concerning internet groups, which the USPTO granted in January of 2010 (but which goes back to a patent application filed in 1999, and then a continuation patent built off of that). To suggest the patent is broad is to state the extremely obvious. But, more or less, EVERYMD appears to be claiming that Facebook business accounts that offer home pages for members of a group (that also allow the ability to send messages/comments) infringes on the patent.

To make things even more insane, EVERYMD is suing Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as the three named defendants, and then every other Facebook business account holder as a (as yet unnamed) Doe account. Suing the three Republican Presidential candidates is clearly a publicity gambit here — most likely an attempt to get Facebook itself to pay up. As the lawsuit makes clear, EVERYMD first went after Facebook, offering to sell it the patent. Facebook apparently wasn’t interested — and, instead, went to the USPTO requesting that it re-examine the patent. That re-exam process is not going well for EVERYMD. The USPTO issued a final rejection on all of the claims — but EVERYMD is appealing.

It seems kind of silly to then go after Facebook’s users — and specifically three presidential candidates — except as an attempt to try to embarrass Facebook into buying or licensing the patent before the USPTO kills it entirely. Or as an attempt to show these presidential candidates just how screwed up the patent system is today, though that seems unlikely. As Patently-O notes, Weyer has some history in using patents to go after companies for what seem like basic and obvious features.

To make this even more ridiculous, EVERYMD also claims that, back in January 2011, it opened up a “licensing program” through which anyone could buy a license to the patent at the “reduced price” of $500 per account, but no one took them up on this offer, which is no longer available. What a shock. Some company that no one has heard of suddenly puts up a page asking for $500 so you can keep running your Facebook page? Who would actually fork over money in such a situation? Even if this is not Weyer’s intention, maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose.

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Companies: everymd, facebook

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Comments on “Romney, Santorum & Gingrich Sued For Patent Infringement Over Facebook Usage… Along With Millions Of FB Users”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Wishful thinking...

Even if this is not Weyer’s intention, maybe this will actually wake up at least some of these Presidential candidates to how the patent system has strayed far from its intended purpose.

I highly doubt that. The presidential candidates probably won’t bat an eye to this, especially if EVERYMD is fighting a losing battle. This’ll probably just be pushed under the rug and no one will hear of it again…

Anonymous Coward says:

This patent doesn't even pass the laugh test

Because the USPTO is motivated to approve every patent, even the most ridiculous ones. It is all about making ways for the patent bar to clock up billable hours. The patent bar is where examiners go, once they get kicked out of the USPTO for being too old. Any examiner, who does not approve just about everything, gets into serious trouble with their bosses at the USPTO. That is why nearly every patent is a junk patent. The participants in the patent system do not wish to reform it, expecting otherwise is unrealistic. The answer is abolition, which will have to happen in the teeth of the most determined opposition from the patent bar.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Wow I was doing and creating this sort of interface way back in the 1980s with MultiUser BBS’s. Then again with MUDs then with chatsites like Bianca’s (1994), Palace (1996), and “The Well” (1991).

Then we had user owned group spaces like Geocities.

And these are just some prior art of this amazing and unique patent that Weyer is yabbering over.

The US Patent system is basically pointless nowadays and the rest of the world just laughs at it

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