Patent Troll Sues Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, Linkedin, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley & More For Using Certain File Systems
from the the-system-is-broken dept
Via Jeff Roberts at Gigaom, we learn of yet another patent trolling operation: Parallel Iron, which has sued a bunch of tech companies and banks because of the file systems they use. It filed a few lawsuits in April, most of which were refiled in June, and then it just filed a bunch of new ones as well. Some of the filings are more specific about the file system — such as in the Facebook and Amazon cases, where it specifically calls out the popular Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). In the Oracle suit, it’s parallel Network File System (pNFS). For what it’s worth, EMC appears to be the only company sued who tried to first sue for declaratory judgment in a different venue, but it was still sued with all the others in Delaware on the same day that EMC filed its own suit in Massachusetts.
While most patent infringement lawsuit filings tend to be pretty matter of fact, this one goes immediately for the hyperbole stick, suggesting that the four inventors on these patents made some amazing breakthrough, and everyone else copied it:
In this technological age, we take for granted the ability to access tremendous amounts of data through our computers and the Internet, a process that seems effortless and unremarkable. But this apparent effortlessness is an illusion, made possible only by technological wizardry. The amount of information that is used by many companies has outstripped the storage capacity of individual memory devices. The information must be stored across hundreds or thousands of individual memory devices and machines. The ability to keep track of information as it is distributed across numerous devices and machines, while still allowing users to retrieve it seamlessly upon request, is a feat that was impossible until recently. It was made possible by the innovations of technological pioneers like Melvin James Bullen, Steven Louis Dodd, William Thomas Lynch, and David James Herbison.
Bullen, Dodd, Lynch and Herbison were, among others, members of a company dedicated to solving the difficult problems that limited the capacity of computer technology and the Internet, particularly problems concerning data storage. These engineers found innovative solutions for these problems and patented several technologies for data storage, including the ones at issue in this case. Many of the data-access feats we take for granted today are possible because of the data-storage inventions of Bullen, Dodd, Lynch and Herbison.
Considering the claims that these four individuals were brilliant “technological pioneers,” you would think that searches on their names would turn up story upon story about their accolades, presentations at tech events, celebrations in their honor, etc. But, of course, that’s not the case. All you seem to find are stories about these lawsuits, or information about their patenting activities. Maybe my search skills aren’t up to par, or maybe these four guys were not “technological pioneers,” but merely got some broad patents on the same basic solution that lots of folks skilled in the art were figuring out at the same time. The idea that such things wouldn’t exist but for Bullen, Dodd, Lynch and Herbison is pretty ridiculous.
In case you’re wondering, the patents in question are 7,197,662, 7,543,177 and 7,958,388, all of which are for “methods and systems for a storage system.” The core of these patents goes back to a 2002 original filing date on the ‘662 patent. Hadoop and pNFS both show up on the scene around 2003, so it’s about the same time. It certainly sounds like a bunch of folks who work with large amounts of data were all coming up with some obvious (to them) solutions. Two of them actually brought stuff to market. The others… well, they’re suing.