by Derek Kerton

US Patent Office Calls RIM And NTP: "Patents Will Be Rejected"

from the in-case-you-were-wondering dept

The U.S. Patent and Trade Office has contacted both RIM and NTP to inform both companies that it will likely overturn all related NTP patents. This move is very unconventional for the Patent Office, but no doubt stems from the very public case which is putting the Patent Office itself in the spotlight of blame. If RIM is forced to pay $1B because they were held for ransom by bad patents, Techdirt has asked, "Can RIM sue the USPTO for a billion or more due to negligence?" The USPTO is worried that NTP is winning the court case based on what they now know to be bad patents, but patents which they mistakenly granted. Not only is this massively unfair to RIM, but the credibility of the entire intellectual property system in the US is in jeopardy. The move to publicly inform both parties of likely decisions is the USPTO's way of trying to force Judge Spencer to either throw out the case on lack of merit, or delay the court proceedings to give the patent rejection process time to follow its slow course. So the USPTO has turned the pressure up on Judge Spencer -- if he forces RIM to shutdown or pay-up based on what he now knows to be bad patents, he will look bad, not the USPTO. Don't you love it when two branches of your government pass the buck while the free market and the incentive to innovate are held hostage to them? Having read the patents, we sided with RIM from the start of this debacle. Isn't it time, now, to let this company get on with business?

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  • identicon
    Bryan, 20 Dec 2005 @ 2:52pm


    I never reply to these things. However, I absolutely loved the summation the author gave at the end.

    "Don't you love it when two branches of your government pass the buck while the free market and the incentive to innovate are held hostage to them?" -Derek

    That sentence struck me as amazing, and I wanted to say bravo to Derek for a wonderful satirical sentence that has made my day. I must admit I may try to use it in conversation without proper reference to him, so I am giving him it now. :) Thanks Derek.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2005 @ 7:10pm

    The need for reasonable judgements

    Some say "The law is an ass".
    I think that law is only an ass when it acts like one.
    It seems obvious that the patants granted to NTP are invalid and voided by prior art etc. Hence the judge's ruling was to attempt to force RIM to pay
    for something that was invalid. How could have RIM replied? By shutting down the network - which Dept of Justice said in a brief is an essential part of National Security.
    To allow one company to use the law to take money from another unjustly is a travesty of justice.
    There are two problems with the legal system - it ignores the value of time and assumes
    that - narrow rulings are just.
    I think that until the legal system decides to act in a reasonable they may find that judges are the cause on yet another example of the "Law of unintended consequences" - namely making the US a less attractive plae to do business and so weakening the US economy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Howard Plumley, 21 Dec 2005 @ 8:27am

    Bad Patents, Bad Law, Bad opinions

    Somewhere I missed something. The patents were granted to an engineer who built a business around his intellectual property. The primary implementor of those ideas denied the patents and spent millions avoiding licensing. Now the 'Patent Office' is invalidating the patents under 'fast track duress'. (You don't believe the various departments influence each other's actions?)
    1 - you cry 'bad patents' but they were not 'submarine' they were published and openly marketed.
    2 - you cry 'bad law' against the courts for applying the existing law and valid patents with great restraint. You have no judicial activists here.
    3 - Far too much of time the 'heat of the moment' opinions are worse than bad law or bad patents. They seek a quick fix that doesn't consider if the wall they want removed is carrying a load.
    Be very glad that government and 'the law' are slow to change. For tomorrow it may be your life or livelihood at risk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 30 Dec 2005 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Bad Patents, Bad Law, Bad opinions


      The reason the patents are bad is primarily one of "obviousness". In 1991, a patent for mobile email should not have been granted. A network communication application existed, namely Email, wireless networks existed, and layering the application of email on the wireless network was not an invention, but an inevitability.

      Why has no patent been granted or enforced for wireless stock quotes, or wireless sales force automation applications, or wireless weather reports? These are just obvious connections between applications that existed on wired networks, and moved to wireless networks.

      I don't think it's careless to ask the patent office to stop granting patents on obvious ideas. Patents for obvious ideas may be a "wall" that's carrying a load, but the whole load needs to fall. We have way to many patents for obvious things... Amazon's one click and NTP are just two examples.

      As I said in my article on the NTP issue in 2003,
      "Should a riskless, productless holding company be rewarded by our legal systems to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for the wireless equivalent of "getting your chocolate in my peanut butter?"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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