Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Analyst Firms Fight Over Patents On How They Collect Data

from the oh-please dept

Earlier this week, a couple of us here at Techdirt were looking over a new research report from an analyst firm, when we noted with some surprise that the copyright notice also included the phrase "patent pending." We went back and forth trying to figure out just what an analyst firm might be patenting, but apparently they're not the only ones. The latest is that one research firm is suing another research firm for violating a patent on measuring wireless device and network usage. The complaint comes from Telephia, and is filed against M:Metrics. Both firms are fairly well known in the wireless space for providing data on mobile data usage. However, the idea that one of them should own patents on the idea of measuring such things seems ridiculous. Measuring data usage on computing devices is quite common -- and the idea that just because something moves to a mobile device it's unique enough to deserve patent protection is silly and has little to do with promoting innovation. It's not as if collecting mobile data usage metrics wouldn't have happened without patents. It's an obvious step for the market that has always thrived on data usage metrics. However, even more importantly, these are two research firms. Shouldn't they be competing on the quality of their data -- not who has a patent on the research method? Should we, as a corporate research firm ourselves start wasting our money filing patent claims (or worrying about whether we violate other analyst firms' patents)?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Musikaman, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 11:57pm


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

  2. identicon
    a nony mouse coward, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 1:35am

    What is next --->

    I think that is bogus. (c) 2006 a nony mouse coward (tm), all rights reserved
    pattent pending.

    ps. Don't even think about replying or i'll sew your arse so fast ... err.. my lawer says to stop there

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

  3. identicon
    David, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 2:48am

    Might it be good?

    I think there is no disagreement that wasteful spending on lawsuits does nothing to spur innovation.

    Yet, it sounds very similar to Google's PageRank patent. We should grade search engines based on their results and not their patened tools as well, but doesn't patenting their tools give them an incentive to create new and more accurate ones? Of course, that presumes they don't patent the idea of measuring data, and stick to patenting the tools which do so.

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

  4. icon
    Daniel (profile), Jun 16th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Stupid patent arguments

    sounds like another stupid lawsuit

    "We are strong proponents of mobile device metering as a next-generation research tool" - he forgot to add "but if only done by us" to that statement...

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

  5. identicon
    Thomason, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 7:38am

    Research Metrics method patents

    Safe to assume that Mike is not going to spend/waste any money on patent protection, and his many posts on that are consistent.
    The Telephia patent, which I just read, claims elements perhaps unique to the telecom networks. It may be simplistic to think "that just because something moves to a mobile device it's unique enough to deserve patent protection is silly." The method accounts for calls on one's chosen subscriber network, those via others' networks, e.g., roamers, number of new subscribers and number that cancel service, etc., etc. I agree those all can be stated as algorithms, which used not to be patentable, but the courts let that genie out of the bottle.
    The other point I wonder about is what patent infringement suits have "to do with promoting innovation," or not. The technology is available, even if only one company is making that available. The patent enables that company to keep innovating, and it keep others from non-innovative infringements. Either way, the innnovation is available to all, but only the patentee or its licensee can offer it.

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

  6. identicon
    mthorn, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 7:55am

    Re: Research Metrics method patents

    Just because a company has a patent on a product they are producing does not mean they are the best candidate for innovation for the product. Lots of people have better ideas for existing products. The only way to create those better products is to work with the patent owner. I guess as long as you get a good deal that is fine. But if your idea is totally innovative and created on your own without inspiration from another product, it sucks to have to pay royalties to someone else just because they own a patent that confiicts with your product.

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

  7. identicon
    Silver, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 8:59am

    N o one else may post a response after this as i currently have a patent pending for the number 8 and I will sue! ;)

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 9:42am

    Remove some patent options

    This type of patenting all started when software patents were allowed.
    Now it seems that anyone can patent an idea.

    Just need to remove the new types of patents that have come about back to and including software patents. This would solve a lot of problems such as wasteful lawsuits.

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

  9. identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 10:35am

    Re: 8

    Sorry, but 8 has been in common use for more than a year and a day (an element of patentability, if I am not mistaken, that many neglect to notice, distracted as they are by the dollar $ign$ beyond).

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

  10. identicon
    Smackfumaster, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 11:58am

    In RUSSIA, cell phone kills YOU!

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

  11. identicon
    Scientist, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 5:25am

    So what happens when companies start patenting research methods in general -- do academic researchers then have to start paying licensing fees when they want to perform new types of regressions or include new queuing analytics in their research? Seems like we'd be taking the slippery slope of scientific/engineering decline the US is on right now and tipping it even further in the wrong direction.

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

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