Acacia's Latest Target: NetFlix

from the sue,-sue,-sue dept

Acacia has become one of the most hated firms by technology companies that actually do stuff. That's because Acacia is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) firms out there in the business of buying up patents solely to sue companies. Acacia learned a while ago, though, that it was best to keep its name out of many of these suits, so it apparently tries to set up subsidiaries for many of the patents it buys (sometimes giving them silly names to make people think the companies actually do something). Now, one of those subsidiaries, named Refined Recommendation Corporation is suing Netflix over a patent it holds on optimizing interest potential. It's a patent on the idea of making recommendations or presenting specific information based on user actions. I can recall both individuals and companies working on similar things well before this patent was applied for in 2000, but that's a different issue altogether. Does anyone believe that Netflix (and plenty of other companies) wouldn't be doing content recommendations for people without this particular "breakthrough"?
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Filed Under: patent trolls, patents
Companies: acacia, netflix, refined recommendation corporation

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  1. identicon
    MostlyWrong, 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:19am

    The problem with the courts is that a granted patent is presumed valid unless you have compelling evidence to the contrary. The burden of proof is rather high by design and protects an entity who is granted a patent and has started practicing -- i.e. you shouldn't be able to remove patent protections from an entity who has invested time and capital in a product.

    The problem with the patent office is that until relatively recently (maybe 10 years or so) it was not necessarily recognized as possible to patent things such as business models or software algorithms. A lot of bad patents have gotten through because of the volume of new patent applications in this area and because this was (is) out of the domain of expertise of the many of the patent reviewers. No excuse, but reality. Once a bad patent has been granted it is very hard to get it nullified (see above).

    The problem with the complainants is that they want to supplant the judgment of one overworked bureaucrat (the patent reviewer) with another (the judge), or better yet supplant both of their judgments by the rule of the mob depending upon how likable or sympathetic the patent holder and alleged patent violator are.

    This should eventually work itself out. Personally, I do not see the validity of patenting a business process or algorithm, but that is merely opinion and in conflict with USPTO policy.

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