131 Companies Sued Over Global Text Messaging Patent

from the couldn't-find-anyone-else? dept

The anonymous Patent Troll Tracker points us to a new patent case that appears to involve an astounding 131 defendants, including T-Mobile, Vodafone, China Resources Peoples Telephone Company Ltd, AT&T, Samsung, Palm, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, all concerning patents related to sending text messages internationally, using the internet for part of the trip. Not surprisingly, the patent in question is a continuation patent, which even the USPTO is trying to cut back on, after seeing them abused too often. The patent was just granted last month. Shouldn't it make someone scratch their head to wonder how 131 different companies could all be infringing on a patent just issued? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the idea is fairly obvious and never should have received a patent. Now, obviously, you can go back to 1996, when the original patent was filed, but again, the concept seems like the natural progression of the space, which is perhaps why so many companies use it in some way or another.

Filed Under: patents, sms, text messaging

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  1. identicon
    Kevin, 13 Nov 2007 @ 10:12am

    The 1996 date is irrelevant in an obviousness test

    The key sentence is:

    "the patent in question is a continuation patent"

    From Wikipedia:

    "A 'continuation application' is a patent application filed by an applicant who wants to pursue additional claims to an invention disclosed in an earlier application of the applicant (the 'parent' application) that has not yet been issued or abandoned. The continuation uses the same specification as the pending parent application, claims filing date priority of the parent, and must name at least one of the same inventors as in the parent."

    These continuation patents are frequently abused by patent trolls. They usually find an older patent that might be somehow related to the thing that they want to patent now, and then file the patent for the new tech as a continuation claim to the original patent. This way they get the newer tech covered by the old patent, with the old patent date. Which is a nice way to do an end-run around prior art and obviousness tests. Which is why the patent trolls love them so much. Which is also why the USPTO is trying to cut back on them.

    It would be nice if people could actually read and understand the blog posts before they comment on them...

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