Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
gps, multimedia, patents

Companies:
encyclopeadia britannica



Encyclopaedia Britannica Loses Patent Battle... Yet Again

from the keep-it-up dept

Last year, we wrote about the incredible story of how Encyclopaedia Britannica had ended up with an infamous patent (5,241,671) and was using it to claim ownership over basic GPS functionality. The patent had originally been granted to Compton's back in 1993, and was insanely broad. Compton's quickly told the world that pretty much any and all multimedia systems out there (such as CD-ROMs) violated the patent. The outcry was so great that the commissioner of the patent office initiated the re-exam of the patent himself, and eventually tossed out the whole thing. But, as things go, there was some back-and-forth, and eventually a few greatly narrowed claims were allowed. EB ended up with the patents as an investor in Compton's, and then not only got some other patents based on the 671 patent, but claimed that they could be asserted against GPS systems. And, just like that, rather than doing something useful, like figuring out how to compete with Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica started filing bogus patent infringement lawsuits.

We wrote about it last November to note that a court had thrown out the entire 671 patent as invalid. While EB is appealing that ruling, it also pushed ahead with the lawsuits based on the other patents it had received that were built on the 671 patent. However, Slashdot alerts us that the same court that tossed out the 671 patent has now dumped these two patents as well. EB, of course is expected to appeal this as well.

This seems like a subject that could use a decent Wikipedia entry, doesn't it?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 11:48pm

    This seems like a subject that could use a decent Wikipedia entry, doesn't it?

    Sorry, what were you saying? I was researching Barney The Dinosaur's attempt trying to collect royalties for using his theme song as it relates to torture.

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

  • icon
    Thomas (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 5:01am

    When you can 't compete

    in your business, then sue. They don't seem to think that this type of activity alienates possible customers.

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

    • icon
      wvhillbilly (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 12:00pm

      Re: When you can 't compete

      in your business, then sue. They don't seem to think that this type of activity alienates possible customers.

      You'd think people would learn this after a while. Here in the USA we have two outfits which seem to have adopted this business model, the RIAA and its associated record companies, and the SCO Group, a two-bit software company which has been carrying on a nuisance lawsuit against four of its customers for six years now and refuses to quit. And neither seems to understand why its business is tanking.

      You reap what you sow.

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

  • icon
    Robert Ring (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 6:11am

    So, they're throwing away money in a last ditch effort to ... make a lump of money that they won't do anything productive with.

    WAY TO GO ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA! A sound business model if I've ever heard one.

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

  • identicon
    staff1, 14 Aug 2009 @ 8:34am

    stop the shilling!!!

    "And, just like that, rather than doing something useful..."

    Excuse me Mr. Masnick, but isn't inventing the technology useful? Without it there would be nothing for the others to commercialize, right?

    See, even a child could figure that one out.

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


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