Reddit, Digg, Fark, Slashdot, TechCrunch & Others Sued Over Ridiculous 'Online Press Release' Patent

from the like-that-will-work dept

Last summer, you may recall, we wrote about the ridiculous situation of a company called "Gooseberry Natural Resources LLC," which held a ridiculous broad patent (6,370,535) that it claimed covered the basic concept of generating a press release online. The company had sued a bunch of (usually small) online press release services -- some of whom were really struggling to fight the lawsuit. And, to make matters worse, it was not clear who really owned the patent, as there appeared to be a series of shell companies to hide the actual patent holder.

Apparently whoever is behind Gooseberry got tired of simply trying to demand cash from mom-and-pop press release services, and has now decided to sue a bunch of online services, Digg, Reddit, Fark, TechCrunch, and others. What do any of those companies have to do with generating press releases online? You've got me. Of course, some of those sites are pretty good at teaming up and doing good deeds. So, perhaps the Reddit crew might be able to figure out who really holds this patent?

The whole thing looks pretty ridiculous. For example, this is the section on how it claims Reddit violates the patent:
Plaintiff is informed and believes that Advance owns, operates, advertises, controls, sells, and otherwise provides hardware, software and websites for "news and press release services" including via the reddit.com website ("the Advance system", available at www.reddit.com). Upon information and belief, Advance has infringed and continues to infringe one or more claims of the '535 patent by making, using, providing, offering to sell, and selling (directly or through intermediaries), in this district and elsewhere in the United States, systems and methods for entering and providing structured news and press releases. More particularly, Plaintiff is informed and believes that Advance has and/or require and/or directs users to access and/or interact with a system that receives and stores separately specified portions of a new or press release and that assembles a news or press release in a predetermined format.
This is basically the same basic language used against all the sites sued. It's basically a ridiculous attack on lots of well-known tech blogs and news aggregator sites, claiming they somehow infringe on this ridiculous patent. I find it especially amusing that they've included Slashdot in this attack, seeing as Slashdot's system (which really hasn't changed that much over the years) predates the patent filing by a few years. Seems like the prior art on this one is likely to be pretty strong. Of course, fighting a patent infringement lawsuit, no matter how bogus, can be quite expensive. Hopefully these sites are willing to team up and pool resources. Thankfully, most of the sites involved are owned by much larger companies who can (and hopefully will) fight this.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Quick! Somebody tell Gooseberry to add 4chan to their list!

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