Facebook Sued For Patent Infringement For Online Photo Albums

from the the-patent-system,-she-is-broken dept

A few years back, patent troll FotoMedia sued dozens of companies that hosted photos online for patent infringement. Many were small mom-and-pop outfits who could barely afford a lawyer to deal with this sort of thing. Some even talked of leaving the country, since running a business in the US became too expensive due to such patent trolling lawsuits. Still, many firms settled, because that's cheaper than fighting. The FotoMedia shakedown got extra attention this summer, as it was the opening vignette on This American Life's story about our broken patent system.

The "company" has apparently been quiet for a while, but recently targeted a big fish: it's now suing Facebook for patent infringement for the mortal sin of letting people create photo albums online. It's also suing MySpace, as if that site still exists, and some others. Obviously, the main target is Facebook. Facebook has been hit with a bunch of patent suits, as has any tech company that has been moderately successful, and has tended to fight back. Hopefully that continues in this case.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    One more day

    one more useless IP lawsuit.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    "It's also suing MySpace, as if that site still exists"

    Although the complete demise of MySpace is conventional wisdom, in reality MySpace currently has 70 million users worldwide and 33 million in the U.S and an estimate of $183 million in revenue this year. You might as well talk about AOL and Yahoo in only the past tense as well.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-myspace-20111004,0,4026295.story

     

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  3.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Another day, another lawsuit. Next.

    Ahem, they should sue Google Picasa too. Come on, just Trolling a small company like Facebook is no fun!

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    I am going to post this now and save an anonymous coward the trouble:

    So no analysis of the claim, just some innuendo and FUD. Good job, Pirate Mike! Keep givin' us surface and no depth. Good on ya! Go pirates!

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:26am

    Re:

    WOOOT, GO PIRATES

     

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

  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Maybe he was being ironic?

    And I've never used myspace, is the current myspace.com the same service that was a hype a while ago? I also heard they were closing down...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Just curious here Mike but... can you give us an example, *any* example, of the patent system working? You keep bitching and whining about it, but surely it's not all bad, right? I mean, you said so yourself, successful business need to infringe on trolls' patents. What gives?

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    I think even when it works it doesn't work. I mean, when a successful piece of [insert example here] (let us take Android) gets utterly bombarded by bloodsucking patent holders (Oracle) just for the fuck of it then it's just broken.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re:

    Read the article I linked to. They, or rather Specific Media and Justin Timberlake, are attempting to go back to the roots of MySpace where a major focus was on music and bands. I think it makes sense for a person to use multiple social networks, particularly for compartmentalizing their social contacts. Facebook intentionally discourages such compartmentalization. Although I have 2 MySpace accounts, I cannot claim to know how the interface and community have evolved. I created the accounts only to monitor packet transfers and look for technical vulnerabilities. I had an idea to create a kind of modern novel with each character having a MySpace account and linked only to other characters within the "book". However, that idea fell by the wayside with personal time constraints.

    MySpace also still allows one to create an account with an alias rather than your true name. I had a Facebook account for 8 minutes in order to contact an old acquaintance. The account was frozen by software surveillance after 8 minutes because my name was suspected to be fictitious. I thought "Conifer Tweed" was rather nice and rolled off the tongue well.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 11:59am

    Stolen IP

    I hope Facebook loses. I mean, c'mon, they rip off the incredible idea of hosting photos online and hope to get away with it. If FotoMedia hadn't come up with the idea no one would even be doing it. Burn 'em at the stake!

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    mike allen (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    one day i wnt to see a company like google / facebook tel them take your patent and /or copyright and shove it.
    that apart surely there is room for more than one album.
    why is flikr not on the list.

     

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  12.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and I'm not speaking on Mike's behalf, but this is an example of the patent system working. The whole idea of the patent system was to make people pay one person/entity/group for coming up with something (increasing costs) or to not use that idea (holding back progress). That's what is going on here.

    Some will claim that patents were meant to "promote the progress", or to be an incentive for creation that would not otherwise get done, but after centuries of this garbage, we ought to be able to see that it does neither. By definition, patents hold back progress. Patents do nothing to spur creation, only to increase costs and/or slow down progress.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re:

    I still use MySpace :'(

    you don't need to be jerk about it

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re:

    "can you give us an example, *any* example, of the patent system working?"

    Why do IP maximists always want other people to do their work for them?

    I can't innovate, so I'll simply get a patent and when Facebook does all the work and innovates, I'll take their money through frivolous lawsuits.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re:

    (IOW, why don't you do your own work of finding an example and presenting it to us. Why ask everyone else to do your work for you? If patents are so socially beneficial, surely it shouldn't be too difficult a task, right?).

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: One more day

    latches anyone?

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    can you give us an example, *any* example, of the patent system working?

    John Walker
    and
    Frank Whittle

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re:

    "I think even when it works it doesn't work. "

    I completely agree. Here is just about the only example of a (relatively recent) good patent that I've seen and somehow our system even managed to botch that. Imagine. Maybe the only example of a good patent and our system still manages to mess things up. Unbelievable. Can't we do anything right?

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re:

    The purpose of the patent system is to guarantee the loyalty of patent holders to the government of the day.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Our legal system rewards the failures (patent trolls, government established monopolists) and punishes the successful.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090825/0453005994.shtml

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/2 0101024/21393211556/company-making-cab-limo-rides-more-efficient-ordered-to-stop.shtml

    http://www .techdirt.com/articles/20090813/1814005872.shtml

    and you wonder why this country is failing.

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re:

    I can't help but notice that you did not answer the question at all, but attempted to deflect that with yet another of your pointless, idiotic questions of you own, which are of interest only to you lame ass. Next!

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or, obversely, to guarantee the loyalty of the government of the day to the patent holders. Either way, the consumer is screwed, blued and tattooed.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re:

    Failing????? Failing????? Failed is the absolute truth. It's over. Done. Finito. The rest of the planet mocks and despises us, justifiably, in terms of patents and the litigation involved. They will happily step through our ashes when all is done.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    I should patent being an asshole.. I could sue SO many people and companies..

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I can't help but notice that you missed an answer.

    And maybe the answer is that the patent system simply sucks and there aren't very many good patent examples.

    Besides, it's hard to take your question seriously when your comment seems sarcastic and fixated at cussing at Mike and criticizing the fact that he's criticizing the patent system (without criticizing his actual criticisms). Your comment isn't intended to be a serious comment asking for serious answers, it's a comment designed more or less to attack Mike.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    When I preview my post, why doesn't the previewed identicon match the posted Identicon?

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    (and don't tell me that would be patent infringement either).

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re:

    Not possible to give an example of a s/w patent working for s/w - it makes no sense to patent s/w since if you put 3 decent engineers in 3 separate rooms to work on a problem they all arrive at roughly the same solution. It's just ain't that hard.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ok so by your logic, owning a patent means you will troll. You're retarded. You even tried to spin my words. The question wasn't meant for you, yet you felt the urge to come here, whine without bringing any valid argument or answer, and try to call me an IP maximalist. So for you, anyone asking Mike his opinion a legit patent question means we're lazy maximalists.

    You sir, failed. Seriously. Go back to slashdot.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    sickening, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:22pm

    disgusting

    WHAT so if i used an image tag in a NON user editable cgi forum form the mid 90's that looks like a photo album OR even a website with tables and images this is somehitng that some jerk goes off and patents and sues people?

    TIME TO stop listening and just ignore the law////its gone stupid for good.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And your comment was only to troll. You did not bring anything new to the discussion, you only tried to force your twisted logic on us.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re:

    Do they really count as the patent system working? John Walker refused to patent his idea and still made a small fortune. Frank Whittle's turbojet engine didn't really take off (no pun intended) until after the patent expired. He didn't have the money to develop it so it just kinda sat there unused and locked down.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    staff, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 9:44am

    another biased article

    “Patent troll”

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

    Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-
    https://www.insightcommunity.com/cases.php?n=10&pg=1

    They sell blog filler and "insights" to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world’s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don’t have any.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    aikiwolfie, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    If I were being sued by a patent troll and facing the end of my business and livelihood because of it. I'd take them for a ride out to the desert. Make them strip and leave them there but naked with no way to contact civilisation.

    If they survive they've won the right to sue.

     

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


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