Judge Refuses To Dismiss Twitter From Patent Lawsuit Concerning Patent On Interacting With Famous People Online

from the bang-head-slowly dept

One of the absolute worst parts of the patent system is that, unlike many other legal issues, it's nearly impossible to easily get a patent claim dismissed. Thanks to rather arcane rules in how fights over patents work out, it almost always has to go trial if the parties don't settle. The patent lawyers love this, of course. It makes them plenty of money. But you would hope that in extremely ridiculous cases, courts would be quick to dump such lawsuits. Earlier this year we wrote about how patent lawyer Dinesh Agarwal had a patent 6,408,309 on a "Method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people." That's not a joke. Even worse, he claimed that Twitter infringed on the patent. Yes, for daring to have a community which some famous people have decided to use... suddenly, that's patent infringement.

Of course, as we noted at the time, the patent didn't seem to cover what Twitter does at all. But why let that stop you from suing? And while Twitter did try to play some games over jurisdictional issues to get the case moved (which failed), this seemed like the type of case that should lead to an early dismissal. Instead, as pointed out by Richard Gailey, the court has rejected Twitter's attempt to get the case dismissed, and now it's moving on towards trial. Of course, the judge is also pressuring Twitter to settle with (read: pay off) the patent holder, which only perpetuates this kind of ridiculousness. Here's hoping that Twitter is willing to fight this.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    The eejit (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    *Stabby-stabs the US patent system with the patented spork OF DOOM!!!!!*

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Fortunately I'm not in court, because I'd get slapped with Contempt, but my first question is: who paid off the judge, and how much did it take? (OK, OK, that's two questions. So sue me. Oops! Somebody probably will!)

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Mike, quick, patent a "Method and system to create a virtual community of people interested in technology" so you won't be sued if some1 patents this.

    I tell you, I'm gonna patent an "instrument that revolves around itself allowing a bigger object to be moved with ease" and start suing car, wheels and tire manufacturers.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    "Of course, the judge is also pressuring Twitter to settle with (read: pay off) the patent holder, "

    Are judges allowed to do this? Its basically showing a clear bias towards one side BEFORE the trial, at least, as far as I can see. I thought judges were supposed to wait until a trial was over before declaring that someone has to pay somebody else.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    In that case I'll quit my day job and create patents on 'Method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of people named Michael', after all, Michael has been the top boy's name for a couple of decades. And I'll patent another system for interacting with people with the name of Emily, that's been a top girl's name for a long time to.

    Then I'll use the profits from those patents to build a program to patent such systems for every other name I can find listed at baby naming sites. I'll be the next Bill Gates!

     

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      hmm (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

      Re:

      no you won't because I'll patent 'method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of people named bill' and take you for everything you got!

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    Hmm, maybe I should patent a Method for Insuring Self-Initiated Litigation Results in Payment Regardless of Merit...

    1. Locate biased judge
    2. In the absence of (1), utilize funds to create bias in judge
    3. Profit!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Judges aways want people tho settle outside of court, you should go to court only when attempts to deal with the other party have failed.

    Of course lawyers will say sue first and negotiate later.

     

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    Jimr (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    What is the legal definition of famous? How many people out of 1000 have to recognize you for you to be famous - is just local famous, national, world wide? Are you just famous in certain circles? You may have been famous in high school but after restraining order you could not longer stock the high school girls?

    I would say it to vague to use the world famous.

    Beside which I think Hollywood itself is prior art to an interactive virtual community of famous people.

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      .....but after restraining order you could not longer stock the high school girls?

      Wait, how does one stock high school girls?

      Do they get individual shelves? Do you have to rotate the stock? So many questions.....

      PS: Not really dissing your comment...that typo just struck me as funny.

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

      Re:

      Does Dark Helmet count as famous (our DH, not the movie one)? How about Out_of_the_Blue?

       

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    SiliconJon (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Dear Techdirt Staff

    This law firm represents SiliconJon (aka Big Meanie PooPooHead). If you are represented by legal counsel, please direct this letter to your attorney immediately and have your attorney notify us of the next office party in which we may gleefully attend.

    We are writing to notify you that your unlawful copying of SiliconJon's patent of communicating with other organic entities infringes upon our client’s exclusive copyrights. Accordingly, you are hereby directed to

    CEASE AND DESIST ALL PATENT INFRINGEMENT.

    SiliconJon is the owner a patent in various aspects of interentity communications. Under United States patent law, SiliconJon’s patents have been in effect since the date that Patent #101101100100100101011001010010010101110100100100110 was created. All patentable aspects of interentity communications are patented under United States patent law.

    Thank you, drive through.

    Signed,

    Work Not Think Not Law Offices, LLC

     

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    SiliconJon (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Settlement Agreement

    Patent Infringement Settlement Agreement

    I, ___________________, agree to immediately cease and desist communicating with other entities in exchange for SiliconJon releasing any and all claims against me for patent infringement. In the event this agreement is breached by me, SiliconJon will be entitled to everything I have ever owned or associated with, including, but not limited to: my wife, girlfriends (past and present), personal property including all banks accounts and any other assets, favorite foods (you may no longer eat them with pleasure), DNA, deepest darkest secrets, and attorney’s fees (which is a few tons of worm food - figure out how to buy it after I already took everything belonging to you) in any action brought to enforce this agreement and shall be free to pursue all rights that SiliconJon had as of the date of this letter as if this letter had never been signed.

    Signed:________________________________

    Dated:________________________________

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    It is not that the court has refused to dismiss Twitter from a lawsuit, but that it has denied a motion by Twitter under FRCP 12(b)(6) to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint.

    The above may seem like wordsmithing, but this is not the case. There is a significant difference between what the title to the article suggests, and what they court has actually done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    "which only perpetuates this kind of ridiculousness. Here's hoping that Twitter is willing to fight this."

    Which can risk further perpetuating this sort of ridiculousness if Twitter loses.

     

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    winstonsmith (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    I think I will patent the letter Y. Why? Exactly.

     

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    hmm (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    1st amendment

    Basically this guy is saying he PATENTED the 1st amendment rights of all famous people and only he gets to decide which social media sites they can use? (for a fee of course!).

    Isn't that:
    1) a form of indentured servitude
    2) a massive violation of those 'famous' peoples rights
    3) retarded

     

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      MrWilson, Oct 8th, 2011 @ 10:46am

      Re: 1st amendment

      I think that is the biggest flaw with this patent. It relies on the celebrity status of people. Anything involving the social status of people is not an "invention" that deserves to be patented. That's a social convention and therefore covered, as you said, by the First Amendment.

       

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    hmm (profile), Oct 7th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    please mike

    patent the concept of moving an insane lawsuit to east texas so you can countersue all these scum :)

     

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    staff, Oct 8th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    another biased article

    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.

     

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    vic Kley, Oct 8th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Claims

    Masnick - you are no longer amusing. Even patent lawyers can invent and they may be particularly good at structuring claims.

    Apparently the judge wants the arguments to proceed. Now do you believe that Twitter is too poor to defend itself? We can only hope that if there is a principle involved the case goes to decision because that is what helps make and clarify the law. Not settlements or your moaning babble.

    I'll have to give you this you started this blog of misinformation and it has served to bring you clients and provide some revenue to writers willing to mostly take your anti-patent and anti-start-up/inventor point of view. You know the point of view that pleases Apple, Microsoft and GE.

    Apparently none of your partners (despite stints in technology) has ever patented anything. Certainly none of you three school chums have made a living by creating real things that others would buy. You sell words and because talk is cheap you sell smarmy words meant to mollify and placate big company PR departments.

     

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