Guy Claims Patent On Photographing People In Races And Then Selling Them Their Photos; Sues Photography Company

from the how-is-that-patentable? dept

The folks over at EFF have yet another story of patents gone wrong. This time it's from a guy named Peter Wolf, who owns a company called Photocrazy, that takes photos of sporting events like running and bike races, and then offers to sell people their photos by matching up their bib numbers. This kind of thing has been around forever, but because Peter Wolf paid a lawyer and said some magic words, he got some patents (specifically: 6,985,875; 7,047,214; and 7,870,035). Here's the primary claim in the 875 patent:
1. A process providing event photographs of a sporting event for inspection, selection and distribution via a computer network, comprising the steps of:

taking photographs of at least one participant of a sporting event along at least one point of a course or field thereof;

associating identifying data with each photograph taken, wherein the identifying data is selected from at least one of: a number corresponding to a number worn by a participant, a participant's name, a code acquired from a component worn by a participant, and a date and time, including hour and minute the photograph was taken;

informing the sporting participants of the identifying data;

transferring the photographs to a computer network server;

cataloging each of the photographs in a web-site server according to the identifying data;

accessing the server at a location other than the sporting event and searching for a photograph of a particular sporting event participant utilizing the identifying data; and

displaying the photograph of the sporting event participant for inspection and ordering.
Or, as EFF's Vera Ranieri summarizes:
In plain English: Take photos of a race, tag and sort by bib number and date, and search for photos based on that tag via the Internet. That’s it.
This, of course, is the problem with many patents these days. You could take nearly any half-competent programmer, explain to him what you wanted to do, and they could build you a system like this without any trouble at all. Because there's nothing tricky here at all. It's just putting together a few basic obvious ideas that were really only limited in the past by the underlying technology not being ready. But now that it is... one guy has patents to block anyone else from implementing such an obvious idea. These patents aren't promoting the progress, they're hindering it. It seems likely that under the Alice v. CLS ruling, this patent is not valid.

Wolf is suing a small (mostly part time!) photography company called Capstone for doing some of this. While it's already likely that the patents are invalid, with Capstone, because of how it works, and because of the Limelight v. Akamai ruling, it's likely that Capstone itself isn't even infringing (that ruling said that if separate parties do separate parts of the claim, you can't say that the original party "induced infringement" because there is no direct infringement). But, still, as we've discussed many times, patent lawsuits are crazy expensive. And Capstone is a tiny company:

Capstone doesn’t have a widely-distributed podcast that it can use to drum up the backing of thousands of fans and supporters. Its owner’s own attempt to crowdfund the defense raised only about $5,000. And although Capstone’s business has been profitable, the owner tells us that because of the patent lawsuit and the costs his company is facing, his business faces the very real prospect of shutting down.

Recent reforms have been helpful to reduce costs for some defendants. For example, the Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) program now being implemented at the Patent Office promises to be a much cheaper way to determine validity.  One problem though, is that it is still too expensive for businesses like Capstone. An IPR costs $23,000 in filing fees alone, and requires paying lawyers and often experts as well. 

Ranieri notes that the US Patent Office is accepting comments about dealing with post-grant challenges, and now might be a good time to highlight that it's impossibly expensive for small businesses being sued over questionable patents:
EFF previously advocated for reduced fees for IPR filings by small businesses and others without the ability to fund patent challenges. Unfortunately, the PTO ignored our request. However, the PTO is currently accepting comments regarding the post-grant challenges such as the IPR process. We encourage the public, especially small business owners, to let the PTO know by September 16 that the costs are still too high for many, and absent a lower cost, patent trolls will continue to assert dubious patents against companies they know can’t afford to do anything but settle.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:01am

    One would think that "rejecting patents on obvious or natural phenomena" is patented and the Patent Office doesn't have a license to use it.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:26am

    Re:

    I'm gonna get a patent on how to file a patent and then sue the crap out of everyone trying to get a patent.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re:

    Seems like I have heard this comment before...oh, wait, at least every second or third time there is a TechDirt article about patents lawsuits.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Also gonna patent sarcasm. Now everyone's screwed!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You poor soul. Is there anything we can do to help you through this most trying and difficult time?

     

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  6.  
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    Not Just Any Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:52am

    Why not try an Ex Parte Re-exam?

    I wonder if this guy has considered an ex parte re-exam rather than inter partes. If it is likely that the claims are invalid under Alice, then an ex parte re-exam, which is roughly a tenth the cost of an inter partes re-exam, should reveal that quite quickly.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Send some vodka and a hooker (FEMALE this time!)

     

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  8.  
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    royleith (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:00pm

    What's the Issue?

    Sure it's an abstract idea, but it's onna computer and a interweb, for goodness sake! Some of the computers have to be servers which is special rather than generic... I expect.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    taking photographs of at least one participant of a sporting event along at least one point of a course or field thereof;


    But ,I wasn't taking photos of the participant , I was taking photos of the Ball, Helmet, Car or the Field behind them .

     

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  10.  
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    Michael, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    If the photos are of a skiing event, is he infringing on Amazon's seamless white background patent?

     

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  11.  
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    Feldie47 (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Who on earth are they hiring as patent examiners? Is this like a part time job for a pre-teen?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    You remember that monkey that took a selfie? She was overqualified, but she got the job anyway.

     

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  13.  
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    TestPilotDummy, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    The whole thing sux

    Complete Greed Failure.

    Man when I was doing a show, I GAVE all the content away! wtf.. I never understood "professional photographers" they caused nothing but problems for my website (at the same time!)

    This flies in the face of journalism as well in my opinion. As one man is taking snaps for PROFIT, and the other is there to DOCUMENT the event for THE PUBLIC.

    So when Senator Feinstein and that your not a journalist crap came out you could see the steams coming out of my ears. That oath breaker is a walking talking national security disaster for EVERY AMERICAN in EVERY ACTION she does!!!

    Dual Israeli oath breaking scum. Step Down, and clean up the office of Senator of California.
    THE PEOPLE DEMAND FUCKING CITIZENS are loyal to USA OVER THE ISRAEL!

    ENOUGH! You, malicious lying, oath breaking, secret stealing, gun banning, police state promoting. fsckin mosad psyop piece crap!

    Go back to ISRAEL

     

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  14.  
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    Mike, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    We have to back up a second

    This, of course, is the problem with many patents these days. You could take nearly any half-competent programmer, explain to him what you wanted to do, and they could build you a system like this without any trouble at all. Because there's nothing tricky here at all. It's just putting together a few basic obvious ideas that were really only limited in the past by the underlying technology not being ready.


    Everything viewed that way will seem obvious. IF you take the "explain what you want" line of reasoning and apply it everywhere, you will get the same result. It could be a mechanical invention or chemical invention, etc. It doesn't matter. A reasonably competent engineer provided the the specification could recreate it. (This may not always be the case, but in a vast majority of situation it will be). So, you can't start your analysis there.

    The real issue with this claim is that it's SUPER old. Like, at least 30 or 40 years old. The only thing that this adds is "doing it on the internet" (or on a computer or on a mobile device or whatever). Fundamentally, the reason the Alice case is going to be a big deal is it recognized that doing something old and doing it on a computer doesn't make it patent eligible -- which is a different analysis than whether it was obvious (103) or anticipated (102).

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    Considering the recent news that the USPTO managers have been covering up the lack of work that USPTO employees "did" while telecommuting, I'd say they're hiring people who realized they could get away with not coming into the office and just approve random patents at the last minute to show "productivity."

     

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    hij (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 1:01pm

    The process of reading by scanning

    Every time I see the word "process" in a patent a little piece of my soul dies.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: We have to back up a second

    If a mechanical or chemical invention can be solved just as easily, it shouldn't be patented either.

    You wouldn't be allowed to patent an invention that's just a lever, a pulley and a crank combined together, so why can you patent a program that's just "Tag, Search, Sort"?

    There are a great number of ideas in programming and computing that are non-obvious. Something like Google's PageRank is a decent example; sure, most programmers who have gone through university can probably tell you the gist of what needs to be done, but implementing it still takes heavy planning and extensive testing and research to tune it into something useful.

     

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    Jon Renaut (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Prior art

    In college around 1999 I worked for my friend's dad doing exactly this, primarily at motorcycle races. This was before it was feasible for the average person to it on a computer, but it's been established you can't take something obvious and add "on a computer" and get a patent. I have no idea when he started the business, but he'd been doing it a while before I started.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Amusement parks

    He should go after all the amusement parks that snap shots of you going down log flumes.

     

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Prior art

    That was about the same time I was helping global-pix.com get started, specializing in marathons.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Amusement parks

    Too risky. They have money to fight back, and assuming they didn't just fold and pay him to make the problem back, unless he got the case heard in east Texas he'd run the risk of having the patent declared invalid.

    Much easier, and safer, to go after targets that don't have the funds to fight back properly, and so are forced to pay up or be buried under court fees.

     

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  22.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 6:33pm

    'It's for the little guys, honest'

    Cases like this are why I get a good laugh anytime someone tries to defend the current patent system by claiming it's 'for the little guys'.

    Uh, no.

    Unless those 'little guys' have a hefty amount of money they are willing and able to burn in legal fees, and some even more expensive lawyers, they aren't going to be experiencing many of the 'positives' the patent system offers, and it certainly doesn't put them on equal weight with larger companies, as I've seen argued before.

    No, unless you've got a hefty bank-account/warchest, patents are first and foremost a tool for the large companies, and parasites like this guy, to shake down others who might have otherwise been successful and/or provided competition.

     

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  23.  
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    Jon Renaut (profile), Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: Prior art

    I'M SUING YOU, YOU JERK

     

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  24. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 7:28pm

    Ronald J. Riley's private cocksucker.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2014 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Just make sure you mention in the application the ever popular "Do it on a computer" Its a code word for immediate approval in the USPTO! /s

     

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  26.  
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    Kevin L (profile), Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 5:22am

    Re: 'It's for the little guys, honest'

    Just what I came here to say. This isn't a failure of the patent system, it's a success: first person to play by the overlords rules gets protected from those who just want to do business without bending over backwards to appease their betters.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 6:40am

    Re: Prior art

    In college around 1999 I worked for my friend's dad doing exactly this, primarily at motorcycle races.

    To be fair, two of the patents have priority dates in 1999...

    But, yes, it did seem to be common practice around that time.

     

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  28.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Prior art

    Take photographs of an event (people on a theme park ride or on the London Eye, for example), display photos so people whose images were captured can recognise themselves and opt to purchase the photos. Yet again a patent seems to have been awarded just because some oik added the words 'on the Internet'. *facepalms*

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 3:28pm

    Ridiculous.

    There must be some prior art

    There seems to have a track record of some underhand behaviour too.
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1065128

    One of the patents even covers advertising on a photo, like no one even thought of that before 2010...

     

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  30.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 8:46pm

    The other side of the story

    I have been for the past 15 years and continue to actively make my living by taking event photographs just like Capstone Photography. I developed some techniques in 1999 that streamlined the event photography process over the methods used since the 1970’s. These techniques were patented and the USPTO issued those patents to me in 2006.

    These patents have stood up against all efforts to show prior art or invalidate them. Many event photography companies including the largest in the industry have licensed with us.

    We made attempts to contact Michael Skelps, the President of Capstone Photography several years ago. He never returned our calls and continued to infringe on our patents. Capstone Photography contracted with events in our county here in CA and took business away from us. It caused us hardship while Capstone Photography boasted in being the largest event photography company in the country.

    Capstone Photography may assert their process is obvious or different and outside the scope of our patents but our attorneys have determined that Capstone Photography infringes on my patents and Capstone’s Attorney has so far not demonstrated to us how their processes are different and outside the scope of the patents.

    I was issued additional patents in 2010 and once again Capstone Photography blatantly infringed on those patents and caused us hardship. The details are described in our claims against Capstone Photography.

    I find it interesting that many photographers like Mr. Skelps vigorously defend the copyright laws that protect their pictures from being used for commercial gain by anyone else. However, Mr. Skelps does not seem to recognize patent laws that protect intellectual property like the patents he is blatantly infringing on.

    We are reasonable in our licensing expectations and settle for fees that have virtually no effect on our licensees doing business as usual. Generally the infringers have to overcome an emotional or pride issue of accepting that someone invented and patented “their” idea. Usually the amount of attorney fees reaches a pain threshold that forces the infringer to settle. Frequently the infringer will then face maximum, even treble damages and the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

    The problem comes in when someone tries to avoid licensing with us and we have to file a lawsuit. According to the latest AIPLA survey, litigating a patent case with damages under $1 million by a 1-3 person firm averages $255,000 just to get through the end of discovery, and $623,000 dollars to take the case through trial. (2013 AIPLA Econ. Survey, p. I-133). Mr. Skelps from Capstone Photography has retained a major law firm (http://onellp.com/ ) in Los Angeles with at least 20 attorneys.

    Generally infringers are unaware that the inventor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and many man-hours developing the patented idea. Marketing research, software and hardware development plus the cost of patent applications and executing the patent through the USPTO are all very costly.

    I am very sorry to see Mr. Skelps head down the path he has chosen.

    I immigrated to the United States after narrowly escaping from Communist East Germany in 1960. I am a law abiding citizen trying to build a business and raise a family. I expect others to obey the laws of this land as well. Mr. Skelps has caused me hardship by infringing on my patents. I would also expect a bit more respect from forums members. It is far too easy to ridicule and make disparaging remarks about a person before you get to know them and understand them.

    FYI:
    http://youtu.be/2_tKbYysS8k

    http://youtu.be/zvXVPctP2jQ

    http://www.amazon.com/Because-I-Can-Paul-Coope r/dp/B0029J3Z2A

     

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  31.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 10:44pm

    Re: The other side of the story

    Many event photography companies including the largest in the industry have licensed with us.

    Which doesn't mean as much as it otherwise might, given your later comment pointing out how insanely expensive it is to go to court over matters like this. Large companies focus first on profits, and most of the time it's cheaper to pay up rather than fight, even if they believe themselves to be in the right, and believe they would win in court.

    Generally the infringers have to overcome an emotional or pride issue of accepting that someone invented and patented “their” idea.

    Being told to pay up 'or else' for coming up with an idea that someone thought of before them, causing someone to be less than thrilled... yeah, some people right? /s

    Patents are suppose to be used to protect unique ideas/inventions and reward those that come up with them. If several people, when presented with a given problem/situation, come up with identical or similar solutions, that sounds a lot less like 'unique' and more like 'common sense'.

     

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  32.  
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    Ideas Roam Free, Aug 23rd, 2014 @ 11:56pm

    Re: The other side of the story

    Why on earth would you ever want to get a patent like this except to screw everyone else? You sir, forget that just because a law exists doesn't mean that the law is moral. Which is strange since you say you originally come from Communist East Germany.

    If you want to build a business, then do so by being better than your competitors, not by using a "big" stick. But it seems you are more interested in building you business by ensuring you have no competitors.

    You also seem to have the idea that anyone using a technique you have patented MUST have used your idea. You forget that different people can and do come up with similar (if not the same) ideas independently of each other. Just because you have a monopoly given to you by the government doesn't mean that they didn't come up with it independently or even before you did. We see plenty of examples of this occurring regularly.

    Ideas are dependent on what has gone before them and are not created in a vacuum. Independent development does not mean infringement (if you are making a moral argument, which you appear to be doing).

    Just because you've spent money developing an idea doesn't mean a thing. It is actually irrelevant. I have been working on an idea for many years (when I get time to put to it) and I have finally seen an independent development of a similar process occur (and actually documented) in the last 2 years. For me the idea has been fairly obvious and so I have been expecting many different places to do simultaneous development, but alas no. It has been good to see alternate development occurring. I have shared my ideas freely to those interested over many years.

    When I do finally finish my design and development (including testing), the entirety of the work will being going into the public domain simply because knowledge should be shared. If someone can do the development and marketing better than me, then so be it. I have modest goals and don't need huge amounts to keep me satisfied. Others have shared with me freely, likewise, I'll share freely.

    Hence, all your justifications count as nothing as far as I am concerned. All they say to me is that you are a greedy frightened little egotistical man.

    A question though, what hardship has been caused to you? It is easy to say that hardship has been caused but you'd better be able to back it up concretely.

     

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  33.  
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    fred, Aug 24th, 2014 @ 5:54am

    Re: The other side of the story

    Piss off idiot. Your idea is not novel and you are just a money grubbing scumbag.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Large companies focus first on profits....

    That may be your perspective but we have found that the large companies (Brightroom, MarathonFoto, etc.) usually focus on wanting to do the right thing. The right thing is to obey the law and negotiate a reasonable license agreement. Legal battles are the last resort and generally no one wins.

    Being told to pay up 'or else'....

    Not so, I haven't and don't anticipate threaten anyone. Generally I want to negotiate a reasonable license agreement that makes sense for their business. With Capstone, I spoke with Michael Skelps (President of Capstone) in 2008, sent him a non-threatening email to explain my situation and contacted him again in 2011. He snubbed his nose at me, didn't respond to my email or phone calls and continued to infringe. In 2010 I was issued another patent and within months he infringed on that as well.

    Legally speaking I cannot threaten anyone but I did decide to file a claim against him after carefully reviewing his none-response and blatant actions.

    Patents are suppose to be used to protect unique ideas/inventions and reward those that come up with them. If several people, when presented with a given problem/situation, come up with identical or similar solutions, that sounds a lot less like 'unique' and more like 'common sense'.

    Interesting you should mention this. As soon as I published my website on the Internet in 1999 many others did come up with similar websites. I noticed that most of them had copied my webpages (often not even changing the name PhotoCrazy in various sections) and duplicated my efforts but of course claiming it was their idea. Back in 1999 many of my friends never thought my approach would be successful.

    At the time what I did was novel and unique. I believe I sparked the idea and the rest of the world ran with it. Kind of like the "Post-It" craze. Putting glue and paper together and changing the world. Why didn't I think of that?

    When you look at my LinkedIn (see my bio) you will see that I have been an inventor most of my life. There is nothing sweeter than to develop something that you can make a living with. That's what America is all about. I learned early on, that patents can protect your innovations. That's part of America too.

     

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  35.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: The other side of the story

    If you want to build a business, then do so by being better than your competitors, not by using a "big" stick.

    I wish I had the know-how of building a big business. I don't but I love to innovate and come up with new ideas. Been doing that all my life. Most of my past innovations/patents (see LinkedIn bio) landed me a lunch with the company president and a $500 bonus.

    It wasn't until I started out on my own in 1985 that I found the joy of running my own company. In 1999 I came up with some novel event photography ideas. I applied for a patent because they were so unique and changed the event photography industry overnight.

    My licensing expectations are reasonable with anyone and most of our licensees continue doing business as usual. I have no interest in stopping anyone from doing what they love (event photography is a work of passion more than financial gain).

    When I do finally finish my design and development (including testing), the entirety of the work will being going into the public domain...

    Hey, great for you. However, I had four little children, a wife and my in-laws to consider. Event photography was my sole income and the reality dictated that when I lost business there was less food on the table. I was and still am a one man show. I developed some automated camera equipment (http://www.photocrazy.com/RCS/RCS.html) that gave me an edge over competitors like Capstone with 400 photographers on their team. When Capstone and others who were using my patented ideas started taking contracts from me I became a bit more aggressive to enforce my patents. Capstone send photographers 4000 miles into my backyard and took business from me.

    Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. My strengths are innovations and I am the first to recognize that I am not so good at marketing and business development. Does that mean I should develop ideas for others to be successful with and no reward for me? Of course not, they can share some of their success with me by licensing my ideas. I would expect nothing less if I were to use someone else's ideas to make some money or built up a business. Intellectual property is just as real as real property.

     

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  36.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Hey, fred, do I detect a bit of jealousy and anger here? You are wrong on all counts if you took some time to learn more about me.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 11:09am

    Re: There must be some prior art

    There must be some prior art

    Hi Anonymous, I, the US Patent Office and hundreds of photographers have searched high and low for the past 15 years to find some prior art. There isn't any.

    Most of my friends thought in 1999 my ideas would never be successful. It was a gutsy move on my part and my wife thought I was "crazy" to start a new business where people would actually search for their own pictures (hence "PhotoCrazy" for the company name). I learned HTML programming and some machine code on an RV vacation trip to Canada with the family that year. I composed most of my PhotoCrazy website on the way back while the wife was driving the RV.

    We had four little kids to feed and it took all of my savings and a lot of hope to launch PhotoCrazy. I operated in the black from the get-go. Sweet.

    One of the patents even covers advertising on a photo, like no one even thought of that before 2010...

    That idea was conceived around 2004 and again I applied for patents at that time. I saw the handwriting on the wall with all the digital cameras and cell-phone cameras that selling photos online would quickly fade away. As of 2014 all of our photos are free on our website - check it out (www.photocrazy.com). We are slowly building a list of sponsors who pay us to advertise on the photos. We hope that advertisers will pay enough to significantly cut or even eliminate the registration fees for the sporting events as well. It will be a win-win scenario for everyone.

    Yes, you are right, advertising on amateur sporting event photos was novel and unique in 2004 (you got the year wrong).

    We are currently negotiating license agreements for these newer patents with several very large companies. These companies recognize the value of intellectual property. Battling things out in court is an absolute last resort where typically no one wins.

    BTW, I have other innovative methods and products for the event photography industry right around the corner. I hope to be selling those new products in the next few months and several major companies are anxious to see demonstrations. Yes, of course, a key product is already patented by me and I am sure someone will come along and belittle it.

     

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    Oleg (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Running Red Lights as a Sporting Event

    The process described in Claim 1, wherein the sporting event is an automobile running a red light, and said identifying number is a license plate number, and further comprising the step of forwarding a fine to a registered owner of said automobile.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Running Red Lights as a Sporting Event

    LOL - Yes maybe we should have a talk with those Red Light camera operators. They certainly meet the requirement of "informing" the participant - with a ticket and a fine. Good one.

     

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    Ideas Roam Free, Aug 24th, 2014 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    If you want to build a business, then do so by being better than your competitors, not by using a "big" stick.

    I wish I had the know-how of building a big business.
    I never said anything about a big business. I was talking about being better than your competitors. You have also not addressed the fact that the idea can be independently developed and that your patent forces those who do independently develop to pay you a fee for their hard work.

    Irrespective of whether or not you or others (like the patent office) have found prior art for the process in question, it means nothing as the idea can be used without publishing such details. It would be interesting to see how many have paid you simply to get rid of you, it wasn't worth the fight to overturn your patent.

    Hey, great for you. However, I had four little children, a wife and my in-laws to consider. Event photography was my sole income and the reality dictated that when I lost business there was less food on the table. I was and still am a one man show. I developed some automated camera equipment (http://www.photocrazy.com/RCS/RCS.html) that gave me an edge over competitors like Capstone with 400 photographers on their team. When Capstone and others who were using my patented ideas started taking contracts from me I became a bit more aggressive to enforce my patents. Capstone send photographers 4000 miles into my backyard and took business from me.
    I have seen this kind of thing used as a justification before (lovely sob story - I could give you one of my own as well as well as the stories of many others of whom I know personally). As I've said to others who have had distant competitors come in, be better than them. It is not all about price but what kind of service and relationships you build with your customers. If a long distance competitor can beat you in your local market in such a field, the first question to ask is what are you doing wrong and what can you do to fix that.

    The photographer who did my wedding many years ago had such an outstanding service and presentation of the results that he was overwhelmed with clients (all passed by word of mouth). His business bloomed because he built relationships with his customers. Nothing was too hard and as a result, people would fly him to the location for the weddings (at their expense), including international travel. He has long since retired, but his reputation is still about and photographers are still compared with his services. He wasn't the cheapest by any means but his outstanding service meant you got incredible value for money. He and his wife did the work together. He was a single man business and he beat out all the big boys by a huge margin.

    So, my question to you is, what can you do to improve your customer relationships that will knock your competitors off the block or is the patent you have your only outstanding ability.

    You still haven't answered the hardship question or is it implied that because you have lost business that that is your hardship. If so, stiffen the upper lip and be better at your business to gain customers.

     

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    Ideas Roam Free, Aug 24th, 2014 @ 8:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. My strengths are innovations and I am the first to recognize that I am not so good at marketing and business development. Does that mean I should develop ideas for others to be successful with and no reward for me? Of course not, they can share some of their success with me by licensing my ideas. I would expect nothing less if I were to use someone else's ideas to make some money or built up a business. Intellectual property is just as real as real property.
    As has been pointed many times on this site, ideas are the easy little part. The implementation is where the rubber hits the road. If you can't effectively implement your ideas then that your problem not someone else's.

    If intellectual property is as real as real property then you must be paying out an awful lot of your income to others for all the ideas on which you are doing your business. If you aren't then your a hypocrite, since nothing you have come up with could have been developed without all the previous work done by those before you. Everything in your business is based on what other people have developed and by your own reasoning you had better be paying everyone else for their ideas.

    So no, you don't "deserve" to share in the success of other people's hard work to implement an idea. If you didn't develop the idea then others would have, if they hadn't already done so.

    In terms of innovations, I have met many who not only have had the idea but have developed it to completion. I have also seen many occurrences where the same idea has occurred and they have each developed an innovative solution and then simply shared it. The result has been improvements being passed back and forth and they have gone well past what was first come up with.

    Ideas are a dime a dozen, implementing them is the hard job. Ideas do not develop in a vacuum but are always based on what is going on around and been done before. So no your ideas are not worth much.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2014 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    >That's what America is all about. I learned early on, that patents can protect your innovations. That's part of America too.

    When patents are what allows shell companies to sue smaller companies for thousands of dollars - for the simple act of scanning a document with a generic scanning machine and sending the scanned image in an email - I find them less defensible.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 9:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    If you want to build a business, then do so by being better than your competitors, not by using a "big" stick.

    My interests lie in developing new products, methods and ideas. That is what I do best and I have been doing it successfully for many years. Companies paid me good money to be on their R&D team. They also benefited significantly from my innovations and patented ideas.

    Building a better business than the competition requires skills I am not very proficient at. i.e. marketing, leadership, business savvy and of course good people skills, like you pointed out. People tend to gravitate towards their strong skills and things they enjoy doing.

    Me using a "big stick" are your words and interpretation. I do not use a "big stick" but offer others a reasonable arrangement to use my patents. Kind of like someone wanting to buy a car. You negotiate with the car dealer, agree on a price, make the payment and drive the car away. If someone simply came to the lot, picked a car and drove it away without paying that is not right and it is called stealing. Same goes for intellectual property (patents). You seem to have a hard time understanding that. A patent is intellectual property whether you agree with the validity of the patent of not. You can challenge the validity or how you use it in court but until the patent is determined invalid by the USPTO, it is valid and you are obliged to license it to use it. If you don't, the consequences can be as severe or more than the person stealing a car.

    The hardship I was referring to is the same kind of hardship the car dealer would have in the example above. The car dealer has vested his time and money in selling cars. When someone comes and steals his cars, the owner will have hardships. Same with me. I invested much time and money in my intellectual property and when others use it without some agreed on compensation, I loose out. There is no ROI.

    I hope this makes sense and clarifies things. I do appreciate your sincere comments.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    If intellectual property is as real as real property then you must be paying out an awful lot of your income to others for all the ideas on which you are doing your business.

    I took for granted that by "intellectual property" you would understand it to mean valid patents. Intellectual Property (IP) is generally synonymous with "Patents".

    That said, of course I would be willing to pay anyone who claims they have a valid patent for what I use. Generally most of us use ideas that may have been patented at one time but they are now in the public domain. That's the whole idea about patent law. The inventor has a short monopoly window (20 years) but then it becomes public domain.

    Those patent laws create the incentive to innovate and invest in new ideas. Without them, there would be little incentive to spend any money on new ideas and products. Especially by the little guy (like me) who doesn't have the resources or know-how to fully develop and market his new ideas. The US patent system levels the playing ground so that anyone can benefit from his/her new idea.

    Ideas are a dime a dozen...

    Yes, I agree. Getting something through the patent office (USPTO) and being issued a patent on a new idea or product is not so simple. Try it if you think it is so easy.

    So no your ideas are not worth much.

    Easy for you to say since you probably never filed for or obtained a patent. I don't think you have any appreciation for what it takes to come up with a novel idea and get a patent issued for those ideas.

    I have a sign in my office (garage) that I look at daily, especially when I get discouraged about something:

    A patent requires a long-term commitment. Be ready to invest years, thousands of man-hours, and thousands of dollars to successfully bring your idea to market. Don't get discouraged; all worthwhile things in life require perseverance.

    And you tell me in a cavalier way that "my patented ideas are not worth much". You seem to have no idea what it takes to get a patent. Please don't belittle something that you have no first hand experience with. I have the highest respect for patent holders because I know first hand what it takes to get one.

    The rest of your comments seem a bit abstract and I couldn't follow what your point was. Sorry.

    Thanks for your feedback. I do hope I clarified some things for you.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 24th, 2014 @ 11:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    When patents are what allows shell companies to sue smaller companies for thousands of dollars - for the simple act of scanning a document with a generic scanning machine and sending the scanned image in an email - I find them less defensible.

    Hmmm? Not quite sure what you are referring to here but like with any system there are those who try to take advantage of it and abuse it.

    Contrary to what many have expressed on this forum, I am not one of those. I am forthright and sincere in my efforts and have no intentions of taking advantage of anyone.

     

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    Ideas Roam Free, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 1:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I have over many years had many people say to me that I should be patenting ideas that I have had. My response is the same to you, What For? I would rather see those around me benefit from my ideas than try to stifle others' inventiveness by trying to control my idea. As I have benefited from other, so I pass that on. The quality of my work is what got me paid for my services.

    A business mentor, many years ago, made the following comment that even if you cannot run a business yourself, you can always surround yourself with experts in the various fields required. A local business developed a product and got it to market. They did very well. They also understood that competition would soon be at their heels trying to take their market share. They were prepared so that when it happened, they could introduce a new higher quality product in to the market to enhance and further develop their business. They didn't patent a thing, it wasn't worth the time, effort or money to do so.

    I do know what it takes to get a patent and as far as I am concerned, it is not worth it. It is better to continually develop your products and services than sit on your laurels.

    In everything you write, you have the same fundamental blind spot as many others in that you think you can own an idea. Patents are only one form of "intellectual property" as defined by law. "Intellectual property" is one of those made-up semantic tricks that lawyers love.

    As for coming out with new ideas, what would you say to someone who beats you to the patent office with one of "your" ideas that he/she has come up with independently? Are you going to yell "thief" or will you pay them for the privilege of using your idea or implementation?

    Your analogy with a car salesman is completely at odds with reality that I really wonder how much your lawyers have got you completely bamboozled. If someone steals a car then the car owner no longer has it. If someone has an idea, unless he undergoes a lobotomy after sharing it, he still has it, irrespective of how many others have it. You can't steal it. However, you can steal a reputation and I somehow think you are stealing yours and then throwing it away.

    Nothing you have said changes my view of you or your attitude and stance. What you need to do is to avail yourself of the great information obtainable through this site and really understand that there are far better ways than what you are doing.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: We have to back up a second

    Something like Google's PageRank is a decent example; sure, most programmers who have gone through university can probably tell you the gist of what needs to be done, but implementing it still takes heavy planning and extensive testing and research to tune it into something useful.

    Also, different teams of developers would likely come up with very different solutions, while given the requirements (not specification) for a project like this photo thing, it's probably going to end up very similar other than look and feel, which is a possible indicator of obviousness.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    That may be your perspective but we have found that the large companies (Brightroom, MarathonFoto, etc.) usually focus on wanting to do the right thing.

    That's an interesting universe you live in. Sounds nice.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I have no interest in stopping anyone from doing what they love

    Unless they won't pay you, of course.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    We need to agree at this point that we definitely disagree with each other.

    Nothing you said in your last response made much sense to me and I suspect nothing I said made any sense to you.

    No problem, I am glad we tried to understand each other in a civil manner. It doesn't always work and we should leave at that.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re: The other side of the story

    I was hoping that your comment actually told the other side of the story -- that is, why you feel that this patent is reasonable in the first place.

    Instead, you just told us that you have a patent and enforce it. We already knew that.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    "Those patent laws create the incentive to innovate and invest in new ideas. Without them, there would be little incentive to spend any money on new ideas and products."

    This is untrue. Patents are not intended to incentivize invention -- invention has always done just fine without patents. Even today, lots of people invent things that are patentable and intentionally do not patent them -- effectively putting them in the public domain instead.

    What patents are intended to do is to discourage people from keeping their inventions a secret. The purpose of patents is to increase the sharing of knowledge.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    LOL, not so. Taking pictures of athletes and the joy it brings is free for anyone to do. Using my IP is against the law unless you are licensed to do so. Most of our licensees simply want to do the right thing and we work out an arrangement that fits their budget.

    Breaking the law (any law) has its consequences and sooner or later the lawbreaker is held accountable.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: The other side of the story

    The USPTO will not issue a patent unless the applicant explains why the patent is reasonable and worth issuing. Please read the patent in its entirety and I explain clearly why it should be issued. No reason to re-state all that here.

    My point of "The other side of the story" was to explain why I filed a claim against Capstone and Michael Skelps. Many contributors of this forum portrait me as a "Patent Troll" trying to take advantage of the little guy.

    Quite the contrary. I am NOT a "Patent Troll" and I am a one man operation stopping a company with 400+ photographers/employees and 10 times greater annual revenue trying to rip me off.

    Our patent system is one of those rare instances where the little guy (me) has a fighting chance to stop the larger company from rolling over the little guy.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    LOL, not so. Taking pictures of athletes and the joy it brings is free for anyone to do.

    If doing what they love to do happens to infringe on any of your patents, they have to pay up. I assume you wouldn't let them off the hook if they wrote you a letter explaining how much they love what they're doing. You want money.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    The USPTO will not issue a patent unless the applicant explains why the patent is reasonable and worth issuing.

    You know someone successfully patented a tire swing, right?

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    What patents are intended to do is to discourage people from keeping their inventions a secret. The purpose of patents is to increase the sharing of knowledge.

    Touche - yes I agree with you. However, without patent protection fewer companies would have R&D budgets, hence fewer employees, fewer new products, etc. My personal incentive to invest enormous amounts of money to get these patents was to benefit from charging reasonable royalties.

    With me it was a business decision. I saw first hand with my previous employers how my patents with them generated millions of dollars in revenue. When given the opportunity to file my own patents, I jumped at it. It was a very risky decision.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I assume you wouldn't let them off the hook if they wrote you a letter explaining how much they love what they're doing. You want money.

    Not true at all. Money is not always the solution and several of our licensees don't pay a penny. We reached an agreement with one licensee in exchange of an autographed picture of Lance Armstrong. That was during Lance's prime. I think I threw the picture away I was so disgusted with his dishonesty.

    I abhor dishonesty. I am no saint but I try to be honest in all my dealings with others.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    You know someone successfully patented a tire swing

    Can't say I am familiar with that one. I do know that if you read my patents there is a reasonable explanation in them why they should be issued.

    You will find abuse and insanity with any system but that doesn't mean that the system is bad. My experience with the USPTO has been good. Frustrating at times but in general it was good. I even had a chance to visit the USPTO offices in Washington with an attorney (at great expense) and meet with patent examiners, their supervisors and experts. It was a great experience.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    "without patent protection fewer companies would have R&D budgets, hence fewer employees, fewer new products, etc."

    Perhaps, but this isn't obvious at all. Without patents, lots of profit would still had through R&D, developing new products, etc.

    Just so you know, as I think you're new here, I am not anti-patent at all. I think that there is a legitimate role for them. I do think the current patent system is extremely dysfunctional and is harming society more than helping, though, so I guess I'm in the "patent reform" camp as opposed to the "patent abolition" camp.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    "The USPTO will not issue a patent unless the applicant explains why the patent is reasonable and worth issuing"

    Yes, but the explanation doesn't have to sensical or correct. The patent office routinely approves all kinds of obviously bogus patents.

    "Please read the patent in its entirety"

    I have. I don't understand why the patent is reasonable. I suppose that I may be biased, though, in that this is a process patent and I don't think process patents are reasonable to begin with.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Planet Money recently did a show (it might have been a rebroadcast, I don't remember) about patents, featuring some economists who believe patents do more harm than good and should be abolished altogether. It's a very interesting show.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Not true at all. Money is not always the solution and several of our licensees don't pay a penny. We reached an agreement with one licensee in exchange of an autographed picture of Lance Armstrong.

    Money or other consideration - I don't find it significant that you accepted another form of payment.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Can't say I am familiar with that one. I do know that if you read my patents there is a reasonable explanation in them why they should be issued.

    My point is that you cannot rely on the fact that your patent was issued to prove that it's a legitimate patent.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    some economists who believe patents do more harm than good and should be abolished altogether

    I get very skeptical and skittish when someone proposes to mess with our constitution. Patents were mandated by our founding fathers. They seemed to know what they were doing. It's worked pretty good so far.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    My point is that you cannot rely on the fact that your patent was issued to prove that it's a legitimate patent.

    I agree but until the patent is invalidated, it is valid and enforceable. I may be biased but of course I think it is also "legitimate". :)

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I don't find it significant that you accepted another form of payment.

    You missed my point and maybe I wasn't clear about it. She was the personal photographer for Lance Armstrong and getting a signed picture of my ex-hero was a token gesture/payment. There were other extenuating circumstances involved with this particular licensee. i.e. I am not hard-nosed and inflexible about extenuating situations.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I get very skeptical and skittish when someone proposes to mess with our constitution. Patents were mandated by our founding fathers.


    Revising and/or eliminating the patent system would not mess with our Constitution one bit.

    Patents are not mandated by the Constitution at all. The Copyright/Patent Clause is included in the list of enumerated powers that the Constitution grants Congress and gives specifics for the means to achieve the goal of [promoting] the Progress of Science and useful Arts, and that's it.

    If Congress decided tomorrow that the patent system no longer promotes "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" it would be completely within their power to eliminate it. There's nothing in the Constitution that says we have to have a patent system.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I do think the current patent system is extremely dysfunctional and is harming society more than helping

    I have been involved with patent applications, execution through the USPTO, licensing and enforcing patents through the courts for for the past 40 years. I find it fascinating and have had first hand experience in each of these areas.

    Patent law is very difficult and patent lawyers typically have some 4 year undergraduate degree in the sciences, then another 2-3 years of law school and then another 2-3 years of specific training in patent law. That's a minimum of 8 years and generally 10 years of intense education.

    Most lay people who read a few patent related articles or who have the misfortune of defending themselves against some infringement claims have a hard time comprehending the complexity of patent law. They often get overwhelmed and see it as dysfunctional.

    Like I said, I have been involved in every aspect of patent law for the past 40 years. I have read about and been personally part of numerous trials. I carefully studied and contributed to the execution of at least a dozen personal patents through the USPTO. (BTW, not every patent I applied for has been issued) I have met and discussed specific patents with patent examiners, their supervisors, attorneys and experts.

    All of this has left me with the highest respect and admiration for patent attorneys, patent examiners and their supervisors. People are fallible and can make mistakes but in general I believe the system works and those who run it are very hard working, intelligent, well trained individuals. Albert Einstein was a patent examiner. Maybe not everyone is at his caliber but there are some bright people who work for the patent office and lawyers who deal with them.

    Just to clarify, I am not an attorney. I am an inventor, I love solving problems and I am a one man company trying to forge out a living for myself and my family.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    "I get very skeptical and skittish when someone proposes to mess with our constitution"

    The Constitution does not specify the details for how a patent system should work, so it can be modified without messing with the Constitution.

    "It's worked pretty good so far."

    In your opinion. Obviously, reasonable people can differ on this point.

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    They often get overwhelmed and see it as dysfunctional.

    I don't know if that was your intent, but this is verging on ad hominem - implying that John Fenderson is not capable of understanding the patent system. He has done a lot more than "read a few patent related articles". I'll let him further defend his familiarity with the patent system if he wants.

    People are fallible and can make mistakes but in general I believe the system works

    People who make their living from a system generally believe that it's working.

     

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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    "It's worked pretty good so far."

    Obviously, reasonable people can differ on this point.

    Of course people can differ and I respect their opinions. I do have first hand experience what it was like living under Communism in East Germany until I was 14 years old. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the freedom and opportunities we have in this country. It's not perfect but the most perfect I have seen.

    BTW, my earlier comment about some people being "overwhelmed with the complexity of patent law and see it as dysfunctional" was not meant towards anyone in particular in this forum.

    Also, I don't make my living using patents or the "system". I find patent law fascinating and the complexity intrigues me. I make my living inventing, tinkering, working hard and solving problems.

    I am very exciting about introducing in a few months some new products that will add a whole new dimension to event photography.

    It is a pleasure exchanging ideas with you, John.

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    You are a greedy sack of crap

     

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

  74.  
    identicon
    Ideas Roam Free, Aug 25th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I can be obtuse at times but
    Nothing you said in your last response made much sense to me and I suspect nothing I said made any sense to you.
    indicates that either you don't want to know or you are so inculcated with the idea that "patents are always good" that you cannot see the problems that the current patent system causes. I understand what patents should be and what they are not today.

    You have made various comments about being law abiding. I have just had the insight that you are law abiding because the laws you abide by are to your advantage over others. If these laws were against you, I believe you would be railing against the injustice of those same laws. What you may not realise is that the view you are offering as the basis of your position is that all laws are just. I also have a problem with those who say they are law-abiding as it gives them an out to be unthinking, immoral, uncaring and dangerous people.

    I proffer to you the following position. Just because a law exists doesn't mean that it is just, right, honourable or moral.

    Much of the law you depend upon for your patent/s has been bought by bribes to the law-makers. Bribery in the general if not specific sense.

    Many of your faulty viewpoints or opinions have already been addressed by others. I agree that we definitely disagree.

     

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

  75.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 25th, 2014 @ 11:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I agree that we definitely disagree.

    Let it go at that before we say nasty things to each other. It's ok to disagree with another. No shame in that but let's just let it go. I respect your opinions, I just don't agree with them and for the most part don't understand them.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Simon M, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 1:31am

    Technology has existed for many years

    https://www.marathon-photos.com have been doing this for many years. Including photographing the great north run (the largest 1/2 marathon in the world) this way with bib search. Surely that means the patent is meaningless.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 6:33am

    Re: Technology has existed for many years

    Looks like FinisherPix are the same as Marathon-Photos, neither indicate they license with Mr Wolf.
    Gameface media look interesting, a new company might as Mr Wolf put is be "causing hardship" but probably got the $$$ to fight.

     

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  78.  
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    Niall (profile), Aug 26th, 2014 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Running Red Lights as a Sporting Event

    Functionally still identical though.

     

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

  79.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 26th, 2014 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Technology has existed for many years

    You will note on "marathon-photos" website that they existed since 1999. That does NOT predate my patents. Same with FinisherPix, Gameface Media, etc. None used the methods described in the patents prior to 1999.

    Keep looking. The USPTO searched for 6 years for prior art and hundreds of others including myself searched as well. Nothing prior to 1999.

    Why is it so hard to accept that someone sparked the idea and it went viral from then on? In hindsight most things seem obvious but as I mentioned before at the time of the invention, it was novel and unique. Most of my friends doubted I would have success with that business model.

     

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

  80.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 26th, 2014 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Eh, I didn't read his comment as a personal attack on me at all, so I don't feel the need to defend myself. Truthfully, I wouldn't feel the need anyway. What my qualifications are or are not are unimportant (as are Peter's), after all. What matters is the arguments we're making.

    I understand where Peter's coming from. I don't agree with his perspective and don't think he's done a very good job of supporting it, but I do understand why he thinks the way he does.

     

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

  81.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 26th, 2014 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    " I do have first hand experience what it was like living under Communism in East Germany until I was 14 years old. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the freedom and opportunities we have in this country. It's not perfect but the most perfect I have seen."


    Ahh, this comment makes me think that I was unclear. When I disagreed with "it's worked pretty well so far", I was talking about the US patent system specifically, not the US in general.

    Yes, it's been nice talking with you. Thank you.

     

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

  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    However, without patent protection fewer companies would have R&D budgets, hence fewer employees, fewer new products, etc. My personal incentive to invest enormous amounts of money to get these patents was to benefit from charging reasonable royalties.


    But your competitors didn't do it for that reason (as demonstrated by the fact that they didn't try to patent it), they did it to streamline their processes and allow them to do away with manually-performed drudge work. They almost certainly never read your patent (or a summary of it), because reading patents opens you up to the risk of being found to have wilfully infringed, and because once their systems/business analyst wrote out all the steps in the existing manual process all they'd need to do is add "using a computer/email/web-site" to each step and they've got the processes you've patented.

     

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  83.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 26th, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    You are a greedy sack of crap

    Hey "Anonymous Coward" I am reluctant to respond to your comments because you may just get upset again like before. Besides, your logic just doesn't make sense. We better stop it here.

     

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

  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 4:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I'm not the same AC - that's just what the site engine puts in place of a username if you don't specify one.

    The fact that several other companies developed the same idea at around the same time you did strongly suggests that the idea was obvious, or at very least was an idea whose time had come, and that others developed it without the benefit of patent protection. That in turn suggests that your ability to patent the idea did not usefully promote the progress of science, and so it morally shouldn't have been patentable even if it was legally patentable.

    (Incidentally, most of the '875 patent is a "do it on a computer" patent, which post-Alice might not even be valid, if someone wants to waste the money challenging it.)

     

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  85.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    I'm not the same AC

    You may want to use your real or at least some pseudo name.

    ...several other companies developed the same idea...

    Once my website went public everyone seem to jump on the wagon. Many companies simply copied my webpages exactly (often not even changing out the "PhotoCrazy" name) and claimed it to be their idea.

    I like to think that I sparked the idea and others just copied my efforts. I have worked on other R&D projects and noticed that once a new idea was made public other companies immediately claimed it to be their invention/idea. That's why documenting and filing patent claims is so important.

    In this particular case, the elements existed for quite a while but no one put them together in a manner as I did on my first website in 1999. Most of my friends belittled what I did and didn't think it would be successful. My wife thought I was "crazy" - hence the "PhotoCrazy" company name.

    Anyone in the photography industry of course immediately saw the potential this would have for just about anyone who wanted to start an event photography business.

    Novel and new ideas require a "spark". I like to think that I provided that "spark" since absolutely no prior art has ever been found. Had prior art existed, hundreds of people would have been using these methods by the time I started it.

    Same goes for some of my more recent patents of putting advertisement on the event photos to offset the cost of buying photos with advertising dollars. The trend these days is to offer the photos for free to anyone. That trend will continue and hopefully also include registration fees for the event. i.e. Let advertisers pay for everything at sporting events.

    Regarding the "Post-Alice", you will find by careful review of the claims that the majority of the claims to not fall into "do it on a computer". I believe the patents will hold up just fine with "Post-Alice".

     

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

  86.  
    identicon
    Jose Sanchez, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Patent Troll

    My personal opinion is that Mr.Wolf
    Likes easy money.I am a professional athlete and we love to see our pics.After seeing Mr.Skelps company photographing in CA. I was very impressed with his work. He didn't took business away from you. He has better photographers than your company, and that hurts your ego.
    Keep expending time going after money and walk away from your photography company joke that obviously doesn't make money to keep you happy.

     

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

  87.  
    icon
    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 11:02am

    Re: Patent Troll

    First of all, I take offense to being called a "Patent Troll". I am not, please take a moment and google what a "Patent Troll" is and you should then apologize for calling or referring to me as such.

    Here is how Wikipedia defines a Patent Troll:

    A patent troll... is a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question, thus engaging in economic rent-seeking.


    My entire (100%) livelihood has been made since 1999 by practicing what I claim in my patents. I am not a Patent Troll.

    Mr.Wolf Likes easy money.

    LOL, Do you have any idea what it costs to get a patent and then enforce it? If you did, you would quickly realize that it is NOT "easy money". Far from it. However, I do like to be compensated for my Intellectual Property when someone else uses it. That is fair.

    I don't profess to be the best photographer, not by a long shot. There are many photographers much more talented. The quality of photography has nothing to do with me expecting some compensation for using my IP.

    I commented earlier on the notion you expressed of me building my business instead of pursuing others to pay for using my IP. Here is a quote from what I had said earlier:

    My interests lie in developing new products, methods and ideas. That is what I do best and I have been doing it successfully for many years. Companies paid me good money to be on their R&D team. They also benefited significantly from my innovations and patented ideas.

    Building a better business than the competition requires skills I am not very proficient at. i.e. marketing, leadership, business savvy and of course good people skills. People tend to gravitate towards their strong skills and things they enjoy doing. I don't make my living using patents or the "system". I find patent law fascinating and the complexity intrigues me. I make my living inventing, tinkering, working hard and solving problems.

    I offer others a reasonable arrangement to use my patents. Kind of like someone wanting to buy a car. You negotiate with the car dealer, agree on a price, make the payment and drive the car away. If someone simply came to the lot, picked a car and drove it away without paying that is not right and it is called stealing. Same goes for intellectual property (patents). A patent is intellectual property whether you agree with the validity of the patent or not. You can challenge the validity or how you use it in court but until the patent is determined invalid by the USPTO, it is valid and you are obliged to license it to use it. If you don't, the consequences can be as severe or more than the person stealing a car.

    The hardship and unfair competition I was referring to is the same kind of hardship the car dealer would have in the example above. The car dealer has vested his time and money in selling cars. When someone comes and steals his cars, the owner will have hardships. Same with me. I invested much time and money in my intellectual property and when others use it without some agreed on compensation, I loose out. There is no ROI.

     

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  88.  
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    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The other side of the story

    Yes, but the explanation doesn't have to [be] sensical or correct. The patent office routinely approves all kinds of obviously bogus patents.

    The "obviousness" of something is a very contentious and often very complex issue when it comes to patents. I have personally argued with the USPTO about "obviousness" and things got very technical. What may seem obvious to many people may not legally qualify as obvious. It is the legal definition that usually surpasses what a lay person may think.

    I would recommend looking at the patent "File Wrapper" to understand why something that seems obvious was ruled by the USPTO as not obvious. Usually the arguments include prior court rulings and case law. It gets very involved.

    Until you study the "File Wrapper" please don't jump to conclusions. The law is not always perfect but we need to adhere to the written law to avoid total chaos.

     

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

  89.  
    identicon
    CFWhitman, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Patents out of control

    Thanks to pressure from deep pockets over the years, case law and new statutes have deformed the original intents of patents into something rather ridiculous. Sometimes you see people, even patent lawyers, try to remind people of the original intent by saying things like, "Patents are not on ideas; they are on implementations," but this amounts primarily to lip service in the current patent climate.

    Patents were originally intended to reward someone who figured out a way to do something that was difficult to figure out. It was not intended to reward someone who was the first to think of doing something that was easy to do. In other words, most patents were expected to be awarded to people who figured out a way, or a better way, to reach a specific goal, not people who figured out a better goal to reach for. That is, patents are supposed to be about inventing new technology not doing something new with existing technology.

    It requires no technical expertise to think of a new objective or product made possible by advancing technology. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they weren't supposed to mean anything from a patent standpoint. It's making an idea work where others had tried and failed that was supposed to be patent worthy.

    The sheer number of patents in existence decries their legitimacy.

    Most of the original intent of patents was to protect someone who did not have a lot of resources from being undercut by someone using his own invention who had a lot of resources. However, since the patent office found it difficult to sustain a legitimate minimum bar for an invention's worthiness, they moved to an illegitimate bar, money. Patents have become primarily a tool of bigger businesses to bludgeon small businesses into submission.

    Whatever technical fine points have been invented over the years for lawyers to argue about in the theatre of modern patent trials, it's pretty clear that these patents don't hold up as non-obvious according to the original intent of patent law. At best, they may be doing something new with existing technology. However, it rather looks like they are only, perhaps, the first to apply an existing technology to an existing idea.

     

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

  90.  
    icon
    Peter Wolf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Patents out of control

    Most of the original intent of patents was to protect someone who did not have a lot of resources from being undercut by someone .... who had a lot of resources.

    That is certainly the case in my situation. PhotoCrazy is a one person company with no photographers and working out of a garage being taken advantage by Capstone with several employees a sizable office and 400+ photographers all over the country. Their revenue is 10 to 20 times what my income is.

    If it weren't for my patents, I wouldn't have a prayer against someone like Capstone who blatantly use my IP to generate their revenue.

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    Michael Skelps, Sep 23rd, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Fight for What's Right

    At Capstone Photography, we are the most recent defendant of this outrageous patent litigation, and we are not lying down. But we need your help. Check out www.endpatentabuse.com for lots of great information regarding this case. Please read, share and donate if you can. Also, check out the most recent motion of our defense at http://endpatentabuse.com/Capstone_Wolf_Motion_For_Judgement_On_The_Pleadings.pdf

     

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

  92.  
    identicon
    Michael Skelps, Oct 29th, 2014 @ 1:02pm

    PATENTS-IN-SUIT DECLARED INVALID

    BREAKING NEWS (October 29, 2014): A Federal Judge in the Central District of California has struck down all three patents in the lawsuit in which Capstone Photography is a defendant. The Court ruled "that all three of the patents in suit are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas, and lack an inventive concept that would make them patent-eligible applications of those ideas." The case is over and Capstone has prevailed. We are excited to have this issue resolved in our favor! However, the legal expenses are very steep and our small business will take quite a long time to recover from the $100,000 in legal expenses we have incurred. If you feel that we have helped your business or if you simply want to support the side of RIGHT, please consider donating at www.endpatentabuse.com

     

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


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