Stupid Patent Of The Month: Movies From The Cloud

from the not-the-onion dept

The Onion once ran a piece titled "I invented YouTube back in 2010." The joke, of course, is that YouTube launched in 2005. This month's Stupid Patent of the Month is just as ridiculous. US Patent No. 8,856,221, titled ‘System and method for storing broadcast content in a cloud-based computing environment,' claims a mundane process for delivering media content from remote servers. This might have been a somewhat fresh idea in, say the mid-1990s, but the application for this patent was filed in 2011.

The patent suggests using "at least one server" that should have "a memory that stores media content and a processor." The server then communicates with "a consumer device" that can send messages and receive content. Aside from these prosaic details, the patent makes only a half-hearted effort to distinguish its supposed invention from the massive array of cloud-based media services that already existed when it was filed. For example, the description suggests that existing services were inadequate because customers might pay a flat monthly fee yet make few downloads. The patent recommends tailoring customer cost to the content actually downloaded. But even if that was a new idea in 2011 (and it wasn't), routine pricing practices should not be patentable.

Overall, the '221 patent contains little more than rote recitations of long-existing technologies ("[a] list of media content may be provided to the consumer and displayed on consumer device display, e. g., via a website displayed in a web browser") and pricing models ("[t]he cost amount may be based on factors such as playback time"). The patent's claims, which describe the formal boundaries of the invention, merely list steps for using this conventional technology.

In addition to being obvious, the claims of the '221 patent are invalid as abstract under the Supreme Court's decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. Under that case, an idea does not become eligible for a patent simply by being implemented on a conventional computer. In fact, the '221 patent goes out of its way to emphasize that "any kind of computing system" is suited to perform the claimed functions. In our view, it would not survive a challenge under Alice.

The '221 patent is owned by Rothschild Broadcast Distribution Systems, LLC ("RBDS"). We were unable to find any sign that RBDS engaged in any business other than patent litigation. It is based in, you guessed it, the Eastern District of Texas. Court records show that RBDS has sued about 25 companies, ranging from startups to The Walt Disney Company.

The inventor of the ‘221 patent also won the August 2015 Stupid Patent of the Month for a patent on a drink mixer connected to the Internet. That patent, which had claims so broad it arguably covered the entire Internet of Things, is owned by a company called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, LLC ("RCDI"). After one of defendants went to the expense of challenging the validity of the drink mixer patent, RCDI dismissed the case without collecting a cent. This is classic troll behavior, forcing defendants to choose between paying the high cost of defense or a license fee that the patent owner does not deserve. We believe that RBDS's litigation similarly has only nuisance value.

We need broad patent reform (including venue reform) to stop this wasteful patent trolling. We also need reform at the Patent Office so that it doesn't issue terrible patents like this in the first place. Contact your Senators and tell them to pass patent reform.

Republished from the EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month series.

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Filed Under: cloud, movies, patents, stupid patent of the month


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 1:24am

    It's like someone looked at what some highly profitable sites are doing, and set out to create a patent that they can use to try and extort an income from them.

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

    • icon
      zman58 (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      I believe they would be unable to enforce their patent against historically practicing entities, such as youtube, cnn, fox, etc...

      But then for any business or person that tries to implement after the patent had issued, that may be another story. They would probably just pay the extortion fees if they were a smaller entity. Larger entities may take the time and money to fight it.

      This is perfect example of why we do not need a patent system at all. Trade secret, copyright, and trademark, are quite enough for protection of business and person.

      Patents drive up costs of goods a services and encumber advances in science and arts. They enrich corporations at the expense of the public. They effectively work to help create a servitude society. They do exactly the opposite of what they were intended to do. They should be completely abolished. All of them!

      Patents and for-profit insurance entities are the primary causes of rampantly rising healthcare costs of goods and services.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Dec 2016 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re:

        One update to the sites, and they can claim that they are now infringing.

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

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 3 Dec 2016 @ 4:14am

        Re: Re:

        I disagree with you slightly; we do need a patent system, to encourage people to publish their inventions. Otherwise, you wind up with a cotton-gin situation, wherein as soon as you release the secret of making the new device other people start doing it for themselves and the inventor makes no money - so inventors have incentive to keep their inventions secret, and as a result, the information is far more likely to get lost and forgotten.

        What we don't need, and what the patent system was intended to replace AFAIK, is (legal recognition of and enforcement for) trade secrets. I've never understood how it makes any sense to retain trade-secret law in the presence of patent law, given the above.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 4:33am

    I'm gonna patent a 'system and method for identifying bullshit patents'.

    I'm going to be a beeellionaire!

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

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 1 Dec 2016 @ 6:31am

    no website

    Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, do a google search. They don't even have a website, it has to be a shell company.

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

  • identicon
    Carl Wimmer, 1 Dec 2016 @ 6:58am

    how to improve the US PTO

    The glaring deficiency in patent review is that the examiners only examine the US and Euro patent bases, by and large, to look for prior art.
    If a system of public review were put into place such that the description of a patent was published "prior to grant" and held open for 6 months for outside in put as to prior art, that might tumble a few applications before they are granted and then require a court to sort out, at millions of dollars.
    An examiner has absolute authority to deny any patent before it is granted, for any reason that he/she deems valid. Use that power to clean up the system, not post grant review by the courts.

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

  • identicon
    Neural Network Protocol, 1 Dec 2016 @ 7:15am

    patents and copyrights- canada

    they exist at time of creation ....as long as you can prove it....btw i invented a system using multiple servers to deliver any content via encryption 6 months before bittorrent....its a fully automated system that uses the rar file system of files to send to users but could be adapted to sending full sized files without rars....now vlc can playback rar by rar and teh reason is redundancy if you lose connect you can just restart from where you lost...connection.

    P.S. all of these was based off a protocol designed in secret by a few top notch hackers .back in 2000 we named it NEURAL NETWORK PROTOCOL....

    Its main goal was to introduce technologies to help in bandwidth sharing....

    waves from canada....the unique part of this system is the way that it backs up the file base ....each file/rar is triple redunandt and connects all the rars into one central server thus bandwidth speed per file is incredibly fast and the reason why back then it was invented.

    so when one server drops for any reason another can come on to replace it...and then it will then setup and do another server so you always have the central file and 2 backups for said file.

    even the main server that connects all the lil files together is done this way...

    im one of those hackers that your fbi played with in the 90s and lost too....does it sound like you want them poking around in my shit ,

    2000 called and it wants it privacy back...i threatened bittorrent people that id release this publically if they didnt get encryption and look at the crap type you all got.

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

  • identicon
    Neural Network Protocol, 1 Dec 2016 @ 7:18am

    now think hard

    oh and now think about creating this as a worm that allows pirates and hackers to bot trade files.....

    waves...., i could make real small rar files and take 2% with a process hider of a users bandwidth.....and using hte tech emulate a gigabit server for a download/stream

    but hey I DONT WORK FOR FEDS AND GOVT NOR BIG STUPID BUSINESS, just me and friends doing what we want

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

  • icon
    zman58 (profile), 8 Dec 2016 @ 9:51am

    Patents hurt the public and society more they then help

    Your position is based on conventional wisdom, which has been proven in reality, time and time again, to be completely false and misleading--actually corruptive to society.

    We do not need to encourage people and business entities to publish their inventions in patent form. In fact when they do so it becomes harmful.

    When they do publish them in patent form they become mine fields such that anything created must be continually vetted through this complex minefield. It is basically impossible to know, during creation, that you may have tripped a mine and will be sued. In effect patents prevent the free use of knowledge and discovery of invention in ways that were never intended. They make the public suffer at the hands of the few. A corrupt system at the very core.

    The net effect is that patents prevent and stifle innovation and improvements in art and science. They do the exact opposite of what they were originally intended to do.

    Seriously do you search anything in the patent system before you go about trying to create something? The patent system is a broken mess and needs to be abolished completely. It is there only to line the pockets of the few at the expense of the masses. Legalized corruption in action.

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


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