We've seen it all too often over the years. After a technology company has failed to get anywhere in the market with its products, it decides to sue
everyone possible for patent infringement. As has been said: Those who can, innovate. Those who can't, litigate. The latest to join the bunch is a failed multimedia device company, e.Digital, who is suing a ton of companies, claiming to hold a patent on using removable flash drives in portable devices
. Seriously. It's already sued Casio, LG Electronics, Olympus, Samsung, Sanyo, Vivitar, Avid and Nikon (all in Texas, of course) and says that's just the beginning.
The patents in question are as follows:
- US5491774: Handheld record and playback device with flash memory
- US5742737: Method for recording voice messages on flash memory in a hand held recorder
- US5787445: Operating system including improved file management for use in devices utilizing flash memory as main memory
- US5839108: Flash memory file system in a handheld record and playback device
- US5842170: Method for editing in hand held recorder
To think that others weren't thinking about removable solid state storage on devices seems rather ludicrous. The real innovation in the space may have been the creation of flash memory, but to claim that using removable flash memory is an innovation worth limiting with patents just doesn't make any sense. But, once again, this shows how the patent system is being used for the exact opposite of what it's supposed to do. The company that failed in the marketplace gets to hold up those who are succeeding because they made a better product.
For additional irony, by the way, it should be remember that one of e.Digital's failed media devices looked almost identical to the iPod
, and was named the "Treo 10" -- quite similar to the Treo mobile phone device. I would think that charges of "copying" would apply a lot more to that device than anyone using the fairly obvious idea of using removable flash storage in a mobile device.