Google Drive Barely Launched... And Google's Already Hit With Patent Infringement Lawsuit

from the but,-of-course dept

It's almost becoming a rule in the tech industry, that actually doing something that people want to use absolutely guarantees that you're going to get sued for patent infringement. It's pretty clear that the current patent system is acting as a massive tax/tollbooth on innovation. The latest in a long line of examples: just as Google has been rolling out its Google Drive offering to users, it's been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit from a company with a patent (5,918,244) that covers a "method and system for coherently caching I/O devices across a network." As the lawsuit notes, the technology behind the patent is to enable the ability of "multiple computers [to] all communicate with each other and... all access data from the same data storage device or devices, such as hard disk." Basically, the patent describes a system of RAM caching. Because I'm sure no one ever would have figured out how to do that without the patent system... So, rather than just allowing the technology to progress in the market as new products are developed, we're left with legal fights and a tollbooth on innovation.


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  •  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    There have been some wins lately by actual innovators against patent trolls. I keep having these fantasies that the courts are finally starting to see the harm done by patent trolling.

     

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      identicon
      Jason, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:33pm

      Re:

      I'd like to see more done through Congress. It seems, even when the courts decide against ridiculous patents that it's nothing more than a band aid plugging the hole a sinking ship.

       

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    charliebrown (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:03pm

    Isn't that how a LAN works? Or even the internet as a whole?

     

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      grumpy (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 1:06am

      Re:

      Yeah, my first thought was "Prior art!" too. But when has that ever stopped anyone from patent trolling...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re:

        Remember, prior art in this case is that which predates May 6, 1994.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 8:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why May 6, 1994? The filing says the first patent was submitted on May 31, 1996.

          If this company's patents are indeed for a method that keeps frequently used data loaded into RAM then prior art does exist:

          "Research in main-memory database systems started around 1993 at Bell Labs. It was prototyped as the Dali Main-Memory Storage Manager.[3] This research lead to first commercial main-memory database, Datablitz."

          Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-memory_database

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 9:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This application is known as a "continuation". When an application is initially filed it is reviewed to determine is the claims are directed to two or more separate and distinct inventions. If so, the applicant is typically required to remove on set of claims from the application and refile them as a separate application. Since these claims were included in the original application, the second application is deemed to have been filed as of the date of the original application in which they were originally contained.

            This accounts for why this application was presented in 1996, but has an actual filing date for purposes of prior art corresponding with the date the original application was filed.

             

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    Drak, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:11pm

    Sounds like your blog is also in danger of being sued...Isn't your data on a drive and accessible over a network? The only question is: Is it coherent?

     

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    Alana (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Of course Google needs to be sued, it's obviously teh evulz!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:15pm

    They sued in South Texas and not East Texas?

    Amateurs, obviously.

     

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      Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      From what I'm reading they sued in Houston. As a native South Texan, I can very much assure you that Houston is in East Texas and not South Texas. If they sued in South Texas, I believe the suit would be in Edinburg or McAllen.

       

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        kitsune361, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 10:21am

        Re: Re:

        Or Corpus Christi for that matter. Houston is practically Louisiana compared to "South Texas"

         

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          Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 12:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Very true, Corpus Christi would've been another possibility. And indeed, Houston is practically Louisiana compared to "South Texas".

          No person from South Texas would ever consider Houston a part of the region. Regarding Edinburg and McAllen, I may have been a bit biased as I'm from deep South Texas (as in the RGV). So sometimes I overlook/forget that Corpus Christi is part of South Texas (as far as most people are concerned).

           

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        kitsune361, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 10:21am

        Re: Re:

        Or Corpus Christi for that matter. Houston is practically Louisiana compared to "South Texas"

         

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    PlagueSD (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    a "method and system for coherently caching I/O devices across a network."

    That just about describes ANYTHING you do over a network (ie. INTERNET)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    The Solution: First, we kill all the lawyers

    Why innovate when you can litigate?

    Ever wonder where we'd be if they actually did implement all these things that have been patented? Technologically a thousand years ahead, perhaps. But that takes work and risk and those cost money and spending money is antithetical to providing an immediate return on investment to the owners/shareholders.

    It's better just to grab money by the fistful and give an immediate return on investment to the owners/shareholders.

    Its fairly safe to imagine that the patent system was created by greedy moneygrubbers using lawyers and not by engineers using common sense.

     

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    Dazza (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:56pm

    Ignore patents?

    What would happen if companies just ignored all these silly patents?
    Smaller developers and companies have to ignore most patents because otherwise you couldn't do anything! Zero! They can only hope that they make enough money before the trolls attack!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 4:59pm

    infrngment!

    by their logic then, everyone that designs something on a computer should be sued by ibm (for making the cpu a viable item). since they also probably used word for writing the patent up, ms should get their share also! (and yes I hate ms also, but using them as an example) and all they did was expand on the internet, so they should also be sued by the people that made the internet!

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:04pm

      Re: infrngment!

      DARPA made the internet (not Al Gore) and I'm pretty sure there's a proviso in every Law textbook ever since the 1970's which says something like "thou shalt not attempt to sue DARPA, under threat of painful near-death" (or something like that).

       

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        grumpy (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 1:10am

        Re: Re: infrngment!

        "...on threat of Orbital Anvil Insertion" should cover it nicely. I'm sure (D)ARPA has looked into something like that at some point. If they haven't, they should. It's sorely needed.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:00am

          Re: Re: Re: infrngment!

          >"...on threat of Orbital Anvil Insertion" should cover it nicely. I'm sure (D)ARPA has looked into something like that at some point. If they haven't, they should. It's sorely needed.


          It's called an orbital mass driver. =P

           

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    skinny poppy (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    Troll sued Google because it doesn't know about Box or Dropbox. Idiot.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

    How do these things get approved to go on to the courts, or are google and any other patent victim, expected to spend time and money on every tom dick and harry, that claims to have a patent right

    Does'nt a judge or some one, make an initial decision on whether to take these to the courts before wasting time and effort on a possible weak patent? otherwise, whats to stop 100 companies filing 100 claims in one day, and no sort of filter process

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:34pm

    It is an unjustifiable "horrible" that a company currently engaged in an ongoing business has the audacity to invent something, disclose it to the world via our patent system, and then expect others to honor the rights it secures should its invention withstand the legal tests of being "new, useful, and non-obvious".

    I am, of course, ever mindful of the "Google exception" to our patent and copyright laws. Presumably, Google will raise it in its inevitable motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action owing to the exception.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:37pm

      Re:

      You make a good point in your first paragraph (your second is just gibberish). An active company should be able to protect their patents if it's been properly tested and found new, useful and non-obvious.

      However, that does not apply to this case. The patent is neither new or non-obvious. I thought of the idea of something like DropBox or Google Drive many, many years ago. And if I thought it up, many other people did as well; I'm not that smart.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:52am

        Re: Re:

        The patent application associated with this invention was originally filed on May 6, 1994, and it is on or before that date that prior art pertains.

        My second para was made solely tongue-in-cheek.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 9:42pm

      Re:

      What did they invent?

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 10:54am

      They're toxic waste, not candy.

      Except they probably didn't actually "invent" anything.

      Even if they did, there is still the question of whether or not this improves the state of the art. Patents are for encouraging people to disclose useful trade secrets. They aren't meant as a virtual land grab.

      Reading some Tannenbuam and then tying the industry in knots for the next 20 years is not what patents are for.

       

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    Ophelia Millais (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:37pm

    Why should I bother to try to innovate anything in the world of computer tech? Seriously, why should I even try? Someone, somewhere (at least in the U.S.), always has a vague patent on something that is kinda, sorta, maybe just a little bit like whatever I could come up with, and they're going to sue the f*cking f*ck out of me if I don't hand over everything and "admit" that I "stole" their idea. There's no point anymore. The defendants in these trolling suits are unpaid employees, people who figure out how to make something viable out of an idea that happens to be vaguely similar to the one in the plaintiffs' half-baked patents that no one but lawyers have ever looked at... but it's worse, these unsuspecting employees have to pay the employer! What a racket!

    The only way to stop them is to stop innovating. Seriously. Stop inventing. Let them reap what they sow.

     

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    BeeAitch (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:54pm

    "patent (5,918,244) that covers a "method and system for coherently caching I/O devices across a network."

    "multiple computers [to] all communicate with each other and... all access data from the same data storage device or devices, such as hard disk."

    My home network violates this patent every single day.

    Come at me bro.

     

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    BeeAitch (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:57pm

    I am curious as to why my comment was "set to review" or some such.

    Techdirt has permission to respond via my registered email address.

    Just curious. :)

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 12:59am

    Annoyed with it all

    If these patents are so damned valuable then why the hell don't the "inventors" do anything with them.

    Think about defensive patents. The holder in most cases isn't actually doing anything with their "invention", but rather using it as a deterrent to getting sued.

    You simply shouldn't be allowed to sue for patent infringement if you are not doing anything with your patent other than holding on to it and hoping someone does something amazing with it so you can sue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 2:34am

    i personally think these various companies have no one else to blame other than themselves. if company (a) hadn't sued company (b) at some point over something, company (b) perhaps wouldn't have become so aggressive over it's own stuff being used. the trend was set by the very companies that now get sued and serve them bloody well rights for being greedy!

     

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    Randy, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 4:32am

    Sounds like NFS to me. Don't tell Oracle/Sun....

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      If you review the prior art considered during the prosecution of the application leading to this patent you will note that Oracle and Sun, among many others, were cited as sources of prior art.

       

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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 5:39am

    1999?

    Who issued that complete and utter failure of a patent request on something irrevocably fundamental to just about anything and well before 1999 at that? Fuck. Who is driving? I think a blindfold and a cliff is in order.. and no brakes that could affect the intended result. That GPS update you wanted - nope, missed your turn, sorry.

    If you want my MAC address you'll need to query the NIC directly or license a faster method from this guy? Web page too. You know what, fuck it, you get nothing unless you pay.

    Ridiculous. And when can we start taking this stuff seriously again? I can't believe these people get payed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    So these people sued only Google? What about DropBox?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    I have one question.
    Are the owners of a Patent required to prove that their method actually works, and how Google is implementing it?
    These TechDirt articles are so limited in their explanations. They seem to go more for the large sensational headline with very little content. what happened to you guys? I can't even read the complaint. It is blurry.

     

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      JEDIDIAH, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 10:58am

      ...yet another problem.

      That's yet another problem with patents. These things seem to effectively work out as "idea patents" as there seems to be some ambiguity as to what was actually invented and how it is that the alleged perpetrator is violating the patent.

      A company can try to change how they do something and they will still get slammed for violating a patent. So the whole notion of "this only covers a precise method" is largely bogus in practice.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      What do beleive is lacking in explaination?

      The title reads "Google Drive Barely Launched... And Google's Already Hit With Patent Infringement Lawsuit"

      The filing confirms the headline to be true. How is the headline sensational?

      A cleaner copy of the document can be found here:

      http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/wp-content/uploads//2012/06/Google-Drive-Patent-Filing .pdf

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2012 @ 8:33pm

    Darn. When I heard "Google Drive", I thought it was that car autopilot thing...

     

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    marc, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 7:04pm

    You had to see this coming, with so many patents out there you're going to infringe on someone if you try to create something new for the market

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), May 5th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Isn't there prior art to challenge that patent?

    "Method and system for coherently caching I/O devices across a network."
    Doesn't the above describe the Internet? I believe it was invented in the 1970s.

     

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