RIM’s Case The Catalyst For Patent Reform

Comments

Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about how broken down the patent system is, examples like Amazon patenting a “1-click” checkout or ActiveBuddy who successfully patented instant messaging in 2002. Both of these patents had something called “prior art” which means they should have not been granted because the technology has already been readily available. Anyone that used ICQ during its popularity would tell you that, but somehow it went unnoticed at the patent office.

Now the difference with all these busted technology patents was that it really didn’t affect the common people. It was mainly nerds and geeks who made some noise about these illegitimate patents. That’s where RIM’s case with NTP is different, not only does it affect the nerds and geeks, but the everyday 3 million American Blackberry users. Business people, lawyers, doctors, politicians are now paying close attention to what the USPTO does.


Now we’re not against the idea of a patent, an inventor should get rewarded for their hard work. However the NTP case is different and you can say that for many other technology patents. Many of these technology patents are the equivalent of a “land grab”, just file something very crude and broad and hopefully it gets approved by the USPTO. That’s the case with NTP, a company that was founded to exploit the patent system. This Virginia-based company has no employees other than co-founder Donald Stout who happens to be a patent-infringement lawyer or any real products. It has never tried to build a real business or product out of its patents, hell they don’t even have a website. In the patent world, these companies are called “patent trolls” and they are becoming more prominent, 3,000 multi-million lawsuits were filed, double the amount that was filed 15 years ago.

You may say to yourself, what a bunch of crooks but what they are doing is completely legal. These companies depend on the broken down patent system, a department that is under funded and under staffed. When the USPTO actually puts some time and resources in to investigating a patent they become sensible. And now we come full circle with the RIM/NTP case, under enormous media pressure and most likely political, the USPTO had made the NTP patents priority, re-examining them and invalidating 3 out of 5, and most likely the other 2 very soon. However it may be all for nothing, Judge Spencer has went on record that he wants to get the case over with as soon as possible and it’s not sure if he’s going to allow new evidence.

Unfortunately the worst case scenario of a Blackberry blackout would probably be the tipping point for patent system reform but RIM will never allow that. So ironically, RIM would probably have to settle with NTP on the patents they infringed on which were later decided invalid patents.

  • Lawrence B. Ebert

    Any idea that patent infringement affecting “everyday users” is a new thing is wrong. Think back to automobile buyers at the time of Henry Ford and the Selden patent, with ads like “Don’t buy a lawsuit.” And, in the copyright area, we have the RIAA and the Grokster decision.

    Of the text –under enormous media pressure and most likely political, the USPTO had made the NTP patents priority, re-examining them and invalidating 3 out of 5, and most likely the other 2 very soon.– the re-examinations were initiated by RIM, and the initial results in non-final Office Actions are claim rejections. (information on IPBiz, including
    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2005/04/smuckers-us-6004596-is-under-re.html) There are rejections under 112, 102, and 103.

    However, recall that in the re-examination of the Eolas/Berkeley patent, there were two sets of USPTO rejections, both of which were overcome by the patentee, in large part through declarations made by university professors at Princeton and Michigan. And remember the Amazon one-click patent was never invalidated.

  • Lawrence B. Ebert

    Any idea that patent infringement affecting “everyday users” is a new thing is wrong. Think back to automobile buyers at the time of Henry Ford and the Selden patent, with ads like “Don’t buy a lawsuit.” And, in the copyright area, we have the RIAA and the Grokster decision.

    Of the text –under enormous media pressure and most likely political, the USPTO had made the NTP patents priority, re-examining them and invalidating 3 out of 5, and most likely the other 2 very soon.– the re-examinations were initiated by RIM, and the initial results in non-final Office Actions are claim rejections. (information on IPBiz, including
    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2005/04/smuckers-us-6004596-is-under-re.html) There are rejections under 112, 102, and 103.

    However, recall that in the re-examination of the Eolas/Berkeley patent, there were two sets of USPTO rejections, both of which were overcome by the patentee, in large part through declarations made by university professors at Princeton and Michigan. And remember the Amazon one-click patent was never invalidated.

  • Frank Mitchell

    Given the recent supreme court decision concerning imminent domain where a private individual can seize your property if they can get local government ok (generally showing more profitability and more tax revenue), why doesn’t Blackberry just seize the patent rights?

  • Frank Mitchell

    Given the recent supreme court decision concerning imminent domain where a private individual can seize your property if they can get local government ok (generally showing more profitability and more tax revenue), why doesn’t Blackberry just seize the patent rights?