Last year, a small hobbyist photo-sharing website decided to fight back against a lawsuit alleging that it infringed on a bizarre patent covering virtually the entire concept of online voting. The patent-holder plaintiff subsequently dropped the case after a heavy-hitting advocacy organization got involved, but the court has ordered the plaintiff to fork over thousands of dollars in legal fees for its “unreasonable” conduct. [More]
“Podcasting” might as well have been the word of the year in 2014, when “Serial” shot the form straight to the top of the pop-culture buzz charts for a few months. But while everyone in America was plugging in earbuds and trying to decide whodunit, the U.S. Patent Office had the more important end of the challenge: deciding who actually owns the patent for the idea of podcasting.
Patents are intended to protect the developers of specific concepts. That’s why you don’t see a patent for “thing that can treat diseases,” but for individual medicines and devices. Last summer, the Supreme Court confirmed you can’t simply patent a generic idea just because you apply it to a computer. But a small photo-sharing site is being sued for infringing on a patent that arguably covers a vast range of vote-for-your-favorite competitions. [More]
Podcasts are simply the done thing, in 2014: everyone’s taking their modern update on the radio show with them on the go. One company out there, seeing all the dollar signs, now claims that they invented and patented podcasting 18 years ago, and is suing anyone not paying them license fees. But consumer tech advocates are fighting back, and hoping to get regulators to make the patent trolls crawl back under their bridge.
The Supreme Court today issued rulings on a handful of cases. One was about two companies nobody’s ever really heard of, arguing over patents for software to manage banking transactions. The details of the patents themselves, and the transactions they deal with, are kind of complicated and insidery — but they’re also not necessarily that important. The broader implications of the ruling, and the legal precedent the Court set with it, though, will have an impact for years to come.
We’ve written before about the lowest level of patent troll, the kind that claims to have a patent on some widely used technology — like photocopying or scanning — and instead of targeting the companies that make products that allegedly violate those patents, they try to bully small businesses into paying thousands of dollars for the use of basic office equipment. [More]
Sick of going up against huge companies that have teams of experienced lawyers at their disposal, patent trolls are apparently turning to smaller companies and demanding bizarre royalty payments simply for using basic office technology on which the trolls claim they have the patent. [More]