Print 31 comment(s) - last by ipay.. on Jul 14 at 10:58 AM


It's been years since infamous patent troll NTP actually developed any new intellectual property or looked to produce anything. Yet it's just launched its biggest suit yet, suing Microsoft, Google, Apple, and more.  (Source:
Life is good for NTP -- they don't have to make anything to make money, they just sue people who do

The last time notorious Virginia-based patent troll NTP, Inc. climbed out of its cave was back in 2007 to sue Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel for patent infringement.  We guessed at the time that we hadn't seen the last of the firm.  We were right.

NTP, Inc. just filed a massive new suit against Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG, and Motorola claiming the firms are in massive violation of its patents on wireless email technologies.  One has to wonder, even given NTP, Inc.'s vast experience in litigation, if it has this time bit off more than it can chew by declaring war on virtually all the tech industry's top players (well... besides IBM, HP, and Dell -- maybe they're next).

The firm does have a significant victory under its belt from a $612M USD settlement with Blackberry maker Research in Motion over the same technologies.  After its loss, RIM fought to invalidate NTP's patents.  It succeeded in getting some examined and overturned, but improper dealings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office weighed heavily on its reexamination requests, leading to 67 claims in four of NTP reviewed patents surviving.

With those patents intact, NTP still had enough ammo to apparently go gunning for the top players in the smart phone industry today.  NTP's cofounder Donald E. Stout complains, "Use of NTP's intellectual property without a license is just plain unfair to NTP and its licensees. Unfortunately, litigation is our only means of ensuring the inventor of the fundamental technology on which wireless email is based, Tom Campana, and NTP shareholders are recognized, and are fairly and reasonably compensated for their innovative work and investment. We took the necessary action to protect our intellectual property."

NTP -- or at least its other co-founder -- at one time could be considered an innovator in the fields of internet software and electronics.  It was co-founded with the late inventor Thomas J. Campana Jr. who invented and patented a form of push email back in 1990.  Campana Jr.'s numerous patents formed the basis of NTP's IP library.

In recent years, though NTP has developed no new technology and has only subsisted off a career of zealous litigation against companies like RIM and others who actually produce products.  Palm was among NTP's other recent victims, being sued back in 2006.

Such patent battles typically drag out for some time in court, so the conclusion of this one may not come for some time.

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Patent Reform
By Spivonious on 7/9/2010 2:22:22 PM , Rating: 5

Seriously? How could he patent using an event driven email system on mobile devices? We need to reform the patent system so obvious "next steps" aren't patentable.

RE: Patent Reform
By Spivonious on 7/9/2010 2:29:47 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, it's even simpler than that. The patent says:

"Hey email is popular, but you need to have access to a telephone jack. I bet people will have RF access soon, so I'll patent email over RF, but throw in so much jargon that the patent office won't know what it really says."

RE: Patent Reform
By alanore on 7/9/2010 3:17:37 PM , Rating: 3
I think there should be the Homer Simpson test. If Homer could have came up with the patent then it should not be granted.

RE: Patent Reform
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2010 7:58:50 PM , Rating: 3
Homer Simpson would have trailed off after the first sentence.

And if you played a drinking game with that sentence on the word "originate" or any form of it, you'd be dead.

RE: Patent Reform
By cmdrdredd on 7/9/2010 5:17:03 PM , Rating: 5
Easy to fix it, if your patent is over 10 years old and you have no device or machinery that use the technology outlined in your patent it is invalidated by default so you cannot sue anyone.

RE: Patent Reform
By Bioniccrackmonk on 7/10/2010 1:52:48 AM , Rating: 2
That patent is so vague it can somewhat be applied to netbooks and possibly laptops since they can deal with email. This "company" and all other "companies" like this should be lined up and shot.

My first -1
By choadenstein on 7/11/2010 1:22:59 AM , Rating: 5
I know most of the readers here and clearly the author of the very opinionated blog posting have already made up their mind about the US patent system, so I welcome my first -1 rating for this posting.

However, I must say that most of you are horribly misinformed in regards to the patent system, the way it works and how even "trolls" can be beneficial to the scientific community.
I will try to address every misinformed post that are current through my posting.
i) Spivonious - Patent Reform - How can they have a patent on event driven e-mail systems on mobile devices?
Answer - because the patent in question (cited by you) has a priority date of 1991. Meaning the invention dates to 1991. Please name the mobile device in 1991 that had an event driven e-mail system. I remember having a sky pager and seeing people with brick sized mobile phones in 1991. Please tell me the mobile device in 1991 that had a e-mail system at all.
You do not look at the state of the art today when looking at patent infringement suits. You look at the infringed patent based on the filing date of the patent, or the priority date if earlier. I won't get into the finer details of priority dates, but the point stands... 1991... Name the mobile device you had in 1991 that had an event driven e-mail system. Otherwise, this is a valid and completely relevant patent.

ii) The cacophony of people agreeing with Spivonious - multiple points.
Homer Simpson test - it exists in 35 USC 103 - called the test of obviousness. Refer to above in regards to the obviousness of mobile e-mail devices in 1991. Remember, you have to take the point of view of the time the patent was filed, not the world as it is today. Sure, terrorists flying a plane into buildings sounds obvious today. Ask someone in 1991 if they thought that was something a terrorist would obviously do. Patent infringement is the same way... STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT IS OUT THERE TODAY!!! PATENTS ARE FOR THE CUTTING EDGE!!! If you look at any patent that issued, it is out of date compared to today's technology. Why? Because the average patent takes 4 years or more from filing to issue. The inference is that every patent that issues this coming Tuesday (the day the USPTO releases its issued patents every week) has already been on the market for an average of 4 years. So simply saying, pffft... that's obvious and dumb... realize that anything that ISSUES in 2010, was most likely filed in 2006 and was examined based on 2006 technology.

The patent cited by Spivonious had a priority date of 1991... So it was examined in view of technology available in 1991. In 1991, it was probably quite novel and non-obvious.

cmdrdredd... Easy to fix. Sure 10 years old limit. Fine, then your fix is to change the duration of a patent from 17 years from issue to 10 years. Fine. But please know patents already expire, just not as soon as you want. Currently 17 yrs from issue. If 10 years makes you feel better, petition your congressman/congresswoman.

Bioniccrackmonk - of course it should be applied to netbooks or anything else. Again, it was filed in 1991, any product using its patented technology is covered and will infringe. EVEN IF THAT PRODUCT WAS NOT IMAGINED. Why? Because the new product is INCORPORATING patented technology.

Masamasa and all the other people stating that purchasers or holders of patents are bottomfeeders, etc... - Please realize that there is a large market for purchasing patents and intellectual property. This actually, contrary to popular belief, DOES help the scientific community. Why? Because patents are expensive, and getting them even more so. The average patent costs about $20K to get and maintain for its lifetime. So, every researcher or engineer, etc. that wants to protect its IP must spend a good sum of money trying to protect their product/research/findings whatever. Not every patent that issues becomes a big payday for the inventor. Therefore there are patent holding companies who will step in and buy your patents to help you recoup the cost of receiving the patent and some of the R&D involved. The seller gets some money back and gets to continue with R&D and the holding company gets to hold the patent hoping that someone in the future will infringe. These "trolls" are actually injecting quite a large amount of money into the R&D scene.

ChickOn and responders - Actually, a Patent Examiner's pay is partially based on how many patents they REJECT. So they get more money if they reject your applications then let them through. I will say that what can happen is if a patent agent/attorney pushes and pushes and pushes, sometimes it is easier for an Examiner to fold than it is to keep rejecting... But that is less often the case. In fact, you will (almost) never see a patent go through unopposed. Pull any patent and you can see the file wrapper showing how many times it was rejected and responded to before it was issued. Average is about 3 rejections per patent.

Ascanius - Ugh.... So many things wrong here. First off... Nope, zero perpetual motion/free energy patents. In fact, they are barred from patentability, because current thinking is that such devices cannot exist.
Second, the US Constitution (Article I Section 8) gave Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." So, if you want to get rid of the patent system, first you need to change the US Constitution.

Pjotr - I hope you are aware that the Supreme Court of the United States just ruled on June 28, 2010 that software patents and business method patents are patentable - even though they declined to set a new standard for determining what is and is not patentable. Bilski v. Kappos. So, until you see some need judges on the SCOTUS, software and business method patents are here to stay.

Ok, that's about it. I implore everyone to learn more about patents and patent law before making absolutely baseless comments on a complete misunderstanding of the system. Are there flaws, of course there are. The patent system sucks, but not for the reasons you all keep espousing. The most frustrating of all is that whenever someone files a lawsuit, listening to people say, uh, duh... my iPhone has that already. GD it... The patents are almost 20 years old, it's not based on what you have today... It's based on when the patent was filed.

I welcome my -1, thank you for not reading the entire post and simply rating me down!

RE: My first -1
By killerclick on 7/11/2010 5:42:42 PM , Rating: 3
How about if I patent a wearable display that beams an image on the eye with a laser? Clearly it will be done sometime in the future, should I simply patent it and wait for some brilliant engineer to make it before I sue him and his company for all they've got?

Ideas are worth nothing, it's what you do with them that should count.

RE: My first -1
By choadenstein on 7/11/2010 8:28:53 PM , Rating: 3
The current US patent system requires you to not only conceive of an idea, but you must have reduced the invention to practice as well. So, therefore, your idea of having a wearable display... is not yet patentable, until you reduce the idea to practice.

That, however, does not mean that there has to be a current market for your patentable idea that you reduced to practice. For instance, it is ok that no cell phones had e-mail back in 1991, as long as the inventor of the patent reduced it to practice (i.e., had a mobile device that could receive e-mail via RF signals), he can receive the patent on it. If later a market appears for the device, he can then assert his rights in the invention by way of the patent.

The patent system is not as ludicrous as you make it out to be.

RE: My first -1
By killerclick on 7/12/2010 10:11:52 AM , Rating: 2
I suppose I could make a clunky, heavy device that projects some simple image on the eye just in order to be able to claim the invention is in practice, never mind that its crudeness would make it useless until some engineers refine it twenty years from now.

RE: My first -1
By ipay on 7/14/2010 10:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
How can it be patentworthy to transfer information using existing technology?

Transfering encoded information over RF was nothing new back then and that is what this patent boils down to. Why should it matter wheter this information contains an e-mail?
Having an interrupt after something was received also was arround back then.

This kind of knowledge was probably extraordinary when the first CPUs were created, but calling that stuff patentworthy 1990?

By masamasa on 7/9/2010 5:15:41 PM , Rating: 4
When they allows bottomfeeders like these, with no product or technology linked to the patent, to sue legit companies left, right, and center it just goes to show how ***** up the patent and legal system is.

If they were all crushed by an asteroid falling out of the sky I would applaud.

RE: Pathetic
By 55thFox on 7/9/2010 7:41:38 PM , Rating: 5
I hold the patent on that....

Patent office can go suck it
By chick0n on 7/9/2010 2:20:13 PM , Rating: 2
I bet most assholes working there don't even know 99% of what those patent means. they just grant grant grant grant all day long. then sit their ass in front of their computers to download p0rn.

RE: Patent office can go suck it
By bhieb on 7/9/2010 4:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but like other jobs they are probably judged on how many they can process per day. I'd like to know what kind of incentives are placed on the employees to actually completely review the patent. I bet it is easier to accept then deny a patent, after all if they deny it then it can be appealed. If the appeal is held up, I bet that counts against them too.

Just my speculation, but that kind of BS is how most companies are ran. Quality of work is second to Quantity.

RE: Patent office can go suck it
By Bioniccrackmonk on 7/10/2010 1:55:46 AM , Rating: 2
Quality of work is second to Quantity.

That is the quote for just about all government offices that deal directly with the public.

RE: Patent office can go suck it
By frobizzle on 7/12/2010 8:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
That is the quote for just about all government offices that deal directly with the public.

Actually, that is the quote for just about any business today!

Which is it
By morphologia on 7/9/2010 3:08:56 PM , Rating: 5
Hmm...which is the appropriate term? Lawsuit whores, or litigatards?

patent trolls
By bernardpalmer on 7/11/2010 4:53:55 AM , Rating: 2
My first -1 wrote,
"So, if you want to get rid of the patent system, first you need to change the US Constitution."

Much of the US constitution is so badly ignored by all and sundry that it is in the state of collapse as it is, therefore the strong possibility exists that with the coming economic turmoil it will probably cease to exist within 10 years. Once that happens no patent has any protection other than that hastily worked out by the companies themselves.

This in itself is prone to disagreements mainly because the length of time spent researching means many companies have the same design on their drawing boards so first in gets the prize when often the later entry really gets the science right but is restricted by the early entrant. This means often we all lose out.

As I see it the four big problems with patents is the length of time the protection lasts, the time taken to process the application and the actual cost of application and defence.

Again as I see it science has not yet got into top gear and cannot while the existing patent structure is enforced. It is with this in mind that I built a prototype patent system.

At the period of the patent is 5 years. The inventor can have the first 2 years of priority meaning no one may use it without his permission. After that anyone may use it for the remaining 3 years but only if they pay the inventor 10% of any profit generated.

All patents are reviewed on line by anyone interested with a 75% majority needed to grant the patent. The cost is minimal and the coverage worldwide whilst the protection has to come from business itself. Only the big companies have the major interest and weight to make sure that a patent protection scheme works.

Lastly but not least probably 99% of inventors cannot use the current system. By making it accessible to all only then can innovation be free and with that happening everyone should benefit.

RE: patent trolls
By choadenstein on 7/11/2010 1:02:20 PM , Rating: 3
This in itself is prone to disagreements mainly because the length of time spent researching means many companies have the same design on their drawing boards so first in gets the prize when often the later entry really gets the science right but is restricted by the early entrant. This means often we all lose out.

This is actually not the case in the US. The US has a first to invent system while most of the rest of the world uses a first to file system. When you file in the US, if there is a conflict, both sides must prove when they first had possession of the invention.

As I see it the four big problems with patents is the length of time the protection lasts

This, unfortunately is too simplistic of a view. I agree with you in terms of software patents, where 17-20 years is insane. However, in Pharma, where it takes 7-10 years to get your product to market (i.e., FDA approval, etc..) and it takes another 3-4 years to recoup your R&D cost. Typically, pharma patents are only profitable for the last 3-4 years of its life.

My view is that there needs to be various lengths to patent protection based on the art the patent is involving.

the time taken to process the application and the actual cost of application and defence

This is a factor of so many applications coming in that the Examiner's cannot handle it all. Simple solution is to higher more Examiner's. Shouldn't be a problem, we have plenty of unemployed people.

Also, the USPTO is one of the few branches of the US Gov. that is actually profitable. So do not say it would end up costing us more. Actually, more Examiner's means more rejections, which means more responses, which means more fees. Good for Gov...

Cost of application. Debatable, but for small entities (companies with less than 500 people) a patent filing is only $470 ($110 for a provisional). That's not that bad. It's the attorneys fees that get you... But you can get freelancers to do the patents for a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.

Defense of patents... Any litigation is expensive. Insert lawyer jokes here...

BTW. I ask everyone not to lose sight of what patents are meant to do and how they do actually help the scientific community.

The reason for patents is as follows. In exchange for a patent, we require that an inventor publically disclose his/her invention so that, once the patent expires, everyone is able to duplicate and replicate his invention. Otherwise, he would not reveal to the public how something is made/manufactured/accomplished. Trade secrets would rule, and every company would just hide and conceal every new invention they come up with. THIS would stymie the scientific community. If a new drug came out, and instead of publishing the chemical compound, others would have to try to reverse engineer, re-test, get approval from the FDA on new trials, etc... That would be a true tragedy in the scientific community. Instead, we say, we'll protect your invention for a period of time, just tell us what you did and how you did it.

I feel like a lot of people only think of the software/electronics world when thinking of patents. You must review the system in its entirety. Software/electronics developments happen rapidly. Parma/Bio/Chem - not as fast.

What we need is a patent system that differentiates between the various fields.

pattent for sending an email over RF only?
By robert5c on 7/9/2010 4:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
don't most phones use their applications to connect to the internet and check the internet for email updates...other then blackberry, i don't believe most phones like iphone or android actually have the email sent wirelessly directly to the phone by the network provider. email on my phone doesn't work like an SMS

an example of this is that email providers aren't telecoms usually, and they don't have my phone number, they simply provide the email on the web, and my phone connects to the web, and downloads it. atleast thats what i think...and their patents don't cover wireless access to the internet so whats the issue here?

By 666 on 7/10/2010 3:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
The issue here is that even 600+ million dollars do not last forever, especially if split between several greedy bastards. The money they won last time is simply running low. Or, it could be there's something new they (the greedy bastards) want to get, and what ever's left over from last time doesn't cover it.

Patent is basically wrong
By Ascanius on 7/10/2010 7:48:33 AM , Rating: 1
From my subjective point of view patent in itself is very wrong, it halters development, free thought, free energy, some patents are so simple that it is so highly inmoral to say that no one else can come up with the same ideas.

More over, recent patens on reainforest plant by pharma industri could lead to remowal of plants in nature, because they are someones alone, this is so highly inmoral and devastating to our collective survival that just by that in itself every patent office should be closed, no one should ever have the possibillity of thought control like this ever again.

In these days, where there exists hundreds of perpetual motion/real free energy machine patens, we need them out free instead of the hands of investors that EARN money on the fact that they hold the patens so that it can NEVER be used, and thereby can sell something else instead, like oil.

We need to remove any kind of thought control to survive both our serious over population, our problem with industrialism and what enviromental devastation that follows.

If there were no patens there would this very moment be both free energy, better healthcare and other kinds of transportation.

So it would effect every man to remove thought control/patent, even the invester that holds the patents, that would first loose money, would still be able to see his/her children grow up and him/herself have somewhat extended life, patent is the ignorant/brutes way of control, nothing else, the intelligent person shares as he/she know that when it comes full circle, then it comes all back, besides the noossphere is collective, we know somewhat today that we are all intangled in the way we think, so in the end, whos idea is really whos?, what can be invented that have not been invented beforehand?

The thought must be free, it should be a crime even to hae patent systems as it controls thought, think it through, the commies did and on this they where right indeed, because we can see by looking out our very eyes that this we do is not the way, this we do now ends with super commerce, super control and the rest, we are just cattle in a system that we our selves have created, like building a prison, walking into a cell, close the door and give the key to someone else and tell him not to lock us out and please beat me once a day.

This is not smart, we can open our minds, do way better!

RE: Patent is basically wrong
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2010 11:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
Try not smoking pot before you post.

My Lord
By formulav8 on 7/9/2010 4:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely Hate greed. You know this companys existence is to sue and get rich. I definitely agree that the current patent system is very flawed.

But if the government or whoever tried to overhaul the patent system, then these greedy guts along with Rambus will be filing lawsuites with the patent system since it could end up harder for them to file such vague, deceitful, and useless patent claims.

Blah I say


By Pjotr on 7/10/2010 6:32:39 AM , Rating: 2
More of this please, so the software patent system can implode and go away forever. You can't patent mathematics and algorithms and most programming is algorithms. The US Supreme Court failed twice in history to set this straight and probably have to try again to fix this failed system.

By LordSojar on 7/10/2010 6:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I wonder how the powers that be continue to ignore the actual problems (in this case, the problems with the patent office itself), and blame it on companies, allowing frivolous lawsuits to continue. Perhaps it is merely to give lawyers work?

There are so many examples of this, outside the patent issue. Look at the RIAA and MPAA. They continue to assault the conditions caused by their own ignorance instead of fixing the core issues.

Customers lose out in both situations. These patent issues hurt we, the consumers, by stifling innovation. Companies are discouraged from taking existing technology and re-imagining it; improving technology through envisioning variations that are vast improvements, and yet, companies are put under when they attempt to do what other companies fail to do. Free market only works when it's actually free.

Not so obvious solution
By xocoatl on 7/10/2010 6:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
With these overly broad IP patents involving Radio Frequencies which cover the range between 30KHz and 300Ghz, the only solution is to switch to Microwave to still use the same technology and avoid NTP's claims of infringement. Of course, NTP probably already thought of that and is probably in the process of getting those patents as well.

Clear Wireless uses WiMax and that is Microwave, so if Sprint carries data for email access over their 4G Network via Clear and thus Microwave broadband, that portion should be exempt from this lawsuit.

When the heck..
By royalcrown on 7/12/2010 8:19:57 AM , Rating: 2
...did Rambus change their company name ? I ho[e they blow their 612 mill and go broke, paying lawyers. Then I hope they are expected to pay the defendants court cost.

The richer the better
By AntDX316 on 7/13/2010 2:28:58 AM , Rating: 2
probably want to upgrade their lifestyle from a 3 million dollar yacht to a 100 million dollar one

By driver01z on 7/13/2010 12:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
They're suing her!

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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