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Google Businesses The Internet Government The Courts News

Google Talk Targeted In Patent Lawsuit 229

Posted by Zonk
from the suing-is-such-a-noble-business dept.
JamesAlfaro wrote to mention an Ars Technica story, which goes into the recent filing of a suit against Google Talk. A Delaware corporation claims that Talk infringes on two of its patents. From the article: "You've probably never heard of Rates Technology Inc. (RTI), and that wouldn't be surprising since the company has no products and offers no services. By all appearances, RTI is a company that was set up to collect licensing fees and pursue settlements related to the company's patent portfolio. Gerald J. Weinberger, president of Rates technology Inc., once said that the company was 'an enterprise based on patent licensing,' and that much of its business depended on the courts." Certainly seems like there are a lot of those businesses around nowadays, huh?
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Google Talk Targeted In Patent Lawsuit

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  • by XorNand (517466) * on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:39AM (#14365209)
    The two patents in question are not for inventions, but processes relating to using a regular telephone to make long distance calls. The patents focus on the use of a centralized database with pricing information for the purposes of determining the cheapest phone call carrier on the fly.
    Are you kidding me? It's called "least cost call routing" and is pretty much a no-brainer. The VoIP service company that I run has six different trunks from four carriers for redundancy reasons. It didn't take long for it to dawn on me that maybe I should take advantage of the different rates to different destinations. One carrier might be cheaper for calls to Italy, while another is cheaper to Japan.

    As for prior art, can we cite OSPF? How about using a map to avoid toll roads on a trip? Or choosing from several of those 10-10 long distance services, depending on who's cheaper at the moment? It's all the same process (which is the basis for the claim). Just because the calculation is done with a computer instead of a human brain doesn't make it any different.

    Somehow I'm not worried about a legal precedent being set though. Rates Technology Inc. just put a company with a $123 billion market cap in their crosshairs. They might as well be using a slingshot and they know it. This is a blatent effort to extort a settlement out of someone with deep pockets. RTI would never try this crap with my company. I hope that Google viciously spanks them on principle.
    • by isdnip (49656) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:06PM (#14365397)
      OSPF? You're not even touching a huge well of prior art that predates OSPF by years! This goes right back to telephone network switches and direct distance dialing. By the late 1970s, most major PBX systems had least-cost routing features, some more sophisticated than that named in the Weinberger "patent". And after Equal Access created 10xxx codes, there were boxes that updated tables to decide which 10xxx was cheapest for any given call. All of this directly wipes out the patent in question. (And yes, I've offered information about this to a high-placed person in Google.)

      However, the VoIP service doesn't even seem to infringe upon the patent itself, as if the patent were valid, so the case fails on those grounds too. This looks like a blatant attempt to use a trash patent against a deep-pocketed victim in hopes of getting quick cash, rather than dealing with a lawsuit that might somehow upset investors.
    • Are you kidding me? It's called "least cost call routing" and is pretty much a no-brainer.
      It's existed on ISDN PABX for *at least* 10 years.

      What next, are they going to patent rotary dials for use in VoIP?
    • Did you patent this "no-braner"? Clearly it takes some thought becasue you say it "dawned" on you. CLearly this is a logical inconsistancy.

      "How about using a map to avoid toll roads on a trip? "
      how is that uised to determine cheaper phone rates?

      The problem is, of course, patenting 'processes'. They should not be allowed, however they are allowed, so they may have a case.
      Or are you saying a companies market cap is what should be used to determine if what they do is legal?

      your complaint seems to be that they
      • The problem is that the algorithms used are not new. In general it's referred to as "flow analysis" in graph theory (IIRC I could be wrong and can't be bothered to check my books/google). Anyways, graph theory has been around for a few hundred years so, which means it's pretty well established. Anyone who spends a lot of time solving these problems just haven't had a formal education (the algorithms are presented in computer science 101 basically) or they just don't like to look at what other people have do
    • Are you kidding me? It's called "least cost call routing" and is pretty much a no-brainer.

      You don't understand how this scam works: first, get a patent. It should be something broadly written so that everything plausibly infringes it. Then you go to a small company and say "You infringe this patent. We will sue you, or you can settle for $100." Obviously the small company settles; it would be insane to do anything else. You keep going go more and more companies, increasing the settlement offer; but a
      • One of these days some Attorney General planning to run for Governor will wise up to this scam, and go after these firms for criminal extortion.

        Generally though the Attoerney General is a lawyer and has many lawyer friends, probably some of which funded his campaign.

        Beacuse the US has such an open system of corruption (which country doesn't though?), it's unlikely you'll ever see this business model done away with any time soon.

    • They'll have their patent revoked if they try to enforce it; patents only stick for "nonobvious" innovation. Reducing your call cost by keeping a table of call costs is pretty much called "comparison shopping". You're right. But I don't think Google will counter sue them for being dicks. Google's getting too close much of that "Evil Empire" image for a PR breakdown like that. They'll probably settle out of court for some insulting (to RTI) sum AFTER Google's patent lawyer has made RTI's patent lawyer f
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:39AM (#14365211) Homepage Journal
    Here is the end game of all patent protection laws -- making the attorneys wealthy. Patents are a government granted monopoly. All government granted monopolies take advantage of their power over time -- and the big winners are the lawyers, of course.

    Do you expect another result? Do you expect patents to make people innovate? We've been human for thousands of years, we've innovated for thousands of years. New products hit the market every day that were designed by some mom or some kid in a garage -- they didn't think of patents when they started designing.

    The force of the law can not truly protect inventions, which is based on thought. Intellectual property is another word for "we want to control how you think and how you process a thought into an action." It seems criminal to me that I can't take a person's creation, make it better and sell the better version myself. This is how our lives get better -- innovating, modifying, perfecting, debugging. No idea is truly revolutionary, we just take little bits and pieces from what isn't working perfectly, and we find ways to make things better.

    We elect lawyers to make laws, and in the end, the laws only protect the lawyers. We have accountants write tax code and in the end, the tax code only protects the accountants. This is what comes from excessive government force.

    There are many people here who want patent laws to work -- I commend you for continuing to try to find a way to force other people to be good to one another. I have yet to hear HOW we can make patent protections work. We're humans, we're out for our own interests, and that will never change. Why would I want to give certain elected greedy humans this power?
    • I agree with the front half of your criticism: the system is broken and makes lawyers rich. Yet without some kind of protection, corporations can cut out the middle man and outright steal ideas and take them to market faster or cheaper than the upstart/mom&pop inventor can. Again, I agree that as it is the little folk have little recourse, de facto. I guess all I am saying is that some kind of legal protection system is not only good in principle, but is actually needed; but a whole brand new, reworked,
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:59AM (#14365344) Homepage Journal
        The funny thing is, show me more than a handful of inventors who truly made it big from their inventions.

        Most inventions are performed by hired staff in the research and development wing. There is nothing preventing companies from creating a "protect our inventions" wing, or figuring out how much the initial product must sell for to recoup the costs before competitors knock it off.

        Define "whole brand new, reworked, better system" as I can't think of any, other than canning it entirely and replacing it with nothing.
        • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:05PM (#14366185) Homepage Journal
          Occurs to me that one solution to the "buy patents, sue everyone" business model would be to make patents protect only the original inventor, and for non-independent inventors, the company said inventor was working for at the time, and only the FIRST buyer thereafter.

          Under such a system, patents could only be sold ONCE. After that, the idea would fall into the public domain. That way inventors and companies could make a reasonable return on their innovations, but there'd be no incentive to buy up "used" patents, as they'd have no value.

          This might have a further effect in that it would no longer be profitable to buy another company SOLELY to acquire their intellectual property assets, since as of the 2nd sale, they'd no longer have any protected value. This would probably incline the market toward more smallish companies that competed more directly, and a great many more small-scale patent-licensing deals among related companies, which ought to ultimately be all to the good (smaller companies generally being more customer-centric, and less beholden to stockholders).

          And it would cut the lawyers, who had nothing to do with the invention itself, out of the profit chain.

          Oh yeah... I'm gonna patent this as my business model. ;)

          • and only the FIRST buyer thereafter.

            Loophole: create skeleton corporations for a patent/pool of patents. Said company would buy the patent from the original inventor(s) and from there on, instead of selling patents, sell corporations.

            "Paper corporations" are extremely easy to buy. There are firms that have a bunch of assetless corporations just for selling. They'll even provide the necesary board members from among their employees if you so desire.
        • The funny thing is, show me more than a handful of inventors who truly made it big from their inventions.

          Why? When I can just quote your other post...

          New products hit the market every day that were designed by some mom or some kid in a garage

          I will, however, name one person that immediately pops into my mind as an individual patent holder who's made quit a bit of money off his invention. He is Tom Jolly [jollygames.com], and has a patent or two on gameplay mechanics for games like Diskwars.

          Patents are here to help
      • by kryonD (163018) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:16PM (#14365455) Homepage Journal
        I'd agree with you here except for one minor little detail, RTI doesn't have a product that needs protecting. It's not like they filed the patent to ensure BigCorp wouldn't steal the idea and beat them to market. They are basically running an electronic protection racket that would make the Mafia proud. I mean seriously, the only thing Google will get from licensing their patent is protection from being sued. RTI doesn't make any money on their idea unless someone else needs to use it. It's straight up, clear cut extortion. I too am waiting to see Google take this one all the way to the Supreme Court.
      • The Patent system is broken, yes, but the process for incorporation and giving legal personhood to corporations is also seriously broken. The two are intertwined. You could eliminate quite a bit of shady corporate behavior by making a human being always responsible for decisions made by a corporation, you could make incorporating a much tougher process and have it come with an automatic timeout, you could insist that corporations must incorporate in the states where they actually do business, not just delaw
    • While civilization has been innovating for millennia, but most innovation seems to have come in the last fifty, hundred or two hundred years. That isn't a case to say that patent law works as in causation, but the correllation is interesting and I wouldn't mind seeing whether there is a causal link between the rise of patents and the rise of innovation.
      • Yes, there's a correlation, but you're just missing a lot of things, both on the inventions, and on the reasons.

        Some other factors that come to mind: greater population, stable governments, stable economies, safety, rising standards of living, rapid communication, rapid travel, etc. A few inventions enabled us to produce many many other inventions.

        You also forget that inventions before used to be huge things, too. The wheel, fire starters, crop technique, medical basics, optics (glasses, microscope, teles
      • I think a more likely cause would be the massive rise in the quality and depth of education of the average worker. At least 1% (say 3 million people) and probably close to 10% (say 30 million people) of the US population is as educated as Gallileo was, and in fact knows more in general about how the universe works than he did. Consider what it does to innovation when 10% of your population is that smart. This was enabled mostly by the rise of productivity in farmland from fertilizer and better understand
    • "...-- they didn't think of patents when they started designing."

      no, but if they don't pantent they have no recourse when smoeone with money makes a killing off someone elses idea.

      "The force of the law can not truly protect inventions, which is based on thought. "
      of course they can, it's called patent law.

      "Intellectual property is another word for "we want to control how you think and how you process a thought into an action." "

      no, it is not. IP is a way of sayniog, this is my idea and I want to own it. It
      • Unfortunately, you naively think that "owning an idea" is a perfectly okay thing to do. Owning an idea is like owning property, you can kick someone off of it, right? That's great, except you CAN'T kick someone off of an idea. Once they know it, they know it.

        This whole "my idea" crap is really the source of the problem. Face it, knowing something is not owning it, and making laws based around that only compounds the problems. When law does not reflect reality, everyone loses. THAT is not paranoid delu
    • The patent process does NOT prevent you from taking someone else's invention and making improvements and then getting a new patent - that's the whole point behind "prior art". The lawyers, however, might.

    • Why not play into the system? A lot of people here have scientific degrees. Go get a law degree and become a patent lawyer. Then you can try to make some changes.

      I'm a law student, but because I don't have a science degree, I cant sit for the patent bar (unless I pass a ridiculous test that requires a lot of knowledge I would've learned had I done engineering in college). If you have a certain number of hours in the sciences and a JD, you CAN sit for the patent bar.

      Instead of complaining about a b
    • Patents were supposed to protect the original inventor by grantly him/her a monopoly for a limited period of time. This gives the inventor time to produce his product, market it, sell it, and reap the rewards from his/her creation. At the end of the limited monopoly others are then allowed to build replicas. Companies like Rates Technology Inc build no products. The sell no patented devices. They simply make grand claims yet vague and never produce anything tangible. All the do is line their pockets o
    • This is what comes from excessive government force.

      Actually this is what came of insufficient government force. That is, if you define government as being 'by the people for the people'. What we have now is that a government is so spineless and unwilling to oppose corporate and private power, that it is no government at all. Merely a system for transferring more and more wealth and power from the masses into opulence for the wealthy elite.

      By trying to tear down government (rather than the elite who exploit
      • scrap free trade
        ratify kyoto
        scrap the missile defense program
        don't invade Iraq looking for WMD you KNOW aren't there.

        O Canada! Our home and native land!
        True patriot love in all thy sons command.
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        From far and wide, O Canada,
        We stand on guard for thee.
        God keep our land glorious and free!
        O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
        O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

        Tell your boss he has no right to dictate to you what politica

  • The New New Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkEst1973 (769601) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:43AM (#14365244)
    IP Holding companies. I think we all know it's ridiculous, but so long as the law supports this kind of business I imagine we can expect to see more of the same.

    Let's hope that the big companies calling for patent reform [com.com] manage to effect some positive change. Microsoft and Oracle in that article, I'm pretty sure IBM has sounded the call, too.

    • Let's hope that the big companies calling for patent reform manage to effect some positive change. Microsoft and Oracle in that article, I'm pretty sure IBM has sounded the call, too.

      Yes, because we all know that big companies like Microsoft always do what's best for consumers, innovation, and the market as a whole.

      I am sure that Microsoft would be very happy to screw over legitimate small inventors while cloaking itself in the crusade against spurious patents.

      I agree that the patent system needs to be refo
    • Re:The New New Thing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by harks (534599)
      I can see complaints about ridiculous patents that have been granted, but what is inherently wrong about an "IP holding company" trying to profit off of the use of its inventions?
      • Re:The New New Thing (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plopez (54068)
        Actually, the original purpose of patents was to help advance technology by forcing the inventor to disclose how something works. In exchange the inventor gets a limited time government granted monopoloy. If you do not patent and someone steals your idea, you cannot sue. If it is patented you can sue.

        IP holding companies do nothing to advance the state of the art. They are parasites leeching off of the efforts of the actual inventors and using extortion (threat of law suits) to make a buck, and so they shou
  • by Surt (22457) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:43AM (#14365245) Homepage Journal
    Certainly seems like there are a lot of those businesses around nowadays, huh?


    And with good reason. An independent inventor has virtually no way to pursue such claims himself, the cost is far too expensive. Instead, patent holding companies allow an inventor to sell his invention to a holding company, and have the company pursue claims. He may sell outright or receive a portion of the profits.

    There are many things wrong with the patent system. Patent holding companies are not among them. If you accept patents at all, licensing companies are vital to the success, fairness, and effectiveness of the system.

    • Patent holding companies are indeed one of the key problems with the current patent system. Your suggestion is that just somebody thinking of an idea should be able to turn a profit. That is simply not the case - plenty of people *have ideas*, and were that the threshold for a patent then countless inventions could have been patented long ago. Hell, by that reasoning von Neumann could have patented the computer and then sold that patent to some parasitic holding company that just holds the patent and profit
      • No, that's a problem with the patents being offered, not the holding companies. If the patent is for something that:

        a) can easily be invented by someone else
        b) can't be produced by the inventor

        then something is wrong. That's why there's an obviousness clause, and there used to be a requirement to actually deliver an implementation.

        Suppose we give credit to von neumann for inventing the computer, and grant him a patent on it. Suppose, further, for a moment that we feel he deserves the patent, and that the
      • plenty of people *have ideas*

        Which is why we need more holding companies, not less. The barrier to getting a good idea from your head to a workable product is still very high so countless people have good ideas that never see the light of day. The more avenues we have for allowing people to air those ideas the better. In addition, holding companies serve another purpose - they allow people to manage risk. Different people are happy with different levels of risk. If you don't mind high risk you may be pre

        • The problem is that the holding companies aren't regulated in terms of their acceptance/purchase-to-working product ratio. As there is no regulation, there will be immoral jerkoffs that will exploit the system to their advantage - i.e. a holding company that purchases thousands of ideas from poor inventors that 'ne3d ca$h f4$t!!!@! ' and in turn indexes/categorizes them and waits for someone ELSE to actually come up with a working product based on that idea or something kinda, sorta, not really so much lik
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday December 30, 2005 @01:31PM (#14365946)
      And with good reason. An independent inventor has virtually no way to pursue such claims himself, the cost is far too expensive. Instead, patent holding companies allow an inventor to sell his invention to a holding company, and have the company pursue claims.

      So you are suggesting it is in the natural order of things for an inventor to invent something, patent it, then sell the patent to a company that has no intention of ever producing or using the patent for anything other than extortion? I know of no inventor who would like that idea. Every independent inventor I know would rather have no patent system than invent something and sell the rights to someone else knowing it would never be produced. Inventors are like artists. They don't do it because they want to, they do it because they have to. If you gave an artist the choice of putting up one of their best paintings in the Louvre or selling it to a private collector to be in storage forever, I think more would choose to get no income from giving it to the Louvre. The recognition and use of the art/invention is more important and greater incentive to create more than pure profit. Profit might motivate corporations to hire more people for the R&D department, but it doesn't seem to be the motivation for the independent artists and inventors I know.

      If you are just talking about an inventor defending his patent, there are plenty of laywers out there willing to take the case, and they won't demand rights to the patent to do so. That is the recourse that inventors use, rather than just selling off their patents.

      He may sell outright or receive a portion of the profits.

      What profits? They would be selling to a company guaranteed to not produce it. You'd have to be pretty stupid to make a deal based on profits when selling something to a company you know won't produce anything.
      • It may not be the ideal solution to the inventor, but it is workable. I know inventors who have sold their patents and been quite happy with the outcome.

        As to the profits, I of course mean the sub-licensing or lawsuit profits. (And again: where you read lawsuit here, you must read legitimate, patented invention stealing lawsuit).
      • So you are suggesting it is in the natural order of things for an inventor to invent something, patent it, then sell the patent to a company that has no intention of ever producing or using the patent for anything other than extortion? I know of no inventor who would like that idea.

        Then you don't know many intelligent people, capable of inventing something, that are strapped for cash and a little lacking in the moral fortitude column.
        • So you are suggesting it is in the natural order of things for an inventor to invent something, patent it, then sell the patent to a company that has no intention of ever producing or using the patent for anything other than extortion? I know of no inventor who would like that idea.

          Then you don't know many intelligent people, capable of inventing something, that are strapped for cash and a little lacking in the moral fortitude column.

          You are right. Most of the intelligent people I know that invent are
    • What if I don't accept patents at all?

      Software patents, anyway. I don't think any should be valid. I think you should be able to copyright code, but I don't think you should be able to patent the "concept". What if, say, vBulletin had, back in the day, patented the bulletin board? I seriously doubt you would have seen as much innovation in it as we have now.
      • Then you'd find me in complete agreement with you. I don't accept patents at all either. I just don't agree that holding companies are the source of the problem. It's the patents themselves that are the problem.
    • So THAT'S what that "Invention Submission Corporation" does... They make it sound so cheery and beneficial to Mankind.
  • Crazy folk... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrCoke (445461)
    They are so gonna get toasted in court.

    Following this logic, ancient manufacturers of coaches could sue modern car manufacturers just because they use wheels too.

    Different times, different technology.
    • Of course they are. This company should have stuck to its "bread and butter", extorting protection money from small companies that can't afford to fight. They can't win in court, but their many licensees' have figured they can't afford the court fight to find out. But they lost to Nortel and will lose to Google, because these two can afford the fight...
    • Not crazy but crooked. That scumbag is trying to extort money out of other companies for a patent that should never have been granted (using computer to route based on lowest cost route, I would have never thought of that!). The fact that the attempted extortion is legal and government sanctioned right now doesn't make it nice or moral.
  • by matt me (850665) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:44AM (#14365248)
    Their idealogical allegiances aside, Googles still have a patent on highlighting.

    See US Patent 6,839,702 on the following server which clearly doesn't use mod_alias.
    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm l&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,839,702.WKU [uspto.gov].

    A system highlights search terms in documents distributed over a network. The system generates a search query that includes a search term and, in response to the search query, receives a list of one or more references to documents in the network. The system receives selection of one of the references and retrieves a document that corresponds to the selected reference. The system then highlights the search term in the retrieved document.
    • by boinger (4618) <boingerNO@SPAMfuck-you.org> on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:12PM (#14365436) Homepage
      Have they sued anyone over it?

      There are plenty of people/companies with "defensive patents" simply to prevent a jackass from claiming it as their own.

      Remember that Mercedes-Benz commercial re: airbags? "We've never enforced that patent." Like that.
      • usage and abusage (Score:2, Interesting)

        by matt me (850665)
        Be it a patent offensive or a perceived pre-emptive strike, it's still contributing to the abuse of the system. Simply saying "we know it's bad, but we're just doing it to help everyone [ESP OURSELVES]" won't get us anywhere. The system won't be brought down while all the players continue to fight each other inside it, rather than moving outside.

        If Google had let some jackass patent highlighting, and then when taken to the court used their power and influence to win the case, setting a precedent that "you c
  • by Klowner (145731) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:46AM (#14365254) Homepage
    It always reminds me of that drooling kid that sits idly in a sandbox and throws a fit any time someone else wants to play with their tiny plastic shovel.
  • Why not make an "open" API that allows one to move data (of various forms) over the communication channel?

    E.g. Google builds a system that works to move data -- and end users make their own voice/text/video adapters?

    It would seem that that would be better, all-around, and would move all infringing behavior -- if it happened -- to the clients.

    You can construct such a system so that Google doesn't know what is being transferred, and hence isn't liable for the infringement.

    Then the company with the patents can
    • It's called TCP/IP. Time tested and true, it works excellently at moving data (in various forms) over a communication channel.

      -Rick
  • always.

    Patent holding companies are just a way for in inventor to leverage his work to make money.

    NBD
  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:51AM (#14365291) Journal
    I've just come from the Unites States Patent Office, where they have declared me the Inventor of the "Shell-company Suing Patent Infringers" business model.

    I'll take that gavel, if you please.

    Unless you'd maybe like to negotiate a nominal license fee...
  • The Patent Claims (Score:5, Insightful)

    by putko (753330) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:52AM (#14365302) Homepage Journal
    FTFA:

    "The two patents in question are not for inventions, but processes relating to using a regular telephone to make long distance calls. The patents focus on the use of a centralized database with pricing information for the purposes of determining the cheapest phone call carrier on the fly. The patents do not deal explicitly with the Internet, however, and do not even appear to have VoIP ventures in mind. (I thank my lucky stars every day that I'm not a patent lawyer, however, so my initial reading of the complaint could be incorrect.)"

    In this case, Google may not be the best company to use. If the claims cover routing, then that is handled by a thing called the "internet", which uses some clever algorithms to dynamically route "packets" at the "lowest cost" (in a small-scale fashion). This "internet" doens't use a centralized database for this though, as their claim mentions.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:55AM (#14365322)
    You've probably never heard of Rates Technology Inc. (RTI), and that wouldn't be surprising since the company has no products and offers no services.
    They have also been to court some 25 times, and in once instance Weinberger warned that a defendant had better be ready to spend at least US$1,000,000 on legal fees, because that's how they roll (paraphrased, of course).


    This is what happens when you have too many lawyers, not enough clients, and an excessive amount of greed. People will find a way to sue for anything. It is not a question of who is right or wrong, it is more a question is who can quickly profit in this complex legal game. The US has more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world, and you can see the result. The lawyers win in the end since they will make huge fees and suffer little or no consequences from their actions.
  • Oh, yes... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:08PM (#14365406) Homepage Journal
    Google should agree to pay 1000x loss of profit compensation. If they didn't make their Google Talk service, the company would earn about $0 on the patents....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We had the Blackberry fiasco, now Google Talk. Patent reform needs a use-it-or-lose-it approach among other things to clear away the scourge of patent squatting.
  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:19PM (#14365473)
    This one is no different.
    These people are too lazy and too immoral to earn an HONEST living so they leach off of the hard work of others. They are thieves and scum. Whale shit is a higher life form than these filthy parasites.

    While I'm no fan of Google or it's mega-corporate adventures, I'm less of a fan of parasitical lawyers. Patent lawyers are bottom feeders and this guy is just one of many.

    Patent lawyers should be classified as enemy combatants and hustled off to Gitmo in the middle of the night.

    • That's totally unreasonable. Many patent lawyers are good people doing an honest (and hard) day's work. This is a different class of animal. These folks don't work for clients who invent things, they go into business for themselves in order to make money from the system without actually having contributed anything to the invention process.
  • by jilles (20976) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:25PM (#14365498) Homepage
    It's stuff like this that makes the big software corporations invest in patents. Companies like google and microsoft don't draw significant revenue from patents and actually invest heavily in research. But having patents guarantees that they won't end up sueing each other. It's a defensive thing and it has gotten way out of hand. I work for a large european company that files lots of patents (Nokia) and we are very much into this thing. European patent law doesn't allow many of the patents we file in the US. Just recently we got sued by this small company from the US. Filing patents is our primary defence against this. Our money comes from selling phones, not intelectual property licensing.

    With the US patent law and office deliberately (this was/is lobbied for) weakened to the point where basically any brain fart may be patent pending, people are patenting everything they can think of with absolute disrespect to such outdated things as prior art, originality or even cleverness. It doesn't matter if an idea is stupid, based on existing ideas and stolen: a patent gives you the right to sue. The legal process is guaranteed to be lengthy, complicated and above all very expensive. The patent office rubberstamping anything they stumble upon ensures a steady stream of revenue for a growing group of companies who, in all honestly, have never lifted a finger to do anything remotely resembling research. Their revenues are based on bullshit portfolios of patents. Google is just the latest victim. Luckily they have the muscle to fight back. Many truely innovative companies don't.

    The rats of the IPR industry are becoming an obstacle for innovation. Large corporations are now starting to feel this pain (e.g. Google, IBM, Nokia and Microsoft have all recently had to deal with lawsuits from insignificant IPR only corporations). The problem with IPR only companies is that you can't countersue. In other words, your patent portfolio is worthless if you are sued by one of those companies. It is my hope that these companies will get smart and start lobbying against software patents instead of in favour like they have done in the past. Just today I joked to a colleague that Nokia should quit selling phones and focus on the Nokia Research Center I work for :-).
    • It's stuff like this that makes the big software corporations invest in patents.

      No, it's not. Your own patent portfolio makes very little difference when you are being sued by an IP holding company--they aren't interested in cross-licensing, and they aren't infringing any of your patents.

      Companies like google and microsoft don't draw significant revenue from patents and actually invest heavily in research. But having patents guarantees that they won't end up sueing each other.

      That is true, and it's what ma
  • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:37PM (#14365586) Homepage
    Ignoring the sheer size of Google and their ability to pay for lawyers to defend themselves rathar than settle, the patents themselves are not ideally suited for the attack against Google talk.

    There are two patents. The first is 5,425,085 and is clearly for a "device" contained "in a housing" that people plug in their phone and it automatically chooses the cheapest rates to route the calls. Think of this as something that would automatically prefix your calls with a 10-10 code for least cost routing at your house.

    The second is 5,519,769 appears to be for a method of updating the routing database of the device in the previous patent. It is also directed towards a device connected to the calling station.

    The key to these patents and why standard carrier based least cost routing do not apply, is that the routing decisions appear to be made at the end points and not by the carrier switches themselves.

    Now, if you make "device" to mean your computer, and make the "calling station" also mean your computer; make telephone network mean the internet; and, squint your eyes just so - then these could be seen to be relevant to Google Talk.

    • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:52PM (#14365694) Homepage
      Typical /. disclaimer: IANAL.

      The first patent appears to have been filed in 1995, and reexamined and confirmed in 2001 with no updates. The second patent appears to have been filed in 1996, and reexamined and confirmed in 2002 with a few more claims added.

      Short of an in depth review of both patents, there are three areas where I think Google will be able to defend. First, the patents are clearly for a dedicated device plugged into the calling station. The device is self-contained, and does all the decision making, ultimately dialing the routing codes for the desired carrier. The patent is for the use of a telephone calling station. And, the patent is for devices that use the telephone network.

      While a computer can be argued to equal the "device" in the patent -- how the computer is used for Google Talk does not match how the device makes its decision for routing calls. And, a sound card with headset does not a calling station make. The computer would have to be considered both the device and the calling station for these to hold up. Finally, the internet would have to be considered "the" telephone network.

      The language in these patents are targetted specifically, and narrowly, to the application of their end-point call routing device. It will be interesting to see if anything comes from these, or if Google will settle quietly.

      Here's hoping Google fights.
    • The specific function -- selecting 10xxx codes -- was done long before their first patent was filed for. Even if it was done dialing 7-digit access numbers in a PBX, as it was in 1979 before 10xxx was implemented, that was technically the same as "customer premise equipment" dialing a "carrier access code".

      Weinberger just patented something that already existed, omitting prior art from the application. Purely fraudulent.
  • Dijkstra family needs to sue all those 'suers', this can make the trick.
  • by origamy (807009) on Friday December 30, 2005 @12:49PM (#14365671) Homepage
    Isn't Google Talk based on Jabber? Why are they only suing Google Talk?
    Don't Yahoo, AIM and MSN, Netmeeting, Skype also allow voice communication as well as dozens other apps out there? Why are they only suing Google Talk?
    Go figure...
    • by Pecisk (688001)
      If you have actually read RTFA and rest of press materials floating around about this, you will notice that most companies you mentioned already paid "protection money", and eBay's Skype is in talks about it.

      So there is nothing to figure about. It is all old style game.
    • Because Google is high profile and has piles of cash.
  • .. maybe they should buy them out...
  • Why is it that every corporation incorporates in Delaware? Are the laws that much more relaxed than other states?? I know the banking laws are pretty loose, which is why the credit card companies are headquartered there.
    • Re:Delaware?? (Score:2, Informative)

      by b4k3d b34nz (900066)

      A lot of people choose Delaware because it has the Chancery Court, which is a court designed just for business legal issues. This helps resolve business problems and legalities quickly.

      Also, there's no sales or personal property tax, and no income tax for companies that don't do business in Delaware. This is especially good for small companies to avoid double taxation. Double taxation occurs when your company is taxed for income, and then you as an individual are taxed when you pay yourself a salary.

      Addit

  • Certainly seems like there are a lot of those businesses around nowadays, huh?

    In the U.S., at least, which is bad for our whole economy -- companies in other countries don't have to screw around with this sort of crap. And just so you don't forget: SCO is still in court, claiming they own Linux or something like that. IBM is still spending millions on them.

    Europeans and Asians just love the American patent and legal systems, mainly because they don't have to live with them.

  • Just a thought but, do all these infringement cases recently indicate that there is nothing new being created and everyone is filling a variation of on a theme?
  • by ansible (9585) on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:11PM (#14366219) Journal

    These patent troll companies remind me a lot of what LLCs and other corporations evolved into in Charles Stross's Accelerando [accelerando.org]. You can read it for free, but I encourage you to buy a copy.

    It's a very good read. Easily his best work yet. I got quite a kick out of the infovore idea from his "The Atrocity Archives".

  • by AZURERAZOR (472031) on Friday December 30, 2005 @02:15PM (#14366247)
    Using a mouse to make an online purchase .... Oops too late Amazon already did it... http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2000/ amazon_patent.html [oreilly.com]

    Automatically updating security software over the internet ... Sorry McAfee already got that one ... http://www.dotgnu.org/patent-analysis.html [dotgnu.org]

    Use of graphics and text to sell products over the internet... Darn too late again (see Pangea Intellectual Properties) http://www.chillingeffects.org/ecom/ [chillingeffects.org]

    Tabbed browsing... You might be thinking Mozilla or Opera... Nope Microsoft http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3 406551 [internetnews.com]

    Maybe "techniques for cleaning one's anus using rolls of soft paper"... I have not checked but I am sure that one's covered too.

  • by THESuperShawn (764971) on Friday December 30, 2005 @06:19PM (#14367721)
    Please feel free to give this cocky a-hole a call.

    This article, http://voip-blog.tmcnet.com/blog/rich-tehrani/voip /rates-technology-inc.html [tmcnet.com] , gives a good impression of what a jerk this guy is.
  • by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Friday December 30, 2005 @07:03PM (#14367940)

    You've probably never heard of Rates Technology Inc. (RTI), and that wouldn't be surprising since the company has no products and offers no services. By all appearances, RTI is a company that was set up to collect licensing fees and pursue settlements related to the company's patent portfolio.

    I personally think this should be illegal. These companies are preventing innovation becase they don't even have any real patents. There's a bunch of bullshit patents built on flimsy pretexes and containing mostly prior art.

    Then they go around litigating to make their money. It's really tantamount to extortion/blackmail. They are trying to scare companies into paying them.

    The companies that do innovate get dragged through the courts, which is a costly exercise (Microsoft and Google can really afford it). The smaller companies just say "fuck it" because they know they can't afford to be dragged through the legal system over something so pathetic. How can a system that was designed to encourage innovation and the free sharing of information be so perverse that it is now used to discourage innovation and extort money?

    Of course, in the mean time the court system is tied up with companies defending against these bullshit claims. This costs Joe Taxpayer, when the money spent on the court could be better spent providing better health and education.

    I say that if you own a patent and are not leveraging its claims in a product or service that you ACTUALLY SELL AS PART OF YOUR CORE BUSINESS OPRATION then your claim to enforce the patent should be invalid; that would stop pricks like these cunts from doing this shit.

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:31PM (#14368816) Homepage
    Even ignoring whether or not the two patents in question which cover Least Cost Routing (LCR) techniques can be blown out of the water due to prior art... Google Talk doesn't do LCR in any form whatsoever! Google Talk only provides VoIP from one GTalk user to another for free (as far as I can tell at least...) I don't know how you can claim that a product does LCR for voice calls when it's only capable of making free calls.

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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