Patents – RIM et al. vs. NTP – Crowdsourcing a solution

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At the risk of becoming a RIM or Patent focused blog. I’m going to talk about the time that RIM was accused of infringing on patents. (in stark contrast to recent events) 

NTP is/was famous for kicking RIM hard, back in 2006 for patent infringement and winning $600 Million in damages. NTP is a patent troll and a good one at that on a questionable claim of patenting an “Electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile processors.” RIM lost on a number of fronts, including some dubious involvement by their legal council trying to have ‘private meetings’ with the US Patent and Trademark office. NTP is at it again – this time against Apple and Motorola. IN all they have filed suit against 13 companies since 2006 –  Alltel Corp.; Apple Inc.; AT&T Mobility, LLC; Google Inc.; HTC Corp.; LG Electronics Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Motorola Inc.; Palm Inc.; Sprint Nextel Corp.; T-Mobile USA Inc.; Verizon Wireless; and Yahoo! Inc. Pretty crazy stuff. 

Well now there might be a solution to dubious patents with possible prior art.

Article One Partners puts bounties on finding prior art to patents and pays out cold hard cash. Today they’re aiming their sites at NTP.The goal here for the reserachers (the crowd) to find

publicly available information that predates a patent’s invention, which teaches, or renders obvious, the patent claims. Prior art knowledge and evidence may come from published content anywhere in the world and in any language. This includes: previous patents; news or academic publications; non-digitized documents such as textbooks; or any public document provided to others, including conference or academic papers and business materials.

If you find something relevant they’ll pay you between $5K and $50K. Thing is I know that Nortel was working on some of this stuff in the early 90’s There’s got to be someone who can find the above materials and help – along with making some money. (and you’ll owe me a beer)

To be clear I really don’t have a problem with patents and people getting paid for them – I don’t subscribe to the don’t bother patenting world… I’m going to a startup Christmas party tonight where I’ll be in the minority in that thinking. But these characters have never worked in Semiconductors. The truth is patents are an important part of tech’s innovation cycle, but abusive litigation is in my opinion becoming a major obstacle to innovation and US Judges need to come up with a fix – beyond their equally objectionable disallowing too many patents. Maybe, first to file, over first to invent?

The Author

Hi. My name is Matt Roberts, you can find me at www.mattroberts.com.

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