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Firm Seeks To Ban Mobile Companies' Imports To US 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the even-silly-patent-claims-are-bigger-in-texas dept.
snydeq writes "Texas-based Saxon Innovations has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission to bar six companies — including Research in Motion, Palm, and Nokia — from importing handheld devices into the US. At issue are three patents that Saxon purchased in July 2007; a patent for keypad monitor with keypad activity-based activation; a patent for an apparatus and method for disabling interrupt marks in processors or the like; and a patent for a device and method for interprocessor communication by using mailboxes owned by processor devices. Saxon, with five employees, purchased about 180 US patents formerly owned by Advanced Micro Devices or Legerity in 2007, according to its ITC complaint."
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Firm Seeks To Ban Mobile Companies' Imports To US

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  • patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by p51d007 (656414) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:14PM (#26491987)
    This is exactly what is wrong with the patent process. You have a "company" of only FIVE people, who could potentially stop any technology that might "infringe" on these obscure patents.
  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:16PM (#26492003)
    It's way past time for patent reform, these patent trolls are way out of hand.

    Can we require businesses that patent the ideas to have real, actual products to retain the patent?

    They buy an idea, then sit on it. No one benefits from it (except lining their pockets with no efforts on their part). Bad for consumers, bad for other businesses. Boo!
  • by Zordak (123132) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:29PM (#26492123) Homepage Journal

    Can we require businesses that patent the ideas to have real, actual products to retain the patent?

    Well, since one of the things the complainant has to prove in the ITC is that they have a domestic industry practicing the asserted claims, yes, we can.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:36PM (#26492193)
    my god the US patent office needs to start applying this thing called the obviousness test.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:41PM (#26492235) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, you haven't been keeping up. The popular M.O. is to sit on the idea until it has already become popular, THEN offer licenses. If you come out with the patent to begin with, potential licensees will just work around it. Waiting until they have built their business on it is far more profitable in the long run.

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday January 16, 2009 @08:52PM (#26492323) Homepage Journal

    I'll bet that this is the real reason that the iPhone doesn't have a keyboard.

    When was the last time Apple based a product on what their lawyers told them? Seriously. Apple has a long and flagrant history of violating 'intellectual property' laws starting with name of the company itself. Anybody remember the 'sosueme' audio file?

  • by bigsteve@dstc (140392) on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:13PM (#26492515)
    Another possible outcome is that companies cave in to the trolls and enter into licensing arrangements for products sold in the US. Multiply by a factor of 100 or so for each of the patents for so-called "inventions" that might be infringed by any given product.

    The costs will then be passed on to the US consumer. The end result is a private taxation system where every consumer and every business effectively pays a "high tech" tax on every high tech device purchased and every service used. And the money just disappears into the pockets of the patent speculators ... with no net return to businesses, consumers, or even to the people who created the inventions in the first place.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:16PM (#26492543)

    Can we require businesses that patent the ideas to have real, actual products to retain the patent?

    No, because some times sitting on an idea to get another company to pay for it is a legitimate practice.

    Let's say I create Startup Inc, and design a new type of lithography. I don't have the money to build a fab or anything, so I show the tech to Intel and offer to let them use it in exchange for royalties. Under your system they could say no, use it anyway, and I wouldn't be able to sue, because I don't have an actual product.

    Patent trolls suck, and there should be a way to stop them through litigation, but we have to be sure that we don't kill off real innovators in the process.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:21PM (#26492583)
    So Im reading yet another article on how some troll is ransoming out some more patents.. great.. meanwhile, a day or two ago I read the who's got the most patents for 2008 and numbers like.. IBM said it earned 4,186 U.S. patents in 2008, Microsoft Corp earned 2,030 patents, while Intel Corp had 1,776 and Hewlett-Packard 1,424. (from a Slashdot article)

    Im thinkin the real weight of the patent system isnt even touched by major corps. Individual and small group/investment firm patent companys like Eolas looking for that ONE patent to go home on, by sheer numbers, probably dwarf the IBM and MS's of the world.. regardless..

    By sheer brute force attack on common technology methods, conduits, hardware and the like they create a "monkeys typing Shakespear" effect, not with letters, but with common terms and principles.

    At the rate the monkeys are being added, soon no one should be able to do anything without everyones approval.



    Tada...
  • by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Friday January 16, 2009 @09:33PM (#26492653)

    EU could not handle a 9/11 in their system.

    Neither could the USA it seems.

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:12PM (#26492887)

    "Let's say I create Startup Inc, and design a new type of lithography. I don't have the money to build a fab or anything, so I show the tech to Intel and offer to let them use it in exchange for royalties."

    In order for you to convince Intel you show them a prototype. *Then* you have a working example covering your patent. If you don't have even a prototype then all you have is an idea and ideas shouldn't be subjected to patents.

    "Patent trolls suck, and there should be a way to stop them through litigation, but we have to be sure that we don't kill off real innovators in the process."

    Two words: Trade Secrets.

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:25PM (#26492977)

    "Im thinkin the real weight of the patent system isnt even touched by major corps. Individual and small group/investment firm patent companys like Eolas looking for that ONE patent to go home on, by sheer numbers, probably dwarf the IBM and MS's of the world.. regardless.."

    I really don't know, but it doesn't matter. The core of the bussines here is not having "that ONE patent" but having that one patent WITHOUT an industry backing it up. Big corps have used patents as deterrent weapons against their rivals for decades now but the problem here is not a little tech company with the "ONE patent": as long as they produce something, they are probably in violation of dozens of patents belonging to the very ones they want to license to, so they will be forced into a mutual agreement; if the case is between two big corps they have such a big patent arsenal that they again are forced to cooperate or face an assured mutual destruction scenario. But lawyer-based firms don't produce anything so they are immune to the usual patent counterattack which has made the patent system flaws more obvious.

  • by toby (759) * on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:41PM (#26493125) Homepage Journal

    You worked out yet why your economy is in the crapper?

    Imports. And outsourcing all your manufacturing to China.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday January 16, 2009 @10:58PM (#26493275)

    If I managed to invent a process for producing hydrogen at 1/1000'th of the cost but it required a massive amount of money to actually produce the plant, for example...

    If you didn't build a prototype then you didn't know whether your process would actually work. If you didn't know whether it would work then you didn't really invent anything. And if you didn't really invent anything then you didn't deserve a patent anyway!

  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:21PM (#26493433)

    Say hello to my LITTLE FRIEND! /funny

    Seriously, these suits are approaching a level of craziness that someone, somewhere, at some time will simply not retain counsel, and will instead just kill the IP firm's principals, lawyers, etc. Or spawn a "take care of it" industry that will indeed "take care" of the "problem" for under 10% of the amount at stake.

    When billions of dollars are at stake, I'd never put anything past a CEO. When billions of tax revenues are at stake even the FBI will overlook a small local arson case...

  • by mxs (42717) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:36PM (#26493559)

    They buy an idea, then sit on it. No one benefits from it (except lining their pockets with no efforts on their part). Bad for consumers, bad for other businesses. Boo!

    Let's step back a bit here though. "no efforts on their part" is not exactly true. They have capital in the matter. They are investing in those patents, presumably because they think the idea has merit -- but they are taking the risk that it does not. They do not "line their pockets" without the patent having some form of merit.

    The patents came from somewhere, their original creators presumably got compensated and therefore had more incentive to patent in the first case (instead of keeping their ideas a trade secret).

    Yes, the patent system is broken, yes, patent trolls suck, but don't make them out to be worse than they are. All the big corporations have giant patent portfolios as well. You could call them patent trolls too. Indeed, they engage in exactly the same conduct (cross-licensing-deals are borne out of this).

    Patents are not an inherently bad concept, but yes, they have been abused quite badly in recent years. Reforming the system in a sensible manner would be good. Do you have any proposals as to how to go about it ?

  • by kamochan (883582) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:21AM (#26495431)

    History seems to hint that rather than foster innnovation, religion retards it. Here's an article summary that suggests sectarian fighting between Jews, Christians and Muslim [osu.edu] Alexandrians were the last nail in the coffin for the Library - which had fostered people like Heron, the inventor of the steam engine (around 50 BC) [wikipedia.org].

    It just makes me want to scream when I think that we lost 1500+ friggin years...

  • by MasterOfDisaster (248401) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {fpotsirk}> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:44AM (#26495773) Homepage Journal

    How does a company that has developed, manufactured, marketed and sold an actual product benefit when years later comes around and says "Nope, you can't keep selling that until you license your idea from us."

    Patents have their uses. An invention a person or company spends time and money researching should be protected to a degree. IFF it is original and non obvious - especially if there is an actual product you're selling incorporating this patent.

    However, filing a patent for every damn thing you can think of with "on the internet" or "on a mobile phone" tacked on the end IS an abuse of the system.

  • by Llian (615902) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:49AM (#26495793)
    I wonder what else the US citizenry will allow to screw them over. I mean in economic times like these STILL allowing the big boys to LESSEN competition? WTG!!

    Drill --> Nose --> Power On --> Push upwards
  • Re:prior art (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OolimPhon (1120895) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:51AM (#26495807)

    I can do much better than that. Honeywell Level 66 mainframes had mailboxes in their CPUs to talk to the I/O processors. This dates back to at least 1975, when I first encountered them. Probably true for Multics mainframes from the '60s too.

  • by WNight (23683) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @08:30AM (#26496293) Homepage

    Yes, of course they offer licenses, AFTER they sit.

    If they offered licenses up-front it wouldn't be a scam. They'd have to have a useful tech and people would see that and pay to use it, new products would be made, everyone WOULD benefit.

    But in the patent-troll scenario they obtain a patent on a useless piece of tech, not something nobody wants, but something so simple everyone independently invents it, and they wait until everyone does when they suddenly "offer" licenses. If, by offer, you mean threaten to destroy the livelihoods via harassment lawsuit of people who don't immediately pay them.

    And yes there is profit - patent trolls and patent lawyers make out like the bandits they are. Everyone else loses. But nobody considers these to be people, and it ignores the extermination costs, so it was simpler to say that nobody profits.

    You say you've been keeping up, but your words betray a total lack of comprehension. Are you a troll yourself, do you own stock in RAMBUS, or are you just stupid?

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @08:47AM (#26496403) Homepage Journal

    To be fair, Apple Computer wasn't violating IP law when adding sound capabilities to their operating system, they were violating contract law when they violated the details of their settlement with Apple Records. At least, arguably. And given that computers making music was utterly inevitable and that the argument that there would be confusion between Apple Computer and Apple Records was Just. Fucking. Stupid., it's hard to argue that they really did anything wrong there. My (admittedly limited) understanding of trademark law is that you can't create a trademark which is substantially similar if it will cause confusion. My also-limited understanding of this case is that Apple Records abused the system in the hopes of making some free money.

  • by salimma (115327) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:18PM (#26497953) Homepage Journal

    My opinion of AMD has gone down considerably due to this. Applying for worthless patents is bad enough -- selling them to a patent-trolling company?

    Shame on you, AMD.

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