Friday, January 25, 2008

The story of the (patent) troll under the bridge

So the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO) has awarded another stupid patent.  A brief summary of the patent (as well as what the trolls did with it) can be found here.  Basically the patent is for  "a mobile entertainment and communications device." Yeah.

According to the article I linked above they're suing just about everybody that makes cell phones.  The patent was awarded on January 22nd (Tuesday) and the lawsuits were filed at 12:01 a.m. the same day.  I didn't know it was possible to file a lawsuit at midnight.

One of the funniest things about this is that in the abstract for the patent it states that the device contains" or more replaceable memory card sockets..." well not every phone has that.  For example they sued Apple - Apple doesn't make ANYTHING that fits that description.  The iPhone does not have "a replaceable memory card socket."  The patent was originally filed on November 20, 2003.  This probably won't get much more news coverage than it already has, as it will get drug out in court for a loooong time, but there is such a massive amount of prior art for this that there's no way anyone's getting any court-ordered penalties.  I could see some cash settlements to make the troll go away, but that's up to the parties concerned.  How long does stuff like this have to keep happening before we get some major patent reform?