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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 13 2018, @08:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-living-through-patent-trolling dept.

Patent Troll Blackbird's patent is invalidated in fight with Cloudflare.

We're happy to report that earlier today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the case that Blackbird brought against Cloudflare. In a two-page order (copied below) Judge Vince Chhabria noted that "[a]bstract ideas are not patentable" and then held that Blackbird's attempted assertion of the patent "attempts to monopolize the abstract idea of monitoring a preexisting data stream between a server" and is invalid as a matter of law. That means that Blackbird loses no matter what the facts of the case would have been.

Before the court ever even considered Cloudflare's actions, it found that the supposed innovation reflected in Blackbird's patent was too abstract to have been protectable in the first place. This means that the case against Cloudflare could not continue, but further, that the patent is completely invalid and Blackbird cannot use it to sue ANYONE in the future.

All of this only confirms the position we've taken from the beginning with regard to the way that Blackbird and other patent trolls operate. Blackbird acquired an absurdly broad patent from an inventor that had apparently never attempted to turn that patent into a business that made products, hired people, or paid taxes. And Blackbird used that patent to harass at least three companies that are in the business of making products and contributing to the economy.


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  • (Score: 1, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @08:58PM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @08:58PM (#637265)

    That's the thing about law; it's house of cards built on a hill of sand.

    When you dig down, terms are never well defined. All of case law ultimately rests on the collection of judges' heuristic gut feelings.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday February 13 2018, @09:54PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13 2018, @09:54PM (#637286)

      Once upon a time, before computers, patents were, I think, mostly about machines that you built or developed. A better hand gun. A light bulb. I don't think there was much abstraction. Patents required a drawing of the machine.

      It was software patents that mucked things up.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:00PM (#637290)

        Ericson was a 33 year old adult man. He owned an ordinary house, an ordinary yard, and worked at an ordinary job. You might even say that Ericson was a quintessential example of an ordinary person. However, one thing differentiated Ericson from his peers, which was his well-known hobby of playing with children's toys; this fact earned Ericson much ridicule in his workplace.

        A man was in a bedroom, playing with what looked to be a child's toy. "Shit! Those bastards! How dare they mock me for my hobbies!" he shouted in a room with no one else present. The man, Ericson, was aggressively punching his toy to relieve his frustration, and in his anger, he was not even considering that the toy might break. "I'll show them! I'll show them all! They're all shallow and worthless! There's nothing wrong with an adult playing with children's toys!" Ericson ranted and ranted, and punched and punched. Then, it happened.

        Broken. The toy was broken. "Oh, no! No! I broke another toy! Ugh! Why are these things so fragile!? They just don't make them like they used to! Now I'll need to buy a new one!" As Ericson contemplated the idea of choosing out a new toy, he became very excited and lost himself in his delusions.

        Some time later, the driver of a car passing by Ericson's house spotted a naked woman's corpse stuffed into a garbage can on the side of the road.

    • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:03PM (1 child)

      by Sulla (5173) on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:03PM (#637292) Journal

      Correct me if my thinking is incorrect, but what comes to mind for me is claiming you have a patent on cars because you have a description of "put a motor on a horseless carriage" verses "vehicle of dimensions x with gasoline motor of x displacement and transmission with x gears in x configuration". The goal being to make your patent as broad as possible while still having it be enforceable, the Blackbird people appear to have been too far off to the side for general and lacked specifics that would have been necessary to enforce.

      --
      "I'd rather take a political risk for peace rather than risk peace in pursuit of politics" - President Donald J. Trump
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:26PM (#637305)

        I post without karma bonus, you should too

        Why? I always browse at -1. I don't care what your karma bonus is.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:13PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:13PM (#637298)

      Wow, way to take the edge cases and apply them blindly to the general. We GET IT! You don't understand humanity, your mind prefers the logic of computer systems. You're doomed to fail socially for the rest of your life as long as you ride that high horse and refuse to comprehend human society.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:25PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:25PM (#637304)

        These days, "riding the high horse", "comprehending human society" and "generalizing edge cases" have been patented.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @12:16AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @12:16AM (#637358)

        You're doomed to fail socially for the rest of your life as long as you ride that high horse and refuse to comprehend human society.

        So in short, we need a meteor to wipe out this worthless, irrational species? I can agree with that.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @08:32AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @08:32AM (#637517)

          Doesn't have to be a meteor. A big red button will do.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:41PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13 2018, @10:41PM (#637312) Journal

      I don't know the legal definition, but I'd say the litmus test for abstraction should be: Can you build a product solely using the information of the patent together with state-of-the-art technology? If not, then it is abstract and should not be a patent.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:18PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:18PM (#637331) Journal

    <sarcasm> Can they even do that? I was under the impression that all patent troll cases had to be tried in east Texas!! With this sort of decision, the entire US economy is threatened! </sarcasm>

    More seriously, that dumbass judge in Marshall, Texas, should have been disbarred with his first decisions in favor of trolls.

    --
    Keep all chemicals out of the reach of meth heads.
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Friday February 16 2018, @04:12AM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Friday February 16 2018, @04:12AM (#638651) Homepage
      But the guys were granted a patent.
      Someone in the patent office is just as culpable for this situation.

      And there should be repurcissions for the making of mistakes.
      Checks have been made, some balance correction needs to be performmed.
      --
      Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by pipedwho on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:20PM (1 child)

    by pipedwho (2032) on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:20PM (#637332)

    This is a classic example of the 'bar' being too low down at the USPTO (and most other country's PTOs for that matter) when it comes to rubber stamping a patent application.

    For the vast majority of new patents, there are multiple entities working on the same or similar problem. When the patent office starts granting monopolies to the first to the table with a fairly generic (and in many cases obvious to anyone working in the field), it does nothing but cause trouble for the entire industry. IMO, the entire patent should be struck down if even a single 'claim' is deemed invalid. With some patents its hard to tell which 'claims' are even valid, especially patents where the first three quarters of the (generally obfuscated) claims are clearly identical to prior art.

    When the bar is higher, and more specifics are required, things become much fairer to everyone. It inspires patent applicants to go to much more detail about their 'inventions', while still stopping out-right copying of something truly novel without further or lateral innovation.

    It should be considered bogus when a patent is taken out (although still 'hidden' within the 'system' and not yet made public), but at the same time (or within a short period), other similar patents are rejected due to 'prior filing'. Or worse, multiple other similar or close to identical ideas exist that are published or even prototyped/produced well before the patent becomes publicly available. When this happens, it should be prima-facie evidence that the original claims were clearly obvious to others 'skilled in the art'. And it also becomes clear that the original patent did nothing to expand the state of the art - as the state of art was clearly either already there or was expanding irrespective of the patent. Granting these sort of patents are a net detriment to society.

    Far too many of these seem to land in the 'software' camp, most likely because so many more people are working on similar problems in a field that has a very low bar to entry. This applies to many other fields too - lots more people doing similar things these days. Once upon a time, there were a handful of inventors in any given field. These days, there might be millions of people in the same general field (especially when it comes to UI style software development), and that implies there are going to be many equivalent or identical ideas implemented in parallel. Many of which are obvious to a significant number of skilled individuals that are not otherwise trying to solve the same problem at that point in time.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @10:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14 2018, @10:08AM (#637540)

      It would be interesting to see a system where the patent under review is rejected as obvious when during review other entities file a patent for the same idea, especially since those patents (as already mentioned by parent), are already thrown out based on 'prior filing'. These later patents have no way of knowing (outside of industrial espionage) about the already filed patent until it is made public so any parallel invention up to that point should show how obvious the invention is to someone working on the same problem.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Rich on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:55PM

    by Rich (945) on Tuesday February 13 2018, @11:55PM (#637342)

    When I read the title, I was worried something might have happened to a vintage SR-71. Bless.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by jasassin on Wednesday February 14 2018, @12:25AM

    by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 14 2018, @12:25AM (#637364) Journal

    that the patent is completely invalid and Blackbird cannot use it to sue ANYONE in the future.

    They should sue the patent office for selling them that illegal patent.

    --
    jasassin@gmail.com Key fingerprint = 0644 173D 8EED AB73 C2A6 B363 8A70 579B B6A7 02CA
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