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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: 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.

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  • (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.