Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frivolous Litigator of the Day: Paul Allen

Sez Reuters:

A firm owned by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen today sued Apple, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and seven other companies, charging them with infringing patents filed more than a decade ago.

One of the patents (here, if Google Patents search results produce static URLs) is "Alerting users to items of current interest." It was frivolously filed on September 7th, 2000 and thoughtlessly granted on June 29th, 2004.

Keep in mind that "Alerting users to items of current interest" is the purported invention. Not a particular way of doing it, but the concept itself:

It should be appreciated that the present invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including a process, an apparatus, a system, a device, a method, or a computer readable medium such as a computer readable storage medium or a computer network wherein program instructions are sent over optical or electornic communications links.

Nonsense on stilts, as Bentham (the real Bentham, not the Lost character) would say.

The Patent Office should have taken Allen's money just because anyone stupid enough to file this kind of idiocy deserves to be shaken down.

Then they should have dragged him out onto the National Mall and stuck him in stocks for administration of the bastinado and public ridicule as punishment for wasting their time.

Instead, they gave the crazy sonofabitch a piece of paper that he's now using to extort money from companies that kept on doing new things long after his own previous company (Microsoft) had exhausted its innovative energies and fallen back on stealing, digesting and regurgitating in mangled format the work of PARC, Apple et al.

Does anyone on Earth honestly believe that web sites weren't already "alerting users to items of current interest," manually and with automated processes, before Allen lurched into the Patent Office with this cocktail napkin bullshit on September 7th, 2000?

That "invention" has been around at least since the first newspaper printed a "see page A4 for related story" blurb, and probably a lot longer. I bet there's a Sumerian clay tablet somewhere with "on a related matter, see Hammurabi's 'What I Did on My Summer Vacation'" cuneiformed on it.

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