[LINK] EFF: 'Jury Invalidates One of EFF's 'Most Wanted' Patents'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Aug 25 12:10:22 EST 2010
Jury Invalidates One of EFF's 'Most Wanted' Patents
News Update by Julie Samuels
AUGUST 23RD, 2010
Good news in the fight against bad software patents: a jury in the
Eastern District of Texas recently found the Firepond/Polaris patent
(U.S. Patent No. 6,411,947) invalid. This patent was on EFF's "Most
Wanted" list, targeted because it claimed nothing more than a system
using natural language processing to respond to customers' online
inquires by email.
EFF was not involved in this case, in which Bright Response, LLC -
the technical owner of the patent - sued Google, Inc., Yahoo!, Inc.
and eight other companies, alleging that Google's AdWords and
Yahoo!'s Sponsored Search infringes the Firepond/Polaris patent.
The jury found three of the patent's claims invalid based on the
public use bar, obviousness, and for lacking written description. The
jury also found that neither Google nor Yahoo! infringed those
claims. Finally, the jury found the entire patent invalid due to
In addition to the jury's findings, the Patent and Trademark Office
is nearing completion of a reexamination of the patent, instituted by
Google, that narrows the scope of that patent's claims.
"This is a great outcome and good news for people and developers who
create new products related to customer service or email," said
Patrick King, one of the attorneys assisting EFF on this matter.
Because the court has not yet entered a final judgment, Bright
Response could still, in theory, attempt to prohibit others from
using the basic natural language processing technology in its patent.
EFF is on the lookout for this threatening behavior, so please make
sure to let us know if you hear of any. EFF will continue to monitor
this case - and the corresponding reexam - and will take action as
necessary to fight any additional efforts to use the Firepond/Polaris
patent to quash competition and hurt innovation.
"We are still waiting for the court case to finish up and to see if
Bright Responses will appeal the decision. If any of the patent is
still alive after that, we will do whatever we can to invalidate it,
and allow competitors to use this simple technology, which was well
known prior to the patent filing," said Gina M. Steele, another
attorney assisting EFF with this matter.
The Firepond/Polaris patent was one of the ten original Top Ten
Patents targeted by EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the
chilling effects of bad patents on the public and consumer interests.
So far nine patents targeted by EFF have been busted, invalidated,
narrowed, or had a reexamination granted by the Patent Office.
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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