Feeds

WWW patent threat lawyers are not talking

Send us cheques instead

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The law firm representing web patent opportunist UDTL put out a press release today ... to say it won't talk to press.

Merchant & Gould, a Minneapolis-based law firm, has been sending generic letters to developers who use the W3C's RDF (Resource Description Framework) claiming that their software which processes RDF content infringes two patents filed by UDTL.

UDTL, or "UFIL Unified Data Technologies" is a private sideline of one Babak Ahmadi, who filed the patents Patents #5,684,985 and #6,092,077 in 1994 and 1998 respectively. But Ahmadi has got some big money backing for his speculation, in the shape of bailiffs PEARL or Patent Enforcement and Royalties Ltd. PEARL sponsors patent infringement litigation in return for a part-stake in the claim, and a share of the spoils.

"PEARL intends to generate strong, long-term growth of its cash flow through reinvestment of its revenues into ever-greater numbers of patents. It plans to distribute any large cash recoveries to shareholders through a generous dividend plan," according to its mission statement.

And PEARL appears to value its investment in Ahmadi's web patents highly: as highly as its investment in a hair dryer safety mechanism, according to a rather out-of-date page on its website.
We called Ahmadi, but a voicemail message says he's out of town. (Although we know he isn't.)

We asked Merchant & Gould attorney Dan McDonald if he was aware that UDTL was a only one-man operation, but he referred us to today's new press release; the law firm is only taking queries from potential licensees.

But these may be thin on the ground, according to experts.

"It's fishy," says Bruce Perens. "It looks like it's restating the basics of computing and creating new names for them," he told us. "There are very complicated names here for some very simple things. And the prior art cited in the patent is very very poor."

And prior art is where Ahmadi's claim stumbles, according to regulars on the W3C's RDF mailing list, who've cited a host of examples dating back to the early1980s.

Today, the Merchant & Gould press release said UDTL was offering "licensing agreements or other joint busoiness opportunities.

"At this time UTDL, PEARL and Merchant & Gould are not conducting interviews."

But if Mr Ahmadi would care to contact The Register, we'd very much like to discuss his claim. ®

The Ahmadi Patents

Patent 5,684,985
Patent 6,092,077

Related Stories

Berners Lee: WWW royalties considered harmful
Apple patents perturb PNG programmers
Web standards schism 'terrible' - W3C patent policy boss
We'll fork the Web to keep it Free - Perens
Tempers cool in Pay-to-Play Web row

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.