EFF wins request for reexamination of ringtone patent
The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to reexamine a controversial patent that covers the distribution of certain types of music files over the internet.
The patent, issued in 1997 to Seer Systems, restricts audio streaming, cell phone ringtones and other electronic distribution of music when they involve the MIDI, or musical instrument digital interface, standard. Microsoft, Yamaha and Beatnik have all taken licenses after being sued for patent infringement, according to Seer principal Stanley Jungleib.
According to EFF attorney Michael Kwun, Jungleib's patent application failed to submit at least five significant descriptions of the technology that were published prior to the request. They included a book authored by Jungleib. Patent examiners use such prior art to decide whether an invention meets standards for novelty and non-obviousness.
"We found a variety of prior art that we thought pretty clearly disclosed" the invention, Kwun said. "It's significant, I think, that Mr. Jungleib's own book was a primary source."
Jungleib says he's heard such arguments before and they failed. In the early 2000s, he sued Microsoft and Yamaha, and the suits settled with both companies taking a license. More recently, Seer sued Beatnik and that company also ended up licensing the technology.
"Microsoft raised the same 'book' issue in that lawsuit," Jungleib wrote in an email to The Register. "After 22+ months of litigation, we settled confidentially. That would seem to suggest that the EFF's 'book' contention, not my company's patent, is 'bogus.'"
The request that the patent be reviewed is the sixth time the EFF has made such an appeal. The Patent and Trademark office has granted each of them. One of the patents has already been invalidated. The remaining five are still under review.
The patent appeals are part of the EFF's Patent Busting Project, which seeks to challenge patents it believes chill innovation by restricting the use of technologies that are already part of the public domain.
Jungleib strongly contests the EFF's contentions that the technology at the heart of the patent 5,886,274 was already broadly in use. He says it involves a method for compressing synthesized sounds into a tiny package and reproducing them in real time on electronic devices, an approach few were taking in the early 1990s, when he invented it.
"Nobody's going to take it away from us," he said. "I stood up to Microsoft. I can take the EFF pretty easily." ®
drink to that
"I can take the EFF pretty easily."...I'll drink to that.........burp!
Heh, EFF or Microsoft
The difference as above is that Microsoft was never out to take you down. Beware highly focused people, who are out to get you and what ever scam your trying to pull.
Newton vs Einstein vs Bohr vs Heisenberg
It is all very nice argument but you people miss the point: patents are awarded by people who have no idea what the patent applications are about.
Could Newton have decided between Einstein and Bohr and Heisenberg qua the physics theories bruited in circa 1905 to 1925? Could Newton have understood the place of Rutherford, de Broglie, Dirac, Schroedinger, or Pauli? How about Max Born?! How about Emmy Noether (seriously, she laid down the smack for variational methods that underpin a lot of modern engineering and physics)? Or Hilbert, or du Bois, or Fermat, Snell, Hamilton or Lagrange? Descartes? Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī? Diophantus? Need I mention Euclid?
Or, God help you, because you simply cannot argue with him, a man from who's brow modern mathematics rose like a leviathan, Gauss? Gauss died about 250 years ago! Yet his work underpins all the scientists and engineers and venture capitalists since!
IT patents, like physics and math theories, stand 99.9999999999% of the time on the shoulders of past work and ultimately on the shoulders of some giants. You all know that this is true.
The patent office is run by pygmies. One might inquire whether hiring practices are set via IP and high tech company influence, or is it just a result of pay the lowest bidder to supply the clerks, or is influence exerted at a lower and more corrupt level.
Patents are used these days to control, for as long as possible, what people who can do, do.
Time for a patent jubilee, I say.
Or a revolt of the geeks?