Nokia, HTC, Sony attacked by hidden megatroll
Smartphone Patent Follies, Act XVIII
Another day, another mobile phone patent dispute — and this time the plaintiff is again SmartPhone Technologies LLC, the vaporous entity that filed a similar suit against Apple, AT&T, Research in Motion, and six other companies this March.
This most recent patent-infringement lawsuit pits SmartPhone Technologies against HTC, Exedea, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Kyocera. Yes, Kyocera — apparently SmartPhone Technologies is miffed about some aging patents, as well.
If you hadn't heard of SmartPhone Technologies before their March lawsuit, you're not alone. Their address, as listed in their recent suit, is 6136 Frisco Square Blvd. in Frisco, TX — just down the street from Dimples Cupcakes and GoGo Burger. Unfortunately, the list of current tenants at that address doesn't include SmartPhone Technologies, nor were any of the listed tenants of help in tracking them down.
A hint — well, a dead giveaway — as to SmartPhone Technologies' actual identity, however, can be found in court documents relating to the March suit, which note that a "majority of its outstanding shares" are owned by Acacia Patent Acquisition LLC, which itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation.
Depending up your point of view, Acacia Research Corporation is either a shrewd intellectual-property licensing firm or a patent troll. In addition to the targets of its two SmartPhone Technologies suits, the company or its subsidiaries have recently sued, settled, or signed deals with — take a deep breath — Microsoft, HP, IBM, Sony, McKesson, Hertz, Bentley Systems, Lowe's, Philips, Matsushita, Riverdeep, Heidelberg, Eastman Kodak, Teradata, Zagat, and others. Many others.
In their most recent quarterly financial filing, Acacia — a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $865m — reported $64m in revenues, up 400 per cent year-on-year. There is, quite obviously, plenty of good money to be made in
patent trolling intellectual property licensing.
This most recent Acacia-supported attack alleges that the defendents infringed upon nine separate patents, each having to do with telephony, including patents related to link arbitration, aspects of Bluetooth, data synchronization, and more. ®
It goes without saying that the number and breadth of mobile-telephony patent disputes is reaching epic proportions. If you're having trouble keeping all the players and all their legal wranglings straight, the Guardian offers a helpful public service: a "Who's suing who in the mobile business" flow chart, which they promise to update as the saga continues. Check it out.
Just get rid
of software patents.
@"The whole concept of intellectual property"
The whole concept of intellectual property was conceived to provide an incentive to genuine innovation by granting a temporary monopoly on its exploitation.
As a named "inventor" (amongst dozens of others) of 3 US patents to do with network management I've been through the process and it's got nothing to do with either innovation or incentive.
The (now defunct) company I worked for at the time hadn't paid much attention to patenting anything and had grown very successfully for many years to be a major player in the IT field. However, it realised it was potentially on the receiving end of patent suits from others (of potentially dubious merit) and wanted its own defence shield, so it went on a patenting spree with patent lawyers desperately trying to identify any tiny incremental change that might be written up as an "invention" and filing screeds of essentially trivial patents with enough content to get them past the USPTO even if they wouldn't stand up in court later. The company got sufficiently caught up in "due diligence" to protect its ageing technology that it lost interest in tracking the direction of technological advance and consequently fell apart when its legacy customers started to move off in droves to new companies offering innovative solutions. In other words, its obsession with patents acutally led to a loss of innovation.
There are some genuinely novel and valuable innovations that deserve patent protection, particularly when a great deal of time and/or investment is required to bring them to market. However it seems that many, or perhaps most, patents in this field have nothing to do with protecting innovation - they're at best defensive and at worst designed to stifle competition. Neither of which was intended by the "concept of intellectual property" and simply leads to a ludicrous increase in the cost of doing business.
GOD won't save America!,
GOD won't save America!,
THEY HAVE TO SAVE THEMSELVES!