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NYT fights back against links-in-texts patent

Troll meets big billygoat

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A patent covering sending HTML links in text messages is to get a legal workout, with the New York Times telling the patent holder “see you in court”.

According to the Associated Press, a company called Helferich Patent Licensing, vehicle for inventor Richard J Helferich, has followed a successful strategy of filing against companies like BestBuy and settling for a licensing fee of $US750,000. It claims to have around 100 scalps licensees.

The Associated Press doesn’t identify which patent is at issue, but the full portfolio of patents claimed by Helferich Patent Licensing can be found here.

The NYT is leading a group of companies that don’t believe a Web link in an SMS needs special patent protection. The company’s counsel Kenneth Richieri is quoted as saying the Helferich patents should not become a burden on commonplace activities.

(Perhaps ironically, the Associated Press rhetorically cites Edison’s light bulb and Bell’s telephone as examples of patents protecting innovation – neither of which arose without considerable prior effort from an army of 19th century inventors).

Companies lining up behind the NYT in its two-pronged troll battle (it's seeking review by the USPTO, while in Chicago's district court it's arguing that mobile phone makers already pay a fee to license Helferich's patents, which should prevent the company from double-dipping against content providers) include CBS, Comcast’s Bravo and G4, and JC Penney. The Associated Press says the patent battle could drag on into next year. ®

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