I came across this old story (back from 2003) on Slashdot – NCR Patents the Internet – and it even more hilarious now than it was back than:
We all know about NCR’s lawsuit against Palm & Handspring, but I haven’t seen much press about patent infringements they are claiming against some of the biggest sites on the planet. According to documentation that a friend’s company has recently received, their patents protect everything from keyword searching to product categorization. Patents to look for (and filed in 1998) include 6,253,203, 6,169,997, 6,151,601, 6,085,223 and 5,991,791 . IMHO, this is absolutely outrageous and is likely to cause billions in both legal fees and eventual licensing fees (eBay, Amazon and MSFT have already licensed from NCR). How is this not the lead story on every site? every day? Maybe because no one wants to get sued for having an online business.
The comments are hilarious as well.
Now that Google’s selling Motorola, how much did it overpay in 2011?
Just how much did Google (GOOG) overpay for Motorola Mobility when it agreed to buy the phone maker for $12.5 billion in 2011 Shareholders will have to figure that out after Google announced on Wednesday that it is unloading the money-losing subsidiary on Chinese electronics maker Lenovo Group (0992.HK) for $2.9 billion.
Sure, Motorola had $3 billion of cash on its balance sheet when it was acquired and Google later sold a set-top box division for $2.4 billion. But that still leaves Google CEO Larry Page left to explain why he’s only getting $3 billion for the remaining net investment of $7 billion. “Patents,” he’d likely reply.
Analysts speculated all along that Google made the hasty deal only to get control of Motorola’s vast trove of about 17,000 patents. At the time, Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) appeared to be waging an intellectual property war to beat back the Android challenge. Many of those battles continue and intellectual property attorneys are split over whether the Motorola patents have helped Google much, if at all.
Still, Google said it would retain “the vast majority” of patents from Motorola in the sale to Lenovo.
Linux Weekly News reports that:
Personalweb Technologies and Level 3 Communications have filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Rackspace, alleging that Rackspace’s hosting of GitHub infringes upon a long list of software patents.
One of the comments lists a few possibly related law suits:
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Yahoo! Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00658
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Apple Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00660
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. International Business Machines Corporation filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00661
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Facebook Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00662
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Microsoft Corporation filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00663
Given the description of the company:
PersonalWeb is a proud member of the East Texas community. We are now 14 employees strong and growing. We own 15 key pending and issued patents that are critical to the development of a wide range of established and emerging distributed computing based industries and fundamental for cloud computing, distributed search engine file systems, content addressable storage and social networks.
That leaves a horribly familiar SCO aftertaste.
P.S.: More on Slashdot.
GigaOm links to an excellent visualization of smartphone patents’ legal battles. It’s interesting how different is the representation of Apple and Google on this graph. However, one needs to remember, that Google has acquired Motorola’s mobile division.
This seems to be a nice update to another graph that I’ve posted a couple of years ago. Some of the lawsuits from the old chart are still here. And there is a whole bunch of new ones. I like this new updated one better than the old one, because company logos make it more readable. And this one also has references to the actual lawsuits, in case someone wants to follow.
Steve Yegge lets us all know about the newest eBay patent:
San Jose, CA (Reuters) — Online auctions cartel eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) and its collections and incarceration arm PayPal announced that on July 21, 2011, the two companies had jointly been awarded United States Patent No. 105960411 for their innovative 10-click “Buy it Now” purchasing pipeline.
The newly-patented buying system guides users through an intuitive, step-by-step process of clicking “Buy It Now”, entering your password, logging in because they signed your sorry ass out again, getting upsold shit you don’t want, continuing to your original destination, accepting the default quantity of 1 (otherwise known as “It”), committing to buy, clicking “Pay Now”, entering a different password than your first one, clicking “Log In” again god dammit, declining to borrow money from eBay’s usury department, reviewing the goddamn purchase details since by now you’ve completely forgotten what the hell you were buying, and finally confirming the god damned payment already.
The 10-click checkout system, known colloquially as 10CLICKFU — which many loyal users believe stands for “10 Clicks For You” — was recently awarded top honors by the National Alliance of Reconstructive Hand Surgeons. 10CLICKFU incorporates a variable number of clicks ranging from eight to upwards of fifteen, but eBay’s patent stipulates that any purchasing system that lies to you at least nine times about the “Now” part of “Buy It Now” is covered by their invention.
Read the full press release for more details.
Here is an example of things to come. The world is changing in so many interesting ways that it’s difficult to catch up with most…
The best market example I know is digital photography. Who is a digital photo “consumer” any more? Nobody consumes film, and relatively few consume print processing. Instead everybody is a producer in that marketplace. I have close to eleven thousand pictures up on Flickr now. From the start Flickr (a terrific Linux/LAMP hack) and I have both understood that those pictures are my data, and that the two of us are making the most of that fact. Same goes for Tabblo*, a new company that does stuff with photos that Flickr doesn’t. Because Flickr has open APIs, and welcomes customers who also work with other vendors, I am able to make montages for printing and sharing, on Tabblo’s site, with my Flickr photosets. As a result, Flickr, Tabblo and I all make money off each other, and enjoy productive symbiotic relationships that grow the new photography marketplace.
Meanwhile, where is Kodak, owner of one of the world’s largest patent portfolios and leader of the photography industry since the dawn of the category? You tell me. Where I contribute to the market, their name almost never comes up.