Tackling Patent Abuse

A new lawsuit is taking on Netflix’s patents (specifically, the one’s used to target Blockbuster).

Via slashdot (emphasis mine):

An anonymous reader writes “Techdirt has a story about a new class action lawsuit against Netflix, claiming that the patents the company is using to sue Blockbuster were obtained fraudulently. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Netflix was well aware of prior art, but did not include it in its patent filing, as required by law. The lawsuit also claims that Netflix then used these fraudulently obtained patents to scare others out of the market, in violation of antitrust law. ‘Certainly, it makes for an interesting argument. Patents grant a government-backed monopoly — which should get you around any antitrust violations. However, if that patent is obtained fraudulently, then I can see a pretty compelling claim that you’ve abused antitrust law. It would be interesting if other such cases start popping up (and, indeed, the lawyer who sent it to us said his firm is looking for additional patents to go after in this manner).‘”

Large corporations spend money patenting the strangest and most obvious things:

theodp writes “Faced with a duly unimpressed USPTO examiner who rejected its new 1-Click patent claims as ‘obvious’ and ‘old and well known,’ Amazon has taken the unusual step of requesting an Oral Appeal to plead its case. And in what might be interpreted by some as an old-fashioned stalling tactic, the e-tailer has also canceled and refiled its 1-Click claims in a continuation application. As it touted the novelty of 1-Click to Congress last spring, Amazon kept the examiner’s rejection under its hat, insisting that ‘still no [1-Click] prior art has surfaced.’ The Judiciary Committee hearing this testimony included Rick Boucher (VA) and Howard Berman (CA), both recipients of campaign contributions from a PAC funded by 1-Click inventor Jeff Bezos, other Amazon execs, and their families.”

Attempts to fight back against patent abuse are heartily welcomed.  Perhaps seeing such suits featured more prominently in the public eye will invite legislators to introduce meaningful patent reform.

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