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Yahoo! v. Facebook: Clicking Through the Blogosphere Bias

Originally posted March 13.  Updated March 28, 2012. On March 12th, Yahoo! filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California alleging that Facebook infringes ten Yahoo! patents.  Immediate reaction has been widely critical of Yahoo!, from interpreting statements made in the filing as a claim by Yahoo! that it “patented the whole idea of Facebook” to characterizing Yahoo! as “relentlessly stagnating as Facebook innovated.”  Such is to be expected from the blogosphere with regard to the party asserting software or Internet-related patents.  However, if one really wants to weigh the merits of this lawsuit and the claims being made about it, there really is no substitute for digging into the subject matter of the patents that Yahoo! claims cover various aspects of how Facebook operates: Yahoo!’s “Advertising Patents” Yahoo! claims protection in systems and methods for advertising, placing advertisements on a web page in a manner according… Continue Reading

Wands and the Wii

The makers of the interactive game “MagiQuest,” Creative Kingdoms LLC, have filed an International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint against Nintendo alleging that the importation of the Wii infringes its patents relating to motion-activated handheld devices. MagiQuest is a live-action adventure game, often installed at tourist destinations, where players use a wireless infra-red wand to interact with scattered physical objects. In its complaint, Creative Kingdoms claims that its patents covering these wands also cover the Wii motion controller. The complaint states: “The distinguishing feature of both MagiQuest and the Wii system is a motion-activated, portable wireless handheld device that facilities a physically interactive play experience for participants… Nintendo infringes U.S. Patent Numbers 7,500,917; 7,761,637; 7,850,527; and 7,896,742 through importation of its Wii system and remote control.” The goal of a complaint at the ITC is to block the importation of the infringing product (the Wii, in this case) into the U.S.… Continue Reading

>Gibson Brings Another Defendant On-stage

>Gibson has filed suit against another defendant alleging infringement of its concert simulation patent. This time, it involves Seven45 Studios’ new video game Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. Gibson lost its first suit involving the same patent against Activision in 2009. In June of 2010, Gibson settled with Harmonix, Viacom, and EA in a similar suit.

>False Marking Suit Targets Activision

>A couple of weeks ago, Patent Compliance Group filed a qui tam action against Activision, alleging that Activision falsely marked Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero, DJ Hero and Guitar Hero Smash Hits with inapplicable patent numbers or improperly as “patent pending.” This suit is one of a still-swelling movement of false patent marking suits following closely on the heels of the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., which held that damages for false patent marking should be calculated on a per article basis. This result has been that technology companies that sell large numbers of articles to consumers (e.g. video game companies) are at a high-risk of being targeted by one of these suits. A qui tam suit is actually brought on behalf of the U.S. government and provides for a fine of up to $500 for each improperly marked article. However, courts may… Continue Reading

>False Patent Marking

>The false marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 292(a), is a little-known statute (unless you happen to be a patent attorney), that aims to prevent a patent owner from hindering competition by falsely marking their products with a patent number that does not cover the product. The false marking statute provides for damages of “not more than $500 for every such offense.” Furthermore, the false marking statute allows “any person” to sue for the penalty and split the award with the federal government in a qui tam action. In December 2009, the Federal Circuit, in the suit Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., clarified that “every such offense” meant that each article or product made by an company that was falsely marked will receive a fine of “not more than $500.” Previously, courts had various interpretations of the statute and might find a single offense and fine a company $500… Continue Reading

>Paltalk Turns its Attention to Sony

>After settling with Microsoft for an undisclosed amount, Paltalk has set it sights on Sony, alleging Sony is also infringing its patents related to online gameplay.Back in 2006, Paltalk sued Microsoft on nearly identical grounds, alleging that certain communications between game systems over the internet infringe two of its patents, 5,822,523 and 6,226,686. These two patents describe a method of increasing bandwidth efficiency between a group of computers communicating on a network. The method involves a central messaging server programmed to receive messages from each computer on the network and to maintain a list of the computers on the network. The patents also describe a method for sending “join” messages to other computers to invite them into a game. Lastly, the patents describe a method for aggregating messages received by the central messaging server in a block and then pushing the aggregated message block back to the other computers. Paltalk… Continue Reading

>Xbox Live Targeted for Patent Infringement (again)

>A patent infringement suit targeting Xbox Live that we’ve been keeping our eye on went to trial yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit was originally filed back in September, 2004, by two inventors claiming Xbox Live infringed two of their patents covering voice and data communications technology. This case already produced some fireworks last month, when the judge overseeing the case threatened Microsoft’s counsel with sanctions for a “frivolous objection” to a discovery request. Microsoft’s counsel had objected to a request by the plaintiffs for a document relating to a “2008 deposition” of a certain Microsoft employee, when they meant to say “2009 deposition.” The judge asserted that Microsoft’s counsel improperly used a typographical error to raise an objection on the ground of vagueness. The judge also chided Microsoft’s counsel for producing over 140,000 documents without an index, saying the action demonstrated… Continue Reading

>Bilski is going to the Supreme Court

>The blogosphere is all abuzz about Bilski going to the Supreme Court. When Bilski was first issued, I didn’t expect it to go to the Supreme Court — but after seeing how broadly it has been applied and interpreted, I expected no less. As the video game industry continues to evolve, patents are becoming more of an issue, both from an enforcement and defense position. A Supreme Court ruling could go a long way toward determining whether the software and business method patents obtained by software companies are a hollow or substantive asset.

>Paltalk v. Microsoft Settles

>The PalTalk v. Microsoft case we’ve been following settled out last week in the midst of trial. Back in 2006, Paltalk sued Microsoft, alleging that communications through Xbox LIVE (either on the original Xbox or the 360) infringes two of its patents, 5,822,523 and 6,226,686. The trial began in March, and was ongoing until Microsoft and PalTalk filed a stipulation with the court saying that the claims and counterclaims between the parties should be dismissed, and that each party would cover their own costs and attorneys’ fees. Unfortunately, we won’t get any idea of who came out on top, since the terms of the settlement are confidential. But, at least we know that Xbox LIVE won’t be going offline as a result of this infringement suit.

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