Saturday, 11 September 2010

Everybody sues everybody


It seems nobody wants to develop software or manufactures hardware any more. Everybody just sues everybody else. And here's two more examples:
  • Lexmark sues third party component maker for cartridges
  • Interval Research lays claim to web 2.0

Lexmark is undertaking yet another attempt to block third party cartridges  for Lexmark printers to enter the market. Instead of invoking the DMCA, they got clever this time and are claiming patent violations.

Earlier this decade, Lexmark filed a similar lawsuit against a manufacturer of a chip that allowed third party cartridge makers to have their products work on Lexmark printers as well as printers from other manufacturers. Lexmark invoked the DMCA in this case, but eventually lost the case in June 2005.

Why? Printers are a loss-leader. Cartridges are the money-spinner and profit-source. It's an old model deriving profits from consumables. It's perfectly legal. Copying the cartridge chip isn't.


Next Case
Paul Allens Interval Research Corporation (which was a real research lab until it went bust) is now suing everybody in Silicon valley - Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay; really it might be quicker to list who they're not taking to court.

The patents in question are summarised perfectly by Ars Technica. "The patents revolve around three main concepts: browser use for navigating through information, managing a user's peripheral attention while using a device, and alerting users  to items of current interest," Ars' Jacqui Cheng details, "They collectively address the general concept of presenting searched-for information to a user along with related news articles, media (such as music or videos), status updates from friends, or data (such as stock or weather info)."
Put another way, pop-up stock quotes on a website, suggestions for related reading near a news article, videos along the side of your screen.

That's most of Web 2.0

I'm no patent lawyer but surely any idiot in a suit an point to these patent dates and point to prior art going back to the 1990's?

Oddly they're not suing anyone in Washington State. No Microsoft or Amazon. Maybe Mr Allen's embarassed to sue people at his yacht club?  RC


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