Wednesday, November 14, 2012

EFF offers YouTube webcam on patent trolls (especially Lodsys)

Electronic Frontier Foundation offers an extended  YouTube video (1 hour, 45 minutes, largely with audio only) webcam called “Patent Trolls and You: EFF Virtual Bootcamp for APP Developers”, from September 2011.

Much of the discussion concerns a particular “troll”, Lodsys (link). 

There are several panelists: Helene Chin (Santa Clara Law School), Tony (Co chair of ABA subcommittee on patent litigation), Andre (private practice in patent), Ben (private practice and district attorney’s office). 
EFF has a link on “bad patents” for frivolous claims, like patents on streaming video, VoiP, real time games (maybe even chess?) and looking up barcodes on a network (or with smartphones), link here). 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cisco goes after patent trolls, which it says targets customers (not just other inventors)

Ashby Jones has a major story in the Monday November 12, 2012 Wall Street Journal in the Marketplace section, “Cisco calls patent trolls racketeers,”.  The WSJ online blog (paywall access) entry is “On Cisco’s novel, aggressive approach to patent trolls”, link here

Cisco is suing  Innovatio IP Ventures, claiming that Innovatio buys up patents and then (in a manner reminiscent of Righthaven suing bloggers over frivolous copyright claims for newspaper articles it had bought) sends threatening letters to customers of patented technology (often coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels, especially smaller independent ones that may not have the pockets to defend themselves). I was not aware that customers could be held liable under patent law. It does seem that most of these customers are franchise-operated retail companies.  
Cisco is also suing Canadian company Mosaid Technologies for paying witnesses for testimony and documents.

Cisco has two co-plaintiffs, Betgear and Motorola.

The UK Telegraph has a story (by Richard Chirgwin) emphasizing that Innovatio is targeting WifFi users, link here

The University of California Patent Examiner has a story about the spread of suits against larger hotel chains, here

However, IP Watchdog has an article (March 21, 2012) in which Ray Niro is interviewed, and provides a somewhat convoluted explanation of Innovatio’s rights, link here

There seems to be an issue in the way hotel and restaurant chains license WiFi technology to individual franchise owners. The outcome of this battle could conceivably affect the availability of cost-effective or secure WiFi to personal and business travelers, and that becomes important to traveling consumers. 
The TED channel on YouTube has a story by Drew Curtis on “How I Beat a Patent Troll”.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Another restaurant on the pet-name theme (Bethesda MD)

I’ve found another bar-restaurant named after a pet, maybe inviting trademark controversy later.  This time, it’s the Barking Dog, a small sports bar in Bethesda MD, between the Metro Station and the Landmark Theater.  There’s even a water saucer outside.  Inside, there is a 19th Century poster ad from the DC Fire Department for “able bodied men” to become firefughters.

Some of the menu items (many of them hot dog dishes) were based on other permutations of pet names.  I ate a burger called the “Smart Dog” as I remember.  My father used to refer to “human dogs”.

Regarding Landmark, there is actually a Landmark Mall (shopping) on  I-395 in northern Virginia, on the border of Alexandria.

I don’t think businesses should try to claim trademarks on pet nicknames.