I'd encourage you all to read it.
The majority of the summary, related art and claims are related to "smart cards". That is: a user plugs a smart card into their computer, which has one half of a licence key on it, and it then verifies this with a server either over LAN or the web.
There are a couple of broad claims which could, if upheld, cripple many systems which work like this (log in to installed software over the web, essentially).
I think (think) they might go on to claim that the SIM has a UID (it does) which is somehow involved in the process of authing a user for Google's store. If that's the case, or Google is indeed passing identifiable information from your phone to your Google account for auth purposes, then that appears to be covered by the patent, which specifically mentions SIM cards as one potential alternative "smart card".
What really pisses me off about this is the fact that the patent holders so clearly conceived of a really terrible piece of technology. It was filed in 2005 at a time when a lot of music software came with hardware decryption (i.e. an anti-piracy USB key you had to stick in to your computer when using the software) and they apparently thought that "smart cards" were the way forward. Turns out they were shit out of luck on that, but in passing they mentioned something so vague that it inevitably came to pass.
Crowd-sourced prior art patent busting:
There's also PeerToPatent, but it appears to be oriented toward preventing a patent being granted than busting them after the fact:
If you're not a patent attorney, and you read a patent, and determine that you don't violate it, and later the court finds out that you did, then you're on the hook for 3x the damages you would be if you hadn't read the patent.
Needless to say, this is totally f'ed up.
But that doesn't change the ruling.
As a consequence, it's probably better for us techies to bury our head in the sand when it comes to searching out patents that exist. Assume that if you're somewhat successful, patent trolls will attack you, and the best option you have may be treating the "protection money" as a cost of doing business.
Practical things we can do:
(1) Bring the issue to the attention of your Representatives/Senators. Focus on your role as a small-business job creator; politicians love that particular turn of phrase.
(2) When you're Google- or Facebook-successful, remember what the little guys are going through, and go after the patent trolls to improve things for our entire industry!
(3) Donate to people like EFF.
(4) If you pay "protection money", try to make sure the deal includes clauses that let you back out later when you have more resources. For example, a clause that says you'll pay the troll, but neither admit nor deny that you violate the patent. That way, when you're small you pay them to go away; when you're successful enough, you might be able to sue them and recover your protection payments.
(5) Become a patent troll yourself. It seems like a foolproof business model, at least until the law changes.
> A system for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data on an electronic device, the system comprising: a portable licensing medium configured to communicate with the electronic device and to store license data, the license data configured to be used by the electronic device to determine whether to allow access to the electronic data; and a registration authority configured to communicate with the electronic device, the registration authority having verification data for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium, wherein the registration authority provides updated license data for the licensing medium.
So an infringing device must contain all of the following: a 'portable' licensing medium (dependent claims 20 & 23-26 make it clear that anything from CDs to RAM qualify for that medium; though RAM is really stretching the "portable" requirement) which stores license data, it must use the license data on there to decide whether or not you can access the data, there must be a registration authority that communicates with the device, that authority must have verification data that allows it to verify the data from the client device, and the authority must provide updated license data.
Funny thing is that I can find a lot, if not all, of the elements in a computer virus from 1986. I wonder if they mentioned it as prior art? :)
Problem is this patent was filed in Feb 26, 2001, and there wasn't as much phoning-home to licensing servers/updating license data done back then, though I'd imagine someone can find something.
If you find that there are reasonable definitions of each term in the claim that you might fall under, you are gonna have a bad time.
(IE Spend a lot of money trying to get it invalidated)
> There are a couple of broad claims which could, if upheld, cripple many systems which work like this (log in to installed software over the web, essentially).
This is actually contrary to "protecting innovation". If you actually innovate, you run the risk inventing something that someone already patented, and then you are fucked. Under such circumstances its much safer to just not try to innovate...
I also assume Mojang could just completely ignore it if they have no assets in America, although I guess they'd be a risk of having minecraft.net seized as .net's US administered isn't it?
edit: This wiki.answers page seems to say that could work http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_someone_sue_another_person_if_...
In short, the trolls do everything they can to make you fight them in their home court. Enough so that it makes the news whenever people find a new legal trick to escape. Many such tricks have failed. One example that springs to mind is that one troll who filed a day earlier than anyone else would be able to, because they used tricky local rules to get a cover sheet while technically filing just after midnight. But because they were first, they got to choose to stay in Marshall, TX.
Choice of forum determines where any disputes are held.
Choice of jurisdiction determines what state's laws apply (if the dispute involves a matter of state law).
A cursory reading of the claims explicitly outlined against Mojang makes me wonder if it's even a valid claim, they seem to be claiming the 'computer executable code' in claim 107 instead of a 'method'.
It also seems like there would be plenty of prior art to find computer code on an electronic device to prevent unauthorized access. I think the PDP-10 and UNIX would suffice such prior art.
MS has lawyers, and money, and time, and thus for them to lose is concerning. (Not saying anything about the applicability of this patent to Mojang.)
Restitution could come from revenues of any US product sales or assets, not just the specific one being contested.
Anything else is an international thing, and unless covered by treaties signed into law between countries, courts from one country never just honour some other countrie's legal system.
Extradition is possible on crimes where both countries agree it's a crime and generally have an extradition treaty, or policy for such requests, but to think that the US courts are somehow global is factually incorrect.
edit: ok, any app store downloads probably could be shut down.
If your product is international, and you're incorporated in the US and then a patent troll fucks you up, you'll have to waste so much time on all the procedures in addition to the money. And if anything goes wrong, then you'll have to pay hefty penalties/fines/royalties or close shop.
If your company is incorporated outside the country, granted you might find it a little hard to get your payment processor set up, but atleast you know that patent trolls [which, unfortunately seem to primarily originate from the USA] would be able to only shut down your business in one country. And, as long as you had a website up, people will find ways to bypass the country restriction. [Hint - Amazon's free app of the day isn't just being enjoyed by people in the USA]
Suppose I have an LLC for my small (one-man) business in the U.S., and then I get targeted by a patent troll with some ridiculous claims. Can I simply start up another LLC in another country (one with saner patent laws), transfer my domains/hosting/whatever else to it, and dissolve the U.S. LLC? It seems too easy.
Even if you register a TLD operated outside the US, be careful which registrar you choose to do so at. GoDaddy, a US company, is the #1 registrar worldwide, and has many times taken control of domains at US government request even when not legally obligated to.
Lets say I install plumbing in your house and it fails and damages your property, so you sue my company. If I'm a sole proprietor or a couple of guys doing business as a partnership then suing the company effectively means suing me (us) personally. If I lose and owe you $1 million, you can have my plumbing stuff seized to pay the debt, but if that doesn't cover all of it then I personally owe you the remainder. You can put a lein on my house and screw up my credit and put a collection agency after me until I pay off the debt.
On the other hand, if I have an LLC or a corporation, then the liability is limited to the property of the LLC or corporation. You can have my vans and warehouse seized, but you can't take my personal property like my house. If the LLC can't pay the full debt then it can owe you and make payments or something, but you can't "ruin" the owners.
In this case, simply "dissolving" the LLC wouldn't solve the problem. While it existed the LLC presumably had property, and that's what they would go after. If you tried to pull a "The LLC didn't have any property" then they'd probably toss you to the IRS for running an illegitimate LLC. And when the IRS was done auditing you, the patent guys would come back and go after you personally.
I'm definitely not a lawyer or any kind of business expert, though. If anybody knows better I'd also be interested.
If I own 25 of a company's shares, and let's say the shares are worth $1000 each then it means they can only claim a maximum of $25000 from me. Which is actually my investment in the company. So the worst thing they can do is take over my shares. Along with that, they can hypothecate any and all equipment that has been purchased in the company's account. So, the company car, company computer, server space, domain name, tables, chairs, office space etc.
What they cannot do is physically come into my home and forcably take my wife's jewelry and my personal computer. They cannot take my television or my car. Because those have been bought on "my" money, i.e. the salary that I'm claiming from the company.
This is LLC/WLL.
But what I'm interested is a bit different. Say, I run a business called algorithms.com with my company registered in Sweden. If tomorrow a patent troll in Texas files a suit against me, it's obvious that the US DOJ cannot shut down my business. But can they seize the domain name, only simply because it's a .com instead of a .se or a .whatever else
Contrast with a partnership, in which the owners/investors are subject to potentially unlimited liability.
LLC A settles a lawsuit for $10 million. Investors B and C's liability is limited to the size of their investment (we'll say $100).
Partnership X settles a lawsuit for $10 million. Partners Y and Z are each liable for the $10 million (the opposing party only gets to collect $10 million once, he simply can choose to go after either or both partners for payment). The opposing party can go after Partners Y'z and Z's personal assets, unless they declare bankruptcy.
I understand why a lawsuit could target the American LLC, but even if I dissolve it or let it go under, why wouldn't I and my assets still be protected?
I understand that once I switch to the foreign LLC I'd have to avoid any business ties to the U.S. (i.e. move my hosting overseas). I assume that I'd still have subscribers to my service in the U.S., but it doesn't make sense to me that that would constitute doing business there. By that rationale wouldn't every internet company be subject to the jurisdiction of every country on Earth?
For example, if your LLC is being sued for...say, slander, that supposedly occurred 6 months ago, and your LLC were conducting business in the U.S. 6 months ago, your LLC would be subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts based upon your past contacts. (Otherwise, businesses would just leave the country to avoid jurisdiction.) On the other hand, if you are currently in the U.S., but were not in the U.S. 6 months ago, you are still subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts based on your current contact with the U.S.
Again, your personal assets would be protected. However, the LLC's assets would not be protected. Once you've been targeted by a lawsuit, there's no point in moving the LLC's assets overseas. If anything, you're more likely to have an enforceable court order freezing the LLC's assets in whatever jurisdiction you've moved to.
I assume that I'd still have subscribers to my service in the U.S., but it doesn't make sense to me that that would constitute doing business there. By that rationale wouldn't every internet company be subject to the jurisdiction of every country on Earth?
Accepting and continuing to do business with the U.S. subscribers constitutes doing business in the U.S. Under most double taxation (prevention) treaties, a software/online "service" is deemed performed where the customer uses the service, unless there is a significant human element to the service in which case the service is deemed performed where that particular human performs his tasks.
I'm sure that I'm missing something here, but I don't know what.
European IP law makes US IP law look like a walk in the park. The RIAA and MPAA notwithstanding, the US has actually been the voice of restraint in the IP rights field. Enforcement and defense is also easier, as you do not have to contend with a variety of separate court systems as you do in Europe or Asia.
That being said, if you are running an international operation, your IP should never been based in the US for tax reasons. It should be held by an Irish (or other low-tax jurisdiction) company dedicated to holding your IP (i.e., an "IP holding company").
When are governments finally going to do something about the patent system?
This specific system and method involve using a card inserted into a computing device paired with a server over a network for authentication. It goes deeper than just the title.
You can find the app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mojang.min...
The entire suit is based on something patently (ha ha ha) untrue.
Minecraft on the PC /does/ authenticate with a licensing server, but this suit specifies mobile.
If it were significantly wrong (e.g. "Photoshop" rather than "Minecraft") then they'd have to file again. In this instance it's similar enough that most courts will allow it, although it looks bad for the lawyers involved.
OK, I mean, it's possible, but is anyone taking this seriously? Does this lawsuit even stand a chance?
The troll can probably determine how small Mojang really is and just try to use legal procedures to make things as expensive as possible. No need to actually fight for real (as they presumably did against Microsoft.)
This is why we should have a mandatory award of attorney's fees to the winner in IP cases. It would make lawyers more willing to take Mojang's side on a contingency basis (they only get paid if Mojang wins).
I wonder if this makes the whole plaintiff void?
You can get away with suing Microsoft without too much PR fallout. No-one is going to get that upset.
But attacking a much-beloved company with a much-beloved founder with a suit that could prevent millions of people from playing their favourite game?
I'd expect a certain amount of, shall we say, "third party action". Said patent troll might want to hire more phone operators. And PR guys.
And security personnel.
This is not the case with a patent troll.
This I don't understand. Mojang sells Minecraft in Sweden. You come to them, not the other way around (unless they have a US-based webshop).
A person from the US can fly to Sweden and buy a bottle of Absolute Absinthe (made-up) and then bring it back to the US. She may not succeed getting it through the customs, but it will be the US customs who enforce the import restriction, not the Swedish liquor store. Similarly, Mojang is a liquor store, Minecraft is a bottle. Why should Mojang be enforcing US e-com restrictions? This doesn't make any sense.
They wouldn't be expected to enforce any restrictions. The US will simply demand that all US financial branches refuse Majong business---that is VISA/Mastercard and your bank will not send money into his account or process payments for transactiosn related to him.
In addition, if he has a .us or .com name, they may try to seize it.
It'll be a headache for Mojang to try and fight it, so might as well 'self regulate' rather than have the government and use the only tool it knows 'the club'.
Second. There cannot be and there is none agreements between Sweden and US which would prevent swedish companies producing something that infringes US-only patents. Also any swedish company can produce anything that is banned in US. I guess absynthe is.
Third. Pay attention to the HTC & Apple cases. Apple is trying to prevent import of HTC phones. That is the key! Apple can not sue taiwanese company of US patent infringement, not in US, not in Taiwan. What they can do is complain to ITC and ban import and that is exactly what they ar doing: http://www.fosspatents.com/2011/12/apple-wins-itc-ruling-of-...
Second. That is not how import/export law works. I do not have time to explain how it applies, so Google it.
Third. Your second statement is correct.
Fourth. Your third statement is not correct. Apple can sue HTC in the U.S. b/c HTC does business in the U.S. Apple chose to pursue this case in the ITC b/c it is asignificantly faster way to achieve its business goals (namely, interfering with a competitor's sales of a product). Patent litigation through the court system is a very slow, years-long process, and could take long enough that Apple would be on the down-cycle again.
The liquor analogy would be if you ordered a bottle of liquor to be shipped to the US and the liquor store would be expected to comply with US import rules.
> liquor to be shipped to the US and the liquor store would be expected to comply with US import rules
It may want to comply with the rules, because the parcel will bounce at customs, but if there are no export restrictions, it has no other reason not to send a bottle into the US.
Except to serve it's customer, because if it doesn't meet import requirements then the customer's package will never arrive. I understand it may not be legally obligated so there's no repercussion except the shipment being confiscated, but it's in business to serve customers.
Carrying stuff you bought on an overseas trip through customs is not "importation" for legal purposes.
Also, export restrictions are different from import laws.
Export laws are applied by the seller's country. The buyer does not have to comply with export laws.
Import laws are applied by the buyer's country. Both the buyer and seller must comply with import laws unless the buyer is an "importer of record" in which case only the buyer must comply with import laws.
(1) You go after the companies collecting the money (Visa etc) and delivering the app (Google, Apple). These very much have physical offices and principals in the US.
(2) You arrest people who dare to fly through/over/near the US. See: legal UK gambling companies.
(3) You attempt to extradite anyone not caught by (1) or (2), if necessary pushing for one-sided extradition and IP laws to do so.
1) Yes, also I guess they could order ISPs to block the website, but I don't know if there is any precedent for this.
2) No, patent infringement is not a crime
3) No, patent infringement is not a fellony (or crime).
If there was a Default Judgement against them then violating it may be a contempt of court, which may be a crime - anyone know if that's the case?
Edit: Wikipedia says "Contempt of court in a civil suit is generally not considered to be a criminal offense".
In the Yahoo Article, the woman arrested failed to show up to multiple court hearings, despite receive notice at the proper address. The fact that the court hearings related to a debt was incidental. Blame shoddy journalism.
The second one, is a blog post, which actually talks about something entirely different from a debtor's prison. It refers to a "debtor's exam", which is a fancy way of saying that your finances are examined to see if you can afford to pay the debt. No prison time involved. Intrusive maybe, but warranted if you haven't paid the debt at issue.
Debtor's prison is alive and well in America.
Just preventing sales from customers in the US app store would be a lot of damage. Google and Apple already have different products available according to country of origin. Billing addresses can also be easily checked.
The presence of "Minecraft" on the US XBox Live store is just one example.
aka "one line of code"?
I have a hypothesis that at least some of the patent trolls are actually a non-violent protest against the way patent law is implemented. They're forcing, demanding, the legal system catch up.
I think that should reduce the number of patent lawsuits to approximately the number appropriate for an educated and free society. If you really, really feel that you've been wronged, go for it! But don't waste the court's or society's time, resources, and goodwill on horrid antisocial crud like this.
Replace 'intellectual property' with 'whistleblower' and you've suddenly illustrated exactly the terrible climate that scares a lot of people away from doing the right thing.
The problem isn't overzealousness. Hell, overzealousness should be commended. The problem is a system which drains time and resources regardless and outcome, and a general ignorance due to the complexity of technology & prior art.
Obviously, that latter is not true, and that's the issue here.
One problem is that the courts, especially those in East Texas, do not care to wait for the reexamination procedures to finish, so you can infringe on a patent later found invalid.
It would be very interesting if Notch got their lawyers to supervise a crowd-sourced search for prior art, though. I hope he does so!