#1 By: Cory Doctorow, January 7th, 2014 21:01
#2 By: galaxies, January 7th, 2014 21:06
Hopefully this is their Prenda law moment. It seems once these companies try their BS on an organization of a certain size, it all unravels.
#3 By: Eksrae, January 7th, 2014 21:22
It's like a schoolyard bully who picks on little guys. Sooner or later, he believes his own bullshit and takes on someone who won't hesitate to hit back. And companies as big as Coca Cola don't get that big without knowing a few dirty tricks of their own.
#4 By: pjcamp, January 7th, 2014 21:45
I . . .I. . . I . . have a patent on putting the word "Sincerely" before your signature.
Every old fogey that writes email owes me money.
#5 By: teapot, January 7th, 2014 21:57
US law and the agencies are doing a bang-up job of making America an entirely shitty, undesirable place to do business.
#6 By: LDoBe, January 7th, 2014 22:33
I hope these big companies eviscerate MPHJ in court. Literally. I want to see court footage of a Coca-Cola lawyer pulling out a ceremonial dagger and gouging out the MPHJ lawyer's bowels.
#7 By: urbanspaceman, January 7th, 2014 22:40
Somehow, I am reminded of commie-hunter Joseph McCarthy, and what happened to him when he directed his witch-hunt at the U.S. Army. That was the beginning of the end for him...
#8 By: Ygret, January 7th, 2014 23:39
It does amaze me that these cases don't get tossed quickly. It almost makes me think the US is becoming so corrupt that judges can't even tell anymore when a lawsuit is a scam or when its valid. Almost.
#9 By: teapot, January 7th, 2014 23:43
True... I feel like the majority of these problems stem from the patent office issuing patents for stuff that's so common-sense or everyday that it should never have been patentable. They're not able to do that as far as I'm aware.... if some asshole comes to them to patent something and it doesn't clash with prior patents then they have to issue it. The system is idiotically broken and the judges have to make legal judgements on these issued patents, irrespective of how nonsensical the patent is.
Considering China has been doing pretty well by ignoring other people's patents and copyrights, maybe the US should take a page from their book and learn from them?
#10 By: vermes, January 8th, 2014 04:23
#11 By: Paul Sampson, January 8th, 2014 05:04
I'm not so sure. The nice thing about going for bigger companies is that you can 'remind' them that they won't be able to protect their own patents as easily if they know there's someone out there who can call them out on it. "Settle quietly with us, and we won't make a noise when you try this tactic later on other small fry" sort of thing. A private conversation you can have with the MD in the restroom..
#12 By: Lkjh69 , January 8th, 2014 07:10
Thanks, I was wondering about that and you confirmed my suspicion.
#13 By: Suzanne, January 8th, 2014 08:25
I worked on several patent applications at my last job and I was trained by patent lawyers in a basic understanding of how the application process works. It's just so different from the general understanding of the purpose and way that patents are granted.
I thought that the process was a) Have some grand idea for something New New New and b) Get a patent then c) Make your patented product and d) Laugh all the way to the bank.
But actually the process is a) Come up with some nuanced version of something that already exists - a mousetrap with a TITANIUM spring instead of a STEEL one b) Spend 10 years going round and round with the patent office before you finally get a patent on the ball bearing that sits at the base of the spring when it is rotated at a certain position and the color pink c) The patent office grants you this patent even though it is common practices to use pink titanium ball bearings in mousetraps because they have no idea what goes on in your industry and the people who work there are not engineers or industry experts but just folks who can read patents d) You sue the shit out of anyone else who uses pink titanium ball bearings in their mousetraps. It takes millions of dollars to sue and millions for companies to defend themselves in court AND the judges are all English majors who have no idea about engineering, industry practices, or any technical issues.
So some little inventor really gets nothing out of patenting but big companies that can afford to sue can trounce their competition.
#14 By: fireshadow, January 8th, 2014 09:34
I have a friend who worked at Google and he has this award for doing something that apparently resulted in a patent. When we asked him about it, he said something like "Well, I combined these two things ..." and looked uncomfortable about it. In general, this guy was a guy who loved to explain nerdy things so the fact that he was kind of "meh" about it said a lot to me.
It definitely seems like companies try to patent any small trivial change.
#15 By: Suzanne, January 8th, 2014 10:13
The owner of the company that trained me had a patent on a particular knot that is used in surgery. Somehow this came out of a patent he tried to get on a device used in a heart procedure. It was sort of a joke because it obviously was more of a patent for show than anything practical; on the other hand, any patent adds to the company value even if it is a stupid patent like that.
A lot of the patents are used to block other companies from building similar products. When I was trained the team leader showed me patents from a competing company for hospital beds; in the patent they had claims for many, many variations on the bed they actually manufactured. This was to prevent other companies from putting out similar beds and not for a product they intended to ever produce.
#16 By: sdmikev, January 8th, 2014 11:21
pretty impressive that one can extort money from someone sending data from equipment they own over an open protocol..
#17 By: Peter Harris, January 8th, 2014 12:02
Well, here's hoping that in fact one can't, if the chosen victims don't roll over and turn out their pockets without a fight.
#18 By: WearySky, January 8th, 2014 13:15
I'm so confused here - it sounds like they're not suing companies for scanning documents to a computer, and then emailing them in a separate step, but rather for using a scanner that emails the document directly. Is that what's happening here? That makes no sense to me.
#19 By: vetnoir, January 8th, 2014 13:39
Several years ago I lived with a roommate that had an Akita that was normally in the house or the back yard. Also in this neighborhood was a medium size dog of indeterminate breed that the owner would take on regular walks around the neighborhood. While he would do this the dog would bark and strain at it's leash with every other dog that was passed and those other dogs would back away.
One day we happened to be in the front yard and the Akita was with us, leashed to a very large tree. As this dog came past, it barked at my roommates dog. He didn't bark back and didn't retreat. Instead he hit the end of his leash hard enough to shake the tree, his jaws snapping shut inches from the other dog's neck.
Had he not been tied up, I'm sure that it would not have been good for the other dog.
I'm hoping coke is going to be like the Akita in this case, except without the leash.
#20 By: Alice Weir, January 8th, 2014 14:43
Whoa! I just got a fave patent troll! Who knew?
See, while everybody's talking about Coca-Cola because they recognize the name, this troll went after one of the evilest, most litigious large companies on the planet - Unum Group! Known by a vaiety of names, this company is most often the one that supposedly offers disability benefits through your employer - which it seldom actually pays, due to some handy-dandy exclusions in the actual policy (which you will typically not see unless you ever file a claim) . And, if you argue, they will happily see you in court - where they will most likely not pay up, either.
Best factoid about Unum - it demands that you apply for Social Security Disability Benefits, whether you qualify or not. This procedure may take several years to complete, though most applicants get immediately turned down in the first 90 days. If you lose? Unum will force you through the miserable appeals process. If you win, they will immediately deduct the amount of any benefits you receive from the amount they were supposed to pay you. They were accused of federal fraud over this just a few years ago. Because, Social Security. Unum forces so many people through the already horrid and slow applications process, further burdening a system that already doesn't work - to the tune of tens of thousands of applicants dying before actually receiving the benefits they applied for (and paid for, via involuntary payroll deductions). One of those benefits is the Medicare coverage that might have provided care and saved their lives. Lovely folks, Unum Group.
Unum will settle out on the cheap, most likely. That's their thing, and they are experts at doing it to sick and injured workers throughout the US and Europe. But man! If this goes to court? It's a can't-lose for the rest of us. One slimeball or the other will lose.
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