back to article 'Tech troll' sues EFF to silence 'Stupid Patent of the Month' blog. Now the EFF sues back

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is countersuing a patent troll that wants its name removed from a "stupid patent of the month" blog post. Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA) is incorporated in Australia and exists only to bring patent litigation, making it "a classic patent troll," the EFF claims. GEMSA appeared …

  1. Jason

    All of these "patent troll" companies should be defined as such in international law by default, until they prove they are not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Throw some MOAB's on their effin HQs, problem solved

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A better idea

        Wouldn't having Assad drop sarin gas on their HQ be more fitting? A MOAB would kill them instantly and painlessly. The sarin will insure they suffer before they die, as patent troll attorneys deserve.

        1. m0rt Silver badge

          Re: A better idea

          ^^ W. T. F?

        2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: A better idea

          I think somebody haven't had their nap and are a bit cranky now... go see matron and ask her for a mug of cocoa, there's a good chap.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Throw some MOAB's on their effin HQs, problem solved

        But that could possibly enrich Trump via his shares in outfits that make such stuff. I'd first take their money away under some "proceeds of crime" statue, and then kick them into jail to enjoy the presence of other people who do not have social engagement high on their personal agenda. See how they like being victimised.

        That said, it doesn't address the root problem: a patent system that makes this all possible. That really needs fixing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Unfortunately, AFAIK stretching the truth isn't actually a crime (unless it's on tax returns). I suppose that's because otherwise we'd have no politicians - but who passes new laws?

      3. Jason Hindle

        MOABs....

        "Throw some MOAB's on their effin HQs, problem solved"

        I think just the one will be pretty emphatic :-/.

      4. Random Handle

        >Throw some MOAB's on their effin HQs, problem solved

        Just make things worse - for a start MOAB is a Registered Trademark in Australia

        https://search.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks/search/view/1047589?q=MOAB

        .....and effin is registered 3 times (it is Australia after all)

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Makes equipment for 4x4's - named after Moab, Utah, US - a 4x4 mecca of sorts.

          You GO, Australia!

          lol...

      5. TheRealRoland

        Nurse! He got to the computer again!

      6. Potemkine Silver badge

        So Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan wasn't enough?

        Since when throwing bombs solve problems?

        1. Public Citizen
          Mushroom

          Re: So Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan wasn't enough?

          I seem to recall that a couple of really big bombs helped to encourage the Japanese Military High Command to agree with the Emperors expressed wishes to bring hostilities to a close in 1945.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Easiest answer is that the companies cannot hold patents

      Also patents should not be sold only leased, after all patents are supposed to protect inventors not the companies for which they were working at the time they invented something.

      If companies want to do research then they should employ someone they trust to hold to hold he rewards of discovery but I can understand why business doesn't like the idea of people being important

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Aussie Judges

    So Aussie judges are just as shysterly as their feral counterparts. It must be part of the requirements to become a shyster anywhere to have no ethics or concept jurisdiction.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Aussie Judges

      Could it be that, on the facts presented to him (or her) the Australian jusge made a reasonable call, based on those? No need to invoke dishonesty with perhaps a limited understanding is all that's to blame.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Aussie Judges

        If you read the judgement linked to in the article, the EFF didn't defend the action in Australia, therefore judgement was awarded to the plaintiff by default - it would have worked in exactly the same way in the US. This isn't a case of an Aussie judge making a stupid decision, it's just that if you don't defend a civil action then it's decided in the plaintiff's favour. It's also worth noting that the judge didn't include any batshit-crazy requirements to remove any references anywhere on the web, just things the defendant has direct control over.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Aussie Judges

      Australia is famously luddite toward technology as a whole. They were a pioneer in censoring the internet at a national scale, they're the only major country in the world with higher per-capita CO2 emissions than the USA, and they're proud of it.

      In this case, I would guess that the EFF simply didn't defend the case, so this is a default judgment. It's hard to see how, even under Australian law, calling something "stupid" could be actionable.

      1. Tac Eht Xilef

        Re: Aussie Judges

        Speaking of trolls...

        Per-capita CO2 emissions (2013, the latest available data), starting at the highest: Qatar, Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sint Maarten, Brunei, Luxembourg, UAE, Saudi Arabia, United States, Australia, ...

        Not that it changes the fact that GEMSA pretty much meet the definition of "patent trolls", but in Australian law there's precedent (based on the principle of international sovereignty) that, in the case of widely-disseminated material, defamation occurs where the target resides. Normally you'd expect that'd please the sort of people who believe their nation is sovereign and that "offence can only be taken, not given" - but it seems they're less pleased when it works against them...

      2. Alan Hope

        Re: Aussie Judges

        There would be a counter-suit on behalf of all galahs.

        (nb "Stupid galah" is a common phrase in the land of galahs)

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Aussie Judges

        Right now there's no jurisdiction.

        If EFF respond to say so, then Australian courts will take it that they accept jurisdiction and make things even worse.

        Yes. Australian law really is that fucked up.

      4. Paul 129

        Re: Aussie Judges

        I read the pdf there was no representation from the EFF. So yes a default judgment. Lol, too late, pointed out better in the above comment.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Aussie Judges

          So this "default judgement" - do you win an law case when the other side doesn't show up? No matter how poor your argument is? That seems odd.

          Maybe they were superficially plausible.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Aussie Judges

            "That seems odd."

            Why? The judge can only make a decision based on the balance of probabilities. If only one set of probabilities is presented it's not up to them to try to work out what the other side might have said if they'd bothered to turn up.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Aussie Judges

      "So Aussie judges are just as shysterly as their feral counterparts. It must be part of the requirements to become a shyster anywhere to have no ethics or concept jurisdiction."

      Surely GEMSA should have sued in their favourite jurisdiction of East Texas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Aussie Judges

        Maybe there should be a rule that says if you bring an action against a counterparty in their country, you can't run home to your own if things don't go as you wished?

  3. vir

    The EFF is probably the last group you'd want to tangle with in this regard.

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      True, but it does seem rather cowardly to say "you can't sue us because we're Americans" instead of fighting the ruling in Australia.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The EFF is a US-based nonprofit. It'd be entirely inappropriate for them to use their funds to fight what is, to them, a meaningless case in another country.

      2. Brian Miller

        "you can't sue us because we're Americans" instead of fighting the ruling in Australia.

        Actually, that is the valid legal point. Here, we have it enshrined in our country's constitution that we can say things that someone may deem as being unpopular. If that speech causes people to take note and someone's dubious business model grinds to a halt, so be it. This is what happens when someone "calls a spade a spade," and stands up to legal bullying over the statement.

        If the trolls don't like California sunshine, too bad.

        1. Hstubbe

          Of course, free speech in the us ends when you say bad things about us companies. DMCA ring a bell? Oh, and also don't be negative about the president, the gov will come after you! Oh, and don't even think about exposing the crimes the us secret services commit.

          Yeah, the us is such a haven of free speech....

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Of course, free speech in the us ends when you say bad things about us companies. DMCA ring a bell?"

            You clearly haven't looked very carefully at the EFF. For a start, try googling EFF & DMCA. You might find it educational.

      3. patrickstar

        By your logic, noone could ever publish anything that's illegal anywhere in the world.

        I am very sure you can easily see the problems with this approach.

        1. Flame Boar

          If something is illegal, it is protected speech. Speech that could cause real harm (not hurt feelings) is likewise not protected. In this case a patent troll has a case of butt hurt and many people agree that this was a stupid case to bring to court.

      4. Remy Redert

        It does. Instead, you can go with "You can't sue us in Australia because we are an exclusively American outfit operating exclusively under US law and publishing our articles for consumption by US citizens."

        The alleged crime happened in the US, by a US organisation and no doubt US citizens. The Australian court has no jurisdiction in the US and no way to enforce its ruling except by blocking all EFF IPs and disappearing the EFF from Australia's version of the internet.

      5. Yes Me Silver badge

        re: fighting the ruling in Australia

        Wrong. They're doing exactly the right thing by fighting the claim that an Australian ruling has any validity in the US - that is much more to the point than butting heads with a foolish and misinformed judge in a minor country like Australia. (Sorry, but there it is, and I live in an even more minor country.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @tfewster,

    The fact the Australian troll is suing people using an American court (Texas) and then trying to hide under Australian law when they are shown up to be a troll rather dumps cold water on your statement.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "organizes files and operating systems into "virtual cabinets.""

    Are you f**king kidding me? And decades of prior art didn't count of course.

    Like every other of these "Look and feel" BS cases since Apple/Microsoft.*

    Patent trolls don't like being called patent trolls because they have no business other than acquiring patents and attempting to extort companies for money with them. But they don't like to be called patent trolls.

    Well if it's squat, smelly, hairy and lives under a bridge....

    *Where screenshots of a Xerox Altos should have shut that s**t down in a day.

    1. FuzzyTheBear

      Re: "organizes files and operating systems into "virtual cabinets.""

      Keep reading

      ".. this invention uses a combination of Flash VOS VTOC and ACPI to perform “Cold Swaps” or “Context Switching”, which remove one active OS temporarily from all or part of memory and replace it with another active OS in all or part of memory."

      I believe that's the part they think has value.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: "organizes files and operating systems into "virtual cabinets.""

        That's part of the description but at no time is that claimed as part of the invention. Their three basic/independent claims are 1) a GUI... multiple operating systems..., 16) a GUI... at least one operating system..., and 28) a computer program product... for generating, a GUI on the display device... All other claims are derivations of these three. There is no claim for context switching or cold swaps or anything else. In fact, going further, there is little to nothing technical in the patent whatsoever it's all look and feel bovine effluent. It really should have been a design patent if anything but there isn't enough detail even for that.

        Stupid patent of the month, it's in good running for stupid patent of the year.

  6. hrearden360

    EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

    Those EFF lawyers are quite funny (and stupid themselves). The best part is, they write a whole bunch of articles about "stupid patents" but the authors of those articles aren't even patent attorneys! HA! What a joke.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

      Um, you don't need to be a patent lawyer to know that a patent is stupid. And the EFF has plenty of legal advice, both on patent claims and on First Amendment rights. Agreed, decoding the real meaning of the claims in a patent is a specialised job, but there are hundreds (probably thousands) of people who would gladly help the EFF pro bono for something as egregious as this.

      Let's look at just one of the 39 claims for this GUI:

      27. A graphic user interface as in claim 18, further comprising a timer window for graphically illustrating a countdown from a modifiable pre-specified number to “0”
      Wow! A window with a counter, counting down! In 1999! Probably 15 years after such a thing first appeared in civilian systems and 30 years after the military had it. I suspect that all the claims were equally unoriginal, covered by prior art, and obvious to one skilled in the art, even in 1999.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

        Wow! A window with a counter, counting down! In 1999! Probably 15 years after such a thing first appeared in civilian systems and 30 years after the military had it.

        Actually a countdown is much older than that. The Wikipedia article mentions its use to start a Cambridge rowing race in the 19th C, and Fritz Lang used one in his movie Frau im Mond, released in 1929. Putting a countdown in a computer window should count as a trivial and obvious extension, so not patentable.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          I remember the progress bar when installing Windows 95 back in the day which went up to 90% in a couple of seconds then took about half an hour to get to 91%. That was a count-up timer rather than count-down, but the same idea.

          1. RogerT

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            Those are known at micro% here. We also have the unit of "microsoft minutes" which seem to decrement and increment at random and bare no relation to reality.

            1. TheRealRoland
              Headmaster

              Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

              >bare no relation

              Damnit, those bears keep running away...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            I used to do support at a software manufacturer in Kettering. I remember a discussion of an installation progress bar. There were different ways to arrive at the %. It could be based on bytes installed over bytes total. It could also be calculated on the number of files or it could be how far along the installation script it has got. The first two methods are affected by how fast larger and smaller files go on. Bigger ones tend to increase the data rate and smaller ones lower it.

            Perhaps Microsith changes between all of these and has other ways of arriving at the %.

        2. MacroRodent Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          > Putting a countdown in a computer window should count as a trivial and obvious extension, so not patentable.

          Yes, in a rational intellectual property system it would. Unfortunately many existing software patents are of the form "implementing a <some well-known operation> using a computer".

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            Unfortunately many existing software patents are of the form "implementing a <some well-known operation> using a computer".

            -Tim's example of pre-existing art was on a computer.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            Unfortunately many existing software patents are of the form "implementing a <some well-known operation> using a computer".

            Currently on the next cycle of repeating those self-same patents "on a mobile device"

      2. Trollslayer Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

        I bow to your expertise in stupid.

      3. -tim
        Coat

        Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

        Countdown timer prior art? I had to walk to the far book case to find an example. Figure 50 page 102 "SAA-CUA Advanced interface design guide" 1989. IBM part SC26-4582-0

        1. Agamemnon
          Pint

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          Wow man, you win the Token Ring Net for the day (and a beer).

        2. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          @-tim : Thanks for the specific example. I'm pretty sure I saw countdown timers in process control GUIs as early as 1980-85, too. My military reference was speculative, but I can't imagine that SAGE (the original Cold War early warning system) didn't display a countdown on the screen as bombers approached, in the 1960s. Oh, and NASA, surely?

      4. Stuart 22

        Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

        Let's look at just one of the 39 claims for this GUI:

        27. A graphic user interface as in claim 18, further comprising a timer window for graphically illustrating a countdown from a modifiable pre-specified number to “0”

        Ignoring the obvious and prior art should alone destroy it - most countdowns don't actually end with "0" but at "1" or "1%" or whatever - the zero event instead initiating the closure of the box or whatever so easily avoidable (do I have a future careerr as a IT Patent Laywer? ;-)

        The most obvious counter example to counting down and including zero, is of course, is rocket launch displays. Hence are our Australian cousins suggesting the Apollo programme was a myth created less than 20 years ago and we really didn't get to the moon?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          "Hence are our Australian cousins suggesting the Apollo programme was a myth created less than 20 years ago and we really didn't get to the moon?"

          And there seems to be prior art on that suggestion as well.

    2. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

      "What a joke."

      Not as good a joke as your comment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @hrearden360

      Welcome to the site. I see this is your first post and you joined today to say this.

      How is the weather in Aus?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @hrearden360

        "How is the weather in Aus?"

        How would he know? He's sheltering under the bridge.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: @hrearden360

          Give em a break - we can all learn from our mistakes, I know shitloads but this one has the opportunity to catch up fast!

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

      @ hrearden360

      You signed up just to post that?

      1. hrearden360

        Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

        Nope. I signed up to also post this:

        1. Many of the comments express anger about GEMSA asserting this patent because it is so "obvious." If that's indeed the case, then the complainers should take issue with the US Patent Office for issuing this patent, not GEMSA for asserting a patent it owns and has a legal right to enforce.

        2. C'mon people -- stop kidding yourselves. If you had the knowledge, ability and resources to obtain and assert patents and make money from doing so, you would do the same. Instead, you throw insults at a company that is legally enforcing a property right it owns.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          > If you had the knowledge, ability and resources to obtain and assert patents and make money from doing so, you would do the same.

          Nonsense. Even if you are pro software patents, you will find that most of them are ridiculous. Of course you need to actually look at a bunch of patents. If you really think the patent in question was rightly issued, I can't help you, maybe a doctor could.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          If you had the knowledge, ability and resources to obtain and assert patents and make money from doing so, you would do the same.

          No, I wouldn't. I'd carry on doing the same socially productive and personally enjoyable job that I'm doing now.

          Money isn't everything. I struggle to understand why some people think it is.

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "If that's indeed the case,..the complainers should take issue with the US Patent Office"

          In case you didn't bother to read the other posts on this thread most people here do think the USPO are a bunch of F***wits.

          The agency was gutted under Regan (another Republican president who went on a big arms buying spree and got shot)

          So yes, we do agree with the Chinese that "The criminal commits the crime, but the society creates the conditions to do so."

          1. jake Silver badge

            PDNFTT.

            Ta.

        4. Steve Knox

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          2. C'mon people -- stop kidding yourselves. If you had the knowledge, ability and resources to obtain and assert patents and make money from doing so, you would do the same. Instead, you throw insults at a company that is legally enforcing a property right it owns.

          No, hrearden, we would not. Many of us have a uniquely unpatentable invention called a moral compass. You should look into getting one sometime.

        5. Agamemnon

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          "then the complainers should take issue with the US Patent Office for issuing this patent"

          Ho! Everyone hold on there everyone, @hrearden360 mkes a good point right here.

          Let's talk about that.

          1. The United States Patent Office is a worthless pile of crap staffed, as near as can be divined, by dead parrots and Roomba's. Yes, because of their well-known inability to read a document and grok ("process", to you) the simple concept right in front of them (e.g., The Patent), the U.S.P.O. awards idiot patents on a *REGULAR BASIS*.

          2. The EFF (who, to reply to your first comment, has a metric shitload of Patent And Other Intellectual Property Lawyers on hand s they're in San Francisco and Silicon Vlley is quite lousy with the breed), then, points to those Stupid Patents in a (correctly) mocking and derisive way (as should we all).

          3. Now along comes a $PatentTroll that picks up that "Intellectual Property" usually in a "Start-Up->Fall Down" Sale. This organization produces nothing but hasa this "Intellectual Property" (that, we ALL gree, should never have been awarded in the first place) and then:

          4. Ties up the damned courts, using them to *Extort* (it is *Extortion*, make no mistake, as I have been on the recieving end of this shit a few times). So, here *I* am, Joe Citizen, PAYING A FORTUNE for the Luddite, inefficient, slow-assed (I think the Brits call them "Beaks"...I like that) judge can rule that $PatentTroll, who designs nothing, produces nothing, is usally shrouded in shady shell companies, can legally extort an Actual productive organization out of hard earned, often clawed out of the ether, profit. I, as a citizen, resent that a Great Deal.

          Now *that* is a greater view of the problem at hand for you. But I'll grant you that you are correct, The United States Post Office is very much to blame. Followed immediately by slimy little turds with nothing useful to do and no actual skills.

          I'm an Engineer and a Technician, I made things, provide value. I've no love for someone who does nothing to contribute, plays extortion games, And Distracts From The Useful Work by pissing away time and other resources in court. Most folk around here, you'll find, agree.

          (Note: Had to make a new account to post as the servers running the domain I signed up to The Reg forever ago, are currently running around the Great West US in the trunk of an Apache Foundation founder's car, and he's in no hurry to put them in a datacenter, like, this spring, anytime, at all. Can't be without my RegForums and Troll Bashing.)

          1. earl grey Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            "The United States Post Office is very much to blame."

            Think you mean US Patent Office.

          2. -tim
            Facepalm

            Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

            I've proposed that the EFF ask the courts to bar the examiner who allowed bad patents from issuing any more patents until they receive some training in finding prior art.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

          1. People are taking issue with the Patent Office as they were completely stupid in that time frame even more so than they are now. We're still walking it back one patent at a time. If they insist on swinging that stick, folks will be happy to get it bounced too.

          2. You are making very broad assumptions. I'll compare my list of patented inventions against yours any day and to make sure we're comparing the knowledge part, no claiming patents you bought or weren't the inventor on. Oh, sorry Hank, nobody's going to believe you invented Rearden metal either.

          Kisses,

          Dagny Taggart

    5. Dave Harvey
      Mushroom

      Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

      @hrearden360:

      From the EFF filing:

      "Many of the “Stupid Patent of the Month” posts (including the one at issue here) are written by Daniel Nazer, an EFF staff attorney. Before joining EFF, Mr. Nazer was a patent litigator in the San Francisco law firm now known as Keker, Van Nest & Peters, and a Residential Fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society."

      BTW - Everyone here seems to presume that you work for GEMSA - would you care to confirm or deny?

    6. Chris 239

      Re: EFF Lawyers are EFF'n Stupid

      @ hrearden360

      Trolling in a comment about trolls! awsome!

  7. Ben 54

    Personal opinion

    I think there should be a limit on what you can patent as an original idea (or trademark for that matter, but that is a different discussion). As it stand people can patent a fart, and it will probably be granted. Someone even patented a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    First case: patents for the sake of extortion - If you patent something, i think they should give you a period of time to implement it into your own working products. If you just patent something without the intent to use the design yourself, in a product you own, the patent should expire if you haven't use it in a working product in a set period. What is the point of inventing and not actually market your invention?With this amendment you could get a preliminary patent and still safely talk to investors to market and fund you product, since the intent is there. There will be the exceptions of course which could be granted since it is being researched, but at least they can prove research is in progress.

    Second issue: Vagueness for maximum litigation options - Most of the patents out there, especially around software and design, are so vague that it covers a broad spectrum of existing products. This leaves the system open for abuse. So instead of getting a patent for a counter on screen, the patent should be for a counter on screen, position, font, working script and business case on where it will be applied. It has to be very specific for what you invented it for, as well as the target market, not just "Something will happen when it reach 0".

    1. Chemist

      Re: Personal opinion

      "If you patent something, i think they should give you a period of time to implement it into your own working products. If you just patent something without the intent to use the design yourself,"

      In most sensible countries you can't patent an idea, you have to reduce it to a real example. With a new drug for example you need to describe how to synthesise it, describe some factual data such as melting point, NMR spectrum, mass spec. etc. Describe its use, advantage, biological data and alternative routes to synthesise it AND give sufficient examples of the synthesis of similar molecules along with the data above to show that the area has been evaluated. (My largest patent topped-out at ~100 examples which was a year's work and took weeks just to write)

      On the other hand it was easy to spot patents (usually American I'm afraid) where almost all examples had been 'synthesised' on paper and had very broad classification for biological activity e.g. +, ++, +++, inactive. Patent offices vary widely in how much detail they require and how often they challenge the claims & detail in the application

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Personal opinion

      "What is the point of inventing and not actually market your invention?"

      There are a whole lot of skills involved in inventing and a whole lot of different skills involved in manufacturing and marketing. It's unreasonable for a small company, and even less for an individual to possess all those. It's a perfectly legitimate business to invent, design, etc. a product and licence it to others to bring to market. ARM would be an example. Patenting some bundle of vague ideas is not, however, inventing under any reasonable interpretation of the word.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Personal opinion

        While I agree in your qualification, licensing the patent for someone else to use, provided it results in a real product, would be perfectly acceptable demonstration of the practicality of implementation of a patent. The time scale of 6 months may be a bit short for full a full product to be produced, but should be enough for a demonstration.

        As we all know, the problem with what is happening is that there is no attempt to turn patents into a product, but the patent is used to extort money from other people, especially for patents that are so obvious they should not have been granted in the first place.

        Although later ARM designs may look like designs on paper licensed to other people, the background of ARM is based on solid product development. Acorn produced both ARM-1 and ARM-2 processors, although they out-sourced the fabrication, they were branded as Acorn products.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Personal opinion

          "While I agree in your qualification, licensing the patent for someone else to use, provided it results in a real product, would be perfectly acceptable demonstration of the practicality of implementation of a patent."

          Your patent troll would then argue that the infringing product proves its practicality.

          My point is that there are good arguments against almost all S/W patents. Introducing an argument such as "you've got to make a product yourself" isn't one of them.

    3. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Personal opinion

      Second issue: Vagueness for maximum litigation options - Most of the patents out there, especially around software and design, are so vague that it covers a broad spectrum of existing products.

      That would be easily tackled if there was political will by a adopting an "all or nothing" approach to patent claims. It seems most dubious patents begin with something specific and then the claims generalise it into anything tangentially related. If those extended claims include anything for which prior art can be shown rule the entire patent invalid.

      You might end up with specific, focused patents that actually describe the purported invention as as result.

    4. kmac499

      Re: Personal opinion

      Personally I intend to fire up the time machine go back a few decades and patent the idea of ...

      "Purchasing rights of Intellectual property, for the sole purpose of suing or threatening to sue potential infringers of said intellectual property."

      Then I'm coming back and going to Texas Yee Haa...

      1. Ben 54

        Re: Personal opinion

        ^^^^

        "

        Personally I intend to fire up the time machine go back a few decades and patent the idea of ...

        "Purchasing rights of Intellectual property, for the sole purpose of suing or threatening to sue potential infringers of said intellectual property."

        "

        You just won the internet :D

      2. Swarthy Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Personal opinion

        Just be sure you go back to before April 2007.

        But if you promise to actually enforce your patent I will donate to the Time Travel Fund.

  8. John Tappin

    Never mind the patent

    Its a blog FFS, EFF are not manufacturing or commissioning product.

    Based on this logic there would be no tech news sites at all.

    What are they thinking?

    Or is this a black helicopter plan to simply bleed the EFF white with lawsuits so they can't fund the real issues?

  9. Apprentice Human

    I'm a little surprised that Linked-In wasn't checked in the research. It get to be a better story when the CEO 's only credentials is a Bachelor's in "Real Estate" from a university in Texas (Hondros). This makes me want someone to have the time to resurrect GrokLaw!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, it looks like such a lovely family business. They even appointed mommy as CEO! The DNS record for their domain is also hilarious. It has the name of the 'mystery silent partner' who had the good sense to set his linkedin profile to private before doing something publically abhorrent (well, more abhorrent than his normal business practices anyway). The company he used as registrant? Elite Marketing.

      Yep, really elite marketing here. All this free publicity!

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech covers individuals and not organisations? That's my understanding of recent libel type cases in the USA. I could be wrong but that's my right !!!!

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech covers individuals and not organisations?

      I have no idea how the 1st amendment is interpreted in US law, being a Brit, but I'm pretty certain the article was written by a human being, not the incorporated entity that is the EFF.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        RE Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech ...

        I think you missed the bit where companies in the US are treated as individuals in that they are allowed to interfere in elections and other things that any sensible democracy would have rejected as abhorrent.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech ...

          Companies have a legal persona and (a) can be sued, (b) pay taxes, (c) protect entrepreneurs who create jobs, (d) etc etc. There are dozens of reasons why companies are legal persons. As for whether they should 'interfere' in an election, "no taxation without representation." might ring a bell, so they'd should at least be able to express an opinion. No more than that, but having a view is not interfering.

          Outright buying of elections, obviously not, that's one reason why honest politicians (ha!) do things like place their own companies out of their (and their family's reach), publish their tax returns, and so on. And a company expressing an opinion is far less disturbing to me than stories of foreign government officials talking to one particular side in a campaign, whilst also funding far-right parties in other countries (in a pretty well documented pattern of behaviour, that also includes importing it's own tattooed national socialist supporters into other countries for staged photo ops in which "local Nazis are attacking" that government's special interests). Maybe it's just me that has issues with that.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: RE Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech ...

            "so they'd should at least be able to express an opinion. No more than that, but having a view is not interfering."

            It is if you're shouting down everyone else in the process so they can't get a word in edgewise. See "bullhorning". That's why FREE speech should not be confused with FAIR speech.

          2. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: RE Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech ...

            One upvote, and one observation.

            "Outright buying of elections" is charged with some frequency, but difficult to confirm in practice. Electoral winners are determined by counting ballot marks or electrical/electronic equivalents made by individual voters. It probably is illegal in most jurisdictions to bribe voters for specific action, and because of the mechanics of elections would almost always be unenforceable in practice. If done at all, it almost certainly is rare and probably has essentially no net effect. There are well-substantiated reports of political organizations distributing money and other things of some value (commonly food or food vouchers) on election day to "get out the vote," and that often was done with a wink and a nudge that conveyed the wishes of the organization if its identity alone did not do so effectively. That falls a bit short of "buying."

            There doubtless are many easily documented cases in which the better financed candidate, who could afford more and better publicity efforts, won election, but copious financing, depending on its source, may have negative effects as well, and there certainly will be a many cases where the best financed was not elected. The most recent example, of course, is the recent presidential election, in which Democratic candidates outspent Republicans by 5:4 and the losing candidate, Hillary Clinton, outspent the winner, Donald Trump by more than 5:3.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "Should someone point out to the EFF that the US constitution for free speech covers individuals and not organisations? "

      Hasn't the SCOTUS already ruled that corporations are legal persons? As Mitt Romney put it, "Corporations are people, my friend". And they were part of the 53% that he thought were worth listening to.

    3. patrickstar

      You actually consider yourself more well-versed in freedom of speech and libel law in the US than the _EFF_?

      That's a bit ballsy... So how many decades exactly have you spent litigating some of the biggest cases in those areas?

  11. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Opinions versus facts

    A lawyer in England, where libel laws are strict and therefore disliked by idle journalists, could argue that calling a patent stupid is an opinion rather than a claim of fact. As a mere opinion, it is not defamatory.

    Defamation might be, for example, to claim the patent was based on plagiarism or obtained by bribery.

    I am surprised the Australian judge did not take such a view.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Opinions versus facts

      Calling a patent stupid is an opinion, obviously. But one key for any defamation to proceed anywhere is whether there are valid reasons for calling it stupid. In the case of software patents (wish are an oxymoron) they are basically a software implementation of a physical process and as such are both stupid and should not be allowed on the grounds that is implementing prior art.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Opinions versus facts

      "I am surprised the Australian judge did not take such a view."

      Someone suggested a likely reason earlier on. It was probably a one-sided hearing; why should EFF turn up in court and recognise the court's jurisdiction?

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So this patent dates from 1999 and is therefor 18 years old.

    The US Patent system for software.

    FUBAR.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: So this patent dates from 1999 and is therefor 18 years old.

      Patenting algorithms isn't necessarily bad, but it's terms should reflect a fast-moving industry. If they were no longer than three years, they'd be much more acceptable.

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: So this patent dates from 1999 and is therefor 18 years old.

        Algorithms (mathematical formulas) are not eligible for patent protection. Their implementation in software would be better protected by copyright.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: So this patent dates from 1999 and is therefor 18 years old.

          Before the patent system got out of control algorithms were the only element of software was patentable. RSA and GIF compression come immediately to mind. In both cases, yes, it was the actual algorithm that was patented.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: So this patent dates from 1999 and is therefor 18 years old.

            Besides, they can get around the physical limitation by simply implementing it in an IC. The issue isn't that it's an idea. Ideas can be novel, unique, and very useful. It's the fact that the electronics industry moves very, VERY fast, such that derivatives and successors can come along pretty quickly. If you have a great idea and want to take advantage of it, I don't see why it can't be protected for a LIMITED length of time. Like I said, if push came to shove, I could implement it physically (like in a chip) just to dot the I's. But let's focus on the LIMITED part. If the industry you're in moves very quickly, limit the term of an algorithm patent accordingly. I'd much rather let them have, say, three years of fame and then it becomes public domain than they keep the idea in their heads and then take it to the grave.

  13. mIRCat
    Paris Hilton

    Ignorant of the facts.

    "We further demand that you make immediate arrangements for any links to the article to be removed from the world wide web including any and all other websites which references the infringing material."

    I don't believe that's how the internet worked, even in 1999.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    So did they hit VMware first?

    I've now read through this turgid PoS and most of it seems to be banging on about a hypervisor (or rather the GUI for a hypervisor).

    Loosely a GUI for something that runs multiple OS's you can can choose by clicking on, files and peripherals that you can choose to dedicate to a user or OS or share across (let's call them partitions) multiple OS's.

    Which begs the question does a GUI missing some of these features contravene the patent or side step it as they don't have these features?

    In 1965 this would have probably been the new hotness. In 1999 not so much.

    Sadly I had already emptied my bladder by the time I got round to reading this.

    Otherwise I would have p***ed all over it.

  15. darkmage0707077
    Terminator

    Money in the Ring

    So I suddenly feel a very strong compulsion to donate some money to the EFF. Methinks this should be an interesting battle, and I'm very interested in seeing the outcome.

    Icon's hints at how I expect the EFF to treat GEMSA once the excrement lands atop the whirling blades...

  16. Seven_Spades

    I have to point this out but PaperMaster 98 pre-dates this patent and it stored documents in "virtual filing cabinets" The patent should be struck out.

    1. Robert Grant

      Don't get me wrong, this patent is stupid, but that isn't the same.

      However I would be interested to see if it could be challenged based on the fact the GUI concept was not unique (as per your example) and the starting of different OSes isn't unique (e.g. LILO did this in 1996).

      So what's left? Perhaps the assignment of storage to OS? When was Lilosetup created?

  17. FuzzyTheBear
    WTF?

    The valuable bits ?

    From the patent :

    " ... this invention uses a combination of Flash VOS VTOC and ACPI to perform “Cold Swaps” or “Context Switching”, which remove one active OS temporarily from all or part of memory and replace it with another active OS in all or part of memory.

    Looks to me like that is the part they think has value

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      WTF?

      "this invention uses a combination of Flash VOS VTOC and ACPI to perform “Cold Swaps” "

      I'm guessing that VTOC is "Virtual Table Of Contents" but I have no idea who (if anyone) uses "VOS." The only "VOS" I'm aware of was the "Vulcan OS" running on Harris super minis.

      I think those boxes went to the great scrap heap years ago.

      So if you're not running this "VOS" to begin with the rest would appear to be spurious BS.

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    There is prior art that goes back to the year Berners-Lee sat up, put down his teacup and said "hang on, I've had an idea".

    The Unisys mainframe product that used to be called MAPPER and is now called I dunno what organizes OS2200 files and elements (not a unix-like system at all) into cabinets and drawers. Doesn't use a GUI because they weren't A Thing then.

  19. ben kendim

    Welcome to the Stupid Australian Judge of the Month Club

    But then again, maybe it's not the judge that's stupid at all. It may be the Aussie legal system that's goofy.

    If so, I apologize to the poor judges that have to work within that system.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the Stupid Australian Judge of the Month Club

      "But then again, maybe it's not the judge that's stupid at all. It may be the Aussie legal system that's goofy."

      Slow of reading or couldn't be bothered?

      It's already established by earlier comments that the EFF did not defend the case in Oz. In that case the judge was only presented with one side of the argument. The only thing that the judge can do in that situation is to decide in favour of the only argument that's presented provided it presents a prima facie case. It's not a judge's job to make up arguments for one side or another. That would be prejudice. Believe me, you really don't want that.

  20. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    safe to say?

    "It's safe to say that the EFF's post had a big impact on GEMSA efforts to extract cash from wealthy corporations it claimed were infringing its intellectual property, because GEMSA took the American non-profit to court in its home country of Australia, alleging defamation."

    How so? Don't the wealthy corporations have expensive and capable lawyers to tell them that the patent is bogus? Or will the EFF's post break light lightning upon the consciousness of the jury pools in east Texas?

  21. jake Silver badge

    GEMSA, may I be the first to applaud you ...

    ... for invoking the Streisand Effect?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: GEMSA, may I be the first to applaud you ...

      The above post was resurrected a week after getting nixxed. Why is anybody's guess.

  22. yiorgos

    makes me proud to be a monthly donor to EFF, enough said ...

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