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March 13, 2008

Davids Against Goliaths

Digital media, digital imaging, and wireless communications are the patented technologies owned by three small inventors who have recently filed lawsuits against major corporations.

Atlanta-based ZapMedia is targeting Apple in the Eastern District of Texas for infringing parent 7,020,704 & continuation 7,343,414. claiming methods for managing access to digital media assets. iTunes is the accused product. ZapMedia claims that Apple, a prospective client in the late 1990s, liked what it saw at a marketing demo. ZapMedia struggled to bring its products to market, liquidated, and is left with its intellectual property.

FlashPoint Technology, a 1996 Apple spinoff, has a bevy of digital camera patents asserted against Motorola, Spring, Palm, Research in Motion, Nokia, AT&T Mobility, Kyocera, LG Electronics, Verizon Wireless, and others: 6,118,480; 6,177,956; 6,222,538; 6,223,190; 6,249,316; 6,486,914; and 6,504,575. FlashPoint filed suit last Friday in Delaware. FlashPoint has had considerable licensing success, naming: Canon, Casio, Seiko Epson, Fuji Photo, HP, Eastman Kodak, Matsushita, Minolta, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, and others.

Daniel Henderson has had his inventions exhibited in the Smithsonian. Now, under his patent-holding company Intellect Wireless, he's going to show them off in court, if need be, to wrestle licenses from the likes of Motorola, LG Electronics, T-Mobile, Sanyo, and others. Henderson, with offices in Forth Worth, Texas and Reston, Virginia, filed two complaints in the Northern District of Illinois. The asserted patents are: 7,266,186; 7,310,416; 7,257,210; 7,305,076; and 7,266,186; going to wireless communications features, such as paging and caller ID.

If Senators Leahy & Hatch, with the House of Representatives riding shotgun, could muscle their way, these small inventors would have next to no chance to profit from their intellectual property.

Posted by Patent Hawk at March 13, 2008 12:11 AM | Litigation


But what about companies that abuse the patent system? Take, for example, DataTreasury. They have sued the nation's leading banks to stop them from implementing Check 21 legislation. This company has been dubbed a "patent troll" and many argue they are jeopardizing national security , since the Check 21 legislation was a result of 9/11.

There are legitimate questions that have been raised about this company's true motives. You should check out the piece written by Paul Bedard (US News & World Report). Here is the link:

Posted by: WhyKnotBlog at March 13, 2008 1:23 PM

Should motives matter? If the patents are valid and have been obtained legitimately (i.e., without inequitable conduct and by valid assignment, etc.), why should the inventor/assignee be penalized? Alternatively, after suitable debate in the relevant forum(s), if an invention claimed in a patent is determined to be against public policy, then we the people, i.e. the government, can always buy the patent. The patent owner gets value for the intellectual property, and the public is better off as well. Everyone wins.

The first asserted Henderson patent has a mile-long list of referenced art. It will likely be difficult to invalidate that one.

Posted by: anon at March 13, 2008 5:18 PM

The US News Report raised no legitimate questions about the Check 21 patent, only that Congress, out of fear, in the name of security, passed a law mandating bank adoption of a patented technology. Good idea to have a system to keep digital images on record; it just happened to patented. Now, to bail out the banks, at least one Senator is proposing that the Federal government pick up the tab.

Economically, government-protected corporate existence is termed corporatism, a form of fascism. If you think the Congressional knee-jerk to Check 21 shows a blush of pink, just wait until you see what the Federal Reserve Bank unveils for banks in this country in the coming months; Bear Stearns is just the beginning.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at March 16, 2008 11:55 AM