Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stupid litigation

aka, How to make money by doing nothing:

Rates Technology says that two patents they hold (awarded in 1995, 2001) for minimizing the cost of long distance calls using the Internet are being infringed upon by Google Talk. Copies of these two patents along with one more mentioned in the filing are included in the complaint.

Rates Technology is asking for a jury trial along with:
+ Enforcement of the patents
+ Damages including the loss of profits so provide a royalty
+ A preliminary injuction against Google
+ Attorney's fees

So who is Rates Technology? That's a good question. Finding substanative material on the open web is a challenge. However, a web search did turn up this excellent this blog post from TMCnet publisher Rich Tehrani, that Rates Technology, a company Tehrani says, exists, "to collect revenue from other companies" has also sued Nortel, Sharp Electronics and others over patents it holds. The post also includes has a blurb from a December 7, 1998 WSJ story about the company and recent comments (April 2005) from Rates Technology CEO, Jerry Weinberger.

When you can't innovate, sue. For some reason I don't think this is what the founding fathers meant when they wrote:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

Lawsuits like these -- and there are plenty -- is one of the reasons why the entire "intellectual property" system needs to be scrapped. A new kind of company has emerged, filled with bottom feeders, who's only business model is to buy technology patents and wait for a company to develop a possibly related system that infringes on their "idea".

These scumbags won't be the first ones against the wall, but they'll be in the top ten.


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