$156 Million Verdict for Patentee

TGIP v. AT&T (E.D.Tex. 2007)

TGIP has won a jury verdict against AT&T for $156 million. The asserted patents – U.S. Patent Nos. 5,511,114 and 5,721,768 — both involve calling card processing. The jury also reportedly decided that the infringement was willful – District Court Judge Ron Clark will now decide whether to enhance damages based on the finding. (Judge Clark will also rule on JNOV motions).

TGIP appears to be a company that run by Charles Stimson, one of the named inventors. Interestingly, neither patent show-up in the PTO assignment database as assigned to TGIP. Stimson was formerly the president of “Call Processing, Inc.,” which is listed as an assignee (but not a plaintiff). In the late 1990’s CPI sued several companies for infringing the same patent. That case was dismissed without prejudice.

AT&T will appeal.

Notes:

  • Verizon has reportedly settled with TGIP for an undisclosed sum. Other companies that (likely) settled include: IDT, DFTS Interactive, US South, Pre Solutions, Bell Atlantic, and reportedly MCI.

52 thoughts on “$156 Million Verdict for Patentee

  1. AgentG said : but where does your authority to determine the value of inventions arise?

    Another straw man argument; I never said I had such authority and I never said anything about inventions generally.

    AgentG said:
    nor how obviousness should be universally applied to avoid such claims from issuing..

    Neither have I solved the cold fusion problem, reconciled all religious thought nor revealed the mysteries of the origin of the universe.

    So what.

    Grownups know that reality, justice and an equitable society are found and created only in the judicious interpretation and handling of the messy details particular of each circumstance.

    Adolescents and adults with arrested development demand unequivocal boundaries, universal proclamations of unchanging and fixed truths and other ideological claptrap which ultimately comes to have no point of tangency with reality whatsoever.

    They especially demand these things from others.

    Software patents are bad for progress and society. Ayn Randers and other ideologues, the line for Kool-Aid forms to the right.

    Good luck with that.

  2. softwarevirtualization: Your points are perhaps well made regarding the value of the patent, but where does your authority to determine the value of inventions arise? I mean, equality under the patent system should apply to all inventions, and all inventors, regardless of the value of their patents.

    Neither have you suggested a fairer method for determining the just value of the patent nor how obviousness should be universally applied to avoid such claims from issuing. Just complaining and ranting, without thinking through the issues, is not very constructive.

  3. Here is a spot on example of MS patenting what appears to be prior art in an apparent effort to exclude a smaller company. The prior art in this case was invented by said smaller company (actually, educational institution).

    The tactic here is- even if prior art would invalidate a patent, it’s going to cost the litigants more than they have to spend to achieve justice. And that’s for but ONE patent of the many cited here, all taken from the same small entity.

    Even if the small entity succeeds in repelling MS, so what? It’s a total waste of time and talent and money on something that produces no value whatsoever. Things move fast in SW. Just as a time and money draining tactic against entities like this one, patenting sw is a killer move.

    Oh ,and you can count yourselves amongst the dead, to wit:

    If you want to say goodbye to all small sw companies, and want to enter into a era world of Ma Bell-like “progress” (think 40 years of rotary phones) in software, then just keep fighting the good fight for sw patents and you’ll live that wonderful reality.

  4. Softwarevisualization,

    You are correct, but that has only been for the last few years or so. It has been a very recent and drastic change in MS’s policy.

    Historically, they have strongly opposed software patents. Me2 probably was not aware of this shift in their policy.

  5. “Has anyone noticed that some of the claims went through RE-EXAM, and were re-issued in ’05?”

    LOL. Has anyone noticed that the CAFC recently invalidated a patent that went through 2 exams? The key is to identify errors made by the Examiner. The flushing sound you hear after completing that task is the presumption of validity.

  6. I really need to take issue of the facts involving this statement made by me2 Sep 20,2007 10:30am

    me2 wrote
    MS has been one of the largest proponents against software patents in Europe.

    That statement is the opposite of well documented reality, documentation which I now post links to and summarize.

    In a nutshell, and as documented below, MS is on a full sw patent bender. Specifically, and in direct contradiction to the post’s assertion, MS has been pushing software patents on Europe:
    link to pcmag.com

    They are patenting everything that isn’t nailed down and some of what is. They have “lured” away IBM’s former counsel for IP, one Marshall Phelps, and under his guidance, Microsoft is giving its employees bonuses for every software patent they file.

    Steve Ballmer has threatened Linux and attempted to spread FUD by asserting that Linux infringes on hundreds of MS’s patents.

    What is really annoying to me as a member of the affected profession is that someone posting under the highly disposable identity of me2 can offer this kind post, which is exactly contrary to reality, and because the identity is a toss-away, suffer no loss of credibility or reputation on this forum.

    Nevertheless, I think long-time residents of this forum understand that there are some posts with strong philosophical bents appearing under various guises at various times. I certainly recognize the tone, word choice and ideational content of posts which presumably come from different “sources” to be, in fact the same source.

    Here is the promised links to the above assertions:

    MS acquires an asset named Phelps and starts patenting like crazy:
    link to theregister.co.uk

    Ballmer threatens Linux:
    link to money.cnn.com
    link to techworld.com
    link to macobserver.com

    Microsoft’s Brad Smith defends software patents:
    link to arstechnica.com

    Microsoft strategy for using patents against low-cost competition is leaked along with a list of 2004 and prior patents:
    link to eupat.ffii.org

    the NTTimes weighs in on Gates’ bald face misrepresentation and reveals that Gates is fully aware of the effect of software patents on small companies:
    link to nytimes.com

    an MS patent on what amounts to a method of thinking about music-
    link to patft.uspto.gov

  7. My comment was an attempt to diffuse the implication that this kind of judgment can only be the work of a patent troll. I was not commenting on the validity of the patent, but rather the validity of the process that the patentee went through. That is, they started a business, decided to pursue a patent to protect a product they sold, and then enforced that patent against competitors. Exactly the way the system should work. CPI played by the rules – AT&T didn’t (or couldn’t show that CPI didn’t).

    I haven’t looked at the claims long enough to determine validity. I presume that as others have indicated that there have numerous attempts to reject or invalidate these claims, but none have succeeded. But none with the infinite wisdom of the poster Malcolm Mooney have had a crack at the claims. I’m sure Mooney has spent hours looking at these claims and the prior art to arrive at his position – and it is likely fully justified.

    That is the fun of patent law (and any law for that matter) it is all gray and only the side with the most persuasive arguments win.

  8. Agree, a large monopoly is easily more anti-competitive than the small monopoly provided by a patent.

    Once software moves overseas too if it hasn’t already, without software patents, there will be little for US innovators to do against cheap software imported into this country.

  9. “There is no doubt that MS wants software patents because it is to their advantage- the advantage of a huge multinational.”

    From my experience, this is not true. MS has been one of the largest proponents against software patents in Europe. In the US, they and IBM are pushing the patent reform bill. There is even a rumor that IBM drafted portions of the new regs. The reality is that MS wants to do away with the small players getting patents as this is the only place that they are on equal ground with MS, while maintaining their ability to get patents to assert against larger competitors. In the market, MS easily crushes a group of six developers, both getting to the market first and with pricing.

    I recall reading an article about a small company that were issued patents on inventions that had a large impact on streaming video. the company developed software that I believe was a plug or somehow relied on MS’s Media Player. MS response was to change Media Player so that the company’s software no longer worked and developed a version of the company’s software to work with the new Media Player. This put the small company out of business. The small company was awarded a $60M judgment in a patent infringement suit against MS. The suit was litigated on contingency as the small company did not have the resources to litigate against MS.

    I cannot find any person to explain why software patents are any worse for the industry than pharma, biotech, toys, etc. In all instances there is money to be made by inventive contributions. When patented, the cost is distributed to the consumer. Patent rights are granted in hopes that disclosure leads to more innovation.

    One last thought, With regard to “I don’t see small software companies in any way disadvantaged by software patents any more than a small toy maker is with toy patents.” I neglected one difference, toy manufacturers already moved their operations overseas.

  10. Gotta agree with MM here – look at the claim he quoted above and substitute “bank account” for “calling card” and “transfer” for “recharge” and this is a claim for doing what was already known – walking into your bank and instructing the bank to transfer money from one account to another. My money’s on AT&T at the post-KSR CAFC.

  11. “Maybe the defendent should have hired softwarevisualization to bring that killer prior art instead of their lawyers”

    There is no “killer art” for those kinds of claims. There are only “killer lawyers” who are able to maintain a laser beam focus on the idea that it’s just an obvious business method with some utterly irrelevant “technological” bells and whistles and some utterly irrelevant “secondary factors,” and who are able to articulate that idea — and the fact that the PTO’s struggles during the time period in which this patent was examined ultimately led the Supremes to render the first major case on obviousness in a long time — over and over again in a way that rings the bells of those jurors.

    Of course, I’ve only looked at one of the patents’ claims. I’m sure the other patents’ claims are far more robust and non-obvious.

  12. softwarevisualization wrote:
    “Well, I read the patent and started to discuss its claims’ merits. See where THAT went. Maybe that’ s because it’s yet another indefensible bit of twaddle, clogging up the ahis nations arteries.”

    Maybe the defendent should have hired softwarevisualization to bring that killer prior art instead of their lawyers – they could have saved over $150 million.

    softwarevisualization – what is your hourly rate??

  13. ” I don’t think anyone commenting here has spent more than an 1/2 hour considering this issue. ”

    Well, I read the patent and started to discuss its claims’ merits. See where THAT went. Maybe that’ s because it’s yet another indefensible bit of twaddle, clogging up the ahis nations arteries.

  14. The PTO has spoken and presumably the district court has as well.

    This is not an argument for the validity of the patent, it’s a comment on process. I would like to address the substance of the patent, whose claims I did reference.

    It is unlikely that this poster agrees with all laws passed just because they’re passed. Why then does this poster apply just that reasoning in defense of this issue?

    “But some would do away with software patent protection. In doing so, you are invariably empowering the giants to steal from you and beat you to market. Besides, I don’t see small software companies in any way disadvantaged by software patents any more than a small toy maker is with toy patents.”

    Well why would you see that? Are you a participant as I am?

    Microsoft is not a threat without patents and / or illegal business practices (which is how they became a monopoly). Why do you think they want software patents? Why does IBM? Because they know they do not innovate anything- they buy innovative companies , sometimes one, two and six people affairs, and sell what they have acquired.

    Those companies that provide innovation to MS can also take it away if they chose not to be acquired- a scenario MS has thought through only too well. They cannot compete with smaller companies because the effective cost of reproduction in software is near zero, because a small group of programmers can and does write the software MS sells and because the cost structure to being MS is so much more than the cost structure of being a six man team.

    I can cite, in virtually every category software which is better than MS offerings created by a small group of developers dedicated to that vertical. This is what MS fears to its core.

    The only way for MS and IBM to stay relevant and dominant is to create a barrier to entrance. IF the way for entrance to the market place is littered with useless patents and the expense of identifying and ridding the industry through whatever means runs to the millions per patent, then that is the end of individual and small-team developers.

    It costs tens of thousands to acquire a patent, and even at that all you have is a single patent that can’t be used without buying rights to other patents. If the patent that is the topic of this discussion is any example, there are literally hundreds of thousands of patents in any software program.

    Patents are a million per claim per patent to defend. Small companies don’t have that kind of money, and if MS decides to tie you up in court, you’re done.

    Fishing for lawyers willing to work for contingency fees is a poor excuse for a business plan and a poor substitute for a competitive and functioning marketplace.

    There is no doubt that MS wants software patents because it is to their advantage- the advantage of a huge multinational.

    The industry has never operated under a patent regime and it has thrived. No one needs lawyers and their cynical and top-heavy / brain-dead clients inserting themselves into a functioning and burgeoning market which has created incredible value and boosted individual productivity into the stratosphere, just so they can set themselves up as unnecessary toll roads and siphon off wealth from all who pass by.

    But thanks for wanting to play, y’all.

  15. “Sure, there is a presumption of validity, but that presumption can fall quickly if there is any invalidating prior art. Evidently, there was none that could be located. And, with that much at stake, I’m sure they looked.”

    … unless, for example, expert discovery ended prior to the KSR decision and the defendant’s expert was stuck arguing the TSM test.

  16. ” I don’t think anyone commenting here has spent more than an 1/2 hour considering this issue. ”

    Define “the issue.” According to my definition, I’ve spent thousands of hours considering “the issue.” Compare that to the time each of the jurors spent considering “the issue.”

  17. me2 has a point. With $165+ million at stake, both sides had lots of attorneys spending lots of time on the patent and prior art. I don’t think anyone commenting here has spent more than an 1/2 hour considering this issue. Sure, there is a presumption of validity, but that presumption can fall quickly if there is any invalidating prior art. Evidently, there was none that could be located. And, with that much at stake, I’m sure they looked.

    Sorry. Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, the Monday morning quarterbacking that the patent is not valid is just so much babbling. But, the FedCir may just turn the decision around and everyone can say “I told you so!”

  18. “people thought that magnetic strip readers worked through the efforts of tiny elves”

    That’s laugh-out-loud funny. Well said, Malcolm.

    me2 wrote, “If 156M is a reasonable royalty, then I would say there is commercial success.”

    The large reasonable royalty, at most, suggests that the patent was infringed several times. It does not suggest whether there was demand for the claimed invention or merely demand for other non-patented aspects of the accused products and services. Without any proven demand for the claimed invention, all you have is loads of infringement. But loads of infringement alone is insufficient to prove commercial success.

    Also, since the hypothetical negotiation assumes validity, you shouldn’t be able to use the size of the royalty amount to argue that the claims were valid. That’s circular because you’re using trying to prove a premise (non-obviousness) by using a conclusion (the size of the reasonable royalty) that was reached using that premise.

  19. waa waa, poor little AT&T had to pay to play in the same space as a CPI. If CPI did not have a patent and likely a benefactor, the giants would have crushed CPI. We’ve seen Microsoft and others do it systematically. Which to you favor a limit monopoly for the patentee or an unlimited monopoly for Microsoft?

    But some would do away with software patent protection. In doing so, you are invariably empowering the giants to steal from you and beat you to market. Besides, I don’t see small software companies in any way disadvantaged by software patents any more than a small toy maker is with toy patents.

  20. “is IS logical reasoning to say that because an award was granted, then this proves the patent should have been issued.”

    Who is to say whether or not a patent should issue other than the PTO and any forum with the authority to do so thereafter? The PTO has spoken and presumably the district court has as well. What we as Monday morning quarterbacks think is irrelevant! A patentee’s win or loss should not be based on public opinion. Unfortunately, public opinion is based on misconception (from the media) that ultimately harms the patent system. The patent reform bill is an excellent example of this; puppet politicians believe the hype and vote in favor of a detrimental change in the patent laws.

    “No it’s not. It’s no more logical than saying that because Tony Soprano was able to blow his competitors brains out, this proves that his license to carry firearms was providently granted.”

    Not even close.

  21. ” I think that can be gotten from the rest of the context”

    Yeah, I sort of gleaned that but I liked my Sopranos analogy so much that I, uh, went ahead and pulled the trigger. ;)

  22. LOL I am not typing what I am thinking !!!

    I need to proof my posts.. yes, exactly right I meant to say that it is NOT logical and that that it IS circular reasoning to say otherwise; I think that can be gotten from the rest of the context… perhaps people will bear with me as I leave whole words out of my hurriedly typed sentences and use the antonym of the word I meant.. LOL…

  23. “is IS logical reasoning to say that because an award was granted, then this proves the patent should have been issued.”

    No it’s not. It’s no more logical than saying that because Tony Soprano was able to blow his competitors brains out, this proves that his license to carry firearms was providently granted.

  24. me2 said:
    “just because it seems trivial to us today, as you are aware, that is not the std that we apply. ”

    This is a straw man argument. No one on this board said or implied that.

    MM said:
    In other relevant related contexts, folks, it’s called a “balance transfer.”

    Amen. That is exactly right.

    Have you any? said:
    I’d prefer to see evidence of junk patents actually chilling innovation.

    I personally know of software developers who are considering if it’s not their best option to leave the US completely owing to the software patent/business method patent environment here.

    What didn’t happen, like all counterfactuals, is of course the hard-to-impossible to prove. Example: the amount of wealth destruction / reduction Microsoft has responsible for throughout the decades. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It does mean that it’s not the standard reasonable people will be held to.

  25. “It’s hard to believe that such arguments were successful, even prior to KSR.”

    It’s all about the dust-kicking.

    Even now, a Texas district court judge looks at all those fancy words in those long claims and he/she thinks, “Golly, that claim sure don’t look too broad. Plus this here expert’s a’tellin’ me how ‘puters were like magical machines back then. They didn’t even have the Google when this was filed and people thought that magnetic strip readers worked through the efforts of tiny elves. This patent law is HARD WORK I tell you and I see on my docket that there’s a whole heap of bad apples trying to avoid The Chair. Judgment for the patentee!”

    I’d be curious to see the claim construction. This could be a case where AT&T simply let TGIP take a big big bite, fully expecting that no matter what happens at the D.Ct level, the CAFC will force TGIP to swallow the poison. It would have been appealed either way, right?

  26. Malcolm Mooney,
    YEs I know you wrote that. I am in agreement- is IS logical reasoning to say that because an award was granted, then this proves the patent should have been issued.

    I was asking tm why he thought the patent was worthy.

  27. It’s sad, but true that many successful pre-KSR arguments were essentially “But our invention uses a computer instead of paper!” It’s hard to believe that such arguments were successful, even prior to KSR.

  28. This is a classic case of sidley-austin giving bad advice to the benefit of their own pockets at the expense of a witting client (can’t say at&t is unwitting). at&t should have settled the case pre-trial, but all you balony smokers about ‘bad patents’ no-injunctions, damages must be capped at lowest rate ever set, ksr, etc, etc, are actually encouraging more litigation and more judgments about which you can complain b/c inhouse and outhouse sidley guys think they can bust these patents with nothing more than ad hominum and hindsight. There should be substantial money damages in a jury award, you put the guys patent to the ultimate test – and you came up emply – now pay the piper. btw, anyone check the rimm stock price – that company is on a tear in the market and in the stock market – how did the ntp settle discourage innovation in any meaningful way? the brass ring is still firmly in the hands of the rimm founders. heck they even got past an options backdating deal (where they’s smoke there be fire).

  29. “Even if they issued 15 years ago, KSR is retroactive and facilitates easy invalidation.”

    First of all, let’s thank the Supremes again for slapping the CAFC back into reality. Second of all, nothing about patent litigation is “easy” when there are district court judges out there who are lazy, extremely pro-patent (or anti-patent) and/or clueless.

    From the background of the patent, here’s the really tough problem “solved” by Stimson’s incredibly surprising block diagram!!!!!!

    “The most significant drawback is the requirement that pre-paid calling cards be issued in fixed or preset amounts. Also, once the time allotted to a particular calling card expires, the card is typically discarded, requiring the customer to carry multiple cards that can be stolen or lost. Existing systems do not have the flexibility to allow the customers to purchase variable amounts of calling time or to recharge “used” cards at the retail site.”

    In other relevant related contexts, folks, it’s called a “balance transfer.”

  30. “They are everywhere. There’s nothing knee-jerk about that. It’s a fact of which I am aware in perhaps the most intimate possible way.”

    Is this really a problem MM? If the patents really are junk, aren’t they easily (and not overly-expensively) destroyed through reexam or DJ? Even if they issued 15 years ago, KSR is retroactive and facilitates easy invalidation.

    I’d prefer to see evidence of junk patents actually chilling innovation (as in, companies deciding not to invest in R&D in an area because of too many junk patents in the area), instead of mere evidence of their existence.

  31. “shouldn’t they have at least pursued a declaratory judgment against the industry-recognized patent instead of infringing willy-nilly? It would have been much cheaper than their current legal fees.”

    Now THAT’s hindsight.

  32. ” Also, commercial success is a factor. If 156M is a reasonable royalty, then I would say there is commercial success. Hindsight is 20/20, we can’t let that cloud our judgment. ”

    That’s hilarious because if any test for obviousness embodies “hindsight” it’s a test that looks at the amount of reasonable royalties assuming the patent is valid. LOL!!!

  33. From 5,511,114

    “7. A calling card system, comprising:

    a host computer having a database;

    a plurality of data terminals connectable to the host computer, each data terminal identified by a data terminal identification code and including means for authorizing calling card security numbers in selectable call authorization amounts; and

    a record stored in the database for each calling card security number authorized by a data terminal, at least one record including an initial call authorization amount and any recharge call authorization amount, and the data terminal identification codes identifying the data terminals at which the initial and any recharge call authorization amounts were issued such that call authorization amounts for the calling card which are generated by multiple data terminals can be reconciled.”

    This is business method baloney in its purest form.

  34. The issue of whether or not there is an invention has been decided by the PTO and likely the district court. Just because it seems trivial to us today, as you are aware, that is not the std that we apply. We look back at the date of the invention. Also, commercial success is a factor. If 156M is a reasonable royalty, then I would say there is commercial success. Hindsight is 20/20, we can’t let that cloud our judgment.

  35. “If this is true, then the patent is junk and the CAFC should put it out of its misery.”

    Even if this patent is a troll trinket, at least one other prominent industry member licensed from it. I don’t mean to imply that ATT should have been cowed into taking a license on a worthless patent, but shouldn’t they have at least pursued a declaratory judgment against the industry-recognized patent instead of infringing willy-nilly? It would have been much cheaper than their current legal fees.

  36. “Before people have knee jerk reactions to Patently-O posts about how … “junk patents are everywhere!”

    They are everywhere. There’s nothing knee-jerk about that. It’s a fact of which I am aware in perhaps the most intimate possible way.

  37. “tm, you must have gotten a D in that there is nothing circular about it.”

    I wrote that, not tm. And it is circular. The “invention” is not an invention, just a trivial step in a process. The fact that a company was practicing that process and made money off the process does not mean that the sub-step itself was non-trivial.

    This is related to the larger fallacy that so-called “secondary factors” are relevant to obviousness. They simply aren’t.

    If I get a patent to a method of listening to a customer over a cell phone between 9:30 and 10:00 on a Tuesday morning when sun spot activity is at its peak and I sue every company that has a customer service phone line and win a huge jury verdict, that doesn’t mean that my invention is not silly.

    It means that the patent system is broken.

  38. tm,
    Why do you think that? What about the patent in question is deserving? The other posters here appear to exclude from consideration the idea that the patent should not have been issued. Circular logic is exactly what is being applied.

  39. “is the idea of letting someone refill a card patent worthy when it’s embodied in technology that is completely ordinary and unremarkable? ”

    Of course not. But the PTO issued a LOT of patents like this over the past 10-15 years, in large part because applicants were able to kick up dust and milk the (now thankfully defunct) “strict” TSM test for far far more than it was worth.

    Arguments like: “Sure, there were lottery-type contests based on numbers printed on packages in the past. But ours using a computer!!!” and “Sure, people recorded customer information based on their purchases in the past. But our invention uses a computer instead of paper!”

    Broad patent claims along those lines were actually issued, folks. That was a really silly thing for the PTO to do but everybody filing those patents loved it. Now hold your hat for the blowback. We are approaching the eye.

  40. “This patent’s contribution is letting the buyers refill their cards with time.”

    If this is true, then the patent is junk and the CAFC should put it out of its misery.

  41. “Me, the invention is not so silly if infringement warrants $156M. ”

    I bet you got an A+ in Circular Logic!

  42. This is not the case of a patent troll stifling progress and prosperity (although patent critics would love to interpret it that way). I see it as a success of an inventor and prosperous company, and a demonstration that the patent system is functioning well.

    Call Processing, Inc. (CPI)is a legitimate company that was providing prepaid calling products. CPI decided to protect it’s intellectual property in an effort to compete with multinational corporations.

    Some multinationals didn’t respect CPI’s patents and they have been burned. Euronet Worldwide, Inc. (Nasdaq: EEFT), a company that provides prepaid services in the U.S., acquired 100% of the shares of CPI back in 2004. Obviously one multinational saw the value of CPI’s patents and they are now reaping the benefits. Before people have knee jerk reactions to Patently-O posts about how “the patent system is in turmoil!”, or “junk patents are everywhere!” Please breath and think.

    Here is a link to an article regarding Euronet’s acquisition of CPI:

    link to payspot.com

  43. Me, the invention is not so silly if infringement warrants $156M. The mere fact that you don’t like it does not make it any less patentable. What if pharma patents were generally disliked because they ultimately result in higher costs for meds during the term of the patent? We accept this added cost for the benefits the patent system provides. Live with it and stop being so bitter.

  44. I’ll chime in.

    This is another example, like Verizon vs Vonage, of a junk patent going the distance.

    If you read claims in the patent and agree it’s novel, you have to believe that combining ordinary and obvious steps into a process, which itself is unremarkable, somehow is deserving of patent protection.

    This patent’s contribution is letting the buyers refill their cards with time. Such steps as authorization using security measures, centralization of processing steps, communication through phone lines etc are cited.

    So this boils down to, is the idea of letting someone refill a card patent worthy when it’s embodied in technology that is completely ordinary and unremarkable?

    This is very much like the Verizon vs Vonage case, where the use of a database in a completely ordinary way to track information was the crux of the invention. Both inventions demonstrate the use of pedestrian technologies in predictable, even inevitable

    This is exactly the kind of worthless, non-innovation “process patent” that hurts the economy by creating barriers to economic participation, increasing the cost of doing business, (a cost which is then passed on to consumers), demoralizing real innovators, who are subsequently forced to negotiate a legal land mine of silly “inventions”, all in exchange for zero real progress and the certification of yet another non-value producing source of wealth, which is not, in that regard, much different from a ponzi scheme.

    By permitting wealth to be transferred between parties for such little value, the USPTO increases the attractiveness of valueless “inventions” and thereby decreases incentives to engage in real invention.

  45. What no comments? Nothing from the peanut gallery about patent trolls.

    Dennis, please watch this appeal. This is a classic instance where a large corp. willfully infringed and they got caught.

    I hope the Judge exercises 3-fold discretion.

    The Patent system is not dead, it is just expensive…!

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