Article One Partners Pays First Patent Slayer Prize of $50,000

PatentLawPic665I spoke with Ricky Roberson today. Roberson is an Alabama based aerospace engineer who read about Article One on slashdot and was interested in their offer of $50,000 for invalidating prior art.

Roberson focused on Pat. No. 6,784,873 which covers a touch screen personal navigation device — a patent that he called “low hanging fruit” compared with other Article One subjects such as the multiple Rambus patents being litigated or a pharmacuetical formulation such as rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor).

The ‘843 case is important because the patentee (SPT) has accused Garmin of infringement. Roberson primarily used Google Scholar & Google Patents to search for prior art patents. He had never worked with patents before, but also found the WIPO, EPO, & JPO search engines useful.

In the end, the folks at Article One awarded two winners: Roberson’s submission (WO 91/12578 A1) and an anonymous contribution of a 1998 Microsoft CE programming guide. Roberson will receive $35,000 and the anonymous contributor will receive $15,000.

Article One indicated its belief that the two references would invalidate the ‘843 patent, however, they company is quick to note that “only a U.S. federal court or the U.S. Patent Office can invalidate a U.S. patent.”

Notes:

32 thoughts on “Article One Partners Pays First Patent Slayer Prize of $50,000

  1. By the way, 6 is excluded: “we cannot grant membership if you are a patent officer currently or recently employed by the USPTO.”

  2. Pointing out the hype in the Article One scheme has nothing to do with loving or hating anything, Malcolm “Drama Queen” Mooney.

    If I was enamored with “software patents” I can say I would want the best software patent available that could withstand any art challenge. Who would want anything different except a delusional like Mooney.

    “And all those press releases will remind the public of one fact: the PTO issues a whole lot of sucky software and computer-related patents.”

    And we are reminded that Mooney posts a whole lot of sucky garbage every day on Patently-O.

    So what?

  3. “I don’t see how the administrative staff at Article One would be in a position to evaluate the relevance of the 300+ references that “Rick James” supposedly submitted. ”

    Well idk about the admin staff, but it would take me about an hour. Unless they were really good. In which case it might take up to a few days. But in that case they’re really good so it is worth it.

  4. Interesting that the folks griping about Article One are the usual software patent lovers.

    What a surprise.

    “All you need is a reason for a press release”

    And all those press releases will remind the public of one fact: the PTO issues a whole lot of sucky software and computer-related patents.

  5. Somebody up above hit the nail on the head. This smells like a stock scheme.

    Once you’ve got your short position on the plaintiff’s stock, it makes no difference at all whether the “new” art is good or bad or indifferent. All you need is a reason for a press release to manipulate the market. The stock drops, you buy and make good your position, bank the difference, and throw the references in the toilet. Next case. It would be easy for the profit to be 10x the bounty.

    The whole thing could be a facade, otherwise, as a number of you have observed, it just don’t add up.

  6. Thanks, All Seeing.

    While this concept has always sounded pretty workable on its face; and as others have pointed pointed out w/firms like the failed BountyQuest; the real world says not.

    Here’s a better approach:

    Just follow all the high-value patent infringement lawsuits, find the invalidating art, and; after first getting big, fat $$$ agreements signed; reveal it/them directly to the defendant/s (wouldn’t surprise to hear this is already being done; any corp counsel confirmations?).

    50k for prior art this valuable…w/”may pay” and “up to” conditions?

    A pittance; and a “time-risky” proposition at best.

    Try 100k…250k…500k…maybe more.

    No one needs intermediaries like AO for this.

  7. Steve, that is a great observation.

    I read over the Article One agreements and they state that Article One “may” pay “up to” $50,000. Its quite possible, that the noted $50,000 will be the only $50,000 they will ever pay.

    I don’t see how the administrative staff at Article One would be in a position to evaluate the relevance of the 300+ references that “Rick James” supposedly submitted. Whether he did or didn’t is not the issue. Its how the heck can Article One be equipped to deal with so many references, what are they doing with them. An omnibus submission of all those references under the third party submission rules would be improper without a detailed statement of the purported relevance of each of the references to the claims at issue. Also, how the heck can Article One decide suddenly to pay on a magic one of those references.

    To use a phrase that Mooney is quite fond of: “this all smells a little funny.”

  8. I think the idea of reinvigorating a concept like the now-defunct “BountyQuest” is really good, but I don’t understand why ArticleOne would hold up this particular search as an example of its capabilities.

    The winning piece of prior art was WO 91/12578 A1, for which the company paid a $35,000 finder’s fee. ArticleOne got ripped off, in my opinion. WO 91/12578 was simply the published international application for U.S. Patent No. 5,379,057, which is now owned by Typhoon Touch Technologies.

    If the name “Typhoon Touch Technologies” sounds familiar, it should, because Typhoon sued about everyone on the planet in the mobile computer space (including Dell, Apple, Palm, Panasonic, Lenovo, Toshiba and many others) in the Eastern District of Texas in 2008, for alleged infringement of that patent. So pretty much anyone who had any reason to care about the ’873 patent probably already knew about ArticleOne’s prior art through the ongoing and well-publicized Typhoon litigation. Refunds, anyone?

  9. It worth not giving this “story” more value or importance than it deserves … since Article One has elected to pay the 50k NOT for art that actually DID invalidate a patent, but for art that THEY BELIEVE will invalidate the patent.

    As we all know; a world of difference there.

    If you had a company “doing” what AO is (trying) to do, what better way to get exposure … attention … more participants … etc, than to pay out some $$$ … to someone … for something?

    …and if the patent isn’t invalidated with this art (or any other art for that matter), what do you suppose the odds are that AO’ll demand their money back?

    …and if this supposed prior art DOESN’T invalidate the patent, think AO’ll put out a press release admitting such?

  10. “I seem to recall a thread a few weeks ago where some holier than thou type got all bent out of shape when I dared to suggest that there was an art to successful searching.”

    Mooney, that “holier than thou” type was you. It was bound to happen – you’ve out-thunk yourself.

  11. “I thought about whole selling short thing the other day when the news broke but wasn’t widespread. If they didn’t do it then they’re crazy.”

    I had the idea to short sell based on re-exam results after one company’s stock price dropped 40% after it’s patent got a non-final rejection in re-exam. I pulled up the dockets of CRU examiner and studied impacts of past re-exams on stock price. It’s not easy to make money doing that. A sizable fraction of the problem patents are held by NPE (privately held). Re-examination of large public company patents didn’t really effect stock price at all. SPT seems to be privately held (as I can’t find any info on them except their lawsuits) so there was no missed opportunity for $$$ here.

  12. I’m no SEC guy, but my recollection of securities law is that if you trade SEC regulated securities based on information that is not publicly available and then, after making your trade, you publicize the information to manipulate the market, your goose is good as cooked.

    That assumes that anyone in the SEC is vaguely conscious or monitoring anything other than their belly buttons. Ha, ha, ha.

    Please correct me if my recollection is poor, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.

  13. 6,

    You know, if you’re really as good as a searcher as you claim to be, you could probably make a lot more money doing that than you do at the pto ;)

  14. I thought about whole selling short thing the other day when the news broke but wasn’t widespread. If they didn’t do it then they’re crazy.

    Anyway, Lowly as I’ve explained, it is illegal or at least punishable for me to collect and that makes it hard.

    Who is this anon I wonder…

    But anyway, like I’ve said, this is a great job for retirees.

  15. Gomer, I thought that Article One explicitly disclosed they were going to be trading based on prior art results. I’ll look around for the link and post it if I find it.

  16. Who are the people behind Article One?

    Are they related in *any* way to the people behind the late Bounty Quest?

  17. Ricky: “Seriously. Goggle Patent Search and Google Scholar and Google itself are where I get the vast majority of my leads, along with the official patent sites for the European, Japanese and WPIO patent offices. I really don’t use any proprietary or specialized search tools at all.”

    LOL. I seem to recall a thread a few weeks ago where some holier than thou type got all bent out of shape when I dared to suggest that there was an art to successful searching.

  18. Not related to the patent issue, but I’d love to hear the rationale for Robertson being liable for trading in shares of a company based on his own research, or someone at Article One being liable for the same based on the contracted research (assuming that Article One is independent of Garmin and STP).

  19. It’s always nice to see a weak patent bite the dust (or begin to bite the dust). I was reading about the bailout plan fiasco today and I thought this quote was interesting:

    link to nakedcapitalism.com

    The problem is that a significant portion of the very biggest banks are insolvent. And on top of that, most of them have very large capital markets operations which have bean the nexus of credit intermediation. The regulators spent the last decade plus being in studious ignorance of those businesses, at least the complicated ones where all the risk resided. The SEC never was very interested in bonds, and the Fed took a hands-off, “let a thousand flowers bloom” approach to risk management, derivatives and what was called innovation. Author and market observer Martin Mayer warned “a lot of what is called innovative is simply a way to find new technology to do that which was forbidden with the old technology.”

    Still think the Supremes are going to grant cert so they can listen to Bilksi cry?

    BWHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAA!!!!!!!!!

  20. “I’d rather work for X number of dollars today at my job rather than work for a chance of winning X number of dollars today”

    That’s nice. [shrugs] Not everyone is like you.

  21. If any of these players, including Robertson, the Article One crowd, or the Garmin lawyers bought STP to sell short prior to the announcement, they ought to go to jail.

  22. “Restated, I’d rather work for X number of dollars today at my job rather than work for a chance of winning X number of dollars today.”

    Don’t you mean: chance of winning Y number of dollars , wherein Y is much greater than X?

  23. Still doesn’t makes sense to me. For important patents/large litigations, we paid 35 thousand plus for a single search firm to look for invalidating prior art.

    This person “won” 35 thousand, no doubt, but more than likely could have earned the same amount (sum certain) for the same amount of work. Restated, I’d rather work for X number of dollars today at my job rather than work for a chance of winning X number of dollars today.

  24. E6K, why aren’t you out there collecting these prizes? you should be able to earn a couple hundred grand with about 2 minutes worth of your famous google searches, shouldn’t you?

  25. If someone finds invalidating art for Crestor, I would think they’d be able to demand a little more than $50K for disclosing it. What would the value of the period of exclusivity for a generic manufacturer who successfully challenged the Crestor patent?

Comments are closed.