Patents and the Movie Industry: Stopping Nicholas Cage

By Dennis Crouch

Global Findability v. Summit Entertainment (D.D.C. 2009)

In an earlier post, I reported on an odd complaint that charges Summit Entertainment with patent infringement based on that company's making and distributing the film "Knowing" that stars Nicholas Cage. In preparation for this post, I watched the movie this past weekend and also contacted the attorneys representing Global Findability.

In the movie, Cage plays the role of an MIT physics professor who sees a string of numbers and correctly determines that those numbers represent prophetic information about particular catastrophic events. In particular, the string of numbers were indicative of the coordinates of the event (lat and long) as well as the date and number of people killed in each event. (Screenshot below). It turned out that the numbers were whispered to little kids by angels/aliens. (I thought they were angels, but my daughter (age 5) thought they were aliens.) The kids then wrote-down the numbers.

As it turns out, Global Findability's asserted patent (No. 7,107,286) covers devices, mediums, and methods for storing global position information (longitude, latitude & altitude) as a single "all natural" number.

Without revealing their particular theory of infringement, Global Findability's attorney agreed that the allegation is "based on the claimed method being performed in the movie." In perhaps the most relevant sequence from the movie, Cage's character identifies a particular sequence of numbers and enters them into Google Maps as a latitude and longitude. The result is a New York City location. Those latitudes and longitudes appear to be actual (rather than made-up) — providing some amount of credibility to the claims of infringement.

As far as I know, this is the first time that I have seen charges of infringement based upon a performer's actions.

Patent.Law186

If the case continues to judgment, its outcome will likely turn on questions of infringement and patentable subject matter. Notably, the asserted method is for encoding the single number, while Cage's character only decoded the material. Likewise, there was no indication that the child-actors writing the codes performed the "converting step." Rather, that was done by the angels/aliens presumably acting outside of the US. See RIM v. NTP (each step of a method must be performed within the US). Of course, in creating the script/props, the production company most likely performed the encoding step. One problem with that theory is that the movie was filmed in Australia. These issues could be eliminated if the plaintiffs somehow proved that the "use" distributing/screening the film involved "use" of the method. However, in my mind that theory is extremely lacking.

This case is also interesting as it sits in the shadow of the Supreme Court's hearing in Bilski v. Kappos. That case questions the patentability of newly created methods that are not directly tied to a "machine." In 2004, Andrew Knight filed a series of patents covering various storylines or plots. Cleverly, Knight included a limitation that the plot is within a movie stored on a DVD (or other computer-readable file). Those patents have been rejected as lacking patentable subject matter under Section 101 and are now on appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals (BPAI). In his rejection, the examiner indicated that:

"It is only the technological uses of … ideas that are patentable — not merely the association of technology with those ideas. Recording a movie on a DVD is not a patentable technological use [of] and idea because … this does not do anything unexpected or novel. DVDs play movies. Recording a movie that has a different plot on a DVD does not change the technology of the DVD."

As is often the case, the Examiner's conclusions regarding Knight's patent applications likely correct even though his explanation is lacking.

Patent.Law185

Notes: During prosecution, the applicant (Global Findability) amended the claims to indicate that the single number representation of location was an "all-natural" number. That point was boldly emphasized in a response to an office action rejection. However, "all-natural numbers" are not defined in the specification or in the prosecution history.

89 thoughts on “Patents and the Movie Industry: Stopping Nicholas Cage

  1. Actual Bullsh*t Artist: there seems to be this false belief in and among the anti business method process ideologues that to allow the patenting of a process is to allow the patenting of ideas or thoughts.

    Still waiting for one example of an “anti-business method ideologue” making the argument referred to above. Can ABA’s uncritical friend help him out perhaps? (you know who you are).

    [crickets]

  2. As an aside, I wonder if generic companies could file suit against the PTO to make them take the other position? I wonder what would happen if the whole industry came out in arms?

  3. Sorry, I don’t think I crafted the end of my hypo correctly as I was typing fast.

    You should get 20 years and 35 extra days for your term.

    And remember, the congressional quote doesn’t seem to be referring to “effective term”. It is simply referring to “term”.

  4. I read the piece at docs. I also remembered why I find it unconvincing. Even under the PTO’s suggested interpretation does not the congressional snippet come true?

    You file, have A delay of 20 days before 3 yrs and 5 A delay days after 3 yrs (also meaning +5 B delay days). Then you have an additional 30 days of B delay. You then have your patent issued and you get 20 years from date of filing and 30 extra days right?

    Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, where are the materials on which the PTO was relying? Whether or not the panel managed to find a relevant passage that supports the PTO or not is quite irrelevant to whether or not one exists.

    If I don’t have access to the “facts” or “factual sources”, including these congressional notes, underlying their findings then I can hardly find what they say convincing. Especially if they don’t even quote for me the portion the PTO relies upon and then tell me why it isn’t convincing. Where’s me some of this vaunted judicial analysis that is placed upon the record for further judicial review?

    It still seems very much like one thing happened, and one thing only. The PTO lawyers were too incompetent to drive the one point home that mattered. Everything turns on one point. What does the “periods of delay …” part refer to? I have little doubt that the congressional snippets the PTO relied upon (which I seem to have read a long time ago, but cannot remember where) were relevant to that question. And they indicated that there was some ambiguity. That is the PTO’s position.

    Remember, the PTO doesn’t have to have a position that trumps Wyeth’s. All it has to do is show where the ambiguity arises. Then you know what happens.

    As for Kev’s conspiracy theories I can only say that I expect better from the good Doc. Maybe he’ll post about alien spacecraft in Area 51 next time. At least the reading will be less dry.

    In any event, be sure to make an appointment to have those faculties checked out. I hear the wait is long, especially at those “We sell pro-software patenting faculties for less!” shops. Those things are built to crp out on ya :( Some even say they’re defective off the shelf.

  5. “You need to have it serviced at the manufacturer, that’s expensive :(”

    It’s understandable that you feel that way, since you wouldn’t recognize a working faculty when all you see is your own from beneath your shield of persistent ignorance.

    How’s that reading lesson coming along?

    for those looking for a 6-chuckle:
    link to patenthawk.com

  6. “I do not have to switch on my critical faculty. It is on when I post (even when I post for fun).”

    You need to have it serviced at the manufacturer, that’s expensive :(

    Something to hold you over until you get there:

    link to youtube.com

  7. A subtle correction, and although small, the correction exemplifies our differences.

    I do not have to switch on my critical faculty. It is on when I post (even when I post for fun).

  8. Noise, I’m grateful to you for switching on your critical faculty, and prompting me to check out the quote. I like the correct version (below)much better than my wrongly remembered version (above).

    William James: “There is nothing too absurd that, if repeated often enough, people will believe”.

    I must confess, James is right, isn’t he?

  9. “Readers, switch on your critical faculties,”

    More than just a little ironic, coming from the person who so often replies to the effect that posting is mere fun and doesn’t want to think, and then exemplifies that lack of thinking by misunderstanding the phrase concerning repetition.

    sloppy Max, sloppy.

  10. I like watching the evolution of AI’s position. He used to say anything is patentable as long as it recites a tangible object somewhere in the claim. Now that the writing is on the wall that Bilski’s claims must die, he desperately tries to come up with some rationale that can kill Bilski’s patent while still allowing his methods for restroom management to live.

    It “seems to me” that if actual inventors would actually invent actual inventions, they might not be having such an issue with Bilski.

  11. MM: do some work yourself. Both “idea” and “mental step” are terms that are used in 101 opinions.

    So, how do those terms fit into 101? I know, but why don’t you put some work in and explain your understanding to us.

  12. Thank you Malcolm. I would add:

    Readers, switch on your critical faculties, as soon as you read the phrase “seems to be”. What follows will manifest wishful thinking on the part of the writer; in the more serious cases it rises to the level of rampant self-delusion.

    It has been said that if something is repeated often enough, it becomes true. That’s not true.

  13. Actual Bullsh*t Artist: there seems to be this false belief in and among the anti business method process ideologues that to allow the patenting of a process is to allow the patenting of ideas or thoughts.

    Show me one person who has made this assertion, ABA. You really are pathetic.

  14. Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  15. Rebecca: “Muzzling the representation of an invention in fiction is going too far.”

    I tend to concur. But there seems to be this false belief in and among the anti business method process ideologues that to allow the patenting of a process is to allow the patenting of ideas or thoughts.

    You see evidence of such thinking when Sonia Sotomayor worries out loud from the bench no less, that the patenting of a specific technological method for hedging would open the flood gates for patenting a speed dating service. No you can’t patent a speed dating service business. That’s just an idea or concept. But you can patent a technological process that is used in the operation of a speed dating service.

    For anyone to equate the mere idea of a business, be it a dating services or diaper service, with a technological process for operations in that business, is risible at best.

  16. Claim 9 specifies altitude as part of the coordinates. In the film, the aliens unhelpfully leave altitude out of their concatenated number, as indicated by the scene in which our hero arrives at the site of an impending disaster and can’t find the danger (turns out, the catastrophe is in the subway–don’t worry, he finds it.) Presumably if he’d been using the patented method, he’d have known to go underground–so there’s a missing element in the film’s “embodiment” of the claim.

    But isn’t the real issue here that we’re allowed to talk about patented inventions? This is not a trade secret. Muzzling the representation of an invention in fiction is going too far.

  17. Re: Sci-Fi as prior art.

    Of course it could be used (and apparently has been used). The proper question is whether the sci-fi enables the “invention,” though. In the case of time travel, faster-than-light travel, teleportation, etc., it would not be enabling since the science fiction doesn’t tell one how to practice the invention (or at least it likely doesn’t tell you how to do it for real) and thus it is of no value as prior art.

  18. “It turned out that the numbers were whispered to little kids by angels/aliens. (I thought they were angels, but my daughter (age 5) thought they were aliens.)”

    I hope you only showed her a picture or two of the angels/aliens. The movie is not exactly a kid’s movie…

  19. Even if the claims were somehow to pass muster for statutory subject matter, this “invention” seems obvious, if not anticipated, in view of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) and Universal Polar Stereographic (UPS) grids (US Defense Mapping Agency, 1989) and the US National Grid (Federal Geographic Data Committee, 2001). These standard grids provide numeric or alphanumeric representations of geospatial locations.

  20. Thank you guys for the excellent response. I had a feeling that my question is slightly more profound given the depth of the science fiction catalog now before us (or should I say behind us) and would prompt a meaningful reply by the readers.

    Whether action in a particular movie infringes, in my opinion, is interesting, but boils down to a simple analysis of the facts and scrutiny of the underlying claim and should not spark such bloviation and outrage (except, of course, on the part of the uninformed and those prone to the vapors).

  21. I even heard they rejected a few design patents over some of the hairdos of Dick Tracy villians… Flattop Jones, Coffyhead, Blowtop, Rughead, etc.

  22. > I’ve heard stories of examiners in the telephony
    > art unit having a file of old Dick Tracy comics
    > for rejecting various cell phone bells and
    > whistles.

    It goes back much further than that – my first partner (now long since retired) used to talk about how when he was an examiner in the early 50′s he’d rejected claims in Motorola patent applications for walkie-talkies based on Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.

  23. “From the Office action: “Claim 7 is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over Hulbert (’780) in view of Mao (’095) as applied to claim 6 above, and further in view of Star Trek: The Next Generation (aired 1987-1994).”

    Oh man, that totally made my day. LMFAO!!!

  24. the time machine is actually patented on May 6, 2038 on an application filed May 5, 2038.

    after a bitter and long court battle, the patent was upheld by the US Supreme Court on October 21, 2038. all use of the machine to travel previous to the effective date was barred and the time police are on constant vigilance to enforce the court order.

    of course, the ripple permutation effect correction device and method patent is still being reviewed as of ordinal Ocotber 28, 2038. it’s passage is expected.

    /story telling mode off

  25. EnquiringMind,

    Here’s another one from the Wikipedia entry on Robert Heinlein

    In 1934, Heinlein was discharged from the Navy due to pulmonary tuberculosis. During a lengthy hospitalization, he developed the concept of the waterbed, and his detailed descriptions of it in three of his books constituted sufficient prior art to prevent a U.S. patent on water beds when they became common in the 1960s.

  26. Cage is a lawsuit magnet right now. Sued by his baby momma, and his accountant, in addition to the millions he owes the IRS. Poor guy even had to sell his castle! What’s he going to do when he gets hit by the class action pain and suffering suit on behalf of all of us who sat through National Treasure?

  27. “I still would like to know if a SCI-FI movie has ever been used at prior art against a claim”

    EnquiringMind,

    The subject of fiction as potential prior art is discussed in an article by Daniel Brean called KEEPING TIME MACHINES AND TELEPORTERS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: FICTION AS PRIOR ART FOR PATENT EXAMINATION. The only reference to movies is that inventors might watch them (as sources of their ideas). I also know that William Shatner hosted a documentary on the History Channel about several of the technologies in Star Trek becoming today’s realities.

  28. The complaint alleges infringement of the “Geocode®”, which the spec. defines as the resulting numeric code. But there is no claim in the patent to the code. What am I missing here?

  29. The method may be obvious, but as to Section 101, compare this method to Morse’s fifth claim to which the Supreme Court had no objection:

    “I claim as my invention the system of signs, consisting of dots and spaces, and of dots, spaces, and horizontal lines, for numerals, letters, words, or sentences, substantially as herein set forth and illustrated, for telegraphic purposes.”

  30. Unfortunately, Mooney knows a little too much about airplane bathroom graffiti and things like knotted underpants.

  31. Maybe we can launch Mooney into space…

    On second thought, the aliens would probably send him back to us marked “Return to Sender” or “Undeliverable.”

    Then they’d probably attack us just for kicks.

  32. I’ve heard stories of examiners in the telephony art unit having a file of old Dick Tracy comics for rejecting various cell phone bells and whistles.

  33. broje: All your premises are wrong.

    “I still would like to know if a SCI-FI movie has ever been used as prior art against a claim…”

    One of the early James Bond movies had a retinal identification device IIRC. I cited it in an opinion against a later-filed patent. (The movie was just as enabling as the patent disclosure.)

  34. Distilled down, the claims are a method/machine for encoding coordinates. Coordinates in, a single number out. So, the question is, is the coding method obvious? Concatenating numbers is older than dirt.

    Also, as “A” pointed out above, this is also inherently performed by any device dealing with a long and lat that are stored adjacent in memory. In fact, looking more broady, any string of bits in a computer memory can be called a “natural number”, and thus any memory storing a long. and a lat, despite non-adjancecy of same, can be called a natural number.

    I support software patents, but sadly there are too many apps like this one that should not issue.

  35. Mooney, as usual, is taking himself and the dead serious business of frivolous patents waaaaaay too seriously.

    Sometimes Mooney, you have to laugh at yourself. Heck, everyone else is laughing at you.

  36. critique: Hilarious! And better yet, it was actually used in a rejection:

    From the Office action: “Claim 7 is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over Hulbert (’780) in view of Mao (’095) as applied to claim 6 above, and further in view of Star Trek: The Next Generation (aired 1987-1994).

    It was used to address a dependent claim drawn to armrest controls (although, technically, the original series also had armrest controls).

  37. broje : a use of an article for pure entertainment value is not really patent eligible subject matter (e.g., using a hammer to smash watermelons on stage)..

    Didn’t the USPTO grant a patent to someone claiming a method of entertaining a cat with a laser pointer?

    Oh right: it was “exercising” the cat.

    Heckuva job, Dudas.

  38. Patents in which Sci-Fi has been used as art:

    Propulsion device United States Patent 7484687

    Other References:USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D captain’s chair, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Creator Gene Roddenberry, aired 1987-1994, Paramount Television Image available at Star Trek Wiki, link to memory-alpha.org.

    I’m sure there are others.

  39. I think it is safe to say that, even though 100b defines a new use of a known device as a patent eligible process under 101, a use of an article for pure entertainment value is not not really patent eligible subject matter (e.g., using a hammer to smash watermelons on stage). Rather, the new use must, itself, have practical utility.

    Why, then, do we permit patenting of articles that only have uses that are for pure entertainment value? I mean, isn’t the requirement for patent eligibility under 101 “practical utility?” So why then would we be able to patent the television that is purely for watching, or tap shoes that are purely for dancing, or “illusions” that are purely for performing magic tricks?

    What about the computer? I mean, even if it is connected to a plurality of simple machines and builds chairs, don’t those chairs even only ever have utility as things to make people feel better? Drugs too; don’t get me started on those (pun intended).

    So how can anything have “practical utility” if the presence of a human to perceive it is a condition precedent to its value? If an invention falls in the forest, does it make a sound? This has been your philosophical patent eligible subject matter moment.

  40. “I still would like to know if a SCI-FI movie has ever been used at prior art against a claim…”

    I believe so. And it definitely has been cited:
    “Blue Thunder,” the 1982 movie, was cited against U.S. RE38967 (A portable video cassette camera or minicam, preferably a palmcorder, is placed within a vehicle so as to monitor the activity within the passenger compartment….).

  41. If a screenplay writer, whom I assume is not a scientist, engineer, mathematician or otherwise even moderately skilled in the art to which the claim relates, could write down what he probably thought was a fanciful, sci-fi-ish method but that we later discover just happened to infringe the claim, then doesn’t that suggest that a more skilled person likely would have been able to do the same thing long before the date of the invention?

  42. In my opinion, this baseless lawsuit for an alleged but imaginary simulated patent infringement in a foreign-made movie is a walking advertisement for the inadequately tough level and timeliness of judicial sanctions against attorneys for frivolous U.S. lawsuits.

  43. I think 271(g)(2) applies. See below.

    271(g) Whoever without authority imports into the United States or offers to sell, sells, or uses within the United States a product which is made by a process patented in the United States shall be liable as an infringer, if the importation, offer to sell, sale, or use of the product occurs during the term of such process patent. In an action for infringement of a process patent, no remedy may be granted for infringement on account of the noncommercial use or retail sale of a product unless there is no adequate remedy under this title for infringement on account of the importation or other use, offer to sell, or sale of that product. A product which is made by a patented process will, for purposes of this title, not be considered to be so made after -

    (1) it is materially changed by subsequent processes; or

    (2) it becomes a trivial and nonessential component of another product.

  44. Patent Troll – a derogatory term used by angry infringers (and sympathizers) to attempt to discredit patentees.

    The term “Patent Troll” is for those too lazy, or lame, or cheap, or bent on infringement to figure out how to develop a program to address legitimate and, perhaps rarely, non-legitimate claims of infringement.

  45. “I still would like to know if a SCI-FI movie has ever been used at prior art against a claim…”

    I am unable to come up with proof at the moment, but I heard that Star Trek II, the launching of Spock’s dead body into space, was used as prior art against a claim.

    That does not mean the movie would infringe the claim. The converse of “if it infringes, then it anticipates” is not necessarily true.

    I do, however, think this is an exemplary case to clarify what exactly infringes a claim – a movie? a written paper? Also, it gets at the issue of method claims. Thanks for the story, D.

  46. If someone makes money in the forest (or asserts a patent) and no one is around, is Mooney still outraged?

  47. This invites a related consideration…if I invent and file a patent for a transporter, do I have to submit the first episode of Star Trek as prior art?

    It depends on whether Nicholas Cage is going to use the transporter.

  48. Dear C R:
    Presuming of course that you are tongue-in-cheek, i.e., not addressing experimental quantum teleportation when addressing fantasy (e.g., Star Trek) teleportation (with or without the disintegration – death? – of the target object), and are not addressing virtual teleportation (see for example, PGP US2009/0286598), then your rhetorical query raises at least two fanciful questions: (a) Can present fantasy technology be anticipated by future movies appearing to practice fantasy technologies set in the distant past – thereby antedating the present fantasy technology? (See The Prestige wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prestige); and (b) Is the PGP database a reliable source for fantastically enabled prior art? (See for example, PGP US2006/0071122 “Full Body Teleportation System.”)

  49. -sigh- please remember Mooney that most around here consider you the only troll they know…

    Speaking of which, I’m always amused by the conspicuous absence of the usual parties when a case like this comes around. Where are the Sunners and Diehrbots (you know, “NameChange”, “Actual Inventor”, and their sockpuppets) defending the awesomeness of Global Findability, its patent, and its legal theories, and decrying Summit Entertainment’s alleged unauthorized use of poor little Global Findability’s incredibly powerful and long-awaited technology? Isn’t this the quintessential example of the patent system WORKING for the “little guy”? I mean, Global got the suit filed before Summit had a chance to file a DJ and tank the patent! Isn’t that the most wonderful development ever, a true sign that the American economy is on the right track? Is it too early for Christmas?!?

  50. “Your honor and members of the jury, I would like to invoke the Jon Lovitz defense. In particular, when my client made two-hundred thousand units of that allegedly infringing product, that happen to be identical to the claimed invention in every respect, he was just ACTING…”

    Lovitz

    “And that is why I compel you to reach a verdict of non-infringement”

  51. patent.drafter as for a practitioner who publicly admits needing [natural number] defined for them … well, your candor is admirable. your inability to perform the most basic research to support a comment, before posting said comment, not so.

    Nobody admitted needing the term defined.

    mittedly, claim recitations lacking a commonly-accepted meaning, without clear definition in the spec, may render the claims indefinite.

    It’s not a question of “indefiniteness”. It’s a question of adequate written description support for the claimed invention. According to the Applicants’ statements during prosecution (in response to a rejection), the “all natural number” is a key feature of the invention that distinguishes it from the prior art. And yet somehow this critical feature was nowhere described or defined in the application? All the more reason to suspect that the patent is crap.

    Wipe the egg off your face, patent.drafter.

  52. Keep at it, patent gnomes, and pretty soon you will have so deeply alienated so many that not even the Federal Circuit will be able to protect your livelihoods.

    Surely the most important aspect of this case. Keep it up, trolls.

  53. DC says:

    “One problem with that theory is that the movie was filmed in Australia”

    Claim 10 is as follows:

    10. The geospatial information processing method according to claim 9, further comprising:
    encoding the single discrete all-natural number geospatial coordinate measurement representation onto a data segment of a video frame at a time of geospatial data acquisition.

    Previously, I trashed the idea of a 271(g) type infringement theory, but claim 10 recites a video frame made by a processing method. Could this claim apply to the movie if distributed in a digital format?

    Bayer v. Housey destroys this theory of infringement. Information is not a product for 271(g) purposes and I it’s safe to say the preclusion applies to information regardless of whether it is transmitted as a signal, a video frame, a compact disc, or graffiti in the bathroom of an airplane.

  54. 1. That movie sounds lame.
    2. The plaintiff is just trying to make a fast buck because this suit sounds even lamer.

    By the way everyone, I hold the patent on sarcastic comments, so turn it around or you’ll be on the receiving end of my law suit!

  55. This invites a related consideration…if I invent and file a patent for a transporter, do I have to submit the first episode of Star Trek as prior art?

  56. Keep at it, patent gnomes, and pretty soon you will have so deeply alienated so many that not even the Federal Circuit will be able to protect your livelihoods.

  57. Denis: “Rather, that was done by the angels/aliens presumably acting outside of the US.”

    Well, if they’re angles they are definitely outside the US. All the angels left the country about the time Bush began torturing “enemy combatants” and bombing countries with mythical WMDs.

  58. I only read this story because I thought it involved stopping Nicholas Cage from making movies altogether. I would hope the result of this case would be to enjoin Cage from acting and making any more shitty movies.

  59. If 0 and 1 are “all-natural numbers”, then storing the lat/long as a string of 0s and 1s, i.e., in binary, might be covered by the claims. Except that storing lat/long in binary form surely predates this patent.

  60. “in Gottschalk v. Benson”

    At least the requirement that the numbers be long and latitude rather than arbitrary numbers makes this claim more like FC precedential cases and less like Benson. Benson represents the most software unfriendly of the SC decisions, and the court appears to have backed off of it a bit.

  61. Apart from Bilski, if a data processing method to convert binary coded decimal numbers to equivalent pure binary numbers was unpatentable, because it effectively claimed just an idea of mathematics, in Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 66 (1972), then how did the PTO allow a claim to convert a set of corrdinates to an equivalent all natural number?

  62. DC says:

    “One problem with that theory is that the movie was filmed in Australia”

    Claim 10 is as follows:

    10. The geospatial information processing method according to claim 9, further comprising:
    encoding the single discrete all-natural number geospatial coordinate measurement representation onto a data segment of a video frame at a time of geospatial data acquisition.

    Previously, I trashed the idea of a 271(g) type infringement theory, but claim 10 recites a video frame made by a processing method. Could this claim apply to the movie if distributed in a digital format?

    “Bilskied”

    No longer a compelling analysis IMO. Almost certainly Bilski is going to be modified substantially. Claim 9 isn’t a business method (right M Mooney?) in the sense of Bilski or State Street claims are, it simply lacks tying to a machine. Some of the dependent claims do recite machines or recite transformations.

    I wonder what examiners will do if all those 101 rejections they’ve issued turn out to be lacking poorly supported even though a better 101 rejection is still viable. Will a bunch more free non-finals be the result? What will examiners do about cases where the applicant modifies claims per examiner request to minimally recite a machine if the Supreme Court trashes that theory.

  63. I’m intrigued by the idea of an “all-natural” number. I know what a natural number is, and that’s well-defined and unambiguous, so an “all-natural” number must mean something else, else they would have just said “natural”. What could it possibly be? “Free range” and “organic” immediately popped into my head.

    So I can see someone having a problem with this term, never before seen by me, “all-natural number”.

  64. I think the plaintiffs need to watch few episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, to learn the difference between reality and make-believe. Nicholas Cage doesn’t actually do anything, he recites lines in a script.

    Even if he did do something, I didn’t see in Dennis’ reporting where the decoded information includes an altitude component, which would mean none was encoded in the first place. Ergo no infringement.

    Just for kicks, let’s play this out a bit. How many acts of infringement are alleged? Is it an act of infringement every time the movie is shown? If so, who’s the infringer, and where is the infringement taking place? Am I contributory infringer if I play this movie on my DVD player?

    I hope the judge boots this out court and imposes sanctions on the plaintiff, and that Webster’s adds this case to its definition of “frivolous”.

  65. You know, sci-fi flicks could be true, that’s why they are called *sci*-fi instead of just fi. If true, the Aliens would be the infringers. Which leads me to ask, what if superior Aliens 100 light years away are infringing all our patent 1000 years ago and we find out about it by deciphering a radio signal that has their wikipedia encyclopedia of knowledge. I’ve heard most patents can be busted by having someone go through enough obscure papers and dissertations out there. Could you use the Drake equation to argue with 99% certainty that all patents are invalid, but the “international” prior art hasn’t yet been deciphered? LOL.

  66. 1. Geographic coordinates can be represented as decimal or in DMS format.

    2. Computers don’t have decimal points which is why IEEE 754 is generally used to encode floating point numbers into binary numbers which can reasonably be interpreted as “discrete all-natural numbers”.

    3. A struct in many computer languages (at least c) is just the concatenation of the various subcomponents. Thus a struct including two 32 bit floating point numbers (lat/long) would be a 64 bit struct which could be interpreted as a “single discrete all-natural number”.

  67. @pupu patents, good point re new matter

    @Dennis, sorry i didn’t latch onto the correct point. have seen (one) too many rejections where the examiner found “perpendicular” to be indefinite in the original claims because not otherwise used in the text although clearly shown in the drawings …

  68. Also, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, actors identify a geographical location by decoding an alien radio message that contains latitude and longitude, and then looking it up on a globe (this being 1977, when Google was just a noise babies made).

    Would this count as prior art, thus invalidating the patent?

  69. Ha, that would be hilarious if the claim was invalidated over the script writer’s earlier draft. I believe Dennis’s point was that that the spec doesn’t support claiming specifically all-natural numbers, and thus the addition during prosecution is new matter, not that Dennis doesn’t know what a natural number is.

    By the way, here’s the method claim:

    9. A geospatial information processing method comprising:
    converting latitude and longitude geographic degree, minutes, and seconds (DMS) coordinate alphanumeric representations or decimal equivalent geographic coordinate alphanumeric representations and altitude alphanumeric representations into individual discrete all-natural number geographic coordinate and measurement representations; and
    concatenating the individual discrete all-natural number geographic coordinate and measurement representations into a single discrete all-natural number geospatial coordinate measurement representation for identification of a geospatial positional location at, below, or above earth’s surface allowing a user to geospatially reference entities or objects based on the identified geospatial positional location and point identification.

    Looks pretty well Bilskied to me.

  70. (admittedly, claim recitations lacking a commonly-accepted meaning, without clear definition in the spec, may render the claims indefinite. in that regard the point is well made, but somewhat inapt to the fact pattern.)

  71. a natural number is an ordinary mathematical term.

    “In mathematics, there are two conventions for the set of natural numbers: it is either the set of positive integers {1, 2, 3, …} according to the traditional definition or the set of non-negative integers {0, 1, 2, …} according to a definition first appearing in the nineteenth century.” (See link to en.wikipedia.org).

    as for a practitioner who publicly admits needing _this_ term defined for them … well, your candor is admirable. your inability to perform the most basic research to support a comment, before posting said comment, not so.

  72. Can use of the idea in an earlier story count as prior art?

    On link to christianmovienews.com there is an interview with the writer Ryne Pearson in which he is quoted:

    “It was about 8.5 years ago that I pitched the original idea and then wrote the screenplay.”

    The priority date of the provisional application is 7/26/99. Given the article’s posting date, this pushes his conception to at least 10/2000, and possibly earlier so it’s cutting it close depending on how complete the provisional is, and on the existence of early drafts of a story. The plaintiff may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

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