PATENT TROLL NTP Inc has managed to get the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to order the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reconsider its findings about seven patents owned by the firm regarding the transmission of email over wireless networks.
NTP first hit the headlines five years ago after it won a $612.5m judgement against Research In Motion (RIM). Since then the patents in question have been going through appeals due to the fact that they are extraordinarily broad. The patents essentially cover sending email over wireless networks, something that seems so obvious that one wonders what the chap at the USPTO was smoking when granting the patents.
Now that NTP has won another court ruling that effectively validates the seven patents it can go forth with lawsuits against Apple, AT&T, Google, Microsoft, T-Mobile USA, Verizon and Yahoo, or just about everyone of note in the technology industry.
NTP did have one bit of bad news, in that the court ruled that an eighth NTP patent was invalid.
Tough times are ahead for the companies that face the firm that almost led to the demise of RIM's Blackberry network back in 2006. NTP already has one win under its belt and given that the majority of its patents have stood up to further scrutiny, there is a better than average chance that NTP might end up receiving a boat load of cash from the richest firms in the IT business.
The real issue here is why the USPTO granted such broad patents in the first place. The sending of an email, which is after all just bits, over a wireless network is something that is done by all wireless communication. This is yet another 'win' for poorly implemented patent regulations that do little more than stifle innovation and throw sand in the gears of technology progress. µ
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