Tag Archives: patent trolls

More good news from the IP frontline.

I couldn’t help but notice the buzz our latest patent news had gotten about our patent lawyers’ amazing win :). So I’m excited to keep the ball rolling with news of another bombshell victory just a few days later…

We reign victorious in a very important patent lawsuit again! This time against Uniloc (the same Uniloc that managed to snake $388 mln from Microsoft). You should know they sued us over the same patent in 2018, but we came out on top.

Recently, during the negotiation process of yet another patent infringement lawsuit filed by Uniloc, we received a message from the company’s representatives that they’re tired of fighting and ready to end this. Meaning: they’re ready to drop the suit if we are. Of course we were, only without the red tape and within the hour. So we drafted a joint statement on the spot for ‘dismissal with prejudice’, which is a final judgement meaning the case is not subject to further action.

Now to get down to brass tacks…

According to Uniloc, the software license and settings management software used in our My Kaspersky license manager was ‘stepping on the toes’ of other patents. My Kaspersky is a web service to remotely renew subscriptions, launch scans, get product reports, and do all sorts of other useful stuff.

Below is a list of the patents containing descriptions of configurable settings for authorized users. The general idea is that a user with several devices who configures their settings on one can then open the product on another and the settings are already saved. All of these patents (with a priority date of 1998) were acquired from IBM. They had 31 respondents, including Akamai, SAP (represented by subsidiary Concur Technologies), Oracle (represented by subsidiary Netsuite), Ubisoft, Tencent (represented by subsidiary Riot Games), and Zendesk.

US6324578
US7069293
US6510466
US6728766

Expert analysis put our potential damages at $7 million, assuming a claim amount of $90 million.

This was a long-haul case starting back in 2016, but it was temporarily put on hold because the patents in one of the claims processes started before us were invalidated. A year later, the United States District Court of Texas confirmed the invalidation of two patents: `766 and `466, but upheld `578 and `293. Regardless, this was still a win for us, even if we were only involved indirectly. It’s important to understand that when patents ‘survive’ the court of appeals, trolls start doubling down on respondents. However, Uniloc withdrew its claims against us, all the while continuing litigation against other companies. This court of appeals decision was one of three key points on our path to victory. We also helped other companies getting sued to formulate their arguments, as we held a stake in their verdicts as well.

The second major point was our case, which Uniloc was already well acquainted with. We had to keep it ironclad to hold up against all their pressure.

And third was an eight-hour face-to-face mediation with the Uniloc team.

Note that Uniloc revoked its claims exactly one week after GBAS closed its case against us. That just goes to show that our reputation as an uncompromising destroyer of dubious patent practice proceeds us. And I couldn’t be happier!

By the way, this was just one of three lawsuits we’ve been tangled up in against Uniloc, all of which ended in our favor — 3:0.

Our overall patent lawsuit score is 9:0 (not counting pre-trial dismissed claims).

1:0 IPAT v Kaspersky
2:0 IPAT v Digital River (indemnity)
3:0 Lodsys v Kaspersky
4:0 Device Security v Kaspersky
5:0 Wetro Lan v Kaspersky
6:0 Uniloc (1) v Kaspersky
7:0 GBAS v Kaspersky
8:0 Uniloc (3) v Kaspersky
9:0 Uniloc (2) v Kaspersky (the lawsuit I’m writing about here).

So there you have it. Don’t bother wasting your time or money.

Last week’s good vs. bad news

The good news last week? Well, I went to Chelyabinsk – that’s the first piece of good news. Okay. I need to keep score here. The referee blows the whistle. Game on. 1:0…

Our lineup of patent lawyers now takes to the field. They bring good news, too. We’ve won yet another patent infringement lawsuit in the States! I won’t waste time explaining; I’ll just quote our report from the frontline: “One more major lawsuit is added to our list of victories! Case closed – not a cent to pay out!”

What was the claim all about?

In a nutshell, Greater Boston Authentication Solutions (GBAS) didn’t like the operating principle of our Activation 2.0 technology, which allows a trial version to be upgraded to a full version by validating a ticket that contains various information. GBAS deemed that Activation 2.0 infringed on their patents: US5982892US6567793 and US7346583.

// I’ve intentionally added the links to their patents in case anyone is curious.

These patents, born back in 1997, describe a software activation technology that uses a digital signature. It’s all relatively straightforward: the developer creates a digital signature from received data and transfers it to the product. The product, using a built-in public key, validates the signature to see if it matches the user’s details and decides whether access should be given.

This is what it looks like at Kaspersky:

Read on…

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Guess which company made the ‘Top-100 Global Innovators’!

Hi folks!

Regular readers of my blog will know how I occasionally write about some of our less noticeable – but no less important – business successes: those related to our patents and how they help us fight – incredibly – not just cyber-evil, but also patent trolls who do nothing but hinder technological progress.

I said ‘success’. Well here’s out latest: we’ve become the first Russian company to enter the Derwent Top 100 Global Innovators! Hurray!

Read on…

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Many a little makes a mickle (of $70m).

I’m often asked why we choose to fight patent trolls. After all, might it be easier – and more economically feasible – to simply give in, pay the relatively small fee they’re after, and be done with it and get back to work?

That does seem to be the accepted wisdom for a lot of IT companies targeted by trolls. But not for KL. There’s a principle involved. Also, there’s the not small issue of saving not small sums of money over the years. ‘How much?’, you may ask. Well let’s just work it out today. The results, below, might surprise you. In fact, it turns out that fighting parasites costs less than allowing them to nibble little by little at our bank balance.

Source

But first, a lyrical digression to demonstrate how things usually go down when dealing with patent actions:

Digression begins:

First off, information about a new patent infringement lawsuit brought against IT Company X appears in the official court publication. Immediately after this, Company X is inundated with letters and phone calls from law firms offering to assist in dealing with the lawsuit, each firm insisting it would do the job much better than all others.

Now, I’ve written this before, and I’ve upset quite a few folks in doing so, but, well, I’m sorry, I just have to repeat it once more as it does appear that folks need reminding about it.

There are different types of ‘lawyers’: there are honest lawyers; there are crafty ‘consumer champion‘ lawyers; and then there’s another set: legal sales pseudo-lawyers. These belong to the rare breed of… con-artists psychologists in expensive suits with authoritative appearances and persuasive patters (anecdotes, witticisms, shrewd observations, success stories…), all of which add up to a convincing impression of reliability and trustworthiness. Oh, and they always want you to sign on the dotted line quickly. So you sign it. Next kicks in the standard scenario: much frenzied ‘work’ is done by the legal sales guys, creating mountains of documentation: petitions, motions, whatever. And all simply to give the impression that signing up with them was the right thing to do, and everything’s going to work out just fine as you’ve got these busy bees working for you.

However, eventually all the hustle and bustle comes to a halt… the legal sales guys suggest ending the legal process through an out-of-court settlement. Of course, that means a payment to the plaintiff and a hefty fee for themselves (which together is often equal to the initial $ demands of the patent troll). However, Company X is made to believe that it has secured itself a great victory, all based on their inimitable legal genius.

And everyone’s happy – Company X, the plaintiff, the lawyers. And that’s how the system works. Company X folks may have a sneaky feeling – especially at night – that somewhere, somehow, something ain’t right, but they just banish such treasonous thoughts further into the back of their minds so as not to get upset.

Digression ends.

Alas, that’s how the great majority of patent court cases end up if an outside consultant is brought in. But why? Because otherwise the consultant would have to actually get to know the company’s products, the technologies used, the documentation, and so on. Doing all that takes a long time. Much easier is to go for an out-of-court settlement and all that work is avoided.

Not that the above scenario is the only one possible. We know patent lawyers and law firms that diligently did do the hard work and eventually were successful – and not only in cases on recognition of patents’ invalidity, but also those on noninfringement of patents.

Still, more than 10 years ago, we took a decision to develop our own patent department. Why?

Because we understood that, (i) with the development of the business there’d be a proportionate increase in the number of trolls wanting to latch onto us; (ii) there was no point in expecting outsiders to help (see the digression above); and (iii) such a department of our own experts would be able to earn the company a decent side income in other ways. Calculations/projections were made, and the department was set up. Fast forward more than a decade, and those calculations/projections have turned out to be fairly accurate (see below).

I’ve already told you about how we do things in the patent courts. All cases were ‘dismissed with prejudice‘ or ‘denied’ (which is almost the same thing). Total funds paid out to patent trolls and to plaintiffs in class action cases: $0. But how much might we have paid? Let’s calculate it:

1. IPAT vs KL: we were looking at payment of 3-5% of our turnover in the U.S. over three years (~$8mln);
2. Lodsys vs KL: $25mln;
3. Device Security vs KL$1.2mln;
4. Three court cases with Uniloc: initially it was assumed that the demands would be similar to those this troll hit Electronics Art with – $5mln – for each case, but in the end Uniloc realized there was zero chance of that happening, so it announced it wanted $1.8mln off us for all three cases. So far, two of those three have been closed in our favor; the third – soon;
5. Wetro Lan vs KL: our efforts saw the case thrown out even before their demands were announced; therefore, we’ll take the minimum expected amount – $1mln;
6. A Class action just like the one against Symantec, the costs of which we’ll take as our reference: $2mln to the plaintiff’s lawyers, $9 (!) to each ‘injured’ person, plus a free three-month license for their commercial product;
7. A Japanese company (I can’t tell you which) sought 5% of our turnover in Japan, supposedly for patent infringement. What’s more, we’d have automatically received the exact same infringement action in the U.S., since issuance to it of a similar patent had already been approved there by the time we’d finalized our negotiations;
8. A claim of a tech partner for compensation of $800,000 for its losing a case for patent infringement of its own product: dismissed.

All the above-mentioned potential costs to us: $70 million! That’s without taking into account a mass of other claims and demands, which were successfully rejected by our team long before compensation was announced. And also not taking into account other non-patent cases like the recent antimonopoly proceedings against Microsoft: the benefits of our victory there are difficult to measure with money, since on the line was the multibillion-dollar business of thousands of developer companies and their partners.

And there’s another knock-on effect of our always sticking to our firm position not to settle with patent trolls: we get hit with far fewer patent infringement actions in the first place. Trolls know we never give in, so they give up trying their luck – more so now, since we’ve started hitting back at the trolls with demands for them to pay our court costs. But quite how much we’ve saved on this account is just too tricky to estimate, so we’ll just have to leave it out.

Still, we can look at our competitors for at least some idea as to how our principled stance has reduced the number of lawsuits heading our way. Over the last 10 years here’s how many patent infringement lawsuits they’ve received:

Symantec – 41; McAfee – 19; TrendMicro – 20; Sophos – 13; Avast – 11.

KL – 8!

Yet we all use very similar technologies, and in theory every lawsuit could be duplicated and directed at any or all other cybersecurity developers. And just for an indication of the sums involved for just one case: last year Sophos lost a patent infringement case against Finjan and had to fork out $15mln (!!).

So there you have it folks: the proof of the patent pudding is in the eating having your own patent department – it saves you much more than you’d spend feeding trolls. Having our own department also allows us to deal with other law-related stuff, like legal expert analyses of products to be released, due diligence, and development of our patent portfolio in the U.S., the cost of which is now estimated at more than $100mln.

Finally, the above-mentioned also confirms the validity and correctness in our motto with regard to patent trolls: ‘We fight to the last bullet – their last bullet!’.

The end of the beginning in the fight against patent trolls.

For much of August and September of this year I was forced into ‘working from home’, something I don’t normally do. So with zero globetrotting/commuting/working out/interviews/speeches and other daily workday chores, I had rather a lot of time on my hands. So I read. Lots. There was plenty of the usual bad news, but, occasionally, there was some very good news in there too. In particular, there was good excellent news from the front in the fight against patent trolls: a district court of Texas rejected Uniloc’s lawsuit against us for infringement of patent US5490216. This is the infamous patent that since the early 2000s had struck terror into the hearts of IT companies, added years to the appearance of many a patent lawyer, and mercilessly lightened the wallets of more than 160 (!) companies – including Microsoft and Google, no less.

But the excellent news doesn’t stop there folks!…

The combined efforts of the IT industry have secured the invalidation of the IT patent-from-hell. But it’s not just the invalidation itself that’s worth celebrating; also worthy of champagne quaffing is the fact that the invalidation heralds serious (albeit long overdue) change in the U.S. patent system. Sure – it’s only ‘slowly but surely’ for now, but slowly is at least better than no change at all; especially when the changes have global significance: at last the IT industry can start to pluck the patent parasites off its back that do nothing but bloodsuck hinder technological development.

The ball hasn’t merely started rolling, it’s racing down the hill: developers are becoming freer in what they can do – protected against persecution from owners of (excuse my Belgian) BS patents: those describing abstract and at times blatantly obvious things, which in practice aren’t even applied or are used only for ‘milking’ developers of similar technologies.

All told, the story of patent ‘216 reads much like a thriller – so much so that I thought I’d retell it here for your thrill-seeking pleasure. So go get a coffee (better – popcorn) and settle back down for a mini-nailbiter from the patent parasite side…

Read on…

Happy World IP Day!

April 26: significant for you? Perhaps it’s your birthday? If not, I bet you’re a patent lawyer, or someone who works with patent lawyers. For April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day! Accordingly, yesterday I congratulated all those connected with this tricky profession, and wished them every success within it.

Actually, not all those connected with this profession. Not patent trolls, and not legal white-collar ‘consumer champions’. I wish them… you can imagine.

But back to the positive…

Hearty congratulations to all the KLers in our IP protection department (that’s dozens of headstrong specialists with unique expertise, led by the uniquely headstrong N.K). Hip, hip hooray!

So, on this special occasion, we decided to do a mini-retrospective – to look back over how our IP department developed, and to then look to the future to forecast how it’s going to further develop.

Read on…

The best defense is attack – and that now includes when fighting patent trolls.

Hi folks!

What better way to start the day than with champagne? For that’s just what we should all be pouring ourselves after our latest victory in the ongoing war with patent trolls!

And it’s not just any old victory; it’s truly a landmark one. Indeed, our shooing off Wetro Lan with its tail between its legs will go down in the annals of patent law as a crucial precedent, since no one before has ever secured a victory like we just have: we not only forced the troll to withdraw its lawsuit; we also got it to pay us compensation! Ok, so the compensation was merely symbolic – it covered only a tiny fraction of our costs for defending ourselves – but, well, you know what they say: the first blow is half the battle…

Ok. Here’s how it went down:

Read on: Meanwhile in the rural district of Texas…

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon – Pt. 3.

Human ingenuity never fails to astonish, leave dumbfounded, and/or smiling. I mean, just look at this:

No, really. This is the main diagram in the US patent for a ‘manually self-operated butt-kicking machine’:

But wait – it gets better when it all gets described in words!

“The Butt kicker is very user friendly with the number of kicking repetitions, type of repetitions, speed of operation, amplitude or height of the kicking cycle, magnitude of the kicking force, and impact and energy of the kick all controlled by the user or operator. This invention is a new, novel, and unique machine with multiple uses, which range from amusement to fundraising and from motivation to discipline. The objectives of this invention are also many, including, but not limited to, teambuilding, self-therapy, to inspire creativity, and to be used as a model for future devices and works of art.”

Btw, it turns out there’s a whole industry (well, almost) dedicated to administering carefully placed kicks to the backside. Here’s another automatic boot-up-the-butt device I discovered in the patent database (seek, and ye shall find:).

Read on: I mean, really? Seriously? Oh yes…

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon. – pt. 2.

 

The patent ‘landscapes’ of different countries can curiously differ aplenty, with each country’s inventions have a specific ‘aftertaste’.

For example, US patents are generally characterized by their being practical, with a sometimes very utilitarian slant, and with pedantic attention to detail. You can see all that for sure in my Superlatively Subjective Top-5 Most [insert the appropriate] Patents Ever :).

Russian inventors on the other hand can be generally characterized by their ambitiousness – sometimes even to the extent of having ‘cosmic’ yearnings in trying to change the world, the planets, the universe – but ‘cosmic’ also in the sense that their inventions can be zanily ‘out of this world’ crazy. Need convincing? Ok, I’ll convince you – with another Top-5 – this time of Russkie patents…

And we’re off…

The Superlatively Subjective Top-5 Most [insert the appropriate] Russian Patents… Ever!

No. 5: Holy Moses!

Russian Patent Application No. 2013144180: ‘A method for ensuring the survival of Homo Sapiens and preservation of the gene pool of living organisms on planet Earth in conditions of worldwide flooding, global glaciation or other unexpected natural catastrophes’. Oh my gene pool!

You think the title’s long? Wait till you get a load o’ dis: the summary on the first page of the application is made up of just one sentence – containing 1182 letters! I really do sympathize with Russian patent lawyers who have to try and work out just what the *)&%^(+#!@! the author is on about. I mean, this one – somewhere in the middle of it you forget what the first bit was saying, so you stop and read it again – and again – and take notes in the margin in order not to lose track. I read it five times, and can now proudly ‘undertake to articulate the underlying essence of’ the invention in four words: a matrioshka-doll-like… ark :).

The device is to be crammed with microorganisms, seeds, animals, three Home Sapiens and other ‘genetic resources’, and installed at the top of the world’s tallest mountain out of harm’s way.

But what if the elements get a real strop on and even flood the mountains too? Well, then an inflatable dinghy would be jettisoned from the ark to sail about on the water’s surface until the level of the water falls sufficiently. Looks like they’ve thought of everything.

PS: Quote: ‘and after stabilization of the life conditions on the surface of the earth, the members of the team would descend the staircase down the mountains and a new era of renewal of life on the Earth would begin’.

PPS: Rospatent didn’t mess about in throwing this application out: it realized the serious trolling going on, and rejected it based on the lack of an invention. I was quite surprised prior art going back to the Bible wasn’t given as a reason :).

No. 4: They need to quit smoking not just tobacco.

‘If you wanted to quit smoking, but something always stopped you from doing so… well, now nothing can get in your way!’ That’s Patent RU2231371 in a nutshell.

I’m not sure I, nor anyone else in the world – including the authors! – know what the heck this one’s about, so, I’ll just quote the text so you can see what we’re all up against!

‘The contents of a vial of solution of calcium chloride after the ritual smoking of one’s last cigarette is poured into a container with a water solution of tobacco smoke, at end of the fifth or sixth day of not smoking, the doctor conducts a final session of hetero-auto-training, moreover, instead of the container ‘water of life’ in the final session the patient uses a third container, called ‘Word’, with a vial of 10ml 1% solution of dioxydine. The formula of autosuggestion is changed for the formula of a vow: ‘I’ve quit smoking’. After the final session the patient carries out a ritual of self-coding, for which is used 50ml of water solution of tobacco smoke and calcium chloride, into which is poured out from the vial the solution of dioxydine…’

Seriously?

I mean, just what were they smoking? Where was this written? An Amsterdam coffee shop? Colorado? Or, maybe the utter incoherence is a side-effect of quitting smoking using this method? Well, no matter really: the patent expired as the state duty didn’t get paid (“Dude, did you pay the duty?” “Duty? What duty, man? I’m not due tea; I want an espresso, man.”)

No. 3: Machine gun dung!

What can’t you do in a tank? Rather a lot, actually; it’s easier to think of what you can do in a tank and rule out the rest.

So, like, what if you need to… you know – use the bathroom? I mean, you really need to go and just can’t wait? Well, you can’t just leave the tank for a few minutes can you?…

… Enter patent RU2399858, which offers to ‘remove waste of the vital functions of a tank crew via an artillery installation’! And here’s the main thing: without depressurization of the tank!

Read on: WALLOP! Oops!…

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon.

Regular readers will have noticed I haven’t ranted and raved about patent trolls of late. What, all’s quiet on the troll front – they’ve stopped being trolls and started doing something useful and honest instead? You guessed it: no. Alas, every day, stories about their audaciously outrageous stunts can be found in the news if you look in the right places. It’s business as usual for the trolls; it just doesn’t make headline news.

Sometimes the news comes to you – at least, to us: just the other day we received a lawsuit from WETRO LAN for alleged infringement of a patent on filtration of data packets, or, to be more precise – a firewall. WHAT?

So, what they’re saying is, you can patent a widely-known, universally-applied device, er, which was invented more than a decade ago? Just in case you missed that: the tech had been around for ages BEFORE this patent appeared! And now they demand a fee for use of their patented tech! Hold on… WHAT?!

Yes that’s what they’re doing: since 2015 they’ve brought lawsuits to 60+ companies, many of which developed firewalls long before the patent existed. But the industry is taking the lawsuits in its stride; it even name the patent Stupid Patent of the Month.

Equally absurd is their targeting us with a claim. We’re not ‘easy pickings’ by far for an attack, since we always stand our ground and never give in to patent trolls. And we never settle out of court either – as there’s never anything to settle, as we ain’t done nuttin. The only thing we do is return fire occasionally. Well, why not? Their patents will be invalidated sooner rather than later – so we strike while the iron’s still hot there’s still an iron. And no matter what, we’ll continue the good fight – until the last bullet – their bullet.

But all this talk of fighting – no matter how necessary it is – it’s still a bit lot of a mood spoiler. So, to lighten the spirits and stay positive and optimistic, I decided to blow the dust off the archives to come up with a collection of the strangest, craziest, maddest and most paradoxical patents ever. If anything, just so you’ll know where they may bite you in the future for ‘gross violations of patent law’ :).

OK, off we go…

The Superlatively Subjective Top-5 Most [insert the appropriate] Patents Ever

No. 5: The guillotine – the best remedy for a headache.

Warm, sunny, summer weather has its downside. Of course, summer should be all about the beach, pinacoladas and swimsuits, but for that one has to be in good shape. But how can one be in good shape after a fall, winter and spring of non-stop gorging on high-calorie foods? One simply can’t! Well, one could – with a decent diet and exercise – but how unoriginal and folksy and old-fashioned is that? There had to be a hi-tech solution; after all, the 21st century was just around the corner. Therefore…

Folks, meet US patent 4344424 – the ‘anti-eating face mask’. Hannibal Lecter – move over!

ip2

PS: Makes sense to ‘invent’ and patent anti-eating handcuffs too – to chain you to the radiator with so you can’t reach the fridge. In just two weeks you’d have that beach-bod you’d been after :).

Read on: Always ask for a top-up in the pub…