Maintain an automated networked database? GraphOn wants to sue you

Maintain an automated networked database? GraphOn wants to sue you

Summary: GraphOn is suing Google for patent infringement and the company appears to be doing a nice imitation of NTP, the company that made its name by suing Research in Motion. GraphOn is going for gold in the patent troll Olympics.

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TOPICS: Legal
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GraphOn is suing Google for patent infringement and the company appears to be doing a nice imitation of NTP, the company that made its name by suing Research in Motion. GraphOn is going for gold in the patent troll Olympics.

In a statement Monday, GraphOn said it was suing Google over four patents. The company claims that Google infringes on four patents--U.S. Patent Nos. 6,324,538, 6,850,940, 7,028,034 and 7,269,591. These patents protect GraphOn’s "unique method of maintaining an automated and network-accessible database." Google Base, Adwords, Blogger, Sites and YouTube allegedly infringe on these patents. GraphOn wants damages and injunctive relief.

Never heard of GraphOn? It's a developer of "Web enabling software solutions" that happens to be suing everyone that may tap into an automated network database.

To wit:

  • GraphOn sued AutoTrader.com in November 2005 and that ended in a settlement in January 2008.
  • GraphOn sued Juniper Networks in August 2007 over network security and firewall technologies.
  • GraphOn sued Classified Ventures, IAC/InterActiveCorp, Match.com, Yahoo! Inc., eHarmony.com, and CareerBuilder in March 2008.
  • And GraphOn may sue you too--assuming you have maintained an automated network accessible database.

I'm no patent lawyer but these GraphOn patents look weak. Consider patent 6,324,538. This one page gem covers:

  • A method for providing a pay-for-service web site comprising:
  • providing a web server coupled to a computer network having a database operatively disposed within and accessible on said network;
  • providing an HTML front-end entry process associated with the web server;
  • executing an HTML front-end entry process, said HTML front-end entry process being configured to:
  • create a personal homepage for an owner;
  • store said personal home page in said database;
  • index said personal homepage in said database in a user-defined category; and
  • receive a fee from said owner for making said personal homepage accessible on said network.

In other words, GraphOn put a patent on the Web.

And the graphic describes just about any site:

graphon1.png

I'd go through the other patents, but they're basically carbon copies.

Topic: Legal

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11 comments
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  • Litigious Theft. Where does it end?

    People/Companies like mosquitos, stealing a living by sucking the life blood of others.


    HEY the internet was my idea, you all owe me billions of dollars. They need to get in line behind AlGore. Everyone thank Mr AlGore for inventing the internet.

    Frivolous, Bogus lawsuits should be punished criminally and financially.
    invmgr@...
    • Re: Litigious Theft. Where does it end?

      I'm not too well versed in the legal world, but it appears that in most cases the plaintiffs and lawyers have nothing to lose, only potential lucrative gains.

      Here's an idea: Make the plaintiff and lawyers put up a bond or escrow for a significant percentage of the amount they are suing for (e.g. suit for $10 million, law firm to get 20% if won ==> plaintiff puts in $800K and law firm $200K). Then if the suit is deemed frivolous or bogus, the *defendant* gets the escrowed money after court costs. That might take some wind from their sails....(I know, dream on....)
      hitech_rednek
  • Easily dispelled on the basis of prior art

    The issue is that on the date these patents were filed and granted, most of this stuff was widespread knowledge and practice.
    kckn4fun
    • Maybe... Maybe not...

      It would seem that even though there's "prior art", there also seems to be enough "umph" in these patents to cause at least three prior instances where these leeches have sued and settled. That, in the legal profession, is known as a precedent. And those can be a problem for any future suits.
      Wolfie2K3
      • Im no lawyer but..

        Yes the previous "settlements" do establish some form of precident, however (given the right lawyers) it could be argued that the settlement was established to avoid a costlier legal battle - thus removing the notion that it was settled "due to overwhelming evidence that the patent is specific enough". Further it should (but wont) have the settlements reversed when the courts prove that the patents on the illustation in the article is overly broad and is common practice based on the evolution and advancement in technolgoy. Im not a laywer, but it would seem easy enough to get this dismissed.
        JT82
      • I do not think settlements create precedent

        To my understanding, precedent in the legal sense has a strict definition that requires that a legal case be appealed to a higher court. At some point in the court hierarchy, decisions by courts set "precedent", and the legal reasoning established becomes part of the legal reasoning applied to future cases. I do not believe that settlements create any strict legal precedence, meaning that the existence of settlements by defendents in prior litigation does not establish any facts or legal doctrine applicable to future litigation.
        ejb78923
  • Patenting ideas vs. implementations?

    Pardon my relative ignorance, but one explanation I heard relative to patents and software was that a software patent "should cover a specific implementation of an idea, not the idea itself". Since software patents seem to include pseudocode and/or diagrams like the one you gave, they apparently try very hard to cover the idea, allowing trolls to sue any implementation, which I think violates the proper notion of patent. Assuming I am getting this right, what legal process protects independent implementors from trolls?
    paul_wagner@...
  • Patent TROLL

    So, they are going after Google.

    A company with plenty of money to spend on lawyers.

    Honestly, I hope these trolls [b]lose!!![/b]

    And, if they do, if I were at Google, [b]I would make them pay[/b]
    fatman65535
  • RE: Maintain an automated networked database? GraphOn wants to sue you

    I believe the Clinton and Bush administrations both must have viewed management of the Office of Patents and Trademarks as a patronage position. There were so many of these really doubtful 'software patents' issued between 1992 and now which should have been denied as 'prior art' that now are coming back to bite the companies (like Google) which are actually making the technology WORK...
    l_g_johnson@...
  • It is companies and people like this that...

    strengthen the case for the removal and revocation of software patents. The cited 'patent' is so obviously trivial that it should never have been allowed. Even if it is not classified as 'prior art', it is way too broad to be allowed.

    It seems to me that GraphOn is bringing these suits in an effort to obtain a settlement. Now that they have decided to sue Google, lets all hope that they get what they really deserve, and not only lose the case, but then get counter sued by Google and wind up losing everything that they have.
    RealAusTech
  • Patent Office

    Who do we call at the patent office in order to complain about this?
    brian@...