16 January 2007

A video nasty heads for court

The US's patent system must be in a mess when the country's most successful patenter gets hot under the collar. IBM used its recent appearance at the top of the US's patents league last year to have a go at the state of the country's patent system.

The computer company doesn't actually go for patent trolls so much as the general issue of patent quality. But you can see why the system is in bad odour when you read Internet video patent suit hits Google and Apple.

The law firm Pinsent Mason, on Out-law.comm, reports that a company that isn't in the online video business any more is suing a bunch of people who are in that trade. The company flicking its writs turned off the lights on its video operation in 2002. Now it has rubbed the magic lantern and become a patents business.

Just how strange they do things over there becomes clearer when you read that the litigant didn't even file for its patents until 2001, "five years after the company was founded and after some companies were already offering video and audio material for download".

Bonkers.

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