Attack of the patent trolls

The world’s favourite patent troll, NTP, is back in court trying to bump Blackberry makers RIM Ltd. out of the market. Welcome to the wacky world of the American patent system, where innovators are punished for being first in the market while a patent shell company gets all their profits.

And if you think that is bad, consider U.S. Patent 7,000,180, a patent for “Methods, systems, and processes for the design and creation of rich-media applications via the internet”. The abstract reads:

Rich-media applications are designed and created via the Internet. A host computer system, containing processes for creating rich-media applications, is accessed from a remote user computer system via an Internet connection. User account information and rich-media component specifications are uploaded via the established Internet connection for a specific user account. Rich-media applications are created, deleted, or modified in a user account via the established Internet connection. Rich-media components are added to, modified in, or deleted from scenes of a rich-media application based on information contained in user requests. After creation, the rich-media application is viewed or saved on the host computer system, or downloaded to the user computer system via the established Internet connection. In addition, the host process monitors the available computer and network resources and determines the particular component, scene, and application versions, if multiple versions exist, that most closely match the available resources.

In other words, this patent is so broad that it covers all sorts of rich-media formats that already exist online, such as Flash, Flex, Java and other rich internet applications. My concern is not only about the blackmail potential bargaining power awarded by this patent, but that it could affect some open source rich applications such as LZX.

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