I was recently served with a patent-infringement lawsuit against Laminar Research, filed by Uniloc.
Here are the specifics of the lawsuit and the patent (filed in 2001) that I think are relevant:
Paragraph 12 of the lawsuit states: “Laminar Research is directly infringing one or more claims of the ’067 patent in this judicial district and elsewhere in Texas, including at least claim 107, without the consent or authorization of Uniloc, by or through making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing Android based applications for use on cellular phones and/or tablet devices that require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorized use of said application, including, but not limited to, X-Plane.”
Section 107 of the patent, which they claim I violated, contains: “107. …code for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium by communicating with a registration authority having verification data….”
Under the advice of my lawyer, I am not going to discuss the specifics of what I think about this, so you will have to decide for yourself what you think.
But, here are a few other programs that existed long before (over a decade before!) the 2001 filing date of patent 6,857,067:
In 1988, FlexNet used a system to check a central server for permission to run a computer program.
In 1989, Sassafras developed KeyServer, a computer program that checked with a central server for permission to run a program only if it had been purchased.
In 1996, J.River used a system to purchase and download software, and checked a central server for permission to run that software.
In 1998, J.River used a system to purchase and download software, and checked a central server for permission to run that software.
In 2011, here is a patent claiming “MANAGEMENT OF SOFTWARE LICENSES IN A COMPUTER NETWORK”… after computers have been doing this for decades. This patent was filed a DECADE AFTER the 2001 patent! There are 2.1 million patents in force now… how many other overlapping, redundant, out-dated, or ridiculously pre-dated patents do you think there are?
So, to summarize my understanding as of this writing:
I have been advised not to discuss the specifics of my understanding of the patent, so I will restrict myself to saying this:
Uniloc is suing myself, and 8 other developers, for distributing Apps on Android, claiming that we infringe on “their” idea.
Speaking for Laminar Research, we used only the technology that was provided to us by Google for copy protection in our Android App ‘X-Plane’… we used exactly the copy protection Google gave us!
The patent on which we are being sued was filed in 2001… observe the dates on the computer programs I have found above. They are long, long, long before 2001. Do you think that you can file a patent on an idea that has been in use for over a decade, and then claim that that ideas is ‘yours,’ suing many people that use that idea?
Do a Google search on “Austin Meyer, X-Plane”. Do you see that I do work to develop product that I provide to people, or do I sue those that do?
As well, Uniloc recently sued a company called RackSpace, which furnishes the use of servers to people, for patent infringement of patent number 5,892,697.
Unilocs’ claim? That Uniloc “owns” ideas on how computers DO MATH. And that means that RackSpace, specifically, owes them money.
If you wonder whether RackSpace should have known that they were not allowed to use computers that do math without asking Uniloc for permission first, I must ask: You know that there are over SIX MILLION patents, right? Think about the ramifications of the number of patents… with legal defense costs running about TWO MILLION dollars per patent to defend yourself from these types of claims.