EFF’s Role as Patent Buster Jeopardized In Bill’s Small Print

Image: Patent Busting ProjectThe Electronic Frontier Foundation has sent a letter to Senators Leahy and Specter regarding a portion of the Draft Judiciary Committee Report of the Patent Reform Act of 2007, which has the potential to kill EFF’s Patent Busting Project.

The draft inserts language which would prohibit third parties from requesting ex-parte reexamination of issued patents. This would effectively end the EFF’s four-year effort to have software patents reconsidered if they can be shown to be based on prior art.

Each year, companies attempt to claim simple processes, already in market use, as new patents. When these are incorrectly granted, patent holders then extract license agreements from other companies using these processes. Examples of such incorrectly issued patents include:

• The hyperlink (U.S. Patent No. 4,873,662.)
• One-click online shopping (U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411.)
• Online shopping carts (U.S. Patent No. 5,715,314.)
• Pop-up windows (U.S. Patent No. 6,389,458.)
• Paying with a credit card online (U.S. Patent No. 6,289,319.)
• Framed browsing (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,933,841 & 6,442,574.)

The EFF’s most recent patent-busting initiative focuses on Sheldon F. Goldberg’s patent for conducting online gaming tournaments. In a reexamination request filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, EFF showed the technology covered by the bogus patent was used extensively by other online gaming companies before Goldberg made his claim.

UsefulArts will continue to monitor changes to the Patent Reform Act.  You can receive updates on this by subscribing to our email updates or RSS feed.

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