Two Updates

Scott Daniels | August 8, 2011

1.     Google Attacks Oracle ‘720 Patent

As Oracle’s action in the Northern District of California for infringement by Google of seven Java platform patents continues apace, the reexamination at the PTO of those patents grinds on as well.  Oracle’s U.S. Patent No. 7,426,720, for instance, stands rejected as being invalid over the prior art.  Oracle disputed that rejection in a paper filed in early July, and last Thursday, Google commented on Oracle’s filing.

Essentially, Google asserts (1) that the ‘720 patent claims were originally allowed as a result of Oracle’s adding the limitation of copy-on-write to the claims after a final rejection, and that Oracle relied on this copy-on-write limitation to distinguish the claims from the prior art of record, (2) that the copy-on-write technology central to alleged novelty of the ‘720 patent was present in most Unix operating systems as early as 1994, and was widely-known in the art at least as early as 1988, and (3) that Oracle’s filing in July admits that the Bach reference satisfies the copy-on-write limitation.

As always, it is difficult for an outsider to judge how a reexamination is proceeding.  Still, Google appears to be doing well, at least with respect to the ‘720 patent.

2.     Oracle Goes After Oasis Research/Intellectual Ventures Patents

Fans of NPR’s This American Life (TAL) know the story of Chris Crawford and U.S Patent No. 5,771,354 for an Internet online backup system.  In a recent episode, TAL reported that Crawford is the named inventor on the ‘354 patent, as well as on five other patents and two applications claiming benefit of the ‘354 patent application filing date.  Crawford sold those patents and applications to Kwon Holdings that sold them to Enhanced Software that sold them to a subsidiary of Intellectual Ventures (IV) that was founded by Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung of Microsoft in 2000 as a private partnership and is reputed to own approximately 30,000 patents and patent applications.

IV, in turn, sold Crawford’s patents and applications in July 2010 to Oasis Research.  According to TAL, the principal place of business for Oasis is an empty office at 104 E. Houston Street, Suite 190, Marshall, Texas, a block from the Federal Courthouse.  In August 2010, Oasis sued AT&T, GoDaddy, Iron Mountain, and others in that courthouse for infringement of the ‘354 patent and three other Crawford patents. 

Since then Oasis has threatened other companies for infringement of the Crawford patents, and last week Oracle filed a complaint against Oasis in Delaware seeking a declaratory judgment that the Crawford patents are invalid and not infringed.  Reexamination has not yet been requested, but I expect that it will be. 

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