EFF busts another lousy patent: NeoMedia’s mobile phone barcodes

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If not a fatality or flawless victory, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has at least scored another win for the good guys. The EFF’s Patent Busting Project — which hounds the worst those who use nebulously defined and idiotically granted patents to extort fees out of other companies — has won a significant court victory against one of their Top 10 offenders, NeoMedia.

The patent in question is NeoMedia’s barcode scanning patent. Stupidly overbroad and made utterly redundant by prior art, NeoMedia’s patent covers using your mobile phone as a way to display bar codes, which then can be scanned by a merchant device as a ticket or coupon. Prodded by the EFF, the US Patent Office re-examined NeoMedia’s patent… and rejected each and every one of NeoMedia’s ninety-five patent claims. This judgment immediately put an extortive lawsuit filed by NeoMedia against a competitor company, Scanbuy, on hold. NeoMedia has some options left open to them, but it’s not looking good.

Excellent work, EFF. The US Patent System is a septic tank. The Patent Busting Project has now scored victories against five out of ten of the companies on their most wanted list. I hope Nintendo’s “handheld software emulation” patent is the next challenger to be ruthlessly eliminated from the EFF’s list.

US Patent Office Rejects All Ninety Five NeoMedia Patent Claims [EFF]

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6 Responses to EFF busts another lousy patent: NeoMedia’s mobile phone barcodes

  1. defectivebydesign says:

    It’s always good to eliminate a harmful software patent (which means, any software patent that someone really tries to enforce), but trying to solve this problem one patent at a time is like trying to eradicate malaria by smacking one mosquito at a time.

    What we need to do is change the law to eliminate all software patents, or change it to exempt software implementations from accusations of patent infringement.

  2. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Excellent work!

  3. Anonymous says:

    FYI, the USPTO validated all 95 claims on Neomedia’s patent today. The previous “rejection” was only a non-final rejection, meaning that Neomedia had to defend their claims.

    Today is the final and uncontestable decision – complete validation.

    http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/090218/20090218005480.html?.v=1

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have learned not to trust or rely on the EFF’s PR’s regarding the success of its patent-busting project.

    Clearly, the EFF was way off base last summer when it claimed it had achieved a victory against Neomedia as a result of the USPTO issuance of an explicitly “non-final” rejection of all 95 claims in Neomedia’s 048 patent.

    From those premature PR’s to the words the EFF uses (like “bogus” and “lame”) the organization comes off as emotional and immature. One has to wonder how sophisticated the EFF really is.

    Anyone remotely familiar with the detailed mechanics of USPTO’s ex parte review process would/should know that a “non-final” rejection of all the claims in the challenged patent is very often the initial outcome. The process is set up in such a way as to discourage the patent holder from responding to the challenge at the first stage.

    Indeed, many experienced patent lawyers advise their clients not to respond to the challenge itself, but to wait for the “non-final” rejection and then to challenge that. This “waiting” strategy has the advantage of locking the original ex parte challeger (in this case, the EFF) out of the process once the initial non-final rejection has been issued.

    This is s very solid legal strategy for a patent holder that is interested in the best ultimate outcome; the disadvantage is that -by not responding to the initial chllenge – the USPTO has to make its initial “non-final” decision solely on the basis of what the challenger has submitted. Therefore, the patent-holder must often endure an initial “non-final” rejection.

    Kudos to Neomedia’s lawyers for their professional conduct of this process.

    Also, as for EFF’s recent spin PR that the patents were somehow “narrrowed”: well, that “narrowing” had – in practice – already occurred some years ago as a result of the Neomedia/Airclic litigation. The new consolidation of the 95 claims into 89 claims with some modification is – in essence – an incorporation into the patent of the results of that litigation. Bottom line: the patent now more clearly covers what Neomedia wants and intended it to cover.

  5. coolvoodoo says:

    This is such a wonderful project. Thanks, and keep up the GREAT work! Next, the One Click Purchase!

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