Originally written: August 12, 2003

Updated April 13, 2004

By: Brandon Shalton

The two most common questions asked of me is "are you a patent attorney" and "why did you start FightThePatent.com".

The first answer is No, I am not a patent attorney. I am a technologist who has been on the Internet since 1989.

FightThePatent.com was started with a spark of internet Activism when I first read about Acacia. Many observers and even some patent attorneys have called the tactics by companies like Acacia as being "legalized extortion". As an entreprenuer, innovator, and software developer, I see it as patent abuse, and just plain wrong.

FightThePatent.com was created on August 12, 2003 to bring awareness and activism to Internet-related patents that affect all websites.

A patent gives the inventor a monopoly to stop people from using their invention or to allow others to license the right to use the invention. The problem arises when a patent holder (whether the inventor themselves or a Intellectual Properties licensing company) takes a patent and broadly interprets it to mean more than what the patent actually says.

I founded and floundered a dot-com during 1999-2000 where I created technology that allowed a person to use a telephone to record a message and within 30 seconds, the message was digitized into streaming audio formats, with playback via a play button on a website. The technology was well received by so many web companies. One leading dating site at the time remarked that it was the best audio-to-the-web solution.

The problem that my company faced was despite these companies receiving millions and millions of venture capital funding, they didn't want to pay for the service. These companies would rather have a revenue-share on advertising. April 2000 hit the internet world with a bang as the bottom dropped out and investor confidence in the internet space popped.

A year ago, a friend of mine told me they were committing themselves to become a nun. My friend knew of my efforts with my internet startup and as we were talking on the phone about her new direction in life, we both came to the same idea. We realized that my voice technology could be applied to churches, to give the pastors the ability to easily update their website with messages, thoughts, and prayers by using a telephone.

With that moment of inspiration, I blew the dust off the code and created the Spoken Messages website. During the summer of 2003, the site was in beta testing with over 20 chruches and the response was fantastic. We offered a free demo and pastors would call up and talk into the phone, preaching their sermons. The beta testing phase was completed, and the site was about to go live, when a news item caught my attention.

The article talked about a company called Acacia Research that had a patent claim to owning the process of downloading / streaming audio/video files from a server. This immediately caught my attention since it would seem this patent might affect my efforts with Spoken Messages. After reading the patent and reading their "marketing" efforts to "convince" websites to license their patent, I became outraged at what I had been reading.

I personally have downloaded digitized audio and video prior to the patent filing, so I know that what the patent is claiming was already being done in the BBS world.

With the spark of activism, it ignited my sense of right and wrong to start FightThePatent.com

I voluntarily took down Spoken Messages website, winded down my consulting projects, and focused a full time effort in bringing awareness and the searching for prior art.

I contacted Real Networks since I had a license for a Real Server, and they said they couldn't do anything to help unless Acacia was targeting them. The attorney at Real said he had been contacted by other websites that had been targeted by Acacia, but I was the first one to have voluntarily shutdown the website as a response to them. I explained to him the reason was that I have chosen now to be vocal and active in the fight against the patent, that having a website that would appear to infringe on their patent claims would be the fastest way to stop my efforts.

The first targets of Acacia's patent "marketing" plan was to target the Adult Entertainment Industry. A group of them decided to band together to stand up to Acacia. I made contact with Spike Goldberg, leader of the Defense Group, and offered by services of any prior art that I find, along with the volunteer searchers who have joined this fight with me.

In the first month of actively contacting companies and individuals to find prior art, I found that Acacia was not the only company wielding broadly interpreted patents. USA Video has a patent claim to downloading video faster than real time and SightSound had a patent on the paid download of digitized audio or video. My activism was now targeted at patent abuse, and the tracking of these three companies that have an interesting overlap to each other in their claims.

Part of my efforts to bring awareness is to report news items about Acacia and the other patents cases in the form of satirical articles. You will find the more recent articles listed on the front of the site in the blue strip, and an archive of all articles by clicking on the Articles link at the top of the page.

Tidbits of information found are posted in my Patent Log on the front of the site, which is updated continually.

Along the way, I found my calling to dedicate my personal and professional efforts to fighting against patent abuse which was actualized in a proposal to start Fight the Patent Foundation. The idea floundered as I could not raise support for the idea. Starting in Feb 2004, I wound down my full time efforts to go back to pursuing my own ventures, but continually vigilant in tracking these patent abuse cases.

My hope is that companies will finally decide to take a stand against patent abuse and take steps to fight what is wrong. Patent Reform is clearly needed. In the meantime, private entities like the proposed Fight the Patent Foundation, is needed to help businesses deal with companies, who under patent law, that can target companies as being "guilty until proven innocent".

As a visitor to this website, I hope that in becoming aware of these issues of patent abuse, that you will "Get Informed, Get Mad, Get Active" and help business to Fight The Patent.





Brandon has been on the Internet since 1989, before there was the web and has seen it blossom. Old technology combined with a new look is what the web and "new" technologies is all about. Prior to finding the Internet while a freshman at Texas A&M, he was involved in the BBS world, starting with his Timex Sinclair with 16K RAM expansion module and a tape recorder, to one of the first non-IBM XT computers that had REAL IBM ROMS.

He completed his Computer Technology degree from Purdue University and has been involved extensively with internet projects and ventures (founded and floundered a dot-com).

With his experience with computers for over 17 years, Brandon has a broad perspective of computing and networks, from mainframes to PCs.

copyright 2003, FightThePatent.com