Written by Brandon Shalton



The World Wide Web is built upon many Internet technologies that were created by innovative individuals and companies in government, military, academia, and private sector.

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web could have patented his idea, but instead, offered it for all to freely use. It is this same kind of spirit that created much of the technology that we use today.

The spirit of innovation is currently under attack by patent abuse cases by companies that are applying an approved patent, and interpreting the patent to be much broader or applicable to the area of computing and Internet, to seek licensing of the interpreted patent, usually without any product to offer.

The interpreted version of the patents claim ownership to ideas and processes that existed before the filing date of the patents. Patent Law has provisions to invalidate a patent by finding prior art (evidence that the idea existed at least one year before the patent filing date), but it takes a civil court of law, not the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to disprove the patent infringement claims.

Observations that helped form FTPF

There are plenty of expert witnesses who could come forward, but many are apathetic and sometimes not willing to come forward and become involved because the problem doesn't fall in their backyard.

Some people that I have contacted have told me they are "happy" that the Porn websites are being targeted and they actually applaud the efforts by Acacia. The media outlets who have covered the stories, always focus on the Adult Industry. When I tell people that Acacia has also targeted universities like Eastern Michigan, and schools like Moraine Park Technical College, they become silent, in realizing that these patent abuse cases aren't just about porn.

Attorneys may not be able to find the right prior art evidence due to not having first hand knowledge of computing and Internet history. My experiences span 17 years of active computing development, from mainframes to PC, from BBS to the Web. Prior Art can be found in different forms and the trick is to be able to connect those different items to the infringement claim. Computer "Geeks" and "Tech Heads" understand the technology, and when presented with patent infringement claims, they immediately start to point out technology that they observed that could prove the patent to be invalid. Some want to help, but they just don't how or are not aware because most patent abuse cases aren't widely covered in the media.

For those that didn't watched the movie 'Pay It Forward' starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment, the concept of Pay It Forward, as presented in the book and in the Warner Brothers movie release is best summarized by the character Haley (from the website):

If someone did you a favor - something big, something you couldn't do on your own - and instead of paying it back, you paid it foward to three people... and the next day, they each paid it forward to three more . And the day after that, those 27 people each paid it forward to another three, and each day, everyone in turn paid it forward to three more people, that comes to 4,782,969 people.

Fight the Patent Foundation builds upon the observations of human behavior and combines them with the 'Pay it Forward' concept to create the founding idea behind the organization:

Expert Witnesses who come forward to help provide prior art and testimony in a patent abuse case, would be compensated, not by paying them a fee or a bounty, but instead, a charitable donation is made in their name to their favorite charity. Most people are comfortable in their lives, that money is not the motivator to come forward. The motivation to participate would be based on their shared belief that a patent infringement case was unjust, that they could do their part to invalidate a patent, and in return for that bit of activism, their efforts are paid forward to help other people. Their expert testimony and evidence will benefit everyone from the companies that are defending themselves in litigation, to websites and companies who will benefit from invalidating a broad patent claim, to the organization that the donation was made to.

I believe that it this altruistic approach that FTPF will be able to make a difference.

FTPF will also use a grassroots approach to finding prior art by enlisting an army of volunteer searchers. People will submit their prior art finds to the website and will be rated by the submission. Points will be awarded for the prior art leads turning into prizes. Being a non-profit means that companies can donate prizes to the cause.

FTPF would build a stellar Board of Directors that will inspire prior art experts to come forward and help. Combined with the altruistic approach to fighting patent abuse cases and a recognizeable Board of Directors, Fight The Patent Foundation will be able to fight the fight by financial contributions from companies who haven't been served with infringement papers, but have alot to lose if they did.

copyright 2003, FightThePatent.com