back to article EFF wins request for reexamination of ringtone patent

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to reexamine a controversial patent that covers the distribution of certain types of music files over the internet. The patent, issued in 1997 to Seer Systems, restricts audio streaming, cell phone ringtones and other electronic …


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  1. E


    '...settled confidentially. That would seem to suggest that the EFF's 'book' contention, not my company's patent, is 'bogus.'"'

    Nope. It just suggests the suit was settled confidentially. It says nothing about the reason for the settlement.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I am skeptical

    ..about this guy's claims. I have this niggling suspicion that Microsoft settled because he made it clear that he'd play the tarbaby and cost them a fortune to fight, when they could pay a small amount and make him go away. His pugnacious attitude is probably what promotes this impression. Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit that Microsoft are pragmatic. They are always looking out for their interests- their motivation is to seek the best outcome for microsoft.

    The difference here is that the EFF aren't looking to shut up a patent troll that attacked them, paying it to go away and get back under its bridge, like MS and Yamaha were. Nope, they're actually going after the patent troll- their motivation is to overturn a ludicrous patent rather than anything else, and thus have no motivation to settle confidentially. Moreover, they don't need to pay a fortune, as they have a pretty good go-to list of decent lawyers who will work for free.

    There's no motivation for the EFF to settle. He might think he "took" Microsoft, but they couldn't be arsed to fight, as there was little in it for them- they could have ripped his head off and spat down his neck if they really cared.

    This should be fun to watch.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    My hope

    I hope that they overturn the patent, then force the troll to refund all the license fees he's collected, with interest.

    Use him as an example to the rest of the trolls out there!

    TBH, I don't mind who they use as an example, but I think all patent trolls are scum.

    As a previous poster said, the Microsoft case was just "if(lawyers fees > license fees) pay_license(); else fight_the_bastard();"

    Where's the troll (doll) icon?

  4. Nicholas Ettel

    Invent indeed

    "He says it involves a method for compressing synthesized sounds into a tiny package and reproducing them in real time on electronic devices, an approach few were taking in the early 1990s, when he invented it."

    If there were people already using it - no matter how many - when he "invented" it, did he really invent it?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Just another scum patent troll then

    ...a method for compressing synthesized sounds into a tiny package and reproducing them in real time on electronic devices... What, like a piano-roll?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You mean like

    The Amiga .mod .s3m .mes .smus etc etc etc formats?

  7. Dan Paul

    You mean like the MOOG Synthesizer????

    I just looked at the patent briefly and I'm no expert. However, outside of the MIDI did not this all happen with the MOOG synthesizer a very long time before even Microsoft could have been involved?

  8. Ed

    You mean like the midi format?

    While I didn't manage to produce anything worth saving, I was using something which declared itself MIDI format back in the early 90s. I haven't reviewed all of the claims, but the stuff that I did definitely made use of quite a few of them - and I wasn't doing this as a programmer; I was just futzing around with a program written by someone else.

    For those who are curious, this experience taught me a valuable lesson: If I'm to enjoy music, I need to wait for it to be made by persons far more skilled in music than I am. On the bright side, there are very many of those.

  9. Ivan Headache

    Invented? Few using?

    "He says it involves a method for compressing synthesized sounds into a tiny package and reproducing them in real time on electronic devices, an approach few were taking in the early 1990s, when he invented it."

    I'm no lawyer but...I think that statement pretty much shoots him in the foot.

  10. Shane Mussell

    compressed.. hmm how about -

    If we are talking Mid etc should we not also look at .SID (C64 files) these were the same thing surely (as the person above mentions soundtrack mods too).. Have to laugh at these people sometimes.. Wonder if he will sue me for making my portable music player back in the 90's.. sad...

  11. Martin Owens

    Heh, EFF or Microsoft

    The difference as above is that Microsoft was never out to take you down. Beware highly focused people, who are out to get you and what ever scam your trying to pull.

  12. E

    Newton vs Einstein vs Bohr vs Heisenberg

    It is all very nice argument but you people miss the point: patents are awarded by people who have no idea what the patent applications are about.

    Could Newton have decided between Einstein and Bohr and Heisenberg qua the physics theories bruited in circa 1905 to 1925? Could Newton have understood the place of Rutherford, de Broglie, Dirac, Schroedinger, or Pauli? How about Max Born?! How about Emmy Noether (seriously, she laid down the smack for variational methods that underpin a lot of modern engineering and physics)? Or Hilbert, or du Bois, or Fermat, Snell, Hamilton or Lagrange? Descartes? Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī? Diophantus? Need I mention Euclid?

    Or, God help you, because you simply cannot argue with him, a man from who's brow modern mathematics rose like a leviathan, Gauss? Gauss died about 250 years ago! Yet his work underpins all the scientists and engineers and venture capitalists since!

    IT patents, like physics and math theories, stand 99.9999999999% of the time on the shoulders of past work and ultimately on the shoulders of some giants. You all know that this is true.

    The patent office is run by pygmies. One might inquire whether hiring practices are set via IP and high tech company influence, or is it just a result of pay the lowest bidder to supply the clerks, or is influence exerted at a lower and more corrupt level.

    Patents are used these days to control, for as long as possible, what people who can do, do.

    Time for a patent jubilee, I say.

    Or a revolt of the geeks?

  13. Harry
    Thumb Down

    Since when does "few" mean none?

    "an approach few were taking in the early 1990s, when he invented it."

    If that's his own words, then he's just invalidated his own argument.

    If few people were doing it, then at least one was -- and if one was already doing it, then the patent is void.

    Case closed.

  14. Paul Donnelly


    A piano roll is not necessarily electronic, it could (and is likely to be) clockwork.

    Of course, any artist from the 60's onwards that used the Moob or any other synthesizer (if thats misspelled, my bad) that made recordings, probably had some cassettes made with those noises on. In my book, thats compressing a whole load of synthesized music into a small package.

    Also, walkman's were electronic, minidiscs were electronic, personal cd players, electronic, car stereos, electronic, household stereos, electronic, glastonbury stage rig - electronic, computers - electronic.... so maybe he'd like to tell me what he was going to play music on if it wasnt electronic. He's got a choice between a wind up Gramophone or a musical instrument, and he's already admitted he's no musician.

    Deny him this ludicrous patent!!!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    drink to that

    "I can take the EFF pretty easily."...I'll drink to that.........burp!

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