Saturday, September 02, 2006

Acacia, ne plus ultra patent troll

The straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, and caused the creation of this blog was the receipt of the letter by a company I am affiliated with. This letter, from Acacia Technologies, was nothing more than an extortion attempt, which any mob boss would be proud of.

In a nutshell, they claim to have a patent on, of all things, hyperlinks when used in conjunction with some sort of distributable media, i.e., CDs or DVDs. This company, like just about all software companies with a retail side, does distribute their products on CDs. On these CDs are documentation, which contain links to web sites for things like tech support, documentation, and in copyright notices. This, Acacia claims, infringes upon their junk patent, #6,314,574. Go ahead and read it now. See if you can make sense of it. I'm not a lawyer by any means, but the convoluted and overly broad language in this document would, I bet, cause laughing fits amonst those who are.

So what we have here is a claim that putting a hyperlink on a CD is patentable. This is clearly bullshit, as I'm sure they well know, and means that nearly every software product in the stores now infringes.

Now, given that this patent is such crap as to be laughable, why would I call their tactics extortionary? Well, in their letter, they use the language I've come to recognize as that of the bully. I've run into it when leasing offices in Manhattan, and setting up trade booths in Chicago: Give us what we want, or "something bad" might happen. Specifically the phrases, "This patent has been enforced via prior litigation" and "We hope to avoice further litigation." and then the offer to "...amicable resolve his matter by licensing the Patent..."

Yeah, just like the guys in Chicago who told me to make sure they plugged in all my extension cords (at $25 a piece) so to make sure I "didn't suddenly lose power in the middle of the show."
I told them to piss off, and if it were up to me, I'd tell these guys to piss off too.

Leeches like these shouldn't be allowed to prosper in our society. Using tactics like these to extort money from legitimate businesses is the sort of thing that should land people in jail, not in articles such as this one from IEEE Spectrum. (More on this article later.)

There will be much more of this soon, my readers. Much more, as we dig up info on these jerks I'm sure they won't want published. But in this day and age, few things can remain hidden for long.



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