Kootol Warns Apple, 32 Other Tech Giants of Patent Infringement

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Apple vs.
The patent infringement wars heated up Friday when India-based patent holding company Kootol Software Limited sent letters to Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and 27 other tech giants warning them that they may be violating a patent the company doesn’t have, yet.

Kootol alerted the companies that they may be infringing on a patent the company applied for in the U.S., India, Canada, and the European Union. The patent application in question is called, “A Method and System for Communication, Advertising, Searching, Sharing and Dynamically Providing a Journal Feed,” and appears to cover everything that everyone does every day on every device.

In a press release, the firm said that the purpose, “of serving this notice is to bring the fact to attention of said multiple companies at the very earliest stage so that said companies gets a full opportunity to examine the matter,” and that it was concerned, “that said companies may violate their intellectual property by using it for their websites, networks, applications, services, platforms, operating systems and devices.”

Kootol was kind enough to provide a full list of the companies to which it sent its letter. They are:

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Bharti Airtel Ltd., Webaroo Technology (India) Pvt. Ltd., Amazon, AOL, Nokia, Bebo Inc., ExactTarget Inc., Ford Motor, Foursquare Inc., IBM, Linkedin, MySpace, NING Inc., Research In Motion Inc., Quora Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., Seesmic Inc., Siemens Enterprise Communications Inc., Sina.com Technology Co. Ltd., StatusNet Inc., PopBox Inc., Twitpic Inc., Peek Inc., The Iconfactory Inc., Ubermedia Inc., Yammer Inc., Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to those companies, Kootol said it was sending notice to “several other companies and developers” that it claims are violating its IP. This tidbit suggests that Kootol is planning to target individual developers the same way Lodsys has with its own wave of lawsuits against iOS and Android app developers.

While tech giants like Apple, Google, Motorola, HTC, and Google are fighting their own patent infringement battles with armies of high-dollar attorneys, the vast majority of independent app developers being targeted by Lodsys and possibly Kootol can’t afford such battles.

The Guardian reported that the litigious envirnment in the U.S. pertaining to patents has resulted in some European developers pulling their Android and/or iOS apps out of the U.S. market. For instance, Simon Maddox tweeted on Thursday, “All my apps removed from US ap stores, (all platforms). o.575% of total revenue put in a spare bank account. Screw you, Lodsys.”

Craig Hockenberry of The Iconfactory tweeted, “I became an independent developer to control my own destiny. I no longer do.”

There is at least one difference between the Lodsys suits and Kootol’s letters of intent, and that is that Kootol doesn’t yet have a patent. In addition, by targeting the heart and sould of what Facebook and Twitter do (and everyone else, as noted above) — feed posts in streams that are searchable — Kootol has given those companies the chance to try and lobby the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to deny the broad patent, possibly by arguing prior art.

FOSS Patents noted, however, that “presecution on the merits [of the patent] is closed,” according to a procedural notification from the USPTO. Writing for the site, Florian Mueller wrote that a patent will be issued in the U.S.

Comments

iVoid

Um… I’m not a lawyer, but if Apple and these companies are already violating this future patent, doesn’t that mean that the patent would be invalid due to there being ‘prior works’ that the patent supposedly ‘discovered’?

Bryan Chaffin

iVoid, that would depend on many things, and more. Patents take a while to wend there way through the system, and if this patent was filed before these other companies started doing things that end up being covered by the patent, prior art wouldn’t be an issue.

If filed afterwards, it seems prior art would be an issue.

But I am so NOT an expert in these things. It’s going to be messy.

Robbo

I thought patents like this were disallowed in the EU, or am I mistaken.
Otherwise, I get the feeling that this is either the final straw or very close.
A tiddly little company based out of India, DOESN"T get to walk all over dozens of tech giants without some sort of legislative backlash.

MB

To varying degrees prior art also comes into play there… if you and I create something at or near the same time (without knowing it) and you try to patent it, I could get your patent nullified when it finally does become approved. I know this one first hand (but I am not a lawyer, I still own my soul).

gnasher729

Lodsys is in the funny situation now of being sued by multiple companies for declarative judgements that they are not infringing on Lodsys’ patent. That is one weapon that can be used against patent trolls: Make the trolling as expensive as possible. Each of the 32 companies that received a letter clearly has grounds to sue Kootol for a declaratory judgement of non-infringement (you can sue for declaratory judgement if you can reasonably assume that you are going to be sued, and the letter makes this assumption reasonable). That is 32 court cases.

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