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SOCNET  December 2003

SOCNET December 2003

Subject:

Re: NYTimes.com Article: Patents

From:

Bienenstock Elisa <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Bienenstock Elisa <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 2 Dec 2003 14:32:48 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (389 lines)

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****

Hi everybody. I talked very informally to my friend. What he gave me is
not legal advice but a gut reaction. Some of this may be redundant at
some level, but this is what I found out. I hope this helps.

First of all, the patent has already been issued so the only recourse is
to file a "third party reexamine". This is expensive (~7000 dollars) and
may also be unnecessary if the "company" that holds the patent does not
intend on enforcing it. Unfortunately, from the tone of the article it
sounds as though Tribe and LinkedIn intend to "enforce it."

Our first strategy may be to try to convince Tribe and LinkedIn that
they paid 700,000 dollars for a patent that really shouldn't be a patent
and have them make the challenge to YouthStream. That way they would
foot the bill. It occurred to me that if we make them aware that we
might challenge the patent if they try to enforce it they may be less
inclined to try to enforce it.

If Tribe and LinkedIn are not "cooperative" our recourse is to file a
Third Party Reexamine. If we do this we, as a community, have to be
certain we can undermine the "the claims" made in the patent. Some of
the claims are directly related to the computer / web design of the
system, which we might not have any inclination to challenge. With
regard to the network related claims (~30 and up) if we feel the claim
are "obvious", then some or all can be challenged. By "obvious" I was
told the patent office means that there was 1) motivation in prior arts
to do what the claims state and 2) a motivation expressed somewhere to
do this. A point I want to emphasize is that we can "change" the scope
of the patent by challenging some of the claims even if others may not
be "obvious."

Below are the claims:

We claim:

1. A networking database system comprising:

a communication port;

a web server connected to the communication port;

a database containing a plurality of records;

a database server connected to the database for operating on said
database;

a database connectivity engine connected to the web server for
preprocessing the output of the web server and connected to the database
server;

a queue watcher coupled to said database server for queuing outgoing
e-mails;

a mail server operatively connected to the communication port to receive
incoming e-mails, and connected to said queue watcher to transmit
outgoing e-mail; and

a parser connected to the mail server to process incoming e-mails and
connected to the database server;

wherein the database server is responsive to the parser processing to
manipulate a record in the database, and selected ones of said plurality
of records are linked to
selected other ones of said plurality of records by a confirmed defined
relationship or a denied defined relationship.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein a first incoming e-mail contains a
formcode and the parser is operable to identify the formcode, wherein
the database server
responds to the identified formcode to update or generate records in
said database.

3. The system of claim 1 further comprising a network coupled to said
web server at said communication port operable to connect a first user
to said web server.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein the network supports communications of
said incoming and outgoing e-mails.

5. The system of claim 3 wherein said first incoming e-mail is
associated with a first user and a first outgoing e-mail is associated
with a second user and wherein the
first incoming e-mail and first outgoing e-mail further comprise
information regarding a first relationship between said first user and
said second user.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein said plurality of records further
comprises a first record and a second record corresponding to said first
and second users,
respectively, and wherein said database server operates on said first
and second records to update said first relationship between said first
record and said second
record to one of a confirmed defined relationship and a denied defined
relationship.

7. The system of claim 6 further comprising a third user on said
network, wherein said database server updates said second record in
response to an incoming e-mail
and a formcode in an e-mail from said third user.

8. The system of claim 6 further comprising a third user on said
network, wherein said database server updates said second record in
response to an input from said
third user at said communication port.

9. The system of claim 6 wherein each of said plurality of records
further includes a security code.

10. The system of claim 9 further comprising an input corresponding to
said second user, the input being a function of said security code, and
wherein said input
contains data corresponding to said second user.

11. The system of claim 10 further comprising a third user on said
network, wherein said input further comprises a second relationship
between said second user and
said third user and the database server is operable to transmit a second
outgoing e-mail to said third user.

12. The system of claim 11 wherein said plurality of records further
comprises a third record corresponding to said third user, and wherein
said second relationship is
one of a confirmed defined relationship or a denied defined relationship
and wherein said database stores said second relationship in said second
and third records.

13. The system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of records further
comprise at least one of the group consisting of demographic data and
relationship data.

14. The system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of records further
comprise a personal profile component wherein said personal profile
component is modifiable by a
user.

15. A method for creating a networking database system having a
communication port and a database for storing data in a plurality of
records comprising:

(a) receiving a first input at said communication port containing a
first set of data corresponding to a first user, said first set of data
including a relationship between
said first user and a second user;

(b) storing the first set of data in a first record of said database;

(c) determining a first relationship between a first user and a second
user from said first set of data;

(d) transmitting a first e-mail to said second user, the first e-mail
containing information that is a function of at least said first
relationship;

(e) creating a second record in said database corresponding to said
second user; and

(f) receiving a second input at said communication port from said second
user in response to said first e-mail, wherein said second input
contains status information
corresponding to said first relationship.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein step (b) further comprises updating
the first record in response to said second input and step (f) further
comprises storing said
status in said first and second records.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein step (f) further comprises receiving
said status information as one of a confirmed relationship, a denied
relationship and
non-responsive input.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein step (f) further comprises receiving
an e-mail from said second user.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising receiving a third input at
said communication port containing a second set of data corresponding to
said second user,
said second set of data including a second relationship between said
second user and a third user, and storing said second set of data in
said second record of the
database.

20. The method of claim 19 further comprising determining a second
relationship between said second user and a third user from said second
set of data.

21. The method of claim 20 further comprising transmitting a second
e-mail to said third user, the third e-mail containing information that
is a function of said second
relationship.

22. The method of claim 21 further comprising establishing a third
record in said database corresponding to the third user, said third
record including said second
relationship.

23. The method of claim 15 wherein step (d) further comprises generating
a security code corresponding to said second user, and transmitting said
security code in
said first e-mail.

24. The method of claim 23 wherein said second input is a function of
said security code and said method further comprises receiving a third
input at said
communication port.

25. A networking database apparatus comprising;

means for communicating on a network having a communications port for
receiving an input of data and transmitting an outgoing e-mail;

means for storing a first record and a second record in a database in
response to a first data input from a first user, said first data input
including information about a
relationship between said first user and a second user, wherein said
first and second records correspond to the first user and the second
user, respectively;

means for transmitting a first e-mail to said second user in response to
said determined relationship, the first e-mail being a function of said
first relationship; and

means for receiving a second data input from said second user in
response to said first e-mail, wherein said second data input comprises
status information about
said first relationship.

26. The apparatus of claim 25 further comprising means for updating said
status information in said first and second records in response to said
second data input
from the second user wherein said status information is one of a
confirmed relationship and a denied relationship.

27. The apparatus of claim 26 wherein the second data input further
comprises an e-mail from said second user.

28. The apparatus of claim 26 further comprising a web site and wherein
said second data input comprises data entered at the web site by the
second user.

29. The apparatus of claim 25 further comprising means for generating a
security code associated with said second user, wherein said first
e-mail further includes the
security code.

30. The apparatus of claim 29 further comprising means for updating said
second record in response to said second data input from said second
user, said second
data input being a function of said security code.

31. The apparatus of claim 30 wherein said second data input further
comprises information about a second relationship between said second
user and a third user,
and further comprising means for transmitting a second e-mail to said
third user in response to said second data input.

32. A method for creating a networking database system comprising the
steps of:

receiving from a first individual a first set of data relating to said
first individual, said first set of data including at least one name and
address of a second individual and a relationship between said first
individual and the second individual, storing the first set of data in a
first record of said database;
transmitting a first message to said second individual at said address,
said first message inviting the second individual to join the database
by providing a second set of data relating to said second individual,
said second set of data including at least one name and address of a
third individual and including a relationship between said second
individual and the third individual;

receiving from the second individual the second set of data; and
storing the second set of data in a second record of said database,
whereby, by repeated iterations of the steps of receiving data from one
individual that provides information about that individual and provides
the name, address and
a relationship with another individual, transmitting a message to said
another individual and inviting said another individual to submit
information about himself or
herself and the name, address and a relationship with still another
individual, a database is established specifying information about the
individuals and their
relationships.

33. The method of claim 32 further comprising the step of inviting the
second individual to confirm the relationship between the first
individual and the second
individual that is described by the first individual.

34. The method of claim 33 further comprising the step of confirming the
relationship between the first individual and the second individual.

35. The method of claim 32 wherein the address of the second individual
is an e-mail address and the first message is an e-mail.

36. The method of claim 32 wherein each individual is identified by a
name and an e-mail address and messages to the individuals are e-mail
messages.



Danyel Fisher wrote:
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****
>
> I just forwarded the last note to a friend who is post-bar, has worked
> at a patent law office for a few years, and has a master's in computer
> science. The friend is not yet technically a lawyer, so this is NOT
> legal advice; for that reason, this message is being sent to you
> anonymously.
>
> I find the note somewhat bizarre; apparently, you need to pay to file a
> prior art notification! The US patent system, as others on this thread
> have commented, is oriented around the idea that patents are issued
> first, and defeated later, rather than the other way around.
>
> Danyel Fisher
>
> --------------------
>  From L:
>
> those are hard questions.  Regarding whether it would be helpful to send
> a letter talking about what obviousness is in your branch of science, it
> depends on the clout the letter author has -- if it's someone famous, a
> better idea would be to go through the USPTO channels somehow (I don't
> know if they do any educational seminars or some such, but if they do,
> that would be your best bet), because the letter would likely be
> ignored, especially if it's not related to a particular patent -- they
> must get thousands of such letters, and, knowing something about the way
> their mail room is, they are probably all still being "sorted."
>
>  From what I could see, there was a specific patent that issued that
> gave you a pause.  There is officially a procedure to send prior art for
> the issued patents to the USPTO, and anyone can do it.  However, most of
> the time, it's not done, and not just because of the cost (which is
> somewhere in $1k-$2k, I think), but because, in the long run, it can end
> up making the patent stronger rather than weaker (yes, that's the bad
> side effect of the current system).
>
> basically, if you send the art, you are not really allowed to comment on
> it, and you are most certainly not allowed to comment or even see what
> the patentee says about the art you sent.  So imagine you send your best
>  prior art, the patentee manages to argue around it (hey, they got the
> patent in the first place, which means the examiner was not all that
> good about distinguishing what's obvious and what's not -- who says
> he'll be any better this time?).  Then they sue you. You go to court and
> try to show this very same art, but it's now already been considered by
> the USPTO, and the patent is presumed valid in view of it, so you have a
> much higher burden of proof to bear than before.  In addition to the
> legalities of having the burden of proof on you, rather than on them,
> try convincing a jury of twelve men who've only heard of words "network"
> as in having to do with Internet, that this article, which was already
> considered by the Examiner -- supposedly educated in this branch of
> science -- and discarded as irrelevant, really is relevant.
>
> Quite sad, really, but that's how it is now. I suppose if you have
> several articles, you can try the tactic of sending some of them while
> holding the rest should you ever need them.  If they do sue you, your
> best bet is to show it to them and say "you better settle now, else
> you'll end up with no patent."
>
> If they haven't gotten the patent yet -- if it's only a published
> application, you can try letting them know about this prior art
> (although they probably do, and, once again, it can only make it stronger).
>
> As always, I'm not a lawyer or even a patent agent, so none of this is a
> legal advice.
> -----
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.

--
Elisa Jayne Bienenstock
Booz Allen Hamilton
3190 Fairview Park Drive
Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 703-289-5617
Fax: 703-289-5156

_____________________________________________________________________
SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
network researchers (http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/). To unsubscribe, send
an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.

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