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EFF Asks Public to Identify Bad Patents in Patent Busting Contest

June 10, 2004

EFF Asks Public to Identify Bad Patents in Patent Busting Contest

Organization Seeking Ten Patents to Challenge

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on the public to help identify patents that are having negative effects on Internet innovation and free expression. As part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, EFF seeks nominations for the ten worst offenders in the world of intellectual property. Winners will become the first targets for the project's team of attorneys, technologists and experts, who will file "re-examination" requests with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), asking the agency to revoke the patents.

EFF staff attorney Jason Schultz, who heads the project, said he can't wait to see what the contest turns up. "We have seen illegitimate patents asserted on such simple technologies as one-click online shopping, video streaming, and paying with credit cards online. When individuals and small businesses are faced with million-dollar legal demands, they have no choice but to capitulate and pay license fees. We aim to change that."

To qualify for the contest, a bad patent has to be more than just stupid and invalid. It must be issued in the United States and be software or Internet-related. Also, the patent owner must be actively threatening or suing people for licensing fees. Contest judges are particularly interested in patents for technologies that enable free expression, such as streaming video, blogging tools, and voice over IP (VoIP). "Patent owners who claim control over communication tools can threaten anyone who uses them, even for personal or non-commercial purposes," explained Schultz. "Overreaching patent claims unfairly reduce the tremendous benefits that software and technology bring to freedom of expression."

The contest opens today and closes on June 23. Winners will be announced on June 30.

Check out the Patent Busting Contest.

Contact:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x112

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