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EFF Wins Reexamination of Bogus Internet Subdomain Patent

PRESS RELEASE
November 15, 2007
Fourth Successful Challenge from EFF's Patent-Busting Project

San Francisco - San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won reexamination from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) of a bogus patent on Internet subdomains -- the fourth successful reexamination request from EFF's Patent Busting Project.

The patent, now held by Hoshiko, LLC, claims to cover the method of automatically assigning Internet subdomains, like "action.eff.org" for the parent domain "eff.org." Previous patent owner Ideaflood used this illegitimate patent to demand payment from website hosting companies that offer such personalized domains, including Freehomepage.com, T35 Hosting, and LiveJournal, a social networking site where each of its three million users have their own subdomain.

In the reexamination request, EFF and Rick Mc Leod of Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, showed that the method Ideaflood claimed to have invented was well known before the patent was issued. In fact, website developers were having public discussions about how to create these virtual subdomains on an Apache developer mailing list for more than a year before Ideaflood made its patent claim. The open source developers established a public record of the technology development, providing the linchpin to EFF's patent challenge.

"The hard work of open source developers should not be taken out of the public domain and used to threaten other legitimate innovators," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, who heads EFF's Patent Busting Project. "Fortunately, the open source approach to development helped protect Apache and other web projects by creating the evidence needed to challenge this illegitimate patent."

The challenge to the Ideaflood patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects that bad patents have on public and consumer interests. So far, the project has killed one bogus patent and won reexamination of three others.

"Based on the PTO's initial analysis in the reexamination order, it appears likely that all claims will be rejected in view of the techniques disclosed by Apache developer Ralf Engelschall and others," said Rick Mc Leod, who drafted EFF petition. "We look forward to the PTO's detailed analysis of our request."

For the full reexamination order:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/ideaflood/re-exam_order.pdf

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
http://www.eff.org/patent

Contacts:

Jason Schultz
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org

Rick Mc Leod
Klarquist Sparkman, LLP
rick.mcleod@klarquist.com

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