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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: January 2008

January 31, 2008

Illegitimate Patent Chills Innovation in Multi-Player Internet Games

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging a bogus online gaming patent threatening small businesses and innovators of multi-player Internet games.

Sheldon F. Goldberg was awarded the illegitimate patent for the "method and system of playing games on a network," and claims to own rights in all online gaming systems that use tournament-style play, advertising, and have real-time updates of ladder-rankings in multi-player games. Goldberg has used this bogus patent to coerce licensing fees from numerous small businesses, demanding payments that are excessive yet less than potential litigation.

In a reexamination request filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today, EFF and Paul Grewal and Brad Waugh of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder show that the technology covered by the bogus patent was used extensively by other online gaming companies before Goldberg made his claim.

"The Internet has allowed small businesses and individuals seeking to develop new technologies to operate on a level playing field with larger corporations," said EFF Intellectual Property Fellow Emily Berger. "This equality is threatened by those who seek to procure patents from our government that they were never entitled to hold in the first place."

One of the key sources of information in EFF's reexamination request came from Netrek, one of the first online multi-player games. Netrek primarily consists of open-source software, and its code development has been archived online.

"Real innovation by others suffers in light of meritless claims like those in Mr. Goldberg's patent," said Paul Grewal. "We are confident that the Patent Office will carefully review the arguments we have presented in our petition."

Students from the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School also carried out extensive research for the reexamination request, helping locate much of the critical evidence of prior use of technologies covered by Goldberg's patent.

This reexamination request is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. So far, the project has killed one patent covering a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances. Three more reexaminations are underway by the USPTO due to the Patent Busting Project's efforts.

For the full reexamination request: http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/sheldon/reexam/goldberg_reexam_request.pdf

For more on the Goldberg Patent:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/patent.php?p=sheldon

For more on the Patent Busting Project:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/

Contacts:

Emily Berger
Intellectual Property Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
emily@eff.org

Paul Grewal
Partner
Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder
pgrewal@daycasebeer.com

Related Issues:
January 30, 2008

Muslim Group Files Motion, Answer to Michael Savage in Federal District Court

***This press release is from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and EFF is distributing it on its behalf***

Washington, D.C. - Washington, D.C. - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked a federal judge in California to throw out what it termed a "baseless" lawsuit by syndicated radio talk show host Michael Savage.

Late last year, Savage sued CAIR for copyright infringement after the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization posted brief audio clips from his October 29, 2007, program on its website.

In those clips, Savage, whose "The Savage Nation" program airs on more than 300 radio stations nationwide, screamed attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Quran. CAIR called on radio listeners of all faiths to contact companies that advertise on Savage's program to express their concerns about the host's anti-Muslim bigotry.

A community and interfaith coalition, called Hate Hurts America, was also formed in response to Savage's rhetorical attacks on Muslims and Islam.

CAIR filed an answer to Savage's suit as well as a motion for judgment on the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A hearing is set for March 7, 2008 in that court.

In its motion, CAIR stated, in part:

"Viewed in its entirety, Savage's Complaint is simply a camouflaged defamation or disparagement claim dressed as bogus copyright and RICO claims...Savage's legal broadside specifically targets CAIR as a civil rights organization and its core political speech responding to and criticizing Savage's inflammatory political rhetoric. As the nation's largest civil rights organization for Muslims, CAIR appropriately characterized Savage's own words as an 'Anti-Muslim Tirade' and publicly communicated a detailed response as part of its advocacy work."

"Michael Savage's frivolous and baseless lawsuit is a direct attack on First Amendment freedoms and on any citizen's right to comment on public issues," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili. "His suit is an abuse of the judicial system and a transparent attempt to punish those who challenge his hate-filled rhetoric."

She added that CAIR's public criticism of Savage's remarks is clearly protected by both the First Amendment and copyright law.

CAIR is represented in this case by the law firms Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

For CAIR's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings:
http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/CAIR_Savage_motion.pdf

For Hate Hurts America:
http://www.hatehurtsamerica.com/news.php

Contacts:

Ahmed Rehab
Media Relations Director
CAIR
arehab@cair.com

Amina Rubin
Communications Coordinator
CAIR
arubin@cair.com

About CAIR:

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Related Issues:
January 25, 2008

New Legislation Could Clear Path for Telecom Spying Lawsuits to Proceed in Court

Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, January 29, at 9:30 a.m, members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on reform of the state secrets privilege, which the Executive Branch has often used in recent years to hinder judicial inquiry into controversial anti-terrorism policies such as the CIA's rendition program and the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.

Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will appear at Tuesday's hearing to explain how the Administration has abused the privilege by seeking dismissal of all lawsuits concerning the NSA program -- including EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for assisting with the NSA -- based on blanket assertions of secrecy. Bankston will urge the committee to pass legislation to reform the privilege and clear the way for such lawsuits to proceed in court fairly and securely. Such reform is the most appropriate response to phone companies like AT&T that are lobbying Congress for retroactive amnesty, based on the claim that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege prevents them from defending themselves.

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government. A recent poll found that 57 percent of likely voters opposed letting the telecoms off the hook for these suits.

WHO:
Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHAT:
Oversight Hearing on Reform of the State Secrets Privilege
U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

WHERE:
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

WHEN:
9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, January 29

For more on the hearing:
http://judiciary.house.gov/oversight.aspx?ID=404

For more on the NSA spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
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