San Francisco - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has announced that it will revoke an illegitimate patent on Internet subdomains as a result of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Patent Busting Project campaign.
U.S. Patent No. 6,687,746, now held by Hoshiko, LLC, claimed 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 bogus patent to demand payment from website hosting companies offering personalized domains, such as LiveJournal, a social networking site where each of its three million users may have their own subdomain.
In the original 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 and on Usenet more than a year before Ideaflood filed its patent application. The open source community's public record of the technology development provided the linchpin to EFF's patent challenge.
"In the reexam, the Patent Office systematically rejected each of Hoshiko's arguments as well as the patent claims. We were fortunate to have the Internet Archive and Usenet Archive as proof of the prior work by the open source community," said Rick Mc Leod, who drafted the EFF petition.
"This patent was particularly troubling because the company tried to remove the work of open source developers from the public domain and use it to threaten others," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Ironically, the transparent open source development process gave us the tools to bust the 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. This marks the second patent completely "busted" by the project, which has also resulted in the narrowing of another patent and the ongoing reexaminations of three more. Hoshiko can appeal the decision.
For the notice from the Patent Office:
For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Rick Mc Leod
Klarquist Sparkman, LLP