educational

Webmasters Fight Back

Brandon Shalton

There is a war going on right now with companies that have patent portfolios who have made it their business model to require others to license their patents or face the threat of a shutdown of their businesses...

These patent holders do not make or sell any products. They are companies staffed with attorneys whose bottom line is driven by how many companies they can get to license their patents. Their marketing tools aren’t tradeshow booths or advertisements, but in forms of "information packets", license fee rate structures, cease-and-desist letters, and subpoenas. Acacia Research is one company currently suing adult Webmasters for the downloading of audio and video files.

There is another war going on within the adult industry. Many of the big players, who were looked upon by other webmasters as being leaders for the industry, have settled with Acacia, rather than fighting the patent infringement claims. Some of your peers are fighting back by challenging the patent infringement claims, rather than rolling over.

Besides Acacia, there are two other companies that also have broad patent claims to owning the process of downloading / streaming audio / video files from a Web server. The companies that have licensed Acacia’s patents are only sitting in the eye of the storm. It will only be a matter of time before other patent holders decide to pick on the easy targets: those that have settled with Acacia.

FightThePatent.com was created to bring awareness to patent abuse cases and to help find prior art. My one-man crusade has helped to bring information on potential prior art as well as expert testimony to the defendants battling these patent holders, with no compensation for my time and efforts. Through an exhaustive email, phone, and fax campaign, I have contacted many high-tech companies and individuals to get their attention. Some have responded with pointers to potential prior art, while others have chosen to not get involved.

While Acacia has targeted the adult industry as being "low hanging fruit", they have not singled out the adult Webmaster. They have sent their "information packets" to schools and universities as well.

All new technology finds its way first to the adult industry. As early adopters of technology, adult Webmasters push the limits of technology. It is no surprise that the early adopters of technology are now the targets of alleged patent holders that lay claim to the innovating technologies. The patent abuse cases are not limited to having audio or video files on your website, but also expand into other areas like shopping carts and the use of framed Web pages.

All of my efforts with FightThePatent.com and the observations along the way have formed the beginnings of a non-profit organization called Fight The Patent Foundation ("FTPF"). Through my drive to bring awareness and search for prior art, I came across instances where people who helped create the technology that we all use today decided not to become involved, because this problem doesn’t fall into their backyards. They are comfortable and busy in their own lives. There are many that I have contacted that are passionate about technology and have helped provide prior art evidence, and there are those that wish to be able to fight against patent abuse cases, but don’t know how.

One of FTPF’s founding principles is an altruistic approach to finding prior art. The core concepts of FTPF to get people to help find prior art and to contribute testimony is based on the movie Pay It Forward. The idea is to compensate expert witnesses for their testimony and prior art evidence by donating to their favorite charities with a donation in their name. The effort they contribute is "paid forward" by helping other people. For the defendants of a patent abuse case, this means they are provided with evidence to refute and invalidate the patent infringement claims at no cost. The expert witness is able to help other people through financial and tangible (computers, software, etc.) contributions donated by FTPF in their name.

Money is not a motivating factor for most people to want to come forward and to spend time out of their lives to provide testimony and evidence. The novel approach to using donations as compensation is the motivating factor that will inspire people to want to help fight against patent abuse claims, and know that their contributions will help so many people in so many different ways.

Fight The Patent Foundation needs funding to start operations and to execute on its vision. FTPF is coming to the adult industry to seek donations to kick-start the organization. Our pledge drive has the goal to raise $250,000. No money will be collected until the goal has been reached. Webmasters can show their support and have a way of "fighting back" by contributing a one-time donation of $100. If the goal is reached, then FightThePatent.com will become Fight The Patent Foundation and will incorporate as a 501(c)3 (non-profit organization). Each Webmaster will be asked to then write a check or pay by credit card for the donation amount that they pledged. If the goal is not reached, then no money is collected and FTPF will have failed in its attempt to bring the adult Internet community together to fight against a common foe. FTPF will be a non-profit organization, so the donation is tax deductible.

It has been said to me many times that it would be easier to raise the donations from the larger companies. As you have read on message boards and in news articles, the larger companies are settling with Acacia, allowing their accountants and attorneys to do the math: 2% of GROSS revenue for licensing fees is cheaper than spending $xxx in a lawsuit. Other patent holders will have similar licensing structures, so all of this is not just about Acacia, it's about all of the additional companies looking to make money by licensing interpreted versions of their patents.

Get INFORMED about these patent abuse cases at FightThePatent.com. Get MAD about the way these businesses are behaving, and finally, get ACTIVE by pledging support for FTPF.

Learn more about me, the people supporting this idea, and the Fight The Patent Foundation Pledge Drive.

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