Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Paul Allen's patent attack, part 2

In a followup to Paul Allen's patent attack, Groklaw writes:
According to a status report filed with the court by Yahoo! (see full text below), the reexamination requests with respect to three of the four patents have been granted, and we should expect to hear about the fourth any day now.

Two of the reexamination requests (those for patents 6263507 and 6034652) were filed as ex parte requests. That means the requesting party has submitted what they believe to be relevant prior art, but it is entirely up to the examiner to assess the relevance of that prior art and apply it with no further input from the requesting party. In the other two cases (patents 6788314 and 6757682) the requests are for inter partes reexaminations, meaning the requesting party is an on-going participant to the reexamination process. Why were two of the requests made ex parte and the other two inter partes? For patents issued with filing dates before November 11, 1999, a requesting party may only request ex parte examination.
Here's a reminder on the patents:
  • 6,263,507: "Browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audio data."
  • 6,034,652 and 6,788,314: "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device"
  • 6,757,682: "Alerting users to items of current interest"

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