Neural Network Applications to Image Copyright Infringement

Neural network image copyright applications

As neural networks and artificial intelligence expand, companies such as Google (GOOG: Alphabet) can employ neural networks for the purpose detecting copyright infringement in photos used on websites (blogs) and uploaded to the internet.  Neural network image copyright applications will no doubt be an application of artificial intelligence in the intellectual property arena.  Having the ability to scan hundreds of thousands of images a second, an AI neural network can be tasked to look for a certain image. Computer imaging technology can convert a simple picture into a digital matrix (e.g., a “red, green, blue” matrix) of digital values which is fed into the neural network.  From there images across the internet can be searched using Logistic Regression to determine which images likely infringe the copyrighted image.

How to understand a neural network search for copyrighted images

To understand how a neural network image copyright search would apply to the real world, we can think of the neural network as a dog which is tasked to “sniff” out the smell of a lost child. The child’s personal item (e.g., a jacket belonging to that lost child) is digitized (akin to the digitization of a copyrighted image) and is placed under the nose of the dog (fed into the neural network) so that it can obtain the scent of the child. The dog then proceeds to search for the lost child (just as the neural network searches for images that are identical to [or “substantially similar” to, as copyright law would have it]), thus finding the lost child.

Using Logistic Regression to Explain How a Neural Network Would Search For a Copyrighted Image

Techy Stuff: To get a bit into the mechanics of how the ocean of images on the internet could be classified as being a “match” or not to the image fed into the neural network, the computer would “score” the probability of whether each image is a match or not. As such, the neural network would employ something called “Logistic Regression,” where it identifies each of the data points of the digitized image as “x”, and it would plot the values on a y = wx + b graph. However, since we are looking for probability values between zero (0) and one (1), we would be looking for the “sigma” of wx + b / z [where “z” is the x-axis, and “sigma” values range from almost 0 (0% match) to almost 1 (100% match), although never touching 0% or 100% because we can never be 100% sure of whether an image is a match or not]. The output of this (sigma ((w x + b) / z)) is called “y hat”.

With artificial intelligence and the deployment of neural networks, an intellectual property right holder (a copyright holder) could easily search for and identify images that are substantially similar to their copyrighted image.

Techy Stuff: With the application of logistic regression, the way a neural network “understands” whether the results it is outputting [based on the algorithm(s) you fed it] are accurate or not. A neural network does this by comparing the “y hat” to the “y” (a digitized version of the original item). This comparison between the “y hat” output and the original is called the “loss function” for that particular output. This is akin to comparing a random object the dog searching for the lost child comes across as matching the scent of the lost child. In the copyright infringement analogy, the loss function is the comparison of the image posted on a website to the copyrighted image).

Measuring and adjusting the efficiency of neural networks using loss functions and cost functions.

Cost functions are something slightly different. A cost function measures the overall effectiveness of a search, taking into consideration the outputs of the loss function. Once the cost function (“J”) is obtained (to learn how effective the outputs of a neural network is), a neural network would then begin to employ something called a “gradient descent.” Think of the results of the cost function as an inverted parachute, and on every point of the inverted parachute (except the center at the lowest point), there is a slope. The lowest point is the point where the results of the neural network are most accurate. Thus, the neural network will analyze the slope at every point and it will sidestep either to the right or the left (on the parachute) until it finds itself at the lowest point. This allows the neural network to minimize its cost function and output the most accurate results.

[NOTE: While I am attempting to simplify the idea of the concepts of “logistic regression,” a “loss function” and a “cost function,” the point is that in order to understand what a neural network is, it is important to understand what a neural network does. Thus far, it appears to me as if a neural network employs a logistic regression in order to compare one object to another.]

How neural network image copyright applications can and will be misused

While the difficulties which arise as the copyright holder then retains an attorney to seek significant monetary damages are a direct result and will be a significant issue to contend with in coming years and decades, the topic of monetary enforcement of the copyright rights are outside the scope of this article.

Bottom Line about neural network image copyright applications

In sum, we already know that a computer can digitize an image by separating out the image into sections (a matrix), and it can assign values to the red, green, and blue matrices. These matrices can be fed into a neural network just as the jacket of a lost child can be given to a dog to obtain the child’s scent. Through logistic regression, the neural network can scan and rate the probability of whether a particular image is a match (“y hat”) for the image being searched for. Further, the neural network can identify locations and websites on the internet where the image has been used (from there, it could be fed into a simple database to 1) identify the owner of the website, and 2) to match those owners displaying the copyrighted image with the copyright holder’s own database of individuals and companies (licensees) who have paid for the right (who have obtained a paid license) to display that copyrighted image on their website.

Neural Networks, Deep Learning, and AI applications to Patent Law

Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence Advances will need to benefit from the Intellectual Property Laws

Neural networks and real world applications of artificial intelligence will require the protection of the intellectual property law in order to benefit the companies and programmers creating the new innovations. In the coming weeks and months I will be attempting to apply concepts of deep learning and neural networks to copyright law and patent law. Most of you know my name is Robert Z. Cashman, and I am a patent attorney and the owner of the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC located in Houston, Texas. While most of my time is spend defending clients who are accused of misusing bittorrent networks, I did start my law firm with the intention of protecting ideas and furthering technology. And, in today’s fast paced world, what better technology is there to discuss other than artificial intelligence (A.I.), neural networks, and deep learning.

Are Artificial Intelligence applications of neural networks patentable?

For the budding attorney, the best way to understand neural networks is that it is code, likely copyrightable and patentable (if it accomplishes a useful goal). Obviously you can’t patent an idea, nor can you patent an algorithm (see the Metabolite v. Labcorp paper I wrote almost twelve years ago), nor can you patent the correlation between two sets of data and the interpretation thereof (a “thinking step” linking the two together). Thus, the mechanics of a neural network and how it works might not be patentable, but how that neural network is applied in the context of creating a useful result IS likely patentable (especially if it is tied to a machine).

Thus, as you can see, a neural network and the way it is programmed and applied to achieve an end result IS protectable, IS likely patentable, and thus can be understood as being PROPERTY. Thus, it can be protected with a patent, it can be sold or assigned to another individual or entity, and it can be copied or stolen in violation of the copyright laws.

I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start off with some basic definitions so that any non-scientific person will understand how and why a neural network or deep learning in general could be useful to them.

What is a neural network and how can artificial intelligence make use of AI to provide a useful result?

A neural network is a program that uses data fed into it in order to output a result.

For example, as explained by Andrew Ng, the founder of deeplearning.ai, if someone has a set of data (e.g., a list of homes in a particular zip code, along with various houses that have been sold and for what prices), and they also have other sets of data (such as how many bedrooms a family of a particular size requires, and the walking distance of each house in a neighborhood to the local school), a neural network can crunch the data to determine which house is most appropriate for which family (e.g., which house has the correct number of bedrooms), which house best meets that family’s needs based on the ages of their children (e.g., which house is closest to the school), and the predicted price of that house based on past sales, an artifical intelligence neural network would be able to help that family choose the best home for the least amount of money that satisfies that family’s needs.

Size of the neural network matters.

In the artifical intelligence world, the size and type of the neural network required to achieve a particular result will become a relevant consideration. For example, if a local real estate broker is looking to provide an artificial intelligence service that can help place families into the best homes for their needs, and he is only looking to do so in a small area (e.g., a small dataset), he would need the use of only a small neural network.

However, if that real estate broker was looking to scale up and expand the scope of that service to the entire state, or even all of the real estate in the US, he would require a significantly larger neural network.

SUMMARY: AI applications of neural networks are likely copyrightable and patentable.

In sum, the takeaway from this article is that artificial intelligence runs its code using neural networks, and the code itself is likely copyrightable, and the application of that code is patentable. The code itself is protected from others stealing, copying, or using the code without authorization, and doing so can be either considered copyright infringement or patent infringement, depending on how the neural networks are coded.


[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about neural networks, deep learning, or artificial intelligence applications in general (or how to protect something you have created), you can e-mail us at info[at]cashmanlawfirm.com, you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your AI application, or you can SMS or call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number)].

CONTACT FORM: If you have a question or comment about what I have written, and you want to keep it *for my eyes only*, please feel free to use the form below. The information you post will be e-mailed to me, and I will be happy to respond.

NOTE: No attorney client relationship is established by sending this form, and while the attorney-client privilege (which keeps everything that you share confidential and private) attaches immediately when you contact me, I do not become your attorney until we sign a contract together.  That being said, please do not state anything “incriminating” about your case when using this form, or more practically, in any e-mail.

TorrentLawyer blog – Defending ‘pirates’ against ‘pirates’.

It is now April 23rd, 2017, almost eight (8) years since I wrote my last post on the CashmanIP blog.  These past eight years, our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC has written over 200+ articles on the topic of copyright trolling, and how to expose and fight against their scheme.  We have represented literally hundreds (the number has likely reached into the thousands at this point) of defendants accused of copyright infringement in federal courts across the U.S.

Our goal was to defend ‘pirates’ against, well, ‘pirates.’  There is no justification to rationalize the ‘theft’ of copyrighted materials (unless you believe the growing meme that ‘copying is not stealing‘).  However, with the copyright trolling problem, malicious companies who create questionable content anticipate (and sometimes encourage) the illegal dissemination of that content via the peer-to-peer / bittorrent networks.  They hire companies to track the bittorrent networks and lawyers to file copyright infringement lawsuits scaring accused downloaders with $150,000 statutory damages.  Their intention is not to fight the case on the merits (which is a misuse of the court’s resources), but rather, to extort or solicit a multi-thousand dollar settlement from each defendant who clicked on a bittorrent link.

The reason I call the plaintiff attorneys / copyright trolls ‘pirates’ is because their extortion scheme takes advantage of an imbalance in the access to information (and access to the federal courts).  These copyright troll ‘pirates’ file hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of “John Doe” lawsuits in multiple federal courts, using the same boilerplate filings for each and every case.  An accused defendant, however, has no knowledge or ability to fight or defend in a federal court, so they are forced to hire an attorney (someone like me) to defend them both in-and-out of the court.  The costs are so much greater for the accused ‘John Doe’ defendant (many of whom are falsely accused and did not do the download, or cannot afford to pay an attorney to defend them), and because of this, they are taken advantage of by the copyright holders / copyright trolls who filed the lawsuits.  This is why I call the copyright trolls ‘pirates’ as well.

I called that blog the “TorrentLawyer” blog, and it can be found on https://www.torrentlawyer.com.

Powerful Lesson on Settling a Patent Litigation Case & Avoiding Greed.

[Originally published by Robert Z. Cashman, Patent Litigation Attorney on Oct 1, 2009.]

There is a short and simple lesson in today’s article from law.com, “Federal Judge Tosses Out $388 Million Patent Verdict Against Microsoft” written today by Alison Frankel from the American Lawyer.

Last April, Paul Hayes of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo representing Uniloc in a patent infringement lawsuit won a $388 million dollar patent infringement verdict against Microsoft. Today, Judge William Smith from the Rhode Island federal district court vacated the $388 million jury verdict and ruled as a matter of law that Microsoft did not infringe Uniloc’s patent, stating that the jury did not understand the issues when they gave their ruling in Uniloc’s favor.

The lesson here is that while every patent litigator has his or her day in court, so to speak, “going all the way” [to trial] in a patent litigation suit is not always the most responsible course of action. In trial, many twists and turns can occur where within the dance between the patent litigation attorneys, results may surface with a motion, a hearing, or a ruling which can destroy an otherwise valid case of patent infringement. On top of that, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are set up to reward the party that offers to settle and penalize the party who pushes their case to trial after a settlement where their case is found not to have merit. For example, if a defendant in a patent lawsuit offers to settle and the plaintiff refuses the offer, even if the case ends up in the favor of the plaintiff, if the judgment is for an amount that is equal or less than the amount that was offered in the offer to settle, the defendant can ask for sanctions and attorney fees for the time and money spent fighting the case after they offered to settle. (This was actually the source for a defense tactic that I suggested to my peers when interning at Scully, Scott, Murphy and Presser PC, a subject to be discussed in another article.) Returning to the content of this article, the point is that going to trial has its benefits and its risks.

An alternative strategy to consider is settling the claims out of court. Too often in patent litigation (both with regard to plaintiffs who are suing because a company stole their patented idea and the companies being sued for patent infringement), ego takes a more prominent role than a sincere analysis of damages which hinders discussions of settling the claims before they go to trial. Too often a company accused of infringing a patent refuses to discuss licensing the technology from the often-seen-as “little” inventor and delegates any legal matters to their patent litigation attorneys who are instructed to fight this little guy with everything they can both regarding the merits, and via procedural tactics to boost the cost of litigation to a point in which the inventor simply cannot afford to move forward with the litigation and s/he just “goes away.” If the companies ethically sit down with the inventor and review the patents involved and try to resolve the case and to determine damages without involving a billable-by-the-hour patent litigation attorney, they can save often hundreds of thousands of dollars and often millions of dollars in attorney fees and costs.

Case in point, Paul Hayes, a skilled patent litigation attorney went through the whole trial process and won a $388 million dollar patent infringement verdict against Microsoft. As of today he lost the whole case and both his firm and his client still need to account for all the likely thousands of hours of costs and fees spent litigating Uniloc’s case. In some cases, the law firm can “eat” the loss of the billable hours, but depending on the jurisdiction, in some places the client is still on the hook for out-of-pocket expenses which can be expensive when the case goes all the way to trial. Had the two sides agreed to a reasonable settlement which compensated Uniloc for Microsoft’s use of their patented technology, everybody would have been happy. However, I can’t help but to think that somewhere along the line, greed, ego, or both stepped in and forced their case into trial.

If both sides came to an agreeable settlement early on, imagine how much money could have been saved in attorney fees on both sides. …and Unicom would have some money in the bank whereas now they have nothing except for a gaping hole in their pockets.

— Robert Z. Cashman, owner of Patent Prophet is a contingency fee patent litigation attorney in Houston, TX. He works for a law firm that specializes in contingency fee patent litigation, and in the past, he worked in house for a patent company as both a patent attorney and a patent acquisition specialist, where he interacted daily with inventors looking to sell their patents.

Patent Auctions are where patents go to die.

I was just reading the New York Times article by Steve Lohr about how exciting it is that Zoltar Satellite Alarm Systems will be placing their patents up for auction as if a patent auction were some new and exciting forum where valuable patents can be made available for the public to benefit from them. The funny thing is that in my opinion, patent auctions are where patents go to die.

The article continues to boast Zoltar’s patents stating that they have been litigated many times as if that boosts their value. I chuckled when I read this because the fact that the patents have been litigated only indicates that the value of the patents have deflated (like air escaping from a ruptured balloon) because there are no longer valuable prospects to sue. On top of that, I was surprised to see that the article mentioned that even in the lawsuits they initiated, the patents were found NOT to infringe which suggests to me that the value of the patents are even less that I thought they were by the impressive subject matter description of being a personal alarm device that transmitted a person’s location. In other words, it suggested to me that the patent claims were too narrowly drawn or were vague and unenforceable. Otherwise, unless the settlement offer was substantial (and a few million dollars is substantial, but the article suggests that they also spent a few million dollars which means they are only breaking even if they are lucky), there is no reason to settle unless Zoltar just wanted to get out of the lawsuit with the shirts on their backs because they learned at the Markman hearing that their patents had serious flaws and that it was not clear that they would have succeeded at trial.

I also found it interesting (and even funny) that the author gave a plug to venture capital companies like Intellectual Ventures, Acacia Technologies, Altitude Capital Partners, Intertrust, IPotential, Ocean Tomo, Rembrandt IP Management and Thinkfire. The reason I found it funny is that some of these companies (e.g. Acacia) are well known as being patent trolls who purchase patents for the purpose of licensing them to others under threat of suit.

Some of the other names on this list, such as IPotential, are not patent trolls, but are actual patent service companies who take a patent portfolio, wrap it up in a nice package where the value of the patents are clearly visible to buyers, and then find buyers who pay top dollar for the valuable patents they sell (quick plug and regards to Ron Epstein, the founder and CEO of IPotential). I find this service to be valuable because Ron knows the patent market and is not about to broker the patents off to a venture capital company who wants to pay pennies on the dollar for the patents. If I had some good patents to sell, I’d seek out Ron and convince him to take me on as a client before looking to any of these others on the list.

Another name on this list is Ocean Tomo, a patent auction house which holds fancy auctions in foreign countries making the whole process seem beyond five-star; I have written about them in the past. I like the concept of Ocean Tomo — they’ll package your patents in their high quality catalog with glossy pictures and fancy photos (I wouldn’t be surprised if each catalog cost them upwards of $15-20 each based on the high quality). However, the chuckle here is that just because their catalog is beautiful doesn’t mean the patents have any value. A prospective buyer will need to analyze the patents in depth as they would for any other patent purchase because listing it on Ocean Tomo’s auction does not mean that there is any value to the patents. On another note, sadly, I hear that attendance to Ocean Tomo’s auctions have been dying down and that only a fraction of patents listed recently have been sold which means that the auction house patent sale model might be losing momentum. That being said, I still like their idea of trading stocks on some kind of stock market forum. I’d succeed there because as a patent attorney and a patent litigation attorney, I’d see the valuable stocks and buy shares in them in an instant and watch the value grow in my patent stock portfolio.

All this being said, it’s sad that the NY Times article is describing old players and making them seem new. Intellectual Ventures has been buying up patents forever. Acacia has been a patent troll forever. Ocean Tomo has been around forever. Some of the newer names such as Rational Patent Exchange in my understanding are offshoots of Intellectual Ventures (the same guys are running each patent chop shop), except they run the business like the mafia, stating, “buy into my elite club and you we’ll protect you against patent trolls. Decide not to buy into our club, and we’ll sue you ourselves with our army of patent litigation attorneys.”

I could go on, but in sum, there doesn’t seem to be anything new or exciting presented by this article. Just old sheep in new clothing, however the cliche goes.


Robert Z. Cashman, owner of Patent Prophet, is a contingency fee patent litigation attorney in Houston, TX. He works for a law firm that specializes in contingency fee patent litigation, and in the past, he worked in house for a patent company as both a patent attorney and a patent acquisition specialist, where he interacted daily with inventors looking to sell their patents.

Black hats and white hats in the patent law system (summary)

Pasted below is a summary version of the article posted on JD Supra on “Black hats and white hats in the patent law system” that I wrote on 8/16/09.

Within patent law and the patent litigation system, there are good ways and bad ways to make use of the rules and laws that have been set forth for us to follow. Many patent practitioners and patent litigation attorneys follow these rules to further technology and to protect the rights of inventors via their patented inventions. In the analogy of white hats and black hats (terms used in the information security / hacker communities), people who do good by the law would be considered white hats.

However, within the patent litigation system, there are also black hats, namely venture capital companies, inventors, and attorneys who seek to harm others by writing, enforcing, and suing on patents where the protection does not cover the technologies these often non-practicing entities (NPE’s) hope to target through the patents they assert. This causes havoc by overburdening the court systems with frivolous lawsuits, by devaluing patents already in existence, and by causing inventors to sell their patents to those who wish to profit and do harm with them. Often this results in the inventor making only a fraction of what she is entitled to, and the NPE’s taking the majority of profits by suing or licensing on a technology they did not invent.


If you are interested in a patent litigation attorney or a patent attorney in Houston, TX, I have started an informative website using the name Cashman IP Law Firm which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, Strategic Counseling, and much more.

Black hats and white hats in the patent law system.

It took a few seconds to come up with this analogy, but after reading the “Wear a White Hat” article by Scott Gibson, I couldn’t stop thinking about how relevant the concept of black hat, white hat was not only to archetypes, hackers, and network security professionals, but also to patent practice professionals.

In the hacker / network security / cybercrime world, a black hat is a hacker who, among other things, penetrates networks and security systems and often wreaks havoc on the systems s/he has gained access to. Viruses can be installed, information can be exploited and/or manipulated, and general bad things can happen when a hacker penetrates your system.

On the other hand, there is also something called a white hat, which generally refers to an “ethical” hacker. Frequently, this is a programmer or a team of network security professionals who are hired by a company for the purpose of testing the company’s network for security holes, vulnerable entryways, and for weaknesses in the company’s network security system. While they may work with grey hats (best described as those who walk the fine line between violating laws and ethical hacking), these white hats help companies combat black hats who are intent in finding a security hole, penetrating a network, and exploiting the vulnerabilities inherent in that vulnerable network.

I see patents the same way. There are white hats who practice traditional patent practice whether on the side of patent prosecution, patent licensing, or patent litigation. These are the practitioners who write the patents and advance technology by sharing inventions with the public in return for amulti -year monopoly so that the inventor can benefit from their invention. The goal with white hat patent practitioners is that they are looking to help their inventors to find where the inventor’s understanding of the invention is lacking, and to help their inventors secure protection of their inventions by covering as many embodiments of the invention as possible to most completely and to most broadly describe the invention. This is similar to the white hat ethical hacker who finds security holes with the intent of writing a patch to fill those holes and to keep the network secure.

In licensing and in litigation, there are also white hat patent practitioners. These are the attorneys who help the inventor protect their inventions against companies who have knowingly or unknowingly taken the protected invention and have used the invention to make a product or a service which incorporates the protected subject matter of the patent. This white hat patent practitioner will often approach the company or individual using the protected invention of the inventor and will ask the company to properly compensate the inventor for the value of his/her contribution. If and when the company decides not to pay the inventor for the invention that is protected by law as belonging to him through his patent (whether their decision is in bad faith, e.g. denying the inventor compensation based on the company’s greed or whether their decision is based on a good-faith belief that the patent is invalid), the white hat patent practitioner (here a patent litigation attorney) will file suit to enforce the inventor’s patent rights. Throughout the proceedings, the white hat patent litigation attorney will develop evidence and will ethically move through the lawsuit proceedings so that the judge or jury will find that their client was wronged by the company who refused to take a license and pay the inventor his/her fair share of the value their invention contributed to the company’s profits, and in the end, if the inventor is in the right, the court will find for the inventor and will order the company or infringer to pay the damages rightly owed to the inventor.

Interestingly enough, just as there are white hat inventors and patent attorneys, there are also grey hat and black hat inventors and practitioners. Often known as patent trolls, these individual or companies will patent or acquire patents to inventions with the sole purpose of using them as a weapon to harm another company, whether it be to block them from making a product, or more frequently, to carve out a profit for themselves by asserting the newly acquired patent against the company. The stated purpose of patents are to promote and to reward innovation and to further the growth of technology; forcing a company to “pay up or else,” or to stop producing a product under threat of lawsuit blocks and hinders technology.

Black hat patent practitioners and black hat inventors usually fall into the category on non-practicing entities (NPE’s). These individuals generally see a patent as a commodity to be mined and exploited rather than an invention to further technology. You’ll often find black hat practitioners trying to reverse engineer and to invent around existing inventions for the sole purpose of suppressing the next step in the furtherance of technology, or to try to induce the real inventors and companies to “trip” (so to speak) over the patent and infringe it and then WHAM! the lawsuit and threats start pouring out. You’ll also find many venture capital companies acting in a black hat capacity by aggregating patents for the sole purpose of making a pretty penny by enforcing one or more patents against a target company with deep pockets who stand to lose the most by being confronted with one or more patents which may or arguably may cover the technology they are practicing.

Lastly, the distinction between a black hat patent litigator versus a white hat or grey hat litigator is how they conduct themselves in the preparation for and during trial. Black hat litigators will threaten, scream, intimidate, and will use scare tactics and legal maneuvers to intimidate the other side into settling with them WHETHER OR NOT they really are infringing the patents being asserted against them. Sometimes a party facing a lawsuit will settle giving money to a black hat litigator who has no leg to stand on just to save money on the expensive costs that will be incurred if they decide to fight the black hat litigation attorneys.

In the network security world, the job of the good guy belongs to the white hats who write security updates and patches to prevent the hacker black hats from causing damage through their illegal and often immoral activities. However, in the patent world, a white hat is often at a disadvantage when facing a black hat, and their only remedy is to endure the high costs of litigation and attempting to file a declaratory judgment and or summary judgement motion, or defending their client all the way through trial until a judgment is granted in their favor.

However, the real white hats in the patent world belong not to the patent attorneys and the patent litigators who ethically run their practice, but to the congressmen, the senators, and the lawmakers who are able to explore how black hat patent practitioners exploit and abuse the system, and they can pass laws to patch up the vulnerabilities in the law which allow black hats to do their damage. This can only happen through advice and letters from ordinary people like you and me who write them and share their thoughts, their feelings, and their experiences to best empower the real white hats to propose legislation changes to remedy vulnerabilities in the patent system as it is today.

If you are interested in a patent litigation attorney or a patent attorney in Houston, TX, I have started an informative website using the name Patent Prophet which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, Strategic Counseling, and much more.

Encryption when searching for patents?

LinkedIn Question by Vagelis Hristidis: Desired Features or Properties of a Patents Search Engine

I have been working for a year now on a search engine for patents. Clearly, a key property is the quality of search, that is, discovering the most relevant patents. But are there any other useful features (e.g., automatically email the results of a search) or properties (e.g., encrypt queries for privacy) that are missing from current patent search systems?

Dear Vagelis,

Interesting question regarding encryption. Generally, I have never seen anything in terms of encryption on the public patent searching sites. However, any web site that offers SSL or https:// access is encrypted and thus you likely won’t have any issues when using those.

More generally, I have found that simply by using proper security on your system (e.g. connecting to routers with WPA) is sufficient to achieve your needs of privacy. In other words, if you’re worried about people snooping on your patent searches, then don’t connect to public internet wireless access points without proper protection.

As for e-mailing the results of a search, offhand I’ve seen that feature in a number of places. My favorite search tool is patentlens.net (http://www.patentlens.net/patentlens/structured.cgi) which allows me to save and e-mail my search results.

I hope this helps.


If you are interested in a patent litigation attorney or a patent attorney in Houston, TX, I have started an informative website using the name Patent Prophet which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, Strategic Counseling, and much more.

RIMM vs. Visto Venture Capitalists – Little Guys Win.

Today in Barron’s, there was an article “RIMM To Pay $267.5 Million To Settle Visto Patent Suit” by Eric Savitz.

I’m actually not that sad about this settlement. If Visto’s patents genuinely covered the technology used by RIM, then they had a duty to license their technology and not to steal it. Without delving deeper into the facts, I’d give RIM the benefit of the doubt that they just didn’t know about Visto’s patents when they went into that technology area. That happens quite often, and is the reason the patent system is in place. Here, Visto bought patents owned by Motorola and I would expect that RIM should have known about these patents and should have sought a license for the use of the subjects they cover, but I’m guessing that their GC thought, “hey, these patents were just bought by some venture capital (VC) company. What are the chances they’ll sue us?” Silly GC, VC’s are often trolls under a legitimate business structure.

Nevertheless, even if Visto was not some VC, it’s likely the same story — Big companies don’t take little companies / inventors holding patents seriously. They fail to realize that inventors pour out their life’s savings to develop a technology with the hopes of one day achieving some kind of financial remuneration for their inspiration and innovation. It is only fair that an inventor can hold a legal monopoly and can go to court to sue when their patent is infringe (noting that laches is always a good defense for the infringer as a side note because inventors often don’t act fast enough or they trip up while trying to send threat letters to the big companies letting them know of their infringement and then doing nothing when the big companies retort).

That being said, companies as big as RIM often take the little guy not seriously when they come with a valid patent in which they are practicing. They’ll stall, hee and haw, and will cost them thousands just to convince the huge companies to take a license from them.

Any inventor / small company that has to resort to going to court to resolve a patent disagreement deserves a good judgment because if it has come to a lawsuit, the licensing negotiation and stalling tactics by the big company has taken too long.

Obviously patent trolls are a different story. They didn’t invent the technology; they bought it at a fire sale and now they’re trying to assert it EVEN when they don’t have a strong case.


If you are interested in a patent litigation attorney or a patent attorney in Houston, TX, I have started an informative website using the name Patent Prophet which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, Strategic Counseling, and much more.

“Facebook Huddles with Patent Vampire”

It just occurred to me that social networking sites are about to become fewer in the coming months. There is an article in the Jewelry BlogStore Blog, “Facebook Huddles with Patent Vampire” referring to talks between Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures, and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook.com. In the article, it shows the two icons talking.

Here is how I would think the conversation likely went:

Zuckerberg: “What do you think you can do for me by me selling you my patents for millions of bucks?”

Myhrvold: “How would you like to be the only social networking site in existence?”

Zuckerberg: “You can do that? How?”

Myhrvold: “Well, you know all those me-too social networking sites? Do you have any idea how many of them are infringing patents?”

Zuckerberg: “My patents don’t cover their activities. I’m not so sure it will work.”

Myhrvold: “Think a bit bigger, my friend. We’ve been buying patents on social networking for years, so much so that we can even put you out of business with our patents. We obviously wouldn’t of course, and we’re friends, and I’d like it to stay that way.”

Zuckerberg: [a bit nervous] “Uh huh…” *frown*

Myhrvold: “If you sell us your patents, we will give you a license to keep practicing your patent forever. Think of it as a royalty-free lifetime license. We — together — will bring the other social networks down to their knees, and we’ll share the profit 60/40.”

Zuckerberg: “I’m not so sure about this.”

Myhrvold: “You can’t lose. The patents speak for themselves. Plus, imagine what you’ll be allowed to do on your own facebook.com site because we’ll license you these patents which will allow you to expand your capabilities. You’ll have the #1 social networking site in the world!”

Zuckerberg: “What about the Twitter problem?”

Myhrvold: “We’re working on it. ;)”


If you are interested in a patent litigation attorney or a patent attorney in Houston, TX, I have started an informative website using the name Patent Prophet which will be a resource for those who wish to obtain a patent or for those who would like to find out how to prevent companies from stealing their inventions. Services include help with entering into IP Agreements & Licensing options, IP Enforcement and Litigation, Strategic Counseling, and much more.