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EFF Files Request for Reexam of Clear Channel Patent
Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 10:06 AM EST

I thought you might like to see the reexamination request [PDF] EFF has just filed to try to overturn Clear Channel's patent for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances, which EFF says Clear Channel is using to try to force artists to use their system exclusively instead of their own or those of startup companies. Clear Channel, EFF says, is asserting a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert live recordings on digital media, "threatening to sue anyone who produces post-show live recordings at any of its 100+ venues in the U.S., twisting artists' arms to give up a significant chunk of their concert merchandise sales, one of the few revenue streams not already taxed by most recording labels, inhibiting investment and innovation in the post-event content distribution market by companies such as Kufala and Hyburn."

The basis for EFF's request is twofold: that the patent "is causing significant public harm by restraining innovation and free expression and, importantly, is invalid as anticipated and/or rendered obvious under 35 U.S.C. 102 et seq. and 103(a) by various printed prior-art publications." The harm argument isn't a basis for a reexam, but they ask the court to consider the harm being done when reviewing the patent. You can find all the prior art listed on EFF's site, as well as in the filing.

This filing is part of EFF's Patent Busting initiative. Some law students helped them prepare this reexamination request, by the way, as you can see in footnote 2, and it's educational as an example of finding and using prior art to invalidate a patent, or so far, to try to, so it's worth reading to see how it's done.

Today is the USPTO meeting regarding the Prior Art Database initiative, which has as its aim preventing stupid patents from issuing in the first place, so it seemed timely to show you an example of what you have to go through to try to undo the damage when patents are granted and then you show up with prior art. We have representatives at the meeting, so I'll share their reports with you as soon as they arrive.


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