We have another request to Pick Your Brains regarding prior art.
This time it comes from a company called InterSystems, which is a software company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They've been targeted by a patent infringement lawsuit, along with the world and its dog. In Texas, naturally, despite the plaintiff, JuxtaComm, being located in Canada.
Let me tell you a little bit about the patent and I'll show you the request. JuxtaComm shows their patents on their home page, and here's the one in this litigation,
SYSTEM FOR TRANSFORMING AND EXCHANGING DATA BETWEEN DISTRIBUTED HETEROGENEOUS COMPUTER SYSTEMS and they have a link so you can view it at the USPTO.
I know. The title alone fairly screams obviousness, doesn't it? If anyone knows of any prior art before June of 1997, could you tell us about it?
If you'd like to see the court filings, here is a bit of it, all PDFs:
Here's a paragraph from the complaint:
26. Each of the Defendants has infringed and continues to infringe the '662 Patent, either directly or by contributory infringement or inducement of other to infringe. The infringing acts include, but are not limited to, the manufacture, use, sale, importation, and/or offer for sale of products and/or services related to the transformation and exchange of data between computer systems. Each of the Defendants is liable for infringement of the '662 Patent pursuant to 35 U.S.C. Section 271.
Unreal, no? Anyone transforming and exchanging data between computer systems is infringing, so they claim. Can you imagine if this patent isn't knocked out?
You will notice that JuxtaComm is suing a lot of companies, big and small, including Microsoft and IBM, not just InterSystems. So they want the market, I guess. Or, more accurately, they want money from the market. Intersystems has no patents, so there is no nuclear counterclaim option. The plaintiff went after Oracle already, and Oracle settled in February. You can read all about that here:
The JuxtaComm are a subsidiary of Teilhard Technologies, a 10+ year old company that reinvented itself from a software firm to a patent revenue firm. This new direction was started in 2004 and saw losses in 2004 and 2005, made 2006 almost a break even year and should see a profit in 2007.
A figure of $138 billion was mentioned to shareholders at the Teilhard AGM this year and leaked out through a deleted shareholder forum - see this Google cache page. This figure was based on 7% of the past revenues of the vendors being sued. At an AGM two years ago the figure of $5-7 billion was mentioned as possible ETL infringement revenue.
When Tielhard first announced the patent they valued the EAI market at $70 billion in annual revenue and they are looking at getting a chunk of this through licensing ETL and EAI functionality.
If you read the whole article, which is very well researched, you'll find that the key vulnerability here is obviousness. But you knew that already just from the title of the patent. But in court, you have to prove things, not just laugh at them. So if you know of any prior art, including things that would make this patent an obvious next step, do sing out. The big guys may just settle rather than fight. Oracle settled for only $2 million, which is much cheaper than a jury trial, but InterSystems is willing to stand and fight, I gather, so as to invalidate the patent once and for all.
Here's the request from InterSystems:
Any help from the Groklaw community tracking down prior art (before June 1997) would be greatly appreciated. There's got to be prior art on this patent. Note that prior art on top of which this patent becomes more obvious is also useful. The patent is being used to sue all vendors with products in the ETL space. The patent is: #6,195,662. The key claim is:
1. A distribution system for transforming and exchanging data between heterogeneous computer systems, comprising:
a) a systems interface for defining logical import and export data interfaces, data transformation rule sets and scripts;
b) a metadata database for storing said logical import and export data interfaces, data transformation rule sets and scripts;
c) a script processor for utilizing metadata from the metadata database to control data transformation within said systems interface and
movement of said data into and out of said distribution system; and
d) a rule set processor responsive to said script processor for manipulating a data bag for storing imported data and a data bag for storing
The good thing is, we have a date certain. We are looking for anything *before* June of 1997. Anyone got anything? Remember that the five kinds of prior art are:
Prior invention (mp3)
2. Accessible for more than a year (mp3)
3. Prior application (mp3)
4. Obviousness (mp3)
5. Double Patenting (mp3).
Those are edited snips from a longer version, Finding Prior Art, by Dan Ravicher, Ex. Dir. of PubPat Foundation, and the audio is available there as Ogg. There are slides too that go with the audio, so you can't miss if you view the slides as you are listening to the audio.