Something that should put a smile on everybody's face today

Mel Beckman mel at
Wed Apr 28 18:25:04 UTC 2021


Blackbird chooses its victims based on whether any of a couple dozen vague patents they hold can plausibly be used to extort money out of a victim company. BB doesn’t go after service providers in particular, it just happens to have chosen a service provider (unwisely, it turns out) in this case.

There are no operational issues here. No individual Internet protocol or technology “many of  us use” was named. The patent was invalid on its face, as it only described an abstract idea — “Providing an internet third party data channel” — in the most general terms possible, not as an invention, as required by U.S. patent law.

The only difference between Cloudfare and BB’s other victims was that, rather than compute the instant cost-benefit analysis most companies do (“It will cost us tens of thousands to fight this, but only a few thousand to settle” ), Cloudfare valiantly chose to stand on principle, rather than mathematics, and fought the claim. By that simple act, the case by BB was thrown out virtually instantaneously.

Judge Vince Chhabria held that “abstract ideas are not patentable” and Blackbird’s assertion of the patent “attempts to monopolize the abstract idea of monitoring a preexisting data stream between a server and a client” was not an invention. The case was rejected before it started because the court found Blackbird’s patent to be invalid.

The choice to fold or fight in a patent troll battle is clearly a philosophical one, not a network operational decision. Now, rather than lengthen this out-of-policy thread further, I will take the non-valiant “fold” path, and leave the rest of you to your perpetual arguments.


On Apr 28, 2021, at 10:41 AM, William Herrin <bill at> wrote:

On Wed, Apr 28, 2021 at 10:20 AM Mel Beckman <mel at> wrote:
This dispute is no different than if they had gotten into an argument
over a copier toner scammer.

Hi Mel,

If the patents at issue pertained to copier toner I might agree with
you. They're networking patents purporting to govern technologies many
if not most of us use.

Bill Herrin

William Herrin
bill at
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