The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced yesterday that it “has throttled a notorious patent used to wrongfully demand payment from cities and other municipalities that use tracking systems to tell transit passengers if their buses and trains are on time.” According to the EFF, “The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has drastically narrowed the patent owned by ArrivalStar after EFF filed a formal request to reexamine the patent’s legitimacy with the help of the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law. The ArrivalStar patent had been used as the basis for dozens of lawsuits against entities like the state of California, the city of Cleveland, and the Illinois Commuter Rail.”
The patent at issue is US Patent 7,030,781 B2, and the USPTO’s ruling struck down all but two claims of that patent for lack of novelty, on the basis of evidence showing that public technical reports described a “Smart Bus system” that used the same methods described in the patent as far back as 1992.
Meanwhile in Canada, a company named Dovden Investments has been filing numerous patent infringement actions, pertaining to similar technologies. According to Alan Macek, in a post on Slaw from June 21, “Dovden Investments has started about 28 patent infringement actions in the last twelve months amounting to about 35% of patent actions started during that period”, and it appears that it has started seven more actions over the last few days.
A quick search of Canadian patents with the word “dovden” yielded six patents. In two of them, the named applicant is a US company named, you guessed it: Arrival Star, Inc. In the other four, the applicant is a US company named Global Research Systems, Inc. The named inventor in all six Canadian patents is Martin Kelly Jones, the same inventor of the “throttled” US patents.
I haven’t compared the Canadian patents to the impugned US patent in detail, but the abstract of at least one of them (Canadian Patent 2,528,647) is almost identical to the abstract of the US patent. This does not necessarily mean that the Canadian patent is also invalid, but if the two indeed disclose the same invention, then the prior art from 1992 might as well invalidate the Canadian patent.