General Patent Settles Patent Litigation with Realtors

By Gene Quinn
July 22, 2013

General Patent Corporation (GPC), a patent licensing and enforcement firm, announced on July 11, 2013 that its subsidiary, Data Distribution Technologies LLC (DDT) settled a patent infringement lawsuit against RE/MAX LLC. This settlement resolves Data Distribution Technologies LLC v. RE/MAX LLC (Case No. 2:12-cv-04877), which was filed on August 3, 2012, in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Similarly, GPC announced on July 3, 2013, that it resolved a similar lawsuit against Weichert Lead Network, resolving Data Distribution Technologies LLC v. Weichert Lead Network, Inc. (2:12-cv-04149), which was filed on July 6, 2012, also in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The patent involved in both lawsuits was U.S. Patent No. 6,529,908, which is titled Web-Updated Database with Record Distribution by Email.

The ‘908 patent covers a remotely updatable database system and associated method. The system includes a user interface, a database of information records, a database manager, and a message server. The system, generally speaking, allows the user interface to communicate with at least one subscriber system to receive input from a user. The database manager controls the database such that each information record is associated with at least one user. The database manager also allows for amending the information records in response to user input. The message server is in communication with the database manager for serving a message including at least one record received from the database manager to the user associated with the information record.

Subscribing users (such as real estate agents) use the subscriber systems to initiate a web session to communicate with the database system for the purpose of producing, updating or amending building information records stored at the database system. when a building is entered into the database, it is given a building code and the user id of the owner/agent designate. When an agent logs into the system, the system scans the on line database of buildings to find user id matches within building information. The agent is then presented with a listing of only those buildings for which he or she has been authorized the make entries or adjustments. There are multiple levels of access/security on the system. Agents may add, delete, or amend any of the other fields of information. The system identifies who has access and determines what is allowed to be done.

Much of the patent also deals with compression techniques that allow for reducing download times of relevant information to off line computer software. The compression aspects of the invention reduce the size of data files transferred to users and, hence, reduce the transfer time required to send messages to users. For example, with fifteen buildings, each with seven to ten pages of related information and each page being represented by fifteen kilobytes when stored as a text file, a file size of approximately 2250 kilobytes is created. A message containing such file can be downloaded to a user with the system described herein using a standard 28.8 kilobit/second modem in less than four seconds as opposed to the approximately twenty-five minutes it would take with current systems using a similar communications channel.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 14 Comments comments.

  1. Benny Attar July 23, 2013 7:16 am

    So GPC is a troll ?

    Having read claim 1, I can think of at least 500 websites that would infringe on this patent. I also find it difficult to believe that this patent was in fact novel in 1998. I’ve worked with similar (non internet) VAX somputer based systems before 1995.

  2. Gene Quinn July 23, 2013 11:14 am

    Benny-

    Just so we can clearly understand what you are saying, are you actually suggesting that someone is a patent troll when they have come up with a foundational invention that is so important that it is widely infringed? So the fact that everyone infringes means that it is OK? So Thomas Edison was a patent troll in your mind?

    As far as knowing prior art, I’m sure that there are a lot of folks that would be interested in paying you for your knowledge. In my experience, however, vague claims that “I worked on that way earlier” always turn up far short of what is required legally.

    Just out of curiosity, did you read the entire patent? Did you read the entire file history? These are required steps, of course, to interpret the claims vis-a-vis the prior art.

    -Gene

  3. Benny Attar July 24, 2013 3:25 am

    Gene,
    It is obvious in this case that GPC did no research or development on this technology – they are merely asserting the patent rights. (Netspan is the original assignee) Whether the inventors received any tangible return on their investment in this case is not clear. A troll, in my opinion, is someone who buys an existing patent with intent to profit from it by threatening to take the alleged infringer to court. Edison does not fit that profile.

    A recurrent argument n cases like this is whether the patent system is set up to reward inventors or patent attorneys. In our field, I can tell you who the clear winners are – but you can guess.

    I did not read the entire patent, only the independent claims. I used, not developed, similar (or identical) systems in a military/industrial context prior to the filing date.
    I have read many issued patent for which adequate prior art exists. Of course, a patent examiner cannot be expected to sit up all night searching for it, but when an engineering department wishes to invalidate a cometitors’ patent to save their next project – thats a different story.

  4. Anon July 24, 2013 7:42 am

    Benny,

    The problem with your definition is that it attempts to demonize a perfectly legal and sanctioned action.

    This country has a long tradition regarding protecting alienability of property, and then attempting to make money from one’s property. You also seem to want to demonize (lack of research on your part?) the only way that a patent is enforced (that is, through the courts). “Merely” indeed.

    Your mention of “in our field” tips the hat of your bias, and tells me far more than you think it does. A recurrent problem with ‘discussions’ such as these is that those ‘in your field’ refuse to understand BOTH the legal and technical aspects. Instead of repeating the same cycle of protestations and responses, I will simply refer you to several of the larger response-threaded blog posts dealing with software patent issues here at IPWatchdog.

  5. Benny Attar July 24, 2013 8:19 am

    Gene-,
    Just to put the record straight – my field of expertise is well researched and mature, and about 80% of patent applications that fall under our IPC classification are for trivial improvements. We freely use the patent system, not to promote new technology, but to hinder our competitors. You, the customer, will not see a product which incorporates features patented both by us and our competitors until after the patents have expired. We actively avoid wilful infringement. We would never sell a patent to an enforcement office just so they could take their chances on sueing a competing company.

  6. Gene Quinn July 24, 2013 5:16 pm

    Benny-

    You say: “GPC did no research or development on this technology – they are merely asserting the patent rights.”

    So? First, this point is wholly and completely irrelevant and only someone who is unfamiliar with the law would would bring this up. Second, are you at all familiar with GPC? Do you know what deal they struck with the innovator to obtain the right to pursue litigation? Do you know what the revenue split will be with the innovator? Of course you don’t know the details and you are wholly unfamiliar with GPC, yet you have an opinion. LOL.

    You say: “A troll, in my opinion, is someone who buys an existing patent with intent to profit from it by threatening to take the alleged infringer to court.”

    Congratulations! You just came up with a definition for a patent troll that makes every single technology company in Silicon Valley a troll. LOL. Of course, I doubt you know you did that. Are you at all familiar with the industry? Are you aware of the fact that small, mid-size and large companies buy patents for the purpose of licensing them and going after others who are infringing? Really! Why have a definition of patent troll if you just say “everyone is a troll.” Further, under your definition the Wright Brothers, who invented the airplane, are patent trolls because they sued. Alexander Graham Bell would be a patent troll, and many of the inventors in the Inventors Hall of Fame were patent trolls.

    Seriously, if you are going to comment please inform yourself first!

    -Gene

  7. Gene Quinn July 24, 2013 5:18 pm

    Benny-

    You say: “Just to put the record straight – my field of expertise is well researched and mature, and about 80% of patent applications that fall under our IPC classification are for trivial improvements.”

    And who are you and exactly why should we take your word for it without ANY proof?

    Benny has spoken everyone! We just simply must take his word for what he says even though he has no proof, is completely unfamiliar with the law and is flat WRONG!

    -Gene

  8. Just Asking July 25, 2013 1:14 pm

    Does anyone here think that claim 1 is valid, given the existence of databases and the well-known functionality of the internet (or any other computer system which allows access by pre-determined “remote” users) in 1998? The breadth of the claim is rather astounding.

    Here’s claim 1:

    “1. A remotely updatable database system comprising:

    a user interface for communicating with at least one subscriber system to receive user input from a user at said at least one subscriber system;

    a database of information records and user records, said information records having respective pluralities of fields and wherein each of said information records is linked to at least one user record;

    a database manager in communication with said user interface, for controlling said database such that each information record is associated with at least one user, and for amending said information records in response to user input received at said user interface from said at least one subscriber system;

    and

    a message server in communication with said database manager for serving a message including at least one record received from said database manager to said at least one user associated with said information record, said message server including a processor and memory for storing program codes readable by said processor to direct said processor to communicate with said database manager to obtain for inclusion in said message a plurality of information records having at least one common field entry.”

  9. Just Asking July 25, 2013 1:20 pm

    Anon: “The problem with your definition is that it attempts to demonize a perfectly legal and sanctioned action.”

    There are many “perfectly legal and santioned actions” that some find immoral, unethical or otherwise extremely undesirable for a wide variety of reasons (some more rational than others). The desirability of “patent enforcement entities” is a subject on which people disagree. I don’t believe that the extent to which the existence and/or behavior of such entities is presently “perfectly legal” or “sanctioned” (not sure what that adds to “perfectly legal”) is not relevant to the point that Benny is raising.

  10. Anon July 25, 2013 7:58 pm

    Just Asking,

    Kindly do not parse my statements. You left out some critical thoughts.

    Thanks.

  11. Anon July 26, 2013 7:23 am

    Further Just Asking,

    There are many topics that people will disagree upon that are completely moral, ethical, and otherwise extremely desirable – alienability of property being one of them.

    I do not think that the factor of being able to find someone who disagrees is quite as germane as you make it out to be.

  12. Anon July 26, 2013 9:29 am

    Off topic, but part of my response at post 4 is defeated by the change in IPWatchdog’s handling of older threads.

    I must say, I would prefer a different method. The new method eliminates the count of thread comments.

    I would much rather prefer a different method: Eliminate the existing lead-in paragraphs shown (older stories do not need this information – and you will be able to list more stories per each page of archived links), and restore the thread count indicator (which shows the threads which generated more vibrant debate – admittedly, not always synonomous with the most worthy posts for recall).

    Just some thoughts.

  13. Benny Attar July 28, 2013 2:16 am

    Gene,
    I think you should re-read my posts – you mis-understand my opinion entrely. An inventor is never a troll, whether or not he/she is a practicing entity. A law firm who invents nothing, but seeks to profit from the system by out-of-court settlements (in cases where it is questionable whether the alleged infringemer actually infringes or whether the patent is truly valid) is not doing the industry any favours. It would be possible to infer from your comments that no abuse of the system is possible, or that there is no one out there seeking to profit at the expense of small start-up technology companies. Such is not the case.

    You don’t have to take my word for it that the patent applications in my field are trivial. The patent application database is open to the public, you can read them yourself. I’m not a rocket scientist, my field is the consumer appliance industry. There’s not a lot of genuine technological innovation going on there.

  14. TeamBUOPX July 30, 2013 12:01 pm

    Hello,

    We are a group of students who are in the beginning stages of taking our first law class. After reading through this situation we think that the claim against ReMax should not have been valid with the explosion of computer technology software involving database management and computer hardware. There are many different brands of servers and database software that provide the same functionality as described in the patent. All of which are on the market and being used by other companies and institutions that find a need for accessing databases remotely. In addition to most of the patent concerning data compression techniques and faster data transfer, the internet connection speeds and hardware servers have dramatically upgraded in the last 10 years making the patent related methods outdated and obsolete. In addition, to obtain a patent an invention must be novel, useful, and non obvious. The remote accessible database system at the time of the patent (2003) seem to be something that had already been invented and an obvious invention that in some capacity already existed. We believe this was a good article went in depth about a recent patent infringement case and how it could be formed.