October 13, 2003

Fight The Patent Foundation

For the past few months, I have dedicated my time (50 hours a week) in the pursuit of bringing awareness to companies and individuals about patent abuse cases.

I have been contacting people in Academia, Government, and Technology companies to ask for assistance in finding prior art.

Through my active email, phone, and FAX campaign, I have talked to many of the "Internet Greats", the people who actually developed the technology that evolved into the Internet as we know it today.

Some of those I contacted were very concerned over Acacia and other companies attempts at trying to interpret their patents to claim ownership to the downloading & streaming of audio & video files from a web server. Others were apathetic in not replying to my emails or just not interested enough to help, since these problems don't fall into their backyard.

For the prior art leads that I do find, I present them to the defendants in litigation. Part of their struggle is getting people to come forward to provide Expert Testimony, a time consuming effort that keeps most people from not willing to participate.

Instead of working on my side ventures, or doing consulting work, I have focused my time on FightThePatent.com because my conscious tells me this is something that I must do.

For the past week, I have been formulating a plan to expand my activism, to create an organization whose charter is to Fight against Patent Abuse.

Patent Abuse cases extend far beyond the current focus of audio/video downloads. Other patent holders are targeting companies for having shopping carts, doing e-commerce, using frames on a web page for navigation, using plugins within a web page, and it goes on and on.

I have started to formulate the idea of creating a non-profit (501c3) organization called Fight The Patent Foundation.

The Foundation will help to provide defense support for companies who are being targeted by patent holders. I have received emails from many Webmasters who say they have received "information packets" or C&D letters and don't know how to respond because they don't have enough resources to try and fight.

The search for prior art is the Holy Grail of searches to invalidate a patent infringement claim. By finding prior art, evidence that the patented idea already existed one year prior to the patent filing, is the way to defend against a patent attack.

Getting expert witnesses to provide testimony and evidence is hard, because it many times requires money to pay for their time. A company that is trying to defend itself will have their money tied up in hiring defense counsel.

While it would be great to think that people would come forward to help, the reality is most will not because of their complacency with their own lives, to not have to involve themselves in others.

BountyQuest.com was a dot-com that had Jeff Bezos and Tim O'Reilly as investors. The premise of the site was to put a bounty/reward for people who provide prior art that helps a case. From reading about their website and contacting the CEO/Founder, they did accomplish some good, but ran out of money.

The FTP Foundation proposes to provide expert witnesses and evidence to help the defense cases through the idea of "Paying it Forward". I saw this movie a week after starting FightThePatent.com and it heavily influenced my thinking.

FTP Foundation will present to potential expert witnesses and sources for prior art, a reason to become motivated, to help stop a patent abuse case that has wide reaching ramifications to all websites.

Rather than provide a bounty or reward for someone, FTP Foundation would rather solicit people for help by providing donations to the person's favorite charity in their name.

The idea is based on the principal that people are successful in their own lives, and are not motivated by money to help. They would be motivated to provide expert testimony and evidence because they have been made aware of the patent abuse case and its ramifications on all websites / companies, and would want to help to defend against a patent attack. In return for knowing they did the "right thing", a charitable contribution is given in their name to a school, library, or any non-profit organization in their community that allows them to "pay forward" their time and efforts to helping others.

FTP Foundation will be seeking high profile technology/business individuals to be on the Board of Directors. Having an impressive Board of Directors of "Internet Great" will further help to provide credibility and reason for expert witness to come forward.

I have already started to process of contacting people to be on the Board, and waiting on their answer. I believe in this effort and have started to look into the process of creating a non-profit organization.

The only way that FTP Foundation can launch successfully and be effective is to have a stellar Board of Directors and donations from concerned companies and individuals.

The same spark of Internet Activism that started me on FightThePatent.com, is the same energy that I bring to the FTP Foundation. I am prepared to make FTP Foundation into a strong organization that will grow beyond me and become a new movement in the way people can come together to fight against patent abuse cases.

If you are interested in becoming involved in any kind of capacity, please feel free to contact me.


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