The view that software patents are an impediment to progress—common among technologists—is rare among patent attorneys. But Dan Ravicher is not a typical patent attorney. He founded the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat), a public interest group that, according to its website, "represents the public's interest against undeserved patents and unsound policy." PubPat recently helped the ACLU launch a major challenge to human gene patents. In the past, PubPat has also challenged broadly asserted software patents, which Ravicher believes "hinder — rather than promote — innovation."
Meanwhile, it's not unusual that a patent-enforcement company recently set up in East Texas would file suit there this week against ten Internet-based and software companies. Nor is it unusual that Texas corporate records show the company is owned by an erstwhile big-firm lawyer, in this case David Garrod, formerly of Goodwin Procter.
What is surprising is that at the same time he is trying to wring licensing fees from such big online names as Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, Garrod is also spearheading a major PubPat initiative: filing lawsuits to rid the marketplace of false patent markings.
The company Garrod owns, Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC, filed a lawsuit on Monday alleging that the defendants infringe U.S. Patent No. 5,893,120. The list of defendants includes seven big Internet companies—Google, Yahoo, MySpace, PayPal, Amazon, Match.com, and AOL—as well as the world's largest futures exchange, CME Group, and two software companies located in the Eastern District of Texas.