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A big win against an alleged patent troll

Patents, Copyrights and TrademarksCourts and the Judiciary

The battle of website company Findthebest.com against Lumen View, which it accuses of being a patent troll, has yielded a major victory in New York federal court. We chronicled the aggressive counterattack mounted by Findthebest's founder, Kevin O'Connor, in October. 

On Friday, New York District Judge Denise Cote threw out Lumen View's patent. The firm claimed rights to any system using a computer to match two parties online -- whether two would-be dates, or a job-seeker and a business recruiter, or a college applicant and a college. Findthebest argued that even if the patent were valid, it didn't apply to its service for shoppers looking for merchandise and services online -- but that it was invalid anyway.

Cote agreed. She found that Lumen View's claim was an abstract concept, not an invention, and therefore should not have been granted a patent. "There is no inventive idea here," she wrote. "Having two or more parties input preference data is not inventive. Matchmakers have been doing this for millennia." 

Saying the idea is unique because a computer does it isn't enough, she added. "Nothing in the ... patent evinces an inventive idea beyond the idea of ... the computerization of a fundamental process that has occurred all through human history."

The battle isn't over yet. Lumen View could appeal. And then there's O'Connor's countersuit, in which he contends that Lumen View has violated RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, by its repeated attempts to squeeze quick and dirty financial settlements from businesses that haven't infringed the patent in the first place. O'Connor told the tech news website arstechnica that he's still pursuing that closely watched action, which is being cheered on by business owners who say they've been forced into such settlements because of the greater expense of fighting them in court.

Reach me at @hiltzikm on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or by email. MORE FROM MICHAEL HILTZIK

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