SurfCast’s Suit Against MSFT Has Just Been Invalidated, Prior Art Found

I hate bait and switch, but hopefully anyone following the industry would realize that the subject isn’t really true.  The case is set to go to trial in September.

But if this isn’t the very definition of “live tiles”, I don’t know what is.

For those not able to see the link, here’s a screen shot:


Image courtesy of CBS. I didn’t take this image, am not claiming to have taken it, and linked to the original source above so step off, Jack.


This is a shot of the latest headlines, as shown in the windows (no, the irony is not lost on that one) of Brockton Enterprises, a newspaper in Brockton, MA in the 1940’s.  When a new headline comes in, they remove an old one and update that slot with the new data in real time.  As in “live”.  And they use a tile format, so, you know, live tiles.

If there was a DEV study looking for prior art in this case, then IPTT, FTW.

Just sayin’,


Haiku Tuesday + Q&A

Reminder: 5-7-5

How do I love thee?
Let me litigate the ways
That’s what the trolls say

What’s up with SurfCast?
Trial date is September 3rd
Watch, they will settle

Can’t think of a third
Hate to leave it at just two
Maybe next time, huh?


Q: How many patent trolls does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The lawyers always win.

Doesn’t make sense? Read it again and tell me it’s not true.

Just sayin’,


Patent Jeopardy: We Need Another Category, Alex

This whole SurfCast is suing Microsoft thing has been keeping me up at night in much the same way that a stiff drink and some Benadryl doesn’t.  Here’s the thing:  they are an NPE, a non-practicing entity.   They have a patent for something that they have never built a product on.  So, you know, the very definition.  But if I do say so myself, and I did, that alone does not make them a troll.  This guy thinks it does, and he’s entitled to his opinion no matter how wrong it is.  Besides which, their address is Maine, not Tyler,  TX.  To be a true troll, you have to own real estate in the Eastern District of Texas.  C’mon people, that’s Patent Trolling 101.  (Kidding.  Sort of.)

My heartburn with these folks comes in the form of intent.  What I want to know is, is did SurfCast approach MSFT with the idea of a license before they went and filed suit?  That goes a long way in telling me they are more of a “patent squatter” rather than an outright Troll wannabe.  And I don’t even like the squatter term for them either, though admittedly that’s pretty much based on the fact that the owner of Fuzzibuns got her fuzzibuns in a wad over a stolen idea and used that term with The Sharks.  I can’t get behind whiners.  Or the terms they use.  <– That’s petty, no?  Sorry.

What I am hoping happened, and maybe someone can confirm this, is that they developed this Live Tiling algorithm or whatever you want to call it and patented it and then ran out of steam.  Lost their mojo?  Couldn’t fund a company to actually build an OS around it?  Knew that if they did build an OS, it would never compete with Mac OS or Windows?  Who knows.  Maybe they never intended to build anything with it but knew they were on to something and were hoping that someone would pay them for a license at some point in the future.

This kind of thing happens all the time in business.  You start up a company in the hopes that some day someone bigger will buy you up and let you retire in style.  You put in a ton of work for 10-15 years and then sail softly down to your own private island on your buy-out parachute after you’re purchased.  That was the plan all along.  I’d love it if that’s what SurfCast was doing because that’s cool.  Even cooler if they’d get all authentic and vulnerable and admit it to the world.

Let’s face it, it’s not like they are actually running a company or anything, judging by their website.  SurfCast?  Get a new web designer because dayum, y’alls site is awful.  (And it evidently always has been.  Thank you, wayback machine.) I have a ton of beach pictures in my personal portfolio and probably some of them even have surfers in them so I can get you a better picture than a lady from the 50’s fishing off some random beach, and hereby offer to do so free of charge.  And hello?  Fishing is not the same as surfing.  I don’t get how your picture fits your company name at all, is what I am trying to say.  Back on point…companies who intend to make and/or sell something don’t have ugly static websites with pictures that do nothing to enhance their brand.  This helps my case.

As of this writing, I have emailed the company asking them if they asked Microsoft to take a license before suing.  I’m taking bets on whether or not they will reply.  My bet is no, as in “no”body, which is who I am to them. LOL!  Nevertheless, if I’m right about their intent, then we need a new category for companies/people who patent an idea knowing they’ll never build anything with it but rather fully intend to approach companies who may license it without them having to sue God and everyone else.  Which is not the same thing as purchasing a patent with the intent to shake people down.  Slightly nuanced difference there, but I see it.

Alex Trebek is the go-to guy for categories.  He’s my next email depending on how this plays out…

Just sayin’,


P.S.  At least one commenter on this site agrees with me.  Whoever it is, I want them to bequeath me their vocabulary when they pass on:

SurfCast Lawsuit Comment

When a Troll Isn’t Necessarily (A Troll, That Is)

My friend and yours Zach Walton  has just posted an article about Windows 8 and how it’s “bringing out the trolls“.  Only here’s the thing…those of you who know me (Charles Arthur, this means you) know that I hate hate hate patent trolls.  If the question were ever posed to me in one of those standard survey formats where you have to choose on a scale of “Like Them Tremendously” down to “Strongly Dislike Them”, patent trolls would have me writing in a vote of “Very Strongly Dislike Them A Whole Lot”.  So if I have a chance to call one out and dump on them, by God I’m not missing out.

But here we’re in a bit of a gray area.  Which reminds me of a quote from one of the best movies ever  besides Star Wars which has incidentally been completely ruined by the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. George?  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?  At least you had the foresight to put Kathleen Kennedy – no relation – in charge of branding.  Anyway, the quote is:

FLETCH I have pictures of him. Dealing….

WALKER So let’s go! We run the pictures.

FLETCH He’s not the story! There’s a source behind him.


FLETCH Well, there we’re in a bit of a gray area.

WALKER How gray?

FLETCH Charcoal.

Are these guys trolls?  We’re in charcoal territory here…let’s don’t just toss that name out willy nilly, as it sullies the term and makes it less of a biting commentary on the real thing if it’s used inappropriately.  It looks like these guys have a decent patent, though it also looks like they haven’t brought an OS to market using the concept.  So in that respect, they meet the partial definition of a troll, something closer to the Non-Practicing Entity end of the range, I’d say.

True trolls sue repeatedly.  A quick search of my emails from PriorSmart  yields exactly one result for SurfCast, and that’s this suit.  One lawsuit against one company over a patent that seems valid does not a troll make.

What else you got on them, Zach?  Bring it on!

Just sayin’,