This time, the patent troll is mainly going after websites and app providers, including Yelp, Trip Advisor, Netflix, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Staples, Sears, Orbitz, Overstock.com, Monster.com, LinkedIn, Buy.com, Hulu, AT&T, SAP, Vizio, Newegg, and Netflix. In a previous legal attack, Data Carriers filed suit against companies including Apple, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, RIM, Nokia, Nintendo, Motorola, LG, Lenovo, HP, Dell and Asus.
The suit revolves around a single patent entitled "Proactive presentation of automating features to a computer user" and has developed into a suit that is among the broadest patent infringement suits filed in recent months. As usual, Data Carriers is not the inventor of the patent, but the fact that it acquired the rights to it from Symantec in March of this year, entitles the company to play school yard bully and blackmail others for their lunch. What makes suits like this so surreal is the fact that Data Carriers is a company with no traceable history but tradable patents allow the entity to argue that it has suffered damages and is, as a result, entitled to receive a judgment for "damages, costs, expenses, and prejudgment and post-judgment interest", as well as attorneys’ fees and accounting documentation that would show a case for "supplemental damages".
As we noted in an earlier article, the patent in question protects a rather common approach in software today. As soon as a software would react with an automated feature to a user action, for example the setting of automated backups or the automated feature shown by Microsoft's office ribbon bar, the patent could be, in theory, infringed. Strangely enough, some of the most powerful players in the industry, Microsoft and Google are not being sued by Data Carriers as of now. There was no information if Data Carriers settled its previous suits with some or all of the defendants.
There has been some notion that the U.S. patent system is broken. The rather questionable claims made by Data Carriers may be one of the best examples for such a claim.