EFF Challenges Tracking-Services Patent Used to Threaten Cities Across the U.S.

Help defeat ArrivalStar baseless patent. Sign EFF Defend Innovation project to advocate for reform petition at defendinnovation.org and fix a broken system work better for software.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
For Immediate Release: Friday, September 14, 2012
Julie Samuels
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x112

EFF Challenges Tracking-Services Patent Used to Threaten Cities Across the U.S.

Patent Troll Files Flurry of Lawsuits Over Widely Used
Transit-Arrival Systems

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is
challenging a dangerous patent used to wrongfully demand
payment from cities and other municipalities that employ
public tracking systems to tell transit passengers if their
bus or train is on time.

Today, EFF with the help of the Samuelson Law, Technology,
and Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law, filed a request
with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO),
urging reexamination of the legitimacy of the ArrivalStar
patent – used as a basis for dozens of recent lawsuits
against entities like the state of California, the city of
Cleveland, and the Illinois Commuter Rail.
ArrivalStar claims its patents are based on an invention
from 1999 and argues that many widely used transit-tracking
systems – as well as some package-tracking services used by
delivery and shipping companies – are infringing. But in
the reexamination request filed today, EFF and the
Samuelson Clinic show that as far back as 1992, public
technical reports described a “Smart Bus system” that used
the same methods as those included in the ArrivalStar
“ArrivalStar apparently believes that the broad language of
their patents could potentially cover any system that
tracks a vehicle or a package and notifies a customer of
the status. Even if you could patent something that broad
and vague – and we think you can’t – you certainly can’t
patent something that was invented by other people years
before,” said EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels. “Yet
because of this particularly baseless patent,
municipalities across the country are being forced to
choose whether they will fight an expensive lawsuit, pay
ArrivalStar’s settlement demands, or abandon a public
service. This is not how the patent system is supposed to
Because of the deep and systemic problems in the American
patent system, EFF has launched the Defend Innovation
project to advocate for reform. EFF is asking the public
to sign on to our petition at defendinnovation.org and to
comment on seven recommended proposals we think would make
the broken system work better for software.
“The patent office issues bad software patents every day,
and those patents are hurting American businesses and
consumers and hindering innovation,” said Samuels. “It’s
time to create a blueprint for reform.”
For the full reexamination request:
For EFF’s Defend Innovation project:
For this release:
About EFF
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at https://www.eff.org.

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