Net2Phone, a Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) company that was largely unsuccessful in the marketplace has now turned to the tried-and-true strategy of suing its successful competitors with its overly-broad and extremely obvious patents. It's first victim is Skype.
As Tim Lee over at TechLiberation says,
Where to begin? This describes an absolutely pedestrian networking protocol. There's nothing remotely novel or non-obvious about two computers communicating directly with each other without using a server. I don't even understand what the "invention" is supposed to be. If you asked a random CS major how to implement a peer-to-peer network application, he'd probably come up with a description like this in about 10 minutes.He's right. If there is a baby in there, it long ago sunk beneath the murky surface, out of sight and out of breath. Drowned, if you will, by a sea of junk patents handed out willy-nilly by the patent office, who were pursued relentlessly by patent lawyers, patent trolls, and failed companies like Net2Phone and NTP.
Some people seem to think that these kinds of bad software patents are anomalies--that there are good ones as well, and that we ought not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Yet I've seen news accounts of more than a dozen examples of bogus patent suits in recent months, but I have yet to see an example of a legitimate software patent. There's an awful lot of bath water here, and I'm having trouble seeing the baby.