Xybernaut IP Followup

nym | 12:38 PM

I did a previous writeup on Xybernaut's Patent on a Collar Computer, which had a ton of prior art in my opinion. It's not that I don't like wearable computer manufactures, but it just seemed very creepy that such a 'generic' idea could be patented. I did no more than 1/2 an hour of research to find my sources on prior art, and I would expect Xybernaut and the Patent Office to do the same.

I forwarded it over to /. since they seem to like patent issues, and it got published. Here's an interesting tidbit about this company from MichaelH (puddingbowl.org):

"I interviewed Xybernaut's CEO several years ago at COMDEX. The interview was set up for the purpose of talking about his company's use of Linux on its gear, but he only half-heatedly showed me a few models, then launched into his spiel about Xybernaut's patent attorneys, which he had all over the world. I think he claimed over 60 countries.

He told me Xybernaut could see the downturn coming and that it had decided licensing and royalties were where it's at. To demonstrate the company's "innovative" strides in patent gamesmanship, he pulled out a unit that a hinged and retractable slot cover for a PCMCIA slot. It was a slot cover: It closed when the card was in place, and opening it caused the card to eject.

He said no one had patented anything like it, and that his crack team of attorneys were now vigilantly monitoring dozens of countries to make sure that if anyone did anything like it, they'd be on hand demanding royalties and a cut of the action.

When Xybernaut announces patents like this, I suppose we can take comfort in its consistency: It's going on four years of taking out patents and then watching for someone to run afoul of them so it can get down to its real business, which is making sure the only "useful art or science" left is patent litigation."

I had a similar conversation with the JonesCam people, except they didn't say anything blatantly stupid, like trying to patent closing covers. Hell, my floppy drive closes automatically. I understand companies try to protect themselves from heavy handed lawyers driving them out of business, but it really bothers me when I hear about companies that I would like to be a patron of- are more concerned about making money off of their heavy handed lawyers driving others out of business.

I welcome Xybernaut's response. I really haven't head any cool R&D out of that company in ages, and I think IP bullying is why.