EFF's patent-busting project has put another notch in its belt: today they killed a truly outrageous patent on the use of subdomains for navigation and content management, as with jwz.livejournal.com. Can you believe that the patent office granted that patent in 2004, based on a 1999 application? Can you believe that the people who filed the patent claimed (with a straight face) that they didn't know of any other prior art that made this invalid?
It's hard to know whether to be happy for and grateful to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for killing this abomination, or pissed off with the patent office for creating it.
In the original reexamination request, EFF and Rick Mc Leod of Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, showed that the method Ideaflood claimed to have invented was well known before the patent was issued. In fact, website developers were having public discussions about how to create these virtual subdomains on an Apache developer mailing list and on Usenet more than a year before Ideaflood filed its patent application. The open source community's public record of the technology development provided the linchpin to EFF's patent challenge.
"In the reexam, the Patent Office systematically rejected each of Hoshiko's arguments as well as the patent claims. We were fortunate to have the Internet Archive and Usenet Archive as proof of the prior work by the open source community," said Rick Mc Leod, who drafted the EFF petition.
"This patent was particularly troubling because the company tried to remove the work of open source developers from the public domain and use it to threaten others," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Ironically, the transparent open source development process gave us the tools to bust the patent!"