Cloudflare, which was sued by “patent troll” Sable Networks, is providing a $100K bounty to those that can discover proof of prior artwork on Sable Networks’ patents — Right here we go once more. — On March 15, Cloudflare was sued by a patent troll known as Sable Networks.
In the wake of the launch of Cloudflare’s Prior Art Search Bounty, project Jengo is getting a makeover
A patent troll called Sable Networks recently launched a lawsuit against Cloudflare based on patents that have nothing at all to do with the nature of what we do or the kind of services we offer – a company that does not appear to be running a real business within the last ten years and relying on patents that don’t even approach what we do. Our company has been facing a patent troll lawsuit for the second time in the past year.
The readers of this blog (as well as those who follow technology press outlets like TechCrunch and ZDNet) will remember that Cloudflare reacted aggressively to our first encounter with a patent troll, Blackbird Technologies, in 2017 as a result of our first encounter with a patent troll. Clearly, we would not simply go along and agree to a nuisance settlement as part of what we viewed as an unfair, inefficient, and unjust system that stifled innovation and threatened emerging firms as a result of this system. We recommend that you watch the scathing criticisms of patent trolling that have been provided by John Oliver or the writers of Silicon Valley if you do not want to read all of our previous blog posts on the topic.
In our efforts to take on patent trolls, we committed to fight back in a way that would turn the normal incentive structure on its head in order to defeat them. Our team is not only defending the case aggressively in the courts, but we are also founding Project Jengo, an open-sourced crowdsourcing project aimed at finding prior art that could invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare. Our litigation success was a great success – we won the lawsuit, invalidated one other patent owned by the patent troll, and published prior art covering 31 of Blackbird’s patents, so that anyone may use those patents to challenge them or to defend against overbroad claims against those patents. As a result of this growth, Blackbird Technologies has gone from being one of the most prolific patent trolls in the United States to reducing its staff and filing far fewer cases as a result of this change.
It’s going to be the same thing again. Our team needs your help if we are going to succeed.
A $100,000 bounty for prior art is turning the tables on patent trolls
When we launched Project Jengo, our aim was to address the troubling trends we were trying to address when we first launched Sable Networks and its lawsuit. As a result, Sable is trying to exploit patents that are more than 20 years old and extend them lightyears beyond what they were originally intended to cover. As it has already sued over a dozen technology companies targeting a wide range of different products and services, it appears that it may now attempt to extend its claims to people who merely use routers… in other words, anyone that uses the Internet. By extending its claims to Cloudflare, it suggests that it may attempt to extend its claims to anyone using the Internet in the future.
Our belief is that Sable’s decision to bring these lawsuits on such a tenuous basis should be accompanied by some risk regarding the underlying merits of the patents and the arguments it is making, so we are sponsoring another contest to identify prior art for all of Sable’s active patents based on the submissions received. Our company would like to seek the assistance of the Cloudflare community in identifying prior art that can serve as evidence that the technology patented by Sable was already in use before the patent application was filed, and that can serve as a basis for invalidating Sable’s patents. As a bonus, we will make it worth your while by offering $100,000 to the winners who can find it, as a share of the proceeds, should they succeed in finding such prior art.
Our commitment this time is to spend $100,000 on a prize that will be divided among the entrants who submit what we determine to be the most useful prior-art references that can be used to challenge the validity of Sable’s patents in a court of law. While Sable Networks, Inc. v. Cloudflare, Inc., No. 6:21-cv-00261-ADA (W.D. Tex.), you are allowed to submit prior-art references as long as there is a pending suit against Cloudflare (Sable Networks, Inc. v. Cloudflare, Inc.)). In other words, Sable does not have the right to re-file until it drops the case completely (with prejudice, which means Sable can’t re-file later), there is a settlement, or the case has been resolved by the court and all appeals have been exhausted by the court.
Every three months for a period of two years or until the case ends, whichever comes first, we will select winners from the submissions received, and part of the $100,000 will go towards awards. The remaining funds will be awarded to the final winning applicants once the case has ended, and we will select the winners from all submissions. All relevant submissions will also be made available to the public on our website.