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[Disclaimer: This has GOT to be a joke. However, the fact that it is plausible at all should give one pause. If it is not a joke, then, well, it's a joke.]

Prior Art, Invalid Patents and Mail Fraud

 VUESTAR Technologies Pte Ltd
 L5-12 The Adelphi
 1 Coleman Street
 Singapore 179803.

Thu May 29 01:28:20 EDT 2008

To whom it may concern:

I looked at your statement about licensing link-backed images here: http://www.vuestar.biz/faq.php. I *do* agree that patent laws are hopelessly broken, even to the point of making someone think they might patent image hyperlinks. However, even if such a patent could be enforced in principle, the patent is invalid anyway. It fails to satisfy patent criteria in any jurisdiction for two reasons.

1) It is so obvious that none of the other prior inventors (myself being one of them) even contemplated getting a patent on it. The notion is silly. Just because someone is a very ill-informed practitioner and thinks something is non-obvious does not make it so. I personally know dozens of people who would testify to the obvious nature of your 'invention'. I am sure there are literally tens of thousands of people or more available to testify to this. This must have been independently re-invented thousands of times.

2) It is completely, 100% prior art. I can personally attest to having invented and deployed such a thing prior to the existence of the World Wide Web. We 'invented' it in 1987 (actually, myself and others had used similar things since the 1970's). We deployed initially to more that 240 clients in 1988 and by about 1992 or so its successor was deployed widely in the United States and Canada. There is an unbroken line of succession from our original system to systems currently in use on the Internet, possibly by millions of people today. Hundreds of people can attest to it and even by 1989, many thousands of people had seen and used it.

You cannot just trot on down to the patent office with somebody else's idea (mine, for instance), get a patent and then live happily ever after. The granting of a patent says very little about its validity, especially these days.

Our use back in the 1980s is an example of specific prior art for which there was plenty of evidence. No one pretending to have 'invented' such a thing without looking at IBM did their due diligence. In the United States and Canada, Royal Trust and IBM used code from the Royal Trust Product Initiatives Laboratory (of which I was manager at the time) and from IBM's research labs in various parts of North America to develop something we called 'The Home Sale Distribution Channel' for a sister Company called 'Royal Lepage'. All of the companies mentioned are, or were, large, publicly traded companies. To my knowledge, IBM is still a going concern. In fact, I believe, they are still suing the bankrupt remains of another IP Troll called SCO. Our system used photo images, and graphic and non-graphic, icons. These were used to navigate through the system. Navigation was, on a network, through hyper-links. It was used to view house listings, pictures and house tours on VGA screens. This was in the very early days of devices even capable of such a task. As well, a hyper-link system very similar to the existing World Wide Web was built in our lab at the request of our director. Nobody thought it particularly remarkable as an intellectual exercise.

Even assuming that such a trivial thing was patentable because there is someone to whom it is NOT obvious, patents expire. As far as I know, some sort of clock starts ticking when the thing is invented. I invented the same thing in the late 1970's for an Atari computer game. I Can't PROVE that, though I have witnesses who played the game, but I can PROVE we 'invented it' by 1989. As far as I know, there WERE patents covering a lot of the stuff we did, but they have likely all expired. The fact that IBM patented the image processing and did not patent the image link is all the testimony any reasonable person would need to know that the image link is 'trivial' and therefore not patentable.

Everyone at your end knew or should have known that you do not have a valid enforceable patent. I am not sure what goes on in your jurisdictions, but knowingly defrauding people such as you are doing here is a criminal act, strictly against the law and punishable by imprisonment.

Since IBM is a worldwide company and all the other companies involved had some 'trans-national' component, I would think that whatever patent you think you have is invalid in nearly every jurisdiction in the world. To the extent that you are claiming to have a right, which you know or should know, you do not have, and by attempting to coerce people into giving you their money, you are committing a crime. I am not a lawyer, but I am sure that it does not matter if you reside somewhere else when you commit the criminal act in our jurisdiction. You are still in violation of the law. In fact, in the United States, if you are sending your requests for money through any carrier whether they are commercial or the United States Post office, certain 'mail fraud' statues apply. You are in breach of laws with very serious consequences. Should you have had the poor judgment to send a letter to any financial institution, then the governing statutes provide:

"...the person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both."

I see that you are reaching out from Singapore, a jurisdiction which has (I am going from memory here) something of a poor record of accomplishment with respect to extradition. However, U.S. Law is clear that an extradition treaty exists.

Back in 1992, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rendered the judgment that:

"We conclude that there is a constitutionally valid extradition treaty between the United States and Singapore because the United States Senate ratified the 1931 Treaty and the actions of both parties have evinced the intention to continue the Treaty in force between them."THEN v MELENDEZ".

I am the author of certain computer code that is likely in use on your systems. Unlike your patent, my copyright and my moral rights as the author are valid, current and intact. To the extent that the Berne Convention applies, I could exercise my moral right of "droit au respect de l'oeuvre". Your enterprise is a criminal one and to the extent that you use any of my code in pursuing your activities, you bring dishonor upon my work. According to the Berne Convention, I could insist that you, your agents and any associate involved in this enterprise in any way, cease using any system that uses my code.

Where laws in addition to the Berne convention allow things similar to "droit de retrait ou de repentir" (for instance, in france, there is Article 32 of the Law No. 57-298 of 11 March 1957), I could also exercise those rights with respect to all individuals involved in this enterprise of yours, including associate companies and the individuals involved in them. You may find a partial list of software that uses my code in a journal entry here: http://advogato.org/person/DeepNorth/diary/11.html. Unless your enterprise is very small, chances are good that you have my code in your systems. I believe that it would be within my rights to demand that you cease using it and destroy all copies in your possession.

I am disinclined to injure the distribution of my work, so I will not make the demands above. However, as far as I know, there are many others in the Open Source community that could exercise similar rights over code much more crucial and difficult to replace than mine is. That would make it impossible for your company or anyone associated with it to use the Internet in any capacity, not just with images. In fact, it could very possibly send you all back to the Stone Age. It is not likely that any non-trivial activity is not touched by open source code. Of course, we are the good guys, so even if someone *did* exercise these rights; the community would likely 'heal' it by replacing the code or writing around it. You could still suffer some considerable inconvenience, though.

I strongly suggest you cease pestering the community with your frivolous claims. They are entirely without merit and any competent counsel should have told you that already. Your persistence, therefore, is indicative of intent to defraud. Your patents would never survive a challenge and they *will* be challenged. You therefore can only hope to swindle a tiny number of people before you are apprehended. Your enterprise is not worthy morally and is unsound financially. There is no sensible reason to pursue it.

Sincerely,

Bob Trower


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