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ruled against a non-practicing entity that had sued Cloudflare for patent infringement. The judicial order effectively ends the case that Blackbird—which Cloudflare had dubbed a “patent troll”—had brought against the well-known security firm and content delivery network.
“Abstract ideas are not patentable,” US District Judge Vincent Chhabria wrote in a Monday order.
The case revolved around US Patent No. 6,453,335, which describes providing a “third party data channel” online. As Ars reported back when the case was filed in May 2017, the invention claims it can incorporate third-party data into an existing Internet connection “in a convenient and flexible way.” Blackbird also filed a nearly identical lawsuit against the cloud platform Fastly, which was founded in 2011.
Cloudflare vowed to fight the case, and it eventually filed a preliminary motion arguing that the patent should not have been granted in the first place. Judge Chhabria agreed.
“But the ‘335 patent does not attempt to patent a discrete and non-conventional means of monitoring and modifying a data stream,” he wrote. “In fact, the claims make clear the processing device used to monitor and modify data can be nearly anything and can be placed nearly anywhere, so long as the processing device is not the server that originates the data stream.
“In other words, the patent attempts to monopolize the abstract idea of monitoring a preexisting data stream between a server and a client for a specific condition and modifying that stream when that condition is present.”
His order immediately invalidates the patent, and Blackbird can no longer use it to sue anyone else.
Doug Kramer, Cloudflare’s general counsel, wrote in a blog post that the judge’s ruling “confirms” the company’s position.
“Blackbird acquired an absurdly broad patent from an inventor that had apparently never attempted to turn that patent into a business that made products, hired people, or paid taxes,” Kramer wrote. “And Blackbird used that patent to harass at least three companies that are in the business of making products and contributing to the economy. Blackbird still has a right to appeal the court’s order, and we’ll be ready to respond in case they do.”
Wendy Verlander, Blackbird founder and one of its attorneys, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.