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Can You Really Patent a BlackBerry Flashlight App?

beheading Here I thought patent disputes were only for large companies like Motorola and Kodak or patent trolls. K over at BBInsight let me know about an interesting new development. He heard about this oddball story from a anonymous BlackBerry developer (Lets call them ABC) who was sent a nasty letter from “The Jared Company.” It turns out that The Jared Company has had their lawyer Michael Kader send out threatening letters to other developers who created BlackBerry Flashlight applications.

This is where it starts to get interesting. Their lawyer Michal Kader sent ABC a letter saying that The Jared Company has applied for a “Patent for the process of their One-Touch-Flashlight invention.” Kader even claimed that their Patent Pending number is 61/254,690 which does not exist as far as we can tell.

Kader then goes on to say that if ABC continues to infringe on their “Patent” they will seek to recover the damages from today onward. He even has the balls to threaten that they will notify RIM’s BlackBerry App World and other distributors like Mobihand about this infringement which they claim puts ABS in a breach of contract position.

Now this just makes me wonder if the other 30+ developers of Flashlight applications in App World and Mobihand also got such a love letter from Kader & The Jared Company? Let us know if you have!

Now I am curious what you all think. Even if it were possible should developers be able to patent a way of performing a function programmatically on your BlackBerry? I personally think that would be ridiculous and I know for a fact that it is VERY difficult to get a software patent. From what I understand at most developers can get copyright for the written code but that is only relevant if another person copies the actual code which is hard to prove…

15 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. a bunch of BS like City ID and the shortcutme guys threatening nikkisoft..can’t we all just get along!

  2. Guaranteed this has no merit. When I bought the “Flag your email” app from him he included his home address in the signature of the email. My guess is that it’s some young kid who just wants to make a couple of extra bucks by making something up to get others to pull their apps from the store. Unfortunately it will probably backfire on him.

  3. I don’t see how you can patent something that doesn’t even require additional software to do. Flashlight apps are ridiculous (not as ridiculous as fart apps, but still…), but patenting one is even more so.

  4. Michael, whether he is really a lawyer or not, is the brother of Steven Kader, in whose name the patent application (if real) and “One Touch” trademark application are. For many months they advertised that their app “THE Flashlight” was the “only” flashlight app to use the video light, despite knowing otherwise, and only amended that to a less explicit form when MobiHand and App World forced them to change it. At Handango it’s still advertised as, “The brightest flashlight for your Blackberry. Compare! All other apps use the not so bright screen. This one uses the very bright video camera light. Stays on forever!” 3 of the 4 claims there are untrue. If they do stay greedy and sue or go on provoking other developers, they can lose all of the earnings from their app plus more in a joint countersuit that it’s hard to believe they could possibly win, it’s all documented.

    • OK, and all you really have to do it turn on the video recorder – you don’t even have to start it recording. That turns on the LED. So, patenting something that turns on the LED is, on the face of it, idiotic. The best you can do is put an icon on the screen to do that for you.

      If I were on the receiving end of one of those letters, I’d circular file it and go back to sleep.

      • It would be amusing to see what the Patent Office thinks of it, and I guess if it ever gets to that stage some of us will be submitting arguments in opposition, but guess what? As of now, it’s not even pending examination by the patent office, because a patent application hasn’t even been filed.

        By the way, I’m going to patent a method for taking a shower with the heat lamp staying on as long as you want: Turn on the shower (One Touch!) then keep resetting the light timer before it runs out. There, now you owe me a royalty every time you take a shower unless you hurry up.

        It’s just one more way JaredCo makes life better. And longer.

  5. how about people make an original app for once, and not just copy each other.

    i don’t believe they can patent something like that. if anyone holds a patent to it, it’s rim. using an app to do something the blackberry already does? you can’t patent that. if they created a little mini-usb powered flashlight for the blackberry, that could be patented.

    the best they could hope for is to file suit based on their intellectual property being copied, but even then, they probably can’t prove any sort of IP based on the fact that there are TONNES of flashlight apps.

    if it was an original app, that nobody else has done EVER, and someone comes along and rips them off, THEN they have a case for IP infringement, and also like Luis said, it’s insanely difficult to patent any software, I believe MS had issues even patenting some of their source code.

    • An idea and functionality can be copied all day without infringement, unless it violates a patented method or copyrighted code. No one’s copied JaredCo’s code, and they don’t even have an application in for a patentable method. Look at Compaq, they copied the function of IBM’s BIOS and that was fine as long as the code itself wasn’t copied. It was even a derivative work and still survived, because it was derivative of the functional specifications not the original code, and those functions weren’t patented and maybe not patentable, so fair game.

      There have also been improvements made by others, and JaredCo is starting to copy those, and will have to go on copying to stay competitive, so they’ll eventually be losing money if they force royalties and others reciprocate.

  6. Granting a patent on software is ridiculous from the get go.

  7. I’d be curious to see a copy of the letter…

  8. Does this mean that companies like this can sue individual people because they use the light from their video camera? Can you imagine if all SOFTWARE companies were like this guy?

  9. What a ridiculous abuse of the legal system. I for one am boycotting all products from The Jared Company.

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