Patent Law Fails Again: Amateur Photographer Sued For Holding Online Photo Competitions

Feb 22, 2015

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

Patent Law Fails Again: Amateur Photographer Sued For Holding Online Photo Competitions

Feb 22, 2015

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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6082519875_83a9edfd36_b‘The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has agreed to take on the case of Ruth Taylor, an photographer who runs the website BytePhoto.com. Taylor is being sued by the owners of Garfum.com for running photography competitions on her own website. Garfum claims to hold the patents (US Patent No. 8,209,618) on online photo competitions.

Before she found out about the EFF, she spent several months attempting to fight the legal case on her, but exhausted all her financial resources. At that point, Talyor had become even more infuriated at the idea that someone could hold a patent on online photo competitions that she decided she didn’t want to pay Garfum any money, even if the amount she was being sued for was reduced to $500.  On principle alone, Taylor refused to settle. “It seemed like a scam…How could you have a patent on a contest?’ I’m not a lawyer, but it’s not logical.” Taylor said.

“Even if we were only going to pay $500, I was still outraged,” she said. “All that meant is I would be buying in to this whole mess. I kept thinking, ‘If I let this happen, there are others after me who are going to be sued. Some of them could be websites run by my friends. I couldn’t let that happen.’”

She spent countless sleepless nights researching all her possible options, despite facing bankruptcy. Eventually, she came across United Patents, who put her in contact with the EFF. Taylor’s case marks the first time the organization is representing a patent defendant, though the organization does a have a long running history in patent reform advocacy. They have partnered with a San Francisco law firm, Durie Tnagri to assist with the case.

Daniel Nazer, a representative for the EFF, told ArtsTechnica:

“Our client has been running ‘vote-for-your-favorite-photo’ polls for years, just for fun and the love of photography. The idea that you could patent this abstract idea—and then demand a settlement to go away—goes against both patent law and common sense. Patent bullies sue with weak patents and pick on defendants that can’t afford to prove their innocence.”

The EFF has issued a motion to dismiss the case, in which they cited:

“Competitions determined by popular vote are not specific to the Internet or computers. Garfum might argue that features like a ‘user interface’ or ‘media player’ render at least some of its claims sufficiently concrete for patent protection. But courts have repeatedly rejected similar arguments.”

You can read the EFF’s counterclaim, here.

[ via ArtsTechnica | Photo by OpenSource.com ]

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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16 responses to “Patent Law Fails Again: Amateur Photographer Sued For Holding Online Photo Competitions”

  1. Eivind Røhne Avatar
    Eivind Røhne

    That same patent office gave me the patent for ‘breathing’. I’m reasonable, and won’t sue those using it for more than $1.

    1. David John Mowers Avatar
      David John Mowers

      Apple patented the conceptualization of both the word, “apple,” and the look of one.

      They claim that any attempt to use an apple (image or word) in any way violates their patent.

    2. yogi bare'a Avatar
      yogi bare’a

      good point rohne

  2. Jerry Ford Avatar
    Jerry Ford

    American corporate greed is astounding… is it really any wonder that half the world wants to kill them? Even simple, common sense is extinct !

  3. Hard Little Machine Avatar
    Hard Little Machine

    Personally I hope everything everywhere under all circumstances is criminalized and half the country winds up in concentration camps.

    1. yogi bare`a Avatar
      yogi bare`a

      its good to have hopes and dreams, that makes for a good argument against being a sociopath

    2. TByte Avatar
      TByte

      Me too, but that is because I hold the patent on concentration camps and stand to make a fortune off of the royalties.

  4. PL Avatar
    PL

    “Before she found out about the EFT, she spent several months attempting to fight the legal case on her”

    Should be?
    “Before she found out about the EF(F), she spent several months attempting to fight the legal case on her (own)”

  5. PL Avatar
    PL

    Seems you used “EFT” a couple more times after that. Otherwise good story about a lousy situation.

  6. LordBobo Avatar
    LordBobo

    Once again the liberul elite try and decide winners and losers in the free market. Just mind your own business and stop being so jealous that you didn’t think of this idea first.

    America was not founded by or for slackers, and if you can’t cut it here, maybe you should consider moving to Canada or France.

    1. sleepswithcats Avatar
      sleepswithcats

      You are either a brilliant satirist, or a complete idiot.

      1. scott flynn Avatar
        scott flynn

        I’m voting for idiot…

      2. Kristoper Avatar
        Kristoper

        FYI in Tagalog, Bobo means stupid.

  7. i1n1f1o1m1a1n1i1a1c1 Avatar
    i1n1f1o1m1a1n1i1a1c1

    Patent trolls are poisoning society, and this is a perfect example of it.

  8. Tatiana Covington Avatar
    Tatiana Covington

    Her proper response: “Go suck on it.”

  9. jenn ross76 Avatar
    jenn ross76

    this is absurd! wow, thanx for the enlightening story. Greed and unfair practices can be so unbeleivable sometimes!