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GOPs face Super Tuesday and an IP lawsuit

As the US Republican presidential candidates await the results of Super Tuesday, they are also being sued in California for patent infringement

Today, 10 US states are holding primary elections or caucuses that will help decide the Republican party nominee for the 2012 US presidential election.

The candidates include Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, all of whom are also being sued in the US District Court for the Central District of California by an IP lawyer and patent owner.

The complaint alleges infringement of US patent number 7,644,122, which covers a method of online communication with both online and offline recipients. The lawsuit claims that the GOPs’ (and 1,000 others’) business Facebook accounts infringe the ‘122 patent, which is owned by EveryMD.

EveryMD’s website provides home pages for over 300,000 doctors and allows patients to obtain information about and communicate with them.

The business is a partnership of Frank Weyer and Troy Javaher, who both own the ‘122 patent. Weyer is an attorney with Techcoastlaw in California, which describes itself as a “cutting edge internet law” firm.

According to the complaint, EveryMD is suing the GOP candidates and other individuals (who are unidentified in the complaint) because Facebook refused to take a licence or purchase the ‘122 patent.

“Facebook’s failure to purchase the ‘122 patent…leaves holders of Facebook business accounts liable for infringement of the ‘122 patent for unauthorized commercial use of Facebook pages produced by Facebook using the ‘122 patent,” said the complaint.

Business account holders were offered a chance to take a licence for a reduced price of $500 per account in January 2011 to avoid liability, but none of the candidates agreed, according to the complaint.

EveryMD also sued Facebook in 2010 in the same California court, and Facebook subsequently requested reexamination of the ‘122 patent with the USPTO.

Facebook has argued that EveryMD’s invention is an obvious combination of technologies that existed at the time the patent application was filed in 1999.

The patents have so far been found invalid in reexamination. EveryMD has appealed to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and claims that Facebook’s recent IPO prospectus proves the social network relies on the patented technology for its success.

The GOP candidates named in the most recent suit have until April 1 to respond - two days before primaries are scheduled to take place in Washington DC, Maryland and Wisconsin.

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