Kim Dotcom Levels Patent Violation Charges Against Facebook, Google and Twitter

By Steve Anderson May 23, 2013

Two-step security is rapidly gaining ground as a popular way to help users protect access to accounts and the like, but the original patent for two-step security may go back farther than anyone expected, as well as to an unlikely patent holder: Kim Dotcom. As such, Dotcom is finding himself in an unusual position and putting up patent violation charges against some very major names, where only months prior he found himself the target of similar charges thanks to his Megaupload site, and on a lesser basis, its follow-up, Mega.

While this may sound sufficiently outlandish for, say, the plot of an episode of "Fringe," Dotcom referred to a patent that went back to 1997 in order to prove his claims. This led Dotcom to, in a moment that may well shatter some people's standards of irony, accuse several major U.S. corporations--including Citibank, Facebook, Google and Twitter--of infringing his patent.

The patent in question, labeled US 6078908 A and held under Kim Dotcom's original birth name Kim Schmitz, describes in some detail the idea of a password system that begins with an online site, and then follows up with a secondary password sent via SMS or to a pager. Naturally, the current method has undergone a few changes with the updating of technology, but the methods do sound extremely similar. Since the patent goes back as far as 1997, invalidating the patent would be extremely difficult and the patent itself is said to have wide coverage.

Dotcom had previously refrained from filing suit against said companies for patent infringement, but also reportedly followed up a threat to do just that by asking for financial support in an ongoing extradition hearing to bring Dotcom to the U.S. for trial. Naturally, this may be just another in a string of public statements from Dotcom geared to grab attention, but this particular statement does seem to carry a bit more weight than the ordinary thanks to the addition of the patent.

This issue opens an entire can of metaphorical worms; how far could Dotcom get with a lawsuit? Even for Dotcom, going after major names like Facebook and Google wouldn't be the kind of thing anyone would want to do lightly. Indeed, some have suggested that this may be a publicity stunt and not without at least some cause. But there's the issue of the patent, going back over 15 years, and even predating the existence of some of the possible infringers. But then, some have also raised the issue that had Dotcom known about this matter some time ago—as implied by the statement that he had refrained from suing earlier—and didn't sue, moving to sue now may well hurt any actual case.

Naturally, all of this is somewhat conjectural until a court of law can provide a ruling on the matter. But with even a court date not yet forthcoming, this is all sufficiently early-stage that most anything could happen between right now and that point in time. It would, admittedly, be very interesting to see what happens when Dotcom is on the other side of this particular issue, and to see how the companies in question provide a defense.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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