Cloudflare, which was sued by “patent troll” Sable Networks, is offering a $100K bounty to those who can find evidence of prior art on Sable Networks’ patents

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Cloudflare networks 100k sable networkskramer the: Sable Networks, a firm that doesn’t seem to have conducted a legitimate business in almost 10 years, filed a lawsuit against Cloudflare on March 15 citing patents that have nothing to do with the nature of our company or the services we offer. We have now encountered a patent troll lawsuit twice.

As regular readers of this blog (or readers of tech publications like ZDNet and TechCrunch) will recall, Cloudflare took a tough stance against patent troll Blackbird Technologies in 2017 and made it clear that we wouldn’t just go along with a nuisance settlement as part of what we thought was an unfair, unjust, and ineffective system that stifled innovation and threatened emerging companies. You may watch John Oliver’s or Silicon Valley’s stinging critiques of patent trolling if you don’t want to read all of our past blog pieces on the subject.

We promised to respond against patent trolls in a way that would subvert the conventional incentive system. We established Project Jengo, a crowdsourcing initiative to unearth proof of previous art to invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare, in addition to vigorously defending the case in court. It was a big success since we won the legal battle, invalidated one of the patents held by the patent troll, and released prior art for 31 of Blackbird’s patents, which anybody could use to either contest the validity of those patents or to more easily counteract their overbroad claim. Most crucially, Blackbird Technologies reduced its employees and filed a lot fewer lawsuits after becoming one of the most active patent trolls in the US.

We’ll carry it out once again. You’re needed, too.

Turning the Tables: $100,000 in Prior Art Bounties

When we originally started Project Jengo, we were attempting to address some very problematic tendencies, and Sable Networks and its lawsuit fell right into that. Sable is attempting to extend 20-year-old, antiquated patents well beyond what they were intended to protect. By expanding its claims to a business like Cloudflare, it signals that it may try to extend its rights to those who just use routers, that is, everyone who uses the Internet. It has already sued over a dozen technological businesses with a variety of different goods and services in mind.

We are supporting a new prior-art challenge to find references for all of Sable’s active patents because we believe that Sable’s decision to file these lawsuits on such a shaky foundation should carry some risk connected to the fundamental merits of its patents and its arguments. We need the assistance of the Cloudflare community to find prior art, or proof that the claimed technology was in use or well-known before to the filing of the patent application, that may be used to invalidate Sable’s patents. Additionally, we’ll make it worthwhile for you to try by paying $100,000 to be split among the victors of such a search.

Once more, we are pledging $100,000 to be divided among those who submit what we deem to be the most beneficial prior-art references that might be used to dispute the validity of Sable’s patents. As long as Sable Networks, Inc. v. Cloudflare, Inc., No. 6:21-cv-00261-ADA (W.D. Tex. ), which means until Sable fully drops the case (and with prejudice, meaning Sable can’t file again), there is a settlement, or the case has been decided by the court and all appeal rights have been exhausted, you may submit prior-art references.

We will choose winners from the submitted work and distribute a portion of the $100,000 as rewards once every three months for the next two years or until the lawsuit is resolved, whichever comes first. After the case is over, we will decide on the ultimate winners from all of the entries and distribute the leftover cash. Additionally, we will make any pertinent submissions accessible to the public.