Cloudflare has been sued by another patent troll, Sable Networks, a company that doesn’t appear to have operated a real business (unless you consider patent trolling to be a real business) in nearly ten years — relying on patents that don’t come close to the nature of our business or the services we provide. Sable has filed over a dozen lawsuits in less than a year against a wide range of technology companies that all provide products and services to the marketplace, and is showing no signs of stopping unless someone steps in. Patent trolls like Sable proliferate because of a distorted incentive structure fueled by the astronomical costs associated with defending against even bogus patent claims. Their business model is often built around filing as many lawsuits as possible regardless of the strength of their legal claims, because they know most defendants will pay to settle before the merits of their case are put to the test.
We are committed to fighting back against patent trolls in a way that would turn the normal incentive structure on its head, but we need your help in changing the dynamic and leveling the playing field between patent trolls and innovative companies.
Cloudflare is committing $100,000 USD to support a search for prior art that can be used to invalidate any of Sable’s active patents — not just the ones asserted against Cloudflare. We think Sable’s choice to bring these lawsuits on such a tenuous basis should come with some risk related to the underlying merits of its patents and its arguments, and your investigation and research into finding prior art may help expose the weaknesses in Sable’s patents and impose real costs on Sable for filing meritless patent lawsuits.
Prior art is any evidence that a patented invention was already known at the time the patent application was filed. Prior art can be but does not need to be a competing patent, it does not necessarily need to exist physically or be commercially available. It is enough that there is evidence that the innovation was publicly known or in use at any point when or before the patent’s priority date, which is usually when the patent application was filed. Though certainly the more formal and specific the prior art, the better.
The $100,000 will fund quarterly awards for two years or until the case (Sable Networks, Inc. v. Cloudflare, Inc., No. 6:21-cv-00261-ADA (W.D. Tex.)) ends, whichever comes first, and the final awards after the end of the case from the remaining pool of money. While the contest is open, we will give awards of at least $1,000 per winner for up to 10 winners each quarter for up to two years. All submissions must meet the minimum threshold of usefulness, and we may decide there are no winners in any given quarter. Every prior submission will be considered in each quarter regardless of when it was submitted, except for submissions that have already won a quarterly award (these will only be eligible for the final awards that occur after the end of the case). Preference will be given to patents at issue in our case, but submissions on any of Sable’s patents we list can win. Finally, the remaining pool of money will be divided up at our discretion amongst the final winners selected from all submissions from the beginning after the end of the case. Maximum of one quarterly award and one final award per person.
We will maintain a list of Sable’s patents for this contest here.
The official rules for this contest are available here.
You may submit your suggestion for prior art by using the link at the bottom of this page. Cloudflareʼs experts and attorneys will review each submission for its value in invalidating each patent. Cloudflare will keep the contest open as long as Sable's case is pending against us.
We will select quarterly and final winners by considering the relative strength of the submission (including the value of identified prior art against the relevant Sable patent) and difficulty in identifying the submitted prior art as it relates to the challenged Sable patent (e.g., prior art found using Google Patents' Find Prior Art button or already identified in other legal proceedings involving the Sable patents would be considered relatively easy and thus less valuable). Prior art references that are listed on the Sable patent itself will not be considered.
For each submission of prior art, you will need to give us your name and contact information. In your submission, you will need to document:
Your name and email address
The number of the Sable Networks' patent at issue
What the prior art is, which may be a combination of multiple references (a copy of the prior art is a bonus)
Where you found it
When and where it was first publicly available
A clear and concise explanation and analysis of why you think it reads on the Sable Networks’ patent. The explanation must be backed with a thoughtful analysis of your reasoning that is clearly written and easy for the evaluator to understand. Submissions that include a claim chart will be weighted more heavily.
An explanation of your story – why you are submitting, what is interesting about this Contest, and what challenges you had to overcome in order to make the Submission. We will consider whether the story is: (i) entertaining and captures the interest of the reader; (ii) of quality, with complete thoughts and statements; and (iii) clearly drafted.
With your help, we can again send the message that by filing the wrong case, patent trolls risk losing not just a single lawsuit but a whole lot more. Come join us in our fight to protect the work of the innovative and transformative companies that Sable is targeting.
See cloudflare.com/jengo/sable-rules for official contest rules.