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Cloudflare has been sued by a patent troll, Blackbird Tech, asserting a very old and very vague patent. Cloudflare is not alone in being frustrated about the way that such patent trolls inhibit the growth of innovative companies. So, we are asking for your help in changing the dynamic and leveling the playing field between patent trolls and innovative companies.
Cloudflare is committing up to $50,000 to support a search for prior art that can be used to invalidate all patents held by Blackbird Tech. By filing 107 lawsuits against companies since September 2014, Blackbird has demonstrated that it is going to use its patents to sue productive companies. Patent trolls often target newer and more innovative companies, so it is important to investigate and research to discover whether prior art existed on the Blackbird patents and to keep them from filing additional cases against us or against other companies.
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 application was filed. Though certainly the more formal and specific the prior art, the better. We will also accept information and arguments which invalidate Blackbird patents such as a showing of obviousness or material defects in the patent application.
The $50,000 will fund two separate awards.
The first bounty (up to $20,000) is for prior art which reads on the patent Blackbird is using to sue Cloudflare, the ‘335 patent. $10,000 is guaranteed and will be divided among prior art submissions that raise substantive questions on the ‘335 patent. This part of the bounty would be paid in equal shares to persons who submit prior art which in Company’s judgment constitutes no more than the top 3 best prior art references to the ‘335 patent. The remaining $10,000 will be used to compensate prior art submissions that Cloudflare uses as evidence in an invalidation procedure at the USPTO or invalidation at trial. The latest date of prior art on the ‘335 patent would be July 20, 1998.
The larger bounty (up to $30,000) will be spread among those submitting substantial prior art which reads on any of the 34 other outstanding Blackbird patents or their 3 in-flight patent applications and could lead to the invalidation of these dubious patents. Cloudflare will pay the second bounty to people who submit relevant and substantive prior art which, in Cloudflare’s opinion, reads on any other Blackbird patent. The money will be distributed based on the quality of the prior art, the perceived value of the patent, and the extent to which the evidence is used in a proceeding to invalidate one of the Blackbird patents.
We will maintain a list of all the Blackbird patents -- here.
You may submit your suggestion for prior art by using the form at the bottom of this page. Cloudflare’s experts and attorneys will review each submission for its value in invalidating each patent. Again, the money will be awarded based on relevance and usefulness. Cloudflare will keep the award open until the end of our litigation, but we may start making initial partial awards as early as 90 days.
In order to be eligible for any bounty you need to be the first person to submit a particular piece of prior art and the prior art must not be known to Cloudflare (e.g., the prior art must not be listed on the face of the Blackbird patent or in the patent prosecution’s history). 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:
Big hint: don’t go to Google’s patent page and click on the prior art button, we’ve already done that. We will then use our outside patent counsel to evaluate the responses and divide the award based on relevance and usefulness. See cloudflare.com/priorartrules/ for official rules and details.