Cloudflare is offering $100,000 to fight patent infringement claims

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This week, Cloudflare offered $100,000 for evidence of prior art to nullify the patent infringement lawsuits it’s facing.

As reported in The Reporter, Sable Networks sued Cloudflare and five other companies in March, claiming they ripped off four patents belonging to Caspian that involved directing data over a computer network. Sable took over the intellectual property of Caspian Networks when the latter went belly-up in the mid-2000s.

This lawsuit followed eight other infringement claims filed by Sable against Cisco, Juniper Networks, and others. All of those lawsuits were apparently settled out of court.But Cloudlfare is not going quietly.

Doug Kramer, general counsel at Cloudflare, told The Register that “it’s not unusual for people to get a first round of settlements and use that to fill their coffers.” The patents involved are barely related to Cloudflare’s business, he added, but now the internet giant is fighting back to invalidate the the patents and have the case thrown out.

Cloudflare is pushing back hard against Sable

As such, Cloudflare is now offering bounties for prior art not only on the patents Sable is suing over but the rest of its portfolio as well.

“We’re going after the other six patents Sable holds because we want to push back,” Kramer said. “It’s helpful to go beyond the initial case if you’re going to show the recklessness of these firms. There has to be a corresponding risk for them.”

The last time Cloudflare offered a bounty for prior art, it ultimately got its opponent’s infringement allegations thrown out of court. The patents in question were invalidated. But at that time they were willing to pay $50,000 for prior art, and a donor matched it.

Now Cloudflare is putting up the full $100K. They are also promising tol make all authenticated prior art finds public, to use against any similarly specious patent-infringement complaints.

Kramer told The Register that in addition to documents, people are useful in proving prior art. Caspian Engineers who worked on the four patents Cloudflare is being sued over could tell a court the designs were based on prior work.

The four patents in question are US 6,954,431, 6,977,932, 7,012,919, and 8,243,593.