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In reading the Whitserv v Computer Packages case and blog entry from Patently-O, I’m having problems in seeing how patent 6,981,007 is valid. I noticed that there is another question regarding this patent but the claim wording always confuses me. I tried to put Claim 1 into non-patent language to say this:

Users access service over the Internet from client computers to create Internet- based data such as documents which are stored on servers. User downloads and backs up data off internet based app

This patent claims continuity from 1999. Is there prior art that pre-dates this?

Claim 1: A system for onsite backup of internet-based data comprising:

  • a central computer;
  • a client computer;
  • a communications link between said central computer and the Internet;
  • a communications link between said client computer and the Internet;
  • at least one database containing a plurality of data records accessible by said central computer, each data record containing a client identification number;
  • software executing on said central computer for receiving a data backup request from said client computer;
  • software executing on said central computer for transmitting said data backup to said client computer for onsite backup of internet-based data on said client computer.
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GThe court found that the'007 patent claim 10 was invalid because it was anticipated by another patent (Shrader) which is based on Quicken downloading your bank records. The court did not find the other claims invalid because it said the lawyer did not do his job properly (to hammer the othet –  carmogy Nov 29 '12 at 19:07
    
The court found that the'007 patent claim 10 was invalid because it was anticipated by another patent (Shrader) which is based on Quicken downloading your bank records. The court did not find the other claims invalid because it said the lawyer did not do his job properly (to hammer the other claims in as thorough a manner). So given another chance, would the result be more thorough? –  carmogy Nov 29 '12 at 20:10
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

While my answer may not be fully relevant to the complete patent claim list - this particular claim introduced nothing new, even in 1999. Breaking it down and narrowing the prior art:

Claim 1: A system for onsite backup of internet-based data comprising: a central computer; a client computer; a communications link between said central computer and the Internet; a communications link between said client computer and the Internet;

This part is pretty straightforward. Client, server, network connection between. Any information stored on the Internet accessible server is, Internet based data.

at least one database containing a plurality of data records accessible by said central computer, each data record containing a client identification number;

Database "servers" that reached "client" computers over network connections existed well before 1999. A "client identification number" is not novel either, every database since the creation of databases uses such "user ids".

software executing on said central computer for receiving a data backup request from said client computer;

The term "software executing on said central computer" is vague and the ability for server based software to "receive requests from client computers" is not novel in itself, Apache webserver had done this since the Internet started.

software executing on said central computer for transmitting said data backup to said client computer for onsite backup of internet-based data on said client computer.

Ah. This is a reverse backup. The server based data is backed up on the CLIENT computer.

But - this was nothing new in 1999. From an old project we worked on in the '90s - may I present Sybase SQL Anywhere. Version 5 released in 1995 (Wiki) had remote replication. Remote replication allowed MANY client database computers to be updated with the exact data from the SERVER (central) database computer. Essentially, a backup copy - a remotely replicated database.

This is how it worked:

A central computer (database server) and one or more client computers were connected to the Internet via a communication link.

At least one database file that had many (or a plurality) of data records was stored on the central (server) computer. Databases identified each client computer with a "replication ID", which was their client identification number.

The replication management software executed on the database server (central) computer, which received the data replication (backup) request from the client computers.

The replication management software executed on the database server (central) computer which sent packets of data to connected clients, the data stored on its Internet based connection (Internet-based data). This replicated data allowed each client computer to maintain an exact copy of the central database (the backup).

The end. Hopefully, of this patent.

Edit: Here is the Sybase replication documentation dated 1997

Article on product in PC Mag Dec 19, 1995 Google Books

Article on product in InfoWorld magazine Dec 4, 1995 Google Books

Article on product in Computerworld Oct 7, 1996 Google Books

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Anecdotal recollection of a potential prior art system is, unfortunately, not particularly helpful. –  Jay Smith-Hill Nov 28 '12 at 1:41
    
It is not merely anecdotal - this is (was) an actual product that is well documented, back to 1995. The process it used to "replicate" or backup a database, exactly matches the claim described. As this is (was) an actual product, is the actual software (disk) required to qualify as prior art? –  Ron J. Nov 28 '12 at 13:24
    
I only meant that your description here is anecdotal. To have practical value, one would need either (1) the software itself plus a way to demonstrate that it performs each element of the claim or (2) published documentation (e.g. a manual or an article) describing each element of the claim. There would also need to be a way to demonstrate the age and authenticity of the software/document. –  Jay Smith-Hill Nov 28 '12 at 19:49
    
These references are very helpful. Thank you. –  Maria Nov 28 '12 at 21:41
    
I think this prior art example is missing the limitation of "each record containing a client identification number", which really goes to the point of novelty in the patent, at least as I understand it. What the author of the patent was probably trying to say was that you can have data from many users stored in the database (because this is about SaaS), but you can let each user back up only their own data. Thus, the database records must have the client ID so you can tell whose data is whose. –  carmogy Nov 29 '12 at 18:02
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I found a prior art patent that describes the Sybase remote replication aka server to client backup of data.

Data replication system and method

Patent number: US6304882

Filing date: May 5, 1998

Issue date: Oct 16, 2001

A data replication processing system includes a source database system and one or more target database systems all of which are coupled through a network. The replication processing system provides a replication protocol that allows for the source database and the target databases to remain consistent and in agreement. A method for the replication processing system includes having a target database request a refresh of its subset of the source database from the source database system. The source database system receives the refresh request message and constructs a refresh reply message that includes transactions from the source and the target. The target database system receives the refresh reply message from the source database system and applies the changes to its subset of the source database so that the two databases are in agreement with respect to their appropriate data sets.

Claim 1 spells out the basic idea (emphasis added):

1 A method for updating a source database and a plurality of target databases so that at a given instant the source database and the plurality of target databases are in agreement, the method comprising:

  • respectively establishing a plurality of pure states between the source database and the plurality of target databases;

  • asynchronously receiving at the source database a respective plurality of refresh requests from the plurality of target databases, wherein each refresh request is from a requesting target database and includes any provisional transactions applied to the requesting target database since the requesting target database's last pure state; and

  • asynchronously responding to the plurality of refresh requests from the respective plurality of target databases by:
      • applying any provisional transactions from the requesting target database to the source database;
      • providing the requesting target database with the transactions applied to the source database since the last pure state of the requesting target database including any provisional transactions applied to the requesting target database;
      • restoring the requesting target database to its last pure state; and
      • applying to the requesting target database the transactions applied to the source database since the last pure state of the requesting target database.

This defines the central/server computer (source database) and one or more client computers (target databases), the source database and the plurality of target databases are in agreement - that is, data changes made to EITHER source or any target are backed up to the other side (server to client backup as well as clients to server backup).

The definition of "database" implies a plurality of data records. While the connectivity is not implicitly specified, a network connection between computers is an obvious element, and a network connection over the Internet is an obvious extension of connectivity.

Claims 8 and 9 provide for a UUID (client identification) for each of the plurality of client computers:

8 The method of claim 7, further comprising:

periodically performing a marker transaction at the source database, the marker transaction identifying a pure state of the source and target databases by a source generation name; storing the source generation name at the source database and supplying the source generation name to the target database in response to a refresh request from the target database.

9 The method of claim 8, wherein the stable pure state is identified by a UUID.

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