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Uber owns several patents, many of which are for systems that Lyft has as well. As such, how is Lyft not infringing on Uber's patents?

For instance, just to pick an example, "providing on-demand services through use of personal computing services."

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    Having a patent doesn't make it enforceable. Why waste money trying to get a judgement that says the patent is legitimate if it doesn't help? Obviously a cost-benefit analysis came out with "not worth the effort". – Nij May 28 '17 at 6:19
  • Further to @Nij's comment, having a patent for an invention of a particular description, even if we assume the patent is enforceable, does not mean that every other device fitting the same description infringes the patent. – phoog May 28 '17 at 15:17
  • @phoog - A device that accomplishes the same goal or result does not necessarily infringe but one that meets all the requirements of one or more claims would infringe. – George White Mar 7 '18 at 19:08
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    @Nij Indeed roughly half of litigated patents in infringement cases that go to trial are found to be invalid. In the case of these patents, the ability to get a business method patent at the time it was issued was much easier than it is under current law under which multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings have made it much harder for a business method patent to be valid. – ohwilleke Mar 7 '18 at 19:15
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    @GeorgeWhite I think that's more or less what I was getting at: an invention that is superficially similar might not meet every requirement of any claim. – phoog Mar 7 '18 at 20:20
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"Providing on-demand services through use of personal computing services" is a preamble of a patent claim. In the case of one Uber patent, US9230292, claim 1 starts with

A method for providing information about an on-demand service on a computing device, . . .

The preamble tells the reader what the claimed invention does; the rest of the claim (300+ words in this case) tell the reader the steps it takes in doing it. Two patented inventions can produce the same result and a method could produce the result promised in the Uber preamble but do it without performing all of the steps in the Uber claims, and therefore not infringe the patent.

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"Providing on-demand services through use of personal computing services" would just be an abstract idea. You need more for a patent. You have to provide the actual method that you are using. So it would be "We are providing on-demand services through use of personal computing services by doing A, B and C". Lyft can then go and provide on-demand services through use of personal computing services by doing X, Y and Z, and that is not covered by the patent.

There's also in the USA for some years now the principle that if you combine A, B and C, and combining them does exactly what the average person would expect, then this isn't patent worthy. So "doing things by computer" cannot be patented if the only difference is what the average person would expect, like getting results quicker, handling big amounts of data and so on.

  • literally "doing things by computer" can't be patented in the U.S., but there still patents being used that involve computers doing things. – George White Mar 8 '18 at 0:07

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