This is profoundly dysfunctional:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has stepped up to represent a small, independent online language teacher who has been threatened with a lawsuit by a British publisher that claims the teacher is infringing an American patent issued back in 2000 for a particular audio-based teaching technique.
What’s the secret sauce? Amazingly, the use of a pause button to temporarily stop the lesson.
A Virginia attorney, Christopher Foley, representing publisher Hodder & Stoughton, recently demanded that Eleftheriou halt any publication of audio lessons in the United States or face a potential lawsuit.
Hodder & Stoughton claims to represent the “exclusive licensee” of a patent originally granted to a now-deceased French teacher, Michel Thomas. The Polish immigrant, who lived for decades in the United States, claimed that he could teach anyone the basics of a European language that had commonalities with English to anyone in “a matter of days or a week.” He attracted numerous celebrity clients, including Woody Allen and Bill Murray.
Eleftheriou said that he was not “reproducing” Thomas’ method, adding that “nothing else [is] as well thought-out” as Eleftheriou’s own technique.
But however effective Thomas’ teaching technique may or may not have been, it was not patentable, according to a scathing letter sent on July 2, 2018 by Daniel Nazer, an EFF attorney who is representing Eleftheriou.
Seriously, whoever approved this patent should be fired.
This wasn’t even a pre Alice software patent. This was just completely negligent.