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Archived updates for Monday, January 14, 2008

Uncatalogued FTP Server Posting Perhaps Not Publicly Accessible

In SRI International v. Internet Security Systems (January 8, 2008), the Federal Cricuit did not find enough evidence that a pre-publication "Live Traffic" paper, though on the FTP server, was was publicly accessible and thus a printed publication under 35 U.S.C § 102(b).

According to the opinion by Circuit Judge Rader:

The FTP server directory structure (/pub/emerald/) of a well-known institution in the intrusion detection community and the acronym of "" might have hinted at the path to the Live Traffic paper; however, an unpublicized paper with an acronym file name posted on an FTP server resembles a poster at an unpublicized conference without a conference index of the location of the various poster presentations. As noted, the peer-review feature also suggests no intent to publicize. Without additional evidence as to the details of the 1997 SRI FTP server accessibility, this court vacates and remands for a more thorough determination of the publicity accessibility of the Live Traffic paper based on additional evidence and in concert with this opinion.

. . . This court's case law has discussed public accessibility under § 102(b), in
one line of cases illustrating a lack of public accessibility and in another line of cases pointing out public accessibility. For instance, Application of Bayer and In re Cronyn illustrate situations that do not warrant a finding of public accessibility. In re Wyer, In re Klopfenstein and the recently decided Bruckelmyer v. Ground Heaters, on the other hand, illustrate situations that found public accessibility.

. . . Based on this appeal record, this case falls somewhere between Bayer and Klopfenstein.

Like the uncatalogued thesis placed "in" the library in the Bayer case, the Live Traffic paper was placed "on" the FTP server. Yet, the FTP server did not contain an index or catalogue or other tools for customary and meaningful research. Neither the directory structure nor the README file in the PUB subdirectory identifies the location of papers or explains the mnemonic structure for files in the EMERALD subdirectory, or any subdirectory for that matter. In fact, the EMERALD subdirectory does not contain a README file. Further, the summary judgment record shows that only one non-SRI person, Dr. Bishop, specifically knew about the availability of the Live Traffic paper, similar to the knowledge of the thesis's availability by the three professors in Bayer.

. . . On the other hand, similar to the posters in Klopfenstein, the Live Traffic paper was "posted" on an open FTP server and might have been available to anyone with FTP know-how and knowledge of the EMERALD subdirectory. Unlike the posters hung at a conference in Klopfenstein, the Live Traffic paper was not publicized or placed in front of the interested public. In effect, the Live Traffic paper on the FTP server was most closely analogous to placing posters at an unpublicized conference with no attendees. The Live Traffic paper, like posters at a vacant and unpublicized conference, was available by being "posted," but available only to a person who may have wandered into the conference by happenstance or knew about the conference via unpublicized means. Indeed the record does not show that anyone accessed the Live Traffic paper via the FTP server during the seven days in which it was posted. While actual retrieval of a publication is not a requirement for public accessibility, this record does not evince that the Live Traffic paper was accessible to anyone other than the peer-review committee, thus further suggesting an absence of actual public accessibility. See Constant v. Advanced Micro-Devices, Inc., 848 F.2d 1560, 1569 (Fed. Cir. 1988).

The current record leaves the Live Traffic paper on the Bayer non-accessible side of this principle, not on the Klopfenstein side of public accessibility. Therefore, on summary judgment, this court finds that the pre-publication Live Traffic paper, though on the FTP server, was not catalogued or indexed in a meaningful way and not intended for dissemination to the public. . . .

Dissenting Circuit Judge Moore enumerated several facts that led her to a more-definite conclusion.

. . . I agree with the district court that all of the evidence of record supports the conclusion that the navigable directory structure of the FTP server rendered the Live Traffic paper publicly accessible.

. . . The defendants presented evidence that the Live Traffic paper was posted on the Internet on a public FTP server for seven days and was available to anyone. In contrast, SRI failed to introduce any evidence showing a genuine issue of material fact as to the public accessibility of the Live Traffic paper, and attorney argument, no matter how good, simply cannot fill this void. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.

. . . The defendants introduced evidence indicating that the 1997 version of the FTP server had navigable directories and subdirectories exactly the same as the 2006 version of the FTP server. The evidence showed that the inventor, Mr. Porras, repeatedly directed people of ordinary skill in the art to the SRI FTP server prior to the critical date as a place to find materials on EMERALD in presentations and emails

. . . Given that the EMERALD subdirectory was publicized to the cyber security community as a source of information related to projects on intrusion detection, this paper, like everything else in the EMERALD subdirectory, was publicly accessible to anyone interested in material on intrusion detection. . . .

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