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Skype under patent lawsuit over network monitoring

After Skype suffered worldwide outages last week, denying millions of users the ability to sign in for some time, Skype’s holiday season actually just got a little worse. Skype, on their official blog, blamed the malfunction on a bug in their “supernodes,” the layer of their network infrastructures that helps users communicate with accounts over long distances and over disparate networks. According to TechCrunch, after giving the world a glimpse of their network structure, a company called Gradient Enterprises is suing Skype for patent infringement. Gradient believes that their patent, which is titled “METHOD FOR DETECTING, REPORTING AND RESPONDING TO NETWORK NODE-LEVEL EVENTS AND A SYSTEM THEREOF,” was infringed upon by Skype in their troubleshooting of the supernode network.

Many are calling Gradient’s lawsuit frivolous, seeing as the patent basically gives them the rights to most decentralized network monitoring tools. The patent summary makes this argument pretty clear.

A system for detecting, reporting and responding to network node-level occurrences on a network-wide level includes one or more first mobile agents, each of the one or more first mobile agents is hosted by one of a plurality of nodes in the network.

An event detection system communicates network event information associated with an event detected at one or more of the nodes in the network to the one or more first mobile agents, and a reporting system disseminates from the one or more first mobile agents information describing the detected event to one or more other nodes.

This wouldn’t be the first time a frivolous patent infringement suit was filed, and it certainly won’t be the last. I guess this is the price a company pays for being transparent in this day and age. 

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