Xybernaut, the wearable computing firm that has been around for ages, but never got around to selling many products... and eventually faced serious problems (and then bankruptcy) after it came out that its execs were using company funds for personal expenses, has apparently decided its latest best bet to survive is to sell off some of its patent portfolio. In the past, we'd already noted that some of Xybernaut's patents not only seemed way too broad and obvious but had some fairly well-known prior art: such as the Star Trek communicator device. The latest patents that they're selling off focus on location based advertising, which they may have timed right for an auction. There's obviously been a lot of attention in that space lately, with Google's recent plans to offer location-based ad-supported WiFi. However, when you look at the actual patents involved, they again seem extremely broad and obvious. There were plenty of people talking about the concept of location based advertising when this particular patent was filed. For a while, you couldn't go to a single wireless trade show without hearing people predict that the day was coming when you'd walk by a McDonald's and receive a McDonald's coupon on your phone (as bad an idea as that is...). The patent in question doesn't really describe anything new or innovative with regards to that. It just describes that basic concept -- which was widely discussed at the time. And, now, someone's going to spend millions on it -- and probably use it to prevent others from actually implementing it (or at least getting others to pay up for implementing this concept that everyone already understood). How does this encourage innovation again?
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