Google, AOL, Yahoo And Microsoft All Sued Over Excessively Broad Auction Patent
from the innovation-at-work dept
In the latest silly patent lawsuit to be filed in Marshall, Texas a company holding a patent on using gaming to determine the final price of an auction system. The company is now claiming that Google, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft are all violating the patent with their ad auction models. The interesting thing here is that the patent is clearly talking about a very different system. It describes a process of setting a range for a price, and then allowing some sort of game ("a video game, electronic board game, sports bet, card game") to determine what the actual final price is within that range. Of course, that doesn't sound at all like what the various companies listed here are doing. However, that's where whoever drafted the patent earned his or her money. Rather than limiting it to games like those listed, the following phrase was also added: "or any other activity." This is right out of the standard patent attorney's playbook for creating super broad patents -- though it goes against the entire purpose of the patent system. None of the companies involved built their businesses based on this patent. They certainly didn't get the idea for an ad auction based on this patent. Instead, this is just some company taking an overly broad patent and trying to apply it to big, rich companies, in the hopes of scoring some kind of cash settlement. That's not what the patent system is designed to do.