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Microsoft's Ad Agency Sued For Violating Product Placement Patent With Bing Ad

from the product-placement-patent?!?! dept

With the rise of the DVR and the death of the captive audience, it's no surprise that product placement has become more and more popular. But would you believe that ad agencies are trying to patent forms of product placement? Apparently, big ad firm WPP is being sued by a company for violating its patent in an ad campaign run for Microsoft's Bing search engine. The patent in question (6,859,936) is for "a method and system for producing program-integrated commercials." Basically, the idea is to use the actors and sets from a TV show to film a regular commercial spot, and then run that during the show itself. Yes, someone got a patent on that. Why? Who the hell knows. This is a perfect example, by the way, of how just because something's "new" it doesn't mean it's not obvious. It's just that it's so obvious most people wouldn't even bother thinking about patenting it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    David (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Not even new!

    This is not new. This has been done on TV shows since TV began. How is this not covered by prior art? Remember all the cigarette and soap adds in the 50s? Most were done by the host of the show. "And now here's Jack Benny for the smooth taste of Pall Mall."

     

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  2.  
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    Ron (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Not New

    As I recall, ad agencies used to use the actors and sets of TV programs back in the 50's to promote their products. Seems to me that I recall seeing an add for Lucky Strike or something similar promoted by someone like James Arness on a Gunsmoke set or something of the like. I think that if USPO did a look at prior art, like looking at programs from the 50's and 60's they'd see it was already done.

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Not even new!

    Anyone remember why "Soap Operas" have their name?

    Who the frak works at the Patent Office? Seriously?

     

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  4.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Not even new!

    I was going to say the same exact thing. People have been doing this even before TV. It was done on the radio during live broadcasts with the actors.

     

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  5.  
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    Danny (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Not even new!

    George Burns did this in the 1950s as well. And Uncle Miltie - in the 40s - used to integrate Texaco ads into his show.

    But then the patent is for the insertion technology, not for the construct of integrating ads into shows.

    Also, I think the construct related to the patent is the other way around: a clip from a show is integrated into a product ad.

    But even this, I think, was art prior to 2005.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Thanks for buying Razorfish, WPP. Now, suck it.

    i4i was right. Microsoft is turning into a crappy, crappy bully, using patents to bulldog their competitors.

    Dell and HP have been added to my list of companies that I won't patronize.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Thank god Snow Leopard is available today. If everyone could see the light...

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Thanks for buying Razorfish, WPP. Now, suck it.

    Hmm. This is a case of Micrsoft's ad agency being *bullied* not about Microsoft bullying anyone.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    But Mike would want it for free, and to rope customers into higher margin rateplans.

     

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  10.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Not even new!

    Sure it's been done before, but now we're doing it "Online"

    /sarcasm

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Bob, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, but you know, $29.99 is expensive. What is that anyways? A 1/2 a bottle of The Glenlivet? Don't keep a scott from their Whisky.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Touche. You win this round, Bob.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    pegr, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    My favorite?

    Fred telling Barney that "Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should!"

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    "Thank god Snow Leopard is available today. If everyone could see the light..."

    We'd all be blinded.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    I'm holding off on SnowLeopard until I can virtualize Linux. I found that XP works best virtualized under Linux, under OS X.

    Hell, I got to do something with 10GB of Ram...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    we would all sit around and make artsy looking websites with no content, edit videos about nothing, and tweet about how cool our new OS is.

    Basically, we would stop being productive and spend our time gazing at our electronically enhanced navels.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bob, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    Well, with 10Gb you could run Tweetdeck pretty quickly, you don't need anything fancy, in fact, you could run it under Tiger.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re:

    OH SNAPPAGE! Bob is on a roll today.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Bob, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re:

    That's what the weekend is for right?

    Oh, you're still at work. Well, keep dreaming. It'll give you something to look forward to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    guy one, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Thanks for buying Razorfish, WPP. Now, suck it.

    well have fun with your Apple products... because Apple wont bully anyone.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Brian, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Not even new!

    Exactly. Jed Clampit and Winston's. Fred Flintstone and Welch's Grape Jelly and on and on

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Hell it goes back to radio if not theater

    Jack Benny used to integrate the ads into his radio shows. Some of the cigarette funded shows can't be replayed on radio and make sense since the ad was so well integrated.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Nick, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    My patent

    Being the good citizen that I am, I would like to inform you all of my current patent application. It's for a method of creating graphical representations of objects or environments with a graphite-based stick. I expect it to be approved any day now. Now, I don't WANT to sue people acting in good faith, but I will aggressively protect my IP.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Thanks for buying Razorfish, WPP. Now, suck it.

    Hey!
    Some of us use Linux, ya know!
    Of course, if you read anything on RMS, he is like the broke Bill Gates in the bully department.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    Seems to me like a pretty good idea to hold customer interest in an ad so they will likely watch it rather than running to the "john".

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    Prior Art.

    Here we are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Uncle_Al_Show

    They were pretty unabashed about the way they pushed junk food on children. See also, H. H. Munro ("Saki"), "Quail Seed," circa 1914

    http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/QuaiSeed.shtml

    A description of a melodrama with advertising incorporated. I suppose it would be too much to expect that the patent office be populated by people of some education or culture.

     

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  27.  
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    nemesis (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:25am

    Being a bit over 60, I seem to remember shows on TV where the people acting in a show also did commercials during the show. And, on XM Radio I often hear old time radio where the principals of the shows advertise for their sponsors.
    So what's so new about this method? Granted, I have not read the patent, so maybe there is something special (like they got away with it.)

    I am beginning to think that the patent examiners either do not read and EXAMINE the applications,or they are just finished with 8th grade and can read.

     

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