Targeted Advertising? Patented! Bunch Of Media Companies Sued

from the and-here-we-go-again dept

Back in 2004, we wrote about a ridiculous patent (6,712,702), for a "method and system for playing games on a network." The guy behind the patent, Sheldon Goldberg, was claiming that a bunch of online solitaire games violated his patent. When the EFF launched its patent busting project, they went after a different but related patent from Goldberg. In 2008, we noted that he had sued Digg, CNET, the NY Times, the Washington Post and others for violating this patent (yes, the solitaire patent). Now, it appears he's going after even more media companies, over both this patent and a second patent (7,496,943), which is for a "network system for presenting advertising," which describes sending targeted ads to Blackjack players.

It really makes you wonder what sorts of examiners they employ at the USPTO that crap patents like this get approved in the first place.

Anyway, the latest lawsuit goes after a ton of media companies and Amazon:
The defendants in the lawsuit are: Advance Publications; which owns Conde Nast magazines and several newspapers; ALM Media, which owns The American Lawyer magazine group and several legal newspapers; Amazon; American Media (Playboy, Flex, Fit Pregnancy, Shape); Rodale (Men's Health, Runnerís World, Bicycling); Scripps Interactive (Food Network, HGTV, DIY Network); Demand Media; Viacom; and alt-weekly publisher Village Voice Media.
Suing a magazine for lawyers? Wonder if they can find some good legal help...? In the meantime, I'm curious if any of our regular patent system defenders can explain how these patents help to promote progress. Better yet, explain how these two patents present a single, non-obvious invention.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 3:40am

    Waitiaminute...

    Aren't business model patents supposed to be against the intent of patents full stop?

     

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

  2.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:14am

    Oddly

    Oddly when you look at trying to bust these patents there are all kinds of very specific things you have to find in the prior art to invalidate the claims - however when they sue others they don't seem to be so strict with themselves - so the patent is presented as rather narrow - for invalidation purposes - but gets strangely broader when they want to sue...

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:28am

    All right! +1 for innovation! Patent system to the maxx!

    /sarcasm or dementia. You pick.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Familiar venue

    Eastern Texas... go figure!

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 5:32am

    Quote:
    It really makes you wonder what sorts of examiners they employ at the USPTO that crap patents like this get approved in the first place.


    According to the latest news from the USPTO they are in the process of taking out the human factor completely from the equation.

    Quote:
    Automated process for eight patent-related petition types uses USPTO's EFS-Web system. Data is input through a secure web interface and the petition is decided automatically, eliminating months of waiting for these types of petitions to be docketed, decided and uploaded into Private PAIR.


    Source:
    http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/ePetition-FAQs.jsp

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Part of the problem...

    I don't recall "You could become a patent examiner!" ever being discussed as a possible career path at any time during the course of my computer systems engineering degree. I doubt it is a prominent choice for software engineering, information technology or computer science students, either.

    What are the qualifications needed to become a patent examiner for IT patents, anyway?

     

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

  7.  
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    Christopher (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 5:53am

    Re:

    Who the bleep thought this was a good idea! We already have problems with the HUMAN REVIEW PROCESS of today, where people do not realize that things that are trying to be patented have been in use for years.

    Why make it automated? A computer isn't going to be able to make a PROPER DECISION if a human cannot!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    So they're just going to continue to rubber stamp them, without having to pay someone to use the actual stamp?

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:28am

    New Rule

    I vote in a new Patent rule. If two or more companies implement your patent before you can, your patent is voided.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    I currently hold the patent for any computer system that automates patent approvals. I'm going to be rich after I sue the pants of the USPO for violating my patent.

    Yay for me!

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anon, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    Secure web interface huh?

    I bet it will play a nice official looking animation before going *ding* APPROVED!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re:

    I am in the process of submitting a patent for software to determine if patents are valid.

    I intend to send it through their automated patent process.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anon, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    Re: Part of the problem...

    Can you program the time on your VCR?

    Good, that's just the type of technical skill we are looking for!

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re:

    It can't.

    There is a patent preventing them from having an automated ding relating to successful approval of something on a website.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Cowardly Anon, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That made me smile until I realized it's probably true....

     

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

  16.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re: Part of the problem...

    That is a big part of the problem. The Patent office hires from pools of lawyers. They don't look for people experienced in engineering or science. They want people who can read lawyer speak.

     

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

  17.  
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    ScytheNoire (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 7:15am

    When is enough enough?

    When will these idiots realize how broken the patent system is and just put an end to it. It doesn't work, plain and simple. Next up, a patent on pooping.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    chuck, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Re: When is enough enough?

    That gives me an idea...a patent for not pooping. Want to be partners?

     

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

  19.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Waitiaminute...

    People won't try to make money in the market unless we provide incentives.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Prior art date

    This patent dates back to at least Dec. 1996 (perhaps as early as Jan. 1996 if the provisional applications can be properly relied on for priority). Any invalidating prior art would need to be before this date, and any assertion of obviousness would need to take into consideration the average knowledge of a programmer/web developer at that time.

     

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

  21.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: When is enough enough?

    That gives me an idea...a patent for not pooping. Want to be partners?

    This is most definitely a patent we do not need. There is already too many people around that are full of shit.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Part of the problem...

    This is completely false! Only a tiny fraction of patent examiners are lawyers. More importantly, they must have a degree in engineering, math, or so-called hard sciences. Patent lawyers must meet the same educational qualifications.

     

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

  23.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    what sorts of examiners they employ at the USPTO

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: Hurry up.

    Quick someone patent:

    The Automated process for eight patent-related petition types using a web system. Data is input through a secure web interface and the petition is decided automatically, eliminating months of waiting for these types of petitions to be docketed, decided and uploaded into Private PAIR.

    Then sue the USPTO.

    Because we all know it will get rubber stamped.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Part of the problem...

    What are the qualifications needed to become a patent examiner for IT patents, anyway?

    An over-developed bicep on the dominant arm for rubber stamping and the ability to pick a computer out of a lineup with a lump of cheese, a small chimpanzee, a rotary engine crank case and a fruitbat - best out of 3 minimum qualification

     

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

  26.  
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    Nom du Clavier (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re: Part of the problem...

    What are the qualifications needed to become a patent examiner for IT patents, anyway?
    Clearly there aren't any. None that would have anything to do with familiarity of the subject matter at hand, anyway.

     

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

  27.  
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    Beta (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Specify that your patent is for a system that grants a patent if there is no prior art.

    (Make sure you're a safe distance away from the Patent Office computer-- I saw them do this a couple of times on Star Trek, and it can get messy.)

     

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

  28.  
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    Mike Raffety (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Patenting the patent troll business process?

    Has anyone (yet) patented the business process commonly known as patent trolling? I think I'll go file that right away and make a few million.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    I find this article and the responding comments interesting in light of the recent Supreme Court arguments regarding what standard of proof should be used to determine whether a patent is invalid.

    Here, a patent examiner has examined specific claims and at least some subset of the prior art and said the claims in these patents are valid.

    Mike posts an article suggesting the patents are invalid, without any analysis of any claim of any patent, and asks for people to give reasons why the patents are *not* invalid.

    The majority of TD commenters appear to assume the patents are invalid.

    Curious.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Chris, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 11:20am

    ditto

    Mike Raffety just took the words right out of my mouth. How come no one has patented patent trolling? ...

    "A system of suing companies who actually do work and make things, so that the complainant doesn't have to."

    [rubber stamp thud] ... APPROVED!

     

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

  31.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Part of the problem...

    dont get too snippy there. you only have to have a b.a. in your chosen field to qualify.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Part of the problem...

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Patenting the patent troll business process?

    Has anyone (yet) patented the business process commonly known as patent trolling? I think I'll go file that right away and make a few million

    Too late. Halliburton beat you to it:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081107/0118162765.shtml

    And if that doesn't cover it, IBM has another one:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110102/15363912492/ibm-files-patent-patent-trolling-it-ma y-be-too-late.shtml

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 27th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    Mike posts an article suggesting the patents are invalid, without any analysis of any claim of any patent, and asks for people to give reasons why the patents are *not* invalid.

    I'm assuming most people here are knowledgeable, and can read the patents for themselves, and recognize how ridiculous they are.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re:

    It would be interesting to know how many actually did so before commenting.

    Why do you think they are obvious (or more specifically, were obvious at the time of claimed invention)?

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Also...that's pretty dense reading, even as patents go.

    Assuming your readership (or any readership, really) (a) understands how patents work (i.e., what the claims are in relation to the specification, etc.), (b) has the patience and ability to read and understand the 50+ claims in the patent, AND (c) has a comprehensive knowledge of what the state of the art was at the time of claimed invention, is assuming a hell of a lot.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    anothermike, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Part of the problem...

    I interviewed with the USPTO when I was getting my electrical engineering degree. They didn't need anyone that smart.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    patent litigation, May 2nd, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    If an inventor cannot sue for patent infringement and recover damages, they why should anyone invent anything? Only vigorous patent enforcement rewards inventors for their inventions and incentivizes others to invent.

     

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


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