Company Claims Patent On Pop-Up Ads, Sues Porn & Travel Companies

from the well,-if-it-gets-rid-of-pop-ups... dept

I have to admit that I'm still a bit surprised that pop-up/pop-under advertisements still exist. The concept is so annoying and so anti-consumer that pretty much all browsers figured out ways to build in pop-up blockers many, many years ago. Every so often one gets through (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way), and I get annoyed and try to remember never to visit that site again. However, Paul Keating alerts us to the news that a company called "ExitExchange" now claims to hold a patent on pop-up ads, and has sued seven porn sites and two travel companies for using them without a license. The patent in question is US Patent 7,353,229 for a "post-session internet advertising system." It was only granted in 2008, but its priority date goes back to May of 2000. I tried to look up a history of pop-up ads, but was unable to find any definitive source on when the first pop-up ad was used. Still, just because it wasn't done back then doesn't mean the patent is valid -- perhaps people were just smart enough not to do something that annoyed the hell out of everyone. The company has sued Travelocity and Kayak along with a variety of porn sites.

Of course, this is hardly the only company claiming a patent on pop-ups. Years ago, there were multiple stories of others claiming patents on pop-ups and suing over those patents -- and it appears that most of those patents were filed long before the patent above. And, if you were hoping that maybe something good would come out of patents on pop-up ads, that they might be forced to go away, this history of patents and lawsuits over pop-ups suggests that it hasn't helped very much in stopping them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    There was a "Pop-Up Killer" application in 1999, which suggests that the popups predated the patent application.

    You can read the original patent at http://www.google.com/patents/US7353229 . To my untrained eye it looks like this is a patent for the idea of using mechanisms already in JavaScript and Java applets to present advertising. Reading the article as a programmer I didn't see much in the way of how to do popups other than "Use the tools that are already provided."

    JavaScript and the ability to do pupups and popunders was released by Netscape in 1997. I am sure that by the time the '229 patent was filed there were a lot of tutorials that explained how to do pupup and popnder ads and did it better than this paptent.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    Am I the only one feeling ambivalent toward this?


    One one hand, it is patent trolling.


    On the other hand, anything that gets us less pop-up ads is fine by me :)

     

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  3.  
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    Glen, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Point of curiosity...

    (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way)


    I've noticed that too. What sorcery do they use to get that through?

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    "almost always advertising Netflix"

    There should be a cookie that indicates you already have a Netflix account so you'd get a different ad. Netflix is wasting a lot of money advertising to its own customers.

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    A patent on calling a function.

    Job well done, Luke S. Wassum, Primary Examiner!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Has anyone that browse the web with scripts disable ever saw a popup?

    How can anybody patent a pop up?

    The idea goes back to popups on OS, how is that patentable?

    Every single GUI that I saw ever has popups for one thing or another.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_1.0

    Yes I am that old.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    ha, I have complained to companies that I subscribe to, verizon, AAA, etc, who keep sending me Ads to join their service via snail mail. and they just won't stop

    I doubt netflix will bother with stopping a pop-up

     

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  8.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Of course there were

    Of course there were pop-up ads pre-2000. I remember getting them while in university (1997) when looking at por ... um ... travel sites.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    pretty sure popups existed by 1998.

     

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  10.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    Might get us less porn too though if the porn companies have to pay out. That is not so good :-P

     

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  11.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    I clear my cookies at the end of every browsing session so that would not have an affect for me.

     

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  12.  
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    kog999, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    "There should be a cookie that indicates you already have a Netflix account so you'd get a different ad. Netflix is wasting a lot of money advertising to its own customers"

    Thats a pretty good idea. i think i will patent it.

     

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  13.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Point of curiosity...

    I have never seen an unwanted popup from anybody, not even Netflix, since I started using NoScript.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    It's almost non-existent to me as well. Every once in a great while I see a pop up or under. I actually want to see none. As in zero.

    I've learned long ago not to trust ads on the internet. They are a security problem and I will do everything in my power to prevent them from occurring on my machine. I know of several instances where others got malware through infected iFrames I didn't because I don't allow them to run.

     

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  15.  
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    DubzDubz, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re:

    "There should be a cookie that indicates you already have a Netflix account so you'd get a different ad. Netflix is wasting a lot of money advertising to its own customers"

    Thats a pretty good idea. i think i will patent it.


    I called dibs. You might not have heard it, but I said it before you typed that. (That's how the patent system works right?)

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Simpsons Did It!

    The Simpson episode "Das Bus" Feb 1998 featured popups in the show. If they were already that prominent and annoying I would have to assume they had to have been a part of life before 1998.
    I remember one annoying night (and I'm pretty sure it was '95) that a site I visited generated a popunder. Then that popunder spawned another...in short order I had 3000+ windows and my Win95 promptly died with a BSOD.

     

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  17.  
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    Tux (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    In case you need some prior art...

    This might be handy. Popups have been around since at least the late 1990s.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    I block all cookies. I also disable Java, scripting, and Active X. I also use cleaning programs after every use of my computer.

     

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  19.  
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    AC Unknown, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Point of curiosity...

    NoScript rocks. I haven't had to deal with popup ads, either.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    "IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS"

    Gee, what a surprise.

     

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  21.  
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    illuminaut (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 3:42pm

    Re: See

    Pretty funny to see spam posting on an article related to the nuisance of ads. I should patent automated spam posting in forums and sue these bastards.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Point of curiosity...

    Or you COULD simply use your built-in popup blocker.

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Point of curiosity...

    The built-in popup blockers don't block all objectionable popups, and they don't protect against the myriad other nasty things that NoScript does (i-frame tricks, Cross-site scripting, invisible buttons, etc.)

     

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  24.  
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    Watchit (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 6:24pm

    Could this possibly be a case of Patent Trolls for Good?!?

     

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  25.  
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    Watchit (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Re: See

    My sister made $99999999999999.99 working from home for 0.5 hours! follow this link: totally-not-a-scam-dot-com to find out how!

     

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  26.  
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    totalz (profile), Jun 19th, 2013 @ 8:30pm

    I do get pop-under from time to time, but the ads pic are already blocked, and usually that window will close itself!

    Talk about the innovation of scams, US of A is always on top...

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 11:06pm

    I definitely remember getting Popups in 1996.
    I got suckered into clicking on a deceptive porn site link and they wouldn't stop poping up.

    (it really was deceptive)

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 11:16pm

    From the Patent....

    "most Internet businesses use interrupting advertisements such as pop-up windows"


    So can you patent something that already has a name?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2013 @ 11:22pm

    Actually, your use of "Pop-Up" has been very misleading, both in your interpretation of the story and as a red-herring for your commentators (who very rarely, it seems, read any of your primary sources).

    If you read the patent, it is for "Pop-Under" advertising.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Johan N, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:40am

    window.open existed before 2000

    A quick search on Google for results before 31 May 2000 shows that the window.open function in JavaScript that's used for pop-ups has been around for way longer than then: https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=window.open&sa=X&ei=oiHDUd71KvSQ4ASTp4CABg&ved=0CB 8QpwUoBg&source=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A%2Ccd_max%3A31-5-2000&tbm=

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    If you read the patent, it is for "Pop-Under" advertising


    I think everybody understands that. It doesn't change the fact that there is lots of prior art on this.

     

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


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