Ad-Supported Directory Assistance? Patented!
from the but-of-course dept
There’s no doubt that Jingle has done quite well with their idea of putting ads into a directory service offering to make 411 calls free (though, I still wonder if this is the type of service that dies out as younger people wonder who would ever call 411 for info when they can just look it up online). However, to suggest that the idea is patentable (via Techmeme) seems pretty ridiculous. “Ad-supported” is not something new that should be patentable. Targeting ads isn’t something new that should be patentable. Directory assistance isn’t something that’s new that should be patentable. Yet put them all together, and, bam, the USPTO awards the patent. The Teleflex ruling was meant to remind the Patent Office and the courts that simply combining obvious ideas doesn’t deserve patent protection, but it appears the Patent Office hasn’t received the message yet. In the meantime, what’s wrong with allowing actual competition in this space? Others certainly have come along and copied Jingle’s idea, but Jingle has remained in the lead through better marketing. That’s how competition is supposed to work. Why kill off the competition for no societal benefit?