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?

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Comments on “Ad-Supported Directory Assistance? Patented!”

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ScaredOfTheMan says:

I have come to the conclusion...

Its not the patent applicants who are to blame (completely), its the USPTO, their sole purpose is to grant patents, so more, not matter how silly, or how potential detrimental impact on innovation, its always good. Like any institution their primary concern is the business of self perpetuation. All the have to do is deny or revoke a few every now and then and they look like the good guy here.

Just my thoughts

BetweenTheLines says:

If you read the patent, you’ll see that it is neither the first patent of its kind nor that remarkable. They even provide information on prior art. What they are patenting is linking SIC codes to callers and advertisements. Not very novel and still quite silly for a patent. Nevertheless, there is more between the lines than your article provides.

DFL (user link) says:

Patent Law Needs Rewriting

A kid patented a method of swinging on a swingset to make it go from side-to-side, or some such nonsense. The fact that such foolishness can be patented is a testiment to what a joke the patent system is. Patents are supposed to be issued for non-obvious innovations. But patents are awarded like candy these days and serve only to stifle innovation as intermediate steps are patented to block others from advancing.

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