Singapore Firm Claims Patent On Hyperlinked Images

from the oh-please dept

Ah silly patents. Remember back when British Telecom thought that it held a patent on hyperlinks? And then there’ve been multiple different patents claiming ownership of the idea of putting an image on a website. Well, it appears that a company in Singapore has recently merged the two ideas into its own patent, and boy, is it ever ready to sue just about everyone. Slashdot points us to the news that Singaporean image search firm Vuestar Technologies claims to hold a patent on linking images from a website to another site and is sending out threatening letters to a bunch of websites. No one has linked to the actual patent so it’s difficult to see what it really covers — but the idea that a recent patent would cover the concept of linking images seems preposterous.

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Companies: vuestar technologies

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Comments on “Singapore Firm Claims Patent On Hyperlinked Images”

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Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

I read about this yesterday


There was some confusion as to whether the patent is simply embedding a hyperlink to an image

or the more advanced topic of scanning images for content and linking to that content. Picture of McD arches links to McD site.

Prior art covers the 1st.
I have been linking images to sites for 13 years.
Definitely covers the patent filing date.

DanC says:

Re: Re:

No, you are correct – Patent 7,065,520 Vuestar is attempting to enforce. According to their website:

The Patent “A method of locating web – sites using visual images ” is granted to the Inventor Ronald Neville Langford who has assigned its use for licensing and other commercial exploitation to VUESTAR Technologies Pte Ltd of Singapore is valid

The problem is, using an image for a hyperlink, regardless of where the image is stored, was well in use before 2001. This is another example of where the USPTO has granted a patent to a pre-existing “invention”.

DanC says:

Re: RETARDS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the usual tired insults from the resident troll who apparently couldn’t be bothered to read the patent in question and realize that it was granted years after the practice it describes was already in use.

Why should angry dude trouble himself with actually trying to make intelligent statements when ignorant rants are so much easier?

CJ says:

Is this that thing where people were planning to dumb down society even further but creating some kind of filter over content that replaced words with logo-graphics. So if you were reading an article say about outsourcing jobs because you hate that your employees expect tolerable working conditions and fair pay, you’d just see the Bank of America logo instead of having to read Bank of America, and then you could just click on the logo and you could go to the website and send them a nasty letter they won’t read.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

From the looks of it

From reading the abstract of the patent, It looks like it’s not using a image to link to another site but use an image from another site during a search. Like Google image search.

I think the first time I heard of the idea was in, I believe, 2000 on TechTV. It was a modified version of FireFox, but they didn’t use an image they used a screen cap of the page itself.

A chicken passeth by says:

On behalf of my countrymen, I would like to apologize for this patent troll’s antisocial behavior. Our local companies are taking the brunt of his misguided demands anyway.

Can you believe the man even had the cheek to say that he was “disappointed at the outrage”, that he was “well within the laws”, and even asked why “we’re chasing him out” in a newspaper interview. >_>

Dr Chong Yee Khoo (user link) says:

Look to the Back

“In sum, the company implied that any Web site that uses pictures and graphics to link to another site or Web page will need a license from Vuestar.”

If that’s what they are saying in their letter, then this does not seem to be borne out by the patent. The patent is directed to web searching, not pure hypertext linking. The claims of the Singapore patent appear to cover web searches whose results display a visual image in addition to a hyperlink to the target.

Most of the independent claims also require the entries of the search results list to display “contact information for an organisation” as a component. This is defined in the specification as the “organisation’s telephone, e-mail or facsimile contact information”.

So the patent, as far as these claims are concerned, would appear to cover web searches which display visual content and contact information.

Does your website do this?

[Note that Claim 34 does not appear to have this limitation]

This is just a quick analysis of the patent done in 10 minutes. It is not to be construed as legal advice. You should neither act or refrain from acting on the basis of this posting.

Contact your patent attorney for more information, preferably a technically qualified patent attorney.

Disclosure: I am a Singapore patent attorney. I have no connection with any of the parties mentioned in the article. I am acting as an interested member of the public.

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