Microsoft's Ad Agency Sued For Violating Product Placement Patent With Bing Ad

from the product-placement-patent?!?! dept

With the rise of the DVR and the death of the captive audience, it’s no surprise that product placement has become more and more popular. But would you believe that ad agencies are trying to patent forms of product placement? Apparently, big ad firm WPP is being sued by a company for violating its patent in an ad campaign run for Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The patent in question (6,859,936) is for “a method and system for producing program-integrated commercials.” Basically, the idea is to use the actors and sets from a TV show to film a regular commercial spot, and then run that during the show itself. Yes, someone got a patent on that. Why? Who the hell knows. This is a perfect example, by the way, of how just because something’s “new” it doesn’t mean it’s not obvious. It’s just that it’s so obvious most people wouldn’t even bother thinking about patenting it.

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Companies: microsoft, wpp

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Comments on “Microsoft's Ad Agency Sued For Violating Product Placement Patent With Bing Ad”

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Danny (profile) says:

Re: Not even new!

George Burns did this in the 1950s as well. And Uncle Miltie – in the 40s – used to integrate Texaco ads into his show.

But then the patent is for the insertion technology, not for the construct of integrating ads into shows.

Also, I think the construct related to the patent is the other way around: a clip from a show is integrated into a product ad.

But even this, I think, was art prior to 2005.

Ron (profile) says:

Not New

As I recall, ad agencies used to use the actors and sets of TV programs back in the 50’s to promote their products. Seems to me that I recall seeing an add for Lucky Strike or something similar promoted by someone like James Arness on a Gunsmoke set or something of the like. I think that if USPO did a look at prior art, like looking at programs from the 50’s and 60’s they’d see it was already done.

Nick says:

My patent

Being the good citizen that I am, I would like to inform you all of my current patent application. It’s for a method of creating graphical representations of objects or environments with a graphite-based stick. I expect it to be approved any day now. Now, I don’t WANT to sue people acting in good faith, but I will aggressively protect my IP.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Prior Art.

Here we are.

They were pretty unabashed about the way they pushed junk food on children. See also, H. H. Munro (“Saki”), “Quail Seed,” circa 1914

A description of a melodrama with advertising incorporated. I suppose it would be too much to expect that the patent office be populated by people of some education or culture.

nemesis (profile) says:

Being a bit over 60, I seem to remember shows on TV where the people acting in a show also did commercials during the show. And, on XM Radio I often hear old time radio where the principals of the shows advertise for their sponsors.
So what’s so new about this method? Granted, I have not read the patent, so maybe there is something special (like they got away with it.)

I am beginning to think that the patent examiners either do not read and EXAMINE the applications,or they are just finished with 8th grade and can read.

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