That Whole Watch An Ad To Get Content Thing? Patented… And The Patent Holder Has Been Suing
from the watch-out dept
So we were just talking about some new company called Free All Music, which has a plan to let people download free mp3s if they agree to watch a video ad first. I have my doubts about how well it would work… but apparently the company may also need to watch out for another issue: a bogus patent. You see, there’s some company called Ultramercial, who not only holds a US patent 7,346,545 on the concept of distributing content where the user can get it for free after watching an ad, but Ultramercial recently went legal. Just a few days ago, it sued Hulu, YouTube and WildTangent for infringement over that very patent. Seriously, USPTO? A patent on watching an ad before getting free content? This is why patent examiners get such a bad rap.
Filed Under: ad supported music, free, patents
Companies: hulu, ultramercial, wildtangent, youtube
Comments on “That Whole Watch An Ad To Get Content Thing? Patented… And The Patent Holder Has Been Suing”
Um, isn’t OTA TV and Radio based on this model?
Yes but this is “on the internet”
Re: Re: Re:
Patent Applicant: “I want to patent carbonated sweetened water”
Patent Examiner: “That’s been done”
PA: “Ah, but I want to do it on the internet !”
I’m close to DC. Give me names and a photo and I’ll go and shame these morons during their lunch hour.
Seriously, the “Moron in a Hurry” test was supposed to be about debunking patent claims. Not hiring patent examiners.
“Seriously, the “Moron in a Hurry” test was supposed to be about debunking patent claims. Not hiring patent examiners.”
Govt.: Hey! That idiot looks like he’s off to someplace important! Think he needs a job?
Re: Re: ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
the “Moron in a Hurry” test was supposed to be about debunking patent claims.
I thought it was a test for trademark infringement?
Re: Re: Re: ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
“I thought it was a test for trademark infringement?”
Well, yes. But if it wouldn’t stand the test of putting up a shutter, it should come nowhere near being accepted as a fount of monies for the next half century.
Re: Re: Re:2 ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
That should be ‘putting up a shingle.’ Putting up a shutter impresses nobody….
You. Joke. Coffee. My keyboard. Dammit.
Re: Re: ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
I wonder how many keyboards have been lost due to Techdirt.
Oh, I smell a class action lawsuit… No, never mind, someone just farted.
Wouldn’t this be a prime example of obviousness?
No. A _prime_ example of obviousness would be the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Welch’s holds that patent, I think. But this is certainly obvious. It is also not novel: people have been trading content for eyes since the invention of fire.
It has another, more fundamental problem. It is not a patentable “business method”. In the US, those are required to have a tangible result. Your method of depositing chrome on plastic (by first electroplating with nickel) is patentable – the result of the method is a chrome-plated piece of plastic. Your method of adding a column of numbers by starting in the middle and going out to the sides probably isn’t.
Re: Re: Re:
you sir, have no idea what you’re talking about.
the “useful, concrete, and tangible result” test of state street bank hasn’t been the law on eligibility for over a year now. it’s currently the “particular machine or transformation” test of diehr and subsequently bilski.
as for obviousness, there are plenty of people who still think that taking something that happens all the time off the internet, and adding the internet, all of a sudden is not obvious. with the current developments in code, simply adding the internet to your business model should ALWAYS obvious.
Sue the USPTO
Seems like all these companies that are getting sued over these ridiculous patents should band together and sue the USPTO for allowing these patents that essentially cause them to get sued.
I know this sounds a little bit like conspiracy, but maybe this whole thing is a racket set up by the gov’t. Maybe they are allowing all these ridiculous patents to go through so they can collect all the fees and taxes that go along with filing for a patent, lawsuits, etc.
Just throwin it out there…
Re: Sue the USPTO
They get the money for the application. They can deny it at the end and still get the money.
They are overworked, underpaid, and headed for a revolving door into a private patent practice (in which they will represent stupid patent applications before the PTO). There are few PTO “lifers”.
The real problem is not the motivation or even the workload of the PTO. It is its existence. Patents are silly. Congress has experimented with them for long enough – it should feel free to abolish them now that they no longer do any real work.
Re: Sue the USPTO
I think there are more lucrative ways to make money.
What a country
I invented bitching on the internet and I hold a patent – I will sue you all. hahaha
I recall salon.com using this kind of ad platform so that you could read articles for free, years ago. This is way lame.
It was actually this company, Ultramercial, that designed the format and ran the Salon ads. Before you get your knickers in a bunch read the patent. The application is clearly defined and offers viewers an “option” of watching an ad to access premium content that you may otherwise have to subscribe to.
I tried the same service at least five years ago through Virgin Mobile. You could watch commercials, afterward answering specific questions, so you actually had to watch the ads, and then your Virgin Mobile prepaid cell phone would be credited with free minutes. I only did it a couple of times before realizing that it wasn’t a good return on investment, considering what I made per hour at my job. It was better to buy prepaid minutes than work for them for free.
I guess Virgin Mobil will be the next ones in line to be sued for patent infringement.
virgin has already sued ultramerical…
Virgin Mobile USA (NYSE: VM) has sued Ultramercial over its Sugar Mama service, which allowed users to earn free voice minutes by watching commercials. Two weeks ago, we reported that a lawsuit was likely, but further details were unavailable at the time. The next day, Sprint announced it would buy the prepaid operator.
Based on documents filed in the state of New York, we now know why the Sugar Mama service was shut down July 16.
Virgin Mobile is claiming that Ultramercial, which ran the service on carrier’s behalf, had failed to pay Virgin at least $814,543 in payments for advertisements placed on the Sugar Mama site.
This is really a patent on receiving payment for a service before delivery of the service. I think the prior art on that would be the world’s first hooker.
“Price” can be any limited resource (money, time), so making me watch a commercial (paying with time) in order to gain access to content is really just a different form of payment. It is no different than charging a price in USD to watch the content.
How this passed even a cursory review at the USPTO is unfathomable.
Uhm… so techdirt, are you in trouble? There are ads on techdirt and I get the content for free, so one might be able to argue that you are somehow violating the patent.
Obvious... and archaic...
This is just another form of the barter system, which has been around, well, forever. You might as well patent the wheel… (and if your wheel is, say, some shade of grey and it’s only made for white trucks, then the USPTO would probably grant you a patent).
I think there should be a rule that if a patent is overturned, the examiner who approved it should be fired and pay a hefty fine for not doing his job right.
I actually researched this patent as part of my summer internship after my 1L year. It is definitely proof the USPTO needs to work on its POSITA standard.
Okay…this is actually enough to get me to act on it. Seriously what legally can we do about this. I HATE most corporations because they break the public trust, but I HATE stifling honest companies trying to do something right even more. Hulu has done everything right and has gotten shafted at every turn. You don’t mess with daddy’s tv and get away with it. If you look further down cookies are actually cited as a patent 6182050. Really? Someone patented cookies? Anyone else notice that they use actual 3.5″ disk graphics? Gah…let me know and I’ll mail in my patent on a method of holographic advertisement. I’ll hold on to it for a few years and it will be worth millions with zero actual work.
“Okay…this is actually enough to get me to act on it. Seriously what legally can we do about this.”
Vote for Ron Paul, libertarians, and people from the pirate party. Or we can protest the government. Stand in front of the white house with signs all day and make some noise. Do what people did to get the do not call registry passed against the will of corporations. We have to organize a massive protest. Without a massive protest things that benefit the population as a whole don’t typically get done.
Salon Virgin Knikers
I see two examples cited in these comments: Virgin Mobile and Salon.com. It seems that Ultramercai was behind both of these “free” offers. You all remembered those, and thought they were novel enough to remember (even if not worthwhile). Props to Ultramercial for thinking of this way ahead of its time.
From the Virgin Mobil lawsuit observation it’s clear that they’re probably the underdog here; why shouldn’t Hulu pay them for the use of the model that they pioneered? I know that if I discovered something way back in 2000 or whenever Ultramercial filed this, and everybody started to use it, I would like to be rewarded.