Priceline Founder Jay Walker Becoming Full On Patent Troll: Sues Facebook For Friending And The Powerball Lottery For Lotteries
from the this-is-not-innovation dept
All the way back in 1999, we were already pointing out how Priceline’s Jay Walker was a lot more focused on locking up various ideas via patents than actually building sustainable businesses. Even at the time, “Priceline” was an aggressive patent defender and was really an offshoot of Walker Digital, the firm he set up to hoard patents and to extract money out of actual innovators. Over the years, we’ve noted the various ridiculous patents he’s received. It’s also worth noting that Priceline pretty near tanked under his leadership — once again highlighting the vast difference between idea and execution.
Joe Mullin has an article highlighting how Walker is now suing Facebook for violating a patent he got back in 1999 (5,884,27) for “establishing and maintaining user-controlled anonymous communications.” According to Walker, the very basic “friending” feature on Facebook violates this patent. That claim, alone, pretty much highlights what’s wrong with the patent system. The process of setting up such a system is not at all complicated, and thousands of programmers could come up with a similar system in a very short period of time. Note that Walker never actually did anything here (or, if he did, it’s pretty much lost to history). Yet Facebook actually implements such a feature well, and suddenly it needs to pay up? How does that make any sense at all?
Mullin’s report also highlights that Walker has been getting more aggressive in his patent lawsuits lately — even going so far as to sue the organization behind the Powerball lottery, claiming that they violated his newly issued patent (7,740,537) on “applying lottery multipliers. Seriously. How is that possibly patentable?