Encyclopaedia Britannica's New Business Model: Sue For Patent Infringement

from the how-educational dept

Just as many are starting to question Encyclopaedia Britannica's ability to survive in the Wikipedia world, it appears that the company has come up with a new business model: suing completely unrelated businesses for patent infringement. Apparently, the company is suing navigation device makers TomTom and Magellan for infringing on a bunch of patents having to do with a computerized map system. A quick stroll through the patent files shows a number of such patents, with this one being a recent one. If you're in the business of providing mapping and navigation systems, this seems like a fairly obvious progression of the art, rather than something that deserves patent protection -- but apparently the lawyers at Britannica don't agree. Yet another example of companies whose traditional lines of business are being challenged relying on patents not to further innovation, but to hold it back.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, May 31st, 2007 @ 10:36am

    Innovation continues to slowly grind

    to a halt.

    The way companies flood the US Patent office (USPO), it is no wonder that when a company begins to falter, it pulls out it patent portfolio and starts to troll.

    Remember one definition of Troll:
    Creature that lives under a Bridge and extorts payment for passage.

    Company that lives off of extortion payments for patents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Thomason, May 31st, 2007 @ 10:46am

    Who you like better.

    I read a lot of what's posted here as being based on who or what someone likes better than someone or something else. That is the depth of those analyses.
    On that basis, I like Brittanica better than TomTom or Magellan, so they fairly should win damages, without regard to originality or novelty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Starky, May 31st, 2007 @ 10:53am


    The filing date for this patent is Jun 13, 2005
    I'm pretty certain that what they are describing in the patent was around before that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, May 31st, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Irrelevant company trying to stay relevant

    What else have they got left? I mean seriously who needs/buys from them and their captive knowledge anyway? Wikipedia, encarta and the internet in general decimated their value in short order.

    So now like any good corporation they are trying to "enhance shareholder value" so they start grasping at anything that makes them money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2007 @ 10:58am

    Screw it, if it gets too crazy I'm just going to move to a country where common sense has not been beat to death.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anononononon, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:05am

    Seriously, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    dlb, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:07am

    Prior Art

    Amazing. They have described in general terms most mapping software, listed that description in the form of claims, and got a patent on it. This degrades the value of my patents. My innovative effort seems pointless. I quit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    bonbon, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:16am

    31 days in May.
    22 Posts from Mike about patents.


    We get it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Mike, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:34am


    You moron. Go read somewhere else if you don't care for patent articles then!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    bonbon, May 31st, 2007 @ 11:57am

    Re: BONBON!!!

    Then where would I find such intellectually stimulating comments like yours?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Vincent Clement, May 31st, 2007 @ 12:17pm

    Wayne Amsbury at the USPTO needs to be fired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Big Al, May 31st, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    To Anonymous Coward

    Please name for me the country you describe. France? Mexico? I know, China! Right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    Don't stop

    Obviously Mike needs to keep writing about patents until something is done. Simply acknowledging that there is a problem and moving on is not the answer. Keep it up man! Most people will not act to change unless they are forced to, or are annoyed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    bonbon, May 31st, 2007 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Don't stop

    Yes, Mike's blog in some obscure Techie website is going to change the face of patents in the United States and maybe even abroad.

    Boy, it must be nice to live on Planet Insane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2007 @ 2:04pm

    Re: To Anonymous Coward

    Hell yeah, China sounds great. They don't beat common sense to death, just the people!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    angry dude, May 31st, 2007 @ 5:26pm

    Mike's patent bashing

    Hey, dudes, Mike is an honest dude on payroll.

    He is just sucking up to his corporate masters:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    vapiddreamer, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Re: BONBON!!!

    If you don't want to read about patents you don't need to read elsewhere, but why would you continue even clicking on posts that clearly state they are about patents ?!?!?!?! oh, you r just one of those whiny b@$*hs that has nothing better to do that complain about everything, even those things they could easily avoid. Yeah, cause if you avoided them what would you have to whine about. Shut the hell up you snot nosed little freak.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    vapiddreamer, May 31st, 2007 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: Don't stop

    Uh, yeah, the dissemination of information that is relevant to peoples lives never changes anything. Your totally right. How could we all have been so mistaken. With your brains I'm surprised you haven't fallen over dead cause you forgot to breath.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Avatar28, May 31st, 2007 @ 9:05pm

    Google next?

    The description in the patent seems to describe Google Maps and really most every other mapping site on the net to a planet. Yeah, if they can't come up with mounds of prior art I will be truly shocked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), May 31st, 2007 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Google next?

    That patent cites some 40 or 50 other patents and is nothing more than broadly defined systems or methods tied together by several flowcharts. I can't believe that it took 14 people to 'invent' and 'innovate' this baby. I remember drawing flowcharts in some of my computer science courses back in the 80s.

    This strategy only reveals how bad things are at Britannica and how desperate they are to stay alive. It's been nice knowing you Encyclopaedia Britannica, but your time to shut down has come. Thanks for all the good times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    mike allen, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 2:17am


    It use to be the case that if a industries in old technology they did something else case in point Nokia who i think were in the rubber industry before mobile phones so why cant britanica move into say building satelites

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    JustMe, Jun 1st, 2007 @ 8:13am

    To: All the bitchy kids

    So go start your own tech site. Geeze.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Phil, Jun 3rd, 2007 @ 8:23am

    Using Britannica's Assets

    When you sit back and think about the assets that Encyclopaedia Britannica has, it is amazing. They should create a huge website with all their content indexed and searchable and have advertising pop-up for search terms used.

    They are sitting on a fortune if done right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Charles Michael Collins, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 6:21am


    Go ahead. Bash and reduce patents. I filed two patents and got them attacked by a university professor for shock jock sport that said they were predated and were not. Very popular thing for COMMUNISTS to do (they want NO ONE to OWN ANYTHING, including patent rights). Wikipedia refuses to even credit names of patent holders of important patents and refuses to credit patent holders that provide working models of "first" important technologies like my first replicating nano device. The missing data "Mike" is leaving out is what is being censored by Wikipedia and the drug addicted music stealing Richard Stallman. Wikipedia is using HIS paradigm? This, another university elitist that never knew the meaning of earning an honest dime, slopping at the taxpayers feeding trough? I have 239 real innovations of valuable need to man kind ready to make a living with. IF MY FIRST TWO PATENTS ARE BUSTED SEE IF I EVER FILE ANOTHER ONE FOR YOU UNADULTERATED IDIOTS, THE SHOCK JOCK, DOPE ADDICT LOVING PUBLIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    F@CK PATENT HATING PIGS!@#$$%^&*())
    F@CK WIKIPEDIA!@#$^%&*&


    And Cornell stole my replicator on all this and gave it away, lord high felons PIGS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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