Google, AOL, Yahoo And Microsoft All Sued Over Excessively Broad Auction Patent

from the innovation-at-work dept

In the latest silly patent lawsuit to be filed in Marshall, Texas a company holding a patent on using gaming to determine the final price of an auction system. The company is now claiming that Google, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft are all violating the patent with their ad auction models. The interesting thing here is that the patent is clearly talking about a very different system. It describes a process of setting a range for a price, and then allowing some sort of game ("a video game, electronic board game, sports bet, card game") to determine what the actual final price is within that range. Of course, that doesn't sound at all like what the various companies listed here are doing. However, that's where whoever drafted the patent earned his or her money. Rather than limiting it to games like those listed, the following phrase was also added: "or any other activity." This is right out of the standard patent attorney's playbook for creating super broad patents -- though it goes against the entire purpose of the patent system. None of the companies involved built their businesses based on this patent. They certainly didn't get the idea for an ad auction based on this patent. Instead, this is just some company taking an overly broad patent and trying to apply it to big, rich companies, in the hopes of scoring some kind of cash settlement. That's not what the patent system is designed to do.
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Filed Under: business models, patents
Companies: aol, google, microsoft, yahoo


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2007 @ 12:05pm

    They should invoke a 4 choice verdict when lawsuits are filed. 1) They win, get money and defendant has to discontinue action
    2) They win, other defendant has to discontinue action, no money awarded
    3) They lose, that's it
    4) They lose and the lawsuit was absurd enough that they deserve to be thrown in jail for a great length of time

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

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 3 Oct 2007 @ 12:24pm

    Fixing this problem.

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

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 3 Oct 2007 @ 12:27pm

    Fixing this problem.

    Rather than just throwing them in jail as #1 suggested.
    I have a different idea.
    Just invalidate the patent they brought to trial here, as well as any other patent they own or have any partial ownership of. Then also say that they can no longer file patents for anything.
    That should help reduce the amount of BS lawsuits over patents with massive obviousness. Just the biggest threat ever for doing so.

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

    • identicon
      Casper, 3 Oct 2007 @ 12:29pm

      Re: Fixing this problem.

      Rather than just throwing them in jail as #1 suggested.
      I have a different idea.
      Just invalidate the patent they brought to trial here, as well as any other patent they own or have any partial ownership of. Then also say that they can no longer file patents for anything.
      That should help reduce the amount of BS lawsuits over patents with massive obviousness. Just the biggest threat ever for doing so.

      That's not a bad idea. If you exploit the system, you don't get to use it. Just like every other system we have.

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

      • identicon
        mkam, 4 Oct 2007 @ 4:14am

        Re: Re: Fixing this problem.

        Just invalidate the patent they brought to trial here, as well as any other patent they own or have any partial ownership of. Then also say that they can no longer file patents for anything.

        Right but the problem is these companies often will buy 'intellectual property' from some other company and then go on a sue campaign. And everyone looses except the lawyers.

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

  • identicon
    Rick, 3 Oct 2007 @ 1:04pm

    Criminal

    I agree with the coward. Start tossing these companies corporate officers in jail for frivolous lawsuits or making the loser pay all legal fees plus a penalty. The risk should run both ways.

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

  • identicon
    joe smith, 3 Oct 2007 @ 1:37pm

    an idea

    Why doesn't Google and Microsoft take over the world, than all our problems would be solved!

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

    • identicon
      General Eskimo, 3 Oct 2007 @ 5:42pm

      Re: an idea

      They already have! The only reason you don't know it yet is because they are too busy fighting each other, and don't have the time to announce their victory. When one company goes bankrupt, the other will inherit control over the world.

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

    • identicon
      Mr. Ito, 3 Oct 2007 @ 9:04pm

      Re: an idea

      Didn't you know? Microsoft has a secret base underneath Renton and thats were they train there AI hackers!! they are getting ready to take over the world!! O No!! And Google is really part of Microsoft!? O NO!!

      no really that would be easyer if they took over the world.

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

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 4 Oct 2007 @ 6:01am

    RE #9

    Thought about tossing that one in there too:
    Any patent they buy is automatically invalidated.
    Would work. =)

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

  • identicon
    A. L. Flanagan, 4 Oct 2007 @ 9:31am

    Ummmm...

    >> That's not what the patent system is designed to do.

    Well, certainly not originally. But if you call what Congress and the courts and the USPTO have done in the past few years "design" then it IS what was designed. On the other hand, if you call what they've done "incompetent, self-serving, disorganized tinkering", then you're absolutely right.

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


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