by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 13th 2008 9:21am
Acacia is a well known patent hoarder, who buys up or licenses various unused patents and sets up subsidiaries who do nothing but sue companies in the market who actually make products. The latest Acacia lawsuit has been filed against Apple for the "allowance" feature in iTunes that allows someone to transfer a dollar amount of iTunes credit to someone else -- effectively allowing a parent with a credit card to issue some "allowance" for a kid to purchase iTunes. You would think that such a concept wouldn't be patentable, given the history of parents giving kids an allowance -- but apparently the folks working in the patent office never received allowances as kids. The patent itself seems rather straightforward, but it's difficult to understand why such a thing is patentable in the first place. In the Teleflex v. KSR ruling the Supreme Court noted that the patent office shouldn't just approve patents on combining obvious ideas. Mixing the internet with allowances would seem to fall into that camp, though this patent was issued prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
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