Creating A List From A Database? Prepare For A Patent Infringement Suit

from the promoting-what-progress? dept

Thanks to the whole slew of folks who sent this in: TechCrunch has the details on Channel Intelligence, a company that owns a ridiculously broad and obvious patent on creating a list from a database and is now suing a whole bunch of small websites that offer things like wishlists. Read through the claims of the patent and see if you can explain how a single one is possibly new or non-obvious to those in the space. As TechCrunch notes, the lawsuits are all targeted against smaller websites, rather than the big players like eBay or Amazon. There are a variety of reasons why this might be. Channel Intelligence may have approached those companies and actually received a token payout (cheaper than a lawsuit for those companies). Or, perhaps more likely, it's using these smaller lawsuits to bring in some additional cash and to establish the myth that this patent is valid. That was common a few years back, before people started suing everyone at once for patent infringement. Patent holders would mostly target a few small companies, who wouldn't be able to launch a strong legal defense -- use those "victories" to build up a warchest while also claiming that it showed how the patents are "valid."

Filed Under: database, lists, obviousness, patents, wishlist
Companies: channel intelligence


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  1. identicon
    David, 18 Jul 2008 @ 5:47am

    Patents and Claims

    > I thought a patent was about a particular device that did something, not an idea.

    That's true up to a point. You are patenting only the specific implementation of an idea, not the idea itself. However patents also allow you to suggest to the examiner what variations to your specific blueprints should be considered trivial and should not result in a separate invention.

    When used as they were intended, this makes perfect sense. For example, the inventor of the Clockwork Radio would have submitted details of his design, which might for example have described a particular sort of spring. He could (and probably did) reasonably claim that simply substituting a different type of spring does not constitute a different invention.

    The problem with Patent Claims is where to draw the line, the examiner wants to allow some scope or the patent will be useless, but if he allows too much (as is the case here) it stifles innovation.

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