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
    Frank Shook, 19 Jul 2008 @ 5:03pm

    It's like trying to patent the array structure in C programming.

    SQL doesn't make room for something like a "list" of values.

    For instance, there's no such thing as defining a single field that holds a series of x-y value pairs (example: {{x=0, y=0}, {x=2, y=5}, {x=50, y=72}, {x=100, y=100}}.

    A separate 'one-to-many' relational table is required. This table has three fields: id, x, and y. To get the complete set of x-y pair values the query looks up all x-y pair records associated with the id field.

    Looks like TechCrunch describes this in its patent claim. I don't think such a vague and fundamental claim can be upheld. It's like trying to claim a patent for the common array structure in C programming.

    FYI: FileMaker has natively used such a list structure for as long as I can remember.

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