Oprah Sued For Patent Infringement Over Her Book Club

from the just-as-Thomas-Jefferson-intended dept

Joe Mullin is back to let us know about the latest patent insanity, starting with a post about a whole bunch of patent infringement lawsuits based on patents held by Scott Harris. You may recall Harris because he was a lawyer for a big law firm, but was quietly filing patents on the side, and then apparently working out deals whereby other companies licensed those patents to be used in infringement lawsuits against big companies -- including companies represented by the very same firm Harris worked for. Not surprisingly, he lost his job and was sued. A few months back, the lawsuit was settled and Harris's patents have, miraculously, been showing up in a bunch of recent patent lawsuits.

But the real stunner in the latest set of lawsuits is that one of the patents is being used to sue Oprah. Yes, that Oprah. Apparently, Harris is claiming that his patent on enhancing the touch and feel of the internet is violated by Oprah's book club. Yes. Her book club. Violates a patent (according to the patent holder). Now, my critics will be the first to point out that I'm no patent attorney, but reading over the patent, it certainly appears to be a patent on displaying a book online. How is that possibly patentable material? Wouldn't it be great if this got Oprah looking into the ridiculous state of the patent system in the US these days, and how it's often being used in such bogus ways? While it probably won't happen, it certainly could help dispel the old myths of the patent system as promoting innovation and finally get the issue in front of the public in a way that they would realize just how damaging the system has become and how widely it's abused.
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Filed Under: book club, oprah winfrey, patents, scott harris


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  1. identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, 6 Jan 2009 @ 12:54pm

    More complicated than that...

    Mike:

    The essence of the patent seems to be that it limits how many pages of a book may be requested and read. Other than that, it separately claims "tips" in conjunction with requested pages and limits resolution of the portions that cannot be read and increases resolution of portions that can be read.

    I also agree with Fishy. It seems like Amazon would potentially infringe this patent, if valid.

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