Ad Agency Claims It Owns The Right To Product Placement; Sues Competitors

from the is-it-april-first-already? dept

A few months back, we wrote about how ad agency Denizen wasn't just claiming to have patented product placement (check it out: patent 6,859,936) but was suing another ad agency, WPP, for violating the patent. Perhaps Denizen's next patents will be on claiming ownership of obvious ideas and suing your competitors, because it's still at it. The latest is that it's suing media agency Mindshare for incorporating the brand Vaseline into the TV show Maneater.

What's really odd here, though, is that Denizen isn't actually asserting that patent in this particular lawsuit -- even though it mentions that it has it. Instead, it's claiming a trade secret violation, noting that it met with Mindshare way back in 2004 and shared this groundbreaking concept of integrating products into show, and worked out an agreement that "Mindshare wouldn't use, publish, disclose, communicate, or divulge information shared on Denizen's proprietary method of product integration." Specifically:
"During the meeting, Denizen disclosed to MindShare certain techniques...that could be used to implement program integrated advertisements, such as, but without limitation, ways to shoot the advertisements, strategies for obtaining Screen Actors Guild contracts, methods to gain access or rights to television program content, and how and when an advertising agency could work with a production house or network."
I'm at a loss to think of how any of that can be "proprietary," but perhaps Denizen has a creative lawyering department in addition to its regular creative advertising/marketing people.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ryan, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:39pm

    It's Strategy

    I believe this is the patented throw-shit-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks strategy. Denizen probably owes a lawyer somewhere money for it...

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

      Re: It's Strategy

      "I believe this is the patented throw-shit-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks strategy."

      I have a patent on that strategy. Now I should sue them.

       

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    Anonymous1, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    I think I'm going to patent being a bastard, and then sue all the members of the RIAA, MPAA, and every corporate-patent troll out there for not paying me royalties.
    What particular form of brain-rot affects the members of the US patent office?

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:50pm

      Re:

      "What particular form of brain-rot affects the members of the US patent office?"

      I've often pondered this myself... my latest theory involves them getting funding increases for making use of the "hire the retarded" incentives...

      Though I could be wrong; maybe they just feed your patent-proposal thru an algorithm which counts the number of words which are greater than 4 syllables and if it beat a requisite number--ping!--you get a patent.

       

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        Kazi, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

        Re: Re:

        It's a 2 way street. Don't blame the Patent Office for nonsense stuffed down examiner's throats by "lawyers" who have "best interests of the client" on their mind. Some examiners know what to do and how to do it while others have no clue and are new. Then there are those who don't mind as there will always be someone complaining whether it's the applicant, the supervisor, or the public. Everyone's a critic, literally.

         

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          Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 7:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I can blame the USPTO all I want for releasing stupid, obvious, and not novel patents. IT'S THEIR JOB!

          However, I don't mind making their job easier. Just make the default to not allow patents. Reward them for denying most patents, which are bad anyway. Praise them for preventing patents that do so much harm to real innovation, by presenting simple remixing of the old as something new. Force them to pick out only the most novel and incredible ideas for patent protection. Force the applicants to submit prototypes again, so the inventions can be properly confirmed. Throw everything else away -- it's all crap anyway.

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Sal, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:39pm

      Re:

      You could try, but that joke was used too many times already == prior art and its probably already patented.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    Once more with feeling! "Those who can, innovate. Those who can't, litigate."

     

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    Anonymous1, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Some examiners know what to do and how to do it while others have no clue and are new...

    Here's a hot idea Kazi. Maybe the experienced ones should direct the inexperienced on HOW TO DO THEIR JOB before approving potentially frivilous, or baseless patents?
    No? Too hard? Everyone is a critic, because of the utter absurdity which is the US patent process. When people can logically show such absurdity, it isn't pointless criticism, it's fact.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

     

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    LumpyDog (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:37pm

    An ad agency creates ads. An ad agency markets products. Denizen seems to have done neither.

    Based on their website, I'd guess it's more a shell company (surprisingly, not in East Texas), set up to shake down real agencies.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    This is the reason people don't do business with the U.S. anymore. Americans are annoying people who claim they own everything. That is why they import more then they produce. They lost their industry because nobody can produce anything there LoL

     

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      wvhillbilly (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 10:26am

      Re: Lumpydog

      No, the US lost industry because unions wanted too much money and management didn't want to pay, so they moved all their operations overseas or outsourced everything.

      Greed rules!

       

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        Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 7:13pm

        Re: Re: Lumpydog

        The AC was right in this case wvhillbilly. Unions formed in America because Industrialist fatcats thought they could own other people and their products, and the government didn't stop them, so Unions had to do it. Even if outsourcing is a byproduct of Unions, Unions are a byproduct of annoying Americans who think they own everything. You're only adding a degree of separation.

         

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    Danny (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:22pm

    way too much prior art for this to mean anything

    Patent number: 6859936
    Filing date: Nov 20, 2001
    Issue date: Feb 22, 2005

    A friend of mine based in Chicago (who I think came out of the advertising trade) had a very successful product placement consulting practice doing lots of business with TV and movies back in the late 1990s. And, of course, product placement was happening on TV in the 1950s, perhaps earlier on radio.

    How stupid the patent office must have been to have granted this patent after the turn of the millennium.

    Mike, I think the real story on this one is not the Chuztpah of Denizen (a shark is a shark), rather the incompetence of the Patent Agency.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:14pm

      Re: way too much prior art for this to mean anything

      Yep they lose on Prior art. Jack Benny was a master of product placement in his radio show from the forties. He would mention sponsors and weave them into the story if it served the story and the sponsor.

      We mainly get to hear the JELLO ones but I believe there are a bunch with a cigarette ad as a sponsor that really don't work with out the ads and they can't play them on radio with the ads.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:42pm

    "The latest is that it's suing media agency Mindshare for incorporating the brand Vaseline into the TV show Maneater. "

    Ewwwww

     

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    thanatos, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:16pm

    I've got 3 words for that

    "Leonard, Pt 6"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:43pm

    "Perhaps Denizen's next patents will be on claiming ownership of obvious ideas"

    All ideas are non obvious and require a patent to advance. Without patents no advancement would occur. At least this seems to be true according to our patent office, or at least how they behave, and they must be right. They're a government body.

     

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    Paul`, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:14pm

    Has no one at that company seen Waynes World? Prior art much?

     

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    wheatus, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:31pm

    OOOOOOOh

    I just patented the idea of commenting on a tech site that reports on patenting ideas that cannot be patented....also, I just patented capitalism, and M-Theory, and the idea of not ever having to work for anything ever.

    You all owe me Squillzzions of yen and also, I am a God and must hence forth be worshipped as such. If you need to take an IOU then today is your lucky day SLAVE!....I'm offering a special this week. You can will me all your land, and anything you were planning on giving your kids when you die....

    ...and also I patented the human body so you will have to give me all your organs now if you can't afford the $10 per cell, per day royalty. You will have to pay the doctor who removes them a $110 copay.

    bbb
    wheatus.com

     

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      wvhillbilly (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 10:36am

      Re: OOOOOOOh

      There are outfits on this sorry planet who have had the brass to patent the human genome (no joke). I wonder, how long before they start suing every human on earth for infringing their patent?

      BTW--I thought naturally occurring things were by law not patentable. How did they get by with this?

       

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  •  
    identicon
    wheatus, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:47pm

    Not To Over Post But...

    ...If we shoot a video wherein we're all wearing Techdirt shirts do you think these cretins will come after us?

    bbb

     

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    identicon
    staff3, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    stop the shilling!!!

    "Perhaps Denizen's next patents will be on claiming ownership of obvious ideas..."

    First, you need to understand the meaning of "obviousness". It is a term of art in patent law. Take a look David Pressman's 'Patent It Yourself' pg 105. That they have obtained a patent is prima facie evidence that it is not "obvious". Further, most often if you truly understand the claims they are not nearly so broad as they might first seem. Please stop trying to play patent attorney and tell Microsoft and their friends to keep their payola money.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    "That they have obtained a patent is prima facie evidence that it is not "obvious"."

    Umm, no.

     

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      wvhillbilly (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 10:48am

      Re: Umm, no.

      I agree. An idea is non-obvious only if you were the only one to ever think of it. If 50 other people came up with the same idea before you did (like putting your pants on one leg at a time), it's obviously obvious.

       

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