from the can-they-crowdfund-their-defense dept
It turns out that ArtistShare's CEO, Brian Camelio, applied for a patent on the basic concepts of crowdfunding back in 2003, and, while it took a while, that patent (7,885,887) was issued earlier this year, officially for "Methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work." You can read the details, but it basically describes exactly how most crowdfunding works today. Apparently, he then started contacting Kickstarter (and, one imagines, several other crowdfunding platforms), trying to get them to pay up. With Kickstarter, he apparently sent a couple of letters and then showed up unannounced at their offices one day.
After going back and forth with him for a bit, being threatened with a possible lawsuit, and noticing that Camelio had transferred the patent to a new operation called Fan Funded, which they believed was to be used for suing others for patent infringement, Kickstarter filed for a declaratory judgment saying that the patent was invalid and, even if it was valid, that they didn't infringe.
In an interview with PaidContent (at that link above) it appears, bizarrely, that part of the thinking on Camelio's part is that he just doesn't like Kickstarter compared to his own business:
"As an artist myself, I feel that KickStarter may be hurting artists by focusing on 'donating money' rather than celebrating the artist for what they do. Their model does not build fan relationships but just continually asks for hand outs."Here's the thing: I actually agree that this is a major weakness of Kickstarter's model and have said so to people who have asked me about Kickstarter in the past. It's a one-and-done sort of thing. But... the way to respond to that is to build a better product that serves the market better. If you don't think Kickstarter does the best job serving artists, then make your product better. Don't threaten them with patent infringement and try to justify it by claiming you just don't like Kickstarter's model.
Hopefully the court rejects such a broad and obvious patent. Perhaps Kickstarter should crowdfund its legal efforts here. Amusingly, as pointed out by THREsq, one of the latest Kickstarter projects is a book from a patent agent celebrating the artwork found in patents...