One of the most annoying things about Major League Baseball's online viewing options is the ridiculous "blackout" areas. Basically, you can watch any team you want... as long as they're not our local team. Seriously. The misguided fear was that the local TV stations would lose out on revenue because people would be watching online instead of on TV. This is similar to the incredibly wrong theories when TV first became popular that local TV shouldn't be allowed to show local games if the stadiums weren't sold out. Rather than recognizing that giving fans more tools
to watch games however they
want, they seem to think that fans can be forced to watch in the method MLB wants. However, now MLB.com has taken it even further. It's patented its method
for determining who to block out.
You can check out the full patent yourself
to see if you can figure out how this was granted. If you asked any half-way competent programmer how to set up such a system, they could all come up with something identical to this. How is this possibly not obvious? Determining where an internet user is geographically has been around for ages. Limiting access by subscription levels has been around forever. Combining the two hardly seems new and innovative. This seems like it should fail based on general obviousness, as well as the new tests under the KSR ruling (on obviousness) and the Bilski ruling (on pure software patents). About the only "good" that comes of this is that perhaps it means other sports leagues won't use such an anti-fan policy.