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Singapore Firm Claims Patent Breach By Virtually All Websites

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the oh-that-makes-sense dept.

The Internet 481

An anonymous reader writes "A Singapore firm, VueStar has threatened to sue websites that use pictures or graphics to link to another page, claiming it owns the patent for a technology used by millions around the world. The company is also planning to take on giants like Microsoft and Google. It is a battle that could, at least in theory, upend the Internet. The firm has been sending out invoices to Singapore companies since last week asking them to pay up."

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Sweet (2, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558157)

I wonder if US companies will honor this patent.

Re:Sweet (5, Insightful)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558201)

What would be really sweet is if it went to court and the judge finds it technically valid but too onerous. Following the logic, it would be an open door to judicial review of the entire patent system.

But in all reality, the judge will probably just rule this particular patent invalid (for whatever reason) and refuse to tackle the larger issue.

Re:Sweet (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558809)

The absolute shamelessness of these people is what amazes me. They don't care how badly they are hated.

Don't they have friends and family they have to face? Or do they only associate with other criminals like themselves?

Re:Sweet (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558865)

You know what else would be sweet? If a judge decided that supermodels refusing to have sex with me was technically valid, but too onerous. Following that logic, it would be an open door for judicial review of the whole "super models not having sex with nerds" system. That would be super sweet for all of us.

SCO to the rescue! (3, Funny)

westbake (1275576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558225)

SCO has a patent of judicial extortion that should sink this little problem. Microsoft will unleash them in five minutes.

Depends (5, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558815)

Technically? Depends on how much of the intellectual property is recognized by American courts. WIPO is supposed to be the global venue for patents.

Practically? No chance in hell. Even if they aren't laughed out of court, a little retroactive immunity legislation will fix that.

FYI, the American banking industry kneecaps patent holders that make it through the courts with retroactive immunity clauses with startling frequency. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021303731_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

If only americans took an interest in their government. Most of it is too good/bad to be true.

Patented A href? (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558177)

How can one patent a markup ?

If that is the case, I'll patent

:-D

Re:Patented A href? (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558205)

I have patented the carriage return linefeed combination. Anyone implementing br tags owes me 0.000000005 dollars per violation.

Re:Patented A href? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558341)

I have patented the carriage return linefeed combination. Anyone implementing br tags owes me 0.000000005 dollars per violation.

I hold the patent on bit patterns. Your technology is an unlicensed derivative and I demand that you pay me one bazillion dollars immediately.

Re:Patented A href? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558595)

I have patented the carriage return linefeed combination.

That's obviously invalid. One important requirement for patentability is that an invention must be useful.

Re:Patented A href? (1)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558871)

Carriage return linefeed combination ARE USEFUL! Else prepare yourself to scroll horizontaly a LOT ;)

Already covered. (1)

Odder (1288958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558837)

:-D [slashdot.org] , see? I bet you will get further is you patent a self referencing graphic. Sell it to advertisers as the image you can't take your eyes off.

what the fuck (5, Funny)

FireXtol (1262832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558181)

Wow.... This remind me of that comic with the ambiguous superhero... 'I think my common sense is tingling!'. Then below it... Common sense... so rare it's a fucking super power.

Seriously, patents are fucking stupid. So is IP(intellectual property). Get rid of these, and world peace would happen over night.

Re:what the fuck (4, Informative)

Sangui (1128165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558269)

That was a motivator with a picture of Deadpool.

Re:what the fuck (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558473)

world peace? really? I'm pretty sure the israeli-palestinian conflict is about a bit more than just intellectual property rights

Sure it is! (4, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558789)

"I think I own this land."

"Really? Well, I think I own this land."

It's all IP.

Public Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558603)

a) World peace overnight? Yeah right. We don't have world peace because we have finite resources. IP has little to do with it.

b) Common sense or public domain. Either way they are going to lose.

Re:what the fuck (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558671)

I can't speak for anyone else here, but the line of reasoning:

"patents are stupid --> all of IP is stupid --> abolishing IP by itself would immediately bring about world peace"

certainly didn't make my common sense tingle...

Re:what the fuck (2, Interesting)

WhoIsThePumaman (1182087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558715)

What would be the point of inventing something just to have it ripped off, re-branded, and sold at half the price? Not that I'm defending current IP laws, but some patent and copyright system is necessary.

Another Idiotic Patent (5, Insightful)

chunk08 (1229574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558197)

How do you patent something that is written in the HTML spec, that is a logical combination of two tags? This is why software patents need to be permanently banned. In our world today, it does not make the same economic sense to grant patents (or copyright).

Re:Another Idiotic Patent (1, Insightful)

pxuongl (758399) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558391)

no, patenting something that's trivial because it's part of the language should be banned.

patently software because you've come up with a novel algorithm that's faster than anyone else's due to a neat trick or technique you've come up with shouldn't.

i remember that in some of my engineering courses, we studied numerical methods and algorithms to solve what would normally be reserved for humans to solve analytically. These courses were hard because it required that someone figure out a way or technique for a computer to solve something abstract quickly. Things like this should be fully patentable, because someone had put in the work to solve something.


patenting dumb things like this should be grounds for immediate sterilization.

Re:Another Idiotic Patent (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558467)

The problem is that you can't patent a mathematical algorithm. Any algorithm that you could come up with for a computer program that would be valid for a patent by virtue of being novel, and non-obvious, would automatically be disqualified on the grounds that it is just a mathematical algorithm.

wrong (4, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558653)

i remember that in some of my engineering courses, we studied numerical methods and algorithms to solve what would normally be reserved for humans to solve analytically. These courses were hard because it required that someone figure out a way or technique for a computer to solve something abstract quickly. Things like this should be fully patentable, because someone had put in the work to solve something.

There are likely many ways to do the things your novel algorithm is trying to solve. Blocking everyone else from solving the same problem using their own algorithm is ridiculous and counter productive to creating an open market. If you come up with an algorithm to search for widgets on the internet faster than anyone else, then good for you, you will make money at it if people deem it is worth the cost you charge. It should in no way allow you to prevent others to come up with their own fast widget searching algorithm. This is the problem with business/software patents.

Re:Another Idiotic Patent (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558427)

How do you patent something written in C that is a couple of tags and is a logical combination?

Software shouldn't be eligible for patents ever. In fact business method patents are the only thing worse. As someone has a patent on collating copies by hand.

Software should be held only on copyrights on the source code. Authors do need their rights.

The firm was established in 2004 (5, Insightful)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558203)

and microsoft and google (and me) existed before that and *used* their technology.

Re:The firm was established in 2004 (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558329)

I was using this technique in 1999. As was just about every other web page. I was in highschool. I remember that a few of my classmates were amazed by my techniques of putting an "img" tag enclosed by the "a" tag. It's such a basic technique used. It's probably been in use as long as both the "a" and "img" tags have existed.

Re:The firm was established in 2004 (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558449)

It was pretty commonly used back well into the 80's for some of the various graphical front-ends and extensions to BBS packages.

Re:The firm was established in 2004 (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558525)

In 1999, client-side image maps were already quite mature, having briefly supplanted the popularity of server-side image maps. Let alone the "trick" of enclosing an image tag in a link tag.

Re:The firm was established in 2004 (5, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558701)

If you read their patent claims on their website they aren't quite making that broad of a claim. They believe they have a patent on submitting a search and showing image (of the respective website) links as a result of that search. I agree that was done long before, and they actually state on the website that it was not in "wide use" for "enterprise websites" prior to 2000. So apparently the think they can patent ideas that have prior art, just as long as they aren't being used by the majority of large companies.

If you actually subscribe to their insane claims, or are extremely paranoid, you could get around it very easily by not having the image use a href. Their patent claim specifically mentions hrefs.

Re:The firm was established in 2004 (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558779)

Zelda... ya know, the video game (and others) have them beat with prior art. If you have to click on the monkey and drag him along to get to the next screen, and fscking 5 year olds can do it, there is nothing in their patent that is new or non-obvious.

Zelda may not have used HTML, but the process, the underpinning functionality, and the 'idea' were old hat before these guys had their own bank accounts.

Prior Art? (1)

wirehead_rick (308391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558207)

Geesh. Am I to believe that that w3c never used images to hyperlink pages before the patent was issued?

Re:Prior Art? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558447)

Paradox..

By the sound of the article, it seems the patent depends on the web already existing, given that it talks about linking and pages.

But I think the http/html supported arbitrary links right from that start.

If it's not about the web as such, I think it could be argued that the use of icons in guis constitute prior art.

Re:Prior Art? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558547)

I was in college when web sites were just starting to be developed. I even used pre 1.0 NCSA Mosaic as my web browser and coded in emacs in 1993. Back then, images could be used to hyperlink. Unless this patent precedes all of that there's no chance this will be valid.

Gore? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558209)

AFAIK, Al gore never claimed to be from Singapore

Good luck with that! (2, Funny)

MaxInBxl (961814) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558215)

Where's the "goodluckwiththat" tag when you need it?

Re:Good luck with that! (3, Funny)

Dan081943 (1283056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558637)

Where's the "goodluckwiththat" tag when you need it?
I belileve this will be the first time some company attempts to sue the WORLD. How much better could it be than that?

patent system reform (1)

gregben (844056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558245)

The more trouble this causes, the more effective it will be in hastening patent reform.

Re:patent system reform (4, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558491)

Whose patent reform?

Not a US company, not a US patent.

There's an unsubstantiated claim in the article that it appears a US patent was granted, but no evidence of that and no suggestion that the US patent office won't do the right thing when presented with it.

Yes, patents are broken, but don't assume this will impact the US patent process.

How to make money on the Internet (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558253)

1. Porn
2. Have an idea and get bought out before you lose too much cash.
3. Porn
4. Make a nuisance of yourself and get bought out before you lose too much cash.

That may be it. Then again, if they piss people off SCO style, they could be in for a rough time.

Re:How to make money on the Internet (1, Funny)

trickonion (943942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558791)

its LOOSE
before you LOOSE too much cash
Jeez, look at this asshole! :P

hmm... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558255)

Now if only someone could "discover" a patent that covers Flash or ColdFusion or any of that other crap, and decide that not only do they want to to enforce it, and not license it, but not market and implementation themselves.

Bonus points if they're in the WTO so that America European states "have to" enforce it.

These days, so much content, so little information...

Re:hmm... (2, Informative)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558479)

WTO does not enforce the patents, software patents are worth less than the paper they are written on in EU.

Re:hmm... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558617)

Well, I'm just reaching to see if I can find a good reason for the WTO to exist. I'm not sure if I hate Flash or "free trade" more.

Really? (3, Insightful)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558257)

Really, they own that patent? Well then why in the last 15 years didn't they bother to enforce it? I'm sorry but lack of enforcement of a patent is grounds to dismiss that patent. There's a zillion examples of prior art everywhere in the world and this does NOT belong to that Singapore company.

They own the rights to hyperlinks about as much as SCO owns the right to Linux. And if that's true, I am going to sue everyone because I own a patent (that I just filed five minutes ago) for a "method and apparatus to control the flow of an algorithm based on the logical outcome of a predefined logical test," a.k.a., the "if" statement used in all computer programming. From now on, no program that uses the "if" statement can exist without paying me ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars (that's about five cents) per instance. And the first thing I'm going to do is sue SCO because that program they claim to own contains a bazillion of those "if" statements.

Re:Really? (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558507)

Really, they own that patent? Well then why in the last 15 years didn't they bother to enforce it? I'm sorry but lack of enforcement of a patent is grounds to dismiss that patent.
If I'm not mistaken, lack of enforcement is grounds to dismiss copyrights (registered or not) or trademarks, not patents.

Not that it shouldn't be grounds to dismiss patents...

Re:Really? (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558847)

True but an inventor only has a year before filing a patent. In Egbert v. Lippman [wikipedia.org] the Supreme Court ruled that public use of a technology would bar it from being patented. It was codified in 35. U.S.C. 102 [uspto.gov] which states that an inventor can patent something unless:

(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States, ...

Re:Really? (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558541)

Really, they own that patent? Well then why in the last 15 years didn't they bother to enforce it? I'm sorry but lack of enforcement of a patent is grounds to dismiss that patent.

No, that's not true of patents, only trademarks/service marks.

There's a zillion examples of prior art everywhere in the world

Exactly.

Alright... (4, Funny)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558263)

... I've waited long enough. Now, after years of silence, it's time to reveal that I own the patent:

"Use something to do something"

I think a trivial $.01/use is an acceptable royalty. Start paying up. :)

Re:Alright... (1)

pxuongl (758399) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558475)

i've already patently breathing and blinking. likewise, i'm charging an even more than reasonable $0.0001 per use or: $1 per person for a yearly basic license $5 per person for the yearly premium package $10 per person for the yearly ultimate package $1000 per person for the lifetime uber-ultimate package

Re:Alright... (1)

abegosum (1296793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558607)

Actually, your patent doesn't cover the internet. That's covered by my patent: "Use something to do *nothing*"

Newspapers have prior art. (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558267)

Prior art? As I recall images have been used to introduce information for a long time.

Example: In a newpaper on the front page, a big headline picture with the caption (see story on A1). Isn't this linking by a picture?

outsourcing (5, Funny)

nack107 (704482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558275)

I'm glad to see that we've even managed to outsource patent trolls.

Yippie (1)

xxRamielxx (904849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558277)

Jesus Freaking Christ! I call the patent on bg-music on webpages that autostart and dont show the music player!

This is good news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558283)

A threat like this is the most likely thing to convince $BIG_CORPORATIONS to pressure Congress to enact real patent reform.

Sue and be damned! (1)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558289)

Sounds SCO-itis is catching.

How do I know I am using the technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558293)

How do I know I am using the technology? from http://www.vuestar.biz/technology.php [vuestar.biz]
A web site which has been developed by or for a URL addressee/ owner and uses visual images to hyperlink to other pages in which any first or subsequent page provides the contact details of an Organisation would in Legal terms appear to use the steps and methods outlined in a claim of the Patent .

1. A search request submitted by a user to a server - side application via a terminal
2. The server - side application searching a database in accordance with the search request
3. Identified entries being submitted to the terminal as a search results list ( one entry is sufficient ) each containing a hyperlink to a web page
4. Whereby each entry of the search results list contains visual content related to the web - page for which the entry contains a hyperlink , the user able to view the visual content , and contact information for an organization is provided as a component of the search results list

Shirts! (5, Funny)

IronMagnus (777535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558295)

Quick... someone start making shirts that say:

<a href="link"><img src="picture"></a>

... its about time those DeCSS shirts got replaced.

Re:Shirts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558819)

You forgot alt in the img tag you insensitive cold!

Mail fraud (4, Insightful)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558297)

I don't know about the law in Singapore, but this seems so obviously silly that if I were a lawyer for one of the companies receiving the invoice, I'd ask the attorney general to prosecute for mail fraud (a federal offense which includes knowingly sending someone a bill for goods or services not rendered in hopes of receiving erroneous payment).

AH HA! This must be ... (1)

jsnipy (913480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558301)

AH HA! This must be the "internet money". Pay up buddy!

In other news... (1)

kolbe (320366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558307)

The same company has found a way to patent O2 and is requesting 400 million years of royalties. The company will begin preliminary injunctions against all living things as soon as God has been reached as a witness.

While this may seem ridiculous, the thought of patenting A HREF's is just about as absurd.

Two Words (2, Insightful)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558309)

Piss Off!!

I was going to link to a picture (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558311)

but I quess I won't now.

Slightly Misleading (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558317)

I tracked down what I think is the patent in question [uspto.gov] and indeed it was originally accepted by the Australian Patent Office.

Here's the abstract:

The present invention provides a web-page (or web-site) search results list which includes images from the actual web-pages or web-sites identified in a user's search, or images associated with the actual organization operating a web-site. This assists a user to locate web-pages of interest or relevance to the user by providing images to assess the relevance of web-pages identified in a search, prior to the user having to hyperlink to the actual web-page itself. The invention also provides a method of assisting a user to be placed in contact with an organization, including the steps of: the user submitting a search request from a terminal, via a computer network, to a database server, the database server containing a database and a server-side application used as database searching software; the database searching software searching the database in accordance with the search request; identified database entries being transmitted to the terminal as a search results list, each entry of the search results list containing contact information for the organization; at least one entry of the search results list additionally containing visual content and/or audio content which relates to the organization.
After reading the claims, this patent seems to be more targeting sites that use search engines to return images that relate to a user's query. Although this is a prime example of how the international patent system is broken, it's unlikely they could target "virtually all" web sites with this patent.

Re:Slightly Misleading (2, Informative)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558415)

Well its a software patent so it doesn't apply in this neck of the woods (EU).

Re:Slightly Misleading (2, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558829)

Only if you constantly keep on top of the money grubbing politicians and bureaucrats who accept money under that table via 'loans', 'scholarships' for their kids, fact finding trips to Hawaii, etc. from the corporations who will profit from software and business patents being approved. Keep on top of and shoot down their efforts to enact bullshit patent laws suggested by same said corporations. And from what I have read in the past, the EU seems to have a number of ways that bureaucrats can skirt the will of elected officials. Only be smug if you can keep on top of them and the politicians.

Re:Slightly Misleading (1)

WereCatf (1263464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558481)

Hmm, does anyone happen to know when was the patent filed? If it any younger than 20 years then it has no legal standing at all. Patents are enforceable only if the technique presented in the patent has not been used before which doesn't apply here. Search engines have returned image searches as thumbnails for years and years. So, good luck with this one! One thing to note however; I do wish people would already start to understand how bad software patents are. They are the exact thing that is causing greedy companies like this one to try to extort money from others!

Re:Slightly Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558559)

Hmm, does anyone happen to know when was the patent filed?

Hint: the OP linked to the freaking patent.

Re:Slightly Misleading (3, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558577)

After reading the claims, this patent seems to be more targeting sites that use search engines to return images that relate to a user's query.


Like Google Image search? The date on the patent seems to be June 20, 2006. If I understand the rules of Prior Art correctly, then we would need to find an instance of a search engine returning images relating to a user's search on or before June 20, 2005. I didn't have any data about when Google Images launched, but I was sure it was prior to 2005. A bit of searching and I found this blog post [wilsonet.com] discussing Google Images in May of 2004.

After a bit more searching, I found references [google.com] to Google Images as far back as July 8th, 2001. That was a full 3 months prior to this patent's original filing date. In short, Google's Image search could be both a target of this lawsuit and the solution to it.

Re:Slightly Misleading (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558861)

I basically used the technique outlined in the patent for a website I built in 1995 assisting a graduate student. (Yeah. This was using CGI with Perl back before CGI.pm existed. Go figure.)

Re:Slightly Misleading (1)

RpiMatty (834853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558697)

The invention claimed is:

1. A method for locating a web-page using a distributed computing system comprising the steps of: receiving a search request from an associated user; searching a database containing selected data representative of information associated with web pages, wherein such data is in the form of data entries, wherein each entry is associated with at least one web page; identifying selected entries contained in the database in accordance with the search request; generating a search results list comprised of the selected entries, wherein each entry includes at least one of a hyperlink for the associated web page and visual content associated with such web page; and displaying the search results, wherein the user is able to view the visual content associated with each entry without activating the hyperlink for the web page; wherein the visual content includes at least one of a hyperlink, image, video, animation, mini-image of a web page, streaming video, logo of an organization associated with the web page, and trademark of an organization associated with the web page; and wherein the visual content comprises a plurality of mini-images in the form of a conveyor belt slide show.

Ok so I'm no patent lawyer.... but look at the end of the claim.
Wouldn't this only apply to a search engine, that showed images/videos/multimedia from the result page, in a slide show format?

Re:Slightly Misleading (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558805)

To answer your question, yes that would limit the patent greatly; however, it is important to note this was an international application and sent to many countries. Believe it or not, there are quite a few countries whose systems are more broken then the US one. So much so, it would not be impossible for this patent to have been issued there without that caveat. Quite likely that caveat was added in order to get the patent approved by combining several claims to create the one.

For the record, I am an ex-patent examiner for the USPTO.

My patent (1, Funny)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558321)

Hey guys, I've just submitted a patent request for "Any device which uses electricity to perform calculations, render images or display useless news"... Get ready to pay you thieving bastards

...wha? (3, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558323)

Anyone know if this technique/ability was in the Mosaic browser? I know it was the first to show images inline with text and hyperlinks.

If this patent was filed at the same time Mosaic came out - and I wasn't able to confirm when the patent WAS issued - then there might be a slight chance. Anything older and the patent would be expired in the US by now, anything newer and there would be prior art to invalidate it.
=Smidge=

They created it prior to 1993? (4, Informative)

hitchhikerjim (152744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558325)

Being that the email record of the development of these features is pretty widely distributed, they'd have a tough time defending that patent if anyone makes them try. Here's the original proposal by Marc Andressen:

http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q1/0182.html [webhistory.org]

In proposing the IMG tag, he explicitly says that it can be embedded in an anchor, and he describes its action. I have my doubts that these guys have prior art on web pages dating back to before 1993.

Re:They created it prior to 1993? (3, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558717)

Being that the email record of the development of these features is pretty widely distributed, they'd have a tough time defending that patent if anyone makes them try. Here's the original proposal by Marc Andressen:

http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q1/0182.html [webhistory.org]

In proposing the IMG tag, he explicitly says that it can be embedded in an anchor, and he describes its action. I have my doubts that these guys have prior art on web pages dating back to before 1993.

Yep, everyone in the business knows this as prior art.

But that does not mean they can't sue. And then convincing a computer illiterate judge to expeditiously toss it out of court with costs is another mater. This is about patent extortion. Using the inept judicial system that really still hasn't finished with SCO after 6 years. With the legal costs so high, it is cheaper for many just to pay them $5M and call it a day. Some companies might.

But not being a US based company the odds are against them. RIM for example, not getting favorable treatment decided the damages to business growth was worth hundreds of millions in extortion. So they paid up. RIM not being a US company had the odds stacked against them.

The legal system needs to toss this kind of claim out quickly. And no one is holding their breath. Lawyers make too much money from cases like these.

Re:They created it prior to 1993? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558747)

"There is no closing tag; this is just a standalone tag" -- The inner nerd inside of me just died. I'll be happy the day everything html is in finally in xml..

You're missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558841)

Andreassen and the gang were just assuming that you would, for example, take a picture of an tulip and make it link to a page describing how to tune a carburator.


The innovation in this patent lies in actually having the image have something to do with the linked target!


Those stupid propellerhead geeks never thought of that. This patent embodies the real kind of
innovation that drives the interweb!


Not news (3, Funny)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558333)

Old and busted: Company XYZ sues for patent infringement of commonly used technolgy.
New hotness: It's an Asian company this time, not some asshats here in California.
Slashdot: They're competing for Al Gore's crown as "inventor of der interwebs".

*facepalm*

Think of the wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558385)

This is GREAT!!!! This company should be supported in all ways possible! I think I am going to set up a VueStar legal defense fund. I know this sounds crazy but think about it... What is the most common use for click images?

This would eliminate almost all banner advertising!!!

Yes this would have a few problems with sites that use thumbnails but a small text link below the picture would fix this problem, a small price to pay for eliminating banner adds.

Time for some divs (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558399)

So I have these divs that I've linked to other pages. They happen to have pictures in them, but I only intend to link the divs.

Sig appropriate (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558403)

It is a battle that could, at least in theory, upend the Internet
No, it isn't.

I foresee a sudden resurgence of the ASCII artform (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558435)

From the Vuestar website FAQ [vuestar.biz] :

"My site has no images only text?
If your site is only text and has no images, icons or other patent methods then no license required."

Sweeeet! Run the images through aalib [sourceforge.net] . Problem solved :-)

lol (1)

vikstar (615372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558457)

a patent should be non-obvious. People who commit murder should be given life, people who pass these types of patents should be hanged, people who try to cash in on these stupid patents should be hanged... by their gonads.

i wonder (1)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558489)

I wonder if these companies are for or against patents because this is exactly what I would do to demonstrate that patents are absurd.

April Fools!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558511)

...I seriously had to check the calender twice to make sure this wasn't April 1st.

Hold On!!! (1)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558519)

it's the anchor that links you to a site on a webpage not an image inside the anchor... all the image does is send an event bubble to the anchor and the anchor does the action...

Singapore Piracy Central enforces Patents? (4, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558551)

Back in the late 90s I recall Singapore being the wild-west of the internet. It was well known that because Singapore did not care to enforce software piracy protections, that warez were openly available on singapore FTP/WWW servers. I was even told that you could buy CDs loaded with pirated software out of vending machines for a few dollars. ------ And now a firm from Singapore wants their patents and properties protected. How ironic.

Re:Singapore Piracy Central enforces Patents? (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558725)

It's the usual course of events. Remember, the reason the movie industry is in California instead of New York is that early moviemakers went out West to get away from Edison's attempts at patent enforcement (in the days when geographical distance actually had an effect on such matters.) Then the industry built itself into an establishment and ... well, you know the rest.

They own "almost" 12 patents? (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558569)

From TFA - "Established in August 2004, Like.com also said it owns almost 12 patents in the areas of visual recognition and search."

So what do they own, 11 patents?

A need for some grey cells (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558597)

Once again, we have a demonstration that a two-digit IQ is more than adequate to secure a job as a patent examiner.

Feh (4, Insightful)

hlt32 (1177391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558629)

Patent trolling and frivolous lawsuits should be a crime.

WTF? Isn't there something about prior art? (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558635)

I think Andressen (or someone like him, Berners-Lee?) described image tags linking to pages like way the fuck back in 1993 or 1994. I know I've been clicking on images to go to pages since then.

Argh.

If this singapore company is acting as described in TFA, then they are just a bunch of douchebags who make The Gator [hotchicksw...hebags.com] or Fish Slap [hotchicksw...hebags.com] look like first rate intellectuals and gentlemen. Pure simple Assholes, and should pay for everyone's legal fees when they lose this in court.

RS

Let's all ask for clarification and a license (1)

jmhowitt (212498) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558705)

i think everyone in the world who has a website which 'infringes' VueStar's patent should immediately email them and demand that they send them full details by registered post of the patent and it's details and that they also send them a license and then reply by post to quibble about every word and or line of the license. I suspect Singapore itself might sink under the volume of mail. Then one could sue VueStar for exposing them to patent infringement by not reply promptly and dealing with their concerns and putting them at risk of legislation.

How many ... exactly? (2, Interesting)

EricWright (16803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558755)

From TFA:

Established in August 2004, Like.com also said it owns almost 12 patents in the areas of visual recognition and search.

Almost 12? What the hell kind of journalism is this? Is 11 too many to count? Does zdnetasia use base 12 (in which case, I could ALMOST see this being appropriate)?

This sort of "mis-turning of a phrase" is rapidly becoming one of my top pet peeves!

Dates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23558765)

I don't know about the USA,Australia and Singapore But in Canada, France and most EU countries, the patent wouldn't be legal since it's based on public knowledge and a process that previously used by an other identity (glad I took those law classes).

If they even try to get this patent here, you would get a few thousand lawyer rushing toward them (mine included).

I wonder.. (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558781)

..how does this work in Singapore? Do offenders get publically caned?

U.S. Patent 7,065,520 (4, Interesting)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558795)

U.S. Patent 7,065,520 (issued in June 2006) would seem to be the US equivalent.

When you look at the claims, all the independent claims contain some key limitations:

receiving a search request from a user,

searching a database,

(other stuff, ending with)

"wherein the visual content comprises a plurality of mini-images in the form of a conveyor belt slide show."

A conveyor belt slide show? WTF? Gee, that seems fairly narrow to me!

Read the claims -- they define what the patent seeks to protect.

No problem... (1)

monktus (742861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23558839)

Dear Mr VueStar,

Please be accepting my sincerest apologies for the transgressions of my website "mugupatentlawyers4u.ru". I will send the $5350.00 requested by Western Union wire transfer as soon as I receive the $1500.00 payment processing fee required by my countries banking laws.

Your humble servant,
Dr Steve Mugu,
Attorney at law
Lagos, Nigeria
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