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Oprah Sued For Infringing "Touch and Feel" Patent

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the where-the-money-is dept.

Patents 249

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Oprah Winfrey, or to be more precise, Oprah's Book Club, is being sued by the inventor/patent attorney Scott C. Harris for infringing upon his patent for 'Enhancing Touch and Feel on the Internet.' So Oprah's Book Club is now one of many people and entities being sued over this patent because they allow people to view part, but not all, of a book online before purchasing it. Mr. Harris also sued Google Books for infringing upon this patent. He actually was fired from his position as partner at Fish & Richardson for that, because Google is a client of that law firm and they had conflict of interest rules to uphold." It would be entertaining to see Oprah give very wide and mainstream publicity to the abuses enabled by our current patent system.

Update: 01/07 22:03 GMT by KD : The blog author Joe Mullin wrote to point out that the lawsuit was not filed by the inventor, Scott C. Harris, but rather by the shell company Illinois Computer Research, which seems to exist for the purpose of filing lawsuits based on this particular patent.

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249 comments

Would she fight it? (4, Funny)

yotto (590067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26353959)

It would be entertaining to see Oprah give very wide and mainstream publicity to the abuses enabled by our current patent system.
 
It's more likely she'd just give him a car.

HAHAHAHA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354001)

He filed a frivolous law suit against....Oprah

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

Of course she will fight it. She will also win. A mouse just picked a fight with a dragon.

 

Re:HAHAHAHA (2, Interesting)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354167)

Only in our dreams will he get roasted for it like he deserves though.

Re:HAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354183)

No, he's going to get roasted. I've been waiting for a patent troll to piss off the wrong person. Looks like that day has arrived. I guess I never thought it would be Oprah Winfrey though.

Re:HAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354513)

We'll see. I would tend to think she doesn't need the negative publicity, and she certainly has plenty of money to just pay the guy to go away.

Re:HAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354555)

Not only Oprah's book club, but GOOGLE and SONY among others! This guy threw away a job with a law firm which had GOOGLE as a client!

Re:HAHAHAHA (3, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354673)

He may actually have a case.

It is theoretically possible that it is a good case even outside his own head.

It is possible still that he may win and status-quo be affirmed.

Oprah, Sony and Google are all powerful but they also all depend on IP laws themselves.

Re:HAHAHAHA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355343)

Only in America would someone suggest that he may actually have a case.

Tell us, how does it feel to be part of the disease?

Re:HAHAHAHA (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355389)

Even the stuff of science fiction is often theoretically possible, but that's why we have the two distinct words and definitions in the first place:

theory != fact
theory == fact

The ONLY accurate statement you can make is that all facts were once theories. Not all theories become fact, except in the minds of certain delusional people (whom I won't embarrass with labels).

Any rational (and reasonably educated) person recognizes immediately that (a) this twit has no legitimate case against any of the three aforementioned parties and (b) the patent itself is probably illegitimate and invalid. If he persists, he'll probably find himself faced with a posse of IP vigilantes hunting down prior art and calling him out in the town square as a greedy unproductive "useless eater".

For better AND for worse, however, we have an impartial legal system that will be obliged to humor this person and waste much collective human effort just keeping him from unfairly concentrating more wealth in his direction and away from everyone else.

Re:HAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355927)

Please go read some definition of theory and fact. Facts are PARTS OF a theory.
A theory explains facts.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26356113)

I wasn't referring to those facts... I was referring to the other ones. You know, the truthy ones like the Law of Gravity, the Big Bang, Piltdown Man.

Re:HAHAHAHA (4, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354629)

So what you're really saying is that Oprah is Trogdor in disguise?

OPRAH! Burninating the countryside, Burninating the patent trolls. Burninating all the peoples. And their thatched-roof COTTAGES!

Thatched-roof COTTAGES!

Re:HAHAHAHA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354319)

What about Valenti and his recent disbarment? It sounds like this guy has a history of getting dumped from law firms after he, through a holding company, drops a patent bomb on him. Maybe it's time this serially unethical behavior was investigated.

Re:HAHAHAHA (3, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354449)

Oprah is very rational in her business decisions, I've studied them a bit. Many times, in these cases, it doesn't make economic sense to hire defense lawyers - cheaper to settle... so I wouldn't count a settlement out. However, if this gains enough publicity (and I think it may have), she'll be forced to fight it, so as not to invite other frivolous lawsuits from those looking for a quick buck.

Re:HAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354625)

That's the thing though, I'm surprised more companies don't fight the trolls just to get a reputation among trolls that you're willing to go Thunderdome on them on occasion. Then they'll get the message to find someone else to mess with. The way I see it, the only reason patent trolling is profitable is because companies take a short term view of it and just settle, encouraging the prospect of a death by a thousand paper cuts.

Re:HAHAHAHA (3, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354687)

The problem is the companies often ARE the trolls.

They just do a slightly different version of trolling.

Fighting sets precedents. precedents set decisions, and while you may want a decision one day the next it will hurt you.

You have ignored the otherside of that idea (3, Insightful)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355759)

Sure, they maybe getting a reputation of being people who settle out of court.. but imagine if they fought and lost. It would be huge. Can they risk that? Im sure its an important part of their risk management assesment when deciding what to do.

The increased payout for a loss, the increased publicity showing your company losing, breaking the law. Its a huge risk to take, while its easy to think these cases are thin and you cant lose, thats not true, just check the news.

Oprah will settle out of court (2, Insightful)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354701)

Yes it will come down to business -

The question will be - Is it worth the cost of defending this in court or should we settle?

There is also the question of P.R. a court case could dig up something dirty and Oprah has a spotless image.

Throw enough Mud and it sticks !!! (Bad Oprah)

going on past court cases most large companies like to settle out of court. I cant see why this will be any different.

01101011 01101001 01100011 01101011 00100000 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110011 01110011 00100000 01101111 01110000 01110010 01100001 01101000 00100000 00100000 01110000 01101100 01100101 01100001 01110011 01100101

Re:HAHAHAHA (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355791)

Walmart makes it a policy to fight each and every lawsuit to discourage others from taking them on. Settling may be cheaper in the long term, but what if settlements bring out more leeches hungry for a little blood?

Anyway, I'm sick of hearing about patents over common sense shit. It's not the underlying technologies that patented, just the applications they now allow (often internet versions of common real life things). I don't like Oprah all that much, but I hope she crushes this little flea.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355939)

I agree. If she fights it, it won't be for economic reasons. But that woman has principles too. And she may decide to go for it just to preserve her name. In that case, she'll have to walk a line here, for the fight won't be against the patent troll, but rather will quickly morph into a fight against the US patent office who granted such a patent. It'll quickly become political. Let's hope she is smart enough to handle it to her and our benefit.

Re:HAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26356105)

"...doesn't make economic sense to hire defense lawyers..." -- are you fucking serious? do you actually think that The Oprah is feeling the pinch of the recession? what a maroon.

Re:HAHAHAHA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354529)

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

And she's black. AND she speaks proper English! No, really, stop laughing, she does!!

Bottom line, don't fuck with her. She's already proven she can defy the odds.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354705)

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

When will Americans stop confusing their country with the whole planet? This reminds me of the silly name "World series" for some American baseball tournament. At least for Europeans, the name Oprah hardly even rings a bell, and I'm pretty sure it's the same in most of Asia, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, South America, and perhaps even Australia.

Seriously, less people than you think give a damn about what goes on in your shitty country. Much, much less. The world only cares about what the US does abroad, like war and murder and corruption and exploitation and stuff. TV hosts... not so much.

Australians know her (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354813)

Isn't she that fat black American with a women's talk show?

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

El Yanqui (1111145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355751)

When will Americans stop confusing their country with the whole planet?

Not for nothing, but what other woman on the planet can rival Oprah? Who do you have in whatever country your anonymously cowarding from? I'm an American living in the UK with a European wife but I haven't seen anything quite like Oprah on this continent. Even Angela Merkel has limited power. God help Germany if Oprah ever told her legions of followers to invade.

Re:HAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26356127)

Anna Kournikova?

Re:HAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355797)

When will Americans stop confusing their country with the whole planet? This reminds me of the silly name "World series" for some American baseball tournament. At least for Europeans, the name Oprah hardly even rings a bell,

Speak for your own corner of Europe. The name Oprah Winfrey most definitely rings a bell in mine.

Oprah is one of the richest, and therefore one of the most powerful women on the planet, simply because money gives you power. Various wealthy queens are also powerful for that reason, even if they don't hold any actual political power.

Oprah is obviously not as powerful as Angela Merkel, but that doesn't stop her from being one of the most powerful women in the world.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354933)

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

How come i needed to google to find out who this "Oprah" is?

Re:HAHAHAHA (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355645)

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

How come i needed to google to find out who this "Oprah" is?

I guess you aren't american, then. Oprah is a big name there, I think... For me she is pretty much known only of her previously showing great understanding of the internet [youtube.com].

Only in USA would someone call a talk show host with rather specific target audience (middle aged lower middle-class women) to be one of the most influential women on planet and putting her on the same lists as people like Angela Merkel.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355809)

Only in USA would someone call a talk show host with rather specific target audience (middle aged lower middle-class women) to be one of the most influential women on planet and putting her on the same lists as people like Angela Merkel.

She's more than just a talk show host. She's also bloody rich. Besides, there's a lot of middle-class women both in the US and outside it.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355191)

This lawyer probably knows a lot more about the law than Oprah does.

On the other hand, Oprah probably knows a lot more about public relations than this lawyer does. Oh, and she could hire most lawyers in the US. Like, all at once.

It's like watching one of those videos on YouTube of rednecks doing stupid shit and then getting hurt. It's good, clean fun, and in the end we're all better off for having learned a valuable lesson from someone less fortunate now than they were 30 seconds ago.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355323)

Or as Lou Gramm (or Mick Jones?) once penned: "You got a lion on your hands, boy, not a mouse!"

Re:HAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

thodi (37956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355407)

Like her or not, she is one of the most influential, and hence powerful, women on the planet.

s/on the planet/in the USA/

The rest of the world could care less, thank god.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355435)

Does your country have a more powerful, wealthy, influential woman? Probably not. Oprah is worth more than a lot of countries. Your lack of knowledge about her is perfectly fine, even reasonable, but that doesn't mean that her importance is being overstated.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

thodi (37956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355485)

Does your country have a more powerful, wealthy, influential woman?

Since "my" country (>= 82 million people, the third largest economy in the world, the largest when it comes to exports, ...) is governed by a woman, I'd say so, yes :-)

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355695)

why don't you try giving us a name?

Re:HAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355843)

why don't you try giving us a name?

I think he's talking about Angela Merkel, who is quite possibly the single most powerful woman in the world today.

However, that doesn't stop Oprah from being one of the most powerful women today. Besides, Oprah's wealth is her own, Merkel's power is political. She can lose her position at the next election, and then Oprah will still be rich.

Re:Would she fight it? (1)

Capt. Cooley (1438063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354143)

Yeah, she's not going to publicize this. It's too technical for the masses, and people have a 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude these days, especially with digital media. I'm thinking she sweeps this under the rug, maybe settles out of court.

Re:Would she fight it? (2, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354315)

Yeah, she's not going to publicize this. It's too technical for the masses, and people have a 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude these days, especially with digital media. I'm thinking she sweeps this under the rug, maybe settles out of court.

I really, really hope she doesn't settle this out of court, and does the world a favor by stepping on this rat for everyone to see. It's not like she's on the verge of bankruptcy and can't afford a few dozen high-powered lawyers to launch a counterattack.

This is like hijacking cases. If you give in and pay the money, you'll only encourage more of the same behavior. Send in the Marines / black ops / ninja death squad / pirates of penzance each time it happens, and suddenly it doesn't seem like such a hot idea.

Re:Would she fight it? (5, Insightful)

muridae (966931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354395)

While she may be a media icon and corporate power in her own right, do you think her handlers are silly enough to let her counter attack this guy?

She makes money from the media, and the media companies like the current patent and copyright laws. No one in that business is going to step forward and say 'the system is broken.' I hope she does, but I don't consider it very likely.

Re:Would she fight it? (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354623)

While she may be a media icon and corporate power in her own right, do you think her handlers are silly enough to let her counter attack this guy? She makes money from the media, and the media companies like the current patent and copyright laws. No one in that business is going to step forward and say 'the system is broken.' I hope she does, but I don't consider it very likely.

She's in a position where if she does have "handlers", they probably need her a lot more than she needs them.

Also, saying "this is an abuse of the system" isn't necessarily an admission that the system is broken, only that it is imperfect. She could take the stance that fighting this is equivalent to working within the system to correct an abuse of it and that therefore it's not so broken at all. I'm not saying I personally feel this way, only that this is not necessarily the losing proposition you describe.

Re:Would she fight it? (2, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355155)

Stop mixing patents and copyrights together, It's making people confused. They are completely different, and while the media industry sure likes the copyright system, they have nothing to do with patents.

Re:Would she fight it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26355609)

Oprah has a ninja death squad? Now that's cool...

Re:Would she fight it? (5, Funny)

_Hellfire_ (170113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354255)

It's more likely she'd just give him a car.

Oprah and this guy are in the pre-trial conference...

Oprah: "Look under your seat!"

Re:Would she fight it? (1)

Panspechi (948400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354453)

And then, the Doomsday Machine goes off?

Re:Would she fight it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354839)

No, there's a envelope that contains the keys to a classic Ford Pinto with Firestone 500 tires.

Wide? (3, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26353963)

Did anyone else read that as : "It would be entertaining to see Oprah get very wide" ?

Re:Wide? (0)

Zorque (894011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354091)

Wide, thin, and wide again, ad nauseam. That's pretty horrible on a person's body, she has to have cut 10 years off her lifespan by now.

Re:Wide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354197)

How much wider can she get?
br? I can hear Cartman yelling "beefcake.. BEEFCAKE!"

Unlikely (0, Flamebait)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26353993)

It would be entertaining to see Oprah give very wide and mainstream publicity to the abuses enabled by our current patent system.

Yes, that would be entertaining -- but most unlikely. The sad truth is, Big Content is to Democrats as Big Oil is to Republicans. And I didn't see Oprah telling people to vote outside the two party system in 2008.

Re:Unlikely (3, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354057)

This is patent not copyright. Big content would love to see the patent system tightened up. With the possible exception of drug companies and the democrats already hate them.

Re:Unlikely (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354191)

The big content providers would likely love to see a much looser patent system, then they wouldn't need to pay royalties to the patent holders of e.g. MPEG for all the content they distribute.

Re:Unlikely (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354341)

You have to be careful with regard to "loose" and "tight" w.r.t. the patent system. Patent lawyers tend to view a "loose" patent system as one which allows patents on everything and a "tight" one as one that's very restrictive about what can be patented. People who oppose patents (i.e. any sane programmer or engineer) tend to view a "loose" patent system as one that allows a lot of actual progress to be made - i.e. strongly limits what can be patented, and a "tight" patent system as one that is very restrictive to people who want to just get things done - i.e. allows patents (monopoly grants on doing stuff by definition) on everything.

Thus, both sides were initially calling for a "less restrictive" patent system in the european software patent debate, thoroughly confusing politicians - the pro-software-patent patent lawyers and corporate types were talking about a patent system that allowed them to patent more stuff i.e. was less restrictive about what can be patented, and the anti-software-patent software writers and such were talking about a patent system that was less restrictive to people who write software due to not allowing software patents.

Re:Unlikely (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354787)

AC below is correct with regard to how I was using them. We aren't disagreeing on the main point.

Re:Unlikely (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354309)

This is patent not copyright.

IP is IP. The principles are the same.

Big content would love to see the patent system tightened up. With the possible exception of drug companies and the democrats already hate them.

[citation needed]

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354393)

copyright and patent most certainly are not the same, though the disgusting I"P" propaganda term is certainly designed to make you think they are by lumping them together.

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/not-ipr.xhtml [fsf.org]

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354707)

copyright and patent most certainly are not the same, though the disgusting I"P" propaganda term is certainly designed to make you think they are by lumping them together.

They're both Imaginary Property, duh!

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354489)

IP is IP. The principles are the same.

Yup. Its all a made up fucking word so people don't actually have to think about what the hell is really involved and lobbyists can make people think that ideas can be owned like a physical object or a track of land.

Re:Unlikely (1)

arazor (55656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354757)

I think you will find those alignments were just because the republicans were in power. Democrats have the power currently so drug companies will make "allies" with the democrats. Unless for the first time in history ya know the honest politician thing actually happened.

Re:Unlikely (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354935)

I wouldn't be so sure. The democrats are strongly committed to bringing down medical costs. Far and away the easiest target is drug prices.

Re:Unlikely (1)

arazor (55656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355367)

I really hope you are right. But won't believe it til I see it. I voted straight D this election cycle.

Re:Unlikely (2, Funny)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354081)

I don't see fixing the current patent system as requiring getting a different party in power, though that might be a way to fix that.

If tens of thousands of Opraholics call, write and descend on Capitol Hill, that might scare the legislature sh!tless to fix the patent trolling system.

Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354085)

Pardon me sir, but... um... what the hell does that have to do with suing over a patent?

Someone mod this joker down. I've heard some idiotic partisan stereotypes, but this really takes the cake.

Re:Unlikely (4, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354135)

Yes, that would be entertaining -- but most unlikely. The sad truth is, Big Content is to Democrats as Big Oil is to Republicans.

Actually, the pertinent truth is that she is being sued, and if her lawyers are doing their jobs, they've advised her not to say anything publically that would jeapordise her case.

Re:Unlikely (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354273)

Well of course not, I mean the choice in candidates was black and white. :D

What about Amazon? (1)

JWman (1289510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354139)

Amazon does book previews as well... does this fall under the "Touch and Feel" patent?
If so, than Harris would be suing about as many people as SCO (at least in terms of high-profile companies).
Hmmm an individual filing a spurious lawsuit against Oprah, Google, and Amazon that has already cost him his job...Nice try.

Re:What about Amazon? (0, Redundant)

Cor-cor (1330671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354759)

...an individual filing a spurious lawsuit against Oprah, Google, and Amazon that has already cost him his job...Nice try.

No shit. Do they still have any form of debtor's prison around?

How about fail-at-life prison?

This is a title, since I must have one (5, Insightful)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354147)

Republicans always find a way to blame something on Democrats. Democrats always find a way to blame something on Republicans. Jews kill Arabs, Arabs kill Jews, people sue over patent infringement and lawyers are often assholes. Oprah seems too busy talking about getting fat again (and acting like it's some kind of horrible fate worse than death) to really do much publicizing of anything else. Tonight on Larry King live, he had 3 guests, Oprahs personal trainer, her spiritual adviser and some other guy, talk at length about GASP, OPRAH GETTING FAT. What the hell is wrong with our world, I don't know where to begin anymore.

Re:This is a title, since I must have one (1)

slugtastic (1437569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354245)

What the hell is wrong with our world, I don't know where to begin anymore.

Wasn't it always like that? Just this time nothing horrible happened to televize about it and shock the masses.

Re:This is a title, since I must have one (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354569)

Tonight on Larry King live, he had 3 guests, Oprahs personal trainer, her spiritual adviser and some other guy, talk at length about GASP, OPRAH GETTING FAT. What the hell is wrong with our world, I don't know where to begin anymore.

Meanwhile, the new season of Biggest Loser debuted tonight as well. Maybe they should do Biggest Celebrity Loser!

Re:This is a title, since I must have one (5, Interesting)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354907)

"Tonight on Larry King live, he had 3 guests, Oprahs personal trainer, her spiritual adviser and some other guy, talk at length about GASP, OPRAH GETTING FAT. What the hell is wrong with our world, I don't know where to begin anymore."

TV != World.

I do not watch TV. So I can't judge of the state of the world by watching Larry King show. There is not much Oprah in my world, fat or thin.

Re:This is a title, since I must have one (4, Funny)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355595)

But don't worry, all Oprah has to do is ask the universe to take away her weight! She knows the Secret [youtube.com]
With the Law of Attraction, Oprah and anyone else who is willing to blindly fork out their money is GOD*

  1. *Any comparison to omnipotent, omniscient or all-knowing deities is unintended.
  2. **Neither Oprah Winfrey or The Secret co. are responsible for any psychological damage incurred from the use of The Secret.
  3. ***If you believe in the "law [sic] of attraction", I have a small bridge for sale in Pennsylvania, special price just for you.

Only in America. (5, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354153)

The land of too many lawyers without enough viable work to find.

Oh the opportunities that have been missed or shut down for fear of litigious people and the grinning lawyers that represent them.

As true as this is, I will probably be modded a flamer.

Re:Only in America. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354743)

+1 Colorful

Re:Only in America. (3, Insightful)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355171)

In this economic depression, it only makes sense for people with no skill or talent to take money from companies that actually provide tangible benefits to society and take part in our economy in exchange for doing no work and little forethought.

The American patent system is designed to reward inventors, even if they never have any intention or desire to make anything of their patent, by ensuring that anyone can patent anything. As a result the secret to success, like in relationships, is finding your perfect match. They're out there somewhere, and they're infringing on a patent that any sane person could come up with over a pint of Guinness and a plate of chips. Go get what you've earned, tiger!

Summary of the patent (5, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354237)

I've just skimmed the patent. The basic situation is they have the entire book on computer, you can choose any pages to view, but once you've viewed a certain number, it won't let you view any more. There was also a bit of stuff about supplying image and text in different formats/resolutions, and (I think) using keys to scroll around the image of one page.

How do they know that it is you, not someone else asking for more pages? They specifically include the use of cookies, but allow for other methods. There is no mention of (e.g.) using IP addresses, but I expect this would be covered. The interesting problems (How do you know the user isn't deleting the cookies? How do you know whether there are 200 people behind that single IP address?) are not addressed.

IANAL, and I didn't read it carefully, so I might be wrong about some details.

Prior Art? (3, Insightful)

mutantSushi (950662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354317)

This is the operating procedure of an Ice Cream shop. Yes, you can sample this. That too. That. That.... But once you've had "enough" samples, you need to buy something. So the only specifics he's proposing in the patent are: Using Cookies exactly how browser cookies are supposed to be used. I hope Oprah makes a show out of this, and connects it with the rest of the IP-ocracy. Y'know, invite on some poor moms sued by the RIAA, farmers fucked by GMO-Corps, doctors from 3rd world countries that can't afford the drug mafia's prices...

Re:Prior Art? (5, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354713)

This is the operating procedure of an Ice Cream shop.
Yes, you can sample this. That too. That. That....
But once you've had "enough" samples, you need to buy something.

So, essentially, this patent is... "Something that's already happened for hundreds of years... on the internet"

Mod "Insightful", not "Funny" (3, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355121)

Regardless of the underlying ironic humour in the parent post, Kalriath really comes across (to me at least) more as insightful than funny. This case is another prime exemplification of how bizarre the legal situation becomes once any activity takes place via the internet, as if engaging in business online somehow changes everything (beyond just the medium of exchange).

Cheers,

Re:Prior Art? (2, Informative)

lordSaurontheGreat (898628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354941)

Amen. When Oprah goes for blood, she goes straight for the jugular.

I remember when she read Elie Wiesel's book Night... she did a huge show on it, went to Germany and toured the concentration camps, talked with the author, and really did her best to show exactly the face of evil.

I hope she tries to show the face of corruption and incompetence in the patent system. If anyone in America has the audience and the skills to effectively portray this to the public, it'd be Oprah.

Re:Prior Art? (2, Insightful)

SMS_Design (879582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355089)

It's also the same idea as a bookstore.

Read a bit of the book. Get a feel for it. Don't sit there and read the WHOLE damn thing, though.

The story of Scott C. Harris (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26354773)

Scott C. Harris looked out his window. It was dark, he saw the change in the air... the streets, which were once full of people going about their daily lives, were now full of protesting people wanting to tare down his doors. The system of product protection which he had faught so hard to uphold, was in tatters. Thousands who had been sued by the actions resulting in his hard work were now at his....

[Click here to purchase this story] [gotohell.com]

Why Oprah won't become a patent reform spokeswoman (2, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354799)

...at least, not initially.

Her lawyer will tell her not to comment on the case, and she will follow that advice. She's not stupid.

However, once the dust is settled it might get more interesting. Some other posters were speculating that "big content" it to Democrats what "big oil" is to Republicans. Perhaps that's true; but this is a patent case we're talking about. Big Content is fueled by copyright, not patents. I don't watch Oprah. Has she tackled pharma companies in the past? That might provide some clue as to whether or not she'll become an advocate for patent reform.

The Root (2, Insightful)

lordSaurontheGreat (898628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26354899)

When will we start fixing the root of the problem: suing and firing moron patent officers that grant amazingly stupid patents, followed by investigations and possible nullifications of the patents they have granted?

Fight the war on two fronts: kill the patent trolls, and also fire the idiots who keep feeding them!

Seriously, I know a lot of bullshit must come across their desks at patent offices, but you would think that they'd have figured out how to assign patents of specific types to specialist patent officers. Larry on floor three does digital patents, Ed on floor two does software patents. Some of these patents look like they've been granted by juries that have been allowed to be brainwashed by RIAA lawyers into thinking that 1 + 1 = patent. Are our patent officers being bribed to grant stupid patents? Are they themselves stupid or incompetent?

I want blood! (Or at least sufficient litigation and layoffs to fix the problem).

Re:The Root (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355703)

In europe you have some pretty hefty tests specific to your area of expertise before you can even become a patent officer. Still, this doesn't stop stupid patents to pass. Work pressure is too high, there are just way too many patents going along. Come to think of it, it just means that there are not enough patent officers to handle all patents. Basically that, and most of our other patent-related problems, can only exit because patents are too cheap. If the price of patents would go up it would probably be possible to hire more patent officers to reduce the workload, and maybe companies and people would think twice before getting their ininnovative ideas out as a patent. Probably the patent is currently used as a measure of workflow, a bit like lines of code. Useless measure for the actual performance of a company, but it's a number so it's used anyway.

Touch and Feel and Internet? (0)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355201)

Excuse me for not reading the summary, but doesn't this all sound like fertile ground for very very bad jokes? Why hasn't anyone made them so far? I am shocked, and cannot believe slashdot humor is improving so quickly. Something must be wrong.

Enough !!! (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26355855)

This is friggen bullshit !!!

Every weekend I go to National Bookstore at the shopping mall, and browse through the new releases ... before I buy any book, I'll want to read at least the prologue, introduction OR cover ...

Are you telling me I'm infringing on someones patent if I do the exact same thing online ?

How do these patents get allowed ?

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