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Webvention Demanding $80k For Rollover Images

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the define-gobsmackery dept.

Patents 314

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Webvention is demanding that websites with rollover images pay $80,000 or face a patent lawsuit based on US patent 5,251,294, which it bought from Intellectual Ventures. Webvention claims to already have licensing deals with Apple, Google, Nokia, Sears, Sony and Orbitz. Right now, they're suing Abercrombie and Fitch, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dell, Gamestop, E*Trade, Neiman Marcus, Visa and ten others in a court in east Texas."

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314 comments

Look on the bright side! (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900740)

Could this be an end to mystery-meat navigation? :)

Re:Look on the bright side! (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900766)

Nah, someone with big pockets will fight them.

Re:Look on the bright side! (3, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901228)

Hands up any programmer with ordinary skill in the art who thinks they can build whatever "invention" that patent is describing.

also

Filed: February 7, 1990 (more than 20 years ago)
Issued: October 5, 1993 (more than 17 years ago)

If I set up a website tomorrow with rollovers and they included me in their speculative invoicing scam how could they apply this patent?

Seems Obvious? (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900756)

Of course many inventions do after they're invented...

Re:Seems Obvious? (3, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900800)

Doesn't change much. If you ban software patents then no-one gives a shit whatever it was obvious or not :D

Imho the world would had sucked if all ideas from the beginning of time was protected by some mechanism.

Want to use numbers? Write things? Associate images with real objects? Use a tooth brush? Drink juice? ...

Re:Seems Obvious? (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900854)

I think that changing underlying content with hover mouse events is pretty obvious. I mean, what else would it be there for?

Re:Seems Obvious? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900944)

Especially the ones where the language it was implemented in was DESIGNED to implement those very things from the start!

This is getting truly outrageous, can't we just have them whacked?

Re:Seems Obvious? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901502)

Of course many inventions do after they're invented...

Things that seem obvious after they've been invented should not be patentable in the first place. Such innovations would probably be stumbled upon by someone else in short order. Putting a 20-year monopoly on such ideas is counterproductive to the economy, partly because lots of others tend to casually implement the feature. They independently discover it and use without much thought, because it seems obvious. That sets up a rich playfield for patent trolls.

There are plenty of inventions that *don't* seem obvious even after you see how they work (for example, the Rubik's cube). Patents should be reserved only for those cases.

nuke East Texas (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900764)

Eat their bones

Abstract... (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900782)

Help me out...

An interactive information environment for accessing, controlling, and using information. Using a computer, available sources of information are accessed, and components are extracted, labeled, and formed into discrete units called contexts. A user selects and rearranges context labels and their associated contents. Contexts are selected and combined into new information structures called alternates, which are combinable with contexts into preferred situations. The preferred situations in turn are combinable with the foregoing components into meta-situations. All components have labels; labels and their associated contents are interchangeably movable and copyable at the levels of these information structures, whether they are located locally or remotely, and the information structures are combinable. While a label is invoked and manipulated, its contents or description is simultaneously displayed. Each information structure can be rearranged into one or more models which can be displayed by user selection, and models can be displayed at varying levels of detail. With built-in copyright accounting, commercial control remains with information owners, while operational use is centralized in each user.

WTF does this mean, and WTF does it have to do with rollovers?

Re:Abstract... (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900874)

It's not to do with rollovers per se; it's a patent on having "labels" which, when you point at them with your mouse, cause other information to be displayed.

I'm not sure that a rollover image would count as it removes the original "label" when you rollover it - I imagine a lot javascript/CSS menus would be far more likely to fall foul of it based on my reading of the patent.

Re:Abstract... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901028)

I imagine a lot javascript/CSS menus would be far more likely to fall foul of it based on my reading of the patent

Yeah, so basically 100% of all websites created with JQuery. Unless this patent specifically addresses only a pop-up information box when rolling over an image, like Redbox does for example when you roll over the cover art for a movie and it then displays the summary and other information for it.

I am not surprised they got some money out of Google or the other big guys. 80K? Really? The lawyers probably told Google that what they would charge them for the lunches would cost more than that and just to settle.

I sure hope your wrong about javascript/CSS menus, because if these people are dicks like the Mafiaa, then I could see an extortion racket pop-up that would be extremely damaging to small businesses and very difficult for web developers to deliver products at this point...

Re:Abstract... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901364)

ah... html title attribute falls under this. My html early history is pretty sketchy but I believe that the element a had title from before then.

Re:Abstract... (4, Funny)

Homburg (213427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900884)

It gets even better if you read further into the patent:

The new computing paradigm of the present invention starts from a new kind of world view: A global economy is emerging with rapid flows of capital, knowledge, products, and competitive pressures. A growing number of companies and industries face new needs to leapfrog their limits and become effective competitors on a global level, transforming their performance, productivity, adaptation, and innovation capabilities. Is it possible for a single leverage point to help fill part of these needs?

This new type of software is defined by its novel purposes: the improvement or fabrication of reality based on its users' ideas and imaginations.

I think someone managed to submit Timecube [timecube.com] as a patent application, which is kind of awesome, although it still doesn't explain what it has to do with rollovers.

Re:Abstract... (4, Informative)

Homburg (213427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900976)

The figures [google.com] are pretty sweet [google.com] too.

Re:Abstract... (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901448)

Is this a patent on invention? With an illustration showing a man reading the newspaper while a light bulb appears in his thoughts, I conclude that this 1993 invention has successfully cornered the market for all new ideas until it expires.

Re:Abstract... (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901526)

Where you in the business in the late 80's early 90's? it seemed like everything describing the net sounded like that.

Re:Abstract... (4, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900888)

Help me out...WTF does this mean, and WTF does it have to do with rollovers?

"Give me money. "
It's in legalese. You wouldn't understand, it's a lawyer thing.

Re:Abstract... (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900930)

Nothing. It's typical f'ing patent babel-talk... vague enough to cover absolutely everything while covering absolutely nothing.

Re:Abstract... (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900966)

Honestly, I think almost all patents should be invalid because they're completely incomprehensible to someone skilled in the art. Sadly it seems that patent law doesn't work like that.

Re:Abstract... (5, Insightful)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901072)

I actually fully agree. If a web developer themself has no clue at all what this patent is talking about, then who is it referring to? Shouldn't experts in the field understand the patent itself? If experts in the field have no clue what they are saying, then are they really saying anything?

Questions which make me fully agree that if a person in the field has no clue what it is saying, that it should be counted as not really saying anything. If it doesn't say anything, it is not really a patent, and we can get rid of it

WTF! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900972)

Reading things like this makes me realize what a complete joke America has become.

Re:Abstract... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901030)

Check the claims section, i'm not so sure this is limited to "image rollovers", this patent may cover essential elements required to have Interactive Menus in any application or body of content as well. Seems like OS SDKs might have to pony up...
I wonder how it is (exactly), that they get to go after websites over this, however. Rollovers are a browser feature, it's browser manufacturers that created and sold the technology subject to these patent claims. Web site manufacturers are leveraging the browser feature, but not including the technology in their product; merely using the technology 'hover' CSS attribute included in the HTML standard by Microsoft, Mozilla, etc. If anyone is infringing upon the patent, it is browser manufacturers, for not correctly licensing all patents required for their implementation.

28. A computer-based method for aiding a user in accessing a body of stored information which includes segments of related information, the method comprising
displaying a set of labels, each label providing an abbreviated indication of information content of a corresponding one of said segments,
said labels being displayed in an organized model reflecting relationships among information contents of said corresponding segments,
enabling a user to point to individual labels in said model using an electronic pointing technique, and
for each label to which said user points, displaying to the user, for previewing, the information content of the corresponding segment.

29. The method of claim 28 wherein said model comprises a hierarchy of at least two levels.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein said hierarchy comprises an outline.

31. The method of claim 29 further comprising, in response to commands of a user, eliminating one of said labels at a higher level of the hierarchy.

32. The method of claim 29 further comprising displaying said set selectively at different levels of detail in said hierarchy.

33. The method of claim 32 further comprising simultaneously displaying one portion of said set at a higher level of detail in said hierarchy, while displaying another portion of said set at a lower level of detail in said hierarchy.

Re:Abstract... (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901328)

Because Mozilla and the other small time browsers don't have enough money to be useful to their needs; if they decided it would be fun to go after Microsoft in court--they would their bones into a fine powder to make lawyer-bread or something. I'd be surprised if Google 'licensed' this *cough* technology (if the claim is indeed legit), for any other reason than to shrug them off. Ponying up $80 grand is undeniably the cheaper and easier route for a big corporation.

On the other hand, Abercrombie and Fitch, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dell, Gamestop, E*Trade, Neiman Marcus, etc. have the unique combination of monies to extort, and as an added feature, they're simply not companies that deal with tech as part of their core business model.

Re:Abstract... (3, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901078)

it really doesn't matter because with enough lawyers to keep it in court for years, the large companies crush all the others and squeeze them out of existence. Didn't I just read how the inventor a graphene was told this kind of thing directly and it is why he did not patent it and why he was not able to collect any royalties for his invention?

This kind of thing is destroying innovation because it becomes futile to try and create something new when you'll just end up in court and eventually the lawyers get all your money and the other side gets all your IP.

LoB

Re:Abstract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901300)

Someone I work with referred to this as the "New Barbarism". Instead of winning by hitting someone over the head harder than they hit you (because you have bigger muscles) you hit them with a lawsuit, not because you're right, but because you've got a bigger pocketbook to pay for the lawyers. This is what society needs to protect against for it to advance.

Re:Abstract... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901406)

So he was told he would be crushed if he patented it? sounds like he fell prey to misconceptions and bulling.

Re:Abstract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901348)

Sounds more like tooltips than rollover images. And tooltips have been around a fuckload longer than this patent. Besides that, seriously? If they were going to do this they should have done it back in '98 or something. I don't think "patent something vague that resembles something that already exists, wait until it's in use EVERYWHERE and then try to sue people should be a business strategy.

*facepalm*

keep it up, trolls (5, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900830)

This is a perfect example why software patents need to be invalidated across the board. They do nothing to help consumers or innovation...they're just a tool used by companies to extort money from legitimate businesses.

Re:keep it up, trolls (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901060)

Sadly, the politicians who are the ones in a position to do something about this silliness, have no clue whatsoever about software patents... all they know is "patents in general are good, and software patents are patents, so they must be good too".

We have almost no politicians with a technical background, or even a background in tech business, so few understand the issue or even understand that it is an issue. Still, the US seems to be in a worse bind with its politicians: they seem to be all ex-lawyers, who love this stuff.

Re:keep it up, trolls (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901128)

Who cares about the politicians? Webvention is suing a pharmaceutical company, which certainly has their own lobbyists. All they need to do now is go after Exxon-Mobil, Monsanto, Smith & Wesson, and Philip-Morris, and software patents are gone for good.

Re:keep it up, trolls (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901260)

Who cares about the politicians? Webvention is suing a pharmaceutical company, which certainly has their own lobbyists. All they need to do now is go after Exxon-Mobil, Monsanto, Smith & Wesson, and Philip-Morris, and software patents are gone for good.

I like how you lumped in the companies that are not evil but are hated by liberals (Exxon-Mobil, Smith & Wesson) with the companies that are actually evil (Monsanto, Philip-Morris) in your little fantasy. And then left out Google.

Re:keep it up, trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901152)

Still, the US seems to be in a worse bind with its politicians: they seem to be all ex-lawyers, who love this stuff.

They are STILL lawyers, but are now massively corrupt.

Re:keep it up, trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901548)

I have a patent on invalidating patents. Do that, and you own me $50k.

Let the patent wars begin (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900850)

If all hell were to break loose and start Patents World War I, perhaps it would provoke some serious questioning over the rationale of patents. Or at least the current system. I myself would favor an abolition of all private property, other than the 3sq ft you are standing on and objects you carry on your person.

Re:Let the patent wars begin (3, Funny)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900992)

Yeah sure! This is patent World War I, in which patent France won and demanded patent Germany pay patent reparations. These patent reparations ultimately caused patent Hyperinflation in patent Germany and led to patent World War II. In patent WWII patent Stalin signed a patent non-aggression pact with patent Hitler and was completely taken by surprise when patent Russia was invaded by patent Germany. Patent Stalin allied with Patent USA eventually won and signed a patent peace where they divided up patent Europe in a patent cold war that lasted almost 50 years.

This almost sounds like a plausible analogy!

Re:Let the patent wars begin (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901266)

That is the funniest stupid thing I have ever read on /. You should be modded up into the stratosphere!

Bravo!

Re:Let the patent wars begin (3, Informative)

theghost (156240) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901276)

The only winning move is not to play.

Re:Let the patent wars begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901562)

OMG, great reference. I don't think I've ever heard that injected into a discussion before. You win the internet.

Re:Let the patent wars begin (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901044)

One of the patent holders would win with the Patents World War I. All the others will lose. You are not one of the patent owners who is going to win, so you will lose.

Re:Let the patent wars begin (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901318)

imho every tech company would sue every other, amounting to a kind of denial-of-service clog in the legal system. No possible resolution of so many suits other than renegotiate the rules, or a truce, which is what we have now. Liberty of ideas is not what we have now. We have a kind of invention ideas "pax romana" reality.

Patent Reform (1)

gd1234 (1117333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900856)

I think we should change the system to have different levels of patents. Patents would be on a scale. Some patents would be granted for only 12 months with a small level of fees. Others would be granted for 18 years with exclusive rights.

Talk About Prior Art (2, Insightful)

cob666 (656740) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900868)

Isn't image rollover part of the HTML standard? I recall seeing this type of functionality in early web sites when browsers were first being used. I really hope that somebody with deep pockets decides to fight this and get the patent invalidated.

Re:Talk About Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900886)

And that's ignoring the fact that this is just tagging "... on the web" to a much longer history of software with drop-down menus.

Re:Talk About Prior Art (2, Interesting)

marsu_k (701360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900974)

Isn't image rollover part of the HTML standard?

No, back in the day it was inline Javascript with onmouseover/onmouseout events (even with image preloading if you were "fancy") - now that IE6 is finally starting to fade away (IE6 only supports the :hover pseudo selector on anchor tags) there's no reason not to use CSS sprites, which means no more superficial attributes or Javascript for rollovers.

Re:Talk About Prior Art (3, Informative)

bmk67 (971394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901084)

Considering that the patent (filed 2/7/1990) predates CSS, Javascript, onmouse* events, and HTML itself, I'd have to say none of those would qualify as prior art.

Not defending the validity of the patent itself, I'm just sayin'...

Re:Talk About Prior Art (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901100)

It uses pieces of HTML standard, just as *.softwarepantent uses parts of *.hardware's instruction standard.
The patent claims appear to be describing hierarchial popup/expanding menus that while being hovered over displayed content in a pane or popup (helptext?) elsewhere, also being able to drill down the structure without having to keep the menu open.

But I only skimmed to claim 30 or so, too much bullshit after.
This was filed in '90, granted '93, i'm thinking compuserve or AOL may have prior art in that area but I wasn't on the internets until '94 :(

Re:Talk About Prior Art (1)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901316)

You're going to have to find something older than HTML/most if not all things web browser related for it to be called prior art. The relevant patent was filed in February 1990. Based on a very quick skim of certain parts of the patent (I'm not reading the whole thing anytime soon...), it sounds like it was meant to apply to computer programs in general...so if you want to look for prior art you need to find a GUI program from the 80s that used rollovers.

Re:Talk About Prior Art (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901516)

Did you notice that this patent was filed in 1993. That is a long time before many versions of the HTML standard. I would guess that obviousness would be a better line of attack, or just waiting it out. How long are software patents in the states? 17 years or so...

Expired (1)

Macblaster (94623) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900882)

They must be suing for past damages, as unless there is some adjustment/extension for delays at the PTO, that patent is now expired.

Re:Expired (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900942)

"Estoppel by waiver" should then get the whole thing thrown out. They don't even have any damages to show. They bought the patent specifically to shake companies down with it.

But ultimately the point isn't to be right, the point is to force a settlement. On balance it's not like there are any real penalties for losing.

Re:Expired (2, Insightful)

larien (5608) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900996)

The penalty isn't for losing, it's for fighting. Most big companies can't be bothered with the hassle of paying lawyers for protracted lawsuits, where the judges often don't understand the technical detail being discussed and so there's a risk of losing even if the lawsuit is patently bollocks.

Patent trolls exploit the fact it's cheaper to roll over & pay the fee than it is to fight, where if you win, you lose.

Re:Expired (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901508)

They must be suing for past damages, as unless there is some adjustment/extension for delays at the PTO, that patent is now expired.

You can get back damages for 6 years of infringement. Since this patent expired about a week ago, they can get 6 years minus one week.

Expired? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900900)

Since the patent was issued on Oct. 5, 1993 didn't it just expire?

For developers, questioning the validity is costly (4, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900956)

Problem is, reviewing wrongly-granted patents takes years - 5 years for the 1-click patent and it wasn't even invalidated, just narrowed.

In other fields, this isn't a huge problem. In pharma, or the automobile industry, a threat is met with a legal team and a counter-suit. For software, when it's small businesses or even individuals that get threatened, they don't have the time and resources to play the game. It's the old joke about the manager phoning his lawyer "Some company wants me to pay them $5K for a liccnece, do I have to pay that?" "Give me $40k and I'll review it". (That number is the cost estimate that Dan Ravicher gave for giving a client a certificate of non-infringement.)

Re: "patent trolls" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33900982)

Just saw a pto lecture on this exact case. Smart business model. It costs more than $80k to litigate, so they get lots of settlements. Earlier settlers get to pay less and then their name can get added to the list of "already settled". Once this has funded all your legal fees, maybe carry through with a couple suits against deep pockets defendants for essentially zero legal fees with the chance of a hundred million dollar payout. Time to get on the bandwagon...

A couple of details (5, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33900994)

First, the application was filed in 1990, so prior art is going to be harder to come by than you might think.

Second, the patent was already thrown into reexamination a month ago. Check reexam 90/011,229 on PAIR [uspto.gov] for the details. The law firm that filed the reexam request is Townsend, Townsend & Crew [townsend.com] , which is a major IP firm. The request cites multiple pieces of prior art and looks pretty well put together. One of the first things the examiner did was try to call the patent owner for an interview. The examiner couldn't get ahold of them. That's a bad sign for the patent owner.

Some of the prior art citations include HyperCard and HyperText.

Third, courts have tended to temporarily halt litigation (a procedure called a stay) while they wait for the results of a reexamination. It's quite possible that this patent is about to die in the Patent Office without the lawsuits moving forward.

Re:A couple of details (2, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901082)

Another problem that could have been circumvented if we limited patent terms to approximately "one generation of technology"/3. In this case it'd be about 12/3=4 years.

17 years is a holdover from the days of covered wagons and rail; where there were no parcel systems, no telecommunications, and no rapid prototyping plants. If we scaled 17 years by the growth in effective rate of fabrication and marketing, it'd probably be on the order a few months. Four years is shockingly conservative.

Re:A couple of details: should have expired (2, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901120)

Patents today run for 20 years from time of application, or 17 years from date of grant (whichever is later, although the 17 year rule only applies to patents filed quite some time ago.) Those dates would be Feb 7, 2010 or Oct 5, 2010 respectively. This patent is expired.

Re:A couple of details: should have expired (4, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901344)

Patents today run for 20 years from time of application, or 17 years from date of grant (whichever is later, although the 17 year rule only applies to patents filed quite some time ago.)

The application in this case was filed before June 8, 1995, meaning that its term is 17 years from the date of issue.

This patent is expired.

Just because a patent is expired doesn't mean one can't sue for past infringement. The statute of limitations on patent infringement is six years. 35 USC 286 [cornell.edu] . So, the owner of this patent can sue for infringements that occurred as far back as October 5, 2004.

However, the equitable doctrine of laches [wikipedia.org] may limit an infringement suit to more recent instances of infringement.

Re:A couple of details (4, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901244)

WTF! 1990? I'd say prior art is going to be impossible to come up with in the context of HTTP and the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee's initial proposal for the web wasn't even filed until November of 1990, with the first conceptual tools available by Christmas. The ability to display the graphics necessary for rollovers didn't arrive until later still, and only really got popular with the release of Mosaic in 1993.

Other than Hypercard and similar early hypertext tools like Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu (now there's a blast from the past!), I can't think of many types of software that existed in 1990 this patent would even come close to applying to.

Re:A couple of details (2, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901420)

I'd say prior art is going to be impossible to come up with in the context of HTTP and the World Wide Web.

Prior art doesn't have to be in the same context as the infringement. Prior art only has to describe the elements of the claimed invention.

In this case, the application doesn't mention the Internet or the Web, though it does mention HyperText and HyperCard. The claims are written in broad terms, which actually makes it easier to find an example of something that fits the bill. If the inventor had been some visionary that described HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (i.e., the way most rollovers are implemented today), then sure, it would be impossible to find prior art, but that's not how the claims were written, and indeed the reexamination request claims that HyperCard, HyperText, and a couple of other systems (WE and SuperBook) are prior art.

Re:A couple of details (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901536)

The X-Window System probably does. X version 1 is May 1984. X version 11 is 1987. Networked bitmapped graphics with menu systems.

I used a PERQ 2 in 1986 with bitmapped graphics and a menu system. I never used a PERQ 1 (launched 1980), but its graphical system may be worthy of checking out.

Good thing software pats. haven't been around long (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901038)

Sure glad we didn't have software patents back when addition, subtraction, division, geometry, and calculus was invented.

We might have been set back centuries in advancement.

East Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901040)

What is in the water in east texas that everyone who has a claim can win a suit there. Is unemployment insurance paying poorly and jury duty a much better gig? This is just one more reason why software patents are absurd. For lawyers, east texas is a gold mine (no matter which side you are on). For everyone else, its insane.

Re:East Texas (4, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901312)

It's not the water, it's the judges, mostly T. John Ward. He's got his own rules about patent suits and runs cases very quickly by means such as not allowing lengthy discovery (which obviously puts defendants at a substantial disadvantage).

It's also a legal tarpit, as he almost always rejects transfer motions.

I have a patent on looking at screens, pay up you. (0)

fkx (453233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901074)

I have a patent on looking at screens, pay up you.

Patent is too loosely worded (4, Interesting)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901086)

An interactive information environment for accessing, controlling, and using information.

Patent legalese for "Using a computer"

Using a computer, available sources of information are accessed, and components are extracted, labeled, and formed into discrete units called contexts.

I prefer to call them directories. But some folks like "folders".

A user selects and rearranges context labels and their associated contents. Contexts are selected and combined into new information structures called alternates, which are combinable (sic) with contexts into preferred situations.

Hmm.... View->Details. Custom Folder views....

The preferred situations in turn are combinable with the foregoing components into meta-situations. All components have labels; labels and their associated contents are interchangeably movable and copyable at the levels of these information structures, whether they are located locally or remotely, and the information structures are combinable (sic). While a label is invoked and manipulated, its contents or description is simultaneously displayed. Each information structure can be rearranged into one or more models which can be displayed by user selection, and models can be displayed at varying levels of detail. With built-in copyright accounting, commercial control remains with information owners, while operational use is centralized in each user.

Am I the only one that reads this as a file system? This has basically just described viewing & renaming multiple folders with properties and permissions. Just because one adds "meta" or "abstract" on a level of a system doesn't mean they've invented something new. As a matter of fact, it means the exact opposite. It means the designer doesn't know what the user will need, so they're trying to keep the options open. As a developer I understand this can mean a lot of work in coding, but it's nothing new. Customization != Invention, and I hope the patent office can take on this 1 rule: If your patent says "meta" or "abstract", you lose, you fail, no patent for you.

Re:Patent is too loosely worded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901210)

this 1 rule: If your patent says "meta" or "abstract", you lose, you fail, no patent for you.

I guess that means no file system patents like FAT32 then, huh?

Isn't this part of the standard Flash library? (1)

KJSwartz (254652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901090)

Forgive my ignorance, but how can somebody patent an idea that Adobe delivers with their developer's toolkit?

Whoever pays is a MORON! (3, Insightful)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901102)

I would rather invest $80,000 in a work around than to pay that extortion fee. Heck I would invest $160,000 in a work around! Then sell it for a one time fee of $2,000 to everyone who was being harassed.
There is no way Rollover images are worth that much.

Hell I would remove all rollover images before paying anything!

Re:Whoever pays is a MORON! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901462)

How much money in additional revenue is generated with this method? If you don't know, then you can claim to know how much they are worth.

Go Novartis (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901144)

Big pharma companies like Novartis live and die by patents. They're not afraid to duke it out with a patent troll, as it would give their army of patent lawyers something to do. Perhaps they can do some good in this case if they can persuade the court that this practice should be curtailed.

Patent is Expired? (1, Redundant)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901234)

Issued in 1993 + 17 years from issue means the patent is or is almost expired.

Re:Patent is Expired? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901550)

Yep, this is actually already public domain as of 10/5/2010

It's the browser that's doing it not me (3, Insightful)

KPexEA (1030982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901238)

Even if this was a valid patent the websites are all just sending html/text to whatever agent the user is running. It's the browser that is actually doing the rendering. So does that not mean that the browser is the one that needs to get the license?

Expired last week? (2, Insightful)

nickersonm (1646933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901332)

Shouldn't this patent have expired last week? It was filed in Feb. 1990, and issued October 5th 1993. 17 years from issuance or 20 from filing, whichever is greater, would be October 5th 2010.

slippery slope (1)

Chaseshaw (1486811) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901342)

Small-time software patent holders should get together and sue Webvention, citing that they are seeking to destroy the ability to patent software by ANYONE through their overly-aggressive and overly-ambitious campaigns. I, personally, think that innovative ideas should be rewarded. But just as the pdf went public, there are some things that are too useful or too common to make claiming them reasonable. Companies like Webvention are going to be responsible for the death of software patents.

sudden defense...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33901346)

Aren't patent holders required to defend their patents or risk losing them? In which case, haven't there been myriad examples of infringement which have gone unquestioned for too long and have therefore invalidated the IP? Or is that only for trademarks?

Just plain silly (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901352)

This is just plain silly and should not be allowed to continue! If it is allowed to continue I think I will file a patten for the letter 'a' in both lower and upper-case forms. Then I will sue everyone in the entire world because everyone has used the letter a in some way shape or form at some point in their life! NICE TRY JERK-OFFS! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN

cue the dogs... (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901380)

Hopefully webvention hasn't patented the anonymous mailing of dogshit -- or the burning bag of dogshit on the front porch -- because this is the obvious response to such a shenanigan.

See you in court... (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901402)

Ok, read a good bit of the patent and having spent a great deal of time with a patent attorney over the years I can say that this has nothing to do with rollovers at all. If they are stretching the "point to a token and simultaneously displaying a segment of information from a larger body of information" portion of the claim to be *THE CLAIM* they're gonna get hosed. The rest of the patent document clearly states that this invention is...

The present invention is specifically a system for users to rapidly collect and rearrange a wide variety of specific Contexts into flexible, imagination driven patterns and then to access them rapidly for guidance when needed to improve performance or to transform situations.

It has NOTHING to do with rollovers, whatsoever, other than referencing them as a means of displaying information. Not as part of the patent claim. The system described is basically a self-generating body of knowledge that is populated by an end user from a larger body of knowledge based on rules set forth by an "Editor". To claim a patent on rollovers from this "invention" is ludicrous at best. We'll see how it plays out. They better hope for a REALLY dumb judge.

The future of patents (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901478)

This is the patent equivalent of Nostradamus. Basically you patent a bunch of nonsense, and every once in a while something is bound to hit.

Inventor or "first user"? (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#33901496)

Surely this "idea" was invented by the people who created the part of javascript that allowed img src to be changed at will and re-rendered instantly? Just because Random Person was the first to deploy the technique, that does't mean Random Person invented it.

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