I subscribe to a patent service that sends regular updates on patents from interesting companies and areas of interest. Even if it's not the most joyful reading of the week I tend to be inspired by the pure energy that is put into the applications; lot's of fantasy and words put together to try to outpace time and competition. Almost like an immortality game.
I've followed the patent troll discussion for years and I agree its a menace to society though I have a hard time seeing another system taking its place; what would we do if there wasn't a patent system?
The long time problem is the competence of patent lawyers, they are the real problem both on the applicant side and the patent system approval side. Even if the approval side is supposed to be "objective" they let stuff slip through that shouldn't even reach the wastepaper basket.
What are those people thinking and are they not part of everyday life?
The update today was especially interesting for location of mobiles and any context of that you can imagine. First I want to cite Ebay and their patent Application 20120129553 on "Location-based services":
"Provided herein are methods and systems relating to location-based services such as providing a geofencing, outputting location-based information on a mobile device, varying transmissions to and from a mobile device, and providing location-based alerts. More specifically, a method can include receiving a selected location on a mobile device, monitoring a current location of the mobile device, determining when the current location of the mobile device is within the geofence, and initiating an action on the mobile device associated with the geofence and the selected location."
Which got me to think about the patent that Where got in Dece 2010:
"Provided herein are methods and systems relating to location-based services such as social networking, providing demographic information, tracking mobile devices, providing business information, providing an adaptable user interface, remotely effecting a change on a portable electronic device, providing a geofence, outputting location-based information on a mobile device, varying transmissions to and from a mobile device, providing location-based alerts, verifying transactions and tailoring information to the behavior of a user."
Of course this is only the abstracts and there are thousands and thousands of words more, but as an amateur reading this I get a sense that we are talking about the same thing right? The words location-based services, geofence and mobile device kind of lead the way.
Then using terms like "initiating action on the mobile device" is similar to what is described by Where as alerts, transactions, information and effecting a change on a portable electronic device (which I assume can be covering a mobile phone:-)) seems like the same?
Both are approved so the good thing is that anyone that wants to get into this mess can be sure that any law suit on any party would take years to settle and wouldn't be possible to solve as there are most likely no living creature that can separate who owns what which is a sure sign for All Square.
They got some good ones this week. Look at this patent approved:
"Location information is used to build a database of locations having associated audio, video, image or text data. In some implementations, a device includes a touch-sensitive display and collects data associated with a geographic location of interest. The geographic location of interest can be displayed on a map using an indicator. A touch selection of the indicator provides access to the data through an interface displayed on the touch-sensitive display. One or more locations of interest can be displayed and grouped together by an attribute."
Hmm, feels pretty solid but I imagine there are +5 that carries the same things? Even in the same email update I get this from RIM that seems to be still doing some heavy patenting...:
"Shared image database with geographic navigation"
"There is disclosed a method and device for operating an image database shared by a plurality of users. In an embodiment, each image captured by a user and stored in a shared image database is associating with the geographic coordinates of the location at which the image was captured. A search engine for the image database is configured to accept geographic coordinates as a search criterion for locating at least one captured image stored in the shared image database. The images having location coordinates within a predefined range of geographic coordinates is displayed to the user."
Crossover? Looks like it.
So the story of patent clashes goes on, and on, and on.