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Webvention Demanding $80k For Rollover Images 314

Posted by timothy
from the define-gobsmackery dept.
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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Webvention Demanding $80k For Rollover Images

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  • Abstract... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:24PM (#33900782) Journal

    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?

  • Expired? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:34PM (#33900900)

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

  • Re:Expired (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:38PM (#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.

  • by marsu_k (701360) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:39PM (#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.

  • by DontLickJesus (1141027) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:47PM (#33901086) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:59PM (#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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @06:20PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @06:21PM (#33901550)

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

  • by ed (79221) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @06:38PM (#33901756) Homepage

    Isn't it true that the judge these cases often comes to has a son that works for a law firm that often represents the patent trolls

  • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @06:49PM (#33901856)

    Yep, T John Ward Jr. He's the guy who sued the patent troll tracker blog into oblivion a couple years ago.

  • by soundguy (415780) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @07:02PM (#33902008) Homepage

    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.

    Speaking of "sprites", that was a term used for a moving graphic character on the Texas Instruments TI 99-4A as far back as 1979. Using console basic, one sprite could be controlled via a joystick and a "coincidence" event was registered when that sprite occupied the same screen location (within an adjustable sensitivity range) as another sprite. A response to that event could then be coded. I (and probably thousands of other people) coded "pop-up" GUI menu systems and other similar widgetry using Console Basic, Assembly, or the TI's high-level language called GPL (Graphics Programming Language) more than 30 years ago. I daresay that counts as "prior art".

  • by RLBrown (889443) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @07:28PM (#33902326) Homepage
    Also, for the companies that caved in and paid Acacia, the "license" was carefully worded to not specify the particular patent, but rather whatever rights in general Acacia might possess. That way, should a court overturn the particular patent, the licensees would not be able to get their money back.
  • by KeithIrwin (243301) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @08:43PM (#33903130)

    It predates onmouse events in Javascript, but it's doesn't predate onMouseOver events in Hypercard. I'm willing to bet that there's already prior art from that sphere that was overlooked.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:32PM (#33903532)

    As you said one of the requirements of patentability is that the patent application describe the invention in such a manner so that others skilled in the art *can* practice the invention.

    The patent is so vague, so meaningless, so full of bullshit that I was wondering if anyone here skilled in the art could actually use that patent as a guide to build whatever the hell it's patenting.

    If not then it's not describing whatever it is in a meaningful enough way and shouldn't be valid.

    Forget obviousness, that patent is useless as a patent since you learn nothing by reading it.
    it is nonsense.

  • Re:Abstract... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:03PM (#33904182)

    So how does this "Time/Context" based model not apply to every UI ever? And how does the Xerox implementation of a windowed operating system (or the lisa) not count as prior art, or heaven forbid, windows 1 & 2?

    And I beg these individuals to demonstrate a working model of this product which they developed prior to their "competitors" creating one. They not only didn't develop any functional anything, but they are making people pay for the right to use an idea that was already out there? Ridiculous. They could claim a patent for tap-clicking on a touchpad based on the wording of this pile of horseshit.

    I fucking hate software patents. Someone needs to point the random paper generator at the US Patent office, figure out how many personnel they have and send them N+2,000,000 applications N being the number they can complete in a year. Once they hire on enough staff to manage that for the year, and let them go December 15th (Cause that's what the gooberment does.) send then N+4,000,000 Applications. Finally, the last year, after 2 years of developing your garbage generator, you oughta be close enough to real patents as to have completely flooded the process with garbage. Even if you only get 0.1% of your patents in, you still have basically patented nothing (at least until it exists.)

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