Patents – A Changing Landscape
What’s even more nettlesome is the “business methods” patent. In this area, a concept (typically web-related) is patented. According to this article the concept for a web-site that matches advice seekers with experts who can answer their queries is already patented. How this passed the “non-obvious” test is something of a mystery.
“Patent Mining” has become a cottage industry providing some companies a business model based solely on patent protection, litigation and monetization.
Acacia Technologies is one example that appears to be doing great business while other companies are joining into the fray. A company called Metrics Group offers a patent mining process in which they analyze submitted patents and create a visualization map of trends in the patent market.
Forgent Networks is an Austin company who mined its patents and found one for storing a JPEG image on computer media. With that in hand they initiated a campaign to sue every large vendor that stored a JPEG image on their computer, printer, camera, copy machine, and more. They won quite a few settlements.
There are those who champion the cause against those who abuse the patent system by making overly broad claims – especially in software patents. They lobby to get patents revoked. Check out the site of Public Patent Foundation.
It’s a rapidly changing landscape.