November 14, 2006 | By Hugh D'Andrade

Wanted: Prior Art to Bust Bad Patents

The Patent Busting Project fights back against bogus patents by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders. We've successfully pushed the Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine patents held by Clear Channel and Test.com, and now we need your help to bust a few more.

A company called NeoMedia has a patent on reading an "index" (e.g, a bar code) off a product, matching it with information in a database, and then connecting to a remote computer (e.g., a website). In other words, NeoMedia claims to have invented the basic concept of any technology that could, say, scan a product on a supermarket shelf and then connect you to a price-comparison website. To bust this overly broad patent, we need to find prior art that describes a product made before 1995 that might be something like a UPC scanner, but which also connects the user to a remote computer or database. Take a look at the description and please forward it to anyone you know who might have special knowledge in this area. You can submit your tips here.

Also in our sights is a patent on personalized subdomains from Ideaflood. For example, a student named Alice might have personalized URL "http://alice.university.edu/" that redirects to a personal directory at "http://www.university.edu/~alice/." Ideaflood says that it has a patent on a key mechanism that makes this possible. We need prior art that describes such a method being used before 1999, specifically using DNS wildcards, html frames, and virtual hosting. Prior art systems might have existed in foreign ISPs, universities, or other ISPs with web-hosting services. You can submit tips here.


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