It’s been a busy week for those filing patent and copyright suits.
News comes that computer maker Dell Inc. has been sued by DE Technologies over a business method patent originally applied for in 1996 and issued in 2002. Several aspects of the case are interesting.
First, business method patents are controversial and many believe that patents should not be granted on methods of conducting business. (My own view is if the method is new, useful and unobvious, why shouldn’t it be patentable?) I’m curious to see how this one fares.
Second, the DE Technologies patent has survived re-examination in the Patent and Trademark Office. All too often we hear that various patents are as old as the hills or otherwise invalid. But when the time comes to present actual evidence of prior invention, somehow it never quite materializes. Apparently that happened here. A lesson then to those who too quickly assume a patent “must” be invalid simply because it seems old or obvious to them.
Third, all indications are this a contingent-fee case. Certainly DE Technologies is far smaller than Dell. We’ll keep an eye on this one and see how it turns out.
Amazon.com finds itself on the receiving end of a patent lawsuit filed by Cendant Corp. last week. This suit involves a business method patent owned by Cendant entitled “System and Method for Providing Recommendation of Goods or Services Based on Recorded Purchasing History.” Here the match seems a bit more even as Cendant and Amazon are both major players.
Finally, Disney Company is on the receiving end of a copyright infringement action involving Marvel Enterprises “Spider Man” and “X-Men” cartoon characters. Seems when Disney took over rights originally licensed to other companies, it needed to obtain written permission from Marvel before creating shows based on these characters. Or so Marvel claims.
We’ll keep an eye on these things and see if anything interesting or fun results.