Originally Posted by jdlaw27
It seems like many of the replies in this thread have not even tried to really understand the article or what the patent is really about.
1. They say things like it is too simple and anyone could have invented it ("I invented that while I was drunk and asleep"). You could say that about almost any really great idea or invention. The autombile windshield sunshade for example; should that guy not have gotten a patent because it was too simple. Things are always simple when you already know the answer.
2. They assume the people protecting their patent have done nothing. Wrong. It seems the people with the patent filed in 2000. That means they probably invented it well before then. I found that they have a website at http://www.vibme.com
which was started in 2004. On that site they claim to have also had ripsave.com and non-virtual.com before that and those were successful.
3. They assume the invention is just plain gift card. Wrong. The invention is for specific merchandise gift cards. You can't go into wal-mart or toysRus and pick up a gift card for a specific item. You have to get a gift card for a dollar amount and use that towards a general purchase. This really is different.
4. They assume that Apple wasn't first approached and asked to license. The actual court papers which can be downloaded if you belong to a service (I do) say that they contacted people like Apple as early as 2000 and have been ever since. How would you like it if you kept telling someone your idea over and over and they keep telling you it's no good and then they just turn around and just do it making millions of dollars on something they stole from you.
5. They assume the patent office just screwed up. The fact is that Apple and everyone in the download business has patents and they certainly expect you to pay if you are going to use it. Just go to USPTO.gov and look up all the "simple" patents Apple has. The fact is computer implemented business methods patents are a major part of Apple's portfolio. Ever since 2000, art section 705 (computer business methods) require double examination and allow for outside input on whether it can be patented or not. That is making the computer business method patents among the strongest, hardest to get, and hardest to defeat.
6. They assume a patent is easy to get (one says, "I'll patent 1s and 0s used in computing"). No you won't. Most patents cost at least $100K to get now days. I'm sure these people paid through the nose. An invention must be new, useful, and non-obvious. It took the patent office 6 years to go over this one. My hat goes off to them thinking of a much more consumer focused way of doing gift cards. Those stupid money store cards I'm told have up to 60% waste (putting money on the card that never gets used). This new gift card is something great for the user. Let's applaud them for working to bring it to the public. Most of these home based inventors don't want much. Just to be acknowledged and not tossed aside.
Well, let's just say I know this guy working in the PTO ...
1. Innovation = Patent. But innovation does not require one to be smart. That is why the average Joe can also get a patent if invention is new. Works to your advantage! Merely setting the bar higher will hurt the common folks and benefit corporations.
2. Patent Office is not a legal body, it does not process litigation or police the world. Sometimes I feel it is the legal system and business practice that needs to be reformed.
3. Only the US allows "Business Methods" patents. Most of these appear abstract and conceptual, but can actually be reduced to practiced and repeated consistently, if you read the entire patent.
4. Many of you are using hindsight. It's like "Where Is Waldo?" gets easier the 2nd time because you know where to look. What is obvious today, was not 6-8 yrs ago.
5. Patent laws are vague like "non-obvious" or "novelty". That actually gives more power to the Office to reject applications, and prevents bad patents from getting out. Asking to specify the law is going the wrong way. Think about it for sec.
6. The examiners do a decent job. The pilot project of peer review from the industry was not well received. Rarely did the industry provide adequate references for the Office to use at all.
Finally, I think we are beginning to see a change in IP rights. The common people are getting more familiar with what IP is and how to use it. Keep in mind, those cases you hear about suing millions of dollars is like drop of water in the ocean compared to the number patents currently out there, like the lottery chances of winning; so for VCs, IP is a very bad indicator for investment purposes. But the idea and use IP will continue to grow there is no doubt about it. Let see if you hop on the train in time.