Clearly this economy (and swine flu!) is affecting everyone,
Like I said, all y'all folks with dogs in this fight: I'd be taking notes and backin 'em up to hard disk if I were you.
After protracted review, the US Patent & Trademark Office recently ruled in favor of
While the Electronic Frontier Foundation valiantly begged to differ, devoting years and miles of effort, funds and reason to disputing this sort of mercenary dipshittery, it's all over now but the crying.
"Overbroad and invalid patents threaten to chill important innovations, especially for startups and other nascent entrepreneurs. It's important that technology in the public domain stays there." EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz said in 2007.
The US PTO has changed all that in one fell swoop of patent validation. NeoMedia can now threaten and actively initiate lawsuits against anyone who creates, uses, promotes or dreams up anything having to do with their special corner of the auto-ID universe. Pay the NeoMedia licensing fee/s now, or pay them after a financially crippling lawsuit- it's entirely up to you!
This would be marginally acceptable if NeoMedia had created a unique technology of their own. But they didn't; these patents are based entirely on murky, factually-suspect claims of prior art. They now have a patent on using barcodes that they didn't create (which are based on font and image technology that they didn't create), with camera phones (which they didn't create) that take photos of said barcodes, the phone applications (that they didn't create) which translate those pictures into data (which they didn't create) which can be used to direct the user to a database (that they didn't create, and don't own) on the internet.
This means that if you scan a barcode that has a URL in it with an app on your cellphone, NeoMedia may attempt to squeeze cash from every developer in the chain: the maker of the barcode, the cellphone app developer, the cellphone maker, the cellphone carrier, and the owner of the destination internet database. Also, of course, your mom.
This means you, Google. NeoMedia's sure to go after the big guys first, right? Some dude who's running from blog to blog threatening lawsuits sure thinks so. Wonder if NeoMedia knows he's picking fights with some very big dogs on their behalf? Of course he could be NeoMedia's president and CEO for all we know (either way, I'd be making a hard copy or ten of all such blog and forum comments if I were, say, Scanbuy or ShopSavvy or ZXing..).
Whatever happens, it will certainly be interesting to watch. Pop some corn and pull up a chair.
US patent #6,993,573