Not patented: WildTangent uses ad campaigns to make money from free games.


It’s no secret in the tech world that there have been a lot of ridiculous software patents over the years, but the one taken to court by patent-holding company Ultramercial stands out. The patent, invented by Dana Howard Jones, basically describes a process of watching an online ad in exchange for viewing a video. An appeals court opinion (PDF) out this morning has invalidated the Jones patent.
Of course, ad-supported video is as old as television itself. On the Internet, it’s a model used by big players like Hulu, which got sued by Ultramercial and settled. Game network WildTangent also got sued, stuck it out for years, and has now finally won this litigation.
Ultramercial lost at district court, but in 2012 its patent was revived by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals. Former Chief Judge Randall Rader wrote for the court that the Ultramercial patent “does not simply claim the age-old idea that advertising can serve as currency,” but rather “discloses a practical application of this idea.”
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