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  1. #1
    Senior Member shoffman3572's Avatar
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    I'm sorry if someone has already posted information about this - I did search first before posting and couldn't find anything.

    Anyway - At work today I was told to alter a roll over function on our web site because we got a letter from Webvention LLC claiming we were infringing on their patient. Apparently the idea for roll over menu's was patented back in the early nineties, and so if you want to use a roll over menu on your site - you have to pay a license fee.

    Who else thinks that is outrageous?

    Here's a link discussing the problem:
    Javascript/CSS rollover menus are patented and subject to licensing? - Stack Overflow

    This kind of thing should be all over the major news networks - the freakin patent office web site is in violation!!

    Webvention LLC claim Google and Apple have paid a licence fee - if so, shame on them.

    Has any one else read anything about this?
    :devious:

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  3. #2
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I've never heard of this, but the discussion on Stack Overflow has mentioned
    a public domain use on 10-05-2010. Whether that information is correct or not,
    I'm not sure. This whole thing sounds suspicious to me (The Onion?).

    Maybe you can make the changes now, but don't activate it until 10-06-2010?


  4. #3
    Senior Member shoffman3572's Avatar
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    http://www.webventionllc.com/

    Webvention LLC - Home - This is there site.

  5. #4
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    I read the patent (United States Patent: 4656603

    Some important things to consider:
    1. I think based on the wording that it only applies to iconographic navigation - text-only navigation doesn't seem to apply.

    2. His design document is largely focused on thick-client applications - he specifically states in one part that the icon assets reside on the PC implementing the rules. This could serve as a work-around for web apps, though temporary storage by the browser could fit into his design pattern.

    3. He very clearly states that he ripped off his idea from old CAD systems. I used to use these in the 80s - they had digitizer tablets with an iconographic menu of toolsets in them. His patent is a system for recreating these panels in an application - how they could be created, and how they would work.

      A very clear parallel for his design is an Adobe toolbar.

    4. Autodesk and Adobe - the two leading early implementers of this type of graphical navigation, are not on his licensee list - seems they may have prior art to void his claim against them. Worth looking into case law.

    5. Per comments on Stack Overflow, seems the patent expires October 5, 2010.

    6. If he ever writes me a threatening email, I'll tell him to suck it.

    7. None of the above constitutes legal advice. Speak to a lawyer if you're contacted by this company.
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  6. #5
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Oops... seems I read the wrong patent! LOL Here's the correct one: US Patent #5,251,294

  7. #6
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    OK!!! So I just perused through patent '294 - my unprofessional opinion (not legal advice) is that it's ridiculous if he thinks this applies IN THE LEAST to web-based drop-down menus. His patent is for a very specific 2- or 3-panel computer-system context-menu. He goes into as much detail as to define all of the elements in the menu and how they interact. The patent (in my non-legal opnion) is WAY to specific to apply to website drop-down menus.

    Honestly, I'm surprised he's not claiming that any menu falls under his patent.

  8. #7
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Interesting... Webvention bought that patent from a patent aggregator late last year:

    Intellectual Ventures LLC continues to sell some of its vast patent holdings, recently selling patents to two companies that incorporated in Marshall, Texas, a favored venue for litigious patent-holding companies known as patent trolls.

    WebVention LLC acquired five patents in November from Ferrara Ethereal LLC, an IV shell company. Headquartered in Marshall, WebVention is licensing one of the patents, which covers "structures and methods for organizing, presenting, and accessing information.

    InMotion Imagery Technologies LLC, also of Marshall, acquired three patents that cover picture-based video-indexing technology from a different IV shell in November.

    While neither company has filed suit (yet), many people get nervous when IV sells patents, as this strategy is part and parcel of the notorious "catch and release" tactic used by patent aggregators, where patents are obtained and shopped around for a limited period of time. After the time passes, the patents are then shopped to more aggressive holding companies for enforcement, while IV holds on to a "back-end" interest in the licensing revenue.

    This appears to be part of a recent effort by IV to sell of patents for the purposes of licensing /enforcement - Webvention and other IV shell companies were covered last December by the Recorder ("What's Cooking at Intellectual Ventures?")
    Here's an interesting article on the topic: What's Cooking at Intellectual Ventures?

    It seems most of the companies listed on Webventions' licensee page were probably carryovers from IV.

  9. #8
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    MORE INTERESTING INFO!!!!

    Webvention is suing people!!!

    http://www.setexasrecord.com/news/22...trict-of-texas

    The defendants are Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Church & Dwight Co Inc, ConocoPhillips, Dell Inc., Donaldson Co. Inc., ETRADE Financial Corp., GameStop Corp., HTC America Inc., Iasis Healthcare LLC, Insight Enterprises Inc., Neiman Marcus Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Tenneco Inc., The Finish Line Inc., TravelCenters of America LLC, United Parcel Service Inc. and Visa Inc.
    SCHWEEEEEEEEEET!!!! LOL

    Here's the case history: http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuit.asp?id=61288

    Seems like the summons just went out this past week. I'm interested to see what happens!!!

  10. #9
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Ok... so I bought the complaint document that they filed. It essentially says that these companies' websites are all in violation of their patent without providing details of how - the one thing they all have in common... drop-down menus.

    These are big companies. If you've been contacted by webvention, I would watch carefully how the case goes against their first round of big boys.

  11. #10
    Senior Member shoffman3572's Avatar
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    Shocking huh?

    Thanks for looking into this further. Shocking really.. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm hopeful this patent will get reviewed and then made invalid. Or one or all of these companies being sued will counter and bury these scam artists.


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