Daft patent awarded for “form letters”

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollMore than 100 companies have been sued because the US Patent Office was daft enough to issue a patent for form letters.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s patent lawyers found a patent describing a way of “presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services”. The patent is owned by Phoenix Licensing which is a patent troll controlled by Richard Libman, an Arizona man who has sued more that 100 companies.

US Patent No. 8,738,435 is little more than a description of sending a “communication” with “identifying content” to a “plurality of persons”. The patent describes any type of personalised marketing, as long as it involves a “computer-accessible storage medium”.

Apparently earlier mass-mailing systems “produced output that was either non-customised or just customized to address a given person” and could not select products and “characteristics appropriate for a given person,” Libman’s lawyers wrote.

EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer explains in his bog that patents which are just “do it on a computer” claims should get tossed out as “almost surely invalid” under the Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court precedent.   Libman has filed patents in the Eastern District of Texas where they think Alice probably voted for Obama and is almost certainly a socialist.

Of course the idea of patent trolls is that they never get to court, let alone any appeal and that the company will pay up rather than waste money on an expensive trial.