updated 03:55 pm EDT, Fri October 15, 2010
Webvention asking $80K for web patent license
A new company is sending out letters claiming that websites that use rollover images and pulldown menu are infringing on its licenses. What seems to be a patent troll, Webvention, is asking for a one-time license fee of $80,000 in what's billed as a temporary campaign, Ars Technica reported. Failure to comply would result in getting dragged into a lawsuit, as Novartis has recently for its webpage.
Webvention claims it owns the rights to uses rollover pictures, according to its Claim 28, which reads as follows:
"A computer-based method for aiding a user in accessing a body of stored information which includes segments of related information, the method comprising displaying a set of labels, each label providing an abbreviated indication of information content of a corresponding one of said segments, said labels being displayed in an organized model reflecting relationships among information contents of said corresponding segments."
Claim 29 goes on to suggest drop-down menus are likewise patented by the company. "Wherein said model comprises a hierarchy of at least two levels," it continues.
Webvention is now suing Abercrombie and Fitch, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dell, Gamestop, E*Trade, Neiman Marcus, Visa and ten other companies for patent infringement. Its website claims deals have been made with such large companies as Apple, Nokia, Sony and even Google.
Novartis is the first to take the matter to court, and would request that Webvention is enjoined from hassling the medicine company.
Patent trolls have historically been characterized as firms that have little to no products of their own and instead rely on lawsuits and royalty payments as their main sources of income.