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E-Bay Patents Thumbnail Galleries

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the trivial-trivial dept.

Patents 192

goaliemn writes: "In yet another stupid patent filed department, E-bay has filed to patent their thumbnail gallery section of e-bay. I know of afew sites that may have existing work well before ebay." Surely someone who works at Ebay can tell us this is a late (or early) April Fool's joke, right?

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Maybe they mean... (2)

Nagash (6945) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424299)

Maybe they mean being able to click on a thumbnail and allow you to purchase or bid on it. I don't know. There has got to be more to this patent than just thumbnails because there is prior art of this on private homepages for God's sake.

I can almost bet that the additional "innovation" of this "invention" has to do with the ability to use/take your money in some way.

A link to the patent or something substantiating this news would be very appreciated.

Woz

Wait.. (2)

Dr_Bones (125791) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424300)

Anyone else get the feeling that these patent stories are being posted simply to piss us off? I mean, by now, we all know that the patent office has no clue. Let's move on, and drop the patent stories please.

Re:What About Porn?! (1)

MultimanZ (43332) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424301)

Funny. I only goto them to jack off.

Does this mean a new boycott? (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424314)

Where the hell am I supposed to buy random shit that obviously nobody wants but those 3 other guys who consistently outbid me?

I Got Your Prior Art! (3)

Black Art (3335) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424315)

I don't know the date of their "invention", but there was a web site I worked on MANY years ago. (1996 or so) that used thumbnails in just this manner. The site no longer exists, but the company I wrote it for still does. Incredibly obvious idea. Anyone who has used an image viewing program in the last 10 years could think of a web version.

Don't just blame EBay - blame the system (5)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424316)

You can never count on corporations to do "the right" thing, their sole responsibility is to their shareholders and to increase shareholder value. If the law creates a way, immoral or not, for corporations to increase shareholder value, it is in their nature to exploit it. It is the responsibility of lawmakers to prevent this from happening, however lawmakers depend upon corporations to get them elected.

So what happens? The strong get stronger, and the weak get weaker, we may as well be kids on a remote island being seduced by the Lord of the Flies. We have two ways out, either people start using their vote (unlikely), or technology will come to our rescue just as it did when the printing press helped society break free from the church's control.

--

Heh... (1)

reh187 (182368) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424317)

Lets UNDERMIND their patent by patenting this:

<img src="INSERT YOUR PICTURE NAME HERE">

Lets see how their gallery works without that!!!

Of course ... (5)

jetpack (22743) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424318)

... you do realize EBay is only patenting this so they can put the patent rights up for auction, right? You don't suppose the winner of said auction would be a porn site, do you? hmm? ;)

Re:Maybe they mean... (1)

HeppyCat (138497) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424319)

>A link to the patent or something substantiating this news would be very appreciated

Well, their website does say 'Patent Pending'

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

Hooptie (10094) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424320)

Why are they trying to do this, and why is the patent office letting them?

This is very easy to understand. First they are doing it because they can and thye hope to be able to sue/license/harass anyone else who even thinks of using something similar. Second the Patent office lets them because by default the patent office will grant a patent and then let all the players fight it out in court.

The main problem is NOT the companies seeking to patent the fork, breathing, sex... The problem is the patent office granting all these silly patents. Many (most, all) of the people at the patent office (and everywhere else) see computers as a big magic box. Therefore if it has to do with computers, it must be new and original and therefore patentable. Until the folks at the patent office get some people who know what they are ding with regards to computers, this disturbing trend will continue.

If none of this made sense, sorry. Im on hold with our ISP right now.

Hooptie

Prior Patent (3)

Skald (140034) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424321)

This cannot stand; Genset [gensetoligos.com] holds a prior patent... on thumbnails [slashdot.org] .

Patent jpg (1)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424327)

Why don't they try to patent the GIF or JPG while they're at it?
Maybe even "eeeelectronic auction"

Rader

Big deal. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1424332)

Big deal. Who wants to see pictures of thumbnails anyway?

Re:Patent jpg (1)

acidblood (247709) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424336)

GIF's compression (LZW) is already patented actually. Unisys had even been trying to enforce it.

I'd love to be the lawyer... (5)

DESADE (104626) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424338)

I'd love to be the laywer challenging this in court. I'd have a field day showing "prior art" by demonstrating porn galleries.

Hyperlinks (1)

Hobobo (231526) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424339)

Can I patent using the word "here" inside hyperlinks?

Five dollar royalty for everyone who uses the word "here" inside a hyperlink!

Re:This seems really quite silly. (2)

acroyear (5882) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424340)

If you hadn't read some of the other patent threads before, the truth came straight from the horse's mouth (ass? anyways, the dude in charge of the patent office -- "we're there to help our 'customers' [his word] get patents"):

The only "research" into prior art the patent office does is to look at existing patents already granted and the applications that exist that pre-date the application being considered.

No web searches, no common sense, no "gee, didn't I see something else that did that?", and certainly no asking someone with real, relevant experience in the field covered by the application ("hey, do you think this is too obvious a concept?" is a question that pretty much hasn't entered their minds in years). nada, zip, zilch.

If a patent doesn't already exist, there's no "prior art". The current view of the patent office is exactly that. Their attitude is "You want to prove prior art or obviousness, do it in court, and not on MY time..."

Day of the Innocents (1)

deXela (226837) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424341)

Well, yesterday was Day of the Innocents [I should know :-(] here in Guatemala, so that could be it.

God's Intellectual Property... (1)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424342)

I thought (depending on your religion) that God held the patent on Thumbnails and all fingernails and body parts for that matter....

Re:discovery? (1)

Zagadka (6641) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424343)

discovery of gravity?

as if we just found it, on a remote island somewhere? before that everyone was just drifting off into space...

[I agree with your point about computers, but I wouldn't call "gravity" a discovery either. The way in which gravity works and the mathematical relationship between mass, distance and gravity, that was discovered. Gravity itself wasn't discovered any more than the ground was.]

Re:Hey, let's patent everything! (1)

Antipop (180137) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424344)

That's why I'm applying for "antipop: I put the dot in i."

-antipop

Welcome to the world of "Utility Patents" (5)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424345)

(Thanks to the person above who quoted the patent abstract, which makes this clear, and to the NOLO press and author David Pressman for publishing Patent It Yourself which also makes this clear.)

Ebay is not patenting thumbnails nor claiming to have invented them. They are trying to patent the use of thumbnails in a new context, as a sales tool for online auctions. There is some precedent for this.

For example, Post-It (tm) notes are protected by a utility patent. Neither the note nor the adhesive was invented (by 3M IIRC), but the use of the adhesive for the temporary sticking of notes to odd surfaces was a new use for existing technology. And that can be patented.

This is really no less stupid than Amazon's one-click patent, which of course still doesn't mean it isn't stupid. But don't assume just because every pr0n site in existence has been using thumbnails since the days of Turing and von Neumann that Ebay can't get this through or enforce it.

(For the curious, the other type of patent is called a design patent and is the kind you would apply for if you had actually developed a new and previously unknown technology.)

Re:Here's the patent.. (5)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424360)

So, it sounds like it's specific to online auctions, so although this isn't any less stupid than it originally sounds, I wouldn't start to worry about your online gallery of cat photos too quickly.

No, not until somebody patents online galleries of cat photos.
--

Prior Art (1)

CmdrT4c0 (266433) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424361)

I found an interesting web page here [tms.org] which discusses what qualifies as prior art for patents. Based upon quotes like this it seems that eBay is definately going to be fighting an uphill battle:

First, a person is not entitled to a patent if the invention was "known or used by others in this country, or was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country" before the date of invention by the applicant for the patent.

Of course, given the Patent Office's willingness to grant silly patents [slashdot.org] to other Internet companies, who can say what'll happen with this.

Re:Proof... (1)

Antipop (180137) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424362)

[proof] that internet companies are bloated

Not as bloated as emacs, eh?

-antipop

We'll have to wait and see (2)

IP, Daily (250583) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424363)

Calling their "gallery" patent pending is just E-Bay PR bullshit. It tells nothing about what the patent application is really about, except that it relates in some way to their gallery. Wait to see what the claims look like before you get all pissed off. If this thing issues, the claims aren't gonna be directed to a thumbnail gallery in general; no matter how stupid the Patent Office may be at times, they would never let that issue. Apparently, E-Bay is doing something different with this gallery, which may be bogus too, but it's not worth getting all bent out of shape until the patent actually issues (if it does at all). If and when that happens, you can pick apart the claims and see what they really have. Sometimes a company will get a patent with really narrow claims directed to a tiny aspect of their "innovation". This ensures that they get the patent issued. The patent is virtually worthless from the point of view of enforcement, because it's so narrow that it's easy to avoid infringing the claims. However, they get to blab to the world that their "gallery" or whatever is "patented", which gets them advertising points with dumbasses. I suspect this is the case with E-Bay.

Re:This seems really quite silly. (2)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424364)

That is really remarkable! You mean to say that they don't check to see if a patent is valid at all? This seems to be different from other patent offices. AFAIK (which isn't much at all) the British Patent Office has fairly strenuous standards that must be passed. Why are they so biased towards the commercial model? Surely they should be independant of their 'customers' desires? That would seem a sensible approach, anyway.

But then, I don't know, maybe in the end it makes sense. Many things in America seem to rely on the courts, I have noticed since I've been here, and the Law seems to be the way that disputes such as these are decided. It does seem a little odd though, all the same, hehe.

Re:Heh... (1)

$FFh (229923) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424365)

You really should know better, it SHOULD be:
<img src="INSERT PICTURE NAME" width="WIDTH" height="HEIGHT" alt="TEXT DESCRPITION">

Re:Here's the patent.. (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424381)

Yes, but for people like myself who run auction sites with 10,000 members instead of 10,000,000 -- this is still not a good thing.
---
seumas.com

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

minusthink (218231) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424382)

None of these companies particularly cares about the "innovation" of course.

Ebay didn't start their service because they wanted to connect mankind, or advance technology, or any REAL reason for innovations.

They did it because of money.

Unfortunetly, this is one of the many negatives of capitalism. And even more unfortunetly, capitalism is the best we have.

minusthink
--
minusthink [Code poet or super hero? (you decide)]

My homepage is prior art.. (1)

Antipop (180137) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424383)

They want prior art? Check out the screenshot page on my site (devfoo.org [devfoo.org] ). There's no way this'll make it's way through the patent office, almost everyone with a website has some form of thumbnails.

-antipop

Re:Rash of stupidity... (3)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424384)

Maybe it's defensive patenting.
Patent something important so that others won't be able to sue you when they beat you to it.

prior art (3)

British (51765) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424385)

Paint Shop Pro has had the thumbnail gallery(called the "browser") for years.

The inventor of html should get the patent (2)

Mr. Asdf (267041) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424386)

If a patent may be given for thumbnail galleries, then whoever enabled html to have pictures act as hyperlinks should get the credit. Displaying pictures is part of HTML, and so is clicking them to get to another page. The notion of having an image act as a hyperlink to a description of that image, and perhaps a higher-res picture, is nothing more than a magazine with contents on the cover (e.g. Reader's Digest). And good style web development teaches us that all hyperlinks should be orgranized in a logical way- so click a picture and learn more about it... Wow, whoever thought of that is a genius!

Re:Rash of stupidity... (5)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424387)

> The problem is the patent office granting all
>these silly patents.

Perhaps part of the problem is the court system,
for not really being available as a venue to those who need it. If it is truly such a disaster to "be sued" even if one is in the right, that defending oneself against being sued
may put one out of business, then the court system has long ago ceased to serve it's primary purpose -- to protect the people it serves, equally, consistently, fairly, and without prejudice.

The fact that people and businesses must walk on eggs and comply with extralegal demands, because they fear being sued by someone with more resources than they have, is really an intolerable situation. If we tolerate it, we get the government we deserve -- ruled by the
corporate entity with the most money, and which suffers the people to consider themselves "free" so long as its own interests are served.

Guess we need to let this situation go ahead and get worse. When it becomes intolerable enough that people become sufficiently outraged to make the sacrifices needed to bring change, they will,
just like they have done throughout history.
In our lifetimes? One wonders. As a society, our lives are just too cozy and pleasant for us
to really have the stomach for revolution. That might mean people like you and be getting killed at the hands of other people like you and me, or even (gasp!) giving up cable tv or the welfarre check!

Obviously, things aren't bad enough to drive real change. Yet.

Re:Hey, let's patent everything! (1)

psicic (171000) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424388)

I've just purchased the Irish patent rights to this topic. I refute your right to stop Irish people posting on this topic - that's my job. You wanna' challenge it? See you in an Irish court!
p.s. Ireland is a little blob on the map, first green bit after the words 'Atlantic' on the map. Yes, we do have some law here....Wait...that probably means I have to leave my internet connection to register my patent...Oh, sh*** - forget it...it's all yours, bub.

8)

Maybe they *do* realize... (3)

Gruneun (261463) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424389)

Maybe E-Bay does realize just how ridiculous the whole patent idea is.

With the great number of companies trying to patent the most ridculously obvious technologies, perhaps it's emerged as a self-defense mechanism. Sure, patenting something like a hyperlink or a thumbnail gallery is stupid. Everyone who has used the Internet for even a short period of time knows that these are commonly used. Ask yourself though, as a large company (with available money to burn on lawyers), if you're willing to take the risk that some other schmuck will try to patent it first... and possibly... just maybe... win. Losing the right to a patent also decreases the options for someone else to try.

If E-Bay were to win that sort of patent (and they won't) they could prove they aren't also a bunch of schmucks by announcing that they have no intention of ever enforcing such a patent, but explain they were doing so to protect themselves from just that sort of abuse.

Or... it could just be my wishful thinking that a large company genuinely has the interest of the common web guy at heart.

Re:Here's the patent.. (3)

Nagash (6945) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424390)

I checked the link out - I don't see a way to look at anything but the abstract, so let's analyze it a bit, shall we?

A method and apparatus for information presentation and management in an online trading environment are provided.

Note the bold (my emphasis). This shouldn't affect the cat photos James_G mentioned.

According to one aspect of the present invention, person-to-person commerce over the Internet is facilitated by providing prospective buyers the ability to quickly preview items for sale.

Again, this is related to commerce. This basically says that the site is going to be allowing two parties to buy/sell items with some sort of preview system. Duh, right? Right.

Images are harvested from a plurality of sites based upon user-supplied information. The user-supplied information includes descriptions of items for sale and locations from which images that are to be associated with the items can be retrieved. Thumbnail images are created corresponding to the harvested images and are aggregated onto a web page for presentation at a remote site.

This basically says, "people give us info and we show it". What innovation. The only thing of interest will be the aggregation of the images on to a web site (we don't really know what that means yet) and the harvesting of images. I'm sure those are defined somewhere. I doubt it's anything special.

At face value, it sounds like they are given a link to an image, they go get this image and display it with the description. Extraordinary. Edison would be proud.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a user may submit a query to preview items for sale. After receiving the query, thumbnail images corresponding to items that satisfy the user query are displayed, each of the thumbnail images previously having been created based upon a user-specified image.

It's called cataloging. Yahoo! has done this for ages. The "query" probably amounts just clicking along some links that are grouped by similairity. Hell, it may even be a search. Again, I can hardly contain my admiration of such forward thinking.

The abstract makes it out to be absolutely nothing special. It's all be done before, but since it relates to "online trading environments", it's different. My ass.

Woz

Re:Welcome to the world of "Utility Patents" (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424391)

As a Minnesota resident long subject to the often tedius stories of 3M innovation, I do believe that the adhesive *was* invented by 3M in the course of adhesives development. It was one of those "failed" inventions that some clever engineer discovered could actually have a practical use.

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

maelstrom (638) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424392)

Would you mind if I posted your text on my website? Please e-mail me :)

Very prior art (1)

chrischow (133164) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424393)

aiya, when i first started looking at web sites, around late 95 i found popstar websites with thumbnail galleries already. a quick check finds that some of them haven't been updated since then!

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424394)

Oh my God, that's right! I remember that!

And Unisys keeps it up, too, acting as if they are perfectly in their right (which unfortunately they are).

http://www.unisys.com/unisys/lzw/

Of course, they did spend their precious time and hard-earned money on developing GIFs.

Here is FSF's philosophy on GIFs (and why we should all boycott GIFs, or at least "DeCSS it" somehow, or just continue doing whatever it is we were gonna do anyway before we knew it was wrong).

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/gif.html

But e-bay hasn't even come up with an original idea, here.

Patent electricity, indeed!

So what is it we can do to fix this problem? It's like I always say... (to paraphrase Wired.com) Generate "Thousands and Thousands of Posts". Other than that, an Internet Tea Party might work.

You know, I posted the other day (in response to "Humorously Bad Web Hosting Polcies" about Page Creators) on why I felt that, say, calling an 800 number that a spammer sent you 500 times to help him go out of business was short-sighted and not really helpful. But I am changing my mind on that. I think that that may be the Only resort left to Americans who really care about the way things are going. It is sad, but as long as there is no other viable recourse to change the Patent Office policy on Stupid Patents, then go ahead, civil-disobedience 'til the cows come home...

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

SparkyMartin (206236) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424395)

I believe I read on Slashdot a while back that the Patent Office was going to be overhauled and new rules were to be put in place to stop these silly stupid internet patents. Guess ebay is thinking they better grab what they can while the gettin's good.

Maybe I can patent "patents on thumbnails."

5 months left for the easier overturning... (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424396)

Patents are easier to have overturned in the first year after being issued. "We, the Open Source Community," should have some sort of watchdog effort pointed at the USPTO to keep track of new stuff being issued, that really isn't new. Then we could go after it.

We can all be Stupid Patent Police, every one.

Re:I'd love to be the lawyer... (1)

IP, Daily (250583) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424411)

If the patent application was filed recently, and E-Bay is also filing a foreign patent application, this patent application may be subject to the new 18-month publication rule at the patent office. This meams the patent application will be published before the patent issues, at which time the public is invited to comment on it, and even attempt to invalidate it with prior art. You may get your wish, and I'd even represent you for free. No shit.

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424412)

Most sectors of business realize this and only patent something that came about through their hard work and research, not just anything that hasn't yet been patented in the field (especially if it's common practice!).

Yeah, well tell that to Unisys, because they made more than a couple of bucks from scared ISPs over the GIF patent. All these companies are looking for a little cash cow in their older years, when sales are down and the managers need to rase cash for a bonus or two.

ring, ring.. hello hotteens.com? Yeah, this is EBay. I noticed that you have a gallery of neked pics. As you know, we have a patent on galleries. Yeah, thats right. And we're going to take you to court unless you pay us $100,000 and introduce us to hot teen numbers 3, 4 and 7).

And they funny thing is: That will actually work.

Misleading Headline... (5)

MathJMendl (144298) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424413)

"E-Bay Patents Thumbnail Galleries" implies that they have won the patent. They have simply filed for a patent, however.

Patent # (2)

Alioth (221270) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424414)

Does anyone have the patent number for this one? I'd love to see what the actual claims are.

I keep telling myself it can't be the act of merely displaying a thumbnail...there must be something more to it...

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

st lietuva (179053) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424415)

^^^somebody mod that up. geeks, nerds, countrymen. please take account of your freedoms and remember them well. for totalitarian corporations have no other purpose but to profit from the consumption of it's products and services by otherwise subdued consumers (read: YOU). your freedoms will soon be gone and mindlessly you will consume products, vote in predetermined elections, die in war for "freedoms" you don't have, and birth your children into a life long indentured servitude. you laugh now. look what corporations are doing to the web, the earth, 3rd world countries, etc. they profit from every freedoms that you willingly relinquish. i am sleepless at night with paralyzing thoughts of how deeply and certainly we are enslaved. i know there can be a better way. GEEKS GET POLITCAL NOW. http://www.scri.fsu.edu/~nayak/rage/3-take.html

Re:Here's the patent.. (1)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424416)

let's just make this simple, and patent Selling things. we could make a bundle -- if anybody wants to sell something, they'd have to pay you to be able to do it.

*duh*

eudas

Are they going to sue MS (1)

arcadia (183606) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424417)

Even Windows has thumbnail gallaries (well in win98/2000/ME) when you view folders for which you select view in thumbnail format. Well, they beat MS to patent this brand new amazing technology.

Re:Rash of stupidity... (2)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424418)

>Unfortunetly, this is one of the many negatives
>of capitalism. And even more unfortunetly,
>capitalism is the best we have.

Well, the fall of currency can, has, and does happen. This could change a whole lot of things
if it happened in the USA. Can't happen? Maybe it can't, here in the jewel of the world.

Perhaps there are readers of slashdot who have lived through the experience of having their money be "money" one day and used it for toilet paper the next day.

Can't happen to the dollar, the pound, the yen, or the euro? Why can't it? The law of good taste? Inertia?

Tell it to someone who left Cambodia in 1969, or a Albanian refugee in Italy.

And while they are at it... (1)

MathJMendl (144298) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424419)

Why don't they patent a method for using "dispersion" to hold together "hydrogen" and "oxygen" atoms in nearby molecules?

Re:I'd love to be the lawyer... (1)

andy@petdance.com (114827) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424420)

Never mind porn. It's not like a group of small pictures is a new concept. What constitutes a "thumbnail gallery"?

What about my gallery of Naked Raygun covers [petdance.com] ?

What about high school yearbooks?

Re:I want a medal. (2)

llywrch (9023) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424421)

> Wonder if I can get a patent on first posting at slashdot.

Naw, do mankind a favor: patent the blink tag. Or the marquee tag. That'll clean up the Internet in a way to surprise everyone.

Geoff

Pr0n Video Sales (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1424422)

I've seen lots of pr0n sites which sell videos.

When you click on the video thumbnail, you get to see the full-sized cover, and maybe some sample
pictures.

Isn't this the same thing - use of thumbnails for sales?

E-Bay B.S. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1424423)

This is something that most of the large auction sites have been doing since day one. Sothebys for instance http://search.sothebys.com/search/collArea/collAre a.jsp?code=ca004&type=C Conforms exactly to this patent. Something else to note is that the engines that drive these sites (as far as thumbnails go) are used by many other types of commerce systems (Sears, Danier, Amazon, etc) all of which predate this patent. MGI, Truespectra, equilibrium and several others all provide these zoom server technologies which create the thumbnail galleries and the examples used as part of the sales info for these packages include auction sites. MGI's live picture technology goes back to 1994 and used an auction site with thumbnails as an example. You could also argue that real estate sites (as well as many others) provide this same exact functionality (exactly as stated in the patent). A real estate site is nothing but an auction site with a very specific set of products for sale. I would love to see e-bay and century 21 go at it in court. My money is not on e-bay. Not that it matters, they will still probably get the patent.

Don't (just) tell us... (1)

flieghund (31725) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424424)

...tell the company you worked for! Even if you don't like the company any more, dash off an email to their legal department or something.

Posting to slashdot may make you feel better, but let's not kid ourselves: the forces deciding these things are not reading this or any other web site. (I'd argue that they cannot read at all, except they must have some rudimentary grasp of written language in order to process the patent application in the first place.)

Re:Prior Patent (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424425)

I think that this also violates the BT hyperlinking patent.

Rash of stupidity... (3)

Keighvin (166133) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424426)

Why is there such a rush to patent what should be natural innovation?

There are many good ideas that are evolved from other good ideas and occur to many making the point of intellectual property moot - this is one of those things (along with hyperlinking).

Most sectors of business realize this and only patent something that came about through their hard work and research, not just anything that hasn't yet been patented in the field (especially if it's common practice!). Why are they trying to do this, and why is the patent office letting them?

Re:Patent jpg (1)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424428)

I'm putting a patent on the 'right-click'.

Uh. No, Ebay. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424430)

Sorry, but I think the practice of displaying smaller versions of an item in a catalog/album/gallery format not only predates e-fucking-bay (hey, remember -- there was an internet before Amazon, eBay and Egghead.com existed) -- but predates pretty much the whole discovery of computers.
---
seumas.com

What About Porn?! (5)

citizenc (60589) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424433)

From what I understand, porn sites have been doing this for years and years. I can vouch for this fact, being an exp-- err, I only go to those websites for the articles. Really.

REALLY!

------------
CitizenC

Re:Hey, let's patent everything! (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424435)

Dude, SUN puts the dot in dot-com.

It's a trademark already.
---
seumas.com

Re:Patent jpg (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1424437)

nice try for an FP, but as we all know around here, gifs use LZW compression patented a million years ago by unisys. compuserv got screwed by this. ever heard of burn all gifs day? slashdot was all about posting articles of that. slashdot supports the cause 100%. you can tell. just look at the top of the page. oh wait, title.gif. well, np, look at the story pictures. wait, those are gif too. at least the banner ads are png, oh wait, gif too. good work slashdot. we know you are the most hypocritical site on the web currently.

Well I think I have an eariler claim (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424441)

http://wickednews.voyeurs.net/sampler/ When do they claim to have created the technology because I can narrow down to almost the day this site did.

Re:Maybe it's legit? (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424449)

Unique is probably not the precise term, but something's uniqueness (or originality - if something is original it was by definition unique at some point because it was the first) is a factor in patentability.

The issue of stock photos vs. actual photos - well, again, this comes down to opinion, but it seems fairly original to me. If buying a used camera from someone, I'd rather see the actual camera I'm buying, box and all, not just a picture of a particular model from Kodak. I might see some damage, or perhaps unique markings or colorings (camera is not best example here). I've not seen other sites do this, that deal in this kind of stuff. One is supposedly an indication of the specific physical item I'll get - another is a generic substitute.

I'm not saying it's RIGHT, but that it may in fact be possible. If someone can TRY to patent hyperlinks, 'one click' anything, etc. an 'original' way of quickly seeing multiple auction items is certainly a candidate for a patent. Whether or not it'd stand up later in court is another story.

I have the solution! (1)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424450)

Patent the idea of patenting painfully obvious and pre-existing business techniques as a way of screwing over competitors who cannot afford lawyers to prove that the patent is invalid.


My mom is not a Karma whore!

Re:Rash of stupidity... (3)

Firedog (230345) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424451)

A thousand years from now, students will learn (but not in schools) about the Decline and Fall of the American Empire...


...One of the factors that led to the fall of the United States of America and the coming of the Second Dark Age was a stifling of intellectual progress by the transnational corporations of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

One of the central tenets of the Rational Age, arguably the peak of pre-nuclear civilization, was that scientific and technological progress superseded individual ownership of ideas and concepts. But during the "Greed Years" near the turn of the third millennium, a fundamental shift in values occurred. In a mad rush, the large corporations grabbed every piece of "intellectual property" they could get their hands on, stamping ideas, scientific advances, life forms, and even single words with their brands. Processes that had been used for hundreds of years by indigenous peoples all over the globe were suddenly the exclusive "property" of large corporations.

Initially, this shift in attitude had little effect on progress, as there was healthy competition between transnational corporations. In addition, certain semi-enlightened governments intervened in order to keep progress moving along, although this intervention was typically incompetently applied. Too little, too late, it only slowed things down.

There were subtle effects that few noticed at first. The dizzying pace of inventions slowed dramatically as more and more building blocks for new technologies became the exclusive domain of the transnationals. Smaller companies became unable to innovate due to the excessive licensing fees imposed by those who owned the tools and technologies that the innovations built on. Technology began to stagnate.

It became illegal for curious engineers and inventors to even analyze an existing technology. Consequently, more and more of society was based on technology that was not rigorously tested. Breakdowns of everything from financial markets to air traffic control systems became increasingly more common, until they were eventually accepted as a way of life.

Discouraged, young people began to turn away from science and technology even more. Fewer and fewer fresh minds were available to create new inventions, and they were poorly trained compared to previous generations due to the ever-degrading state of education. Those who did enter these fields were generally occupied with maintaining, patching, and in some cases, dismantling the technological infrastructure.

The process was insidiously cumulative; as more corporations merged into single entities, with operations on all the continents, they became too difficult for governments to handle. They continued to merge, and they formed alliances that kept a lid on all technological advances that threatened the status quo.

Of course, it could not continue forever. The planet's population was beyond its carrying capacity at the time, and the economic production of the planet was based on ever-increasing use of dwindling nonrenewable fuels. Technologies to harness the power of the sun and nuclear fusion had been suppressed by the huge oil and gas conglomerates; they owned these technologies, but sat on them.

Increasing pollution, the instabilities in cost and availability of energy, and changing climate patterns all took their toll, introducing greater social instability in turn. There was not enough time for society to retool itself to become dependent on newer energy technologies, and the greatest empire the world had ever seen began to unravel.


...taken from the Decline and Fall of the American Empire, published 3026 A.D.

Speaking of dumb patents... (1)

Mumble01 (5809) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424452)

A quick search on Google found information about this patent [crosswinds.net] on the letter 'e'. Looks like eBay will have to change their name now...

Re:Here's the patent.. (1)

IP, Daily (250583) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424453)

Never mind the abstract, what's important are the claims. These tell what E-Bay can sue another company for making, using, or selling. Here they are:

1. A method performed by a marketplace computer for facilitating electronic commerce over a network between a plurality of seller and buyer computers, the method comprising the steps of:

presenting a registration web page to a remote first seller computer over the network;

receiving a first registration for a first product from the first seller computer over the network, the first registration including a first product description and a first Universal Resource Locator (URL) indicating a first location of a first image of the first product, the first location referencing the first seller computer or a third computer on the network, and the first image being in one of a plurality of predetermined source image formats;

presenting a registration web page to a remote second seller computer over the network;

receiving a second registration for a second product from the second seller computer over the network the second registration including a second product description and a second URL indicating a second location of a second image of the second product, the second location referencing the second seller computer or a fourth computer on the network, and the second image being in one of a plurality of predetermined source image formats;

retrieving the first image based on the received first URL;

manipulating the first image to produce a first thumbnail image of a first predetermined size and format;

retrieving the second image based on the received second URL;

manipulating the second image to produce a second thumbnail image of a second predetermined size and format;

creating a customized web page including the first and second thumbnail images; and

presenting the customized web page to a buyer computer.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first and second predetermined sizes are the same, and the first and second predetermined formats are the same.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the customized web page further includes the first and second product descriptions.

I'd have to read the specification to correctly interpret this, but it looks like it's used to compare two products from two different sellers so that a buyer can bid on the one he likes better. Hmm, still seems pretty bogus.

Image Extenders as prior art (2)

AGumbus (119117) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424454)

I don't see how this is sufficiently different from what IBM delivered quite a number of years ago as DB2 Image Extenders [ibm.com] .

Essentially, they're a means of querying a database (potentially, distributed among a plurality of sites in the case of parallel DB's) for image content, presenting the results as thumbnails and permitting links back to the original images. They also provided the capability to query by drawing/doodle and by color distribution in the image.

Be sure to send e-Bay feedback about any other prior art that would definitely turn their application into an organizational embarrassment. Stuff like Oracle interMedia [oracle.com] or any given imaging product library from Xerox PARC.

It's only fair, I should think...I mean, they probably have no clue how open they are to a world-class stomping by the largest organizations in the industry...

Re:Big deal. (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424455)

Thumbnails' fetishists of course!

Sure (1)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424456)

That will solve all our problems, lets ignore them!

Re:actual photo (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424457)

eh, I dunno, I've been doing a shopping-cart-like site for my local car dealer for years and we usually put up the actual picture - sometimes a stock shot, but always labelled as such. What's the difference between selling cars (offering for a bid, there's no set price) and auctioning old garden art?

(Other than the fact that you won't get a ticket for doing twice the limit in your stone gargoyle?)

Re:Rash of stupidity... (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424458)

Of course, they [Unisys] did spend their precious time and hard-earned money on developing GIFs.

Unisys did not develop GIFs. Compuserve did. In 1984.

Compuserve unknowingly infringed in Unisys' LZW patent by specifying that type of compression in the GIF format.

Years later, after GIF was a widely used standard, Unisys suddenly realizes their patent is infringed. At first, they seemed real nice about it. Then as they saw lots of $$ on the WWW, they decided to be nasty about it. They could. Because GIF is the easiest, simplest, least common denominator animated format. Nevermind that Unisys has nothing to do with that innovation.

Finally, Unisys bought the LZW patent. It's not something that they [a corporation] could possibly be creative enough to create themselves.

Microsoft's response (1)

Bill Fuckin' Gates (262364) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424459)

Users of Windows 2000 (the ebusiness platform of the new millenium) can view a group of images as a "thumbnail gallery" in Explorer, by selecting "Thumbnails" from the View menu. Therefore, Microsoft can prove the existence of "prior art". You'll be hearing from several hundred of our lawyers withing the coming weeks.


See you in hell,
Bill Fuckin' Gates®.

What about xv? (2)

dsplat (73054) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424460)

xv has been doing thumbnails of all the pictures in a directory for several years. Depending on what exactly eBay thinks they've patented, there may be a number of example of prior art.

Dot com survival strategy (2)

iturbide (39881) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424461)

And that's what it looks like to me.
Can't show investors a profit, let's see if they fall for the "innovative" things we do. Next keyword: revolutionize.
Emperor's clothes and all that.

Oh well. Happy new year, everybody!

Re:Microsoft's response (1)

AGumbus (119117) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424462)

These would be the thumbnails that originally made an appearance in the OS/2 Warp Multimedia Extensions, right? You know, Image Folder, Audio Folder, etc. :-)

Sorry, couldn't resist. You're absolutely right, though: Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and a slew of others will hopefully, stomp this embarrassment into the dust.

This seems really quite silly. (1)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424463)

What I don't understand is, surely to goodness there is absolutely *tons* of prior art for this? Why, surely the X-rated sites alone have had thumb-nail galleries for quite some time ;) (I know this because I caught my brother at one once, the naughty boy;)

So how can they hope to get this patent passed? Only by hoping that the patent office is too ignorant to realise the truth. But even the patent office knows this, surely? And thats not to mention the surefire countersuits from other companies whose business will be threatened by this.

Do they have some unique (*very* unique) twist on the usual thumbnail scheme? That is the only way, it would seem to me, that this application should be allowed.

*sigh* I'm so tired. I can't wait to get home and into bed with a nice hot water bottle. Its quite cold in Maine just now.

Re:so you think corporations can't change the laws (1)

Canar (46407) | more than 14 years ago | (#1424464)

To quote a wise British Secret Agent:

"Yay capitalism!"

*grumble*

-=Canar=-

email... (1)

Technodummy (204943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1424465)

could you please email me?

I'd like to ask you a couple of questions.

remove the -sucks-ass to reply

Maybe it's legit? (2)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424466)

There *could* be an element of 'uniqueness' to their approach. I don't know of too many commerce sites that let you see a thumbnail gallery of the actual items you're able to buy - usually only professionally done photographs of stock items.

And how many auction sites do this? Again, it's not a case of 'I've seen thumbnail galleries before, so ebay can't do it cause it's prior art' - they're not saying they invented thumbnail galleries. What they'd be claiming is that they've invented a unique business process of some sort. If the scope is narrowed some, they might be the first auction site to do this, making it unique and perhaps patentable.

discovery? (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424467)

discovery of computers?

as if we just found them, on a remote island somewhere? gravity was discovered, computers were invented.

Re:Rash of stupidity... (1)

ftobin (48814) | more than 14 years ago | (#1424468)

so, vote Democrat/Green and limit the power of the big corps.

Funny thing is, the clear majority of us did vote left, and we still lost the election.

Re:US Ebay Patents (2)

ZanshinWedge (193324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1424469)

Hmmm, a lot of these sound overly broad.

1 6,167,386 Method for conducting an on-line bidding session with bid pooling
OK, I can believe that, sounds moderately reasonable at least.
2 6,073,117 Mutual credit server apparatus and a distributed mutual credit system
Zuh?! I guess it's time slashdot paid eBay the royalties for their karma system.
3 6,058,417 Information presentation and management in an online trading environment
Yeah, this is practically the definition of an overly broad patent.
4 6,058,379 Real-time network exchange with seller specified exchange parameters and interactive seller participation
Makes sense, but I don't think it's enough of a "new idea" to be patentable.
5 6,044,363 Automatic auction method
Huh? Are they talking about incrementing the bid until it's above everyone but one person's highest bid? Yeah, that sounds like an incredibly complicated and new idea.
6 6,012,045 Computer-based electronic bid, auction and sale system, and a system to teach new/non-registered customers how bidding, auction purchasing works
The teaching part makes some sense, but I don't really think either one of those are particularly patentable ideas.

Ya know, I don't think we would all mind if these numnutz patented genuinly new and unique concepts instead of trying to patent everything and the kitchen sink just because they were in the market early and have tons of cash.

Re:What About Porn?! (4)

hobbesx (259250) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424470)

Friggin' thubmnailed articles, I hate reading those things ;)

speaking of stupid patents... (2)

darthpenguin (206566) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424471)

here is a patent I found a while ago on "Method of exercising a cat" with a handheld laser. It is patent number US05443036, and info on it can be found at http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05443036__ [delphion.com]

Besides, I'm sure there are *many* sites that can claim prior art for thumbnailed images...

-mdek.net [mdek.net]

get over it people. (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424472)

everyone is patenting everything. It really doesn't matter (as has been pointed out everytime something like this happens) a quick appeal and it will be wiped out.

no, the patent people do not know what they are doing, and no, no one cares. just let it go.

as for EBay being stupid, that is another story.. :)

Re:Speaking of dumb patents... (1)

Christ-0-Geek (246330) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424474)

that article was a joke.

fool.


-CoG

"And with HIS stripes we are healed"

Harvesting images (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424476)

I'm going to patent my method of harvesting resources in C&C...

banner hits (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424479)

Thats what its all about, banner hits. More money in robs pocket.

Re:Rash of stupidity... (2)

Drey (1420) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424481)

And in a move that would probably burn the FSF and RMS's butt if they and he knew about it, Borland maintains a link to the FSF web site using a GIF of the GNU mascot . . .

Look for it at this URL, at the bottom left of the page: http://www.borland.com/kylix/ [borland.com]
--

Re:Wait.. (1)

jje (256380) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424483)

Why not just log in and ignore them in your preferences? There are probably others here who still read them.

http://mp3.com/jje [mp3.com]

Proof... (1)

Wire Tap (61370) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424486)

... that internet companies are bloated and full of hubris. Whose ego is fueling these fires? I really do not comprehend how people think they have any right to patent something as universal as a thumbnail gallery. That is no different than claming to have created the photo album or any other convienent image bank. What a joke.
What needs to be seen is the Patent Office of the United States to crawl out of their shallow hole and discover the world out there is teeming with dynamic ideas, and that somtimes (read: most of the time) patents are entirely uncalled for. They do little but symie the world at large. *sigh* I feel sad and depressed all over again. Will humans never learn?

Re:Patent jpg (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1424487)

Instead of patenting GIF, since we can't, how about patenting the idea of using a GIF to "display an object or image, real or imagined, thru the use of any electronic means including but not limited to monitors, televisions, LCD panels, holographic projectors, neural implants, or any other image display device."

We can also patent the transfer of GIF files thru electronic means, the printing of GIF files, as I doubt any of those are covered in the patent for the GIF format it's self. Is Ebay, Amazon, and everyone sure they can't go back and patent TCP/IP, or electricity while they are at it?

I don't see what all the fuss is about (1)

kastaverious (267363) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424488)

if Ebay tries to enforce this, they will be laughed out of any court in the land. BT tried a similar stunt recenlty in the UK saying it had a patent on hyperlinking. It is clear in both cases that prior art exists. Im still rather confused though as to why Ebay would even try to patent something that clearly already existed before it even existed. Do they really think they have a cats chance in hell of having this upheld in a court?

Here's the patent.. (5)

James_G (71902) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424489)

Look here [uspto.gov] .

Abstract: A method and apparatus for information presentation and management in an online trading environment are provided. According to one aspect of the present invention, person-to-person commerce over the Internet is facilitated by providing prospective buyers the ability to quickly preview items for sale. Images are harvested from a plurality of sites based upon user-supplied information. The user-supplied information includes descriptions of items for sale and locations from which images that are to be associated with the items can be retrieved. Thumbnail images are created corresponding to the harvested images and are aggregated onto a web page for presentation at a remote site. According to another aspect of the present invention, a user may submit a query to preview items for sale. After receiving the query, thumbnail images corresponding to items that satisfy the user query are displayed, each of the thumbnail images previously having been created based upon a user-specified image.

So, it sounds like it's specific to online auctions, so although this isn't any less stupid than it originally sounds, I wouldn't start to worry about your online gallery of cat photos too quickly.

The most predominant earlier use of this patent (1)

Rydor (129335) | more than 13 years ago | (#1424490)

...with thumbnailed galleries of their "works" would of course be all of the porno sites of course
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