Supreme Court orders top patent court to re-think patent on online ads, again

9 12 2014
In the wake of a recent major patent ruling from the Supreme Court, the top patent court has been ordered to reconsider one of the more controversial patents that’s been fought over in the past few years.

US patent 7,346,545 is owned by a company called Ultramercial, which sued Hulu, YouTube, and a gaming company called WildTangent back in 2011. It describes a “method and system for payment of intellectual property royalties by interposed sponsor on behalf of consumer over a telecommunications network.” In plain English, it describes a system in which viewers watch an advertisement as a “payment,” and then get to watch a piece of online content.

The district court judge threw out the patent, finding that it was an unpatentable abstract idea. But the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals, saw it differently. It said the patent at least passed the “abstract” test of Section 101 of the patent laws.


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