Realm of the Lawyer-Inventor: Oprah’s Book Club sued for patent infringement

5 01 2009

Did patent holding companies throw a year-end party in honor of my vacation? I flatter myself. But there must have been some kind of December discount I didn’t know about. In any case, reviewing what happened over the last few weeks I feel a bit overwhelmed. But let’s start with an old favorite.

Oprah Winfrey’s book club has been sued for patent infringement. Not joking. The inventor is patent attorney Scott C. Harris, who claims to have invented a method of “Enhancing Touch and Feel on the Internet,” described in his 7,111,252 patent, which was used to sue Google over its Book Search feature. Shortly after that lawsuit was filed, Harris was fired from Fish & Richardson, the top law firm where he was a partner—Google is a firm client. See my L’Affaire Harris timeline for more. The ‘252 patent describes a way of displaying three-dimensional objects online. It is being used to sue companies that, like Google, display books electronically.

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