Bing Commercials Infringe on Patent?

Microsoft's Ad Agency Gets Sued

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A set of product placement ads for Microsoft’s Bing ran during NBC’s The Philanthropist. The ads showed two of the characters from the actual show in scenes in which Bing was being used – clearly ads, but still integrated with the actual program.

Not a bad idea right? Well, that depends on who you ask, because Microsoft’s ad agency JWT and its parent WPP are being sued over the ad. According to AdAge, a Delaware firm called Denizen claims to have patented this, and alleges that the agency has infriged upon it.

The patent Denizen refers to is here, filed November 20, 2001, and issued February 22, 2005. The abstract describes it as:

A method and system for incorporating thematic content from a particular television program into product or service advertisements uses program-advancing elements of a television program in an advertisement for a sponsor of the program in order to entice viewers to watch the advertisements. Increased viewership of advertisements can result in increased revenue generated from advertisements that may be realized by television programs, television producers, networks, and advertisers.

Well, that sounds about like the Bing ad, but who knew such a thing had been patented? The suit would indicate that WPP knew about it, and stole the idea, because according to AdAge, Denizen says it was in contact with top executives at WPP for possible business ventures, but the talks fell through. Denizen claims that WPP breached a confidentiality agreement and that JWT has stolen their advertising strategy. (via TechDirt)

Bing Commercials Infringe on Patent?
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  • James

    The examples and processes defined by Denizen in their patent application basically say that any time any element from a program (television or other dramatic work) is used in an advertisement, well, that’s the result of their invention.

    For example (#5):

    “In a further example of the present invention, Cancer Man from the program “The X-Files” appears in the back of a crowd holding an important folder during a Pepsi commercial. Cancer Man holding the folder is acting as a program-advancing element.

    If Cancer Man appeared in the commercial without the folder or any reference to the plot line, he would still be acting as a program-advancing element because of the increased focus on his character caused by the commercial and the message conveyed by such a commercial would be dual; the commercial would be promoting sales of the product being advertised, and advancing the plot of and/or promoting the program.”

    (And this after stating that the “invention” was beneficial because viewers increasingly do not watch commercials …)

    AFAIK, you can’t patent a concept … only an invention that has been developed into a prototype. So Denizen, while reaping the rewards of increased news coverage, will probably get their patent tossed as a result of their attempt to enforce it.

    Yet another failure of the USPTO.

    • http://texxsmith.com texxs

      The Smoking Man wouldn’t do a Pepsi commercial. In fact he has probably assigned some minions to surveil you . . .

  • Guest

    I am going to patent masturbation.

  • http://thepayperclickblogger.blogspot.com/ Steve

    I’m going to patent air and then I’ll charge everybody a penny a second to breathe.

    I mean come on!

    That was one of the most ridiculous patents I’ve seen attempted!

    I mean that’s like somebody trying to patent holograms being displayed on phones just because it was never done with a phone before.

  • http://www.commerceregistry.com Lee

    Television shows from the 1950’s used characters from shows to promote products by the sponsors during the show and during commercials. Radio shows did the same thing as far back as the 30s. Characters from George Gobel’s shows promoted cigarettes. Other shows promoted laundry detergent. Listen to Sirius and XM classic radio shows and you still hear the ads using characters from the shows.

    Product placement ads have been used for more than 70 years. How this was patented now is crazy. Whoever allowed this patent through must have just graduated law school.

  • http://texxsmith.com Texxs

    Here’s my latest patent:

    A fenestration in a exterior wall of a building. less than 7 feet tall and approx 36″ wide. This fenestration will include a slab of wood less than 2″ thick hung on 2-3 hinges. On the side of this slab opposite these hinges will be a handle. I will call this object a rood. People will use it to gain access to or exit from a building.

    In plain english: I’m going to patent the doorway , except I’m going to call it a rood.

  • Patent Litigator

    The scope of the patent is actually defined by the claims at the end. This patent is probably invalid and if not will likely be invalid after the Supreme Court reviews the law that governs patents of this nature in the Fall. The case, if anyone is interested, is In re Bilski. If the high court rules as many expect, it will be impossible to get patent claims like the ones at issue in Denizen’s patent through the Patent Office. And if anyone asserts already issued claims against you the lawsuit will go nowhere, i.e., likely dismissed and you might even get your attorneys fees if it’s a particularly egregious case of filing a frivolous lawsuit.

  • http://www.Tribal-Sports-Wear.net Wholesale T Shirt Supplier

    I am going to patent the sun, and if you would like to purchase the light produced by my invention. It will cost you $1.00 USD per 1 google of photons consumed during every 24 hour solar cycle, with a manditory contract usage charge period of no-less-than 12 hours per calendar day. You may at any time elect to cancel and close your account, however by cancelling your account you will be required to enclose yourself in a light proof container of your choosing. Failure to do so will constitute, on your behalf, theft of our Services and/or Products which is punishable by law. Please remember to always use our Services and Products in a Safe and Responsible manner. – Only you can prevent Sun-Burns!

    If you thought that was funny, so is this patent and lawsuit filed by Denizen. I mean really, come on already.

    Now if I could just patent blank t-shirts, I’d have it made!


  • Guest

    Epic Fail! Wait I can patent fails! WoooHooo I’m rich

    • http://ooyeez.blogspot.com dobloger follow

      This Nice Post, Thaks for Share

  • http://www.make-a-great-website.com Jacob Godwin

    The previous commenter was right. This is nothing more than modern-day product placement. And we’ve seen it all our lives in video games, movies and television.

    How on earth can Denizen say they patented something that existed for decades? That’s like me trying to get a patent for paper. Or white walls.

    Hopefully this frivolous lawsuit is thrown out with prejudice to keep others from trying to stifle creative energy.

    • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

      I agree, this commercial does not sound like a new concept at all, I’m not sure how that concept could have been patented.

  • http://www.trackermo.com Tracker Mo

    I’ve heard of copy-cat killers… and we all know what copy-cat price gauging is like, thanks to last year’s “oh, the price oil went up,” nonsense.

    But, copy-cat law suits?

    At least, that’s what this smacks of.


  • http://www.hdvideoconvertermac.com/ HD Video Converter for Mac

    It’s not a important issue, the most important thing is let users to be used to use bing.

    • Guest

      first, visit wikipedia and learnt how da udz proper grammers.
      second, i am looking for a way to block anything bing on one of my computers.

  • http://www.steps-to-create-a-website.com Create a Website

    Great Content.

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