I used to think it was wildly funny and somewhat entertaining when some enterprising company ran out, purchased a patent or a portfolio full of patents from some smaller firm (or an individual), and then proceeded to sue a bunch of people over using that patent.
As I remember from my classes on US History – the patent system was intended to protect the inventor of a unique product from having that product copied – thus infringing the patent. I’m fairly confident that it was never intended to be used to patent things like HTML Navigation, One-Click Shopping, the transmission of data over the internet, and so on, and so on.
A group of my friends, who operate a variety of websites and a part of a large online community, are being pressured by Acacia Media Technologies Corporation to hand over large portions of their earnings for having streaming audio and/or video content on their sites.
I’m certain that there is prior art that makes this patent invalid – but who has the time and the funding to challenge this. These folks are all running small businesses and don’t have the time, the expertise, or the money to fight this out in court. So they’ll do what almost every other business that Acacia is going after will do…