back to article Is Hitwise in the Phorm biz?

Front Porch – a Silicon Valley startup offering a Phorm-like online ad system – has sued several companies for patent infringement, including NebuAd, Hitwise, and Microsoft. The patent at the heart of this suit does not cover the sort of ISP-based behavioral ad targeting that Phorm, NebuAd, and Front Porch are now famous for. …


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  1. yeah, right.


    If this is an approved patent it only goes to prove my point that the patent offices that allow such things have the IQ of a dead gnat. Do the patent office people who hand these things out even know what a computer IS?

    I know I shouldn't blame them - they are hobbled by a bureaucracy that does not allow them to appropriately research patents, and rewards the passing of inadequate patents while penalizing those patent officers who actually do their jobs.

    But it's still a crock of really smelly bull effluent.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    The next step is to ask the ISPs for more info.

    "we cannot speak on behalf of the ISPs."

    Then ask Hitwise which ISPs they partner with, so that you can ask those individual ISPs whether they allow opt-out. Getting Hitwise to reveal their ISP partners would be a major coup. With Hitwise's reply, they've provided the perfect reason why users need to know the ISP partners so that they can opt-out if needed.

  3. Mark


    It's back to tin cans and string for me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    If I draw a flow chart showing how people pick their clothing depending on the weather, can I sue every non-nudist on the planet???

    On a more serious note, some of the (non-porn) websites I visit now have 6 or more companies trying to force tracking cookies onto me.

    Dont ask me how many the porn sites are trying to track me with, I am too busy to notice!!!

    Paris (of course!!), this patent is one of the few things I have come across that is DUMBER!!!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder when these data pimping firms start sueing each other over patent infringement.

  6. Sooty

    i thought

    patents had to at least vaguely pass the "department of the bleedin' obvious" tests before they were granted.

    I know they're not particularly stringent but this is going a bit far. A patent for checking to see if someone has a particular IP range, before customising a page to suit that range, doesn't sound like it quite makes it into new and revolutionary terratory.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Yet another valuable lesson on why Software Patents are a nonsense.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great, web designers have no control anymore

    over their designs. Nope, ISP's are just gong to insert ads where they thing appropriate?

    That's going to go down like a bomb with people like jewellery sites, and others. It's not as if we have enough problems with three different versions of IE (not including MAC, and version 8) to deal with as well as safari and others. Nope, we're just going to have to trust that some company sticking ads into *our* copyrighted content gets it right. Never mind that we and the content owners never agreed that they could do such with our material.

    Where's the handcart? It seems the world is diving right in there...

  9. Ade W

    Oh, great.

    BT Phorm trial announced

    "I don' like it"

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Wouldn't the BBC, Amazon, iTunes, etc be infringing this ridiculous patent? After all, they serve customised audio and video content based on your location.

    Looks like yet another case of a patent being granted for something entirely obvious.

  11. Chris C

    Enough already

    I'm not sure which is more corrupt, inept, incompetent, and useless -- the USPTO or the USgov. It's easy to see the real point of the patent system when you read that the patent "examiners" have to fulfill a monthly quota for granted patents, and also that the USPTO charges what I would consider a rather hefty fee to "re-examine" a patent they never should have granted in the first place. It's a money-making outfit, plain and simple. The fees collected make money for the government, and the patents granted make money for the corporations that can afford to file for patents. The idea behind patents is a noble one -- allow an actual inventor a limited monopoly on their invention so they can recover their R&D costs. Unfortunately, like everything politicians touch, it's been twisted, corrupted, and mangled into something that barely resembles its former self.

    Having said that, in the USPTO's and Front Porch's defense, this patent was filed on 3 Nov 1998, long before online advertising became what it is today. That was back when most people were still on dialup, AOL was hugely popular, and a page didn't link to 5000 Javascript files and take up 700KB; before we needed Adblock Plus; before Flash (and the oh-so-wonderful ads, popups, pop-unders, etc. that Flash has given rise to). So the possibilities and usage probably weren't as readily apparent back then as they are today.

    As for the incompetence of the USPTO, let's not forget that this *IS* the same patent office which gave a patent for a method of swinging on a swing (patent 6,368,227):

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I wonder if I can patent some of the diagrams I drew for my BBC Basic programs back in the 80's and early 90's. I'm sure I had one which involved reverse output of an ordered array... someone must be using that so I can get a few £££'s? Or does this thing only work in $$$'s?

    On a serious note, the patent system is becoming (or has been for a while?) a complete joke. When will they give the system an overhaul. At the moment, it's becoming a competition to see who can identify new technologies, submit the more generic plans they can get away with and then just sit and wait for it to become popular. Not only is it stifling innovation, but it's actually punishing those that dare to innovate and try something new (and yes, there are bad technologies like these snooping ad serving ones, as well as some good 'uns too!).

    So, anyone want to help me patent my idea for servers hosted in space or on the moon? It's bound to happen sometime, so may as well stick our names on it and have it ready as a retirement fund.

  13. Colin Millar

    Thought I might be in trouble there

    But then I realised it was just 'remote_addr' they had patented. I better patent my method for distinguishing between my web and intranet servers before I get a letter from their lawyers.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    'Times of London' pretty certain it's called 'The Times', or at a pinch 'The Times, a London-based newspaper'.

    As for Hitwise, they currently just monitor, but Phorm and similar companies have shown that there is a market for companies that can not only track but actually modify pages as a result of what it tracks. In essence, Phorm merely takes the technology Hitwise uses, and existing cookie-based targetting, and triangulates them. Tada!! - Lawsuit!

  15. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Bottom dwelling scum!

    All doing exactly what's expected of them, turning on each other when they think one of the other scumbags has a foot in the door.

    All these "habit-tracker" scum companies want to be first in the door just like their hero Kunt, let's face it is basically going to roll out his nasty little spyware through BT, now he practically has a green light to do it. Millions of customers and only a very tiny percentage of the "geek" crowd know or care. I know fellow IT people who panic at the first mention of spyware but don't seem fussed by insidious organisations like this getting in under the radar. Apathy will kill the internet and personal freedom, sad days indeed....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maths isn't patentable

    Mathematical equations aren't patentable.

    Every software patent can be represented by a program.

    Every program can be represented by a series of assembly language instructions.

    Every assembly language instruction is implemented with logic gates

    Every logic gate can be represented by a mathematical equation.

    Therefore every software patent can be represented by a mathematical equation.

    The equation might run into several thousand pages for some patents, but its still an equation. I'd bet that the flowchart in the article could be represented by a couple of lines of equations.

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