Many people think the patent process has gotten seriously out of whack, especially when it comes to Internet-related patents. But Woolston says the rights of Internet pioneers need to be protected. "The rights are sorting themselves out," he says. "What's the big deal?" It's a big deal, I suppose, if you're on the wrong end of that equation. Last week, a U.K. company, BTG, sued Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Netflix, and Overstock.com for infringing on patents BTG owns "covering technologies related to tracking the navigational path of a user through the World Wide Web," according to BTG. The patents, No. 5,717,860 and No. 5,712,979, were granted by the Patent Office in 1998 to a company called Infonautics, and acquired by BTG in 2002. BTG is asking for unspecified damages and an injunction to stop the Internet companies from using the patented technology.
Lawson Software, which has figured prominently in the Oracle-PeopleSoft takeover battle as an example of a viable competitor in the enterprise-applications software marketplace, has a message for visitors to PeopleSoft's user conference in San Francisco this week. A banner on the side of a building near Moscone Center, which is where the conference is being held, reads like this: "There's nothing hostile about letting Lawson take over."
And there's nothing funnier than software-industry jokes. Except maybe funeral-industry jokes. But I won't laugh at an industry tip, which you can send to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about intellectual property, Internet patents, or hostile takeovers, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.