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Oh, dear god -- another one?
One of the joys of working for myself is that, for the time being, I don't have any VCs breathing down my neck, demanding that I patent every idea I have. This allows me to be open about Querki, and get the community deeply involved in it, which is delightful. But in an odd twist, now seems to be when all my previous sins are getting granted.

I just got a notification (from somebody trying to sell me nice plaques, of course) that Patent 8,370,432 has just been granted. I'm flabbergasted. I mean, I expect the patents we wrote at Memento to continue through the process: that company is successful, and has been bought by a giant multinational. But those patents are fairly specialized -- useful, but very precisely oriented towards particular kinds of data visualization, so they aren't going to cause *too* much damage. (And the patent I wrote at Trenza got firmly squashed by me when the company went under.)

But this one was one of my main patents at Convoq. It's a little thing, but potentially disruptive -- it's a patent on embedding a link in an email that opens up a video chat. Nowadays that sounds fairly ordinary, but we built it back in 2004, when this stuff was all squishy and new, so the patent's probably valid. ASAP was the first serious web-conferencing system built on top of Flash, a couple of years before even Adobe figured out how to do it, and it was innovative as all get out. And in this particular case, I can't even brush it off as me having been a minor contributor to the idea (as I was at Memento, where Greg had all the big UI ideas and I just implemented them) -- this one was largely my work, IIRC.

Gah. I'd lost track of the Convoq patents -- the company went under five years ago, so I had let myself believe they'd been lost in the shuffle. But they seem to have been bought up by something called Devereux Research -- they also own the all-important ASAP Patent, which was our one big idea that nobody else has played with yet. I'm not finding much information (googling them with "patent troll" fortunately doesn't turn much up), but I confess I'd be happier if I had some clue who these people were...

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2004? What's the point of a patent system that takes 9 years to get a patent granted? (Preaching to the choir, I know...)

Hmm. I wonder if it's an advantage to the potential patentholders. You'd get the use of the idea for the normal patent length + the time of the patent pending, since other players would be loathe to use something they'd end up having to license. ( I could be way off base here - this is just a shoot from the hip first speculation, based on zero knowledge.)

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