In recent years, patent issues have arisen in many areas affecting online media. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court decided that lower Courts have more discretion to review whether a patent should be rejected for "obviousness." To be valid, a patent must cover some degree of innovation, and should not be simply an idea that would be obvious to the normal person when looking at a particular situation. If the claimed invention would be "obvious" to a person looking at the particular circumstances and using common sense, the Court found that a patent could be rejected. A memo from our law firm on the details of the decision can be found, here.
As set forth in the memo, the extent to which this decision will affect existing patents and pending disputes remains to be seen. In the on-line media world, patent issues have been arisen for many companies. For instance, there have been patents claims asserted against companies providing on-demand digital media, pop-up billing screens, ad insertion technologies and even on-line contests. This decision may not affect these patent claims or any of the hundreds of others that have been the subject of dispute among digital media companies. But continuing litigation in this area should be monitored to see if developments affect any patent claims that may be asserted against technologies that your company may be employing.