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< Did Channel Intelligence jump the gun with the European patent complaints?   Channel Intelligence's European patent application is in bad shape >
Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art

Since the European patent that Channel Intelligence tries to sue us with doesn't seem to be granted yet. I'm now looking for prior art to stop the patent from being awarded. This could make this lawsuit go simply go away for everyone they targeted in Europe.

Below is a list of what I already found with the help of friends. If you have other suggestions, please add them as comments.

Also, I'd appreciate it if people could help me to read over the patent and validate the applicability of this prior art. I might have missed something.

  • 2001 : The Things I Want ( - create universal online wishlists and gift registries

  • 2000 : ShopSmart (web archive) - allowed you to create lists of items, to compare the prices and to prioritize them. A friend of mine worked on this application and there are even articles published about it in the Sunday Times and the Daily Post. Still looking for copies of those.

  • 1999 : Kelkoo ( - seems to do exactly what is described in the patent, I contacted them to see if they can help to protest against the patent application.

  • 1997 : No Amiga To Waste ( - this is an application that I created where lists of ideas can be created and commented on over the internet. While not 100% inside e-commerce realm (Bla-bla List isn't either btw), this can be seen as prior art imho.

  • 1996 : Peapod ( - allows you to create online grocery lists.

posted by Geert Bevin in Channel Intelligence vs. Uwyn on Jul 23, 2008 11:28 AM : 15 comments [permalink]


Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Try also
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Thanks a lot Mike, this will be very useful.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
BTW, I have my wish list that I haven't touched in years. I just went to it to see what is in there. Everything is from 1999!!! Like Quake 3. So I have hard evidence that WishLists pre-date their patent.

Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
IANAL (or an American), but doesn't American law essentially require patent holders to attempt to enforce their patents; or loose them if they don't? That is, isn't Channel unIntelligence essentially required to sue Amazon and the likes? Have they been formally notified that Amazon is infringing (e.g. by registered letter)? If I'm correct above, then one could effectively begin the process of tearing down the existing US patent. Definitely keep up the good work on the European side.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art came online -98.*/

Good luck man. I really feel your pain.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art is pretty handy for checking out what was around back in 98/99 (such as amazons wishlists if you look at from October 99)
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Isn't the patent about DBMSs? Thats what plurality of stored itens sounds to me. Check (1978) and (1983)
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Geert, you didn't link to the patent, but to the attorney's letter only. Can you provide a link to the patent itself.

For starters, I would contact a local lawyer that knows US law (and preferably patenting, too) and go through a proper strategy for answering to the letter you've got. Make him to write the letter. Buy some time (if possible) and delay the process. Be active towards them, but on the very last moment every single time. Deny everything.

Get a good patent attorney to take a hard look of the patent and write an invalidation document that examines every claim of the patent individually and invalidates them using prior art. Layman interpretation of the patent claim and prior art might not be enough, as patents are world of their own.

Do not trust to common sense in anything, but always get final answers and advices from experts. If (and when) the costs rise too high, co-operate with other defendants.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Hi Jane,

the patent referred to is the following:

Thanks for your suggestions, I will probably contact a local lawyer next week to at least hear what he has to say. Through the Free Software Foundation I'm also having experts look at this in detail and they will without a doubt give me some good advice also.

I'm trying to cooperate with other defendants, but there's not much response from them.

Best regards,

Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art

I just read the patent (found it from Espacenet) and it is quite generic. There are a few independent claims (such as #1, #45, and #61 among others). If you (or someone else) can find a document that is a) prior art and b) describes the same system as in the claim for each independent claim, you are probably quite well off.

There is also EPO and inventor correspondence in Espacenet, but it is not available at this time of the day (available only during European office hours -- for making life of US patent attorneys a bit harder...). That is worth of read, because researchers in EPO might shoot down claims in their original form and this would help you to make a case to Channel Intelligence that if they sue you, a) they will loose the case and b) the patent will be invalidated. This might help you to bail out of the process.

BTW, regarding prior art; it doesn't help, if there is a system with wish list functionality implemented before the patent. The patent does not cover wish lists per se, but one specific technical implementation of wish lists. You need to have documents that show that such system has been implemented or designed before the patent was applied. Or someone that has implemented such system will make a written testimonial of implementing same system (or parts of it, shooting down independent claims) as described in the patent before the patent was applied.

Another route out of the situation is to prove that your system is not implemented as described in the patent, i.e. you are using some other way to store and/or manage your wish lists. For example, if you store the wish lists to files, the patent should not apply.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Thanks a lot for all your valuable help Janne.

What I'm wondering about is, doesn't the burden of proof fall on them? I mean, how can they claim that a certain wish list system is implemented in the way that they described in the patent?
Also, about the independent claims, must all the claims of the patent apply to a product before it is considered 'infringing' or are only some of the claims sufficient?
I'm personally looking through the source code of projects that I did before the patent was introduced and I think I might personally even have prior art, just need to carefully verify it against all the claims.

Take care,

Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art

in theory yes, but remember that the court is mostly amateurs in both patents and IT. If they can show a plausible case that their patent covers sort of caters all wish list systems, you are in trouble. Better to be prepared to show that your system is implemented differently. If that is the case -- do NOT answer here, keep it to yourself.

It is sufficient that one claim applies in the context of the claims referred from that claim. Be cautious here, I'm not a patent attorney or lawyer (but happen to been involved in several patenting processes, so I know something about this). Anyhow, if claim #5 refers to claim #3 that refers to claim #1, and you are infringing claim #5, it need to be in context of claims #3 and #1. In other words, if the independent claims (claims not referring to any other claims) do not match your system, you should be out of scope of the patent.

If you have source code that is done before the patent was applied (that is the priority date, not the date of the patent) and implements a system that is described in the independent claims (preferably also in most of the other claims), make sure that you can proof the age of the source code somehow -- preferably public document or repository with timestamps. Research papers are excellent, as well as older patents. The latter is a bit double-edged sword for obvious reasons :)

I'll doze off now. If in need, drop me an email. I'll check the comments tomorrow, too.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art
Hi Janne,

thanks again for your time and assistance.

I do think I might have found a project from 1999 which is a document management system that stores lists of documents and items in a database. The only real proof that I have is email conversation around the subject. This was done at a company where I was the only one doing work like this and we didn't use a source code repository at that time for these things. I'm pretty sure though that I can get written confirmation from my employers at that time to confirm the date and purpose of that project.

The files themselves have been zipped and archived as such on my computers, when they're unzipped all the files clearly show that they're from March 1999. However, things like that aren't very difficult to fake if one would want to do so.

Anyway, have a good night, I'm dozing off too.

Take care,

Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art

good to hear. Another option is to look for open source projects that have similar functionalities and then get the source code from Sourceforge or another public repository with timestamps. This could be a good example of crowd sourcing, so if someone reading this blog knows such projects, please provide pointers or source code that implements the following claim:

-- xx --

A method for configuring a database system to store a plurality of lists containing information regarding a plurality of items comprising:

establishing a list database on a server computer system, said list database including a plurality of lists, each associated with a corresponding list identifier, said plurality of lists including a first list associated with a first list identifier;

establishing a management tool on a client computer system, remote from said server computer system, said management tool including said list identifier;

establishing a communication link between said client computer system and said server computer system;

retrieving said first list from said list database to said management tool responsive to said first list identifier;

revising said first list on said client computer system using said management tool; and

updating said first list on said list database to reflect the revision of said retrieved first list.

-- xx --

If a source code snippet (or snippets) is found that goes through these steps in this order, the claim is no longer new and thus can be invalidated in the court.
Re: Channel Intelligence patent : abundance of prior art

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