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Microsoft get your own ideas!

September 7th, 2009 Posted in News

One of our customers dropped us a line to let us know about a patent application by Microsoft lodged with the US post Office for Advertisment within CAPTCHAs or as we like to call it Your CAPTCHA. Indeed when you look at the patent application it reads very similar to our existing product!

Microsoft CAPTCHA idea
Microsoft visualisation – US Patents

Visual CAPTCHA already implemented
Our own Your CAPTCHA Advert

Does Microsofts Patent just squeeze us out of the market?

The question for us is what to do about this, we are not a large firm and obviously a straight fight with Microsoft lawyers is a no no, nor do we believe we were the first to come up with the idea (indeed it was discussed as far back as 2005, brand CATPTHCA), though I believe we are the first to market the product which has been in our product range for over 9 months and is in use in the wild, like several other companies we have put time into research the benefits of non direct call to action marketing and brand reinforcement.

Positives to the Microsoft patent?

What we can take from this is we are the first to market of an idea even the larger companies are now thinking about! Your CAPTCHA advert has not been in active development for a few months now so perhaps its time to take it to stage 2, we will be studying the patent to determine if it actually would cover what Your CAPTCHA advert does.

By the way your CAPTCHA advert is $24 but you can buy it for just $15 from our products page!

What do people think should we simply abandon Your CAPTCHA Advert to its fate?

6 Responses to “Microsoft get your own ideas!”

  1. Justin Parks (1 comments.) Says:

    This is a difficult one. I’m not sure how patents work for products already in existence, usually a patent (at least in my Irish brain) is associated with a new development of some sort thats completely unique…

    That being said, yes its microsoft, it will be tied up in a nice neat package so at the end of the day, your probably screwed… I would see about having somehting in the patent system asap though to ensure you got get walked ovewr, patents can be denied as well, no matter the size of the organisation.

    But then again, what they have done is take the CAPTCHA and make it different. They haven’t patented the Captcha idea have they? Just develop on your current Captcha system and make it unique enough to stand alone as something that can be patented?

    Just thinking out loud here…why not use google adds/images in it that display according to the content of the site… :)

  2. Tim Says:

    the key really is money and we don’t have infinite resources to throw at product ranges without the chance of a decent return in investment and while we think Your CAPTCHA advert is a great little plugin it hasn’t had a massive take up though perhaps with Microsoft moving into the industry that might change as people think more about reinforcement of brands and how to manage product placement.

  3. tekkie (1 comments.) Says:

    Which is exactly why there’s Anti Software Patents movement in Europe. Microsoft filing patents like these is a direct threat to Open Source community.

  4. Michele (1 comments.) Says:

    Hi Tim,

    It’s my understanding with US Law that when someone applies for a patent or trademark there is a period when folks can claim/dispute the applicant’s claim of uniqueness and innovation.

    It would seem that you would have quite a body of proof that your product has been on the market for quite a while with forum posts, blog posts and even sales receipts.

    The problem, as I see it, is that I question anyone being given a patent on this concept. The actual code, sure thing. But I’m not so sure the concept alone is something that should be patented. Can you file to get UK rights or is it too late for that?

    I’d hunt around. There might be a lawyer that would take your case on the sheer challenge/joy of going after MicroSoft. There are also some groups that work with small business owners specifically on patent, trademark and copyright issues; one of them might be able to work with you or put you in touch with a lawyer who would give you a break on their fees.

    It’s a shame that small business owners have to deal with sharks like this. Unfortunately, it’s not a new phenomenon but one that has only been made more difficult and complicated with the Internet.

  5. Victor Says:

    Microsoft’s patent was filed in February 2008. When was Your Captcha first released?

  6. Tim Says:

    it was in beta to Your Members users in December/Jan and was released public end of January but was discussed and shown at shows prior to that.

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