Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The far-reaching implications of the mShift's patent infringement claim

The way that I understand patents is that this is the only mechanism to register ownership of an idea or an invention. If a patent is granted, one gets the ownership of the invention. Patents must conform to the following conditions: The invention must be novel and not obvious. In other words, it must be something that not everyone and his dog could have thought of. This is the first condition, the second is that it must be original. You cannot patent something that you saw somewhere else or that someone told you about. If the invention was spoken about previously or documented somewhere, the clever IP attorneys refer to this as "prior art".

Okay now having explained patents, lets get back to mShift. mShift is a supplier of mobile banking technology to companies predominantly in the USA. They recently claimed that Intuit infringes on their patent (so called patent 866 registered in 2005) and they are suing for damages. The patent describes a very general way of mapping banking transactions to a framework that can be displayed on a mobile device. I would describe it as a protocol conversion design (If you are interested, you can read the exact patent here).

The date of the invention is important as I believe many (more than many) instances of prior art exists. First patents like this were granted in Finland in 1992. As a matter of fact many countries had production systems of mobile banking in 2003. For the patent to be granted in the first place is strange, but if mShift's claim were to succeed, this would create a very awkward precedent.

This would mean that the advanced (leading) suppliers of mobile banking solutions in the world would be forced to ignore the US as a market, as their solutions that were built prior to the mShift invention would infringe on the patent?


Tom said...

I couldn't agree more. presentation formats have been changed by browser type (via style sheets) for almost 10 years. What a load of (*&^(*&

Joy said...

At the heart of the patent is the concept of automated content conversion via the application of css is the fundamental goal of the web (and mobile web) publishing protocols. I have been doing it since the days of Netscape vs. IE, Rainmaker and WebTV, in the late 1990s.