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Thumbnail patent lawsuit

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday January 4, 2009 )

Using thumbnails on your web site? Watch out. Straight from the “you’ve got to be kidding me” file contained in the “only in America” folder comes this little ripper from the US legal world; where law, justice, fairness and ethics are often entirely different beasties.

It seems that Indiana based Cygnus Systems is suing Microsoft, Apple, and Google (of course) for what they claim to be their thumbnail patent. A thumbnail being, according to the patent, “a method and system for storing, navigating and accessing files within an operating system through the use of a graphical thumbnail representing the video display of the active document within the active application”.

According to a lawyer from the firm representing the Cygnus Systems, the company might not be stopping with the big three, but that it just seemed like a “logical starting place“.

The company is not only looking for cash, but for a court injunction preventing further infringement.

If this action is successful, sheesh! The thumbnail feature in Vista I’ve grown to like and thumbnails can be found everywhere on the web. I wonder if the patent extends to that sort of usage as well?

I’m not a patent lawyer, but here’s the actual patent documentation. It’s accompanied by quite a few comments stating that the patent should have not been allowed due to “prior art”; i.e. that thumbnails had existed long before the patent claim was lodged.


Beware the patent trolls


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