A firm tries to patent online wish lists in Europe. Shall we stop them?

Last week TechCrunch reported that Channel Intelligence (CI), a company based in Florida, had filed a lawsuit for patent infringement in the US against a long list of startups which – get this – offer wish lists for products people may want others to buy for them. However, many of these companies don’t yet know they’ve been sued so their defence response is likely to be slow.

The patent No. 6,917,941, appears to cover the invention of creating a list of things in a database. It was issued in July 2005 (sometime after wish lists were invented on the Internet I believe) and defendants include a long list of startups like On My List, Remember The Milk, WishList and Zlio. Channel Intelligence is not suing Amazon or Ebay, probably because these are large companies which would send Channel Intelligence packing.

A European startup, blablalist – an open-source wish list service – has also been targeted and has had a letter from CI that claims blablalist infringes its US Patent No. 6,917,941.

However, at blablalist’s helm is the eagle-eyed Geert Bevin who has found that the European patent doesn’t seem to have been granted yet. He’s now looking for prior art to stop the patent from being awarded. This could make this lawsuit null and void and protect everyone CI targeted in Europe. Here’s a list of what he has already found, Including ShopSmart in 2000, Kelkoo in 1999, Peapod in 1996 and No Amiga To Waste in 1997!

Channel Intelligence may well have jumped the gun with the European patent complaint as it only vaguely mentions that they ‘own the foreign equivalents’. The equivalent European patent is still under examination by the European Patent Office.

As Bevin points out, with the abundance of prior art, it might be easy to stop the patent from being granted in Europe now as it’s much more effective to intervene during the examination process than it is to contest the patent once it’s granted.

So pile in people, and contact the European Patent Office to stop this patent being issued in Europe.