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Walker Digital, a self-described "Edison in Menlo Park" knockoff, and
propagator of the priceline.com business model patent (which see, above), is
the feature article of this week's omi-1998-gawd issue of The Industry
WD has been patenting everything it can think of, including something I heard
of at least 3 years ago from Eric Hughes and Bob Hilby at Simple Access:
accumulating internet purchases to a 900- telephone number bill. However,
since WD is 5 years old, maybe they got there first after after all, and
that's why Hilby, Hughes and Co., stopped talking about it. Either that or
Eric got Yet Another Big Idea, and they went chasing down *that* rabbithole
instead. As a mostly unmedicated ADDer, I can sympathize with that problem,
Anyway, since business process patents are the subject of this month's DCSB
meeting, with what I'm sure will be a great talk by Michael Schmelzer and Ira
Heffan of Testa Hurwitz here in Boston, I figured I'd give everyone on these
lists some food for beforehand. People should monitor
<http://www.thestandard.com>, for the actual text of the article, if and when
it eventually hits their archives. It'll probably take a week or so.
If, of course, they don't have a copy of the magazine themselves already, that
William Braddock, who's the chairman and CEO of Priceline now, used to be up
my direct chain of command, three or four bosses up, when I was an operations
analyst at Citicorp 10 years ago, though I never met him. Eventually, he
ended up President and CEO of Citicorp after I left.
The guys I worked for always used to talk about him reverentually, but that
could just be an organization-man thing. I seem to remember Steve Schear, who
used to work at a different Citicorp company back then, talking lately about
Braddock once or twice, but I can't remember if Schear knew Braddock back then
Finally, and most important for us, it looks like Bruce Schnier's involved
with Walker Digital as a partner.
Given the cryptographic content of not a few of their patents, (like
5,828,751, "Method for Secure Measurement Certification", or 5,768,832,
"Remote-Auditing of Computer-Generated Outcomes and Authenticated Billing and
Access-Control System Using Cryptographic and Other Protocols") it looks like
that's where he's parking some of his IP these days. But, of course, I haven't
gone to look at the patents themselves to see if his name's on them, so that's
Curioser and curioser.
Reading all of this stuff this afternoon me made me antsy enough, grouchy,
really, to start a rant about this kind of patent-farming, sparked both by all
the registered trademarks in the DigiCash bankruptcy filing, and compounded
all the fun things Walker Digital has gone and patented, things which are
braindead simple. To some people, anyway. :-).
Priceline, for instance, seems to me exactly like the specialist's book at the
New York Stock Exchange, frankly, but since it's now on the internet, it's
patentable, according to the Patent Office.
Anyway, the rant on this is forthcoming, or at least in the hopper, my having
vented a little steam here, and, in the meantime, I thought I'd fire off this
heads-up to everyone so they can read the Industry Standard article
themselves. It's on Page 60 of the December 28 / January 4 issue.
And, tangentally, to plug January 5th's DCSB meeting, of course, :-), which
should be a really good one, in light of current events.
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Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]>
Philodox Financial Technology Evangelism <http://www.philodox.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'