Jay Walker, the entrepreneur-turned-patent enforcer notorious for suing Silicon Valley tech giants and the multi-state Powerball lottery for patent infringement earlier this year, has outdone himself. On Tuesday, Walker’s research and development company, Walker Digital, filed patent infringement suits against Google, Microsoft, Amazon.com, Yahoo! and Vibrant Media using a patent issued that same day. It claims to cover the process behind targeted advertising. The patent is connected to earlier patent applications that Walker and his colleagues began filing in 2000.
The suits, filed in Delaware district court, were deployed so close in time to the patent’s issuing that information on the patent isn’t yet available on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website or Google Patents.
The patent is described in the complaints as a “Method and system for providing a link in an electronic file being presented to a user.” (No. 8,041,711) Walker cites each company’s brand of targeted ads services as the infringing technologies. Those “revolutionary technologies … were a direct result of investments made by Walker Digital,” according to the complaints.
This line of logic is nothing new from Walker, whose audacious patent enforcement campaign kicked off two years ago, during which his company has sued hundreds of defendants.
The Stamford, Conn. based company bills itself in the complaints as a “world-renowned research and development laboratory responsible for launching several successful businesses, including Priceline.com.” In the past two years, however, Walker Digital’s operations reflect those of a company drawing profit primarily from enforcing its patent portfolio rather than making or selling goods or services. Walker Digital controls more than 200 patents – most of them covering business methods – some of which claim rights to mundane phenomena, such as “game presentation in a retail establishment” and “method and apparatus for product display.”
Walker is the named inventor of more than 450 issued and pending patents in the U.S. and abroad, according to the complaints. And he’s clearly not afraid to use them. Last year, for example, Walker sued Facebook, claiming he invented the concept behind “friending.”
Walker did not respond to an email for comment on this story. His attorneys at Baynard PA and Russ, August & Kabat did not return phone calls or emails for comment.
The complaints [PDFs] mentioned above filed Oct. 18, 2011 :