I actually interviewed them after I saw this yesterday and with permission of all parties involved, here are what I think are two of the bigger questions surrounding this patent and LinksManager's answers:
Rae: Will you be attempting to ďtake aimĒ at any other link manager type companies who appear to be in violation of LinksManagerís patent?
LinksManager: Probably. However, this type of research takes time so donít expect that to happen next week. A lot of research needs to take place first. We have over 100 sites bookmarked that appear to have at least some similar features. We expect we will make a determined effort to decide which companies we will address in what order in the near future.
When we filed for patent protection, it wasnít because we want to get into the business of suing other companies. It was originally done to protect the Internet against unlicensed companies that we believed may have copied the LinksManager model. However we realize the only way to enforce a patent may be through legal avenues . We will look to our attorneys for their guidance and advise as to how to proceed.
Rae: The patent on auto-rotation of links Ė does that refer to auto-rotation within your system, within any automated system or does it even cover lone webmasters doing it automatically with a home grown script for their own use (an example would be that you can rotate anything with a simple cgi script automatically on a page that is totally static and hand built otherwise)? I think itís fair to say that webmasters have been using auto-rotation for many years.
LinksManager: Thatís a great question. It would be difficult to envision us spending resources to pursue a webmaster who has produced a home grown script to rotate links unless that script also offered additional specific features which appear to be protected in the LinksManager patent. It all depends on the features that the product offers. For obvious legal reasons, I canít make any guarantees but I can say the targets we have in mind are companies who have used our service in the past, and then blatantly ripped off the majority of features in the LinksManager model and are now marketing derivatives of it. Unfortunately, we may have our hands full pursuing just these types of competitors.
So, what's everyone's opinions? Do you think other links programs need to be gathering their defenses? I know the part about patenting auto-rotation of links makes me go hmmm a bit.