Singapore website owners have been slapped with demands for money from a company who insists it owns the patent to linking via images. Now, imagine if said company tries to do that to the entire World Wide Web.
It might seem ludicrous but Vuestar Technologies Pte Ltd has actually registered a patent for linking to other websites via an image. On its site you’ll see the following ‘proclamation’: “Those who use visual images which hyperlink to other Web pages or Web sites…whether on the first page or subsequent pages of a Web site require a Vuestar ‘license of use’.” The Singapore-based company has been sending invoices to website owners in the island states. ZDNet reported site owners were being billed amounts around S$5,000 (US$3,676).
Seems that this might be a classic case of patent troll-hood. Stuart Tan, owner of the Internet Marketing Singapore site has this to say on his blog:
“According to friends in the industry, a number of tech lawyers are laughing at this because it’s so obvious that this patent troll dude (yeah — I’m optimizing Google for this, probably Digg it too) did not invent search process for images.”
If such a patent was enforced, Vuestar would be minting money. But what legal right does it have to the patent? Unless the firm could prove that it was the first to enable the use of images as hyperlinks, or to prove actual involvement in the creation of the related HTML tags, I’d dismiss Vuestar’s attempts as nothing more but incredibly audacious greed.
What next? Someone declaring he owns HTML or search boxes? This is probably a case of patent and IP being taken way too far, for the worst reasons.