Our friends at Payments News pointed me in the right direction and I downloaded a PDF of the patent. Having read it, it seems to be to indistinguishable for every other text-payment-instruction-to-server system out there. Does the fact that it’s a text message — as opposed to e-mail, fax or carrier pigeon — actually have any relevance? I mean — and I’m not picking on Google here — there’s no actual invention contained in the patent at all. People have been sending messages to banks to instruct a payment since time immemorial: the fact that they now might do it slowly one thumb-click at time doesn’t seem terribly relevant to me, which is how come I’m wondering how these patents get granted. I need to talk to a lawyer to try and understand this better, before I head off to file my patent on “the exchange of goods and/or services for money”.
This week’s Economist Technology Quarterly has a relevant article about improving the patent system by opening it up to public scrutiny. The idea is that member of the public can bring “prior art” to the attention of the patent examiners and thus cut down on the number of lawsuits that are generated by people patenting things.
These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]