It’s April 1st, so the jokes are out in droves all over the web. Groupon has decided to post a fake patent for April Fool’s Day joke:
The present invention relates to performing jocular and misleading activities on an unsuspecting individual during a limited timeframe and, in particular, the present invention relates to a perpetrator generating a false statement based on false facts and informing an unsuspecting
individual of the particular false statement, and deceiving the unsuspecting individual into a false belief that the false statement, if true, would have a detrimental effect on the unsuspecting individual. Then, prior to said unsuspecting individual realizing that the false statement is not accurate, the perpetrator announces, usually in a high decibel voice and within the limited timeframe, that the unsuspecting individual has been deceived or mislead.
Ha ha, but isn’t this a little too close to home? Groupon is currently (counter)suing a small competitor named MobGob, as TechCrunch reported back in November. For infringement of patent no. 6,269,343:
The present invention provides a method and system that allows sellers to communicate conditional offers to potential buyers. The conditions include prices that depend on the aggregate amount of goods or services that buyers collectively agree to purchase by a given time and date.
The invention facilitates “demand aggregation”, that is, aggregating demand by potential buyers (who may or may not know each other), for products offered by sellers. This invention allows sellers conveniently to offer “Demand-Based Pricing”, that is, prices which go down as the volume of units sold in any given offer goes up.
A seller can therefor offer volume discounts to buyers acting as a group, even when the buyers may not have any formal relationship with one another.
Telling jokes and aggregating buyers. Maybe this is why we need patent reform.