Dave Farber's IP list delivered news of a patent suit filed on Wednesday in a post titled Mobile Companies Sued Over Ringback Tone Patents. The suit was filed by Greenville Communications LLC and references two patents, US #5,321,740 & US #5,428,670. I thought I recognized one of them (how sick is that?), so I looked them up on the USPTO website. Sure enough, they were patents by Mark Gregorek that I had read some years ago.
I'm an engineer not a lawyer, and the interpretation of patent claims is an arcane field, even for lawyers. But consider:
1. Ringback tone services are structured so the called party pays to select what the calling party hears while they are waiting for the called party to answer.
2. Each of the independent claims in these patents include the words "said playing means determining the announcement to play based upon criteria established exclusively by the marketing system and independently of the identity of the called station". <emphasis added by yours truely>
At a minimum, some lawyers will make a lot of money here...