Dan Marchant wrote in post #17189006
It may be obvious now but it wasn't when the internet was new and people were just starting out using it. It was previously impossible to do an online search of images by athlete bib number, because the technology simply didn't exist. At some point someone created a system to do it. The issue is whether or not this person was the first to do that.
If anyone will look at the several patents that have been cited, the first one might have actually been unique in it's time (issued in 1999 as I recall). There have been 2 subsequent patents issued which are nothing more than a slight rewording of the first, these were definitely not unique and probably should not have been issued. This is exactly what drug companies do when a patent is set to expire, it allows them to keep prices up on their drugs and to keep generic drugs from competing, they change one tiny little bit of the formulation and get a new patent.
And here's the thing... after a close reading of those patents I'm of the opinion that the people who are selling prints from athletic events online probably are not infringing and that the patent holder is merely extorting money from them. What makes this possible is the high cost to fight a claim of infringement in court, it's always easier to settle than to fight and that's what patent trolls are counting on.