According to Singapore company VueStar Technologies, images that link to other Web pages, or the method of “locating Web pages by utilizing visual images,” are a violation of their patent.
From ZDNet/Asia: “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.’”
VueStar sent out notices to Webmasters demanding thousands in licensing fees. The company claims that ‘virtually all Web sites’ are supposedly infringing on its patent, and it intends to take on Microsoft and Google, too.
It further claims it has patents granted in New Zealand, Australia and the US:
I decided to search for their patents at the U.S. PTO website, and I found it:
Pat # 7,065,520
June 20, 2006
Inventors: Langford; Ronald Neville (Battery Hill, Queensland 4551, AU)
Filed: October 3, 2001
It appears as if VueStar has an erroneously granted patent. Despite the World Wide Web Consortium defining what HTML is, and despite finding W3C technical publications describing the use of images as links going back to at least 1996, a nebulous patent on publicly available technology (prior art) was granted. Talk about obviousness.
This will likely be overturned in a court ruling, and one more nefarious patent troll will bite the dust.