Friends, Romans, barcode enthusiasts. Something big happened last week. Yes. We all know that Cheryl Cole got sacked from some mega US TV series; but that is not the HUGE news I am talking about!
The HUGE news is that NeoMedia’s patents were re-examined by the Patent authorities in the US. This is after a long and tiresome legal battle (one of many in NeoMedia’s history) and low and behold they have been upheld.
What does this mean?
To cut a long story short it means Barcodegate has come to an end. NeoMedia was one of the first players in the barcode space it banked on mobile barcodes and this “banking” should finally cash-in.
NeoMedia’s barcode patents were submitted first, they are valid and a licensing fee is due by all the players that want to participate in this arena. But, don’t take my word for it.
I decided to contact the current CEO of NeoMedia Laura Marriott (or Lioness – as us insiders call her!) This is what she had to say.
Bena: Do you think this will herald the end of companies questioning NeoMedia Patents?
Bena, I certainly hope so. With each re-exam, we believe the patents become stronger so we hope this will bring an end to the scrutiny by others. As our patent counsel, Tony Barkume has said,
“confirmation of a patent challenged by reexamination twice in four years is highly unusual and we believe this puts the issues of its validity to rest.”
Bena: Do you feel as though you are now officially the patent holder and can pave the way for a successful business in barcodes moving forward.
NeoMedia is focused now on selling direct to brands and agencies, along with the indirect strategy that it had pursued prior to my joining the team. We are focused on this direct approach in North America and Western Europe and are seeing the fruits of our labour.
We are open to licensing our Intellectual Property to others in the ecosystem – and already have a number of IP licensees in place in the United States. We feel that licensing our IP is the best way to build a collaborative and sustainable ecosystem and welcome inquiries from those wishing to license.
Bena: There was a mention of an eBay deal but there has been little else on NeoMedia championing barcodes within operators, brands and agencies. Why?
I would love to be announcing all of the deals that we have in place but, for the most part, our brand clients are not willing to press release their campaigns or our deals with them at this time. It was the same way early on in my time at the MMA. When a new mobile media element launched, brands wanted to keep their vendors and strategies ‘close to the vest’ until such time as they were ready to announce their mobile plans. NeoMedia will publish case studies, customers or sales wins at times where it is beneficial for both our customer and our business and helps to drive our operations. I expect you will be seeing more news from us in 2011.
I also want to point out that as many brands experiment with 2D mobile barcodes today, they want to move their campaigns beyond trial or limited geographic implementation before announcing. If you are referencing a consumer packaged goods brand, there may be a 6-9 month lead time on packaging. So for example, while the deal may have closed in November, it may be the following November before the campaign goes national and even later than that before the brand is willing to disclose the details in a press release or case study. Our focus is on ensuring our customer’s successes in their campaigns – and the PR will come, at the time that is right for the client.
What we think?
I liked Laura’s answers and I think that she did a good job of getting to the point. I feel happy for her and the NeoMedia team as these court cases and questions about patents are a dark shadow over the company. With this latest news NeoMedia should start to put the patent issues to one side and focus on the future.
There is a lot of talk of NFC or other solutions stopping mobile barcodes success. I think this is easy to say but hard to swallow. In short, mobile barcodes are now. The term the year of mobile barcodes needs to be replaced with the term era and this era has already started.