Vignette has secured three US patents for core elements of its Web CMS and collaboration suite. The news caps a busy twelve months for its developers, which launched a marquee new product in Vignette Digital Services Hub, before posting disappointing Q3 financial results, then bounced back with the launch of a well-received new version of Vignette Content Management.The first of the three patents relates to a process for tracking individual users on a website, then analyzing these movements. In other words, it is for Vignette's web stats module. The second is ambiguously classified as a "Transaction Management" system. In reality it is a key feature of Vignette Webcapture: A configurable filter that records and plays transactions back on a website. This record can then be recalled to help organizations resolve disputes, disprove fraudulent claims, and analyze behavioral patterns. The third patent addresses the portability of Web components between portals, and is an integral tenet of Vignette Portal. The news is a boon to Vignette, which suffered a long wait in patent recognition for these three key technologies (each was submitted between 2000 and 2002). With speculation long rife that the company is looking for a sugar-daddy to buy it out, getting three of its core innovations -- and in disparate areas of its business -- legally bolted down should only serve to attract the circling venture vultures. Dr. Conleth O'Connell, CTO at Vignette, had this to say: "Each of these inventions, much like our products, were developed with an eye toward providing our customers with the most scalable, reliable and user-friendly Web platform in the industry. "We are proud of our rich history of innovation and commitment to helping our customers deliver compelling Web experiences to their end-users.” But a question must be raised here. Why does it take the best part of eight years to get a web technology through the US patent process? How does this help American innovation for the Web? Perhaps Vignette's is an isolated case, but perhaps someone needs to look at this example and consider whether, given the super-heated nature of technological development, innovations should be fast-tracked through the Patent Office. Feel free to share your feelings.