What does a former attorney and Blackjack Tournament winner have in common with some of the most prestigious media outlets? According to Sheldon Goldberg, targeted online advertising. And that’s why he’s suing them.

Bogus Patent or Legitimate Claim?

Goldberg claims that he invented and patented targeted online advertising and now pretty much anyone who employs advertisement banners, links and news to website visitors, based on their prior online browsing habits, has to make amends -- preferably in the form of royalties. Goldberg is currently suing Advance Publications, ALM Media, Amazon.com, American Media, Rodale, Scripps Interactive, Demand Media, Viacom, CNET, The Washington Post, Tribune Interactive, Digg.com and Village Voice Media.

On one hand, Goldberg might seem like a crackpot -- after all he’s filed patent lawsuits against targets before. Additionally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation created a “patent busting project,” in which it named one of Sheldon’s patents as one of ten bogus software patents it had targeted for reexamination.

However, on the other hand, The New York Times and Google have already settled out of court.

Patent Infringement or Technology Innovation?

Goldberg has filed his lawsuit through a company called Beneficial Innovations, which is familiar with Goldberg’s antics. In his attempt to prove patent infringement, Goldberg says that he

owns inventions described and claimed in United States Patent No. 7,496,943 entitled ‘Networking System for Presenting Advertising’"


seeks damages for patent infringement and an injunction preventing Defendants from making, using, selling, or offering to sell, and from contributing to and inducing others to make, use, sell, or offer to sell, the technology claimed by the Patents without Plaintiff‟s permission."

Yet patents don't prevent others from improving on the concept. It could be argued that any one of these media companies have improved upon his patented technology, which was allegedly developed in 2000 -- before many Internet-based advertising technologies were refined.