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I've seen in the news that US Patent 6,199,048 has been upheld several times in disputes over the use of QR Codes with URL shorteners (or QR Code "clearinghouses").

Reading the claims of 6,199,048 makes me think of the DNS system outlined in RFC 1034 (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1034).

Would the DNS system (resolving short/memorable identifiers against an indexed database to establish connection with a remote computer) constitute prior art, invalidating this patent?

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2 Answers 2

A consistent and important element in all the independent claims is the "data carrier". Claims should be "given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification", so we need to look to the specification regarding what the data carrier is. While the term "data carrier" is not used specifically in the specification, we can understand that it is some type of standard barcode that can be read by a user device. Given that this adds to any RFC 1034 standards used, it seems that the RFC 1034 standard may have narrowed the claims but does not invalidate any of the claims.

To gain a deeper appreciation of the scope of the term "data carrier" you could also study the Image File Wrapper detailing the prosecution history with the USPTO.

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The broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) is the standard used by the examiner and the board at the USPTO. It is not the standard used in court after a patent has issued. After issue it is presumed valid. –  George White Sep 25 at 3:56
    
I do not understand the logic "Given that this adds to any RFC 1034 standards used, it seems that the RFC 1034 standard may have narrowed the claims but does not invalidate any of the claims." –  George White Sep 25 at 3:58
    
If RFC 1034 did not exist, then they may have been granted broader claims. The presence of the standard (prior art) may have therefore narrowed the claims during prosecution. –  OvernightPatent.com Sep 26 at 1:17

I don't think that the DNS system would count as prior art which could invalidate 6,199,048, because it has nothing to do with scanning reflected light off of something based on a standardized pattern. Patents very frequently build off of related ideas; in fact, this patent specifically references URLs, which are built on top of the domain name system, so it was obvious at the time of examination that it was based on DNS.

In order to be patentable, an invention doesn't have to be completely out of the blue with no basis in prior inventions. It just has to introduce some novel element, that hasn't been invented before. So, while DNS had existed before, it would have been possible to patent the URL, which builds on DNS but adds several more features. Or likewise, it's possible to patent something that builds on the existing inventions, of a URL and a bar code.

Now, many of us in the tech community would say that that is something that's obvious to someone skilled in the art; combining a URL and a bar code takes no real skill at at all. But I think that many of us in the tech industry are at odds with the current stance of the patent office and jurisprudence on the topic, so that doesn't help you very much.

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Referring to the first independent claim of the patent which does not mention reflected light - wouldn't a browser with bookmarking qualify as reading a data carrier (a hard disk) to obtain and lookup an index with DNS - and establishing remote communication? From what I understand, an independent claim needs to be able to stand on its own for dependent claims to be valid. Odd how a patent can cover such broad technical interpretation. –  user8448 Apr 24 at 8:37

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