Last month a company called "BE Technologies LLC" filed suit in Tennessee against Facebook and Google on US Patent 6,628,314 - Computer interface method and apparatus with targeted advertising.

The Request

Prior art from 1998 or earlier which might be relevant to either independent claim of the patent.


A Reexamination is a process whereby a third party (or inventor) can have a patent reexamined by a patent examiner to verify that the subject matter it claims is patentable. When a patent is placed in Reexam in the USPTO during litigation in the US district court it very often results in a motion by the defendant to stay pending litigation. District Judges will often issue an order to stay pending litigation while the USPTO completes the reexam process on the patents in the case. Plaintiffs generally dislike this because it slows down litigation and drives up their cost. In addition it is potentially a catastrophic result for the plaintiff's case if the patent is determined to be invalid by the USPTO.

The Case

B.E. Technology, LLC v. Facebook, Inc.
2-12-cv-02769 Filed 9/7/12 Western District of Tennessee (Memphis)

Patent(s): US6628314 by Hoyle
Title: Computer interface method and apparatus with targeted advertising
Abstract: A method and apparatus for providing an automatically upgradeable software application that includes targeted advertising based upon demographics and user interaction with the computer.
Issue Date: Sept 30, 2003
Priority Date: US1998118351A / July 17, 1998

Independent Claims

Claim 11. A method of providing demographically-targeted advertising to a computer user, comprising the steps of:

  • providing a server that is accessible via a computer network,
  • permitting a computer user to access said server via said computer network,
  • acquiring demographic information about the user, said demographic information including information specifically provided by the user in response to a request for said demographic information,
  • providing the user with download access to computer software that, when run on a computer, displays advertising content, records computer usage information concerning the user's utilization of the computer, and periodically requests additional advertising content,
  • transferring a copy of said software to the computer in response to a download request by the user,
  • providing a unique identifier to the computer, wherein said identifier uniquely identifies information sent over said computer network from the computer to said server,
  • associating said unique identifier with demographic information in a database,
  • selecting advertising content for transfer to the computer in accordance with the demographic information associated with said unique identifier;
  • transferring said advertising content from said server to the computer for display by said program,
  • periodically acquiring said unique identifier and said computer usage information recorded by said software from the computer via said computer network,
  • and associating said computer usage information with said demographic information using said unique identifier.

Claim 1. A computer-readable memory for use by a computer to provide a user of the computer with an automatically-upgradeable software application, comprising:

  • a non-volatile data storage device;
  • a program stored on said non-volatile data storage device in a computer-readable format, said program comprising a plurality of program modules;
  • at least one version identifier associated with one or more of said program modules, said version identifier(s) being stored on said non-volatile storage device; wherein one of said program modules is operable upon execution to access said stored version identifier(s) and at least one updated version identifier from a server via a global public network, with said updated version identifier(s) representing one or more updated program modules accessible from a server via the public network, wherein said one program module is further operable to download one or more updated program modules when said stored version identifier and said updated version identifier are different, with said updated program module(s) replacing one or more of said program modules stored on said data storage device, and, further, wherein said one program module is operable to store said updated version identifier.

Disclosure/disclaimer I have no financial relationship with either defendants or plaintiff in this case. I have not read the patent except to copy and paste the claim and abstract above. I am curious about whether AskPatents can be used to find prior art for patents in recently-filed litigation.

  • "I am curious about whether AskPatents can be used to find prior art for patents in recently-filed litigation." Yes, most certainly!
    – Ron J.
    Nov 11, 2012 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


How about - US 5,793,972 - System and method providing an interactive response to direct mail by ...Filing date: May 3, 1996 / Issue date: Aug 11, 1998

A system for providing an interactive response to direct mail programs comprises a recipient database, a mail generator, and a web server computer operationally connected through the Internet to remote computers accessible by direct mail recipients. The recipient database stores data records containing addressing information such as the name, mail, fax or e-mail address, and a unique personal identification code for each direct mail recipient. The mail generator retrieves recipient data from the database and generates a multiplicity of direct mail pieces each displaying the name, address, and a uniform resource locator containing the personal identification code for one recipient. A responding recipient accesses the web server computer by entering the uniform resource locator displayed on the direct mail piece into a web browser on a remote computer. The web server computer retrieves recipient data from the recipient database...


A quick search brought up wo9717774 selective advertisement presentation 1994 And wo9415294 interactive computer system with multiprotocol capability 1997 neither is cited on front page of the patent in question. Good luck.

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