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Microsoft's agency sued over Bing TV advertising

A company called Denizen is suing JWT and holding company WPP, claiming that Microsoft's ad agency thieved its patented idea for product placement ads in TV shows and used it for Bing.

I have never watched NBC's "The Philanthropist." (I have embedded a small excerpt, to offer you a little excitement.)

However, the show seems to be the battleground for a less than altruistic lawsuit against Microsoft Bing's ad agency, JWT and its holding company, WPP.

According to AdAge, the plaintiff, a Delaware-based company specializing in "program-integrated advertising" called Denizen, is claiming that it was in discussions with WPP as long ago as 2002.

These talks seem to have gone on for more than four years and Denizen claims it had a confidentiality agreement in place.

However, when they espied "The Philanthopist," they saw ads outside the normal commercial break for search engine Bing featuring the actors in the show (yes, Neve Campbell still lives and prospers), ads that had a "plot advancing element."

This appears to be key in Denizen's claims to patent infringement. (Here's the patent, if you enjoy reading that kind of thing.)

Naturally the lawsuit uses such strongly sensitive words as "malicious" and "willful."

Not having the patent to be a lawyer, let alone a patent lawyer, I am grateful that a person whose commenting handle is "nvpatentlawyer" offered this opinion in AdAge: "If someone wants to invalidate this patent, it would likely take very little effort to do so because, if it is not 'anticipated,' it is certainly 'obvious' in view of past practices in the U.S."

I'm not the finest googler in the world, but I am struggling to find a Web site that might belong to Denizen. I tried "binging" too, without joy.

Which leaves me with this strange thought: is it possible that, in these dark economic times, Denizen might, when the shoving has overtaken the pushing, still like to enter into a partnership with the somewhat larger WPP?

I don't know what made me think of that. It's the patent cynic that lurks beneath my armpit, perhaps.