After the outrageously long period of review by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent was finally awarded for “System and Method of Guaranteed Anonymity of Cable Television Viewership Behavior”. The application was filed on July 28, 2003, published in its entirety on the USPTO website on February 3, 2005, and now awarded on February 16, 2010. As others, such as Harvard's Lester Thurlow, have said, we need a new system of intellectual property protection. How can it take nearly seven years for a patent to be awarded, especially when the application filing is publically exposed on the government’s website for over five years? The basis for the technology may have come and gone over that period.
This patent is for technology that protects personally identifying data (“PID”) while enabling television viewing behavior to be measured with detail and precision. Anonymity of the viewer and their household is guaranteed by this technology, yet the demographics describing the viewer(s) can be assigned and and detailed second-by-second channel changes and other remote control “clicks” can be captured, processed, and reported. Patent 7,664,946 can be reviewed here.