Recently, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued patent # US8763033 B2 to Audience Partners. This patent recognizes the innovative work we have done to match voter records to digital media for targeting purposes. Subsequent to the patent being issued, some pundits have suggested that our patent sets a “dangerous precedent”. We disagree.
Over a period of years our company has invested millions of dollars and countless man-hours developing, designing and implementing the ideal way to reach voters on a multitude of devices,including online, mobile, IPTV and advanced televisions. In the patent process we clearly documented this innovation and made public both the system and design. This is in stark contrast to other solution providers who are less transparent about the methods and processes behind their voter targeting claims. We believe that this process and transparency, as validated by the USPTO and the industry, creates immediate value for our partners and clients.
While voter files have been used for many years in direct mail, telephone calls, walk lists, and for primitive online targeting, our invention matches voter records programmatically to the growing number of digital screens that are replacing old media, in a privacy compliant fashion.
Beyond voter contact, many other industries have gone through rapid changes as technology has changed. Take the US mail as an example. After years of paper stamps, in 1998 Pitney Bowes was granted patent number US5719775 its first patent on the Franked Mail Machine, allowing people to use a meter in offices to buy postage without going to the post office or using a paper stamp. The frank mail machine is used by congressional offices for franked direct mail and millions of businesses. Later, as the internet evolved, in 2007, Stamps.com received patent number US7191158 B2, a patent for the issuance of an electronic stamp over the internet. (click on links to read these patents).
Fortunately we live in a country that celebrates innovation and offers protection to the entrepreneurs, risk takers and investors that helped drive these innovations. Clearly there are numerous ways to illegally download copyrighted music but all of us know it is wrong, shortchanges the artist and creator and are unwilling to compromise our honor for the price of an iTunes download. You can also buy a bootlegged copy of this summer’s blockbuster on the streets of New York City but few of us would compromise ourselves and argue that the movie should be free.
Based on recent quotes and industry publications, it appears as though some individuals and companies seem to hold a different position when it comes to innovative business methods and processes. They seem to argue it should be OK to copy a method or process that required significant investment. Through revisionist history or simply a desire to justify their current behavior, they make the claim that our process was obvious or easy. Fortunately, the US Patent and Trademark Office sets a high bar for granting patents and they disagree with these critics and have acknowledged our innovation.
Audience Partners and our political team at CampaignGrid are innovators and we have delivered thousands of campaigns successfully for our clients. Because we are currently practicing what we have patented, we find it farcical to be labeled as a patent troll with no interest in practicing our art. We are on the front lines every day making political targeting in the digital-age more effective and measurable. By publishing our methodology we are raising the bar for transparency and accountability and we invite others in our industry to do the same. We will continue to innovate and continue to maintain the highest ethical standards for our business. Our company mission statement is simple: “to be the kind of company where we would want our friends, family and children to work”. We are proud to say that we live up to this mission statement every day.
Jeff Dittus and Rich Masterson
Founders, Audience Partners