Tim is a world-renowned specialist in the application of technology in the field of market and opinion research and is probably the most widely-published writer in the field. His roots are in data analysis, programming, training and technical writing. These days, as principal at meaning he works with researchers, users of research data and technology providers around the globe, as an independent advisor. He is quite passionate about improving the research process and empowering people through better use of technology.

So, iTracks has won its action against Artafacts over patent infringement, and Artafacts have paid over an undisclosed amount to borrow its ‘invention’ relating to online focus group messaging in real time.

One the one hand, close examination of the patent shows that the US Patent Office, and now the recent upholding of the patent indicate that in the USA at least, anyone with online focus group software should be wary of infringing iTrack’s intellectual property. The invention protected in the patent is the ability for online focus group moderators to communicate independently with the group participants and with clients and other observers, through separate message areas. It’s something that every piece of online focus group I’ve looked at offers. On the other hand, iTracks has only taken this action against one of many companies that do indeed offer this capability in its software. So whether others are to be pursued over this infringement is at the moment in the hands of iTracks.

It’s something I intend to look into a bit further, to find out what this really means for the industry.

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