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Bret Schundler's Patent Power Grab

By None:

On the one hand, former right-wing darling and NJ gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler (previously on P&T here) has developed a pretty slick bit of technology that he claims he'll offer both sides. On the other, his ploy to patent it smacks of a GOP power grab.

First, the "distributed phone banking" tech - as described by Kate Kaye at Personal Democracy Forum:

Now renamed Team Volunteer, the software allows call volunteers to access phone scripts, contact names and numbers, and customized questions and polls via the Web from wherever is convenient. Because volunteers enter responses into an online database, aggregated response results as well as volunteer progress can be viewed in real-time.

Second, the patent power grab, from Schundler's site:

People Power America (Lyndhurst, NJ) is pleased to announce the submission of their final patent application to the United States Patent Trade Office (USPTO). People Power America allows its Political Clients to better manage their volunteers via an Internet based application. The company’s patent pending software utilizes Distributed Phone Banking (DPB), which allows a political organization’s volunteers to make phone calls from the comfort of their own homes.

Third, the "prior art" that the USPTO is bound to look for. That's right, folks, the good folks at MoveOnPAC did just this sort of thing waaaaay back in 2003 during the Gray Davis recall campaign. Check it out.

If I remember right, some folks did this for Dean too - under DialingForDean.com (gone now).

Now, Schundler claims that he's going to offer his services - like a good capitalist - to everyone that asks...

“We’re probably going to work with anybody,” calling the Team Volunteer software essentially “apolitical,” and stressing that PPA will only be selling software services, not consulting services. “If you’re offering a service why would you limit your client base?” he asks rhetorically, asserting, “It would be foolish to cut out clients solely because of their affiliation.”

...but once he's got it patented, would anyone be surprised if he immediately cuts out lefties and then starts suing progressive organizations who do something similar?