Skype and Jingle Networks, operator of a free 411 service, are working together – U.S. Skype users will have access to Jingle for 411 calls. Users can also add “Free411USA” to their Skype friends list. Users must be on Skype 3.5 for Window.
This news comes very quickly after Jingle announced a patent on ad-supported 411 calls. Founder Scott Kliger said the company would be using the patent to go after competitors in the next few months – those competitors include Google and AT&T.
Personally, I find this deal a little dumb. Skype users are generally on an Internet connected device, and a web search is almost always an easier way to find information on a business v. a 411 call.
I also think Jingle’s patent borders on the absurd and highlights many of the problems with our U.S. Patent system. If taking a paid service, pairing it with an advertisement and then distributing it for free is patentable, then we’re in real trouble. Jingle was the good guy when they were trying to make 411 calls cheaper for consumers. Now, they want a piece of the action every time another company tries the same thing. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.