CarFax Patents Searching For Cars With Clean Titles

CarFax is patenting the internet today. BoingBoing reports that CarFax has patented searching the internet for cars with clean titles. From U.S. Patent No. 7,228,298:

Apparatus and method for perusing selected vehicles having a clean title history
Assignee: Carfax, Inc.
Issued: June 5, 2007
Filed: September 3, 2002
Abstract: A system and method for allowing a consumer to search a database containing used vehicles from a variety of sellers that can be queried to provide search results that include only vehicles having clean title histories.

We’re surprised that Verizon doesn’t already hold this patent. They patented the internet back in 1996. —MEGHANN MARCO

New low in patent stupidty: searching for a used car with a clean title [BoingBoing]

Reader Brandon comments:

The patent is for a SYSTEM of searching, not the search itself…


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  1. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Next someone will try to patent ‘one-click’ shopping. Oops, someone already did.
    I have used Carfax, it’s pretty good but this patent is just Stupid (with a capital S). Can I patent sarcastic comments?

  2. r81984 says:

    We keep hearing about stupid patent after stupid patent. Everyone seems to be against it exect the person filing the patent.
    Is anything being worked on to prevent this crap from happing, or our we just going to see thousands more of these crap patents.

  3. sp3nc3 says:

    What if I want to find a car with a title history spottier than a herd of dalmatians? Does CarFax have a patent on that?

  4. timmus says:

    The patent office is goddamn joke.

    Look at Wikipedia: “U.S. Patent 5,443,036 , ‘Method of exercising a cat’, which covers having a cat chase the beam from a laser pointer, is widely criticised as being obvious.”

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    I was set (easy street, I tell you!) patenting using a system and method for allowing a consumer to search a database containing “porn”, but some milked-breath rat-bast*rd did the same thing with pr0n first.

    Damned patent office gave it to some acne-faced brat instead.

    Okay, I admit: I got n00b’d.

  6. SexCpotatoes says:

    But, they didn’t patent searches that divide the “clean title, and the not clean title” cars in seperate groups, or with the ‘clean’ cars in green and ‘dirty’ cars in red. It’s a totally stupid, asshole move, but it does follow a logical extension of their useless business model (I say useless because most car dealers cannot trust CarFax any longer with all the multi-state titling musical chairs that people can go through to scrub a title).

  7. zolielo says:


  8. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    So is Experian’s AutoCheck service going to face a lawsuit from CarFax citing patent infringment?

  9. TechnoDestructo says:

    Can I patent idiotic patents? How about submarine patents? I mean, that’s a business method, right?

  10. TechnoDestructo says:


    I will guarantee that is why they did this.

  11. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Woohoo! I’m going to patent this really cool type of web page where you type in a search phrase and it gives you a list of pages..ooh..and I have this really great idea..instead of sending people actual paper letters, I’m going to patent a way that you can send mail electronically! Oh, plus I’m going to patent the word “the.”

    Pay up, suckers!

  12. shoegazer says:

    Someone needs to patent frivolous patenting.

  13. Red_Eye says:

    Wonderful. Maybe I should trademark PatentlyStupid since it is the name of my domain ;)

  14. Orkinman says:

    I think what were seeing here is a company trying to protect it’s own interests. With all the press these ridiculas patent infringment cases are getting it’s no suprise alot of the big name companies are getting scared. They are most likely worried about some smaller company patenting this mechanism and then suing them. The real litmus test is what they do with it if they get this patent.

  15. Libelous1 says:

    The abstract cannot be relied upon as a measure of whether a patent is crap or not. It is conceivable that CarMax DID invent some novel and useful way of searching databases for clean titles.

    Looking at the patent’s “claims” provide a far better gauge of whether the patent is crap or not. In this case, claim 1, typically the broadest claim (meaning, it will encompass more infringing activities or products) is the following:

    “1. A method for perusing and searching used vehicles comprising: analyzing vehicle identification numbers to determine title information indicative of whether each of a plurality of vehicles have at least one of a clean title in which the corresponding vehicle has no known title discrepancies, and a branded title in which the corresponding vehicle has a title discrepancy; providing a classifieds database that stores vehicle information and title information regarding at least a portion of said plurality of vehicles analyzed by said vehicle history management system; and remotely searching said classifieds database for vehicles based on search query criteria that includes whether vehicles have branded titles; wherein said classifieds database stores vehicle information and title information for vehicles that are determined not to have branded titles.”

    So, to infringe claim 1 you have to perform all of the tasks listed in the claim.

    I don’t know enough about how title searches were done before 2002 (the date the application was filed) to know whether this is crap or not. But it sounds like crap to me.

  16. LatherRinseRepeat says:


    Correct. Instead of creating new products/services or improving current products/services, a lot of corporations are using lame patents and lawsuits to eliminate the competition. This will allow them to continue to offer their crappy products/services without fear of losing customers to the competition. Once again, the customer is the real victim here.