A California software company is suing Ticketmaster in Federal court, arguing that the ticketing giant’s ReCAPTCHA technology that helps distinguish between humans and automated bots infringes on privately held patents.
Attorney David Beckwith says Confident Technologies owns the patent on a software system, simply called the 578 patent, that’s capable of “telling apart a human from a computer using a graphical image verification system” where “at least one image is known to belong to a selected image category.”
The lawsuit is likely referring to the visual security system Ticketmaster uses at checkout, where customers are shown a grid of photos and asked to select all images that “contain a street sign” or “contain a doorway” or some other pattern. By correctly identifying the corresponding images — and omitting those that don’t match — Ticketmaster can more accurately differentiate between humans and automated bots, often deployed by scalpers to buy up high-demand tickets. The system is similar to traditional CAPTCHA, which requires users to rewrite a series of letters and numbers to verify their identity. While CAPTCHA is still a common security protocol, many big e-commerce sites are opting for more advanced anti-bot technology, especially as scalpers spend big bucks on optical scanning technology to defeat traditional CAPTCHA.
According to the lawsuit, Ticketmaster’s ReCAPTCHA software infringes on Confident Technologies’ patent filed Dec, 31, 2013, including “using, selling, and inducing others to use ReCAPTCHA technology in connection with gaining access to Live Nation’s or Ticketmaster’s websites, mobile apps, and ticket purchasing services.”
Confident Technologies said it became aware of Ticketmaster’s use of ReCAPTCHA through “publicly available information” and notes that it “reserves the right to amend or supplement its infringement theories upon more information becoming available through formal discovery.” Attorneys for Confident Technologies are seeking an injunction against Ticketmaster and financial payments in the form of “lost profits and/or a reasonably (sic) royalty on Defendants’ service fees.”