- A browser pop-up window as you leave a web page, which is also used on the USPTO web site to issue surveys (6,389,458)
So I wasn't surprised later, when I closed that browser tab, to get another pop-up window with their survey. But the funny thing is, that exact method is covered by patent 6,389,458 - previously mentioned here.
If this were any other web site, I'd say they should worry about a patent infringement lawsuit. But as About.com explains, the US Government cannot be sued for patent infringement:
Unlike a private party, however, the Government cannot commit the tort of "patent infringement." Governmental use of a patented invention is viewed as an eminent domain taking of a license under the patent and not as a tort.So even if the USPTO outsourced its web site to an outside contractor, that contractor can't be held liable, either.
The Government may delegate its eminent domain power over patents to contractors acting on its behalf. This is accomplished through inclusion of the "Authorization and Consent" clause in the contract [FAR clause 52.227-1].
I don't believe that the USPTO (or its contractor?) violated this patent intentionally. That's assuming they didn't take a license for using patent 6,389,458. I think it's much more likely they simply didn't know about the "software" patent for this method, and just did what seemed obvious - direct the visitor to the survey via a pop-up window, as they exited the site.