Neurofocus, Inc. has acquired a patent which seems to grant the firm broad and exclusive rights to use neuroimaging for marketing analysis. Here’s the text of the first claim (out of 21 total claims) from U. S. Patent 6,099,319:

1. A method of evaluating stimulus materials comprising:

selecting subjects;

exposing the subject to stimulus materials;

monitoring the subjects in a neuroimaging device while exposing the
subjects to the stimulus materials;

collecting data from the neuroimaging device; and

analyzing the data. [Via Patentstorm]

This patent was actually issued eight years ago in 2000, and listed Gerald Zaltman and Stephen M. Kosslyn as the inventors. Zaltman and Kosslyn made the application a full decade ago in 1998. The claims certainly seem broad enough to encompass just about any use of brain imaging technology for marketing analysis. The real question is whether this patent will hold up if challenged. Did Neurofocus acquire this purely as a defensive strategy to avoid any possible future lawsuits? Or will they use it to pressure other neuromarketing service providers to obtain licenses?

The full Neurofocus press release is here. There will be more to follow on this story, I’m sure.