US Postal Service Shuts Down Internet Post Office

from the they-had-one? dept

Did you know that the US Postal Service offered an "internet post office" called NetPost? They called it an experiment in "hybrid" mail. Senders would send a document electronically, which would be delivered to a printing location physically near the final destination. The documents would then be printed out and delivered via snail mail. I vaguely remember hearing about this when it first started, but promptly forgot all about it. So did just about everyone else, apparently. The Post Office has announced that they won't be renewing the service. They won't say why, but there's a good chance it has something to do with the fact that most people don't see the benefit. About the only real benefit is for the Post Office itself, who wouldn't have to ship the mail over long distances. However, for most people, if they're going to use that, they might as well just send the mailing completely electronically to its destination.


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  1.  
    identicon
    bastard sam, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 11:24am

    No Subject Given

    The postal service is at the end of their fiscal year, and IT spending has dropped again. Yes, that means cuts in places that don't make or save money or increase efficiency. Such is the way of the world. At least they knew enough to know there wasn’t enough demand for it. Other branches of the government keep spending money on things that have no value or purpose for decades.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Beck, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 11:35am

    They Don't Get It

    I recently had an interesting experience with the post office that shows that sometimes they just don't seem to get it when it comes to the Internet and technology.

    Normally when you move you go to the post office and fill out a change of address form. Then you hand them the form and they have someone type the information into their system. Whenever you receive mail at the old address they print one of those yellow stickers with your new address and put it onto the envelope.

    I moved a few weeks ago, and I decided that instead of going to the post office I would see if I could do the change of address online. I went to their web site and found that indeed I could do that.

    I filled out the forms online, going through three pages, and on the last page, after all of my data was entered, I was given two options. I could print out the information on my printer and mail it to them (whereupon someone at the post office would retype all of my info into their system), or I could pay $1 to submit the data to them via the Internet.

    I was flabbergasted! First, they never indicated anywhere that there would be a charge for the service, and secondly, I was saving them the cost of the labor to type my data into their system! It was already sitting there on their server, ready to flow into their change-of-address system, but they wanted a dollar to complete the process!

    I said "screw it" and filled out the form at the post office.

    It has to be less expensive to let the customers fill out and submit the information online, so I don't understand why they wanted to charge me.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    2lazy2register, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 12:18pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    I remember a few years ago when the USPS first brought out stamps that had the peel and paste adhesive. They tried to charge extra for these kind of stamps. Now (most) all of the stamps have this kind of adhesive.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Tony, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 12:18pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    I didn't mind the dollar charge. I figure its worth it so I don't have to hassle with driving out to the post office.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 12:28pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    Its not the dollar ... its that the USPS is too damn stupid to see the writers initial point ...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 12:58pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    I'm going to guess that the only way to pay that $1 to submit the information was by credit card, right?

    Did you ever stop to think it could be a preventative measure to keep people from randomly forwarding your mail to some other address, as they either need to go into the post office in person (and risk being remembered) or use a credit card to do it online, and leave an elecronic trail?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 1:12pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    Good point about the identity, BUT I can think off the cuff of another method for verification that would involve a computer generated postcard being sent out notifying you of the requested on line change and requiring you to return it with the PIN code given to you when you filled out the form in the first place.
    Ahha ... just an example of programming being used to convenience the consumer instead of the other way around ...

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 1:34pm

    Re: They Don't Get It

    "Good point about the identity, BUT I can think off the cuff of another method for verification that would involve a computer generated postcard being sent out notifying you of the requested on line change and requiring you to return it with the PIN code given to you when you filled out the form in the first place.
    "


    Er, yes, but this would among other things add a step or two and negate the time and effort saved.

    I agree that the $1 charge sets up a trail and discourages random address changes. It should be explained as such at the site...

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 1:38pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Agreed. The defense spending was so high last year, they needed a make-work project. Thus, they planned to take over some third-world country and dupe the entire US population into believing it was justified.

    Success! They were picked up for another year!

    Considering the US's great contribution to global warming, criminal neglect which killed 20,000 europeans this year (and which will likely do next year too), will the US be invading themselves next year? Remember - regime change begins at home.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    peteo, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 5:54pm

    I did this today

    I did the exact thing today, went to the usps.com web site filled all the crap out and then got to the $1 page. I just printed it out, and went to the post office where they told me the print out was useless and handed me another form to fill out and drop in the mail. They dont NOT check any id or any thing so any one could do this for any address.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Beck, Sep 4th, 2003 @ 6:51pm

    Re: I did this today

    They don't check your ID when you hand them the change of address form. They send a letter to the old address stating that a forwarding order has been established. That way if it is fraudulent you will know about it and can notify the post office.

    If I had to guess, I would suspect that they hired some company to do the programming and handle the logistics in exchange for some or all of the fee. BUT, the cost savings to the post office should be enough to cover the cost of paying the contractor without having to collect a fee from the customer.

    One of the great advantages of the Internet is customer self-service. Let the customer do the work and you can reduce your customer service overhead.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2003 @ 9:53am

    I did this a few weeks ago

    Started the process online, got annoyed by the $1 fee, so I printed it out and mailed it to the post office (saving a whole $0.63). Someone then manually entered the info into the system - except they entered my old and new address both as my old address. So mail to my old address was slapped with a forward sticker on it to the exact same address. When I called and asked why I wasn't getting any forwarded mail, the rep said I should fill out another change-of-address form, which I did. At that point I just paid the $1 to speed the process as best as possible. When the site asked for when to begin forwarding mail, it wouldn't let me enter a date prior to the current date. I finally managed to speak with my former mail carrier, who figured out what happened and manually entered the right info about 3 weeks later.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Internet Postmaster, Feb 7th, 2004 @ 12:31pm

    Re: They Don't Get It [ Internet Postal Service ]


    Internet Postal Service

    Who will be the Internet Postal Service? The answer is the private sector ISPs.

    What the United States Postal Service should do is go public and get rid of the overloaded expenses and hire knowledgable tech savy individuals.

    The following is a case where the USPS spent nearly $2,000,000 on a domain name case just because the site was ranked higher than the United States Postal Service on Google.

    _____________________________

    Opinion and Order - United States Trademark Law

    FILED
    2001 April 16

    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON

    CV 99-1290-MA
    OPINION AND ORDER

    ZIPEE CORP., a Washington corporation, and
    ZIPEE.COM, INC., an Oregon corporation,

    Plaintiffs,

    v.

    UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE,

    Defendant.

    Kristine Olson
    United States Attorney
    District of Oregon
    William W. Youngman
    Assistant United States Attorney
    1000 S.W. Third Ave., Suite 600
    Portland, OR 97204-2902

    Patricia K. Norris
    Keith Beauchamp
    Jennifer Van Kirk
    Lewis and Roca LLP
    40 North Central Ave.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004

    Attorneys for Defendant

    MARSH, Judge.

    Plaintiffs originally filed this action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief; defendant filed an answer asserting counterclaims for federal trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1114, unfair competiton under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), federal and state statutory dilution, 15 U.S.C. 1125(c) and Wash. Rev. Code 19.77.160 and common law trade name infringement and unfair competition. On December 12, 2000, I granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on the issues of infringement and cybersquatting and denied plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, defendant requested dismissal of its remaining counter-claims. On January 29, 2001, I entered a judgment permanently enjoining plaintiffs and any of their associates from using the postal services' marks and I awarded defendant its taxable costs. After entry of judgment, I granted plaintiffs' attorneys' motion to withdraw. There has been no substitution of counsel for plaintiffs.

    Defendant now moves for attorney fees and non-taxable costs totaling $1,183,403.22 under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1117(a). Plaintiffs have filed no opposition. The Lanham Act provides that a court may award reasonable attorney fees in "exceptional cases." Although the Act fails to define what constitutes an "exceptional" case, the Ninth Circuit has held that a trademark case is exceptional if the infringement is "malicious, fraudulent, deliberate or willful." Gracie v. Gracie, 217 F.3d 1060, 1068 (9th Cir. 2000). Awards are "never automatic." Rolex Watch, USA, Inc. v. Michel Co., 179 F.3d 704, 711 (9th Cir. 1999).

    The secision to award fees rests within the sound discretion of the trial judge. Gracie, 217 F.3d at 1068. A finding of willful infringement will support a fee award. See Id. Fees may be denied where the legality of the activity is "unsettled," see e.g. Securacomm Consulting, Inc. v. Securacom, Inc., 224 F.3d 273, 279 (3rd Cir. 2000), or where the claims are "not unfounded" or brought for puposes of harassment. See e.g. National Ass'n of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc. v. Very Minor Leagues, Inc., 223 F.3d 1143, 1149-50 (10th Cir. 2000).

    The prevailing party bears the burden of demonstrating the exceptional nature of the case by "clear and convincing evidence." Seven-Up Co. v. Coca-Cola Co., 86 F.3d 1379, 1390 (5th Cir. 1996); Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. v. Cooper Industries, Inc., 1998 WL 349554, 47 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1049, 1050 (D. Or. 1998).

    Defendant contends that it is entitled to fees because plaintiffs' infringement was willful and based upon evidence relied upon in support of the cybersquatting counterclaim relative to plaintiffs' registration of other internet domain names that are confusingly similar to other businesses.

    While I found infringement and cybersquatting established in this case, there was a genuine, good faith dispute as to whether or not the term "postal service," was entitled to trademark protection at all. Defendant has no registration for the phrase "postal service," but instead relied upon related registrations for U.S. Postal Service marks. Whether "postal service" was generic and unprotectable or descriptive and protectable because it had acquired secondary meaning was not a groundless or unreasonable issue. I find that the plaintiffs' internet domain name registration for postal-service.net and related marks presented a question of unsettled legality. Thus, I cannot say that this represents and "exceptional" case to justify a fee award.

    Based upon the foregoing, I decline to exercise my discretion to award attorney fees in this action. Accordingly, defendant's motion for fees (#150) is DENIED.

    IT IS SO ORDERED.

    DATED this 13 day of April, 2001.

    Signed
    Malcolm F. Marsh
    United States District Judge

    Additional Information on Internet Postal Service case:
    United States District Court
    Google Thread
    Iformation supplied by the Internet Postal Service

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Surfmeister, Mar 14th, 2004 @ 2:37pm

    Re: They Don't Get It [ Internet Postal Service ]

    ... and they never will :-)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Grizzly, Sep 2nd, 2004 @ 9:43am

    Re: No Subject Given

    oh but they did! its the bush administration!

     

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