E-Commerce Battles Me-Commerce

from the damn-those-lawyers dept

The LA Times has an in-depth look at all those patent lawsuits being filed against e-commerce companies (if you don’t have LA Times registration, here’s another version of the same article, though it’s missing the second half). Someone in the article points out that if you’re selling anything online, you’re probably violating 4,319 patents. If, on top of that, “you also planned to advertise, receive payments for or plan shipments of your goods, you would need to be concerned about approximately 11,000 [patents].” The article mainly focuses on PanIP, and its founder, who have been particularly nasty in going after all sorts of companies online. He tries to explain away his critics by saying that the fee for his license is just like the fee you pay your phone company: a cost of doing business. Of course, that’s incredibly misleading, because you pay the phone company for a service to use their network. Here, you’re paying this guy “protection money” so he doesn’t sue you. You’re not actually getting anything in return. Not only that, but the guy seems a little quick on the lawsuit trigger finger, as he also sued some of his critics for trademark infringement and defamation. Once again, if this isn’t enough evidence that our patent system needs to be reformed, I don’t know what is.

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