Court Invalidates Infamous E-commerce Patent
from the took-'em-long-enough dept
In January of 1999 the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on the State Street patent case, where the appeals court had said business model patents were fine (prior to that it had been commonly accepted that you couldn’t patent business models). That opened the floodgates on attempts to patent business models. It took a little over a year for it to sink in why this was so troublesome, and in the summer of 2000, there were a bunch of articles about problematic business model patents. The poster child for these articles was an extremely broad patent from DE Technologies for what amounted to “international e-commerce.” Why that was deserving of patent protection was not clear, but with the way the patent system works, it was approved. In 2004, the company went after Dell for daring to sell computers internationally using e-commerce (an idea they obviously never would have come up with in absence of such a patent). It appears that the District Court in Virginia has recognized the problems with this patent and has declared it invalid. It’s likely that this will be appealed, but, for the moment, feel free to continue participating in international e-commerce without worrying about paying some random patent holder.