Store Payment Info In Your Online Store? Watch Out For Patent Infringement Lawsuits

from the pay-now dept

Bill Squier alerts us to the news that a bunch of companies have been sued for daring to store consumer payment information and allow either stored value payments or one-click payments on their site. The article linked here focuses on Apple as a defendant, and notes 14 other companies were sued as well, but in researching this, I found that Joe Mullin actually wrote about another batch of companies (20 of them) that were sued back in April. The earlier lawsuit included Google, Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, Mastercard, Visa, Vivendi, Disney and Western Union among others. The more recent lawsuit has (as mentioned) Apple, Best Buy, Amazon, American Express, Barnes & Noble, Citigroup and eBay among others. So… basically any online e-commerce site, credit card company or big bank.

As for the patents in question, they’re all a variation on a “method and apparatus for conducting electronic commerce transactions using electronic tokens.” The specific patents are 7,376,621, 7,249,099, 7,328,189 and 7,177,838. Reading through the claims, this seems like an incredibly typical online system for storing payment info and seeing if the person can actually pay. Since the patent system defenders among our readers get quite upset whenever I say something seems “obvious” to me, let’s flip this around. Can anyone explain how these concepts were not obvious at the time of filing?

Not surprisingly, the cases have been filed in Marshall, Texas… and as Joe Mullin figured out, the guy who is running “Actus” is a lawyer known for representing some infamous patent hoarding companies. He also discovered that the lawyer representing Actus in these lawsuits appears to share an office (or at least the same address) with the son (who is also a patent attorney) of the judge handling the case. At some point, do people start questioning whether or not there’s a conflict of interest there?

Filed Under: ,
Companies: actus, amazon, american express, apple, bank of america, barnes & noble, best buy, capital one, citigroup, disney, ebay, google, jp morgan, mastercard, visa, vivendi, wal-mart, western union

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Store Payment Info In Your Online Store? Watch Out For Patent Infringement Lawsuits”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
35 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not a shill, geez, grow up.

It’s just making the point – what is annoying about how these people are abusing patent law is in the same manner that TPB abuses copyright law, standing right on the very edge of the greyest of lines, taunting the other side.

It’s the same thing – open your eyes and you might understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You grow up. Yeah, the pirate bay maybe bad for the RIAA and MPAA but it isn’t necessarily bad for artists (it probably causes them more good than harm). The RIAA and MPAA only pretend to represent artists; heck, right here on Techdirt there was a thread there they pretended to represent a particular group and when the group saw it it disagreed. There are more examples of this. The RIAA and MPAA just fabricate damage that doesn’t exist but the only one causing the most damage is the RIAA and MPAA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

it’s wrong for me to get my latest ubuntu distro from TPB? What about my GIMP, Blender, Inkscape, Code::Blocks, Ogre 3d, and Open Office? I am doing wrong and evil by using bittorent to get these programs easily and enabling others to get them faster too? If so how do I run my indie development team?

Anonymous Coward says:

“He also discovered that the lawyer representing Actus in these lawsuits appears to share an office (or at least the same address)”

This is a funny comment, because in many cities, many lawyers will have offices in the same building, often facing or near the courthouse. So would that be the exact same office address, or just in the same building?

Steve R. (profile) says:

Is There Room on the Supreme Court for this type of Abuse?

TechDirt reported June 1st. “Supreme Court To Review Whether Business Models And Software Are Patentable”

I have no idea concerning the scope of what the Supreme Court will be ruling on, but obvious business practices should not be entitled to patent/copyright protection.

We can only hope that those advocating the elimination of patent protection will file a “friend of the court” petition full of these absurdities.

Trollificus says:

This kind of...

…jurisprudential cottage industry is why I’m always careful to refer to our “legal system” rather than our “justice system”. Other than the appeal of the anecdotes deriving from the cases, is this morally much different than those Pennsylvania judges building and owning a juvenile offender warehouse and then filling it up from the bench??

I am also reminded of two things:
1) In an ecosystem, parasites invariably perform a necessary function.
2) Not all analogies are valid.

Trollificus says:

This kind of...

…jurisprudential cottage industry is why I’m always careful to refer to our “legal system” rather than our “justice system”. Other than the appeal of the anecdotes deriving from the cases, is this morally much different than those Pennsylvania judges building and owning a juvenile offender warehouse and then filling it up from the bench??

I am also reminded of two things:
1) In an ecosystem, parasites invariably perform a necessary function.
2) Not all analogies are valid.

Anonymous Coward says:

How represenative of "The People" is Eastern Texas?

I wonder if there was a casual connection between Marshall and either the Bush DoJ or the Bush Dept of Commerce, which oversees the USPTO.

Point is, it’s very difficult to understand the logic and reasoning behind such a small town of 24,000 having the resources to properly hear, understand or speak properly to, the intricacies of not only business, but also creative, inventive, fabrication, research, and other technology-heavy processes.

Yet, the court is often saught for it’s vast experience in such cases is often looked to for what is considered “A fair ruling”.

Does Marshall and/or surrounding areas (let’s say 100 miles) have a Fortune 10 company that devotes more than 10% of Gross Annual Income to R&D? A “Yes” may change my perspective of the decisions handed down by the Court.

Anonymous Coward says:

So let me get this right, from reading the patents, every single form of commerce on the interwebs using any form of currency that is not an actual currency is illegal. This would make paypal illegal, electronic gift cards illegal, any kind of pay for credit system illegal. This has got to be the biggest joke. I am completely against these kind of blanket patents and copyrights. This being said I am an artist, web designer and hopefully soon a programmer and release anything that is mine into use freely for anyone non-commercial unless it is for a client. Our entitlement and ownership society has got to change to an earned and respected society.

Avengingwatcher

RonW says:

I am not sure about this ‘token’ aspect, but back in 1999, I was working on an e-commerce site that allowed users to purchase news stories in electronic form from my client’s archive. Because many stories had prices less than the (then current) minimum credit card charge, we allowed to establish a balance using their credit cards. Then each story purchase decremented the user’s balance. Also, we stored users’ payment info so they could reload their balances without re-entering all of their payment info.

MikeIP says:

“Can anyone explain how these concepts were not obvious at the time of filing?”

Nice try. You obviously still have no idea of how the patent system works. Patent applicants are required to prove nonobviousness when presented with prior art that makes the invention obvious at the time of filing. Have you done that? Do you ever do that? No.

Kirk says:

Conflict of Interest

Forget the street address. I want to know why it’s ok for this judge’s son to practice patent law in the same city.

Even if the lawyers addresses weren’t the same. This daddy’s boy will see cases decided by his dad’s coworkers (whose work addreses ARE all the same.) That’s assuming they bother to prevent his dad from deciding his cases. A generous assumption, I know.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »