04 January 2013

More IP Insanity

In the latest case, we have patent trolls trying to extort money from small businesses for using scanners:
When Steven Vicinanza got a letter in the mail earlier this year informing him that he needed to pay $1,000 per employee for a license to some “distributed computer architecture” patents, he didn’t quite believe it at first. The letter seemed to be saying anyone using a modern office scanner to scan documents to e-mail would have to pay—which is to say, just about any business, period.

If he'd paid up, the IT services provider that Vicinanza founded, BlueWave Computing, would have owed $130,000.


"[Hill] was very cordial and very nice," he told Ars. "He said, if you hook up a scanner and e-mail a PDF document—we have a patent that covers that as a process."

t didn’t seem credible that Hill was demanding money for just using basic office equipment exactly the way it was intended to be used. So Vicinanza clarified:

"So you're claiming anyone on a network with a scanner owes you a license?" asked Vicinanza. "He said, 'Yes, that's correct.' And at that point, I just lost it."
The kicker is that the these folks were using newspapers' "best places to work" lists to send out dunning letters.

Seriously, we need to just stop issuing patents until the system is fixed.

H/t Kevin Drum.


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