NZ e-commerce sites getting business-method patent shakedown

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p>The New Zealand Herald reports that ‘internet retailers nationwide are banding together to fight a Canadian company’s demands for them to pay up or be shut down.’ A Montreal-based company called DE Technologies has ‘written to several e-commerce operators demanding licensing fees for use of international e-commerce processes.’

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p> The affected ISPs and e-commerce companies are banding together to fight the patent. The NZ Ministry of Economic Development is quoted as saying ‘This is a commercial matter. If people wish to dispute the validity of the patent there are mechanisms in the Patents Act (1953) for them to seek to have the patent revoked’. However, one company has received legal advice indicating that an attempt to have the patent overturned could cost up to NZ$150,000, and some background on the FightThePatent site indicates that there may also be only 12 days (or so) from today to do so.

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p> DE Technologies’ news page gives an interesting angle on their activities in NZ. It seems Ed Pool, the CEO of DET, believed in 2001 that it was ‘an insult to call it a business process. To this day, no one has been able to duplicate this design.’ However, it seems that by 2003, at least 40 NZ-based e-commerce outfits have now figured out the details, because that’s how many legal letters his lawyers have reportedly sent. One such letter demanded a $US10,000 signing fee, a ‘royalty rate’ of 1.5% on every transaction, and 11 US cents for each document generated.

Worth noting that the patent has also been granted in Singapore and the US — where it apparently caused a public outcry and was raised on the Senate floor as an example of a ‘bad patent’, before it was granted anyway.

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