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Patent Troll Targeting Users of Scanners; Wants $1000/Employee

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the scan-middle-finger-and-hit-send dept.

Patents 227

New submitter earlzdotnet writes "A new patent troll is in town, this time targeting the users of technology, rather than the creators. They appear to hold a process patent for 'scanning a document and then emailing it.' They are targeting small businesses in a variety of locations and usually want somewhere between $900 to $1200 per employee for 'infringement' of their patent. As with most patent trolls, they go by a number of shell companies, but the original company name appears to be Project Paperless LLC. Joel Spolsky said in a tweet that 'This is organized crime, plain and simple...' I tend to agree with him. When will something be done about this legal mafia?"

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227 comments

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

clm1970 (1728766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453797)

first

Re:first post! (-1, Offtopic)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453857)

I'm sorry, but you violated my patent on Slashdot first-posting. Please pay $100.000 to my account. Thank you.

Re:first post! (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454211)

Just 100 dollars? :D

Re:first post! (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454441)

Just 100 dollars? :D

He's European. They use the '.' where we Americans would use a ','.

Re:first post! (0)

trum4n (982031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454481)

So $100, to the thousandth. Got it. Wrong is wrong, I don't care where he is from.

Re:first post! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454571)

So $100, to the thousandth. Got it. Wrong is wrong, I don't care where he is from.

No.
So $100. to the thousandth, Got it, Wrong is wrong. I don't care where he is from,

Re:first post! (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454617)

not very metric of them ;)

When you vote them out of office? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453819)

Laws don't pass themselves you know.

Re:When you vote them out of office? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454243)

I love the naive assumption that what we have is the worst possible outcome, and by choosing people at random we'll automatically arrive at a different result.

Re:When you vote them out of office? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454391)

Or the naive assumption that we have any choice in who we vote for.

Huh?? (4, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453827)

How does this hold any legal water at all? Isn't the manufacturer of a product liable for patent infringements, not the end user?

Re:Huh?? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453891)

It doesn't even make sense as extortion. They are setting the fees so high that companies may be tempted to view settling as the more expensive alternative.

Re:Huh?? (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453895)

It's a process patent, according to the summary. I'd say it's the end user who does the process of scanning, then sending the scanned page by email.

Re:Huh?? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453953)

Most office scanners do that process themselves these days, I think. You scan the image and enter the address into the scanner/printer/fax and it sends it.

Re:Huh?? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454235)

I'd hesitate to say "most" there. Many do that, yes. Others are plugged directly into a computer so the scanned file can be bookmarked, blacked-out, or touched up before it gets emailed. When I was a fileroom peon in accounting I "infringed" on this process something like 50 times an hour.

Re:Huh?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454531)

I'd hesitate to say "most" there. Many do that, yes. Others are plugged directly into a computer so the scanned file can be bookmarked, blacked-out, or touched up before it gets emailed. When I was a fileroom peon in accounting I "infringed" on this process something like 50 times an hour.

I've worked in several offices where the scanner will e-mail a scan and no one used it to send scans to people outside the company. They use the function to email the scan to themselves/coworkers instead of sending it to a network share.

Re:Huh?? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454599)

I'm sure you have, hence my saying "Many do that, yes."

Re:Huh?? (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453957)

Sorry, but this patent is stupid. This is basically sending an attachment in an email. And the patent is on where the attachment originated from (the scanner). How this is not obvious to anybody who has ever sent an email with an attachment is quite beyond me.

Re:Huh?? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454655)

The US patent process is clearly broken and needs serious repair, like a lot of things in this country.

Re:Huh?? (5, Informative)

DJ Jones (997846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453937)

Yes, except in this case, the patent office allowed someone to patent a process and not an invention so general legal logic goes out the window right there.

That and those fines appear to fall just beneath what it would cost to get a patent lawyer to fight the charge so on a pure revenue basis, it's cheaper to pay the ransom.

Re:Huh?? (3, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454191)

Err....what general legal logic?

Re:Huh?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454553)

$1000 would fall below the line. But $1000 per employee does not, even for small businesses. If you ask me, they got greedy there.

35 USC section 271 - Infringement (5, Informative)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453975)

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

Re:35 USC section 271 - Infringement (2)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454163)

Just as I thought. It's not the legal mafia that is at fault here. It's the intellectual property system that is the law of the land. We need a better system that rewards inventors and creators for their hard work but does not infringe on the right of the people to be free.

Re:35 USC section 271 - Infringement (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454281)

It's not the legal mafia that is at fault here. It's the intellectual property system that is the law of the land.

Hence the word "legal" in "legal mafia".

Abusing the law for fun and profit has a long and time-honored history. What makes you think anything will change?

Re:35 USC section 271 - Infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454197)

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

Under this section, wouldn't the manufacturer of the devices that get used by the person allegedly infringing the patent be legally negligent in not providing clear indication further licensing would be required to use their product compliantly within the law?

Re:35 USC section 271 - Infringement (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454501)

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

Under this section, wouldn't the manufacturer of the devices that get used by the person allegedly infringing the patent be legally negligent in not providing clear indication further licensing would be required to use their product compliantly within the law?

Oh, they probably already got their legal notice. The patent troll is 'going retail' with going after the users to improve their bottom line.

Fun thing about 'selling intangibles' is, the supply never dries up. And if this isn't a prime example, I don't know what is.

Re:35 USC section 271 - Infringement (2)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454245)

you should bold the word "invention", which this patent is not.

Re:Huh?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454113)

Both can be liable: the manufacturer for making the product, and the end user (or other downstream customer) for using it. But as a practical matter, a manufacturer will often end up defending an infringement lawsuit against its customers (and some actually commit to doing so in their EULAs). If a patentee is actually looking for real damages, they generally want the manufacturer to be involved in the case (often a deeper pocket than the typical customer).

But in a situation like this, it's clear that court is the last place these patent holders want to be (TFA describes how they almost immediately dropped the case when a defendant started pushing back hard). Given that, they leave the 800-pound gorillas alone and shake down the little fish. Now, if enough end users played chicken by ignoring the initial demand and then the handful that actually were sued (to set an example) were committed to fighting in court long enough for the licensee to get tired of spending money, the entire game probably would grind to a halt in fairly short order. Outfits like this really just (1) prey on the fears of the legally unsophisticated; and (2) ask for sums of money small enough that most think it better/easier to write the check and move on rather than keeping an unbounded potential liability on their books.

And yes, IAAPL.

Re:Huh?? (5, Funny)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454161)

legal precedent: arkell v pressdram

Re:Huh?? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454203)

It does not hold water. Whoever was trying to shake him down could never have won a single case. He brought the case against the "patent holder" not vice-versa. The solicitation was like a fake yellow pages ad (mail it to 10,000, see if 1% are dumb enough to pay) of a decade ago. What is scary is what may happen in other nations: China's courts are starting to look into enforcement of USA and European patent and trademarks (at our insistence) and if they aren't lucky may bet what we asked for.

Re:Huh?? (1)

AllenABQ (987944) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454237)

I think that's somewhat immaterial at this point. The screw-up was the patent getting approved in the first place. As the article states, many companies who have been hit with this legal scam have already been advised to settle because it's the least costly option for a small business that can't afford a protracted court battle. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Mafia was, in fact, behind this. Shaking down small businesses has been their game for some time.

Re:Huh?? (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454415)

As a responsible citizen, it's up to you to ensure that whatever you do doesn't violate any patents.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Enjoy!

Re:Huh?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454603)

The manufacturer certainly is, but the end user can be as well. Under 35 USC 271(a) [cornell.edu] , mere use of a object/process/etc. that is covered by a valid patent can be infringement.
 

Re:Huh?? (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454663)

How does this hold any legal water at all? Isn't the manufacturer of a product liable for patent infringements, not the end user?

No. All users of infringing products can be held liable. Most companies have the good sense not to go after end users, but it is perfectly legal. Sucks, but that's the law.

Organized crime (0, Flamebait)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453841)

Organized crime is what the government does these days. They are not here to protect us. They are here to ensure that the rich and powerful get more rich and more powerful. Any sort of thuggery by which that occurs is fine as far as any arm of the government is concerned.

Re:Organized crime (0)

rockout (1039072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454003)

Sorry, I RTFA (bad form) and I missed the part where the government is extorting money from people for scanning and emailing documents. But thanks for your "F the gubberment!!!"" post which is always good for some cheap mod points. If that's what you're into.

Re:Organized crime (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454057)

Sorry, I RTFA (bad form) and I missed the part where the government is extorting money from people for scanning and emailing documents. But thanks for your "F the gubberment!!!"" post which is always good for some cheap mod points. If that's what you're into.

Question 1: Who develops and maintains the patent system that not only allows, but seemingly encourages this sort of trolling behavior?

Question 2: Assuming a correct answer for question one, do they who maintain the patent system profit from this sort of trolling behavior?

I fail to see how anyone who answers those questions honestly can absolve the government of blame.

Re:Organized crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454423)

I fail to see how anyone who answers those questions honestly can absolve the government of blame.

I don't think there's a single problem that can't be blamed on the government. I believe that will always be the case. So blaming the government isn't doing anything. It's a cop out for finding the real problem.

Re:Organized crime (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454547)

A1: Lawyers
A2: Yes.

Counter Question: Would you want to live in a society where the Government had total power to control Lawyers?

Re:Organized crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454115)

You only got one. Not that you'd care.

Re:Organized crime (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454131)

Sorry, I RTFA (bad form) and I missed the part where the government is extorting money from people for scanning and emailing documents

You would, because it doesn't work that way. People extort money from other people using the government. The extortionists then pay the government for the privilege of being allowed to extort.

Re:Organized crime (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454029)

We need Leverage... But they need that show's run.

Re:Organized crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454049)

These days? When has any hovernment NOT looking out for the interests of the [rich, elite class, etc.] over the common person? Haven't read much political history have you?

Re:Organized crime (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454177)

If you had read any political history, you'd recognize that it's much much worse today than it has been in recent history. You have to go 100 years back to find a government so cravenly beholden to the rich and powerful. Our government is more corrupt than any in living memory, that qualifies for a "these days".

Re:Organized crime (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454083)

Organized crime is what $KNEE_JERK_HATETHINK_GROUP does these days. They are not here to $HATETHINK_GROUP_TASK. They are here to ensure that the $HATETHINK_CLASS get more $HATETHINK_CLASS. Any sort of thuggery by which that occurs is fine as far as any $SUBSET_OF_KNEE_JERK_HATETHINK_GROUP is concerned.

There, FTFY. And, as a bonus, fixed it for anyone else responding.

Re:Organized crime (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454247)

Changing my assertion to a generic form that is clearly untrue does not actually refute my assertion. Try again.

Really, please do. I would love to believe that the government has my best interests at heart, but there is no such evidence available. Show me when the government has chosen to act for the best interests of the people over the best interests of the rich.

Re:Organized crime (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454511)

I would love to believe that the government has my best interests at heart, but there is no such evidence available. Show me when the government has chosen to act for the best interests of the people over the best interests of the rich.

You are perhaps thinking that the best interests of the individual are the same as the best interests of the people as a whole, or that your best interests are the same as someone else's? In one sentence you refer to "my best interests", and in the next you write "best interests of the people". Those two are not necessarily the same.

Upper right hand corner ad (2, Interesting)

FarField12 (2804063) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453901)

(Right, Upper hand corner of this page for me.)
"Wondering what your patents might be worth in the current market?"
Wow! I can't resist selling my patents!
Ahem! Well, back to /.
'Those lousy trolls, I wish they would just go away.'

Stupid people you are! Until you wake up... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453911)

You're all stupid people to believe that this is the real 'legal mafia'. The government is the real mafia. Until you wake up and realize that more than 80% of your day goes to paying for the elite bastards to live high on the hog you won't ever find freedom.

Re:Stupid people you are! Until you wake up... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453927)

You're all stupid people to believe that this is the real 'legal mafia'. The government is the real mafia. Until you wake up and realize that more than 80% of your day goes to paying for the elite bastards to live high on the hog you won't ever find freedom.

The government is just the enforcer.

You want to talk to the Don, you'll be walking into a bank like Goldman Sachs or HSBC, not a government building.

come get us bitches (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453939)

Food Concepts Inc
2551 Parmenter St
Middleton, Wi
53562

I fucking double dare you.

extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453951)

Method patents, like software patents, are powerful instruments of extortion. As this bizarre case shows, extortion is most successful against the weak (end users) rather than the strong (xerox, canon, etc).

I was browsing the web and I found... (5, Informative)

Phics (934282) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453977)

...this. [stop-proje...erless.com]

Re:I was browsing the web and I found... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454409)

That site hasn't had an update since May, 2012?

captcha: impinges

Re:I was browsing the web and I found... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454573)

In that video the guy couldn't really come up with a solution to patent trolls because he is looking at the symptoms of the problem, while the root of it is the fact that patents are protected by governments in the first place.

Government shouldn't be authorised to protect monopolies, regardless of who and why believes that people that are protected should be protected for whatever reasons.

Every time government sticks its nose to 'protect' anything you get a disaster. From patents and copyrights to money, housing, medical care, your retirement, anything at all.

Patents are none of governments' business, that's the reality and that's the only way actually to fix the real problem.

Process Patents (4, Funny)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | about a year and a half ago | (#42453979)

Has anyone patented the process of sueing people for violations of patents? If not someone better get on it quickly. Millions of dollars in settlements are being lost every minute now.

Re:Process Patents (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454079)

Dang it, I knew there was something I meant to go patent today! Ill be right back and if anyone sues someone for violation of my patents then inform them they have violated my patent!

Re:Process Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454307)

Apple's already on it.

Re:Process Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454687)

Bwahahahah!!! Fandroids are so FUNNY!!!

Re:Process Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454735)

Yes, they have. I have a vague feeling it was IBM, but don't quote me on that.

Ok (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453983)

Ill just claim I am an illegal and be absolved of any responsibility.. No you may not see my ID.

Jokes on them. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453989)

I don't e-mail people my scans, I upload them to Megaupload and send them the link.

Foolproof.

Re:Jokes on them. (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454089)

I don't e-mail people my scans, I upload them to Megaupload and send them the link.

Foolproof.

You've already played the fool. Megaupload is long gone.

Re:Jokes on them. (4, Funny)

crypticedge (1335931) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454207)

Dare I say, woosh?

Balancing act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42453995)

Patent trolls must play a very careful balancing game weighing potential rewards versus reality of enforcement and the potential consequences that failure would entail. Attempting to sue every employee that has ever used a scanner, for instance, is completely infeasible. Legitimacy of the patent aside, all potential defendants would need do is show up to, en masse, drive the company out of business. Further, revisiting legitimacy, each individual hearing raises the chance of a judge ruling the entire patent null and void. It's bad business sense, regardless of the despicable nature of of patent trolls as a whole -- good business sense would be to target employers, and only thereof, with the goal of settlement at a figure barely worth the notice of said employers.

So? Just another scam (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454007)

In the old days you would send a fake purchase order for some low amount to finance and demand to get paid. This is just another scam like that

I guess people need to be outraged about something

Re:So? Just another scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454455)

This patent isn't fake, though, which is most of the problem.

Re:So? Just another scam (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454523)

so? if it was apple or google they can have it reexamined and get rid of it easily

small businesses can't afford the legal bills

When will something be done about this legal mafia (1)

RLU486983 (1792220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454031)

As soon as the other mafia is driven out of Congress and Senate!!

Reason for suing the end user is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454061)

It's not the technology that they patented, it's the process. It's precisely as if someone patented driving a car to the grocery, buying food, putting the food in the trunk and driving back home. If you do that, then YOU (not the car manufacturer or the grocery store) infringe on the patent.

That doesn't make it not a shitty patent.

Re:Reason for suing the end user is simple (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454133)

thanks for giving them that idea. now I have to put my food in the front seat instead of the trunk.

Re:Reason for suing the end user is simple (2)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454487)

Or wrap it in a Taun-Taun carcass and strap it to the hood.

Not that I have a patent on this particular grocery retrieval process.

Re:Reason for suing the end user is simple (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454195)

the reason is the end user won't fight it

the prior art is that the device in their patent had to exist before their patent. but the small business will pay up because its cheaper

In some way this could be good news. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454065)

So many people just shrug their shoulders and show no interest at all in any of these outrageous patients. Sort of, "only raving lunatic nerds who read slashdot bother about it. The situation can't be that bad". When they suddenly face the prospect of being slapped with a law-suite they might sit up, take notice and stir up a storm. Like the fine print in the Instagram was not new or anything. Probably all those YouTube videos too have similar clauses. But nobody bothered. But suddenly it became a media frenzy.

Let us be very helpful to this troll and send him names and addresses of all the congresscritters and judges who might have been in violation of the claimed patent. Some how get him to include the names of these figures whose power/IQ ratio approaches infinity. Then may be some reform might happen.

Who Owns Project Paperless LLC? (4, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454073)

According to http://stop-project-paperless.com/project-paperless-llc [stop-proje...erless.com] , these guys: http://www.hkw-law.com./ [www.hkw-law.com]

Public records indicate that each of the partners in the law firm of Hill, Kertscher, & Wharton are either managers, members, or organizers in one or more of the shell companies which in turn appear to have a stake in Project Paperless, LLC.

This all stops . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454077)

. . . once the patent system as we know it is fixed.

Quit handing out patents like it's candy on Halloween. Barring that, cut the time limits WAAAAY down on technology related
patents to say a few years at most. ( Seriously, tech that is over five years old is really old ) Add some sort of " troll tax " for
any company where the majority source of income is via patent litigation against anyone they think they can get away with.

Once it ceases to be profitable, the entire problem will solve itself overnight.

Well that's easy... (1)

Roogna (9643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454093)

Does it also cover scanning, adding a signature in photoshop, and then e-mailing? Oh crap, wait! Gotta patent this fast!

Online world carries over into the real world (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454095)

Her study of startups targeted by patent trolls found that when confronted with a patent demand, 22 percent ignored it entirely. Compare that with the 35 percent that decided to fight back and 18 percent that folded. Ignoring the demand was the cheapest option ($3,000 on average) versus fighting in court, which was the most expensive ($870,000 on average).

So the best way to deal with trolls in the real world is the same as the online world: simply ignore them. If they want to sue you, then make them go through all the expense and trouble of making the case--most of the time they won't even bother. These are basically old timey protection rackets. They're trying to put the minimum amount of effort in to get the biggest return. They might try to make an example of a company or two, but it probably won't be you.

Re:Online world carries over into the real world (1)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454607)

But in this case, it's (if a previous post is correct) a bunch of lawyers. I don't think (just guessing here, tho) that it would be that costly for them. Obviously, their time is free so it would appear court costs are all that's left. And I'd guess they'd only have to win one or two of their cases to get their other targets to settle.

When will something be done about this legal mafia (5, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454137)

When will something be done about this legal mafia?

Nothing will ever be done because every major company is playing the game.

Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM . . . . . every big company with deep pockets has been hit by patent trolls. So why don't they all get together and use their considerable lobbying power to demand that congress change the law? Why? Because they don't really want the law changed. They want to be able to whack somebody with a patent lawsuit when it suits them.

Bogus patents are the new nuclear weapons. Everyone knows they are bad and destructive, they serve no useful purpose and should be eliminated. But nobody is willing to actually do that because some day they might need a weapon to use against a competitor. That's the new business model. Litigation instead of competition.

USA is an oligarchy going for a second Dark Age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454287)

USA has their corporate nobles who defend the general population against the foreigners. The nobles get tax from the state for this role. Legal threats and a free flow of new laws make this possible. USA skipped the last dark ages, so now they'll have to live through it. Sorry about that. They should do something about this situation before it gets out of hand. Because now they're rich, when China takes over the world you'll be poor. This means thinks will get a lot worse for most of Americans in the years to come if they are unable to change. The word on the street is that corporations are moving their headquarters as well as manufacturing to the East.

Re:USA is an oligarchy going for a second Dark Age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454383)

Patent Troll, meet /. Troll

Re:When will something be done about this legal ma (1)

mbunch5 (548430) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454389)

When will something be done about this legal mafia?

Nothing will ever be done because every major company is playing the game.

Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM . . . . . every big company with deep pockets has been hit by patent trolls. So why don't they all get together and use their considerable lobbying power to demand that congress change the law? Why? Because they don't really want the law changed. They want to be able to whack somebody with a patent lawsuit when it suits them.

Bogus patents are the new nuclear weapons. Everyone knows they are bad and destructive, they serve no useful purpose and should be eliminated. But nobody is willing to actually do that because some day they might need a weapon to use against a competitor. That's the new business model. Litigation instead of competition.

Also, all these big companies have invested billions into their patent chests. If they urged patent reform, they could well wipe out the value of these chests, which could potentially wipe out the company, as these patents are a large part of their corporate worth. I'm sure it is true for others as well, but I remember it being mentioned on Slashdot a while ago that in the case of Apple they actually spend more per year on acquiring and protecting their patents than on R&D.

I do this all the time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454149)

I scan documents to pdf's and email the pdf's. If this troll has a problem, they can go bug Xerox as Xerox is the one who converts the document to a pdf.

If they have a problem with me emailing an attachment, they can go bug Microsoft as I use Outlook.

You guys are suckers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454173)

This site posts every single patent story it can because they know youll all fly off the handle and post like crazy to increase page hits.

Hell most of these patent stories are just legitiment people protecting their assests but all you have to do is say the word patent and people show up in waves without reading the story to start bitching about how patent laws destroy america and blah blah blah. You all just buy into this because its the current trend in internet nerd bitching.

Unless you are a patent attorney, work in the patent office that has to do with the actual process or some other real world involvement and personal knowledge of patents you dont know squat but all act like they are somehow goverment and state approved patent officers that know everything. Hint: just because it sounds good to you doesnt mean its right.

Re:You guys are suckers. (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454721)

If you RTFA you would realize in this case this is different then every other patent story posted on Slashdot.

This story is about the legal equivalent of you being sued because you wipe your ass with your left hand. Sure someone could in fact hold a legitimate patent for the process of left handed ass wiping but there is no legal precedence for suing people because they use their left hand for wiping their asses. Spend a second and think about the stupidity of someone claiming $1000 in damage per person that uses their left hand for wiping their asses. Now spend another second thinking about how stupid it is for people in an office using the technology that exists in the office to scan and email a document and someone asking $1000 per person.

The only valid complaint this patent holder could have is to sue printer or scanner manufactures that offer scan to email features. Users of an idea do not violate patent law, period. You don't have to be a patent attorney to realize something is very wrong, this is not some example of a legitimate patent holder collecting their dues, this is outright extortion. You don't have to be an expert to have a comment about common sense.

You bitch about people flying off the handle before reading the story, but obviously you couldn't wait for the first patent story of the day to hit Slashdot before releasing your stupid rant without reading the article or applying any thought about it.

I might be a sucker, but I ain't no fool.

Where's the EFF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454179)

Has the EFF said anything about this? Isn't this the kind of case they'd be interested in defending?

How did the patent holder know (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454205)

that the companies that they are suing are scanning to email?

Re:How did the patent holder know (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454313)

they don't, and they aren't sueing anyone. They send a mail out with some yes no questions. "do you have a scanner?" etc. Then it says you owe 1000 per employee.It sounds like they don't actually want to sue anyone.

I've got to warn my employees! (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454229)

I'll just scan the story and send out an email.

Wait...what?

Prior Art (3, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454249)

The patents were filed beginning in 1997. Does anyone know if scanners from 1996 were able to scan in a document, launch an e-mail application, and attach said document to the e-mail? A quick Google Groups search did uncover a "photo scanning service" that promised to scan your photo and send it to you via e-mail. https://groups.google.com/group/nyc.singles/browse_thread/thread/6b8e902ec9996435/a1a550f3f5398a27?hl=en&q=scan+attach+to+e-mail#a1a550f3f5398a27

Also, for reference (and since people might not read the article), here are links to the patents in question:
http://www.google.com/patents/US6185590
http://www.google.com/patents/US6771381
http://www.google.com/patents/US7477410
http://www.google.com/patents/US7986426

Re:Prior Art (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454559)

Does anyone know if scanners from 1996 were able to scan in a document, launch an e-mail application, and attach said document to the e-mail?

Yes, Paperport [usnews.com] from Visoneer was one. The Mac version was AppleScriptable and people regularly did things like transfer scanned images into e-mails, Filemaker databases, etc.

aside: the term TFS is looking for is "Legal Plunder". Bastiat coined it in 1850 in The Law [archive.org] , and it was then an existing problem, so don't expect a quick resolution so long as the same power structures remain in place (people hate to admit that they're the ones with the role of being fleeced).

Parasites taking advantage of a system they create (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454295)

There's really nothing more to be said.

what a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454381)

Our company got one of these ridiculous letters about 2 months ago. I took great pleasure in immediately scanning it into an email to a colleague so we could laugh about it.

Standard challenge form (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454473)

It seems that the perps in this scenario are using standard boilerplate forms to threaten lawsuits. Could some astute lawyer (IANAL) produce a standard boilerplate response form and offer it for a nominal fee? I think there is precedent for that in regards to a music copyright violation lawsuit-mill.

Re:Standard challenge form (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454743)

The US Patent Office's guidelines [uspto.gov] for an ex parte reexamination request.

we don't have employees do that there 3rd party (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454589)

we don't have employees do that there 3rd party contractors

When will something be done? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42454629)

When the government cares more about its citizens than patent holders. AKA when hell freezes over. If you reduce the power of the patent you not only stop these relatively small players but also degrade the worth of everyone's patents. Which hurts the rich and powerful.

Petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42454731)

What the patent office is a petition system like the White House has. Any patent getting more than 1000 signatures would be reviewed.

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