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Chocolatier Fights PanIP Uber-Commerce Patent

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the they-should-patent-fighting-patents dept.

Patents 277

synerr writes "In October, Slashdot reported how PanIP sued 10 companies. Since they were so successful, they have launched 50 more lawsuits. The Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel has an article about how one local small town chocolate company, DeBrand's, is planning to fight back against San Diego based PanIP LLC's claim that they hold the patent over any automated commerce done by text and graphics on a video monitor. The owner of DeBrand's has even set up a web site to organize the different e-merchants, www.youmaybenext.com."

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Fist Sport (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602124)

Chocolate Panning is probably something anally queer

Re:Fist Sport (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602204)

ewwwwww

Re:Fist Sport (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602251)

mmmmmmm

Re:Fist Sport (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602381)

Yeah, it is actually. Chocolate panning is when you take your partner's fecal matter and spread it thinly across your stomach. This is usually quickly followed by the "Dirty Sanchez," as they just seem so complimentary.

I claim this First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602125)

Aw,yeah.

This quality first post is claimed for the Queen of Spain. Thank you, and come again.

FP you cocksucking dicklickers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602128)

When will this stop? (5, Interesting)

Uttles (324447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602147)

Why is it still happening? How are these judges rewarding these people? Correct me if I'm wrong, but they're bascially saying "we invented this and let everyone use it for 10-15 years, and now we're going to sue you all for not paying us, when we didn't even charge anything in the first place." How is this not being laughed out of court?

Re:When will this stop? (5, Informative)

PinkStainlessTail (469560) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602188)

Because mainly people are settling before it ever gets to court. Those of us with souls know this by the name "extortion." It's fun!

Re:When will this stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602474)

So... this "extortion" takes 10-15 years, huh?

Reading sure is difficult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602494)

Better go back to kindergarten or get some better glasses, rummy.

Out of court settlements don't involve the courts. (3, Interesting)

nyet (19118) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602198)

That's the great thing about this business model; you never have to go in front of a judge. It's free money, low risk, no need for engineers or technical support, just a small team of lawyers sending extortion demands.

Re:When will this stop? (5, Insightful)

nuffle (540687) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602268)

panIP doesn't need success in courts. It's cheaper for most of the small businesses that are being targeted to simply pay the $5000 (in the chocolate company's case) to panIP than to wage a court battle. Maybe a few companies defend themselves in the lawsuit, but panIP can afford a couple battles as long as most give in and pay the money.

That these sort of strategies work nicely is clear demonstration that the US legal system doesn't protect everyone equally, but that the great deal of beauracracy involved works to the advantage of the wealthy.

Re:When will this stop? (1)

JM_the_Great (70802) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602425)

The United States should learn frolm Britian and if a civil case if found in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff pays the legal fees of the defendant. At least, I think that's how it works over there :) Either way, it sounded like a good idea to me... it'd prevent a lot of frivilous lawsuits and would allow companies to fight cases where they're right, but it'll cost more to fight than settle.

Re:When will this stop? (1)

ender's_shadow (302302) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602489)

all they have to do if it does go to court is drop it.

in reply to the other comment that's in reply to this parent -- the english rule brings its own set of problems, too.

No judge has ruled so far (5, Insightful)

Tremblay99 (534187) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602315)

You can sue anyone for anything, no matter how specious. Being sued, however, does not mean that your case instantly goes to court ... or, indeed, ever will. It can take months to get a preliminary court date. Tack on more time for both sides to examine evidence. After that, both sides file motions ... yada yada yada. PanIP probably doesn't even want to go to court. They want to make a quick buck getting mom'n'pop shops to settle. They don't want to take on someone (say, WalMart) with more money, lawyers, and know-how. PanIP might win, but they victory would be pyrrhic; they'd have burned through all their cash.

However, the cost of settling a case like this for $15 or $20 000 is less than the cost of a coupla' good IP lawyers.

Sucks, but you can put your money where your mouth is and help out [youmaybenext.com] .

Re:No judge has ruled so far (1)

ender's_shadow (302302) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602517)

clients may be able to sue anyone no matter how specious, but lawyers can't make frivolous claims.

See Rule 11 of Fed Rules of Civ Proc. Lawyers should be the gatekeepers to the court.

Unfortunately, when the patent office awards a patent it's not frivolous to sue under it.

the problem IS NOT the lawyers -- it's the patent office not doing their job of reviewing prior art.

Re:When will this stop? (5, Insightful)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602329)

The mere fact that these people are able to take existing ideas, add the phrase "on a computer", "on a video terminal", etc. and patent it as their own idea is absurd.

Is there where the phrase "patently ridiculous" comes from?

Re:When will this stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602463)

The mere fact that these people are able to take existing ideas, add the phrase "on a computer", "on a video terminal", etc. and patent it as their own idea is absurd.
So, you mean I might not get my patent and collect royalties from everyone else who adds "in bed" to their fortune cookie fortune?

why wait killem with paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602336)

Why wait on them to sue. I don't own any websites anymore but if I did i would think about filing a lawsuit on them in some fashion. Where there a lawyer there's a way. Now as sad as that may sound it would in fact be a sure way to kill a company like that if you hit them with enough lawsuits all at once from several differnt sources.

Proposal to fix some patent issues (5, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602365)

I believe that, unlike with trademarks, there is no use-it-or-lose-it requirement on patents. You can selectively enforce, not enforce, or completely enforce your rights on patents as you wish.

OTOH, with 8 zillion patents out there designed to be as obfuscated as possible to get past the PTO, this makes engineering a minefield.

I'd prefer a specific exemption making the complaint that a "patent is unclear" becoming a complete defense against patent infringement. It'd also make it *much* easier for the PTO to administer the patents (instead of insanely complicated patents, they'd give the companies an enormous incentive to write their patents clearly and include useful keywords). It's more effective than just rejecting patents, because it means that companies can't just "retry" patents until they get a valid one.

The PTO already puts up a full-text-search search engine, so this makes patent searches much more feasible.

Obviously, this couldn't be retroactive, but it would be useful for curbing patent abuses in the future.

Re:When will this stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602471)

Fuck you and your lame pimp game, uttles. May you rot in hell.

HSN? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowtard (573891) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602154)

"PanIP LLC's claim that they hold the patent over any automated commerce done by text and graphics on a video monitor."

Couldn't the Home Shopping Network be prior art for this?

Re:HSN? (2)

CheechBG (247105) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602233)

Yeah, and theY can bring Don West to testify at the hearing...

Re:HSN? (2, Interesting)

PD (9577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602295)

Did the French Minitel actually sell anything? That would be some prior art. And did the original CompuServe actually sell anything? Also prior art. I also seem to remember being able to buy flowers on AOL 1.0 with it's funky interface (what was that called again? GEOS?) on top of MS-DOS in 1988. Definitely prior art.

Re:HSN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602472)

Prior art ceased to be meaningful in patent fights quite a while ago. Pity.

Re: Chocolatier Fights PanIP Uber-Commerce Patent (5, Insightful)

Dunark (621237) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602168)

I wonder how long it will be until it's impossible to complete the intellectual property patent checks on *any* innovation before it's obsolete?

I hereby claim (0, Troll)

cscx (541332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602185)

I hereby claim all intellectual property to the <form></form> tags. You can find this here [uspto.gov] . I'll see your ass in court, Slashdot!

This will not be tolerated for long... (3, Interesting)

Wes Janson (606363) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602186)

As soon as this goes into the media spotlight, PanIP's little game is going to be history. This should set interesting precedents in the realm of patent lawsuits, however..

Re:This will not be tolerated for long... (2, Insightful)

k3v0 (592611) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602221)

it's funny how they haven't gone after any major companies that have more formidable resources than these small businesses. I wonder why????

maybe they will eventually. (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602464)

--maybe they will if they ever actually win any cases, and use that for legal precedent. What I think they are dojng now is both gaining (trying to) a legal precedent plus building a war chest from these little guys copping out to take on one of the big guys.

Re:This will not be tolerated for long... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602286)

These lawsuits are complete crap. After reading the patent [uspto.gov] , you can see that it was intended as a Airline travel agent system...

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the objects of this invention, among others are to:

enhance the travel agent's sales ability
create a flexible travel sales system
increase the sales productivity and information accuracy of vacation tour packages sold by travel agents; ...


How did PANIP ever win the initial 10 lawsuits?

Re:This will not be tolerated for long... (1)

Mikeytsi (186271) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602316)

Because they didn't go to court. The companies pussed out and paid the money rather than deal with legal fees.

A nice change to the system would be "loser pays all legal fees". I think that would go a long way to niping this shit in the bud.

Not how patents work (5, Informative)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602398)

The abstract is intended to clarify the patent. The claims are what are legally significant here. Look a bit lower...anything that violates even *one* of the claims infringes on the patent.

Re:This will not be tolerated for long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602506)

How is this troll? It seems like an honest question... If the patents don't apply, how did they win?

*blink* fort wayne, indiana? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602191)

erm. that's only an hour's drive or so from here. ...

i wonder how my wife would react if i asked her if she would be ok with driving to fort wayne to buy some chocolate.

Re:*blink* fort wayne, indiana? (0, Offtopic)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602265)

Hey - grew up there, is is a nice town. Magnavox did a lot of DoD computer work.

The chocolate at DeBrands is awesome, but very expensive. Just had some in July on my visit to family.

Well it looks like PanIP is about as popular as... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602192)

...AIDS. Maybe they should patent that too.

Re:Well it looks like PanIP is about as popular as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602477)

AIDS is popular among homosexuals, drug users, and negros.

Duplicate (1, Redundant)

Flamerule (467257) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602193)

While this issue deserves space on /., this particular story was posted in YRO only a couple of weeks ago:

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/10/23/ 197234&mode=nested&tid=155

Re:Duplicate (1)

rgbscan (321794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602214)

And further back as well...

http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/13/ 19 14221&mode=thread&tid=155

Chris

Funny. The story linked to is dated Nov. 4 (3, Insightful)

nyet (19118) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602226)

You must have missed the spot where 1) the intro references the yro article you mention and 2) the key part of this particular /. article is the linked mainstream news article.

Three words: Class Action RICO (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602194)

If all of the frivolously sued parties got together, they might be able to sue under the RICO statute for treble damages plus legal fees.

Re:Three words: Class Action RICO (4, Insightful)

thogard (43403) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602403)

RICO also can allow for jail time for company officers. This is a very good option.

I thought of something (4, Insightful)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602195)

I just thought of something. Why don't they sue Microsoft, they sell things online, I bet Microsoft can easily win because they would swamp them with paperwork and the laywers would quit, and they would go bankrupt. They will probably never sue any big corporation. Though I don't know why these e-merchants don't challenge the patients, or who the judge or jury thats letting them win.

Re:I thought of something (3, Insightful)

glh (14273) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602238)

Good idea.. that probably would work!!

Isn't it sad how he who has the most money wins the lawsuits? So much for a fair judicial system. The "youmaybenext.com" web site realizes this, and thats why they are gathering people together- get the combined pockets deep enough and they will win.

Money talks!! It is high time for some patent reform laws...

Re:I thought of something (2)

DavidLeblond (267211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602276)

It looks to me like they are only suing small to medium sized companies that perhaps don't have enough money to fight them. I didn't click on many of the sites on that list, but I don't think you'll ever see a site like Amazon or Microsoft on it because, as you stated, they would kick the crap out of PanIP.

They are just a corporate bully trying to get their lunch money.

Who is "they"? (2)

nyet (19118) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602296)

Why don't they sue Microsoft, they sell things online

If you mean "why doesn't PanIP sue MS?", you answered your own question with the statement "I bet Microsoft can easily win".

I don't know why these e-merchants don't challenge the patients

Not sure which patients you are referring too. Perhaps you mean "Patents", in which case you really should have read the article, which clearly states that the chocolate company is challenging the patents.

or who the judge or jury thats letting them win.

See also the meaning of "out of court" in the phrase "out of court settlement".

Re:I thought of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602374)

These e-merchants don't challenge the patients because they have been blackmailed, and panIP like every good blackmail artist has a well thought out plan.

They sound a lot like a domain squatter that we had to deal with. A company in arizona was squatting on a name that belongs to a client of mine. There are ways of forcing squatters to give up a name that they are holding for ransom but I understand that the cost is at least $1200, coincidentally the squatter was willing to sell us the name for $1000 .

If you would have read my post of 2 weeks ago... (5, Informative)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602209)

I wrote [slashdot.org] :

...to ask about contributing to a defense fund (after reading about this on /. a few days ago). Here's what they had to say:

Thanks for your support. We are currently in the process of setting up the Group Defense and the PANIP Group Defense Fund. We hope to have it set up by the end of this week giving people a chance to contribute online through a PayPal account. The response has been very encouraging.

Stay tuned in and help us spread the word. PANIP thought they could extort money from small businesses without them making much noise. They were wrong.

Timothy Beere
DeBrand Fine Chocolates
http://www.debrand.com [debrand.com]
http://www.youmaybenext.com [youmaybenext.com]


I'll also pick up some chocolates for my wife at their site...that way I can help their business and score some points with the bride at the same time. Double bonus!

Re:If you would have read my post of 2 weeks ago.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602363)

I thought that chocolate was harmful to dogs? You'd better put an insurance policy on ol' Goldie.

Re:If you would have read my post of 2 weeks ago.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602412)

That wasn't even clever, you cocksucking dicklicker.

Site is accepting donations now (1)

lorcha (464930) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602394)

We are currently in the process of setting up the Group Defense and the PANIP Group Defense Fund. We hope to have it set up by the end of this week
The site is now accepting sites through PayPal and I just donated (Yeah, I know, Paypal sucks [paypalwarning.com] but it's for a worthy cause). Hopefully they'll raise enough cash to fight this thing. There's got to be a truckload of prior art out there. Just look at any of the older e-commerce websites.

Sigh (5, Funny)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602212)

They're giving us lawyers a bad name!

Oh, wait...

Obligatory website links (3, Funny)

RoboOp (460207) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602216)

The company: Debrand Chocolates [debrand.com]

And of course, what would slashdot be without the... Obligatory Python Link [geocities.com]

Re:Obligatory website links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602419)

Funny how geocities doesn't have enough bandwidth for their hosted sites, but the 'temporarily unavailble' page loads in a blink with a ton of ads.

You May Be Next!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602222)

To experience the dreaded slashdot effect!!!

patent for commerce on a video monitor? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602225)

Just write in the "terms of use" of your website that customers must use an LCD screen to use the automated commerce feature of the website. PanIP can't sue, and customers never read the terms of use, so everyone is happy.

Re:patent for commerce on a video monitor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602339)

They can still sue all they want, the reason they've been doing so good is everyone settles because they can't AFFORD to fight them in court, regardless of how stupid the lawsuit is.

Re:patent for commerce on a video monitor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602503)

No, a judge might still consider an LCD screen to qualify as a "video monitor". Put in the terms of service that all users must use text-to-speech software. Score points with the blind AND give yourself immunity from PanIP's extortion!

Good domain (4, Interesting)

gabec (538140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602230)

I can see that domain becoming very useful to a whole heck of a lot of subjects once this PanIP thing runs down. Heck, the EFF could turn over a ton of "hey look what X company is doing" ... like when those guys remixed Beck's music into crazy new stuff and the label for Beck tried to sue them for copyright infringement... (which was of course not true and completely ironic, since Beck himself has been questioned about his sources for musical accompanyment..;])

Re:Good domain (1)

gabec (538140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602257)

assuming they can keep from being slashdotted :P lol. (it's running pretty slow at this point and /. just posted it!)

Fort wayne, Indiana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602239)

*Hmm.* That's only about an hour or two's drive from here... ...

I wonder how my girlfriend would react if I suggested we drive to Fort Wayne to buy some chocolate.

Re:Fort wayne, Indiana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602356)

That depends on how fat your girlfriend is.

YouMayBeNext.com (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602244)

You May Be Next... to get Slashdotted.

Re:YouMayBeNext.com (4, Funny)

cetan (61150) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602377)

Now their legal bills can be dwarfed by their ISP bills after the slashdotting!

I wonder if the USPTO will get sued. (2)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602247)

If you go to the USPTO page describing the patent [uspto.gov] , then scroll to the bottom you'll find a nice set of links, one of which is an Add to Cart button [uspto.gov] . Does that count as using graphical and textual information on a video screen for the purpose of making a sale?

Dates (5, Interesting)

Hackysack (21649) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602250)

The Patent was granted in december 1996.

From About Amazon.com [amazon.com] :

Amazon.com opened its virtual doors in
July 1995 with a mission to use the Internet to transform book buying into the fastest, easiest, and most enjoyable shopping experience possible. While our customer base and product offerings have grown considerably since our early days, we still maintain our founding commitment to customer satisfaction and the delivery of an educational and inspiring shopping experience.
Dell.com started online sales in 1995. Shouldn't spurious use of invalid patents be a criminal offense, up there with Fraud, and Extortion?

And in a more ethereal manner, Redhat.com was doing online transactions (for $0, but a transaction is a transaction) as early as 1994.

~~

Re:Dates (1)

zenst (558964) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602364)

dammed good point. Its prior IP and as such public domain. I suggest they get the most expensive lawyer they can coz they airn't goona pay the costs when the case fails.

Re:Dates (1)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602441)

The patent is currently valid.
If that patent is later found to not be valid then they'll have to stop trying to enforce it.
If they continue to try to enforce an invalid patent then that would be illegal. As it stands they are only trying to enforce what the government has granted them the right to enforce.

Very, very sad. (5, Funny)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602252)

Check out this list [youmaybenext.com] .

Seriously, how can you sue "The Little Pie Company [littlepiecompany.com] " and still claim to have a soul?

Re:Very, very sad. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602388)

Because of their annoying use of Javascript to create a little intro page including apples that light up when you mouse over the image and the annoying fade effect on the actual index page once you're let in.

Wait, they're suing about what here? Oh, never mind, then.

Eureka! (5, Funny)

cyberbrian (15778) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602258)

I just need to patent the following process:

1) Identify an obvious "technology" that is in the public commons
2) Patent it
3) Extort small businesses via threats of expensive litigation
4) ...
5) Profits

Then I can sue PanIP ! ! !

B.

Good thing (3, Funny)

Quixadhal (45024) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602259)

... I still use my old hardcopy terminal then, eh?

Self-calling lawuits? (2, Interesting)

Greebz (139906) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602263)


" ... but TEK Interactive of Fort Wayne offered to develop a more sophisticated site, which is the one up today.

Now it includes a background on the cases, a discussion board, PDF copies of the original lawsuit and online donation acceptance ... "

Online donation acceptance? Hope that doesn't breech the patent too. Ahem.

On a more serious note, a patent on "the same sort of thing that we already do, only over http" surely wasn't new, innovative or non-obvious at the time of the original application?

Hopefully the patent will be overturned...

Not A Surprise (3, Funny)

denisonbigred (611860) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602274)

PanIP first sued about 10 small online merchants in March. That, by the way, was the month PanIP was incorporated.

Its wonderful to see how the American way rewards hard work and Lawsuits.

Treat them as terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602283)

Now I don't want to use the 'T' word, but when a nation is at an economical low, why are we letting these *ssholes bury it deeper by undermining our small companies?

Suckers for punishment. (1)

jedwards (135260) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602284)

They're just begging for a lawsuit claiming a confusingly similar trademark [uspto.gov]

you may be next (3, Funny)

RealSurreal (620564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602291)

Nice domain name. Is it worth $10 for youmaybeslashdottednext.com?

Anti-Karma Wh0re (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602304)

fight fire with fire (1)

zenst (558964) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602306)

Couldn't they just patent a way of using legal systems too extortion monies from small companies via use of patents. Then sue them for infringement of their patent to sue companies that infringes patents. It would make life easier. But like celebrities copywriting/patenting there faces so they don't get harassed by the paparazzi as they could instantly sue for breach of copyright and therefore no publishers would dare touch the pictures. Naaaaaaa they love being victims. Anyhow who said they were using a computer screen - that's the users of the site that are doing that so are they to be sued next?

Morons. (-1, Troll)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602321)

Great. /. tries to do the right thing and tell us about PanIP's predatory tactics, and then you guys (Timothy, this means you) turn around and slashdot their site.

Yeah, the subject line applies to you, Timothy, and any other guilty /. party who continue to do good causes "favors" by posting links to their websites in a manner that is guaranteed to cause giant short-term traffic spikes. Why don't you guys think about what you are doing before posting direct links?

Could the state of the economy be to blame? (1, Offtopic)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602328)

I'm wondering if the economy has anything to do with this. It seems that when the economy is booming, we have fewer idiots running loose, or maybe we simply don't here about them as much. I guess I don't understand when these insane lawsuits became so common. We now seem to live in a society where we can sue for damn near anything and get pretty rich, pretty quick.

For example, remember the woman who spilled some hot coffee on herself at a Mickey D's? If I had done that, I wouldn't have told anyone about it at all. I wouldn't want to publicize the fact that I had done something stupid. It would have never crossed my mind that all I needed to do was pick up a phone, call up a lawyer and get rich.

1. Do something stupid.
2. Call a lawyer.
3. ???
4. Profit

IIRC, it seems that there was a bit of a lull for a while while the stock market was shooting up and everyone (or most everyone) was profiting... now that the bubble burst and more and more people are out of work, and more people are upon hard times, that the idiot lawsuits are going to start happening a lot more.

But maybe I was just too busy there for a while to pay any attention to the headlines... maybe the idiot lawsuits were happening all along.

Re:Could the state of the economy be to blame? (1)

allism (457899) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602467)

When the economy is better, we don't have time to sit around reading /. because we are too busy out spending our money...

What we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602331)

We need some kind of automated Slashdotting tool, and use it to torture companies like PanIP, petswarehouse.com, etc. that do stupid things like this.

Cuz we can moan and groan all we want and it won't make a difference. Hurt their bottom line and maybe they'll notice.

Re:What we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602510)

There is an automatic tool. /. posts an article about this every couple of weeks, and the DOS attacks commence.

*BSD is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602338)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

I simply do not understand... (2)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602346)

... how a start-up campany like PanIP can patent something ridculously common and then start sueing everything that isn't bolted down or on fire. Isn't there some sort of judge that looks beyond the length of his nose, into the background of the company? Would a company that merely existed to sue other companies even be legal to start with? This reminds me of the radio advertisements you used to get in GTA3. "You want to quit working early? That's easy! Sue your boss! Sue anyone! For anything! And you'll probably win! (Or at least get a settlement.) Dail 1-555-I-SUE-YOU for more info."

Relayed advice from an attorney (2)

dacarr (562277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602354)

An attorney I work with has informed me that they probably have nothing to worry about. Check with your own attorneys for clarification.

Why not sue... (1)

Magus311X (5823) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602357)

Why not sue big companies like Tyco and Alcoa? Wouldn't they seem much more lucrative to a company like this?

Oh wait, because the legal teams that Tyco and Alcoa have would crush this stupid company like a bug!

If my company was a target, I would've crushed these guys like a bug for attempting to mess with small businesses.

-----

Accordingly (5, Informative)

da_Den_man (466270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602384)

The original Patent was filed in 1993. However, it would appear that it was directed towards travel and credit applications (i.e. Travel agent bookings and Credit applications) rather than geared towards an online "sale" of actual merchandise. [uspto.gov] The Patent can be found here, and several interesting items of note:

RIOR APPLICATIONS This is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/116,654 filed Sep. 3, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,309,355 which is a continuation of abandoned application Ser. No. 07/396,283 filed Aug. 21, 1989, which is a continuation-in-part of abandoned application Ser. No. 07/152,973 filed Feb. 8, 1988, which is a continuation-in-part of abandoned application Ser. No. 822,115 filed Jan. 24, 1986, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 613,525 filed May 24, 1984, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,567,359. This is also a continuation-in-part of abandoned application Ser. No. 08/096,610 filed Jul. 23, 1993, which is a continuation of abandoned application Ser. No. 07/752,026 filed Aug. 29, 1991 which is a continuation of abandoned application Ser. No. 168,856 filed Mar. 16, 1988, which is a continuation of abandoned application Ser. No. 822,115 filed Jan. 24, 1986 which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 613,525, filed May 24, 1984, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,567,359. This is also a continuation of the combination of the above-cited applications Ser. No. 08/116,654 filed Sep. 3, 1993 and Ser. No. 08/096,610 filed Jul. 23, 1993.

As it appears this has been trying to be processed for quite sometime before it was accepted, and also relies on several prior works.

slashdot effect in effect! (2)

Greedo (304385) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602386)

Well, normally I'd go whoring and post the Google cache [216.239.51.100] of www.panip.com ... but it seems Google did it's trolling a little too soon. Just a directory listing there.

The Way Back Machine [archive.org] has some stuff ... including links to pages at the USPTO that describe basically vending machines.

Didn't we talk about this a while ago?

it IS kinda odd... (2, Insightful)

allism (457899) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602417)

that, as the youmaybenext website pointed out, they are not suing anyone in California [youmaybenext.com] , especially considering that large parts of California are considered by the American Tort Reform Association to be judicial hellholes [atra.org] because of their tendency to dole out huge plaintiffs' awards. Anyone have any speculation as to why they are not filing suits in CA?

Re:it IS kinda odd... (2, Insightful)

nolife (233813) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602507)

Isnt PanIP in california also? I believe the last time this was posted to /., the general thought was because a small company would be less likely to travel to CA to fight this and settle out of court. Actually if you look at PanIP's recent actions everything is based on not actually defending the patent in court but getting money from smaller companies with little resources to fight back.

you may be next (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602432)

"A San Diego Company, PanIP is suing companies all across America.
If you own or operate an e-commerce web site...
You May Be Next" ... to be slashdotted.

Profiles in Courage (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602437)

And since the flurry of publicity, the company has been contacted by companies interested in paying license fees.

Where is dogbert and his strap-on spines?

Good thing I'm using an LCD! (5, Interesting)

Baconator (240452) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602439)

Having skimmed the text of the patent claim, it appears to me that using an LCD monitor would be completely outside the scope of the patent:

The satellite facilities are sales and information terminals, each equipped with a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) for receiving and displaying requested customer information from the computer's data sources at the data processing center.

So I guess all the web retailers have to do is add a disclaimer that only customers using LCDs or OLEDs are allowed to access the system!

Name of website reminds me of a poem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602476)

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Deep pockets no longer deep thanks to /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602478)

While donations have been steadily flowing in, a recently linking to our website by Slashdot has caused our bandwidth bill to be outrageous this month and had damn near caused us to have to file bankruptcy.

Once again we have screwed over another site. Are there any plans in the works to do something similar to Google Caching of sites that Slashdot links to? Maybe a 4 hour cache at the minimum. That would help with the initial influx of hits. A 24 hour cache or greater would be even better though.

One thing that we all can do... (5, Insightful)

Niten (201835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4602490)

I am sure I won't be the first to say it, but there is one thing that all of us can do here: Remember to stop by www.debrands.com sometime in the next couple of weeks after this Slashdotting has died off, pick out a nice $20 chocolate set for your {girl|boy}friend / your mother / yourself, etc., and support DeBrands. The "why" needs no explanation.

The people responsible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4602499)

The people responsible for granting that patent should be fired post haste and forbidden from holding another government job (aside from cleaning toilets in government buildings).
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