Will the Web ever be the same?

Many companies and individuals who own e-commerce method patents are now going after companies that are using these patents online illegally. The patents, which are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or foreign patent offices, include everything from hyperlinks to Web-based access to databases. How could this be?

You mean hyperlinks aren’t free for everyone to use? Apparently not. British Telecom last month claimed to hold a patent on hyperlinks, granted back in 1989, and claims to be going after ISPs, not individual users, to make them license such links.

And therein lies the motivation for this rash of litigation from patent-holders. Most of the patent-holders aren’t looking to take Joe Blow to court but they might like to take the wind out of their competitor’s sail. For example, Amazon.com sued rival, Barnes & Noble for using Amazon’s patented “one-click ordering.” The score at the end of the first court round? Amazon one, Barnes and Noble zero.

Now that the courts are upholding the patents, that could mean big licensing fees for some online companies that are targets. To keep a case out of court, some online retailers are happily forking over $30,000 or more for licensing. And the part in the Internet cloud? According to a prominent patent attorney, very few cases go to court.

After the court dust settles, it’s doubtful the Web will ever be the same again for e-businesses.

You may like these other stories...

K2 Enterprises has announced its 2014 technology awards in 27 categories. The only clear message may have been that there was no clear message in a field marked by many good ideas, but no unanimous winners.The company, which...
We're all about QuickBooks this morning. First, read this late-breaking news from John Stokdyk, editor of AccountingWEB (U.K.), who is attending the QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, California. Then, for more...
Technology—specifically internet technology—has a record of disrupting tried-and-true methods of operation in ways that we often don't foresee. Look no further than the recent HBO announcement that they *gasp...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 30Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links.
Nov 5Join CPA thought leader and peer reviewer Rob Cameron and learn ways to improve the outcome of your peer reviews while maximizing the value of your engagement workflow.
Nov 12This webcast presents basic principles of revenue recognition, including new ASU 2014-09 for the contract method. Also, CPAs in industries who want a refresher on revenue accounting standards will benefit.
Nov 18In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA tackles what to do when bad things happen to good spreadsheets.