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...

In the old days, we used to tape down receipts from our travels and submit them to accounts payable. But that was before remote employees who may live in a different city from the home office. And of course, there's all...
In 2011, electrical services and technology provider Parsons Electric in Minneapolis, Minn., decided to take its accounting to the cloud. Monica Ross, the company's director of strategic projects, talked with AWEB about...
Event Date: July 24, 2014, 2 pm ET In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.