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The US Patent Trolls Who Are Coming After You

If you have a business, email, a network and a networked scanner or Multi-function printer; and you live in the US it looks like some bad news is coming your way. Ars Technica has uncovered the patent troll to end all patent trolls. There is no defending the US patent system now, if this whole story doesn't deflate your belief in the current system there's no hope for you.

In summary, a anonymous group have acquired the rights to litigate against a patent issued in the US in 1997 that covers the scanning of documents to email over a network. As far as I can tell from reading the original article the person granted the patent never actually managed to create a functioning device to do this. Nevertheless, a quarter of a century later small American businesses are being sued for US$1,200 per worker if they own such a setup.

So many questions arise for this. Since when could you patent an idea that you can't actually make work? How on earth was anyone allowed a patent on a process - that surely doesn't pass the test of being an invention?

And the more pertinent, why are they going after small businesses?

Probably because they know that faced with litigation that is going to tie them up in court time and cost them heavily in lawyer's fees paying the licence fee looks far less daunting.

And the bigger question is, after they've finished ripping off small business users where are they going next? If you've got a scanner at home it could be you.


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