This is the story of a company called Pangea Intellectual Property (PanIP — they had a Web site at www.panip.com, but it’s been down for a while now). PanIP happened to somehow get two patents. One is for an “automated sales and services system” which corresponds neatly to the basic concept of e-commerce. Yes, they claim to have patented the business process of selling things on the Internet.
Oh, but the fun doesn’t end there. PanIP has started suing people. They’ve filed 30 lawsuits against small companies in batches of 10. Originally they demanded $30,000 to “license” their patent of doing business on the Internet. Lately, they’ve dropped the price to $5,000. They’re very careful who they sue. They pick smaller companies that they figure can’t afford a large-scale patent fight.
Of course, you and I think this is a crock, but apparently some companies have settled rather than fight it out. Others have banded together to form a coalition to help people fight off the lawsuits. Others have fought themselves.
The guy who runs PanIP has apprently made a living from this. He sued American Airlines years ago saying that their concept of airline reservations violated his patent. A public statement said that PanIP’s main revenue source was from “enforcing its patents.” What a mess. I hope someone takes these guys to the cleaners. They’re parasites trying to make money of other people’s hard work.