Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Patents Communications Input Devices Technology Your Rights Online

Patent Troll Targeting Users of Scanners; Wants $1000/Employee 227

New submitter earlzdotnet writes "A new patent troll is in town, this time targeting the users of technology, rather than the creators. They appear to hold a process patent for 'scanning a document and then emailing it.' They are targeting small businesses in a variety of locations and usually want somewhere between $900 to $1200 per employee for 'infringement' of their patent. As with most patent trolls, they go by a number of shell companies, but the original company name appears to be Project Paperless LLC. Joel Spolsky said in a tweet that 'This is organized crime, plain and simple...' I tend to agree with him. When will something be done about this legal mafia?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Patent Troll Targeting Users of Scanners; Wants $1000/Employee

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Huh?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:48PM (#42453895) Journal

    It's a process patent, according to the summary. I'd say it's the end user who does the process of scanning, then sending the scanned page by email.

  • Re:Huh?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DJ Jones ( 997846 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:52PM (#42453937) Homepage
    Yes, except in this case, the patent office allowed someone to patent a process and not an invention so general legal logic goes out the window right there.

    That and those fines appear to fall just beneath what it would cost to get a patent lawyer to fight the charge so on a pure revenue basis, it's cheaper to pay the ransom.
  • Re:Huh?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:53PM (#42453957) Homepage
    Sorry, but this patent is stupid. This is basically sending an attachment in an email. And the patent is on where the attachment originated from (the scanner). How this is not obvious to anybody who has ever sent an email with an attachment is quite beyond me.
  • by L. J. Beauregard ( 111334 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:54PM (#42453975)

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

  • by Phics ( 934282 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:55PM (#42453977)

    ...this. []

  • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:03PM (#42454073) Homepage
    According to [], these guys: []

    Public records indicate that each of the partners in the law firm of Hill, Kertscher, & Wharton are either managers, members, or organizers in one or more of the shell companies which in turn appear to have a stake in Project Paperless, LLC.

  • Re:Huh?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:07PM (#42454113)

    Both can be liable: the manufacturer for making the product, and the end user (or other downstream customer) for using it. But as a practical matter, a manufacturer will often end up defending an infringement lawsuit against its customers (and some actually commit to doing so in their EULAs). If a patentee is actually looking for real damages, they generally want the manufacturer to be involved in the case (often a deeper pocket than the typical customer).

    But in a situation like this, it's clear that court is the last place these patent holders want to be (TFA describes how they almost immediately dropped the case when a defendant started pushing back hard). Given that, they leave the 800-pound gorillas alone and shake down the little fish. Now, if enough end users played chicken by ignoring the initial demand and then the handful that actually were sued (to set an example) were committed to fighting in court long enough for the licensee to get tired of spending money, the entire game probably would grind to a halt in fairly short order. Outfits like this really just (1) prey on the fears of the legally unsophisticated; and (2) ask for sums of money small enough that most think it better/easier to write the check and move on rather than keeping an unbounded potential liability on their books.

    And yes, IAAPL.

  • Prior Art (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:18PM (#42454249) Homepage

    The patents were filed beginning in 1997. Does anyone know if scanners from 1996 were able to scan in a document, launch an e-mail application, and attach said document to the e-mail? A quick Google Groups search did uncover a "photo scanning service" that promised to scan your photo and send it to you via e-mail.

    Also, for reference (and since people might not read the article), here are links to the patents in question:

  • Re:Prior Art (Score:4, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @05:40PM (#42454559) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone know if scanners from 1996 were able to scan in a document, launch an e-mail application, and attach said document to the e-mail?

    Yes, Paperport [] from Visoneer was one. The Mac version was AppleScriptable and people regularly did things like transfer scanned images into e-mails, Filemaker databases, etc.

    aside: the term TFS is looking for is "Legal Plunder". Bastiat coined it in 1850 in The Law [], and it was then an existing problem, so don't expect a quick resolution so long as the same power structures remain in place (people hate to admit that they're the ones with the role of being fleeced).

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors