Consumer Payment Card News

Patent Fight

The U.S. Patent office has made a real mess by granting patents for broad business methods. Although the credit card industry has been green mailed by many of these patents, particularly patents for reward and debit card processes, the problem is most acute for Internet-based firms. This week, New York-based Jupiter Media Metrix drove rival PC Data out-of-business following settlement over a patent-infringement suit. The patent involves the method used to gather data on Internet users. Following the PC Data settlement, Jupiter filed patent infringement lawsuits against Nielsen NetRatings and Paris-based NetValue. Ironically, the action comes on the heels of the discovery of wide variations in the audience measurement data reported by Jupiter Media Metrix. Early this month, DoubleClick and comScore Networks discovered that, based on server logs, actual traffic to most Web sites is substantially different than has been reported by syndicated ratings services such as Jupiter Media Metrix. Also less capitalized Web sites, with significant traffic and who do not subscribe to the major rating services, tend to be excluded from the reporting. Meanwhile, another broad business method patent fight has erupted over a computer-implemented method of interactive fund raising over the Internet. Witold Ziarno, a lawyer, has sued the American Red Cross for refusing to pay him a royalty for using the Internet for fund raising in violation of his patent. It is becoming clear that the U.S. Government has succeeded in stifling and hampering the growth of I-commerce with the issuance of these silly patents.

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