E-commerce patents for sale; Come and get em

E-commerce patents for sale; Come and get em

Summary: An auction house said Monday that it'll auction several patents covering e-commerce procedures and privacy protection. Ocean Tomo said it will hold its Spring 2007 Live Intellectual Property Auction on April 19.

TOPICS: Patents

An auction house said Monday that it'll auction several patents covering e-commerce procedures and privacy protection.

Ocean Tomo said it will hold its Spring 2007 Live Intellectual Property Auction on April 19.

And you wonder why we have patent trolls.

Ocean Tomo, which started auctioning intellectual property in 2004, says it will auction patents relating to "online protection of private consumer information, centralized online management of personal information, online ordering of goods and services, online consumer feedback and ratings applications, and management of credit card accounts for online purchases."

Simply put, Ocean Tomo has found a great niche. Folks can acquire these patents, create a shell company and sue everyone. You'd think Ocean Tomo would be a little more low key about the patent troll encouragement. Nope. From Ocean Tomo's statement announcing the auction:

"In light of some of the recent high profile IP related litigation involving such world-renowned companies as eBay, Amazon, Google and others, we recognize that demand for broad patents in this area should generate a high level of interest," said Andrew T. Ramer, President of Ocean Tomo Auctions. "We believe the public live auction format is ideal for the sale of such properties as bidders remain completely anonymous throughout the process, and interested parties can acquire high-quality patents without publicly revealing their strategic initiatives."

Translation: Let's go trolling. Here are some of the e-commerce lots available and links to the patents.

  • Lot 6 includes US Patent 6,957,229 and covers "Systems for Efficiently and Flexibly Managing Personal Information."
  • Lot 7 includes US Patent 6,549,888 "Systems for Bonding the Accuracy of Information Obtained from a Network Server."
  • Lot 8  includes patents 6,269,349 and 6,839,689, which cover "Systems for Providing Financial Assurances for Internet Transactions Involving Unknown Parties."
  • Lot 9 includes patent 6,356,874 and covers "Computer-Based System for Ordering Goods and Services Via the Internet."
  • Lot 10 includes patent 7,065,494 and covers "System for Online Dispute Resolution or Managing Consumer Feedback."
  • Lot 11 includes patent 6,879,965 and covers "System for Managing User Accounts for Secure Online Commerce."

Those patents sound just vague enough to sue just about every e-commerce company. Patent trolls start your engines.

Topic: Patents

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Just curious...

    If the potential for liability is so good, why doesn't Ocean Tomo pursue these lawsuits?

    This sounds like the typical "let me sell you my secrets to financial freedom" snake-oil salesman tactic.

    However, I'm sure there will be lots of interest in this auction, soon followed by several lawsuits being filed, then followed much later by several (albeit fewer than the number of suits filed) multi-million dollar out-of-court settlements after a forest's worth of paperwork has been generated by legions of lawyers over the course of a few years. Fine way to kill trees!

    Meanwhile, the innocent public (we, that is) will be sitting on pins and needles, wondering whether some technology on which we've come to depend might be yanked from under us. Joy.

    Blackberry, anyone?

    In case it isn't obvious, I dislike lawyers and the American lawsuit system. Personally, I think it's one of the most abused systems created by our forefathers. I believe it was created with good intentions, but I think very few people use it the way it was intended. For many, it only seems to be a revenue generator - and I'm not just referring to the patent lawsuits.
  • And software patents are NOT a joke??

    How can anyone see this and not conclude that software patents are nothing but a bad, and expensive JOKE?? Bad idea, bad law, and (surprise) bad results.

    Do people realize that the current PC market, including MS themselves, and all the indexpensive hardware we have exist [i]because patents did not exist at the beginning of the 'PC revolution'!![/i] Clean room or not, the Phoenix BIOS and Award and Ami would all have failed the 'patent' test, and we'd still be paying $5,000 for an XT with a 10Mb hard drive (that's 1983 dollars folks)

    Let's see - how much innovation do we actually see now... anyone seen any big steps forward lately?

    Just my opinion of course :)