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USPTO May Issue Broad Patent on International Commerce via Internet

The Wall Street Journal says that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may issue a broad technology patent covering "a process for
carrying out an international transaction ... using
computer-to-computer communication."

Of course, it's difficult to say what the true implications of this patent would be, if it is finally issued. But, if defense of this patent results in the encumberment of much international e-commerce, that would be a negative development for e-commerce and the software development industry.

This pending patent may be similar in its broad applicability to e-commerce to the Unisys patent on LZW compression that encumbers the GIF file format. CTDATA is not opposed to patents, per se. But we oppose the enforcement of basic technology and business method patents that may constrain trade over the Internet. This includes the Unisys patent, certain Amazon.com business method patents, and potentially, this one.

However, a careful reading of the DE Technologies press release indicates that the patent may only be covering the most technical aspects of International e-commerce transactions. Since we are not active in that area, CTDATA will have to wait until more thorough independent analysis and commentary are available before taking a position.

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