A small chocolate manufacturer is spearheading a battle against a company which is claiming ownership to a number of wide-ranging e-business patents.
DeBrand's Fine Chocolates is among about 50 US companies being sued by PanIP, which says that it has a patent covering all "automated sales and services systems" and another covering "automatic business and financial transaction processing systems".
According to DeBrand, this means that any business using graphics and text to sell online, or employing the type of credit card acceptance systems that drive e-commerce, is potentially infringing on the patents.
The company has set up a website to publish its defence against the claims, according to the Fort Wayne News Sentinel.
Despite its patents for basic online commerce technology, PanIP has not gone after the giants of e-commerce, according to the website.
PanIP's tactics, and the vagueness of the patents, have led to questions about their validity.
But a lawyer representing PanIP told the newspaper that a number of companies have already settled, and that DeBrand's claims are exaggerated as not every online retailer is infringing on the patents.
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