!19960313 Japanese banks sue Citibank over electronic money
For all of the incessant commentary on doing business and making money
on the Internet, few are paying attention to the fact there are hundreds of
software patents that can be "interpreted" to cover such activities, a few
of which are being litigated as we speak. Many of these patents date back
into the 1980s, and can hit you when you least suspect it.
Other patents are quite recent, but can be as troubling as some of those
overly broad 1980s patents. Case in point is a few issued patents (5453601 and
5455407) and a pending patent (WO 95/30211) that Citicorp's Citibank has that
deal quite generally with electronic money. Given Citicorp's ability to tap
into lots of legal resources, a broad electronic money patent in their hands
could be devestating for others.
And indeed, last month a group of Japanese banks (Dai Ichi Kangyo Bank,
Fuji Bank and Sakura Bank) filed formal objections to the Japanese Patent
Office for what I presume are the Japanese equivalents of its issued US
patents. The banks argue that Citibank's patent application is so broad
that it would hurt their ability to develop a broad range of electronic
services, and operate in the interbank money markets.
The Japanese banks might have some success with their case. The issued
US patents cite 12 and 15 non-patent prior art items, which while much greater
than the average for financial software patents, probably does not reflect
all of the potential prior art that is out there.
Anyways, there are and will be a lot of these electronic money patents
out there lurking. If you are going to be playing Internet money games, you
should check some of the patents first.
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