From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 07 DEC 2004 - Stupid Patents / Online Postage


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Every once in a while, an item in the news gets me riled. Especially when it involves the subject of ridiculous patents. Now patents are not necessarily a Bad Thing, when used to protect a legitimate innovation. But in the past few years, patents have been granted for some very basic (and very obvious) Internet tools and technologies. This *is* a bad thing - read on to learn why.

Stupid Patent Tricks

If you've been on the bus for a while, you may remember the stories I wrote about British Telecom's shameful attempt to patent the hyperlink or the UNISYS "gif tax" which attempted to extort exorbitant licensing fees from every website owner. Both companies were scorned in court and in public, failing to collect their expected windfalls.

And in the continuing saga of People Failing to Learn From History, a lawyer for an anonymous bidder today paid $15.5 million for a patent portfolio covering many common practices in Internet commerce. Experts in the area of intellectual property speculate that the buyer of these patents may attempt to extract licensing fees from companies like IBM, Microsoft and others that provide e-commerce services. If successful, it could amount to a tax on all electronic transactions.

Find those back issues in the Tourbus Archives or read the latest news about Internet technology and patents at these links below:

TOURBUS Archives -
Internet News -
Patent News -

New News!

The Tourbus News Service is new and improved! In addition to the latest Internet, Tech, Business and Computing headlines, we now offer a peek into the collective mind of the Internet User. Try it out at:

Tourbus News -

...then scroll down to the HOT TOPICS section and you'll see what news stories are most popular amongst Internet searchers. Right now these are some of the stories attracting the most online eyeballs:

Mythbusters -
Holiday Bowl -
Peter Sellers -
Mitch Albom -

There's a similar "buzz effect" in the SPORTS, MUSIC and TELEVISION categories where you'll find these topics:

Pat Tillman -
Britney Spears -
Desperate Housewives -

Print Postage on Your PC

Did you know there's an online service that lets you print official United States Postal Service postage directly from your PC and printer? No special hardware is needed. Think of it as a bank account for postage. Postage that you print will automatically be deducted from your account. And even cooler, you can get up to $25 in free postage and a free digital scale ($80 value) if you sign up.

I did, and I love the convenience of being able to print my own stamps and shipping labels. I can print individual stamps, or directly on envelopes along with the recipient's address. Adding insurance or delivery confirmation on my Priority Mail items is easy too. Get started now with your no risk trial, here:

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

That's all for now, I'll see you next time! --Bob Rankin

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