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“We Have a Patent for QR Codes, and We Are Suing You”

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We all know that QR codes are free to use, right?

So why are there groups out there claiming to own the patent for QR codes and that in using them, you are violating their patent?

No, we are not kidding. There are actually groups or individuals who apply for patents for QR codes as well as other commonly used technologies. What they do is that they use these low quality patents and sue anybody who “infringes” on them.

The lawsuits are often frivolous, but there are some who can get money from “offending” companies. Even if you do fight the lawsuit, it would mean wasting money on legal fees and staff time. Smaller companies who do not have patent lawyers on board simply settle to avoid the headaches.

All in all, patent threats often cost companies somewhere in the range of millions of dollars!

But retailers, business owners as well as tech companies are fighting back. In a letter to the Congress, a group of lobbying groups has asked that low quality patents should be invalidated and that the process of invalidation should be made easier. What is startling about the letter is that it is signed not only by high tech companies, but also by brick-and-mortar businesses. Yes, even low-tech companies such as chain restaurants, printers, airlines, casinos and supermarkets are calling for scrapping these low quality patents that enrich what they called patent trolls.

The group wants congress to strengthen the CBM program. CBM stands for covered business method. The CBM program generally makes it easier and less costly for companies to challenge patent threats. They also wanted technology vendors to intercede on behalf of their customers and forcing patent trolls who are defeated to pay for the defendant’s legal costs.

This is a good idea to stop patent trolls from suing small businesses for using a common technology such as the QR codes. It would protect legitimate businesses and put the scammers out to pasture.

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