Spotlight falls on further e-commerce patent

A third e-commerce patent application - due to be sealed on Tuesday - has drawn the attention of InternetNZ's patent advisory group.

A third e-commerce patent application — due to be sealed on Tuesday — has drawn the attention of InternetNZ’s patent advisory group.

The patent for a “Network-based ordering system and method” was accepted in July. The three-month period for public feedback will end next week.

Jim Higgins, the advisory group’s chairman, says the patent was discussed at a meeting yesterday and was seen as “reasonably critical”.

“It’s got a whole series of scenarios,” he says. “Although I’m not a patent lawyer, I’d have said that it covers absolutely every single solitary e-commerce site in New Zealand.”

The patent applicant is E-mmediate Delivery Company, registered in Auckland. E-mmediate boss Dave Fermah and ihug founder Nick Wood are listed as inventors.

E-mmediate is the operator of the foodrunner.co.nz website. Yesterday Fermah was unable to comment to Computerworld Online, but he did indicate that E-mmediate has also applied for patent protection under the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT).

Higgins says the group won’t oppose the patent itself, but is busy alerting interested parties. “It’s probable that there’ll be a request for an extension.”

Meanwhile, the group has received approval from the InternetNZ council to implement its patent early-warning system and hopes to have it operating as soon as the end of next week. A website will provide a focal point for research and discussion of patent applications, and will include an email alerts system for InternetNZ members, Higgins says.

The group will first examine current patent applications and then start to work back through patents that have already been granted.

InternetNZ formed the patent advisory group after concerns were raised when a Canadian company, DE Technologies, contacted local e-tailers demanding licensing fees for an e-commerce patent. The group also took an interest in an application by Amazon.com for its controversial “one-click” patent.

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