We recently received a letter from from a company called Divine.com. They have claimed to have patented the shopping cart and also claimed that we are violating their patent. They are demanding licensing fees for their patents. We currently use Ushop 3.0 with Authorize.Net.
Here's a few articles of what Divine.com is doing:
Here are their patent numbers U.S. Patent Nos. 5,715,314 and 5,909,492. and here's the link http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm to the patent office database explaining the patents in detail.
The patents where filed in 1994.
Even though their claims sounds ridiculous, these patents are legitimate and most companies who have been sued have settled without going to court.
The question I have for Uburst are the following:
1. Are you aware of shopping carts that have existed before 1994? This would invalidate Divine's claim.
2. Reading the patents in detail with my limited shopping cart experience, it says
essentially, your web server (Computer 1) calls out to another web site (computer 2) with the clients information. Computer 2 allows Computer 1 to talk to it. Computer 1 sends the buyers information over, computer 2 processes the information and takes the order, and then sends order confirmation back to the buyer and Computer 1. Another interesting thing is it requires the buyers IP address to be sent back to the merchants server.
So my question is, how does Ushop work compared to what's detailed in the patent? If Ushop does do what the patent claims, can Ushop easily be rewritten to go around the patents claims?
It appears Divine.com is trying to pick on small companies to get ammunition to sue larger companies. We had a hard time believing what we read when we received the letters from their lawyers but from what I understand they have sent the same letter to hundreds of companies. I'd like to hear Uburst's position on this as this claim will eventually affect Ushop and Uburst's way of doing business.
If we don't fight back, this company will stand to collect licensing fees from virtually all e-commerce sites.
Any input you may have is much appreciated.
Here is what we know so far.
We have learned that the eCSForum is in the process of assembling a class-action defense against the extortionate litigation being perpetrated by Divine, inc. on mostly small to medium-sized eCommerce companies, based on its patents for secure eCommerce transaction processing.
Read more information about this defense at:
Additional articles and information can also be found at:
Perhaps you may want to consider joining the eCSForum.
More information about this will follow as we learn more...
Another thought -
If you were to disable your store's automatic on-line payment gateway and process your orders manually - such as by your own credit card machine or through a payment processor's virtual terminal - you would not be using the payment computer to automatically handle the financial transaction, and you would no longer be "infringing" upon their "claim".
In regard to "Are you aware of shopping carts that have existed before 1994?"
I know online shopping has been around before 1994, although, I'm not sure of what the legalities are in regard to what a "shopping cart" is or what the patent claims.
The Corner Store (http://www.thecornerstore.com/) is one of the first of online stores ... making $1 million in online sales in 1993.
As for specific shopping systems pre-dating 1994, I'm not sure. Some canned systems such as PerlShop and Selena Sol's Web Store I think date back to early 1996.. but I'm sure there are others dated earlier than that. I personally have a book by Selena Sol about e-commerce that is dated 1996... and I doubt that is the first publication on the subject.
Disabling the store's automatic online payment gateway and process the orders manually is at most a temporary solution. We use the automatic online payment gateway to do AVS verification in addition to processing the orders.
I've spoken to Jonathan Hangartner,
the lawyer that's organizing the defense for the PanIP case on the www.youmaybenext.com site.
According to him, it appears at first the patent claim is broad, but looking carefully, as long as a shopping cart does not do exactly as what the patent claims, then a case can be made.
So my question is, is there a way to modify the interface between Ushop and Authorize.net, perhaps with the new SIM interface to do things slightly different from what the patent claims?
I haven't read the patent claim in detail, but I would think that a case could be made with the fact that uShop uses Java applets which run on the buyer's computer and do not interface with the payment computer until the customer is ready to fill out the order form. So sequence would be something like this:
- The "buyer" computer requests HTML page from "payment" computer.
- The "payment" computer sends HTML page and Java Applets to "buyer" computer.
- The user selects products and product options directly on the "buyer" computer. (The Java applets do NOT communicate back to the "payment" computer during the shopping experience.)
- The user is ready to checkout and initiates "buyer" computer to send selected product information to "payment" computer.
- The "payment" computer sends order form HTML back to "buyer" computer.
- The user fills out the order form and sends encrypted order form information (billing and payment info) back to "payment" computer.
- The "payment" computer stores the order information in a secure directory.
- The storeowner on the "merchant" computer requests order information from "payment" computer. (Via uShop Order Reader).
- The "payment" computer sends encrypted order information to "merchant" computer.
- Merchant manually processes order.