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HP launches petition against scanner patent trolls

May 30, 2013

Patent  DefinedOEM joins Xerox and Ricoh in challenging shell companies threatening lawsuits against SMBs for alleged patent infringement.

Ars Technica reports that HP has filed a petition challenging one of the patents used against SMBs by 40 shell companies, which have been acting on behalf of MPHJ Technology Investments, a “mysterious patent-holding company”, to demand $1,000 (€773) for each worker they claim have infringed patents involving the use of scanners.

The patent challenged by HP, No. 6,771,381, describes a “virtual copier” that “involves paper being scanned from a device at one location and copied to a device at another location”; an action which a number of HP scan-enabled printers allow, including models manufactured in the 1990s before the patents were filed.

The OEM filed its petition a day after Ricoh and Xerox also filed an “inter partes review” against networking technology patents also claimed to belong to MPHJ Technology Investments; which a Xerox spokesperson said “claim[s] nothing more than a well-known concept for enabling a typical PC user to add electronic paper processing to their existing business process”. An inter partes review argues that a patent should not have been issued in the first place, and if accepted, “a determination must be made within one year”.

However, a lawyer acting on behalf of MPHJ, Brian Farney, insisted that the named inventor of the patents, Laurence Klein, was a pioneer of the technology: “No one had a system where you did these things – where a scanner, a LAN, a PC, and the application software [were linked] with automatic or one-button scan.”

Categories : Products and Technology

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