Stupid patent for the ages: "Changing order quantities"

The USPTO granted a notorious patent troll a patent on allowing customers to change quantities after they place their initial order.

Eclipse IP LLC is part of the patent troll elite, having filed over 100 lawsuits as part of its shakedown racket. This is a company that sends out $45,000 "invoices" to companies that use email alerts updating customers on the status of their orders.

Eclipse's patents are so absurd and its behavior is so egregious that it has had its patents voided by federal judges (a fact it was supposed to disclose when it filed for its "change order quantities" patent -- though it didn't). The "inventor" behind Eclipse is a patent attorney named Scott Horstemeyer.

Shortly after the Patent Office granted the "change order quantities" patent to Eclipse, they received another patent, this one on changing the delivery time.

This month’s winner, US Patent No. 9,013,334 (the ’334 patent), has the prosaic title: Notification systems and methods that permit change of quantity for delivery and/or pickup of goods and/or services. It issued just last week, on April 21, 2015. As its title suggests, the patent claims a “method” of updating delivery information. It belongs to Eclipse IP LLC, one of the most litigious patent trolls in the country. Eclipse belongs to an elite group of trolls (such as Arrivalstar and Geotag) that have filed over 100 lawsuits.

Eclipse owns a patent family of more than 20 patents, all of which claim priority back to a single 2003 provisional application. These patents claim various closely related “notification systems.” Eclipse interprets its patents very broadly and has asserted them against a wide range of mundane business practices. For example, in January it sent a letter claiming that Tiger Fitness infringes one of these patents by sending emails to customers updating them about the status of orders. This letter explains that “Eclipse IP aggressively litigates patent infringement lawsuits” and that “litigation is expensive and time consuming.” The letter demands a $45,000 payment.

Stupid Patent of the Month: Eclipse IP Casts A Shadow Over Innovation
[Daniel Nazer/EFF]