NRF: Retailers urge Congress to act on ‘patent trolls’
Washington, D.C. — Retailers, advertisers and marketers called on Congress today to involve the Federal Trade Commission in efforts to eliminate frivolous patent lawsuits, saying vague letters sent out by “patent trolls” demanding licensing fees amount to unfair and deceptive practices. Patent trolls are companies formed to develop potential patent-infringement lawsuits without manufacturing their own products.
Larry Sinewitz, executive VP of 11-unit multichannel electronics retailer BrandsMart USA, testified on behalf of the National Retail Federation and the Stop Patent Abuse Now (SPAN) Coalition during a Nov. 7 Senate Commerce Committee hearing on patent abuse. The hearing focused on “demand letters” sent by patent trolls, which critics say attempt to extort large amounts of money while providing little information about the patent involved or the alleged infringement.
Sinewitz said his company has received six demand letters in the past several years, and just initially consulting a patent attorney to determine what claims are being made can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars. During the past 10 years BrandsMart has spent $500,000 on legal fees and settlements with patent trolls, he said.
Sinewitz called on lawmakers to include a provision in pending patent reform legislation that would require the FTC to investigate demand letters and use its existing authority to regulate unfair and deceptive trade practices to “rein in bad actors that target Main Street businesses.”
“Requiring greater and truthful disclosure will provide greater certainty to businesses, saving them time and money as they investigate the person or entity asserting the patent and determine the overall merits of the infringement claim,” he said.
Sinewitz said claims seen from patent trolls involve not just e-commerce applications but everyday business operations and practices of brick-and-mortar stores, such as scanning barcodes, printing receipts, the sale of gift cards and the connection of equipment such as computers and printers to an Ethernet network.
Harbortouch launches new payment terminal
Allentown, Pa. – POS system and merchant services provider Harbortouch has unveiled its new “future-proof” payment terminal, Perkwave.The solution features a proprietary EMV-enabled credit card terminal integrated with a customer-facing NFC reader.
In addition to standard credit and debit card acceptance, this integrated solution supports the most common new payment methods, such as NFC and smart cards. The Perkwave terminal can be updated remotely to support additional payment methods in the future and also includes a proprietary “heartbeat” feature which allows Harbortouch to monitor terminal up-time, automatically alerting the company’s technical support department if a terminal experiences any issues in the field. The terminal also includes the ability for customers to receive e-receipts sent directly to their e-mail address and is compatible with the Perkwave loyalty program currently under development by Harbortouch.
“As smart cards and mobile payment technologies like NFC become more widely adopted, it is going to be critical for businesses to be able to accept these payment types,” said Harbortouch CEO Jared Isaacman. “We have incorporated the most prevalent of these payment technologies into this terminal so that our merchants will never have to turn a customer away due to not being able to accept their preferred form of payment. This package truly delivers a future-proof payment acceptance solution.”
Aarons shuffles management
Atlanta – Specialty furniture retailer Aaron’s Inc. is making some changes to its management structure. Steven A. Michaels, VP finance, is being promoted to VP strategic planning and business development.
In addition, Robert W. Kamerschen, senior VP and general counsel, will add corporate secretary to his responsibilities, while Kimberly R. Rivera joins Aaron’s as the VP of learning and development.
"This is an exciting time for all members of Aaron’s as we continue to strengthen our management team and build a platform for sustainable growth," said Ronald W. Allen, Aaron’s chairman, president and CEO.