When Steven Vicinanza got a letter in the mail earlier this year informing him that he needed to pay $1,000 per employee for a license to some “distributed computer architecture” patents, he didn’t quite believe it at first. The letter seemed to be saying anyone using a modern office scanner to scan documents to e-mail would have to pay—which is to say, just about any business, period.
If he’d paid up, the IT services provider that Vicinanza founded, BlueWave Computing, would have owed $130,000.
Vicinanza made the unusual choice to fight back against Hill and “Project Paperless”—and actually ended up with a pretty resounding victory. But the Project Paperless patents haven’t gone away. Instead, they’ve been passed on to a network of at least eight different shell companies with six-letter names like AdzPro, GosNel, and FasLan. Those entities are now sending out hundreds, if not thousands, of copies of the same demand letter to small businesses from New Hampshire to Minnesota. (For simplicity, I’ll just refer to one of those entities, AdzPro.)
Ars has acquired several copies of the AdzPro demand letter; the only variations are the six-letter name of the shell company and the royalty demands, which range from $900 to $1,200 per employee.
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