DataTreasury’s “Property Rights”

by on March 31, 2008 · 16 comments

Here is one of the two patents that the nation’s major banks have been “stealing” from DataTreasury. The first claim is as follows:

A system for central management, storage and report generation of remotely captured paper transactions from documents and receipts comprising: one or more remote data access subsystems for capturing and sending paper transaction data and subsystem identification information comprising at least one imaging subsystem for capturing the documents and receipts and at least one data access controller for managing the capturing and sending of the transaction data; at least one central data processing subsystem for processing, sending, verifying and storing the paper transaction data and the subsystem identification information comprising a management subsystem for managing the processing, sending and storing of the of the transaction data; and at least one communication network for the transmission of the transaction data within and between said one or more data access subsystems and said at least one data processing subsystem, with the data access subsystem providing encrypted subsystem identification information and encrypted paper transaction data to the data processing subsystem.

As near as I can tell, this patent covers the concept of scanning and security transmitting paper documents. If you build a system for scanning and securely transmitting images of paper documents, you’re probably infringing on this patent. Or to put it a different way, this patent would, if strictly enforced give DataTreasury a 20-year monopoly on the concept of electronic check clearing.

It’s absurd that our legal system allows companies to engage in this kind of rent-seeking. It’s even more absurd that people invoke the concept of property rights to justify it. Property rights do not and should not give companies monopolies over entire industries.

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