RealTime IT News

Action in the Postage Wars

Former Internet postage company E-Stamp Corp., which is no longer even in the postage business, will pay mailing services giant Pitney Bowes Inc. an unspecified sum in damages to settle a patent infringement suit.

Pitney Bowes, , a $4 billion company, sued both E-Stamp and Stamps.com in June of 1999, alleging infringement of a number of its various patents relating to Internet postage.

Mountain View, Calif.-based E-Stamp Corp., which announced last November it would exit the Internet postage business, in April said it would sell its patents and other intellectual property rights as well as the E-Stamp name and E-Stamp.com domain to former rival Stamps.com.

E-Stamp is merging with e-learning services provider Learn2.com.

Stamps.com, meanwhile, said on June 14 that it has filed a complaint against Pitney Bowes for infringing allegedly infringing four of Stamps.com's Internet postage patents. These four patents were invented by Salim Kara, who was recognized by the National Postal Forum and the United States Postal Service with its Retail Postage Technology Award for being the "Inventor of Internet Postage," Stamps.com said.

Pitney in 2000 also sued Stamps.com over "iShip," a shipping service which in May 2001 was acquired by United Parcel Service Inc. (Yes, you really do need a scorecard.)

Pitney Bowes called the Stamps.com suit "a diversionary tactic," according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Pitney Bowes said in a statement today that "no further details of the (E-Stamp) settlement will be made available."

"We are pleased with the settlement reached with E-Stamp," said Michael E. Melton, deputy general counsel, intellectual property and technology law at Stamford, Conn.-based Pitney Bowes. "With over 3,300 active patents worldwide, we are committed to strategically managing our vast intellectual property portfolio to enhance shareholder value."