Cyber Ramblings - Oct 10, 2000

10 October 2000
Patent Rules May Change
Thanks to the Business Method Patent Improvement Act of 2000, a proposed bill that would "create the presumption that the computer-assisted implementation of an analog-world business method is obvious and thus not patentable," U.S. businesses may soon find it harder to patent what many consider "obvious" business practices, Wired News reported. Two congressmen introduced the bill, Rick Boucher from Virginia and Howard Berman of California. In an interview with Wired, Boucher explained that the bill was intended to change patent application procedures to add "new protections to the beginning and end of the current process" that would make it possible for others to show that an invention already exists. The bill was introduced following several high-profile patent disputes began, such as the one between and over "one-click shopping."

U.S. Recognizes E-Signatures
Last Sunday new legislation went into effect that would allow Americans to use an e-signature when closing a mortgage, purchasing life insurance and sealing contracts. In a ZD-Net article, retiring House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley, who authored the e-signature bill, bragged, "This is going to revolutionize the way we do business," before opening the doors to a group of vendors that have created various e-signature solutions. The vendors showed off face, thumb and iris scan product makers, certification authorities, and other new tools that businesses and consumers can use in place of their written signature.

Asian Characters Added to Domain Names
While many Internet users are comfortable using Roman characters, a fast-growing group of Asian Internet users would benefit from a proposal that would allow Asian characters to be used for domain names. Verisign, which bought domain name registrar Network Solutions (NSI) earlier this year, will begin testing the use of Asian language domains next month. A VeriSign spokesman told CNET that current "software only recognizes a Roman-based alphabet. So if you're Chinese you have to create something that makes no sense to you or use numbers. With this new system they can type their local language in the address bar."

Wireless Network Unveiled During Football Game
A wireless communication network was unveiled while the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders faced off in 3Com Park. Fans can use the system to send instant messages to other fans in the park at home. The network, which was designed by 3Com Professional consultants, will relay information about games that the 49ers are playing, as well as statistics from other football and baseball games. Users will also receive traffic, weather and other information. Initially, the system was installed in the stadium's 94 luxury suites, and will eventually be extended throughout the stadium. "This network is a great example of the way technology can enhance people's lives," commented Bruce Claflin, 3Com's president and chief operating officer.

FirstData Takes Another Stab At Web-Payment
Despite the failure of a previous attempt to enter the online payment arena, First Data is taking another stab at it with the launch of eOne Global, a group including The Boston Consulting Group, General Atlantic Partners and Goldman Sachs. The new venture, reports Forbes magazine, would facilitate online electronic payments, including business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and even businesses' tax payments. eOne also boasts a $600 million backing, which makes it one of the most heavily funded online-payment operations ever, according to Forbes. eOne would be competing against PayPal, another online payment service frequently used by online auction participants. Instead of one approach, however, eOne will offer two payment programs. SurePay will be targeted to B2B exchanges, for example, and will let anyone using a Web browser accept or make payments with cash, credit cards and checks. The second program, CashTax, would handle tax payments made by businesses to the government.