clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How scanner scammers charge small businesses a fortune for the right to email PDFs

New, 11 comments
HP Scanner FLICKR
HP Scanner FLICKR

Patent trolls that make money by aggressively filing intellectual property lawsuits are nothing new, but Ars Technica has chronicled a particularly ugly iteration: companies that try to shake down small businesses for using basic technologies like scanners. Project Paperless and a number of shell companies affiliated with it have claimed that they're owed thousands of dollars from end users who "hook up a scanner and email a PDF document," attempting to spook them into settlements.

While Project Paperless has backed down from pitched legal battles, it's difficult to fight trolls who go after a large number of users rather than the companies who make the allegedly infringing devices — a move that's quite deliberate. "If they extract a small amount from each possible end user," says one litigator, "the total amount might well end up being a much larger sum than they could ever get from the manufacturers."