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PayPal Incs road to its Initial Public Offering IPO was rocky and strew with problems It postponed it offering just the day before it was scheduled due to a lawsuit filed and many felt that its price would suffer as the result of decisions by Louisiana claiming that PayPal was violating banking laws The offering was postponed because of a lawsuit filed by privately held online security firm CertCo charging PayPal with patent infringement CertCo claimed that the PayPal system violated its patent for a method for making payment and transactions in an electronic payment system This bump in the road as it was termed by John Fitzgibbon editor of IPODesktop caused major headaches for PayPal They were unable to comment on the lawsuit due to securities regulations that restrict a companys ability to make public statements prior to a stock offering and had to ultimately refile its IPO prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to include information about the suit Without of course being privy to all actions taken by the management of PayPal prior to their IPO I believe one thing that should have been done was an exhaustive investigation into all patents copyrights etc that any possible competitors had filed Computer programs are treated like electronic machines or tools As such a patent can protect the ideas systems methods algorithms functions or other properties of computer programs that are otherwise unable to be protected under copyright or trade secret laws A patent can also protect the program at multiple levels Detailed coding sequences as well as the look and feel of the program can be protected under patent law So patents can protect a software program all the way from specific application to equivalent or similar implementations or even a series of software products It was the look and feel of PayPals system that CertCo felt violated their patent In their subsequent prospectus filed with the SEC PayPal dismissed
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