Bankers seem to be making progress on the issue of pesky patents: A delegation met last week with officials from the federal Patent and Trademark Office and hashed out ways to help patent examiners sniff out and reject applications for technologies already in widespread use.

The American Bankers Association requested the meeting after members complained they were blindsided by what amounted to ransom requests: Patent holders demanding licensing fees for basic intellectual property. The patents covered such topics as online banking software, smart card applications, encryption for transactions, and the date functions in software. (The Y2K scare seemed to draw these opportunists out of the woodwork.)

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