Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Since 2008, Dallas, Texas attorney Erich Spangenberg and his company TQP have been launching suits against hundreds of firms, claiming that merely by using SSL, they've violated a patent TQP acquired in 2006. Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented. So far Spangenberg's targets have included Apple, Google, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, every major bank and credit card company, and scores of web startups and online retailers, practically anyone who encrypts pages of a web sites to protect users' privacy. And while most of those lawsuits are ongoing, many companies have already settled with TQP rather than take the case to trial, including Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil. The patent has expired now, but Spangenberg can continue to sue users of SSL for six more years and seems determined to do so as much as possible. 'When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it,' says Spangenberg. 'I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'"