Defunct Firm's Buyer File, Patents in Online Auction

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Defunct online computer hardware and software reseller HardwareStreet.com is auctioning its intellectual property and customer file online.


The auction includes several e-commerce-related patents, trademarks and 100,000 bill-to and ship-to addresses. Reportedly, no e-mail addresses are attached to the 2-year-old file. Average order size for the file, which includes product purchase information, exceeds $300, the company said.


The auction, taking place on ipAuctions.com, ends tomorrow at 8 p.m. (EST).


Though the sale of a defunct direct marketer's buyer file is not unusual, using an online auction to do it is.


Financial DM firm Marketing Logistics Group Inc., Winter Park, FL, caused a stir when it tried to auction a list of 200,000 names on eBay and Yahoo 2 1/2 years ago.


Though the sale would not have been unusual offline, Yahoo and eBay took down the listing for fear of privacy backlash. The investor file contained names, addresses and telephone numbers of consumers purportedly interested in investment opportunities. The file reportedly contained no e-mail addresses.


After a month of controversy and venue changes, Marketing Logistics Group auctioned eight of 10 database segments contained in the file on AskAd.com.


Joseph Popolo, former president of HardwareStreet.com, expects no such trouble in this auction. Popolo is also president of ipAuctions.com, so removing the listing is not an issue. HardwareStreet.com's privacy policy had provisions for such a sale, he said.


Popolo said he had no idea how unusual auctioning a buyer file online is.


"However, I expect you're going to see more of it in the future," he said.


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