DigiStamp Files Complaint Against USPS

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DigiStamp Inc., Colleyville, TX, filed a complaint with the Postal Rate Commission late last month claiming the U.S. Postal Service illegally introduced a direct competitor to its e-TimeStamp service that has been providing proof of ownership of intellectual property for five years.

The USPS service is called the Electronic Postmark, which was developed for the agency by AuthentiDate Inc., New York.

Both the USPS and DigiStamp created their offering around an open standard of the Internet Engineering Task Force. Both also use auditable time stamps, digital signatures and hash codes to certify that a digital document is authentic and has not been tampered with or altered.

In its complaint, DigiStamp claims the USPS violated its charter by not seeking prior approval from the PRC before offering the service. DigiStamp said that by law, the postal service must request approval of new mail services and rates from the PRC before implementing them.

"We are a team of entrepreneurs who have spent years creating a business and jobs in our community, only to have the post office waltz in once the idea has been proved sound," said Rick Borgers, a co-founder and lead technologist for DigiStamp.

Borgers said the postal service uses revenue from First-Class mail to underwrite its new product, and that it has the use of thousands of government buildings and media outlets at its disposal.

Borgers also said the USPS product was developed in partnership with Microsoft, and it requires users to own the latest version of Microsoft Office 2003. As a result, "not only does the USPS product compete directly with DigiStamp, but it ensures Microsoft a huge advantage in its competition for the lucrative 'office suite' business."

The commission has said it first must decide whether the Electronic Postmark service is a postal service before it makes its decision. If it is, the commission will issue an opinion. USPS officials have 30 days to answer the complaint before the commission begins its review.

Borgers said his company does not plan to file a lawsuit against the USPS if it fails in stopping the Electronic Postmark program.

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