Vuestar, a Singapore company which owns patents focusing on internet searching via visual images, identity security and copyright assets, is demanding website owners to pay them a fee if their website "has been developed by or for a URL addressee/owner and uses visual images to hyperlink to other pages in which any first or subsequent page provides the contact details of an Organisation would in Legal terms appear to use the steps and methods outlined in a claim of the Patent".
Vuestar has started issuing invoices (see a scanned copy above and view the rest here) to a number of websites in Singapore. According to its Vuestar's FAQ page, those who do not pay up will not be able to use images to link to other pages on their websites:
What happens if I don’t pay?I think this is perhaps the most ridiculous thing that I have ever come across and no one should pay these suckers a single cent at all. Violating their intellectual property? Intellectual property my ass! Since when is linking images be deemed as an intellectual property?
You will not be granted the VUESTAR User Licence and will be unable lawfully to use visual images to access the worldwide web. Our collection agencies will recover unpaid fees.
What if I still use visual images to access sites/content?
Having been provided with proper notice of VUESTAR ’s rights, you will be deemed to have entered into a user Licence and be liable for a fee each year based upon usage/traffic. Our collection agency will recover any annual unpaid fees.
If they think they can profit by charging websites for linking images, then they are not only stupid and brainless but they are also so very, very, very wrong and I'm sure the law for the benefit of the internet community, will not allow these suckers to do so regardless if they have the damn patent or not.
Keystone Law says that claims by Vuestar should be taken seriously. (PDF)
Vuestar may think it has the right to start invoicing companies in Singapore but in the U.S., "the results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws".
(Thanks Mr Big, Lord Kimbo, GeekGod, Sir Thomas)