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Apple among 36 companies targeted in e-mail spam patent suit

post #1 of 37
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A new lawsuit filed this week has accused Apple, Google and numerous others of patent infringement, alleging that the companies are improperly profiting from spam filtering technology created by InNova.

Apple and Google are among 36 total corporate defendants in the patent infringement suit, announced Wednesday by the Lanier Law Firm. The complaint was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall.

The suit deals with U.S. Patent No. 6,018,761, related to technology that is used to differentiate between regular e-mail messages and unwanted advertising spam. The patent is owned by mathematician Robert Uomini, founder of InNova. It was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office nearly 15 years ago.

The patent is the only one currently available for licensing on the company's official website.

Awarded in 2000, the patent is entitled "System for Adding to Electronic Mail Messages Information Obtained from Sources External to the Electronic Mail Transport Process." It describes a system that could obtain information about a message, even if the message does not include information such as name, address or telephone number. A database of this contextual information could be used to sort e-mails.

"Defendant Apple Inc. has been and now is infringing on the '761 patent in the State of Texas, in this judicial district, and elsewhere in the United States, by making, using, offering to sell, and/or selling e-mail filtering software and/or hardware including, without limitation, Apple OS X and the software and/or hardware used to filter e-mail sent to the domain 'apple.com,'" the suit reads.

In a press release, lead counsel Christopher Banys said that the defendants have used InNova's invention for years without permission from the company.

"E-mail as we know it would essentially stop working if it weren't for InNova's invention," Banys said. "More than 80 percent of e-mail is spam, which is why companies use InNova's invention rather than forcing employees to wade through billions of useless e-mails. Unfortunately, the defendants appear to be profiting from this invention without any consideration for InNova's legal patent rights."

The full list of defendants follows: 3Com Corporation; Alcatel-Lucent Holding, Inc.; American International Group, Inc.; Apple; AOL, Inc.; Bank of America Corporation; Capital One Auto Finance, Inc.; Capital One Financial Corporation; Cinemark, Inc.; Cinemark Holdings, Inc.; Citigroup, Inc.; Crossmark, Inc.; Dell, Inc.; Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.; Ericsson, Inc.; Frito-Lay, Inc.; Frito-Lay North America, Inc.; Google; Hewlett-Packard Company; HP Enterprise Services, LLC; International Business Machines Corporation; JCPenny, J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc.; J.C. Penney Life Insurance Company; J.C. Penney Mexico, Inc.; J.C. Penney Reinsurance Company; JCP Publications Corp.; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; McAfee, Inc.; Perot Systems Corporation; Rent-A-Center, Inc.; Research in Motion Corporation; Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software, Inc.; Symantec Corporation; Wells Fargo & Company; and Yahoo!, Inc.
post #2 of 37
Why in the world did they wait this long to file a patent suit? Their patent goes back 15 years ago? I smell a submarine patent and it's a patent troll guiding this submarine of a patent
post #3 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartfat View Post

Why in the world did they wait this long to file a patent suit? Their patent goes back 15 years ago? I smell a submarine patent and it's a patent troll guiding this submarine of a patent

Completely agree. I also don't know how one can "improperly profit", or profit at all, from a spam filter.
post #4 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartfat View Post

Why in the world did they wait this long to file a patent suit? Their patent goes back 15 years ago? I smell a submarine patent and it's a patent troll guiding this submarine of a patent

Yes - not like he didn't realize. Nonetheless, mr Robert Uomini could be in for the payday of his life.
post #5 of 37
Meh, his technology doesn't work too well, I'm still getting spam.
post #6 of 37
Indeed a patent troll. I can't help but notice that this should cover EVERY spam filter in existence... so why isn't Microsoft or Mozilla listed? My university uses Zimbra, which has spam filtering, and they're not named. Likely tons of others I'm forgetting, let alone the ones I don't know about.
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartfat View Post

Why in the world did they wait this long to file a patent suit? Their patent goes back 15 years ago? I smell a submarine patent and it's a patent troll guiding this submarine of a patent

no way jose
they are simply fishing
casting a wide net to see what fruits fall from their shaken of the money tree

these lawsuits cost us money in the end
my docs pay 1/2 their income to defend against the countless law suits

the tort system is ...
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post #8 of 37
"use their invention without permission"

When you invent something, you have to be able to produce and display your invention yourself, not just think of an idea and patent that idea.

Hey I got an Idea, how about a car that runs on ocean water ( no more gas).
Hey, I don't know how to make it, but if someone produces it in the future I'll sue the pants off them.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Meh, his technology doesn't work too well, I'm still getting spam.

Lets everybody sue this company. Thier "invention" does not deliver.
post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by latafairam View Post

Lets everybody sue this company. Thier "invention" does not deliver.

Unless they make a specific advertising claim, you cannot sue them. Patents just cover processes, not physical shipped products.

Of course if you are joking, carry on then!
post #11 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

Indeed a patent troll. I can't help but notice that this should cover EVERY spam filter in existence... so why isn't Microsoft or Mozilla listed? My university uses Zimbra, which has spam filtering, and they're not named. Likely tons of others I'm forgetting, let alone the ones I don't know about.

Actually, I would say it covers NO spam filter in the world. I read the summary and scanned the description of the patent. This isn't your typical broadly worded patent that should have never been issued. It's actually quite specific. Although I would argue whether it should have been issued on the grounds of it not exactly being a non-obvious use of technology.

Read the patent. It's really nothing more than a reverse lookup. It uses the email address of the sender along with other header information to try and determine who the sender is. So instead of the receiver seeing "stevej@apple.com" the system would be able to tell the recipient that the email was from "Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer". The closest thing any spam filter comes to this is a blacklist. But even that is only saying whether to deliver the email to your inbox or not. It doesn't look up information about the sender for you.

The patent was a good idea 15 years ago when it was filed because email back then was quite cryptic. But as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with today's spam filters.
post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by latafairam View Post

Lets everybody sue this company. Thier "invention" does not deliver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

Unless they make a specific advertising claim, you cannot sue them. Patents just cover processes, not physical shipped products.

Of course if you are joking, carry on then!

Yeah, methinks he was joking, as was I.
post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

Indeed a patent troll. I can't help but notice that this should cover EVERY spam filter in existence... so why isn't Microsoft or Mozilla listed? My university uses Zimbra, which has spam filtering, and they're not named. Likely tons of others I'm forgetting, let alone the ones I don't know about.

Hmm.. from what I can tell this doesn't cover EVERY spam filter in existence. Some use completely different methods... the company I work for doesn't rely on any of the header information to filter spam and I doubt we are alone.

This fishing attempt is leaving off some rather obvious players (though some of the wording does excuse the ones I'm thinking of... like 'database')... I am curious to see how this plays out.
post #14 of 37
I'm not an expert on Italian, but Uomini sounds like it means "little man." Uomo = man, mini = little. If so, it would seem an appropriate moniker for someone doing this.

When are we going to get tort reform? At the very least why not require that the suit be filed in the District in which the plaintiff or defendant actually reside? This small step would go a long way to eliminating the judge shopping that is the antithesis of fairness and impartiality.
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post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by latafairam View Post

Lets everybody sue this company. Thier "invention" does not deliver.

Apparently neither does spell check.
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post #16 of 37
God bless America.
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post #17 of 37
Here we go again...

Being successful does come with a price.
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post #18 of 37
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Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

Here we go again...

Being successful does come with a price.

And a giant bulls-eye (for everyone who's going to come gunning for you).
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

And a giant bulls-eye (for everyone who's going to come gunning for you).

Have you tried using the AI's troll filter?
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post #20 of 37
Are they suing the user of the technology or the companies who wrote and sell spam filter software.

it appear they are using the end users, since the last time I checked Apple does not sell spam filtering software so they are not profiting form it. unless they mean Apple's employees are profiting form not having to filter it themselves
post #21 of 37
Should any one want to read the patent

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-P...S=PN/6,018,761


For future reference if you want to search patent numbers

http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm

I guess we are in for a rash of patent lawsuits
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post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Yes - not like he didn't realize. Nonetheless, mr Robert Uomini could be in for the payday of his life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Meh, his technology doesn't work too well, I'm still getting spam.


Payday of his life eh? Well then, as Rob stated his 'technology' sucks ass and if he does manage to win this silly suit then I formally propose a class action suit against him with the named plaintiffs being... Oh I dunno... Maybe the billions of email users who still get spam by the boatload. Clearly his technology is severly broken and we the users demand compensation... After all if he does win... The named companies will be writing the checks but just as every other class action suit, it's the public / customers that end up paying for it.
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post #23 of 37
Another day, another lawsuit. Next!

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post #24 of 37
This monkey of a company should just sue the whole world. What a crap!
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Another day, another lawsuit. Next!

I think I read somewhere that Microsoft was being hit with 20 something lawsuits a day. I bet Apple isn't far behind.

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post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I'm not an expert on Italian, but Uomini sounds like it means "little man." Uomo = man, mini = little. If so, it would seem an appropriate moniker for someone doing this.

It's like those license plates that spell out something.

Uomini
U = You
o = owe
mi = me
n = and
i = I

you owe me and I

Much more appropriate...
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

Have you tried using the AI's troll filter?

The AI troll filter cannot work as long as people respond to trolls as their messages show up in the responses. The only way to get rid of trolls is to ignore them and not respond. What's the point of trolling if nobody takes notice? Unfortunately this is a point that will never be understood by most people.
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A new lawsuit filed this week ....The complaint was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall..

When you sue here, its because you do not really have a case. This is troll country and trollers win here more than anywhere else in the country. Its how they pay for the local government.

Just a thought,
en
post #29 of 37
I wish they'd actually implement these filters because my iP4 has been blasted all day with odd looking emails with no subject or body content. I can't see these in my MobileMe account or delete from my iP4.

Anybody else had this?

Here's a snapshot taken a few mins ago.

Notice the date 01/01/1970.

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post #30 of 37
This is a good example I think of where the patent should not be issued to cover a generic idea but a specific implementation - if he has some algorithm or specific method then great you get a patent - but not for describing the problem and a potential solution.
post #31 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Are they suing the user of the technology or the companies who wrote and sell spam filter software.

it appear they are using the end users, since the last time I checked Apple does not sell spam filtering software so they are not profiting form it. unless they mean Apple's employees are profiting form not having to filter it themselves

OS X's Mail application automatically attempts to identify spam messages and marks them by displaying their subject lines in brown. This is a form of "filtering".

However, I'm not sure that Mail actually uses the algorithm described in this patent, alone or as part of another larger algorithm, as its method of identifying spam messages.
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

Have you tried using the AI's troll filter?

No sure if you got my post. I meant that with success (the kind Apple is enjoying) also comes a giant bulls-eye 'cause all these lawsuits are gunning for them. I didn't mean gunning for the trolls. I wasn't referring to gunning for trolls.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldernorm View Post

When you sue here, its because you do not really have a case. This is troll country and trollers win here more than anywhere else in the country. Its how they pay for the local government.

Just a thought,
en

I'm not so sure it's because you don't have a case, but it sure seems the law is more favorable to first filers there.

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post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Underhill View Post

I wish they'd actually implement these filters because my iP4 has been blasted all day with odd looking emails with no subject or body content. I can't see these in my MobileMe account or delete from my iP4.

Anybody else had this?

Here's a snapshot taken a few mins ago.

Notice the date 01/01/1970.


The date 01/01/1970 is the first day of the unix date format that the app uses. So i guess its just showing you a bunch of blank/non-existant entires on your iPhone as it shows the default text that appears when the fields are blank. The date is 01/01/1970 because (i think) they are using the function timeIntervalSince1970 to calculate the date shown which takes in a time interval in microseconds since 01/01/1970 and gives out the current date based on time elapsed. So if you pass 0 to that, the date is 01/01/1970. So in a way, it is the default date if the email has no date.

This is my reasoning on the particular date shown but i have no idea why the bug exists in the first place.

My 2 cents being an iPhone Developer for 18 months.
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post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

This is a good example I think of where the patent should not be issued to cover a generic idea but a specific implementation - if he has some algorithm or specific method then great you get a patent - but not for describing the problem and a potential solution.

Clearly, you have no idea why patents are issued and not issued. Patents are not granted for "generic ideas."
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post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Actually, I would say it covers NO spam filter in the world. I read the summary and scanned the description of the patent. This isn't your typical broadly worded patent that should have never been issued. It's actually quite specific. Although I would argue whether it should have been issued on the grounds of it not exactly being a non-obvious use of technology.

Read the patent. It's really nothing more than a reverse lookup. It uses the email address of the sender along with other header information to try and determine who the sender is. So instead of the receiver seeing "stevej@apple.com" the system would be able to tell the recipient that the email was from "Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer". The closest thing any spam filter comes to this is a blacklist. But even that is only saying whether to deliver the email to your inbox or not. It doesn't look up information about the sender for you.

The patent was a good idea 15 years ago when it was filed because email back then was quite cryptic. But as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with today's spam filters.

Sounds like Apple may be getting sued for mail's feature that replaces email addresses with the sender's name (and vice versatile via address book)--not necessarily their spam filter
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post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Clearly, you have no idea why patents are issued and not issued. Patents are not granted for "generic ideas."

Actually it is Patents are not supposed to be granted for "generic ideas" just like they are not supposed to be any granted for perpetual motion machines. The last such patent was granted May 27, 2008

If the Patent Office has people working in it STUPID enough to grant patents on machines that break the laws of physics then it has people in it STUPID enough to grant patents that break other laws as well.
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