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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 434member
    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
  • Reply 2 of 36
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,683member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,289member
    Meh, his technology doesn't work too well, I'm still getting spam.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    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 ...
  • Reply 7 of 36
    "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.
  • Reply 8 of 36
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    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!
  • Reply 10 of 36
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    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 "[email protected]" 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.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,289member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    s8er01zs8er01z Posts: 144member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,531member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 36
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by latafairam View Post


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



    Apparently neither does spell check.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    God bless America.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    Here we go again...



    Being successful does come with a price.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,289member
    Quote:
    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).
  • Reply 18 of 36
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    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?
  • Reply 19 of 36
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,029member
    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
  • Reply 20 of 36
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    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
Sign In or Register to comment.