Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Federal Appeals Court Tosses Spam Patent

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-way-that-was-my-idea dept.

Patents 76

Zordak writes "US patent 6,631,400 claims a method of making sure enough people get your spam. A federal district court had overturned the patent as anticipated and obvious, and not drawn to patentable subject matter. The Federal Circuit, the appeals court which hears patent matters, upheld the finding of obviousness, thus invalidating the patent."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

So basically... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312070)

I want to patent my intellectual Idea of "Keep going until I reach my destination"
?

Not thinking clearly (4, Insightful)

Brain-Fu (1274756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312168)

The primary purpose of patents is to *STOP* the competition from doing whatever it is you are patenting (yes, I know this isn't the stated purpose, but it is the purpose-in-effect). The secondary purpose is to collect money from people who do what you patented, so you can make money without doing it yourself.

In both cases, once you patent something, there is a net loss in the number of people doing it. We have observed this time and time again in the industry.

So why in the world would you REJECT a spam patent? By all means, GRANT THE PATENT! Let the spammers sue each other into oblivion and reduce the total amount of spam generated.

Sheesh.
   

Re:Not thinking clearly (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312286)

Unless of course - the Feds or the Patent Office have something to gain by allowing spam to continue.

Re:Not thinking clearly (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312884)

Unless of course - the Feds or the Patent Office have something to gain by allowing spam to continue.

Perhaps it's another instance of Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis; aka Problem, Reaction, Solution. If so, then it just hasn't become enough of a problem yet. When it can be called a "crisis" in the media, then naturally the solution will be to give the federal government just a little more power so they can fix it right up for us.

Re:Not thinking clearly (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30320696)

You can't have it both ways. Most patents on /. are the butt end of every joke because they should be. This one is the same, with nothing novel to offer. You may not like it, but according to the rules, which they rarely seem to follow, it's just not something that can be patented.

Re:Not thinking clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30323630)

Patent Office have something to gain by allowing spam to continue.

Spam will still continue even if this patent is rejected.

Re:Not thinking clearly (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312520)

So why in the world would you REJECT a spam patent? By all means, GRANT THE PATENT! Let the spammers sue each other into oblivion and reduce the total amount of spam generated.

Have you noticed that most spammers operate outside law? They won't "sue each other". That patent means exactly nothing to them either way.

Re:Not thinking clearly (1, Redundant)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312760)

Incorrect. The primary purpose of the patent SYSTEM is to reward and encourage innovation by potecting those who innovate. Unfortunately, people now abuse the patent system by spamming it with obvious and existing inventions and ideas and the sue people for a living creating a litigious society rather than a society that thrives on innovation and invention.

This makes the lawyer the king of the civilization rather than the inventor and the scientist.

Re:Not thinking clearly (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312896)

It's a nice idea, but the legal theory there seems kinda... situational. Equal protection under the law, anybody?

Re:Not thinking clearly (5, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313234)

Sorry to do this, but:

Your post advocates a

( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
(X) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
(X) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
(X) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(X) Asshats
(X) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
(X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(X) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
(X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
(X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
(X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
(X) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Stop with the patent hating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30313288)

The primary purpose of patents is to *STOP* the competition from doing whatever it is you are patenting (yes, I know this isn't the stated purpose, but it is the purpose-in-effect).

Not really. Not even a purpose-in-effect. The stated - and effective - purpose is to prevent others from doing it for a short while and ensure that after that time has passed the whole society can benefit from it.

The secondary purpose is to collect money from people who do what you patented, so you can make money without doing it yourself.

Well, another way to see is that is that in most cases this gives you the incentive to allow the rest of the society benefit from your invention even during the protected period in a lot larger scale than you personally could.

In both cases, once you patent something, there is a net loss in the number of people doing it. We have observed this time and time again in the industry.

Until you invent something, there is not a single person doing it. When you patent it, there will be at least some people doing it and after the protected time has ended, there will be loads of people doing it. As opposed to you just inventing it, being the only one who can do it, having to always guard your secret and then taking it to the grave with you.

I'm getting pretty bored of this "Patents are evil!" attitude. History has taught us that patents are necessary (read some material about the origins of the system). There are two reasons to argue against that. "Most patents aren't about new inventions!" and "They slow down our progress". Okay, MS submits 3000 new patents each year and IBM has even more patents and yeah, many of those probably aren't about new inventions that weren't obvious. But we are talking about companies that spend billions of dollars to research - they really do invent a lot of new stuff.

The problem is mainly in the area of medicine and Computer Science as these have advanced so much in so little time. But in a decade or so, thousands of CS related patents will be released to public domain each year. Nobody can repatent them (if you have a patent that covers what you are doing and has been released to public domain, the other side has no chances at all in court). I would imagine that numerous new companies and business ideas will spawn from non-utilized MS patents alone. Person X might never have been able to invet them and MS might not have came up with a good way to utilize them but when the person X goes through MS patents, he might come up with an idea about utilizing them.

Re:Stop with the patent hating (2, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313838)

Sorry to burst your bubble; but the industry has shown us time and again that they will change the law to suit their purposes. You really think that in a decade, these software patents will become public domain? Ha, that has just as much a chance as Mickey Mouse becoming public domain (yeah, I know, copyright versus patent, but in the end we are discussing the same thing which is intellectual property).

Trust me, there are lobbys in D.C. right now fighting to extend patents, and then extend them again, probably into perpetuity. Once a company sees a revenue stream from patents, you think they are going to give that up just because it's the law? You must be high. From a long-term standpoint it's more profitable to spend millions to change the law.

Re:Stop with the patent hating (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30317778)

That would be insightful if it were remotely true. Patent terms have remained relatively stable for a very, very long time (unlike copyright, which actually is creeping ever towards "in perpetuity"). Expired patents enter the public domain almost every day. In fact, the most recent change to patent terms was around 1995 and was to prevent stuff like Lemelson's shenanigans with the patent term. Before 95, you could keep filing continuations forever to keep the thing alive (which is what Lemelson did). Now you get 20 years from the first filing date.

Re:Stop with the patent hating (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323796)

That is for right now that this is the case... All it'd take is the same class of pressure from, say Microsoft, similar to the one Disney exerted with the Sonny Bono Extension (otherwise known as the Mickey Mouse Extension...otherwise they'd have lost Mickey to the public domain...) to change that game unless we push back against them. The creep in Copyright comes from moneyed interests leaning on the law and getting it updated so that they continue to gain advantage. All it will take is one of the big boys deciding that they can extract rents "forever" on something and the fight will be on just like it is for Copyright.

Re:Stop with the patent hating (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30323944)

Perhaps theoretically, this could be the case. But also remember that anybody who makes anything is as much a possible patent defendant as a possible patent plaintiff. The only exception to this is the patent trolls, who don't make anything, so they can't get sued by anybody. But they don't have the clout that Disney does. Patents will continue to have a reasonable term because they are a double-edged sword.

Copyright is completely different. Disney wants perpetual copyright because it's relatively easy not to run afoul of copyright---as long as you don't actually copy anything, you're not liable. There may be the odd case, like Microsoft's recent GPL blunder, but for the most part, it's not a problem. So it's a very one-sided analysis. They make huge money with perpetual copyright, and they gain very little by having a growing public domain.

Re:Not thinking clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30314314)

The primary purpose of patents is to grant temporary exclusive rights to an invention in exchange for detailed information and public knowledge of how that invention works.

That really is it. If only we could return to it.

Re:Not thinking clearly (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30314512)

In both cases, once you patent something, there is a net loss in the number of people doing it. We have observed this time and time again in the industry.

Which is in the case of a patent for spamming really beneficial for society (so it is a shame that this patent hasn't been granted, these patent trolls could do something good once in their life by suing a successful spammer), but quite the opposite of what patents are supposed to achieve.

Re:Not thinking clearly (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30315978)

Right, because the same people that are willing to commit outright fraud by selling "Herbal V14gra" through unsolicited email would clearly be stopped cold by a patent infringement suit! You know, if these people could be found easily enough to serve patent infringement papers on, they'd have gotten their asses kicked a long time ago for much more egregious offenses.

Re:Not thinking clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30321276)

You know, if these people could be found easily enough to serve patent infringement papers on, they'd have gotten their asses kicked a long time ago for much more egregious offenses.

Offenses like assuming that both my penis and breasts are too small when it happens that (a) I'm male and (b) the spammer's in more need of his product than I am?

Re:So basically... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312306)

I want to patent the idea of "Beating a spammer repeatedly with a cricket bat until I achieve a consistent, bloody pulp."

Re:So basically... (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312342)

Sorry, I've got prior art on that.

Re:So basically... (2, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312890)

pics or it didn't happen

Re:So basically... (2, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312382)

I think you'd serve the world better by releasing that idea into the public domain immediately.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312104)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Re:Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30313034)

I really wish Michael Moore would stop trolling Slashdot.

Almost. (0, Redundant)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312106)

If only they had offered eggs with their Spam...

Re:Almost. (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312268)

If brevity is the soul of wit, then how does one explain Twitter?

Clearly your example disproves the existence of the soul.

Re:Almost. (0, Redundant)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312688)

I prefer spam spam spam and spam with my spam.

Re:Almost. (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312808)

So you're saying you're using hotmail?

Re:Almost. (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312994)

lovely spam, wonderful spa-a-m,
lovely spam, wonderful s spam,
spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am,
lovely spam, lovely spam,
lovely spam, lovely spam,
lovely spa-a-a-a-am...
spa-am, spa-am, spa-am, spa-a-a-am!

- The origin of the term spam (Monty python's flying circus)

Re:Almost. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312934)

I do not like this, Spam I am.

Shame (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312112)

For the one time that an obvious bogus patent is actually useful (hooray, no more spam!), they toss it!

Re:Shame (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312142)

Spam is already illegal. Hooray, no more spam!~

Re:Shame (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312720)

[citation needed] pretty sure most spam is not illegal. I mean using viruses to create spam bot nets is. And you will generally get black listed if you spam from your own address... But spam is probably not illegal.

Citation (1)

dereference (875531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312832)

[citation needed] pretty sure most spam is not illegal.

Citation: CAN-SPAM Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:Citation (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313276)

Thanks; yeah, I sort of assumed everyone would know about that. Per the CAN-SPAM Act, spam (typical “unsolicited business e-mail”) is banned.

Re:Citation (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30314000)

Spam is legally permissible according to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 provided it follows certain criteria: a truthful subject line, no false information in the technical headers or sender address, and other minor requirements.

It just bans people trying to trick you into clicking on the emails. Doesn't ban “unsolicited business e-mail”.

Re:Citation (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30314416)

Yeah, and one of the things it has to do is provide a means of unsubscription and honour such requests. (If I’m not mistaken.)

If I could actually unsubscribe from spam, I wouldn’t so much mind getting it, because after a relatively short time I wouldn’t be getting it anymore, or at least to a much lesser extent.

Even if it just had truthful information in the headers, it would be immensely easier to detect and block.

Re:Citation (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30314030)

From the 3rd paragraph of your link:

"The CAN-SPAM Act is commonly referred to by anti-spam activists as the YOU-CAN-SPAM Act because the bill does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages.[3] It also prevents states from enacting stronger anti-spam protections, and prohibits individuals who receive spam from suing spammers. The Act has been largely unenforced,[4] despite a letter to the FTC from Senator Burns, who noted that "Enforcement is key regarding the CAN-SPAM legislation." In 2004 less than 1% of spam complied with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003."

I'm not convinced that is the best citation.

Re:Shame (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312838)

Spam is illegal, at least in my country.

Of course lawyers already jumped the train and started to sue everyone that sent them emails without them asking for it...

Missed opportunity (2, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312130)

...to assign the patent to an anti-spam organization, then watch as they sue spammers into oblivion for patent infringement!

Re:Missed opportunity (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312594)

Spam companies will just drag their heels SCO-style until the anti-spam organization is bankrupt.

Re:Missed opportunity (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313494)

It must be a LHC karma thing, but it seems that the only patents declared as "too obvious" are those that may otherwise stop annoying or bad behavior.

Re:Missed opportunity (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30314586)

If spammers were in areas where they'd be subject to litigation then they'd be breaking the law (spam is illegal, after all) and you'd stop them that way. No need for goofy patents awarded to unrelated parties.

Re:Missed opportunity (1)

Lieutenant Buddha (1660501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319824)

You're so right! Spammers would never do something amoral or illegal, that's for sure. Of course, even if we wanted to sue them, who would we sue? If we (government) knew a corporation / person was spamming, wouldn't we shut them down regardless of 'patent infringement'?

Too bad, and not the obvious reason (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312178)

Of course if it was granted, it would be licensed so it would not stop spam. But......
the licensee of the patents would be identifiable, hopefully allowing the identification of the spammers.

Re:Too bad, and not the obvious reason (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312442)

Of course if it was granted, it would be licensed so it would not stop spam. But...... the licensee of the patents would be identifiable, hopefully allowing the identification of the spammers.

Judging by the disregard spammers already show for the law and how far they go to cloak their identities I highly doubt that this patent would have dented the market if it had been upheld.

Re:Too bad, and not the obvious reason (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312484)

Why would a spammer care about IP law when he's already willing to commit computer crime and CAN-SPAM violations?

Re:Too bad, and not the obvious reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30315372)

Wow. You could have replied to anyone else with that, but you chose the one post it didn't apply to. I don't think you read the whole post, he stated that it wouldn't stop them however it would make it legal to identify them, and they could then be sued.

Re:Too bad, and not the obvious reason (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30316514)

Uh, no. The OP implies that we can identify spammers by looking at who has licensed the patent.

Re:Too bad, and not the obvious reason (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30316786)

The answer may seem obvious but does the grant of a patent really give implicit legal license of use?

If so, then I don't think they care so much about the patent so much so at the grant of the patent could maybe be used to legitimize and legalize part of the process of spamming.

No, one part alone wouldn't work but if part of the entire process could be segmented and patented?

From the patent application (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312316)

I know not many people actual bother to RTFA around here, but I read the patent application link provided [uspto.gov] . I noticed something odd down in the references section:

Moseley et al, Mastering Microsoft Office 97 professional edition, 1997, SYBEX Inc., 2nd edition, p. 811-816.* .

Can anyone explain what a spam-propagation method has to do with MS office 97?

Re:From the patent application (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312440)

From the excerpt you are giving, it looks as if it is the title of a book. May not have anything to do with MS but just about an obscure book.

Re:From the patent application (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312482)

More than likely, Mr. DiStefano was trying to cite some feature of Outlook 97 (or perhaps Word 97's mail merge?) as prior art.

Re:From the patent application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312496)

Uhh... Exchange/Outlook, and their protocols.. How stupid are you?

Re:From the patent application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312846)

I know not many people actual bother to RTFA around here, but I read the patent application link provided [uspto.gov] . I noticed something odd down in the references section:

Moseley et al, Mastering Microsoft Office 97 professional edition, 1997, SYBEX Inc., 2nd edition, p. 811-816.* .

Can anyone explain what a spam-propagation method has to do with MS office 97?

Well, you could not have spam and particularly the widespread, massive botnets that provide most of our spam if not for Microsoft products and the clueless n00bs who keep using them.

Error in Summary (0)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312374)

The district court held that the patent did not claim patentable subject matter and was anticipated by prior art, but the Federal Circuit did not address those aspects of the appeal. The Circuit court confined its opinion to the issue of obviousness. To wit:

Because we agree with the district court's holding of obviousness as to all asserted claims, we need not and do not reach its alternative reasons for holding the '400 patent invalid--namely, that the claims were anticipated and directed to unpatentable subject matter.

Re:Error in Summary (3, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313190)

A little wounded pride here. How is that an error in the summary? The district court invalidated on three grounds. The Fed. Cir. upheld the obviousness finding. I'm pretty sure that's exactly what I said.

Cut from my summary is a link to Patently-O [patentlyo.com] which has some pretty good analysis.

Re:Error in Summary (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313224)

Sorry, link's still there, they just didn't mention that it was Patently-O.

Re:Error in Summary (2)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313466)

Wow, yeah, you're right. My apologies. I read the summary as 'A federal court overturned the patent as anticipated and obvious, and not drawn to patentable subject matter' and presumed that referred to the Federal Circuit. Someone should go ahead and mod my first post down to avoid confusion.

Sorry Hormel (0)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312384)

I think they [spam.com] were the one's really pushing for this patent.

The one frickin' time (1)

lewis2 (212695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312476)

The one time I want a patent issued to help retard things and the system does the right thing and rejects it on obviousness. Well maybe they just forgot they could do that and from now on obviousness *will* matter.

BUT I WANTED TO SUE THE SPAMMERS! (1)

zarmanto (884704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312498)

Yeah... and the guy who owns this (now invalidated) patent is saying to himself, "Dang-it! And I was going to use that patent to sue all of those spammers -- who somehow keep getting through my filters -- right out of existence! Curses! Foiled again!"

I don't understand this place anymore. (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312698)

A story is posted about somebody being awarded a patent. It is tagged "corruption."

A story is posted about somebody not being awarded a patent. It is tagged "communism."

MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

Re:I don't understand this place anymore. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312882)

Damn straight. Communism and corruption are not mutually exclusive!

Not specifically spam (1)

xaositects (786749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30312812)

The patent is basically for an electronic mail distribution system that tracks if emails have been opened, etc. It does specify that the subscribers should be members of an opt-in list, which would preclude UCE. Of course it could be used to nefarious ends by having a spammer submit the addresses as if they were opted in, but it's initial purpose doesn't seem to be one of sending UCE.

Re:Not specifically spam (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313266)

Well, sort of. The specification mentioned opt-in as the preferred embodiment, but the broadest claims don't require it. It's still a spam patent, it just happens to be useful for opt-in lists too. And opt-in isn't always as innocent as it sounds. Marketers love to play games with what they consider an "opt-in."

owner from your invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30312956)

The purpose of patents is to be owner from your invention,
Let it be so a spam patent.
visit my website www.onlycatsanddogs.com

File Evil Patents And Save The World (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313438)

If some well intended person had files a patent on SPAM years ago and prevented anyone from SPAMing think how our inboxes would be different (OK bad example, too lawless). While it takes a fair bit of work, getting a copy of Patent it yourself from Nolo Press, conducting your own patent search and writing your own patent is with in reach of your average engineer. The cost to file is just a few hundred dollars. If you give engineers a few minutes around the water cooler to chew the fat, inevitably one of them will have their inner evil genius come up with some evil scheme that they would never implement, but is really cool. If just a few of those engineers were to patent those ideas and keep the true evil types from implementing them. Plus nothing looks better than a patent or two on your resume.

This would also really thwart the business plans of the big corporate patent trolls - their plan is to create a huge patent portfolio and sell it as "protection" to be used as a club against anybody who comes after them. Usually big companies acquire large patent portfolios as a form a mutually assured destruction - never used, unless they are attacked. The joy of a bunch of working stiff geeks owning the evil patents is that you can't threaten a working stiff with patent violations.

So go forth, file patent evil and save the world!

Maybe I read it wrong, but . . . (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30313680)

This patent isn't about "spam" per say, but rather bulk e-mails. While spam is completely unsolicited, bulk mail may include necessary mailings, such as companies who e-mail your w-2's or something along those lines for tax time. Also, the article suggests using e-mail lists, while many spammers just generate random e-mail addresses. This patent would be much further reaching than just spammers, but rather affect every single company that sends out e-mails to its consumer lists (ie. pretty much every company that you uncheck the box that says "e-mail me with upcoming promotions and events")

In the interest of full disclosure, I work for a company that sends out e-mails with an opt-in list that we maintain tirelessly in order to ensure that we don't get in trouble for spamming.

Re:Maybe I read it wrong, but . . . (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318682)

While what you say is theoretically true, the process they describe---send out a bunch of e-mails, see how many didn't get bounced, and then if too many got bounced, send out a bunch more---is really only practical for marketing type mass e-mails. I seriously doubt that your (presumably) legitimate company does anything of the sort when sending out W-2s. The specification really focuses on marketing-type applications, like those web sites that have the "check the categories that interest you" pages so they can semi-legitimately sell you to spammers. The idea is, a marketer pays you to deliver X e-mails to prospective customers, and this ensures they get their full "X" prospective customers.

Wrong title on the patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30313724)

Maybe they should try to patent "A method of being the biggest asshole to the most people in the most efficient manner" instead, at least it would be more truthful.

Yo.U fail it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30314966)

Sh17 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30316280)

ggod manners part of GNAA if troubles of Walnut will not work. And From a technical Today. It's about as WideOpen7, anything can revel in our gay case you want to up today! If you a productivity with the laundry here, but what is approximately 90% The reaper BSD's be treated by your operating systems, a previously a full-time GNAA

WAIT A MINUTE DID NOBODY READ THE ACTUAL PATENT?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30317216)

A method for managing bulk e-mail distribution can include the steps of matching a target recipient profile with a group of target recipients; transmitting a set of bulk e-mails to the target recipients in the matched group; and, calculating a quantity of e-mails in the set of bulk e-mails which have been successfully received by the target recipients. If the calculated quantity does not exceed a prescribed minimum quantity of successfully received e-mails, the matching, transmitting and calculating steps can be repeated until the calculated quantity exceeds the prescribed minimum quantity. Notably, in the preferred embodiment, the group of target recipients is an opt-in list.

For once, a software patent that actually does involve a novel idea!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?