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Company Claims Patent On Spam Filtering, Sues World

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the guess-where dept.

Patents 186

EvilAlphonso notes news of a "Texas" IP holding company suing 36 actual companies for violating its claimed patent on spam filtering. Techdirt deconstructs the patent itself, No. 6,018,761, which seems to amount to little more than a database lookup. It was filed in 1996 and issued in 2000 (despite the lawyers' press release claiming that it "was awarded... nearly 15 years ago"). Among the companies being sued are 3Com, Apple, Google, AOL, Yahoo, J.C.Penney, IBM, Dell, Citigroup, and RIM. Not Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, or Microsoft, oddly enough.

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Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015040)

Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end.
By JAMES WEBB

The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

How so?

Lyndon Johnson's initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate "the badges of slavery." Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.

The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all "people of color"—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.

Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.

Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.

The clearest example of today's misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.

The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that "fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery."

The Civil War devastated the South, in human and economic terms. And from post-Civil War Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II, the region was a ravaged place, affecting black and white alike.

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created a national commission to study what he termed "the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section." At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South's 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.

Generations of such deficiencies do not disappear overnight, and they affect the momentum of a culture. In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks' average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.

Policy makers ignored such disparities within America's white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts.

Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.

Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.

Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.

Mr. Webb, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Virginia.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703724104575379630952309408.html [wsj.com]

Good luck with that one (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015046)

Next I'm going to patent my method for taking a shit.

Anyone caught shitting, is fucked.

Re:Good luck with that one (0, Offtopic)

genner (694963) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015080)

Next I'm going to patent my method for taking a shit.

Anyone caught shitting, is fucked.

I have prior art, you patent is invalid.

Re:Good luck with that one (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015218)

Next I'm going to patent my method for taking a shit.

Anyone caught shitting, is fucked.

I have prior art, you patent is invalid.

Nah, that'd be prior fart

Re:Good luck with that one (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016042)

Not if he's from Texas.

Apparently Texans think "patent" is short for "patently obvious" you should be allowed to make a shitload of money for making sure the rest of the world doesn't do the patently obvious.

Re:Good luck with that one (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016398)

Ever read your own sig?

Re:Good luck with that one (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016588)

Texas on patents is a very very dark gray.

Re:Good luck with that one (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016630)

And apart from being mentioned in this story, the thing that's unique to Texas is...?

(within context I mean *lol*)

Re:Good luck with that one (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015136)

I think Microsoft already has a patent on that. Or maybe it's Apple. Or whatever it is we're hating right now.

Re:Good luck with that one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015146)

That sounds like a pretty lousy method, actually.

Re:Good luck with that one (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015166)

Yeah, I thought it was pretty crappy too.

Re:Good luck with that one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016010)

Next I'm going to patent my method for taking a shit.

Anyone caught shitting, is fucked.

Fuck that shit.

Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015056)

... it's the only way to be sure.

Seriously, it's bad enough that we have a patent system that allows these patent trolls to exist at all, but it really looks to me like one judge is creating a favorable environment most of the patent troll lawsuits in the entire US (and, given that the US seems to be far and away the number one country for patent trolling, maybe most such lawsuits in the entire world.) Isn't there any way to fire this clown?

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (2, Informative)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015178)

.30-06 ought to do it.

Other than that, not really, no.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

King InuYasha (1159129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015220)

Unfortunately, the court is the only body that is able to determine if a Judge is in "good behavior", which is why they effectively have lifetime guaranteed jobs...

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015406)

Unfortunately, the court is the only body that is able to determine if a Judge is in "good behavior"...

No. The Congress is.

...which is why they effectively have lifetime guaranteed jobs...

They have lifetime guaranteed jobs (barring impeachment and conviction) because the Constitution says so.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016420)

That's probably so the judge can't be threatened with a layoff to influence his verdict.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (-1, Flamebait)

kernelphr34k (1179539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016052)

So why the fuck are we getting Kagan? The judge she replaces should have died before she moved in... WTF is up with this? More Obama bullshit?

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016362)

Are you fucking retarded? As in possibly the dumbest fucking person on earth? Judges get the job for life, but that doesn't mean they have to work until the day they die, that's called slavery.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (-1, Flamebait)

kernelphr34k (1179539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016572)

You seem to be the dumbest fucking person on earth. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life you fucking jackass. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_judge [wikipedia.org] .

"Article III federal judges" (as opposed to judges of some courts with special jurisdictions) serve "during good behavior" (often paraphrased as appointed "for life"). Judges hold their seats until they resign, die, or are removed from office. "

Supreme court judges are for life, unless you're a quitter like Justice Stevens. Some judges do want a life outside the courts, so they call it quits.. But generally speaking.. they die first.

Slavery is not making $100k+ per year jackass. You have the wrong definition of slavery.

Trolls are not wanted here... Fuck off!

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33017132)

But generally speaking.. they die first.

Out of the 111 justices that have served, 24 retired. That's over 20%.

. . . unless you're a quitter like Justice Stevens.

The man is 90 years old and has served this country for almost 35 years and you call him a quitter because he wanted to retire at 90? Incidentally how would you like to be judged if you lived long enough to retire at 65?

Just because justices are given lifetime appointments does not mean that they themselves can't retire if they choose. Being smart individuals, they probably understand that in older age, they may not have the capacity to serve their post effectively as someone younger/healthier. One reason some of them die before retiring is that they don't want to be replaced by the current administration because the current administration will appoint someone with opposing political views. Some do leave for personal/health reasons like Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, etc.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015376)

1. There are some people who exercise discretion in their speech.

2. There are some (non-malicious) people who speak indiscretely, and are undoubtedly as a result on government watch lists, FBI files etc.

3. There are some (malicious) people who are indiscrete, and are undoubtedly flagged for the same kind of government scrutiny.

You belong to category #2 or #3 above, I'm not sure which. But posting on the internet about shooting a judge is just really stupid for a lot of reasons.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015462)

If the FBI wants to build databases of people who make offhand, whimsical comments in online forums I say more power to them. I work for a major storage vendor.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016436)

You *wish* they were that competent!!!

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 3 years ago | (#33017304)

Put me on a list, see if it means anything when everyone else is on one too.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015198)

back in the wild wild west, there were ways of dealing with those who went astray from the justice people really wanted and needed.

I am not suggesting we resort to WWW (heh) tactics; but 100 years ago, this guy would be hanging from a tree, I would reckon.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (4, Funny)

straponego (521991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015204)

Yes. Or how about... let's see, it's Texas, and lots of people are complaining about all the violent illegal aliens. I see a solution with a good Bhyrdstone index. Execute a patent troll, free citizenship.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (4, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015320)

Execute a patent troll or spammer = free citizenship
Execute a patent troll AND spammer = seat in congress

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (2)

BigDXLT (1218924) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015342)

Be a patent troll AND spammer = seat in congress :(

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016532)

They would be better then the Joker who have elected already...

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016290)

Problem solved! http://www.smbc-theater.com/?id=217 [smbc-theater.com]

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015214)

Couldn't agree more!

Check this out:

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Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015252)

http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/Judges/Folsom/Folsom.htm

There's the ringleader. Vote his happy ass out.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (5, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015400)

Why? He's doing us all a big favor. Nothing will bring a system down faster than exploiting it for all its worth. More patent trolls are what is needed, lots more.. until the damn thing chokes on its own vomit.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015846)

This seems to have been a major operating theory of the patent system since the early 90's. And yet, here it still is.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015350)

Make a patent for a system of government that keeps track of who invents what and enforcing fines and rights for who can use it. Then sue the US patent system.

Re:Take off and nuke Marshall, TX from orbit ... (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015464)

Nonsense. First of all, EDT isn't even the most favorable district for patent plaintiffs. There are something like half a dozen districts where plaintiffs do better.

If you nuked EDT, all you would do is cause the suits to spread out to other districts, to the detriment of defendants. The reason so many suits are in EDT is because EDT can provide reasonably speedy trials. There are two reasons for this. First, because there have been many patent suits there in the past, the courts are familiar with patent litigation, which is one of the more complex areas of litigation. When you have a patent case in a court that has not dealt with patent cases, it is very slow going. (And much more likely that the judge will make reversible errors, so if you do fight off the troll, you'll just end up doing it all over again when the troll gets the verdict thrown out and the case remanded for a new trial on appeal).

Second, EDT doesn't have many Federal criminal cases. Criminal cases take priority over civil cases in Federal court, due to the constitutional requirement of a speedy trial for criminal cases. In districts where there are a lot of federal criminal cases (e.g., any place where the stupid war on drugs is being heavily waged) civil cases can take months or years to even get to preliminary hearings. File a patent case in one of those districts, and you'll be tied up for many many many years--something neither side wants.

Given a choice between being sued in EDT and being sued in the plaintiff's home district (if that is different from the defendant's home district), I would bet that most defendants would pick EDT, to get it over faster and keep costs down.

New Patent Idea (3, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015076)

I will be filing a patent for my method on submitting comments to websites that involve the use of a mouse, keyboard, computer, and monitor.

Re:New Patent Idea (2, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015116)

I use a touch screen you inconsiderate clod.

Re:New Patent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015212)

I'm sorry to hear that. You have my condolences.

*sips coffee*

Re:New Patent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016324)

Apple has already patented using a touchscreen.

Re:New Patent Idea (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015344)

Ooo ooo can I file a patent on a process in which one trolls patents? That would be justice to hit them with patent infringement...

Bio piracy (4, Interesting)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015778)

Slightly off topic I know but I found it interesting enough to share

Some Scottish hippy friend of mine alleged her charity group managed to fight the good fight against patent trolls by applying for their own patent. Back in 1997 some Texan asshats applied for a patent on basmati rice. Of course this is bio-piracy and as insane as it sounds, the patent was actually granted. Clearly the patent system was as bent as a butchers hook (it still is?). Needless to say this would have destroyed countless livelihoods in India and probably left a lot of people to starve to death. In order to raise awareness for this problem and to put huge pressure on the American government to stop allegedly taking backhanders and burying the problem under red tape the hippy group applied for a patent themselves. They decided that seen as people enjoy eating chips (British chips = french fries in the USA) they decided to apply for a patent on a way of eating chips they had invented, and that is of eating chips with salt. They proved it perfectly legal under existing US patent laws and caused enough of a shitstorm to get the press involved and damage the bureaucrats PR until the patent was un-granted.

I cannot vouch for the truth of this tale she told me but I looked it up and found some pages backing up her claims.

http://www.purefood.org/patent/frenchfries032602.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basmati [wikipedia.org]

Re:New Patent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016242)

I will be filing a patent for my method on submitting comments to websites that involve the use of a mouse, keyboard, computer, and monitor.

I'm afraid I'll be suing you for violating my patent on using comments on webpages to distribute information relevant to limited audiences.

Massively multi-target trolling (5, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015114)

The list of targets picked by that entity is pretty impressive. Even though the article accurately notes that some big names are missing, it almost reads like a Who Is Who of the industry. Sort of duck shooting, but the really big ones...

The bad news is that even such an aggressive behavior isn't the worst that can happen with patents. It's bad, and I'm aware of the fact that non-practicing entities (NPEs) can go extremely far and cause a lot of trouble just to suqeeze the maximum amount of money out of their targets. I don't mean to downplay that problem.

But: form the perspective of a company that gets attacked, an NPE is only the second-worst possibility. At the end of the day, the NPE is just in it for the money and pursues no strategic objectives beyond that. So the big companies that are the targets here (and the IT companies among them are all pro-software-patent regardless) can initially try to get rid of the patent or prove they don't infringe, and if it comes to worst, they can and will negotiate a settlement, write a check and life goes on for them.

That isn't the case when a strategic patent holder seeks to limit the functionality of a competitor's product, possibly to the extent that the competitor gets driven out of business. Exclusionary strategic use of patents is much worse than anything an NPE will ever do. [blogspot.com] It harms competition and innovation in serious ways. It looks like Apple wants to enforce some patents regardless of whatever royalty the defendant (HTC, and maybe others in the future) would be willing to pay. And there's IBM's use of patents to preserve its mainframe monopoly against such companies as TurboHercules [blogspot.com] and NEON Enterprise Software [blogspot.com] .

Re:Massively multi-target trolling (1)

cyberthanasis12 (926691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015628)

God bless America about software patents.

Re:Massively multi-target trolling (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015704)

cause a lot of trouble just to suqeeze the maximum amount of money out of their targets

Did you mean suck or squeeze ?

Re:Massively multi-target trolling (2, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015824)

The list of targets picked by that entity is pretty impressive. Even though the article accurately notes that some big names are missing, it almost reads like a Who Is Who of the industry. Sort of duck shooting, but the really big ones...

Which may be exactly what's needed to at the very least have their patent invalidated and them driven out of business. At least, so I am hoping.

the "world" being USA only (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015130)

its not like there are another 191 countries on this planet

it is funny though watching USA self destruct its business sector and morals through idiot companies like this and its culture of lawyers
in the rest of the world people become lawyers or doctors because they want to help people, they dont measure success by how much money they have.
in USA its the opposite, you become a lawyer or a doctor so you can point at a number in a banks spreadsheet and say "thats me and everything in life i represent"

lol

Re:the "world" being USA only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015868)

It says the "world" because of the reach of these companies.

Hell, if IBM wanted to, they could likely cripple the entirety of the computer industry with their patents, unless you want to get all your stuff exclusively from China.

Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (3, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015132)

By the time this patent was filed for spam filters were already around. Indeed, in 1996 one had such sophisticated filters that used by as Jason Rennie's program iFile whiched used a Bayesian statistical approach to sort potential spam into a junk folder. Prior art is going to kill this quickly.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (5, Insightful)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015158)

Don't bet on it. The judicial system and common sense aren't exactly best of friends.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015216)

If you're going to quote Wikipedia, why not just link to it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_spam_filtering [wikipedia.org]

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015324)

Perhaps, but the patent in question doesn't even go into that depth of detail. It simply says it stores the emails context in a db, which it'd use later for some form of classification.The two problems I see with this is: 1) I thought patents were supposed to disclose some sort of detail regarding implementation and 2) are algorithms, even ones as loosely described as this, patentable?

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016064)

> If you're going to quote Wikipedia, why not just link to it?

Perhaps he doesn't need to. Perhaps he REMEMBERS this stuff from when it originally happened.

Many of us were computing (even online) LONG before Slashdot was around.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015590)

Procmail has been filtering email since 1990. Proving prior art on scanning a message for spam filtering should not be difficult.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015612)

This filter doesn't do bayesian filtering. FTP:

An apparatus and method is provided for obtaining message context information regardless of whether or not the sender includes context information, such as full name, address, telephone number, etc.

Talk about an awful spam filtering system...

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015668)

The patent is not for a spam filter, I don't know why the title of the story mentions that. Here is what is claimed, to find prior art you need to find something that matches this exactly:

1. A method of obtaining context information about a sender of an electronic message using a mail processing comprising the steps of: scanning the message, usinig the mail processine[sic] program to determine if the message contains a reference in a header portion of the message to at least one feature of the sender's context, wherein the sender's context is information about the sender or the message that is usefiul to the recipient in understanding more about the context in which the sender sent the message; if the message contains such reference, using the mail processing program and such reference to obtain [sender] the context information from a location external to the message; if the message does not contain such reference, using the mail processing program and information present in the message to indirectly obtain the [sender] context information using external reference sources to find a reference to the [sender] context information.

It looks like conceptually (from reading the patent) he was trying to patent the idea of linking a finger-type service to email. The email program can hit up the original server to find any extra information about the sender (the patent itself mentions a v-card, but it's not in the claim so it doesn't matter if it includes the v-card or not).

From my understanding of what is claimed, it looks like it will cover a system like in gMail, where it remembers the name of people who sent you the message from that address before. I don't think it was the author's intention to create a system that worked that way, but that is how patents work in the 'modern' world. Even if you aren't building in any way on the work of someone else, you can still get caught by their patent.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016002)

If my understanding is correct, to simplify that language:

Step 1. Look at the headers. Does it tell you anything useful about the sender?
Step 2. If it does, use that information to look up other information about the sender somewhere else.
Step 3. If it doesn't, scan the message for keywords. Use those keywords to look up other information about the sender.

This covers anti-spam systems, as you gather an IP address from headers, then look up that IP in a database to see if it is from a known spam source.

Of course, this also covers a bloody lot else. Why else would you have headers except to find useful information about a sender? How big of a jump is it to looking for information about a sender from the headers of an e-mail? I wouldn't be surprised if this exactly describes AOL's mail system with additional user information from the late 80's.

Re:Filed in 1996- Spam Filters already around (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33017028)

Doesn't this patent describe the standard DNS reverse-lookup performed by every MTA on the Received: headers since... nearly ever?

Patents and trolls like these are bad (4, Informative)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015142)

1/ Get ambiguous patent to a seemingly obvious method of spam control
2/ Wait 15 years
3/ Sue every IT firm under the sun
4/ Profit

What is claimed is:

1. A method of obtaining context information about a sender of an electronic message using a mail processing comprising the steps of:

Scanning the message, usinig the mail processine program to determine if the message contains a reference in a header portion of the message to at least one feature of the sender's context, wherein the sender's context is information about the sender or the message that is usefiul to the recipient in understanding more about the context in which the sender sent the message;

If the message contains such reference, using the mail processing program and such reference to obtain [sender] the context information from a location external to the message;
If the message does not contain such reference, using the mail processing program and information present in the message to indirectly obtain the [sender] context information using external reference sources to find a reference to the [sender] context information.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the reference to at least one feature is a reference to a location where context information is stored.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the reference to at least one feature is a hint usable to retrieve a location where context information is stored.

Is there not some rule that says you cant just sit there for all that time until making an infringement claim? There is something rather dishonest about waiting all this time to make such a claim for what looks like a rather obvious method.

Re:Patents and trolls like these are bad (2, Informative)

Ghubi (1102775) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015428)

Is there not some rule that says you cant just sit there for all that time until making an infringement claim?

It's called Laches [wikipedia.org]

4 , 7.* magnitude quakes in one day in one place (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015184)

not in with 'stuff that matters' or anywhere in the main(ly)st(r)eam mediahhaha. what a surprise?

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"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

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boeing, boeing, gone.

This guy already won the lottery (4, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015200)

Robert Uomini of Kensington CA already won a $22 million dollar lottery in 1995 [sfgate.com] . And yes, it's the same person, because the patent application's name and city matches [uspto.gov] and this article says he's a mathematician [prnewswire.com] and his linkedin says he has a Ph.D in Mathematics [linkedin.com] . Here's his real software website [chiaramail.com] , notice anything familiar? [innovapate...ensing.com] Yep, the design is exactly the same, no doubt about it this is our guy.

Here's his facebook if you want to leave him a message [facebook.com]

Re:This guy already won the lottery (5, Funny)

Spykk (823586) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015316)

Never trust a mathematician who plays the lottery...

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015368)

...but what about a mathematician who WON the lottery?

Re:This guy already won the lottery (4, Funny)

illumastorm (172101) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015386)

Then we nuke him from orbit, only way to be sure.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016846)

...but what about a mathematician who WON the lottery?

He's either
A) a lucky member of the set of bad mathematicians who think they can win or
B) a phenomenal cheater
I'd say it's still wise not to trust him.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016910)

A) a lucky member of the set of bad mathematicians who think they can win

Everybody can win, it just rather improbable. And if you don't play, you won't win. What has ''being a bad mathematician'' to do with all this?

Re:This guy already won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015492)

This guy played a lottery with great odds. Not all lotteries are for people with bad math skills.

I'm sure there was plenty of calculation in his patent applications and of who and who not to sue.

This is a mathematician who has proven his skills.

Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016550)

A PhD? What the fuck:

"Besides my doctoral dissertation, I have one published article: A Proof of the Compact Leaf Conjecture for Foliated Bundles (Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Vol. 59, No. 2)"

One fucking article??

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015516)

Wow, a PhD in mathematics won the lottery? How did he do that? Because any good mathematician will know that the chances of winning the lottery are bad enough that it's foolish to even play; if he did it, he must have figured out some system to getting it right. This whole story is really weird.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015726)

Because for some people games of chance are about fun and not the potential of winning?

Knowing the odds I don't play the lottery myself, but when we do something collectively at work or among friends I don't mind chipping in a few bucks and join in the excitement.

It's like playing roulette. You know the odds are against you, doesn't make it less fun.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016028)

Lotteries which jackpot will sometimes reach a point at which a ticket purchase has slight postive expectation.

Not as much in the US due to gambling winnings being taxable, but it's still feasible.

There's also a point at which even though the expectation is slightly negative the sheer amount of money involved and entertainment factor (for some people who like planning how they'll escape from their spouse with all the money, for example) make it not unreasonable.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015818)

Here's his facebook if you want to leave him a message

He probably has it filtered.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (3, Interesting)

KermitTheFragger (776174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016434)

This guy seems to have no moral standards whatsoever (Taken from his software website http://www.chiaramail.com/ [chiaramail.com] ):

With our revolutionary, patented technology, you can now edit the content of your e-mail after you send it. Even if the recipient has seen the mail already: one moment it reads one way; the next, it’s totally different. The content of any mail you send is entirely in your control, at all times. Even if the recipient has deleted his copy of the message, you are able to edit it. We call this remarkable technology dynamic mail content and it's about to change your life.

Re:This guy already won the lottery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33017262)

So, basically it's a website/server chat board with archived postings that are updatable? Except, oh, oh, it's in "e-mail" format.

Wow, "revolutionary".

Technology advances... (1)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015222)

If you read the patent, it looks more like they describe a white-list. I'm pretty sure those existed before because I've never been allowed in any cool bars. Or Bushwood.

Haha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015254)

Yeah, good luck with that one! Why isn't this in idle again?

A taste of the medicine (1)

moreati (119629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015262)

I really hope Blackberry get issued an injunction, then perhaps our elected overlords would get the message about obvious patents*.

* That is, amongst the tide of crap they suddenly receive.

Oddly enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015276)

Of course Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Microsoft are not involved. When they are within his own operation, inter-departmental squabbles really piss Satan off...

Closet Spammer? (1)

erica_ann (910043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015392)

Wonder if he spams to test his patent

Overbroad? (1)

panda (10044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015398)

Seriously, I think the claims of the patent are far too vague. It covers any kind of lookup you could do based on information in the email headers. No specific mechanism for doing this is defined. I really, really hope someone with a clue litigates this.

The Patent Claims Sender Not Message Context (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015402)

The patent claims obtaining context information about the sender. However, spam filters obtain context information about the message not the sender. In general, spam filters care little about the sender as the sender is almost always forged.

Found it in my SPAM box (2, Funny)

karvind (833059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015408)

I got notification from them as well but it went to the SPAM folder. Sorry.

I for one will gladly pay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33015512)

Please send me the physical address of your organization and will gladly stop by with payment. No P.O. boxes, please.

They're suing IBM? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015526)

Guess they've never heard of SCO.

nearly 15 years ago (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015540)

Well, 'nearly' is sort of vague..

Hopefully they goto court, and it becomes a big expensive mess for a LOT of companies that have powerful lobbying arms. Then the patent system might get a 2nd look.

You can do a lot of spam filtering (4, Interesting)

alanw (1822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015566)

... without looking at the headers.

1) the IP address of the originating end of the TCP connection, for lookup in a block list, is not in the headers
2) the SMTP HELO/EHLO - not in the headers
3) the envelope from and to addresses - not in the headers
4) the triplet of IP address, from and to for grey listing - not in the headers
5) the text of the body
6) the domains in any URLs in the body, for looking up in blocklists
7) the IP addresses that the domains in 6 resolve to.

The patent is very badly worded. I would claim that every header would contain some information which would be "usefiul (sic) to the recipient in understanding more about the context in which the sender sent the message".

In that case, how could any message "not contain such reference".

Is the patent just claiming to cover the headers, or the body as well. And as for the misspelling!

Things in the header that might possibly be covered might be any pre-existing "received-from" IP addresses for looking up in blacklists, X-Mailer, Mime and Content type headers.

What about "Missing Headers"? could this patent be claimed to cover looking for something which doesn't exist in the headers?

Maybe I'm missing something, but... (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015730)

How did J.C. Penney get on the hit list? Have they updated their line of polyester slacks to include spam filtering in addition to stain resistance?

Re:their JC Penney catalog was spam filtered (1)

waambulance (1766146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016162)

the plaintiff probably was pissed their JC Penney catalog was put in the trash by their mom, so they couldnt look at all of the half-nekkid models showing off JC Penney Bras and panties...

Actual Solution (well, sort of...) (1, Insightful)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015950)

Perhaps a realistic solution would be for all of the companies to band together and instead of fighting the trolls one at a time, send all of that money - figure a billion+ dollars at Congress to solve this idiocy once and for all. 36 major companies surely can cough up 20-30 million each. They probably spend that much every few years on dealing with trolls and other legal issues surrounding patents anyways. The downside, of course, is *of course* they would make it favor them.

Other options of course would involve similar actions against the inane judge, such as funding his opponent's campaign(come on, you KNOW it happens all the time - nothing new about this tactic), ads on tv, and so on. Even 10 million in "public information" TV ads about his pro patent troll rulings would likely tank any chance of his getting re-elected. It's mean and nasty, but it's a known issue with any public official. You don't bite the public and businesses who got you into office unless you want to risk the same public and businesses helping someone *ELSE* get into office.

Don't go after the trolls. Go straight to the lawyers and judges and people in Congress who made the silly laws in the first place and get them to fix the mess that they created.

Just stop filtering spam... (1)

QuebecNerd (924754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33015984)

Seriously, after a few weeks of EVERYBODY in the whole world not filtering any spam whatsoever; The problem should resolve itself.

Idiot trolls...

security? (1)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33016088)

This doesn't bode well for the fight against cyber crime.

Smells of M$ Ploy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016160)

All of the companies sued are direct competitors of M$. This ploy was concoted by M$ ro eliminate all of their competitors much like they tried to do by using SCO to eliminate GNU/Linux. M$ has shown they are not trustworthy and SweatyB and his crooks will never be trustworthy. It about time for Obama to bring the criminals at M$ to justice.

--
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

Dear InNova: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33016484)

:0:
* ^Content-Type: text/html
/dev/null

:0:
* ^Message-ID: *.boxbe.com
/dev/null

:0:
* ^Received: from taggedmail.com
/dev/null

Sue me.

mar,E (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33017174)

to fight what has

Surely there must be a patent on patent trolling. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33017248)

In fact, there are probably a number of business-process patents that could be construed as covering this technique. Surely some of them are licenseable or for sale.

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