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Back in 2000, Thomas L. DiStefano, III, of Boca Raton, Florida, filed a patent for a “Method For Managing Bulk E-Mail Distribution”, in which the ‘invention’ was described as a method in which if not all email in an email run was delivered the first time, the sender would repeatedly send the email to the undelivered addresses, again and again, until all of the email was eventually delivered. In 2007, DiStefano’s company, Perfect Web Technologies, sued InfoUSA for patent infringement. InfoUSA is the parent company to such email entities as YesMail, who famously sued anti-spam blacklist MAPS for calling them a spammer, and who in 2006 paid a $50,000 fine to the Feds for violations of the CAN-SPAM Federal anti-spam law.
In other words, it may be the first time in history that someone has patented spamming, and then sued a spammer for patent infringement.
All of this is coming to light now because DeStefano lost his patent infringement suit against InfoUSA, and appealed, and just this past month the Federal Court of Appeals held that DiStefano’s patent was unenforceable at least in part, because the method of re-sending and re-re-sending spam until it finally all gets delivered is – wait for it – obvious.
You can read DiStefano’s original patent filing here. We particularly like the (repeated) use of the somewhat slang jargon “marketeer” in the filing of a formal application, as it foreshadows the Mickey Mouse nature of the entire debacle quite nicely. And you can read the Court’s decision [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead] (PDF warning)
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