I’ve recently become aware of activity from a couple patent trolls in the email space.
One is UbiCommLLC. They appear to be suing the Internet for violating a patent they acquired from Xerox. The lawsuit claim is that shopping cart abandonment emails violate a patent they own.
I did a little reading on this recently. UbiComm LLC formed itself in January of this year and acquired a Xerox patent the following month. They’ve since gone on an infringement spree, suing other printer companies, retailers, ESPs and that’s just what I can find in 2 minutes of searching.
The patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,603,054 titled “Method for Triggering Selected Machine Event When the Triggering Conditions of an Identified User Are Perceived.” I read a little of this patent and best I can tell (and I’m not a lawyer) this has zero to do with email and even less to do with shopping carts. Instead, this appears to be a way to identify where an individual is inside a local network and send a message to the machine closest to that person.
This is what I think the use case for the patent is. Take an office building, or even an office complex, or even an international corporation with hundreds of computers and printers and smart phones. Each one of those is connected to the network and is capable of displaying a message to a particular person. Each person in the building wears some sort of tag that is also hooked up to the network. I want to send a message to Bob, so I send a message to Bob. The local network figures out where Bob is, figures out what machine is closest to him and then presents that message to Bob on that machine.
This is conceptually different than email. The sending network doesn’t have to figure out where Bob is, it just sends the message to Bob’s email account. Bob chooses when and where to download the message. It’s not like shopping cart abandonment messages are targeted to my phone when I’m in the car, my office computer when I’m at work and my home computer when I’m at home.
In my non-legal opinion these are nuisance suits. The lawyers at Ratner Prestai seem to agree with me and give good suggestions on how to plan for such a thing.