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Patent troll sues Apple, Google, RIM over spam filtering

updated 09:50 am EDT, Wed July 21, 2010

InNova claims Apple and others copy spam filter

Little-known patent holder InNova hoped to seize on the success of others today as it filed a lawsuit claiming that a large range of companies violate a patent on e-mail spam filtering. It accused high-profile technology firms such as Apple, Google and RIM as well as 3Com, AOL, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Symantec and Yahoo of copying technology allegedly invented by InNova founder Robert Uomini 15 years ago. Companies as diverse as Capital One Auto Finance and Frito-Lay were also implicated in the suit.

The firm insists that e-mail would "essentially stop working" if it weren't for the patent, since as much as 80 percent of e-mail is spam. It didn't show how it was using the patent itself.

None of the involved companies have responded publicly to the lawsuit.

InNova fits the common description of a "patent troll," or a company that makes no actual products but instead relies on maintaining patents and starting lawsuits in the hopes of making income based on royalties. The lawsuit was filed in Marshall, Texas, a place often chosen by patent trolls as it has historically ruled in favor of patent holders. InNova is listed as being based nearby, in Longview.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What do you mean they fit the definition of a patent troll. They've invented something. Look at all the spam being filtered! That's them! Of course, one has to wonder if they also are responsible for all the spam in the first place. But that's another story.

  1. TomSawyer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Maybe companies should take "None of the involved companies have responded publicly to the lawsuit" to the next level. How about they just ignore lawsuits from patent trolls and any rulings that come out of East Texas? Maybe if companies stopped dignifying these idiots with a response they'll just stop initiating such non-sense.

    & Test, you bloomin Nimrod, a company that produces nothing, files for a patent, sits on it for 15 years and then pounces on others IS the very definition of a troll. C'mon even freakin Frito-Lay???

  1. Zaren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Prior art, baby

    If I'm reading the patent correctly, InNova claims to have invented filtering spam by header information in 1995. I was doing that with pine back in the late 80s. Sorry, patent troll, you lose.

  1. Shomei

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Very good point

    "Patent troll sues Apple, Google, RIM over spam filtering"

    Who decides InNova are patent troll ? They seems to have actually invented something. Do they make a habit of sitting over their inventions and filing lawsuits against companies that are successful in using the technologies they kept dormant ? (it is possible, I don't know) However, without such evidence, this article is just an other bunch of free assumptions disguised as affirmations that lacks professionalism.

    Way too much articles (almost everywhere) are just affirmations that are not backed up by facts.

    For this comment to be constructive, here is an example :
    I don't know InNova. So when I read :

    "InNova fits the common description of a "patent troll," or a company that makes no actual products but instead relies on maintaining patents and starting lawsuits in the hopes of making income based on royalties.

    Well, I would have liked, for instance, a link to be provided towards an online resource that shows that InNova relies on maintaining patents and starting lawsuits in the hopes of making income based on royalties, while making no actual product.

  1. rjdude

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well, maybe Texas should secede from the U.S. after all. Trolls need not relocate!

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    they don't hope to make money by suing

    Their first hope is to make money by licensing the technology.

    In other words, they don't WISH for a lawsuit, they wish for the companies to write the check.
    Without a lawsuit is not only fine, but preferred.

    I have a real problem with trying to describe this company as a troll - even though I am 100% against software patents.

    You are implying that if another company - say it was Gateway that owned this patent, for whatever reason, that it would make some kind of difference.

    The only difference is, that as long as they don't, themselves produce products, they can't also be sued for patent infringement.

    But beyond that, there is no difference at all - the system grants patents on obvious ideas.

    All those of you piping up to say they invented email filtering are missing the point - one they didn't.
    Two, the main point is, that multiple 100's of people would have 'invented' email filtering - it was a need and what you do in the software trade, is you write solutions for needs.

    Any programmer can do it. Patents on software, only exist, because legislatures didn't understand that they are entirely unnecessary - and always stifle progress.

    You have to go back to the original purpose of patents - to protect creative enterprise. Nobody needed a patent on this to develop email filtering - as a matter of fact, as the facts show, jilliions of companies got email filtering who had never even heard of inNova - everyone just wrote their own solution to the problem -

    and then one day they discover, the patent office, in its infinite wisdom, gave a patent on that to some idiot who didn't even invent the thing, and for such an obvious concept.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: This is Electronista/MacNN

    I never would have known that!

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rule #1: You can't sue if you don't have a Webpage

    I always find it interesting that these "Patent Trolls" don't even have a webpage. The first rule should be is that your company can't sue for patent infringement if it doesn't even have a frickin' web page.

    Or, maybe it does. Could this be InaNova's webpage: If it is, the company should be disqualified for bad taste. This is nothing but a generic looking template and the blue on red sidebar is headache inducing.

    I tried looking up Robert Uomini, and found one in the Bay Area (not near Longview, Texas). He does list that he ran a privately held company called "The Fractals Image Company" ( which he worked on before and after he worked at the help desk for Sun. He claims to have written a package called ChiaraMail that does Spam filtering back in 2001 (Around 2001, I also began writing ChiaraMail, a sophisticated JavaMail-based spam filter.)

    He also runs ChiaraMail company: which is described in his LinkedIn profile as developer of "game-changing applications for the Internet."

    Can't find anything about ChiaraMail. Did discover 34 patents by this guy: Nothing looking like anti-spam stuff.

  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is...

    guilty of patent trolling as well. How come now article like that appears here. InNova has the rights to persue legal course.

  1. Shomei

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: Apple is...

    well, not according to the [arbitrary, but commonly accepted] definition displayed here :

    "the common description of a "patent troll," or a company that makes no actual products but instead relies on maintaining patents and starting lawsuits in the hopes of making income based on royalties"

    in that that they actually make actual products. However, IMHO, the definition should also include innovation/invention/research -related terms.

    But then again, InNova does not seem to fit the description and were still accused of patent-trolling.

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