Patent foolishness of the day: NYTimes

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From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Mon Aug 07 2000 - 12:16:17 PDT

[go delete your procmail, rescap, playaudio, and comsat /biff!
you're violating someone's god-given patent rights! --RK]

Excerpted from:

A lot of people probably say that the best e-mail enhancement they
can imagine is a way to eliminate junk e-mail altogether. A new
patent awarded to a San Francisco inventor, Sunil Paul, aims to do
that by screening out unsolicited mass promotions. An e-mail address
that serves as a probe is planted along a communications network so
that it is picked up and included in mass junk electronic mailings --
the sizable ones known as spam. The probe's e-mail boxes are
monitored in a control center to look for incoming spam.

When unsolicited e-mail is found, the system analyzes its origin and
creates a signal that informs Internet servers of the spam source.
The alert is then forwarded to network servers and user terminals,
where filters store the information and then use it to vet e-mail
from the spam source. Junk e-mails can either be rejected, delivered
but flagged as "JUNK" or processed under special instructions from
the addressee. Mr. Paul received patent 6,052,709.

Attachments often accompany e-mail, and many times people find
themselves trying to read a document that is not formatted with
compatible software. Converting attachments is often time-consuming,
and sometimes impossible if the recipient does not have the right
programs. Three inventors for Siemens Information and Communications
Networks in Boca Raton, Fla., have won a patent for a system that
translates the file format of attachments before sending them to the
recipient. To use the system, a customer would register the format
capabilities of his or her computer with a local or remote Internet
service provider. When an e-mail with an attachment is directed
through the service provider to the customer, the system first
compares the attachment's format to the capabilities of the computer
to which it is destined. If it sees that the computer cannot perform
the conversion, it will do it instead. The inventors, Shmuel Shaffer,
William Beyda and Paul Bonomo, received patent 6,092,114.

E-mail devotees like to know whether they have new messages even when
they are not online. Dan Kikinis, of Saratoga, Calif., won a patent
for the DataLink Systems Corporation in San Diego for a paging system
embedded in a computer keyboard. When an e-mail is received but the
recipient is not online, the server matches the e-mail address to a
dial-up paging service. A page is sent to a telephone number that
results in an alert like a flashing light on the keyboard, or
instructions to the computer to automatically log on and download the
e-mail. Mr. Kikinis received patent 6,085,232.

At AT&T, five inventors have combined voice and e-mail in a patented
system that allows subscribers to get both just by looking in their
e-mail box. The system converts voice mail into e-mail.

The system then converts the voice message into text or a .wav file,
formats either one as an e-mail and sends it to the recipient. Sanjay
Agraharam, Lee Begeja, Carroll Creswell, Ram Ramamurthy and Sandeep
Sibal received patent 6,085,231.

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