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Go, GoDaddy! Domain-slinger decapitates email patent troll in court

Appeals judge confirms: RPost will get nothing and like it

By Shaun Nichols, 10 May 2017

Updated Domain registrar and host GoDaddy has won its battle with a patent-holding company that had accused it of violating a handful of claims related to basic email functions.

The US District Court of Appeals in Phoenix, Arizona, has decided this month to uphold an earlier verdict in GoDaddy's favor, vanquishing the infringement claims lobbied by RPost, a patent-holding company that had sued, alleging violations of the following US Patents:

All were described as a "system and method for verifying delivery and integrity of electronic messages," covering concepts of email such as notifying when a message was received and providing bounce-back notifications.

A sixth patent named in the suit, 6,182,219, describes "Apparatus and method for authenticating the dispatch and contents of documents" and includes ideas such as time stamps on sent data.

In the June 2016 verdict [PDF], the district court issued a summary judgement in GoDaddy's favor – not only dismissing each of the patent claims as overly broad and invalid, but also ordering RPost to cover GoDaddy's attorney and legal fees in the case, around $14,000.

Seeking an appeal, RPost took the matter before the court of appeals, an effort that was shot down last week when the three-judge panel sided with GoDaddy and upheld the decision to toss the patent claims.

The decision could also have a wider impact on RPost. The Phoenix Business Journal notes that with the patent claims invalidated, GoDaddy may well have set a precedent that other defendants can use to have their infringement cases with RPost dismissed as well. ®

Updated to add

Senior RPost exec Terrance Tomkow, who is named as the inventor of some of the above patents, has been in touch to tell us he thinks it's wrong to call his company a patent troll. We note RPost touts various email services.

"RPost practices the inventions in question in the marketplace and did so long before GoDaddy started copying their services," he said.

"What is happening in America now is the systematic dismantling of intellectual property rights for software. This clearly suits the interests of the big players in the industry, but it is very bad news for inventors and entrepreneurs."

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