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Bogus IPR claims stifle innovation: US patent 6,617,714

A US patent filed in 1999 claims to have ”invented” functionality that IKI.FI (and many others) have been providing publicly for thousands of users since 1995.

Bogus patents stifle innovation and hinder positive use of new technology

A US patent (6671714) has been filed in 1999 and granted in 2003 which claims to have invented a service offering people addresses of the form something@dom.ain and a matching host name something.dom.ain.

This idea represented in the patent's claim 1 is clearly bogus, is not an invention nor was it anything new even in 1999. The idea is a very basic ones and such services have existed on the internet since the very early days of the internet.

IKI.FI promotes innovation on the internet

The Internet Users Forever IKI society http://www.iki.fi is a non-profit society in Finland, and has as its aim to promote and further the possibilities for communications on the internet.

Bogus patents and IPR claims stifle innovation and hinder positive uses of new technologies.

More often than not, the case is that the owner of the bogus IPR attacks the people who made the real innovation in the first place and worked hard to make it available to others.

When the real innovators are stifled by these bogus IPR owners, the whole society suffers enormously.

Most problems like this seem to originate from the USA. This casts a dark shadow on the US attempts to tighten IPR protections world-wide.

For example, the US patent office has been granting patents on clearly unpatentable topics for years. This makes one wonder is the validity of any US patent can be trusted at all.

We want to stress that IKI is not agains IPR protections. IKi believes that a balanced and ethical use of IPR protections do further society and the mankind at large, but abuse of the same should not be condoned by individuals or the society as it is detrimental to the development of the humankind.

Details on IKI.FI as prior art to the US patent 6,617,714

Since March 1995, the IKI society has been openly and publicly providing a forwarding service to its members, private individuals in Finland, with permanent iki.fi-addresses with e-mail (i.e. alias@iki.fi), WWW forwarding services (i.e. iki.fi/alias) as well as domain forwarding services (i.e. alias.iki.fi). IKI does not host the web pages or e-mailboxes, it just forwards the addresses.

This allows our members to keep the same personal identity should the actual location or ISP of their e-mail or www homepages change.

IKI has been providing forwarding for e-mail and www since March 1995 (society founding papers from March 1995 in Finnish at http://www.iki.fi/iki/perustamiskirja.html) and domain forwarding since February 6th, 1996 (official yearly report in Finnish at http://www.iki.fi/iki/toimintakertomus-1995.html).

IKI.FI is well known in Finland and in other countries and has over 10.000 members (in 1999, IKI.FI had already over 4.000 members), so IKI's and similar functionality provided by others has been and is widely known, and widely visible on the internet as people have actively been using their IKI and other similar addresses.

IKI is willing to provide further details and proof/testimony on this topic, in exchange for the actual costs and expenses incurred.

Analysis of the patent

The ”beef” of the ”patent” is in the first claim, which says:

  1. A method for assigning URL's and e-mail addresses to members 
     of a group comprising the steps of:    
     - assigning each member of said group a URL of the form 
       "name.subdomain.domain"; and
     - assigning each member of said group an e-mail address of 
       the form "name@subdomain.domain;"
  wherein the "name" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is 
  the same and unique for each particular one of said members such 
  that an only difference between said URL and said e-mail 
  address for said member is that in said URL the "@" symbol of 
  the e-mail address is replaced with a "." and wherein said 
  "subdomain" portion of said URL and said e-mail address is the 
  same for all members of said group.

This just describes that you can provide addresses like joe@sixpack.com and joe.sixpack.com for internet users.

That kind of practise of using matching e-mail addresses and web addresses has been widely used common practise on the internet since the very early days of the internet, well before the filing date of the patent.

IKI.FI is just one example of this common practise.

Information about the "patent" and the parties claiming it is valid

Title: Method, apparatus and business system for online communications with online and offline recipients

US patent number: 6,671,714 (6671714), Patent text on US patent office web site

Filing date: November 23, 1999

”Inventors”: Frank Michael Weyer, Troy Kurosh Javaher

”Inventors'” ”Attorney” or ”Agent”: Frank M. Weyer, TechCoastLaw (their website seems to be http://www.techcoastlaw.com)

(Assumably US patent office) Primary Examiner: Zarni Maung

(Assumably US patent office) Assistant Examiner: Kenny Lin


This page was written by the chairman of IKI.FI society, Hannu Aronsson, and is not an official statement by IKI.FI or the board of the society. This was written by an IPR-knowledgeable engineer and should not be considered legal advice and it is not an official legal statement.

Päivitetty 16.1.2004.

faq/bogusiprclaimuspatent6617714.txt · Viimeksi muutettu: 2019-05-02 17:46 / haa