RPost, the Registered Email merchant, has sued Swiss Post and Canada Post for patent infringement. Both state-owned institutions have been charged with infringing the same 2001 patent separately in different venues.
RPost claims Swiss Post’s IncaMail secure e-mail service and Canada Post’s like-minded PosteCS infringe its US Patent No. 6,182,219 entitled “Apparatus and Method for Authenticating the Dispatch and Contents of Documents.”
RPost holds 30 US and international patents and claims to own the technology for registered, legally recognized, court-admissible evidence of e-mail content and delivery going back to 1996. Its patents broadly cover the technologies of verifiable proof of e-mail delivery and value-added outbound e-mail processing. RPost puts the value of the worldwide market for such widgetry at a billion dollars and says it’s likely to reach $3 billion in a few years.
In both the Swiss and Canadian cases RPost wants the allegedly infringing products enjoined. It also wants damages to be decided in jury trials. Canada Post has been sued in federal court in the formidable, notoriously plaintiff-leaning Eastern Division of Texas, Marshall Division where RPost has an office. Swiss Post has been sued in federal court in the Central District of California, where RPost sued Swiss Post last year.
After RPost filed suit last March, Swiss Post immediately stopped selling IncaMail and within a few months the two companies came to a still confidential settlement believed to involve a financial payment by Swiss Post but apparently not a royalty-bearing license to RPost technology. The deal involved Swiss Post abandoning the American registered e-mail market to RPost. As a result, RPost dropped its suit and Swiss Post, pursuing a build rather than buy strategy, began re-architecting IncaMail to salvage its European franchise, recently releasing IncaMail 3.0.
In filing its new suit RPost said Swiss Post “has ignored key provisions of the settlement” and claims the re-architected IncaMail 3.0 treads on its patents as much as the old IncaMail. RPost CEO Zafar Khan called it a “textbook case of patent infringement.”
He said Swiss Post had only made “cosmetic changes” and that IncaMail 3.0 still maps directly to RPost’s “multiple patent claims” in what it does and how it does it.
Khan released a statement saying that “We do not understand why the Swiss government would jeopardize their reputation and image by allowing its executives to operate in this manner. Swiss Post executives have no excuse for this blatant infringement of RPost patents. “Swiss Post appears to believe they are above the law – displaying a total disregard for the intellectual property rights of others. Unfortunately, Swiss Post’s actions put their users, partners and other postal services considering Swiss Post technology at considerable risk. A word of caution to users and partners of Swiss Post services; we intend to vigorously defend all of our intellectual property everywhere.”
It is unclear what terms of their settlement RPost believes Swiss Post violated besides infringement. It is not mentioned in the suit but it presumably has to do with Swiss Post not really exiting the American market. RPost reportedly used IncaMail 3.0 to deliver to Swiss Post a copy of the new suit after it was filed on December 22. Khan said the Los Angeles company signed up for IncaMail 3.0 in the states and Swiss Post responded by sending one of the two authentication codes for the thing by paper mail.
When RPost filed its first suit against Swiss Post, Khan described it as a warning “to the world on behalf of all American Internet innovators: you can’t circumvent American patent law just by operating servers offshore, no matter how big you are.”
Meanwhile, RPost, which has joint ventures with the government postal services of Bermuda, Iceland, Colombia and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly been trying to persuade Canada Post to legitimize its PosteCS service for some time. RPost would prefer to persuade Canada Post to OEM its technology given that PosteCS hasn’t evolved since it was launched 10 years ago and doesn’t support modern gadgetry like iPad, Blackberry and eSignatures.
Despite the fact that RPost guarantees that any reseller will be up and running in 30 days and capturing revenue in 90 days, Canada Post put out a 22-page RFI last year to expand its PosteCS functionality. Interestingly, the RPost suit, which was just filed, doesn’t limit its allegations to PosteCS. RPost has chased a number of copycats claiming to offer proof of e-mail delivery out of the market. Some have ceased operating. Goodmail agreed to use RPost technology for all of its POD products.
RPost claims it can throw other patents from the same patent family at infringers. It’s got patents in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. It also has patents pending.
Reprinted with permission from ePostalNews.
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