Polaris IP is a company you probably never heard of but they have a patent on an e-mail routing system and are using it to sue the Internet’s largest companies. In particular, Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, A9, Borders, AOL and IAC/Interactive Corp among others are named in a suit claiming infringement on patent 6,411,947.
With ITEXPO just around the corner I haven’t had the time to delve deeply into this patent. Here is the abstract:
A method for automatically interpreting an electronic message, including the steps of (a) receiving the electronic message from a source; (b) interpreting the electronic message using a rule base and case base knowledge engine; and (c) classifying the electronic message as at least one of (i) being able to be responded to automatically; and (ii) requiring assistance from a human operator. The method for automatically interpreting an electronic message may also include the step of retrieving one or more predetermined responses corresponding to the interpretation of the electronic message from a repository for automatic delivery to the source.
This patent seems to apply to a number of advertising related companies as they all use a machine to determine which ad will be served based on web page content.
The original patent claim was applied for by a company called Brightware. I did a search and found TMCnet did cover the company in 2000.
Here is an excerpt from this article which ties directly into the patent:
Brightware, Inc. announced the immediate general availability of Brightware Converse, a fully integrated live chat product that builds better relationships with e-customers through real-time Web-based interactions between the e-customer and a company’s customer service representatives (CSRs).Converse is the first product of its kind that works in concert with Brightware’s Web and Email Assistance products to deliver an integrated, personalized experience for the e-cCustomer. Built on Brightware’s proven automation technology foundation, the Converse product line provides:
- The ability to maximize resources by enabling agents to respond to chat and email messages using a common, intuitive Agent Desktop;
- Supervisors with the ability to more smoothly manage operations, using the Contact Center’s integrated Supervisor Desktop to oversee both chat and email interactions;
- Added benefits of intelligent automation to classify and automatically pre-compose suggested responses to chat inquiries that agents can rapidly review, approve and send to a supervisor to improve their productivity and chat consistency; and,
- Collaborative browsing to not only answer chat inquiries but simultaneously direct customers to the right Web page when appropriate.
The patent was applied for on April 2, 1998. There were a number of companies doing similar things to what this company does at the same time or possibly before.
Brightware was subsequently purchased by Siebel Systems which is now a part of Oracle so it is surprising the patent did not come packaged with the sale of the company. It seems Polaris IP purchased this asset. As the New York Times mentions, patent suits are a dime a dozen so I won’t cover this case again unless it becomes bigger news.