Los Altos-based Mailblocks announced last Thursday that it has filed suit against EarthLink Inc. for patent infringement of its "Challenge/Response" technology, which eliminates e-mail spam from users' inboxes.
According to Mailblocks officials, EarthLink initiated discussions with the new e-mail provider in connection with its soon-to-be-launched service a short while ago. Based on information presently available, Mailblocks said it appears that the EarthLink service, as advertised, will infringe patent rights held by Mailblocks.
The suit was filed today in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
"Mailblocks developed and owns patents for Challenge/Response, and we intend to vigorously enforce our rights to the fullest extent permitted by law," said Phil Goldman, Mailblocks' CEO. "They're stealing the technology that we developed and own, and it's important for us to protect ourselves against a giant company that can otherwise crush a young, aspiring company like Mailblocks."
Mailblocks' patented Challenge/
Response technology eliminates spam generated by computers by assuring that only e-mail sent by humans is placed in a user's e-mail inbox. E-mail sent from anyone not in the user's electronic e-mail address book is placed in a Pending folder, and the sender is automatically sent a request to authenticate (a Challenge). Machine-generated e-mail cannot respond to the Challenge, so that message is not sent to the user's inbox. New users need to respond only once to a Challenge to be recognized in the future. When users wish to receive computer-generated e-mail, such as confirmations of e-mail purchases or newsletter subscriptions, they can use a special address to allow those mails to be sent directly to their inbox.
Mailblocks Inc. is a new class of Web-based e-mail service for consumers founded in July 2002 by Goldman, a former Microsoft vice president and a founder of WebTV. Goldman and company officially launched the product in late March. The firm is located at Main and Third streets in downtown Los Altos.
For more information, logon to www.mailblocks.com or call 947-9361.