Texas company says it owns patent to spam filtering, sues Google, Apple, Yahoo, Dell, AOL, IBM, 30 others

Texas company says it owns patent to spam filtering, sues Google, Apple, Yahoo, Dell, AOL, IBM, 30 others ...

A Texas “company” called InNova (once you see the website, you’ll see why we put it in quotes) is suing 36 companies – including Google, Yahoo, Apple, Dell, AOL, Bank of America, RIM and 29 others saying it that all of these companies are infringing on InNova’s patent for – get this – email spam filtering.

The suit claims that InNova’s founder, Robert Uomini was awarded a patent 15 years ago that “covers technology used to differentiate between spam email messages and those that users actually want to receive, i.e. spam filtering. The attorney representing InNova says that “Unfortunately, the defendants appear to be profiting from this invention without any consideration for InNova’s legal patent rights.”

You can see the full list of “the defendants” below: it’s a who’s who of tech, finance, retail and other industries. InNova’s attorneys must be planning to argue that many of these company’s internal emailing systems use spam filtering, but Rent-a-Center? Really?

Obviously, if this holds up and InNova really does have the rights to spam filtering, they could be awarded a very large chunk of change, with lots of zeros on the end. That said, the patent seems pretty basic and, well, who is InNova and where has it been all these years? Expect each and every one of these companies to fight this one hard.

Here’s the full list (the entire list of 36 includes some different branches of the same company, so we’ve distilled it to the main names in some cases). Notice that Microsoft (Hotmail) isn’t in there, which is a bit strange, as well as cable carriers such as Charter or Comcast [update: as one our commentors points out below, many of these companies have corporate offices in the area where the suit was filed]:

  • Apple
  • JCPenney
  • Google
  • 3Com Corporation
  • Alcatel-Lucent Holding
  • American International Group
  • AOL
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One Cinemark
  • Citigroup
  • Crossmark
  • Dell
  • Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
  • Ericsson
  • Frito-Lay
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • IBM
  • JPMorgan
  • McAfee
  • Perot Systems
  • Rent-A-Center
  • Research in Motion
  • Siemens
  • Symantec
  • Wells Fargo
  • Yahoo

Note: This post has been updated since July 21.

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