AT&T Patents Spamming Techniques

from the um... dept

Lots of folks appear to be puzzling over this one. Dan Gillmor is noting that AT&T appears to have received a patent on getting around spam filters. Yes, you read that right. They’ve got a patent on faking out spam filters. There are just so many directions to go with this story… First, some people are wondering if perhaps AT&T is hoping to use this in an anti-spam strategy by suing spammers – saying they’ve violated the patent by getting around filters. That seems highly unlikely in practice – and extremely unlikely to hold up in court. So, then why would they file for such a patent? It’s possible they want to offer a service to spammers that would help them get around filters – and this way they can stop other companies from offering the same thing. Of course, the more important point is that this is a patent for getting around spam filters. How is that possibly patentable? I’ve certainly violated this patent a bunch of times when emails I’ve sent to friends got caught in spam filters and I needed to adjust the content. How can this possibly be considered “non-obvious” by even the most dim-witted patent reviewer?

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Comments on “AT&T Patents Spamming Techniques”

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cheshireFish says:

at&t anti-spam patent

Included way down on the application, just before appendix A is:
Thus, Anti-spam techniques based on the various forms of duplicate detection are useful only as long as spammers don’t use the list-splitting countercountermeasure, because the LS-spammer has a powerful advantage in the arms race. I believe the anti-spam research and development communities should focus attention instead on the techniques that are impervious to list Splitting, such as cryptographic techniques and the email channels approach.

This suggests that the aim of the patent is to provide a legal tool employable against spammers using this common technique.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Corporations' love-hate-love relationship with spa

Let’s be real: corporations would love legitimized spam. Why? Because spam is a marketing tool. Just imagine the corporate marketer drooling every time (s)he hears a story of a male-member pill spammer who made $100,000 for practically zero cost, while sitting in his basement in Boca Raton. Don’t you think they want a piece of that action?
Unless some heavy-duty anti-spam legislation is passed quickly, people will become desensitized to the point where spam becomes just an unavoidable nuisance on the internet, like mosquitoes. Then corporations will take their cue to step in and “clean things up”, and ensure that you are being marketed to “appropriately”.
Wouldn’t you, if you knew that your message would end up in front of the noses of hundreds millions of people? Sure you would, if you were a greedy, short-sighted, insensitive corporate scumbag. “Just penetrating and exploiting markets, dudes!”

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