0

Patent US2016294759 protects

  1. A computer-implemented method comprising: synchronizing with an email service and receiving an email message via a data network; parsing content of the received email message to identify and suppress email content not related to conversational content and retaining the conversational content; reformatting the received email message to include the conversational content in a chat style format as an expressive conversation; making the expressive conversation available to a client email application; and presenting the expressive conversation to a user via the client email application.

a.k.a. designing an email app to work like a messenger (it was originally filed by the developer company of this app but was apparently transferred to someone else now).

I had the same idea, found their app and then their patent but would still like to build my own app, the way I image it to be. Would I violate this patent when leaving out the

parsing content of the received email message to identify and suppress email content not related to conversational content and retaining the conversational content

part in my app – i.e. does the patent protect the general concept of an email messenger, or only all the aspects described therein in combination?

If so, there seems to be a U.S. patent only (I found no patent family members, cf. here). I found this thread addressing the issue but its answer remained pretty vague. Could Apple throw my app out if their app store because they're a U.S.-based company, even if I specifically choose not to distribute my app to U.S. users?

Also, I found multiple other apps doing the same thing; is there any way of finding out whether they have licensing deals, e.g. by looking at their annual reports or something?:

Thanks in advance!

1
  • Unfortunately, the embedded question "Could Apple throw my app out if their app store because they're a U.S.-based company, even if I specifically choose not to distribute my app to U.S. users?" is off topic here.
    – Eric S
    Commented Feb 1 at 0:01

1 Answer 1

1

You are asking a legal question and as I am not a lawyer, I'm not prepared to provide legal advice. I doubt even a lawyer would. If you want a legal opinion, I'm afraid you should be prepared to pay for one. That said, I'll try to provide helpful guidance.

The document you linked is an application, not a granted patent. The application was granted as US10097485B. It is important to look at the actual issued patent as the claims are often different from the application. One thing to keep in mind, to infringe on a patent, you must implement each and every step of at least one claim. Thus, if a claim implements steps A, B, C and D and you only implement A, B and C, you don't infringe. This is the first claim:

  1. A computer-implemented method to improve network communications between users via email, the method comprising:

    synchronizing with an email service and receiving an email message via a data network;

    parsing content of the received email message to identify and suppress email content not related to conversational content and retaining the conversational content, the identifying email content including recognizing email closing words in the email message, the email closing words corresponding to email metadata and signature lines not related to the conversational content, the suppressing email content including hiding the email metadata and signature lines corresponding to the email closing words;

    reformatting the received email message to include the conversational content in a chat style format as an expressive conversation, the formatting the expressive conversation including formatting each response of the users in a bubble of a bubble chat style format, the bubble for each response configured for presentation on a right side, left side, or alternative side of a user interface, depending on an identity of a user who entered each response;

    making the expressive conversation available to a client email application;

    and presenting the expressive conversation to a user via the client email application.

This is a pretty long claim. Counterintuitively, long claims are generally narrow and short claims are generally broad. If your implementation leaves out any step from this claim, then you avoid infringement of the claim. You need to review the other claims too to determine if you are free from infringement of the patent. Specifically claims 11 and 16 which are the other two independent claims. They are similarly long.

2
  • Thanks a lot for your response! The ABCD-ABC thing was exactly what I was getting at. Commented Feb 1 at 16:18
  • 1
    @HorstMueller Be advised that avoiding infringement of one patent does not guarantee freedom to operate. There is the possibility of other relevant patents.
    – Eric S
    Commented Feb 1 at 16:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .