AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON a remotely updatable database with a user interface - This issued patent from 1998 is being used by a troll Data Distribution Technologies LLC to sue a variety of real estate companies and software companies! 10 minutes of your time can help invalidate overbroad US patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

Seeking prior art for:

  • Patent Number: US 6,529,908
  • Assignee: Netspan Corporation
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 5/28/1998
  • Link to Google Prior Art Search - "Find Prior Art"

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 5/28/1998 that discusses:

  • Web-updated database with record distribution by email

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

Claim 100 requires each and every component below:

A remotely updatable database system comprising:

a) a central server and at least one subscriber system, said central server including:

  • i) a user interface for communicating with said at least one subscriber system to receive user input from a user at said at least one subscriber system;

  • ii) a database of information records;

  • iii) a database manager in communication with said user interface, for controlling said database such that each information record is associated with at least one user, and for amending said information records in response to user input received at said user interface from said at least one subscriber system; and

  • iv) a message server in communication with said database manager for serving a message including at least one record received from said database manager to said at least one user associated with said information record.

b) said subscriber system including:

  • i) a message receiver for receiving a message from said message server, said message including at least one file from said database;

  • ii) transfer memory for storing said at least one file;

  • iii) an output device for presenting information to a user; and

  • iv) a processor circuit in communication with said message receiver, said transfer memory and said output device, and processor memory programmed with processor-readable codes for directing said processor to direct said output device to present to the user a list of files stored in said local memory, the files included in said list having at least one predefined characteristic; and to direct said output device to present to the user at least some of the contents of at least one file having said at least one predefined characteristic.

  • 1
    With the multiple cases against some large entities (Kayak and RE/Max who both settled) I imagine some large effort has already gone into searches for prior art. For this community to add value on top of that it would be great to understand what has already been thrown at the patent in the litigation to-date and before the USPTO. The file wrapper is not available on PAIR due to the the dates.
    – George White
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 19:22
  • Those cases (against Kayak, ZooAlert, PriceGrabber.com, RE/Max and Weichert) settled without any prior art entering the public record via PACER. A current suit against Prudential and Brer Affiliates is ongoing, but again, no prior art in the public record yet.
    – Katie J
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 16:33

3 Answers 3


Majordomo was available and written about in 1992 and has a web interface component called MajorCool presented at USENIX in 1996.

MajorCool will cover the first part of the patent description - "Web updated database", while Majordomo covers the second part - "record distribution via email".


Sounds to me like a pretty good description of a ListServ Mailing List Manager which maintains a database of users and can send specific files based on keywords in either the subject or message body of an email. There can be many different kinds of files made available in this fashion, for instance the RFCs used to be published via a ListServ.

Also various commands could be performed such as subscribing to the list or updating your email address.

The ListServs have been around since at least the 80s and probably a lot earlier. Later versions (90's era) also included a web interface to perform the same/similar operations.

Any email based discussion group such as usenet news, or google groups etc. which also has a web interface (quite common) and keeps track of the subscribers (normal procedure) should fulfill all of the claims of this patent.


I guess Lotus Notes can do all these things and is around for quite a while now. The calendar could be used to schedule a meeting and all participants gets notification. The notification can have attachements (so something from a database).

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