back to article Go Daddy sued over email alerts

Go Daddy has been sued for allegedly infringing two patents when it sends email alerts to customers whose domain names and web hosting accounts are about to expire. Its accuser is WhitServe, a patent licensing company based in Connecticut. It also runs NetDocket, a service designed to make renewing trademark registrations and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    What a crock of sh1te...

    What a crock of sh1te - honestly - people have been sending email 'reminders' for far longer than their patent. Typical patent cr@p - what next - someone called Adam patented the act of BREATHING.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Genuinely Confused...

    Getting a computer system to send an email to an address based on a specific set of circumstances is not a difficult thing to do, it's used virtually everywhere. My insurance company reminds me to renew my car insurance, when I buy stuff online, they email me receipts and so on.

    I actually wrote a system like this for a company which solicited feedback on its experience days about a week after the customer was due to have completed. Since I wrote this system from scratch, of my own initiative, with no prior knowledge that someone had patented this, am I infringing?

    Anon. for obvious reasons...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Genuinely Confused..

      Are you American? If so, then yes. Your infringing their patent.

      If not, then no. You can't patent something so bloody stupid anywhere else.

    2. Marcus Aurelius

      1999 remember

      For prior art, you have to show that it was commonly performed before the patent filing date, not today.

      Not only that, you have to read the claims very carefully to see if

      a) you do actually perform what is described in the claims or not : if you don't you are in the clear anyway

      b) if you do perform exactly what is in the claims, you have to see if you can find some prior art which performs exactly what is in the claims, and then gum up the system by filing a reexamination request

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Just described, not commonly performed

        ''For prior art, you have to show that it was commonly performed before the patent filing date, not today.''

        Prior art means that the technique was known before the filing date, no one needs to have actually done it. Actually in the USA it is 1 year before the filing date.

      2. Steve Evans

        Re: 1999 remember

        There is another part (which doesn't seem to apply to US patents). The patent should not be for the "bleedin'" obvious (that's my phasing).

        Sending a renewal reminder email is just a modern version of sending a mail reminder by post. Something which anyone who would like to keep receiving your money has been doing since the dawn of time.

    3. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      A lot of our in-house system monitoring scripts do this, send emails out when something needs attention, should Whitserv start trolling...well basically every company that looks after it's own IT infrastructure?!

      Every day another troll comes out from under the bridge, I'm sure there must be some secret TV channel these people watch..."Do you own the rights to IP? Is your company in desperate need of some free PR? Then call us today! We can help put your IP rights to work for you! You could earn big dollars ( cue prat waving flipping great wads at the camera )! All you need to do is dig out some trivial patent for something that everyone else is using and seems convinced is common sense and in the public domain, we'll do the rest!!! Call today!!!"

  3. DavCrav Silver badge

    Prior art

    Cat tax reminders.

    That is all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      wait - what?

      A tax on cats?

      Give that man a medal. Those fluffy, sh*tting-on-my-lawn bastards deserve to pay.

      ... Oh sorry, is this not my online therapy session? As you were, then

    2. Pete B

      You get taxed on your cats?

      Which country is this in?

    3. Lockwood


      My sister didn't pay her cat tax

      What happened?

      They'll whisker away.

      I didn't even paws to think of that.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        For shame...

        1. Lockwood


          "Fur shame..."


    4. Tiny Iota

      Would that be...

      A poll(cat) tax?

      *yes, yes, I know it’s "pole", but I can't let spelling get in the way of a good pun*

    5. Ian Michael Gumby

      Go further back than that...

      You have calendar reminders, birthday reminders going back to the late 80's.

      And if you get down to it... the patent is invalid because its basically a system to send messages (e-mail, pager, sms, etc...) based on a triggered event.

      Whoever granted this patent should be fired for gross incompetence.

    6. Marcus Aurelius

      Cat tax?!?!?!

      Damn, I didn't realise you needed to pay cat tax - I'm not licensed to run my Moggy minor!!

    7. JakeyC

      Re: Cat tax

      Is that what you pay to avoid getting sued for breach of a pussy patent?

    8. Dave Murray


      Is it expensive to tax your pussy?

    9. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

      I refuse

      As a point of principle, I refuse to pay tax for my cat. This hugely pettist regressive tax is symptomatic of the way the country is going.

    10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Prius art

      Whyever didn't you point out that you meant to write "car tax reminders" but you accidentally wrote "cat" instead of "car"? You know, letting a mistake like that stand without correcting it, makes you look ridiculous.

      1. NoDosh

        re: Prius Art

        Well at least two of us got the joke there. The downvoters.... not so much.

    11. nonononono

      Happy cat

      Is your cat called Eric, and did the men from the Ministry of Housinge come around in their cat dectector van?

  4. mamsey

    Patenetly, patent troll...

    IMHO all patent trolls will be first against the wall...

    1. Elmer Phud

      Expect a letter from my solicitors

      I've registered prior use of 'will be first against the wall' and any similar variations.

      I have a bank account in the Caymans and an expensive lifestyle to feed.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        I've sent your prior use of "first against the wall" back in time to the late 1970s

        where Douglas Adams used it in [The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy]. (If you aren't familiar with that book or radio show, probably none of this comment will be intelligible.)

        You'll probably be surprised to hear that subsequently you yourself were the first against the wall when the revolution came.

        As it happens it was the sexual revolution...

        1. Marvin the Martian

          Douglas Adams?!

          It's actually standard 20s-onwards Communist exclamations, "... come the revolution, the [lawyers/boyars/bourgeois pastry makers/...] will be first against the wall".

          Come the revolution, it will be Mac & MS against the wall.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            re: Mac & MS against the wall

            For some reason I read that as "M & S against the wall" - presumably a reference to the bourgeois pastry makers.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      On reflection,

      The one that is first against the wall will sue all of the others.

    3. david wilson


      >>"IMHO all patent trolls will be first against the wall..."

      You'd better make sure you don't stick their names in a database along the way.

      I'm sure there'll be a US patent out for "A method of organising executions by firing squad by obviously computerising whatever it was that people have already been doing for fucking centuries"

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re "obviously computerising whatever it was that people have already been doing"

        It seems to me that you are also being allowed to patent "taking a thing that people have already been doing on a computer, but now it's on the LAN / the Internet / and particularly, on a mobile phone."

        Like, there are probably SMS patents that define something that was previously and, to us, identically, done in e-mail. Or maybe not SMS specifically, but I believe I've seen reports of patents just as stupid as that, obviousness-wise.

        And the mobile phone isn't the last word either... here come the tablet smartphones. And probably a whole new set of patents. Put wheels on a tablet and you just patented the skateboard over again - and also, patented "using a skateboard whilst in possession of a tablet device". (Although I think they advise you not to. Sissies. Well, actually, Samsung told me in the manual not to WEAR my Galaxy Tab phone, BUT I DO. Yeah, I -could- fall over and break it, but I don't drink. Nor board-skate.)

  5. John Stirling

    Go Daddy go!

    Please, for the love of all things 'obvious' fight.

    I am pretty sure I still have a few examples of prior art from when my dentist used to remind me to get my teeth scrubbed every 6 months.

    Also HMRC infringe this patent every year by reminding me to file a tax return.

    And finally - my BOFH alert from El Reg - could be costly for us all.

  6. Kynth

    Looking for an icon

    I'm sure we used to have a Troll Alert icon back in the day.

  7. HollyHopDrive

    i think....

    ....its about time the retarded morons that come up with these stupid patent ideas should have their useful organs removed and donated to a human who is worthy of a life. Oh, and without pain killers. Then when that's been done a quick trip to the patient office and repeat for the approver.

    1. John Sturdy
      Paris Hilton


      Would you really want their organs?

      Paris, 'cos I hear she likes organs.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Infringing patents by sending an email?

    Out of curiosity, can someone in the patent office tell me how many patents I infringe when I scratch my ass? If licencing rights are too expensive, I might have to subcontract.

  9. Cameron Colley

    Please let WhitServ go bust.

    I doubt it will happen but it would be such fun if the firm went bust and the owners committed suicide. I know that may sound harsh, but people like this are holding up the entire human race and wasting everybody's resources while giving absolutely fuck all in return. At least the victims of muggers have a good story to tell, the victims of these cunts have nothing.

  10. ratfox

    Why oh why?

    Why why why was this patent accepted? Yeah, I know: the USPTO does not give a shit, because the more crap patents they accept, the more their job is secure. Let the courts deal with invalidating them. Lawyers earn money, and everybody is happy. Erm.


  11. Anonymous Coward


    "IMHO all patent trolls will be first against the wall..."

    Next to estate agents, accident claim managers, bankers and who else...?

    1. Vic

      The terminally useless...

      > Next to estate agents, accident claim managers, bankers and who else...?

      Isn't it about time we built the B-Ark?


      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        The B-Ark

        but then we'd all get sick from unsanitary telephones...

  12. RRob

    Hope they win

    I hope this troll wins. I hope all the trolls win. Face the facts, stop pretending the current system isn't useless, let's race to the end as fast as we can and get it over with.

  13. Titus Technophobe

    Prior art

    I stuck an email reminder on systems I was managing in the early 90's that the team hadn't remembered to load the backup tape.

    Assuming this is prior art where do I go for my shed load of cash?

    1. david wilson


      >>"Assuming this is prior art where do I go for my shed load of cash?"

      Where I've recordably done things which were subsequently patented by someone else, I guess I could overturn the patent if I wanted, and I could certainly defend myself pretty easily against a request to comply with the patent, but that's about it.

      I guess if there was something where you were the /only/ example of prior art, you might try asking the patent holder for money to keep quiet, but this doesn't seem like one of those situations.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A petard they won't wanna be foist by

    Whitserve's domain is registered with Dotster.

    Dotster's website says, '60-days* before your domain(s) expire will [sic] send notices reminding you to renew them.'

    So, on the basis that they can sue Zygo for being a GoDaddy customer, shouldn't Whitserve sue itself for being a Dotster customer?

  15. g e

    more prior art

    I have shareit automated payment reports in my inbox from 1999 and I'm damned sure they were doing it in 1998, too...

    In fact I almost certainly have domain renewal reminders from before then too. In fact most of the world must have.

  16. Wang N Staines

    Lucky American

    A small price to pay for living in the free world.

    I got my insurance reminder by email last week, maybe this UK company is affected by this patent too.

  17. Ben 54

    Patents are killing business

    Soon you wont be able to compete with new inventions because everyone have some stupid patent out stopping creativity. Seriously, this patent, like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich patent (Seriously, search for the article here on the reg) is getting stupid and out if hand. I say kill patents, what does it achieve other than trolls register nonsense and wait for a big fish to use that idea.

    1. Bill B

      @killing business

      Not neccessarily.

      If your market is not in the states then the patent is unenforceable. I would suspect that if the US Patent system continues along this path then US business will find themselves excluded from the Asian and European markets as local manufacturers undercut them and out-innovate them. May not happen this year, or the next but sure as hell will eventually.

  18. K. Adams

    Prior art?

    -- Cron + Sendmail + Majordomo

    -- Listserv

    -- Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0/5.5 (Calendar reminders)

    -- Novell GroupWise 5.2

  19. Chad H.


    A patent on sending someone an email when their times almost up and giving them an option to buy more... Seems to this non-lawyer to be the definition of Obvious.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to get tough

    It's time companies started suing the judges and patent officers personally for professional negligence. A patent on emailed reminders is just bloody moronic and whoever granted it should be facing the sack, and costs.

  21. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    One of the problems is that the USPTO used to (they are trying to tighten up their act) only searched prior art that was in their own patent database.

    That's how that American pharma company got away with patenting Turmeric as a wound cleaner - the Sanskrit authors in 300BC forgot to register it.

    So if it was obvious to send email reminders and nobody patented it they wouldn't find any prior art. You can bring up any other prior art you want when it goes to court. Of course this will cost you a $M in legal fees and they will hear the case in East Texas where the court always finds for the patent holder.

    Strange that they would go after Zygo - probably just the last entry on the alphabetical list of customers.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    And people keep wondering...

    ...why more and more companies (even American ones) are "leaving" the US (either for real or by transferring their main department to another country (even if it is only on paper). Which, obviously, also means that they won't pay the same amount of taxes as other companies.

    I really wonder how much income for the American government is lost as a result of patent idiocies like this ?

    1. Captain Thyratron

      Probably no small amount.

      Not that they'll notice with the USPTO bragging about how much revenue they generate by doling out patents at tens of thousands of dollars apiece. There is, unfortunately, great immediate reward to be had by awarding as many patents as possible. Undeniably, though, the resulting patent warfare is bad for business, but they don't care and cannot be arsed to think that far. That's a different federal bureaucracy's problem, right?

      Really, though, the US loses far more tax revenues by having some of the highest business taxes in the world, thereby encouraging American companies to move as many offices and industrial sites to other countries as possible, and generally to hunt for any loopholes that can be found. If they didn't, their shareholders would be furious at what the government intends to be the cost of operating a business in the United States.

  23. nyelvmark
    Thumb Up

    This is hilarious

    It reminds me of this article in The Onion from 1998:,599/

    It strikes me that WhitServe and Lodsys are doing us a favour in the same way that Anonymous and Lulzsec are - demonstrating the enormous difference between the legal situation and the actual reality.

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    prior art....

    I was emailing account summaries and automated reminders to my customers as far back as 1996 - and I didn't use anything original to do so. (Nor was I the only one doing it)

  25. Peter Murphy

    You can't do business with patent trolls!

    WhitServ can die in a fire. This is the sort of thing that makes foreigners averse to doing business in the United States. I host my site there, because nothing local will support my chosen platform as cheaply and as competently as my provider. [*] However, my domain name service is as Australian as I, so THEIR constant yearly reminders won't be subject to litigation. WhitServ could try, but they would get the longbowman salute from us.

    [* Django, in case you are wondering. For the would-be patent trolls reading this list: I do not get automated reminders from my hosting service, so piss off.]

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