In CBT Flint Partners, LLC v. Return Path, Inc., 99 USPQ2d 1610 (Fed. Cir. 2011), CBT Flint Partners, LLC (“CBT”) appealed the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia’s grant of summary judgment of invalidity of claim 13 of U.S. Patent 6,587,550 (“the ‘550 patent”). CBT owns the ‘550 patent, as well as another patent, the ‘114 patent, which both relate to methods and systems for charging a fee for sending spam email to recipients. In the preferred embodiment of the ‘550 patent, the invention is implemented as part of an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”). When a sender attempts to send spam emails over the ISP network, the patented system determines whether this sender is an “authorized sending party,” i.e., a party who has agreed to pay a fee to the ISP. If the sender is an authorized sending party, the ISP will forward its spam emails to the intended recipients. If the sender is not an authorized sending party, the patented system will send a message to the sender, giving the sender the option to pay the fee and become an authorized sending party. If the sender does not pay this fee, its spam emails will not be forwarded over the network.
In August 2007, CBT sued Return Path, Inc. and Cisco Ironport Systems, LLC (“the Defendants”), alleging infringement of both the ‘550 and ‘114 patents by the Defendants’ “Bonded Sender” system. This system analyzes incoming emails to determine whether they came from an authorized computer and, if so, forwards them to their intended recipients. CBT asserted infringement of claim 13 of the ‘550 patent, as well as infringement of ten claims of the ‘114 patent. Continue reading