15 Jul 2010

ePostal News: Swiss Post Tries Skirting RPost Patents

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The government-owned Swiss Post, forced out of the American registered e-mail market when RPost sued it for patent and trademark infringement, says it’s going to try to re-architect its IncaMail service so it doesn’t step on RPost’s toes anymore.

Basically it’s the only way the post can salvage its European IncaMail business because RPost has European patents that it hasn’t played yet.

Swiss Post is hoping to have the remade IncaMail 3.0 ready this fall.

In the meantime, it continues to talk to RPost about the European market but it’s unclear if they’ll come to an amicable settlement.

RPost could sue for infringement in Europe based merely on the fact that Swiss Post continues to service existing IncaMail customers like the Federal Court of Switzerland although it has ceased to sign new customers anywhere.

Swiss Post says the new recast IncaMail will have new functions as well as a new architecture and that medium-sized and large companies will have the option of running IncaMail themselves and making it available to their employees under their own auspices.

Existing links such as the seamless integration of IncaMail in Outlook or with business software solutions such as Abacus are supposed to remain, but the new stuff is supposed to have enhanced security.

Currently, instead of getting e-mail contents directly, recipients get a link to Swiss Post’s security server where they can collect their e-mail through a special access code. With IncaMail 3.0 this interim storage process will no longer be necessary. The message text along with accompanying documents will be encrypted and sent as an integral part of the e-mail.

Users will be able to open it directly with an appropriate access code.

The post said in a statement that thanks to so-called patented direct delivery, “the intermediate storage of e-mails at Swiss Post will no longer be necessary. IncaMail 3.0 can be easily combined with Swiss Post’s digital identity, SuisseID.”

RPost say, “We’ll see if it infringes or not.”

RPost dropped its US suit after the Swiss signed a confidential settlement believed to involve some financial recompense. The US company claims to own the technology for registered, legally valid, court-admissible evidence of e-mail content and delivery as well as the registered e-mail trademark and puts the current value of the worldwide market for such widgetry at a billion dollars.

Odds makers are betting it’ll eventually take the United States Postal Service and its ePostmark to court.

IncaMail is Swiss Post’s established service for the secure and verifiable dispatch of e-mails. Until the new version is launched in the autumn, it says it will not be available to new customers.

Owners of the Swiss Post Suisse ID, the digital identity of Swiss Post, are automatically preregistered for IncaMail. Anyone wishing to send a SuisseID electronically signed document via a secure channel can send it using IncaMail, encrypted and, on request, as electronic registered mail.

SuisseID has been available since May from Swiss Post and is based on the SECO SuisseID standard for digital identity and signature in Switzerland.

Ironically it is approved by the Swiss government for exchanging official and confidential documents instead of using physical mail.

Moreover the Swiss have made it clear they don’t want any more basic services cut.

Otherwise, RPost’s Registered Email and Email Encryption Services are now integrated with BlueTie’s Hosted Email Platform.

BlueTie provides e-mail hosting and collaboration solutions to SMBs and service providers worldwide, reportedly supporting more than 230,000 businesses and millions of users under its current paid distribution model. RPost is supposed to help it define outbound messaging services as a class of value-added e-mail services.

Reprinted with permission from ePostalNews.