RPost Does Not Meet Any Definition of ‘Patent Troll’

Changes to patent law that attempt to weaken the patent system, and decisions that invalidate patents based on section 101 such as the decision at issue in RPost v. GoDaddy, have often been publicly justified as being necessary to stop nasty patent trolls. As I have written and lectured extensively, the term patent troll has no agreed-upon definition, and is used against any patent holder of any kind by infringers and by those who believe there should be no patents.[1],[2]

In reports of this case, Petitioner RPost has been unfairly described as a patent troll.[3], [4], [5] In fact, RPost is a privately held cybersecurity technology company that has been in operation since 2000. For at least the past two years, RPost has been listed as representative of vendors in Gartner’s Market Guide for Electronic Signature.[6], [7] The company has developed and sells four software platform services and products—RMail, RSign, RForms, and RPostal—that help their customers track, record, and prove the content and delivery of an e-mail with less cost, time, paper, and risk. According to its website, these products and services have been used by more than 25 million people throughout the world.[8] Its products have received excellent reviews from recognized industry experts.[9] Microsoft promotes RPost on its partner website for offering “an Outlook add-in that puts advanced email capabilities in the hands of any Microsoft Outlook or Office 365 user.”[10] Its RMail product was even favorably reviewed and recommended by the American Bar Association.[11]

Whether one is sympathetic or opposed to patent trolls, this pejorative term does not apply to RPost. This designation is only being used to cloud the issues. It is an unfortunate tactic used by those who wish to influence the courts and public opinion to weaken the patent system for all inventors. In RPost v. GoDaddy, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to clarify that patent ownership is a constitutionally guaranteed right that encourages and supports innovation and does not discriminate based on the type of business or business model of the patent owner.

For more please read the amicus brief of inventors, entrepreneurs and small business owners filed in support of the Petitioner on December 1, 2017.


[1] Bob Zeidman, Sloppy, Misleading Yale Paper Challenges University Patenting, IP Watchdog  (July 15, 2014).

[2] Bob Zeidman, The bogeymen destroying the patent system, San Jose Mercury News (April 16, 2014).

[3] laura, Patent trolling, meet RPost, Word to the Wise (September 4, 2013).

[4] Michael Carney, Patent Trolling, Shell Corporations, and Alleged Fraud in the Shadow of the Hollywood Sign, Pando (September 17, 2012).

[5] Shaun Nichols, Go, GoDaddy! Domain-slinger decapitates email patent troll in court, The Register, https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/10/godaddy_prevails_patent_troll_fight (May 10, 2017)

[6] Arielle Castro, RPost Included as a Representative Vendor for Dedicated Email Encryption in Gartner Market Guide for Email Encryption, RPost (February 11, 2016).

[7] Arielle Castro, RPost Listed in Gartner’s Market Guide for Electronic Signature as a Representative Vendor, RPost (February 28, 2017).

[8] RPost, About RPost, retrieved November 23, 2017.

[9] Neil J. Rubenking, RPost Office, PC Magazine (July 26, 2011).

[10]  RPost, Microsoft (2017)

[11] Alan Pearlman, RPost Registered E-Mail, American Bar Association (June 2007)


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Join the Discussion

8 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    December 28, 2017 02:18 pm


    If RPost meets your definition of a patent troll the problem is with your definition of a patent troll.

    As for the rest of your comment (or should I say rant)… the article does not mention whether the patent claims in issue were valid or invalid, so you set up an intellectually dishonest and deceitful straw man that somehow lets you feel like you can stand on a soap box and lecture us here.

    You are entitled to your opinion that patents do not help progress. Everyone has the right to be wrong, after all.

    While you have a right to a clearly erroneous opinion, you don’t have the right to make up facts. You say: “In any case, the courts have unanimously spoken.” That is simply not true. So either you are completely uninformed about what you are commenting on (which seems very likely) or you are lying.

  • [Avatar for BT]
    December 28, 2017 01:41 pm

    The title of this article is incorrect. I understand if they don’t meet your definition of a patent troll, but they do meet mine, so to say they do not meet any definition of a patent troll is, well, patently false. Whether or not they actually do some real business is interesting, but not relevant to my definition.

    I find it intellectually dishonest to pretend that one must either think RPost’s patent was valid in this case or want to tear down the whole patent system with no ground in between. As a software engineer, I do not think it is a good thing to have patents on obvious things that any decent engineer focused on the specific issue would come up with in a relatively short time. I don’t think that helps progress, despite what lawyers say.

    And of course lawyers are all for patents and have a hard time understanding any shortcomings with the current patent system as applied to software. The more patents there are, the more money lawyers can make. If we could patent the way we walk and talk, those in the legal profession would benefit even more.

    In any case, the courts have unanimously spoken. Hopefully this is just the beginning of rolling back some of these absurd cash grabs.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    December 8, 2017 10:14 am

    People believe this stuff? @4

    “If it’s to extract settlements by over broadly asserting your patents with no intent to bring your invention to market, then you ARE a troll”

    Dude, you are either on infringer’s payroll or have no idea what you are talking about
    You can only assert your (valid) patent claims as granted by the PTO and nothing broader than that

    Products and markets have nothing to do with patent system, NOTHING

    Patents are issued on inventions, not products

    And your “intent” means nothing if big infringer’s intent is to steal your patented tech for free
    you can write them all you want – they won’t even respond until you sue them in district court

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    December 6, 2017 11:54 am

    People believe this stuff? —

    It seems that you offer opinion and don’t contest any of the facts asserted in the article, but still somehow believe the article is wrong.

    Do you disagree that the American Bar Association has recommended and favorably reviewed RMail?

    Do you disagree that Microsoft on their own website characterizes RPost as a partner?

    Do you disagree that RPost is listed as a vendor in Gartner’s Market Guide?

    It seems to come to your opinionated disbelief you have to ignore the facts. And yet your anonymous name is “People believe this stuff?” Interesting. It would seem that the question should be thrown back at you. People actually believe what you wrote? I suppose if you don’t care about facts they might.

  • [Avatar for People believe this stuff?]
    People believe this stuff?
    December 6, 2017 11:42 am

    I suspect you’re wrong. Look at their revenue from patent assertion v. product revenue. Phony/sham product offerings to mask troll activity don’t make you a legitimate product/services entity. That’s not to say the small inventor/licensor model makes you a troll either. But be honest about what your purpose it. If it’s to find a partner to develop and market your invention, you’re not a troll. If it’s to extract settlements by over broadly asserting your patents with no intent to bring your invention to market, then you ARE a troll.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    December 5, 2017 09:42 pm

    Before the below happens, I ask that all the professors of Santa Clara university review the ethics of Colleen Chien and, in particular, to review the papers she has published in law “journals” and articles she has published in newspapers. Professor Chien is just a half step behind Mark Lemley in being a highly unethical propagandist who wants to burn the patent system down.

    We’re excited to share some great news: Today, the Santa Clara Law faculty recommended Brian Love for tenure and promotion to associate professor and Colleen Chien for promotion from associate professor to full professor. (The recommendations require full university approval, but it’s expected). Colleen and Brian are cherished faculty members who play essential roles in the High Tech Law Institute and our law school community, and we are thrilled to celebrate their accomplishments and success.

  • [Avatar for EG]
    December 5, 2017 04:28 pm

    Hey Bemused,

    Here’s my take. Patent Troll: The pejorative that a large multinational and efficient infringer slurs a patent owner with when they don’t want to license a validly issued and infringed U.S. patent.

  • [Avatar for Bemused]
    December 5, 2017 10:34 am

    Patent Troll: What an infringer calls a patent owner when they don’t want to license a validly issued and infringed U.S. patent.

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