Got a spare million? Groundbreaking antispam patent at auction

Patent-A-01sThe Sender Bond patent that made waves just a few years ago is being auctioned at Ebay. To one degree or another, it’s been baked into various products. Ironport Bonded Sender Program, Goodmail, Cruelmail and Microsoft (Who remembers the Penny Black project?). A pure implementation was rolled out by Vanquish Labs. They had a good 10 year run, 4 products and even won PC Magazine Editors’ Choice (the publication that really counts).

Now Vanquish users have been transferred to Google services and the clever IP that started it all is up for auction; starting bid is $160,000. In the right hands, it’s worth north of 5 million. And that, dear reader, leaves plenty of room for the buyer to profit.

Bill Gates-21At the Word Economic Conference in Davos Switzerland, Bill Gates predicted that clever economics would ultimately defeat Spam.

Economics is the holy grail, he promised. It will deter unwanted telemarketing calls, junk faxes, and of course, email offers for enhanced male anatomy, Nigerian dictators, hot teen coeds, and Rolex watches. (Perhaps if you buy the teen coeds, the anatomical enhancement is unnecessary).

Bill Gates was right — but a bit early. Google was in it’s infancy and Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.The tiny Massachusetts start-up was ill equipped to boil the ocean.  The world wasn’t ready for something that was difficult to explain, even if it was eminently transparent, practical and effective.

penalty-sealThe “Sender Bond mechanism” is simple, natural and empowering. It won’t block unsolicited contact from the strangers that you want to greet: A new customer, a long lost classmate, that refund you thought was lost forever. In fact, for thousands of satisfied Vanquish Labs users, this patent and other email security technology rolled into their IP divestiture works like a champ.

But Vanquish users were serviced by a data center architecture designed to showcase technology, not to service a substantial number clients and billions of messages. As the beta test ended, early adopters were added to the showcase server. Grappling with an impressive string of awards, the company should have virtualized and followed the SAAS industry into the cloud. But lacking resources, Vanquish attempted to scale their demo architecture. It worked for awhile, but ultimately, that strategy delayed their entry into an era of cloud architecture. Because they could not scale, they failed to exploit and market clever antispam technology. In the hands of  an established cloud security provider or a technology licensing trust, this bird has wings. Their loss will be an opportunity for someone else.

I’m not going to pontificate on this one. In fact this is an unofficial article. I will be taking it down next month. As someone deeply involved with the technology, this one hits too close to home. It’s like seeing your son leave for war or your daughter getting married and flying the coop.

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