Microsoft presented their plan to hunt spam at an 80-member meeting of the E-mail Service Provider Coalition in Redmon. The company's plan is known as "Caller ID for e-mails".
The company's framework has been coupled with the Sender Policy Framework authored by Pobox.com. Jointly known as "Sender ID," the combined frameworks are already being incorporated into services by a number of companies, including VeriSign and DoubleClick. The technology is simple to describe, if difficult to implement.
Sender ID is an emerging technical approach designed to ensure that e-mail originates from the Internet domain it claims to come from by validating the sender's server Internet Protocol (IP) address. It combines Microsoft's Caller ID for E-Mail technology with the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) authored by Meng Weng Wong, CTO of Pobox.com, and is currently being evaluated by the Internet Engineering Task Force as an industry standard for e-mail authentication.
But the owner of Failsafe Designs, F. Scott Deaver, claims that Microsoft has stolen his intellectual property, which he claims was eventually to be released as open source. He has worked for almost two years on beta versions of a program dubbed Caller ID for E-Mail, an e-mail validation program which works in Outlook Express.
Currently his trademark application (filed in March 6, 2003) for the term, "Caller ID for E-Mail" is pending approval at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Deaver said in an e-mail interview he has substantive and numerous registered patents on file dated January 2003 and 2004 at the USPTO on software that predates and precedes any other claims.
While the name is indeed similar, Deaver's description of the application appears to be a client-side host checker, which makes it somewhat different from the proposed Microsoft/Pobox solution, which focuses more on e-mail servers and gateways. As of yet, Deaver's patents have not yet been approved. If and when they are, we can expect another legal circus to ensue, unless Deaver gets his wish for a rather hefty settlement.