Pitney Bowes is a seasoned player in the traditional mailing industry, has 36,000 employees, and offers a quite wide variety of products, typically somehow related with the mail medium paper. Since Pitney Bowes is suing zumbox, we thought that Pitney Bowes might already offer some digital mail technologies, which are comparable to zumbox. After some googling we found that Pitney Bowes announced a Virtual Mail Management Solution in February 2009, plus the current Pitney Bowes web page for this product. We did not find obviously zumbox-like products. Shedding some light on Pitney Bowes’ action is the following article in Wall Steet Journal:

Pitney Bowes invested more than $200 million in research and development in 2008, with much of that total dedicated to software products, said Bernie Gracy, vice president of strategy and new business development at Pitney Bowes.

The patents in question are:
* #7,478,140, “A System and Method for Sending Electronic Mail and Parcel Delivery Notification Using Recipient’s Identification Information”
* #6,690,773, “Recipient Control Over Aspects of Incoming Messages”
* #7,058,586, “Information Delivery System for Providing Senders with a Recipient’s Messaging Preferences.”

It will be interesting to watch for the court’s decision(s). Software patents have been causing some heated debates in the last few years. There are opinions claiming that software patents are hindering innovation and are causing problems for smaller businesses.

Motives for world wide patent cases are to recover lost or future revenue, or to prevent an erosion of traditional markets. And legal costs are typically avoided, if no return is visible. This tells us something about the potential feasibility of zumbox. Does it tell you something?