Google’s New Acquisition Postini and their Patent Filings

According to a press release published on July 9th, Google has acquired Postini, a company that specializes in “on-demand communications security and compliance solutions.”

Postini has been part of the Google Enterprise Partner program, so the services they offer are something that Google has known about for a while.

I was curious about what “security and compliance solutions” were offered by the company. Their website cover those in detail, but I also decided to take a look at the patent applications assigned to Postini, which are included below.

The purchase was for $625 million in cash, and the press release notes that Postini will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Google.

Postini’s present solutions include security for email, instant messaging, web security, message archiving, message encryption, and policy-enforced transport layer security encryption. These services, combined with Google’s Apps, add security to the applications from Google.

The granted patents and patent applications provide some insight into the services from Postini.

Make sure that you also check out the welcome message to the Postini team at the Official Google Blog and the Acquisition Q and A page about the acquisition, dated September 13, 2007 , which has some interesting details.

System and method for filtering electronic messages using business heuristics
Invented by Peter K. Lund, Scott M. Petry, Jason H. Titus
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
Filed: April 26, 2004
US Patent Application 20050240617
Published October 27, 2005

Abstract

Disclosed are systems and methods for use in filtering electronic messages using business heuristics.

In one aspect, a method includes determining whether the electronic message is associated with a desirable business, and adjusting the likelihood of delivering the electronic message to an intended recipient of the message if the electronic message is determined to be associated with the desirable business.

In a more specific embodiment, the method further includes assigning a spam-score to the electronic message based on a likelihood that the electronic message is not unwanted by the intended recipient, blocking delivery of the electronic message to the intended recipient when the spam-score does not cross an overall threshold, and delivering the electronic message to the intended recipient based on the adjusted likelihood when the electronic message is determined to be associated with the desirable business.

Data storage and retriveval systems and related methods of storing and retrieving data
Invented by Fredric L. Cox, Dorion A. Carroll, Peter Kevin Lund, Michael J. Oswall, Scott M. Petry, and Joh H. Prall
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent Application 20050044170
Published February 24, 2005
Filed: August 19, 2003

Abstract

Data storage and retrieval systems and related methods are disclosed herein. In one aspect, a system includes data processing servers configured to receive incoming data and transmit the data for storage. The system also includes data storage servers each coupled to one or more data storage units and configured to receive transmitted data for writing to the one or more data storage units, and to read data from the one or more data storage units.

Furthermore, the systems may include data retrieval servers coupled to one or more of the data storage servers and configured to retrieve data from the one or more data storage units. The system further includes process modules each associated with one of the data storage servers, where at least two of the process modules are configured to write a portion of the data to corresponding data storage units.

In addition, each of the process modules are configured to transmit an acknowledgment associated with each of the corresponding at least two data storage units upon the writing of the data portion in the at least two data storage units. Furthermore, some embodiments may include a key manager coupled to the data processing servers and configured to receive keys that indicate the location of the data portions in the one or more data storage units. Additionally, each data retrieval server may be coupled to the key manager and employ the keys to retrieve data from the one or more data storage units.

Actionable Quarantine Summary
Invented by Michael J. Oswall, Dorion A. Carroll, Lisa M. Hoggatt, Scott M. Petry, Fredric L. Cox. Peter K. Lund, and Michael D. Beeson
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent Application 20060242708
Published October 26, 2006
Filed: April 25, 2005

Abstract

Disclosed herein are systems, methods and the like for the management of filtered messages and filtering settings. Embodiments use the interaction of a user and a notification message to execute commands/requests. In one aspect, a notification message is used to notify a computer user of filtered incoming electronic messages that are stored in a quarantine server and database.

In one embodiment, the notification message comprises message data having information regarding incoming messages blocked from reaching the destination server and stored in the quarantine server and database. Also in this embodiment, the message includes user interface data selectable by the user to manage the handling of incoming messages.

In addition, the message includes action logic associated with the user interface data and configured to execute the selections made by the user by sending commands from the user’s computer to the quarantine server and database via a computer network.

Electronic message source reputation information system
Invented by Peter K. Lund, Scott M. Petry, Craig S. Croteau, Kenneth K. Okumura, and Dorion A. Carroll
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent Application 20060031483
Published February 9, 2006
Filed: May 25, 2005

Abstract

Disclosed herein are filtering systems and methods that employ an electronic message source reputation system. The source reputation system maintains a pool of source Internet Protocol (IP) address information, in the form of a Real-Time Threat Identification Network (“RTIN”) database, which can provide the reputation of source IP addresses, which can be used by customers for filtering network traffic.

The source reputation system provides for multiple avenues of access to the source reputation information. Examples of such avenues can include Domain Name Server (DNS)-type queries, servicing routers with router-table data, or other avenues.

Systems and methods for managing the transmission of synchronous electronic messages
Invented by Scott M. Petry, Shinya Akamine, Peter K. Lund, Fredric L. Cox, and Michael J. Oswall
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent Application 20060265459
Published November 23, 2006
Filed: March 20, 2006

Abstract

The present invention provides an electronic message management system (EMS) that includes a real-time feedback loop where data is collected from the electronic messages on incoming connection attempts, outgoing delivery attempts, and message content analysis, and written to a centralized data matrix.

A separate process accesses the data matrix and analyzes trends in that data. The detected data patterns, trends or behavior is based on configuration parameters for the recipient. Based on these determinations, the process is able to instruct components in the EMS to accept, redirect, refuse, modify, defer, or otherwise dispose of the connection request, the delivery attempt, or the message. Associated methods for managing the transmission of electronic messages are also disclosed.

TLS encryption in a managed e-mail service environment
Invented by Binh Le, Erik Chen, Michael J.Oswall, Adam Dawes, Joseph Green, Kenneth K. Okumura, Scott M. Petry, and Lisa Lund
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent Application 20070136801
Published June 14, 2007
Filed: December 13, 2005

Abstract

Disclosed are systems and methods for providing transport layer encryption with an intermediate electronic message managing service interposed in a message path of an electronic message to be sent from a sending server to an intended receiving server across a computer network.

To implement TLS in such a managed e-mail services context, given that a managed e-mail service is inserted into the message delivery path, the transport layer security protocols are simultaneously established along both the link from the sending server to the managed e-mail service and from the receiving server to the managed e-mail service, with the managed e-mail service providing a “proxy” connection for communication between the sending server and the receiving server.

Value-added electronic messaging services and transparent implementation thereof using intermediate server
Invented by Gordon Raymond Irlam, Brian Maggi, and Scott Petry
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent 6,650,890
Granted November 18, 2003
Filed: September 29, 2000

Abstract

The present invention provides for a centralized, preprocessing electronic messaging solution that performs value-added tasks to electronic messages on behalf of the ISP or the end user, before these messages are delivered to the destination email server.

The service can detect and detain damaging or unwanted messages, such as spam, viruses or other junk email messages, and route electronic messages from various sources covering a variety of topics to wired and wireless destinations, apart from the intended recipient email address, in various formats.

Systems and methods for managing the transmission of electronic messages through active message date updating
Invented by Scott M. Petry, Shinya Akamine, Peter Kevin Lund, Fred Cox, Michael John Oswall
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent 6,941,348
Granted September 6, 2005
Filed: February 19, 2003

Abstract

The present invention provides an electronic message management system (EMS) that includes a real-time feedback loop where data is collected from the electronic messages on incoming connection attempts, outgoing delivery attempts, and message content analysis, and written to a centralized data matrix.

A separate process accesses the data matrix and analyzes trends in that data. The detected data patterns, trends or behavior is based on configuration parameters for the recipient.

Based on these determinations, the process is able to instruct components in the EMS to accept, redirect, refuse, modify, defer, or otherwise dispose of the connection request, the delivery attempt, or the message. Associated methods for managing the transmission of electronic messages are also disclosed.

Value-added electronic messaging services and transparent implementation thereof using intermediate server
Invented by Gordon Raymond Irlam, Brian Maggi, Scott Petry
Assigned to Postini, Inc.
US Patent 7,236,769
Granted June 26, 2007
Filed: September 26, 2003

Abstract

This disclosure provides for a unified, centralized, preprocessing electronic messaging solution that performs value-added tasks to electronic messages on behalf of the ISP or the end user, before these messages are delivered to the destination e-mail server.

The service can detect and detain damaging or unwanted messages, such as spam, viruses or other junk e-mail messages, and route electronic messages from various sources covering a variety of topics to wired and wireless destinations, apart from the intended recipient e-mail address, in various formats.

In some embodiments, the electronic messaging solution provides a stored user profile, associated with a user to whom an e-mail message is addressed, that has detection parameters for processing e-mail message data. In such embodiments, a processor is also provided for processing the e-mail message data to identify suspect e-mail messages according to the detection parameters in the user profile.

A web page accessible by the user to set the detection parameters is also disclosed. Furthermore, various methods associated with various embodiments of the electronic messaging solution disclosed herein are also disclosed.

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4 thoughts on “Google’s New Acquisition Postini and their Patent Filings”

  1. Some of these patents are shocking due to prior art. Just look at the first one. There were many spam filters on the market in April 2004 which were based on “assigning a spam-score to the electronic message based on a likelihood that the electronic message is not unwanted by the intended recipient.”

    In fairness, I should report that I am the CEO of InBoxer, an email archiving and electronic discovery vendor.

  2. Hi Roger,

    Appreciate your perspective on these patents. Does the language in the claims section involving “business heuristics” and “desirable businesses” make a difference that matters? I’ve been wondering that.

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