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Re: V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: Inventor of e-mail honored by Smithsonian

2012-02-18 23:46:18

Russ Allbery wrote:
Hector Santos <hsantos(_at_)santronics(_dot_)com> writes:

    This was the first database-driven system that translated all
    elements of an inter-office memorandum/mail, then in paper form,
    along with features of Inbox, Outbox and Folders, to an electronic
    mail format. In 1981, this system was recognized by the Westinghouse
    Science Talent Search receiving an Honors Award. Later, in 1982, the
    US Copyright Office issued him the first copyright of his system
    called “EMAIL”.  [11][12]


But he went ahead and copyrighted the term "EMAIL" and some how was
awarded the copyright.

Note that it says "copyright," not "trademark," so this isn't about the
term.  The US Copyright Office doesn't care what you call things.

Good point, and at the time, the cheapest non-patented method (which was a high hurdle with just software) was to do a official copyright registration which requires the first and last 100 lines of code of your software to be filed at the copyright office.

But it it seems to be a confusion that the registered term "EMAIL" which erroneously implies an all encompassing "electronic mail" which clearly he has no rights too.

Presumably he registered a copyright on the source code of his system,
which happened to be called EMAIL.

Right, and if I recall, the requirements was to provide the first and last 100 lines of code ( I feel I am correct about that). But short of doing this, the alternative was a Trade Secret registration.

You can pay the US Copyright Office for a registered copyright on any creative work you want provided you fill out the right forms.

I think I understand your point, but I tend to feel at the time (the 80s) there was more due diligence at the USPTO and that was one of the growing problems when cost cutting efforts began, including the brain drain (no expertise to do the reviews).

It doesn't imply any approval or legal recognition;
it's just helpful if you ever have to sue someone later over the
copyright, since it means that there's an independent legal record of the
date and the original creative material on file.

+1. By law, the mere act of just WRITING is copyrighted material, i.e. this post is an official copyrighted message <g> but when there are challenges, an official registration is the only and clear way to get over challenges.


Hector Santos
jabber: hector(_at_)jabber(_dot_)isdg(_dot_)net

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