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WordLogic Patented the Predictive Interface 173

Posted by kdawson
from the make-sure-that-software-infers-nothing dept.
Packetl055 writes "Have any of you heard anything about this company, WordLogic, with a soon to be granted/issued patent with 117 claims for predictability software? They recently received a patent approval/allowance letter from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Their patent application was submitted in March 2000. If I read this correctly, any software that gives you any prediction after you type something is infringing on their patent — e.g. vehicle navigation systems, cellular telephones, PDA's, Google with their 'Did You Mean' when using Google for a search, the new Apple I-Phone, Blackberry, Sony Playstation-3, etc., etc. If true, this is going to be huge: lawsuits after lawsuits." Their stock trend over the last few days suggests that somebody was paying attention to the the USPTO news from August 9. WordLogic makes products (assistive input software) and doesn't seem to be merely a patent troll.
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WordLogic Patented the Predictive Interface

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  • by hondo77 (324058) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:32PM (#20346635) Homepage
    Prior art from 1996 [wikipedia.org], anyone. Thank you, Bill! ;-)
  • by seebs (15766) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:32PM (#20346643) Homepage
    I spent half an hour once trying to find a way to disable that in NeoOffice, and never succeeded. I hate that feature so much. It distracts me, and I'm a fast enough typist not to benefit much from it.
  • Re:I predict.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by linumax (910946) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:34PM (#20346677)
    But they'll try, and try hard:

    "We are very excited about the obvious opportunities that will be open to WordLogic in the near future."
    Frank Evanshen, WordLogic's President and CEO.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . c om> on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:36PM (#20346713) Homepage Journal
    Don't assume that there's prior art just because the Slashdot summary seems to be similar to things you used in the past. The only measure of valid prior art (other than actually going to court) is when a patent lawyer looks over both the letter of the claims and the claim of prior art. Often, in that light, the prior art turns out to have no relevance.

    Patent submitters typically know about the most obvious examples of prior art, so most patents are worded to carefully carve out a niche in which the patent almost, but not quite, describes existing technologies.
  • by Speare (84249) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:44PM (#20346773) Homepage Journal
    If I recall, the Microsoft Money product was the first in the Windows realm to do this sort of thing. They dubbed it IntelliSense and more apps gained the feature. It was only a slight improvement on the interfaces given by Un*x apps like Emacs years earlier, in that the user didn't need to "ask" the application to try to complete the string. The app merely made a zero-risk completion on every keystroke (zero risk, because the selected text could be dismissed by simply continuing to type).
  • by penguinbroker (1000903) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:56PM (#20346881)
    Tegic, the owners of t9 started filing patents in 1996, http://www.tegic.com/about/patent-leadership.asp [tegic.com]

    I didn't read through all the patents but I'm pretty sure worldlogic doesn't have anything on tegic when it comes to the cell phone industry.
    just one obvious example of why these patents shouldn't have been granted in the first place..

    here's the original t9 patent for reference: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?u=%2Fnet ahtml%2Fsrchnum.htm&Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&r= 1&l=50&f=G&d=PALL&s1=5187480.PN.&OS=PN/5187480&RS= PN/5187480 [uspto.gov]
  • This is OLD (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpetts (208163) on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:01PM (#20346935)
    I used to be a sysop at Imperial College Computer Centre in London, and the mainframes I worked with, a Cyber 176, and a CDC7600 had this on the console back in 1978. It was also available on the 6600, which was a 60s era machine.
  • by Matteo Vescovi (1147215) on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:08PM (#20347005)
    J. Carlberger published a paper titled Design and Implementation of a Probabilistic Word Prediciton Program [psu.edu] in 1997. That should pretty much take care of the prior art argument.
  • Re:Prior Art (Score:3, Informative)

    by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@DEBIANyahoo.com minus distro> on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:09PM (#20347025) Homepage
    http://www.peertopatent.org/ [peertopatent.org] is where it is at, and they have a mailout list that will keep you informed on new patent apps.

    Although I haven't seen one where my knowledge could affect the process, the very first time I hear of a patent application that I can attack with prior art, I will do so immediately.

    That way things like this patent don't get so damn close to being approved before we can jump on it.
  • Re:Hmmm...... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raphael (18701) <quinet@noSPAM.gamers.org> on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:10PM (#20347037) Homepage Journal

    And even if they haven't been a patent troll in the past, they may be becoming one.

    Let's look at their latest quarterly report (SEC filing) [yahoo.com] and pick a few bits:

    The Company reports a net loss of $840,446 for the six-month period ending June 30, 2007 [...]
    For the six-month period ending June 30, 2007, total revenues were $2,673 compared to $9,705 for the six-month period ending June 30, 2006. As the Company is a Development Stage Company its revenue streams are not established and are not impacted by economic or market trends.

    Recent Business Activities
    On January 9, 2007 the Company announced it had developed a new text entry/text messaging input solution for cell phones utilizing the WordLogic's patent pending prediction engine. [...]

    Plan of Operations
    A critical component of our operating plan impacting our continued existence is the ability to obtain additional capital through additional equity and/or debt financing. We do not anticipate enough positive internal operating cash flow until such time as we can generate substantial revenues, which may take the next few years to fully realize. In the event we cannot obtain the necessary capital to pursue our strategic plan, we may have to cease or significantly curtail our operations. This would materially impact our ability to continue operations.

    So it is a company that is making losses and focuses mainly on a single product. The success of this product depends on the licensing deals related to that patent. It looks like that company is betting a large part of its future on that single patent. So their best hope may be to become a patent troll. It may be a bit sad for the engineers working at that company, but I have serious doubts about their future business plans and methods.

    Is it surprising that they issued a press release related to that patent a few days before issuing their quarterly report?

  • Re:More Prior Art (Score:3, Informative)

    by Creepy (93888) on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:27PM (#20347215) Journal
    I'm pretty sure their European patent (granted in 2004) is used as a basis by the description. That patent # is 1171813 (I got my info off this site [edgar-online.com]

    From the description it appears to be the same, at least, and it does pretty much describe a form of autocomplete (when a list of choices is displayed not a single choice). I don't know if it requires some form of activity to show the choices, but this sounds a like pressing cont-D after set filec in the csh (tcsh, zsh and bash use tab completion, but filec is much older) as applied to just about any device (like the described pointer pointing at a character).
  • by barwasp (1116567) on Friday August 24, 2007 @06:32PM (#20348981)
    Fongboy found their (likely) patent application [espacenet.com]. That paper tells they use dictionaries in predicting input text in various computer devices. Well, I found these two 1989 patents with very relevant summaries.

    First patent is using dictionaries in predicting incoming text

    1) SYSTEM AND DEVICE FOR PREDICTION OF SUBJECT [espacenet.com] ( JP1029972 )
    PURPOSE:To analyze the content of a text based on prediction, by analyzing an inputted text by using the grammatical rule of a targeted language, predicting the subject of the text from a word possible to regulate the subject, and predicting the subject predicted from the largest number of words as the subject of the inputted text. CONSTITUTION:The titled device is provided with a subject dictionary 1 in which the candidate of the subject predicted from each word is registered in every word unit, and a subject indicating word segmentation part 2 which analyzes the inputted text grammatically and extracts the word to become the main constituent of the input text. At a subject selection part 3, the subject dictionary 1 is referred, and when no subject candidate to be predicted exists in every word unit extracted at the subject indicating word segmentation part 2, no operation is performed, and when it exists, it is taken out, and the number of taking out is held at every taken out subject candidate, and when the taking out and the counting of the number of appearance are completed, the subject candidate having the largest number of appearance out of taken out subject candidates is outputted as the subject of the inputted text. In such a way, the subject of a supplied text can be predicted.
    The second patent uses previous text inputs in helping to predict the incoming text

    2) METHOD AND DEVICE FOR PREDICTING SUBJECT> [espacenet.com] ( JP2280272 )
    PURPOSE:To analyze the content of a text based on prediction by holding the set of micro features having the number of times of appearance exceeding a critical value as the present status, and assuming a subject expressed in the partial set of the micro features most neighboring to the above set as the present subject. CONSTITUTION:A recent appearance word meaning storage means 2 stores meaning by the expression of the micro feature of a constant number of words appearing recently, and a critical value filter 3 delivers only the micro feature in which the number of times of appearance of the micro feature existing in the recent appearance word meaning storage means 2 exceeds the critical value to a present status storage means 4. A most neighoring subject selection means 6 compares the set of the micro features held by the present status storage means 4 with the expression of the micro feature corresponding to individual subject in a subject dictionary 5, and outputs the subject having the least common part as the present subject. In such a manner, the content of the text can be analyzed based on the prediction.

    I predict WordLogic's patent application is not viable.
  • by samkass (174571) on Friday August 24, 2007 @06:57PM (#20349129) Homepage Journal
    The Wright Brothers patented the method of inducing roll by differentially changing the angle of attack of each wing. It was the key invention that made the controllable airplane, and the many requests Curtiss made to the Wrights for details (promising only to use them non-commercially) shows Curtiss deception in that area. I'd call the Wright's patent a great example of when the patent system worked. The Wrights innovated, Curtiss stole, and the Wrights successfully sued them for it in exchange for reasonable licensing fees (they didn't shut down Curtiss aircraft or refuse to license, despite actively building their own aircraft.)

  • by jkgamer (179833) on Friday August 24, 2007 @07:52PM (#20349497)
    Does anyone here ever read these patents before posting how stupid they supposedly are? Reading the patent clearly shows that they are not applying for a patent on predicting text alone, but rather on an input method used by most PDA's and visual keyboards. In addition to displaying possible words, it HIGHLIGHTS the keys on the visual keyboard or displays the input strokes required to generate the next character that it thinks you want to select. Visual Studio never lit up characters on my keyboard, it never even displayed a visual keyboard on my screen. I'm all for patent reform and striking down obvious techniques, but in this case, while IANAL, on its face value it looks pretty legitmate to me.

    (Not entirely sure that its all that much more useful than the standard predictive text stuff that I've already seen or used, but that is not the point.)

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