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Patents Your Rights Online

Microsoft Patents Your Local Weather Report 437

theodp writes "After a seven year wait, Microsoft was granted a patent Tuesday for the Customization of network documents by accessing customization information on a server computer using unique user identifiers, patent lawyer-speak for using preferences stored on a server for such purposes as "displaying stock quotes for the companies in which the user is interested, and displaying the user's local weather report.""
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Microsoft Patents Your Local Weather Report

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  • Hype (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OldMiner ( 589872 ) * on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:35AM (#7219319) Journal

    Nothing like a story involving Microsoft to bring out the haters. Nothing like patents to bring out the righteous indignance. The problem is, most Slashdot readers don't know much of the law behind patents, how they're written, and how they're challenged. Largely, they think if a patent claims something, and the patent is approved, then the claim has force of law.

    The fact of the matter is, patents are structured with a series of claims, as you can see in the linked article. Claims are the only thing with meaning in a patent. The rest is provided for reference, clarification, and simple defence. So the only thing of true importance in this document are the claims, near the top.

    Secondly, wildly broad claims normally start, and increasingly narrow claims are made as one works down the ordered list. Therefore, the first thing you claim is going to be ridiculously broad. Generally speaking, the first few claims in a patent are not serious attempts to patent something. The last few claims are the ones of importance. And, what do you know, the title of the patent is...the first claim. So before anyone flames Microsoft, have you read claims 11-20? Oh, there's still plenty to complain about, but not as much as the article writer implies.

    • Re:Hype (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:44AM (#7219448) Homepage
      Even if the claims held any wieght, the patent term (20 years) is rediculously inappropriate for software patents, as by the time the patent expires, any claims made within it are of little use to the public.

      Computer technology changes far too quickly. 20 years protection on a software patent allows far too much protection for the 'inventor' (who decreasingly *is* the inventor, and usually just the first to file) and not enough benifit for the public.
    • FP and it's coherent, relevant, and even somewhat insightful. Next up -- bacon sandwiches go for an afternoon flutter around the skies.
    • Re:Hype (Score:3, Troll)

      by Qzukk ( 229616 )
      Secondly, wildly broad claims normally start, and increasingly narrow claims are made as one works down the ordered list. Therefore, the first thing you claim is going to be ridiculously broad.

      And therein lies the problem. Because the patent office granted this patent, that first wild claim is enforceable. Patent law says that every claim individually is protected (we went through this at work when we were sued, trying to find a way out). And knowing microsoft, and the huge amount of money they have fo
      • .. its called 'submarine' patenting or 'umbrella' patenting. Get a patent (or multiple patents) approved that make broad claims supported by more specific claims, and then litigate against competitors based on the overly broad claims.
      • Re:Hype (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ivan256 ( 17499 ) *
        that first wild claim is enforceable

        Only in the context of the rest of the claims. It's clear from your comment that you don't know the whole story of what happened at your place of business.

        You can't count the number of patents that have something as generic as "An electronic device" as the first claim. That doesn't mean the patent covers all electronic devices. The first claim is limited by the later claims.
        • Re:Hype (Score:5, Informative)

          by udippel ( 562132 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @10:28AM (#7220014)
          You seem to be ignorant on this aspect either.
          Read the complete text. Otherwise you might think I'm tricking you into something. (1)(b) proves you wrong:

          (1) The claims shall define the matter for which protection is sought in terms of the technical features of the invention. Wherever appropriate claims shall contain:

          (a) a statement indicating the designation of the subject-matter of the invention and those technical features which are necessary for the definition of the claimed subject-matter but which, in combination, are part of the prior art;

          (b) a characterising portion - preceded by the expression "characterised in that" or "characterised by" - stating the technical features which, in combination with the features stated in sub-paragraph (a), it is desired to protect.

          (2)46 Without prejudice to Article 82, a European patent application may contain more than one independent claim in the same category (product, process, apparatus or use) only if the subject-matter of the application involves one of the following:

          (a) a plurality of inter-related products;

          (b) different uses of a product or apparatus;

          (c) alternative solutions to a particular problem, where it is not appropriate to cover these alternatives by a single claim.

          (3) Any claim stating the essential features of an invention may be followed by one or more claims concerning particular embodiments of that invention.

          (4) Any claim which includes all the features of any other claim (dependent claim) shall contain, if possible at the beginning, a reference to the other claim and then state the additional features which it is desired to protect. A dependent claim shall also be admissible where the claim it directly refers to is itself a dependent claim. All dependent claims referring back to a single previous claim, and all dependent claims referring back to several previous claims, shall be grouped together to the extent and in the most appropriate way possible.

          (5) The number of the claims shall be reasonable in consideration of the nature of the invention claimed. If there are several claims, they shall be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.

          (6) Claims shall not, except where absolutely necessary, rely, in respect of the technical features of the invention, on references to the description or drawings. In particular, they shall not rely on such references as: "as described in part ... of the description", or "as illustrated in figure ... of the drawings".

          (7) If the European patent application contains drawings, the technical features mentioned in the claims shall preferably, if the intelligibility of the claim can thereby be increased, be followed by reference signs relating to these features and placed between parentheses. These reference signs shall not be construed as limiting the claim.
      • And knowing microsoft, and the huge amount of money they have for these things, they will attempt to enforce it if they can kill a competitor by doing so.
        Maybe they will in the future, but they haven't used patents offensively yet.
    • Not hype (Score:3, Funny)

      by fleener ( 140714 )
      God forbid the patent office would act responsibly and avoid a slew of lawsuits to fight frivolous patent claims. Oh wait, I see now, this is a federal welfare program for lawyers.
    • Re:Hype (Score:3, Insightful)

      The "increasing narrow" claims are as absurd (and as nearly as broad) as the first.

      From the last claim: "A method of providing customized documents to multiple users on client computers; the method comprising the steps of:

      obtaining customization information from a first client computer;

      ..."

      This isn't broad? That's huge.

      And patents effectively give the holder a monopoly on the idea. "The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, "the right to

    • It sounds to me like what you are saying is that most of most patents is meaningless bullshit.

      So why are those claims put in?

      Probably in the hope that they'll be taken for real and meaningful and upheld in the courts.

      If they're never upheld in the courts, why bother? Are you saying that meaningless bullshit belongs in the patents? Then you're far from upholding your own thesis which seems to be that there is something meaningful (ie not meaningless) in the process. On the other hand, perhaps it is t

    • The problem is, most Slashdot readers don't know much of the law behind patents, how they're written, and how they're challenged.

      Exactly correct. The /. editors should have "you cannot patent an idea, only the specific implementation of an idea" tattooed on their forearms so they cannot possibly miss it when typing up a story.
    • Read 'em (Score:5, Informative)

      by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @10:19AM (#7219891)
      I'm no Microsoft hater - I honestly doubt most Slashdot readers are either.

      I've read the 20 claims. None of them contradict the idea that any news site's weather report could meet any and all of these claims.

      1 describes a an abstract computer connection with persistant state and cookie setup and use - it is actually the most specific claim

      2 describes the storage of the cookie on the user's system

      3 clarifies that the cookie can help identify the connecting system

      4 states that HTML is used

      5 states that the cookie will contain data about user preferences relative to the site

      6 states that information in the cookie may relate to one or more of the following: news, sports, financial matters, entertainment, science and technology, life, and weather

      7 states that the form to select preferences will be in html

      8 says that the internet may be used in this system

      9 says that they may database user information

      10 URL's may be used to state addresses

      11 cookies may be used to send custom data to the user

      12 the cookie can be used to identify the user in step 11

      13 the cookie may (again) store this identifier used in step 11

      14 again, the user may use a form to set preferences

      15 again, topical groupings may be used in this form

      16 again, this can take place on the internet

      17 this process uses a client-server model, with cookies

      18 requests may be cached along the way (happens on any network)

      19 again - there is code that allows content to be customized based on the cookies

      20 different computers may have different cookies, and they can both still access the system ...So, there you have it. There are no claims that could not be applied to any news site, any weather site, any sports site, any entertainment site, any science site, or any combination that uses cookies and customization. Indeed, all of the claims are much more general than that. If anyone has any ideas on how this could NOT be applied to any of these, I'd definetly be interested in hearing any other interpretations - I can't see any other way of differentiating based on this document.

      Note: I have intellectual property lawyer relatives I speak with, yet I am not a lawyer myself.

      Ryan Fenton
      • Okay. So somebody just come up with a similiar system not using HTML. Poof, this patent's relevance shattered.

        I'll admit to not reading anything more than your comment before writing this.
        • From lawnotes [lawnotes.com]:

          Q: Is Infringement OK As Long As Not All the Claims Are Infringed?

          A: No -- infringement of even one valid claim results in liability.

          Doing it without HTML will infringe all valid claims except 4 and any that reference (directly or indirectly) claim 4.

          These may be invalide, but also note:

          A defendant can avoid liability by proving that every infringed claim is invalid. It is the defendant's burden of proof; the patent owner need not prove that the infringed claims are valid.

          This las

          • Re:Read 'em (Score:3, Informative)

            by inburito ( 89603 )
            Yes. As any good patent lawyer will tell you it is enough if you infringe on a part of one claim in a patent to start legal action!

            Like I mentioned in an another comment this is rather bullshit as a patent is supposed to be applicable only to the specific implementation described in the patent. Infringing on a part of a claim should not really be considered a specific implementation of that particular patent since it has other relevant things in it too. If someone has a different implementation of the same
      • I've read the 20 claims. None of them contradict the idea that any news site's weather report could meet any and all of these claims. ...(proceeds to itemized list of claims)
        Throw in some PERL and you've got Slashcode [slashcode.com]. Technically, the PERL just generates HTML, so in effect, it's HTML to the end user anyway. How's that for striking close to home.
      • I'm no Microsoft hater - I honestly doubt most Slashdot readers are either.

        You must be new here.
      • Re:Read 'em (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zurab ( 188064 )

        If anyone has any ideas on how this could NOT be applied to any of these, I'd definetly be interested in hearing any other interpretations - I can't see any other way of differentiating based on this document.

        Disclaimer: IANAL, this is not a legal advice, I don't know what I'm talking about, you are on your own, talk to your lawyer, etc. etc. etc.

        Here's how I see that it may not apply to all websites: if a website asks user to create a username and password (an account on the website) and customize that

    • Not as much? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mblase ( 200735 )
      Let me see here... (scrolling down)... "This HTML or network document customization is capable or providing each user who accesses a network address with an HTML document that is matched to that user's preferences. This customization adds to the strength of linked information provided by HTML documents by providing each user with the information, or links to information, that the user actually wants."

      That's from the description, which translates claims 1-20 into real English. It sure looks to me like they'
    • Re:Hype (Score:4, Insightful)

      by harriet nyborg ( 656409 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @10:24AM (#7219962)
      "have you read claims 11-20?"

      The fact of the matter is, OldMiner, that each claim of a patent can be considered as an individual patent. Each claim serves the purpose of notifying the public the scope of the monopoly rights granted to the patentee.

      As a member of the public I am compelled by law to assume each and every claim is valid... not just claims 11-20.

      Claim 1 - whether it is valid or not - requires the public to take action (design around, take a license, etc.) and exposes the public to risk if they ignore it. Even if MS chooses to not enforce the claim, the act of granting it causes economic harm.

      The patent office should not grant patents containing "widly broad" claims. Period.

    • The patent doesn't need to be valid to act to suppress developers. Can *you* afford a patent suit? I surely couldn't. And that means that no matter how invalid the complaint, I couldn't protect myself. And THAT means that stupid patents, or stupid claims made about real patents, can be effectively used to suppress anything I do. Of course I'm against things like that. It's not about justice. It's not about invention. It's not about innovation. It's not about techniques. It's about using cash to
    • by hughk ( 248126 )
      The problem is that the claim, which essentially mean cookies and session ids now belong to Microsoft is that their claim may be contested by large companies but not the small. A smaller company would find it hard to come up with $100K or so to have the claims shown to be irrelevant.

      Lets just take Slashdot. The server has state. It knows who I am and I can leave a cookie on a system so that Slashdot can know that I am the normal user on that system. Slashdot tailors its output depending upon my stored pre

    • Nothing like a story involving Microsoft to bring out the haters.

      And the Microsoft apologists, apparently...

      So before anyone flames Microsoft, have you read claims 11-20?

      I took you up on your challenge. Claims 11-20 seem to limit this patent to HTML. Thank God. Now we know they won't be suing us over customising all of our non-HTML documents, since no server utilised by the Open Source community ever serves up customised HTML documents.

      I guess since Microsoft has a long history of obeying th

    • Ok, here's my interpretation of claims 11-20. Maybe you can point out where I'm wrong because they don't seem all that specific.
      11. obtain the HTML customization info from the user and store it on the server. also assign a unique userid to the user.
      12. determine the unique id on the server and sent it back to the client
      13. the unique id should be returned as persistent information
      14. give the user a pretty HTML form to enter in their preferences
      15. add configuration groupings to the form so it's easi
    • Re:Hype (Score:3, Insightful)

      by temojen ( 678985 )

      Hmmm... I have read claims 11-20. There is as much as the writer implies. To sum up their claims:

      On first visit to a website, return a session cookie.

      Associate this session cookie with preeference information stored on the server, as configured by the user on a preferences setting web page.

      Customize the web-site based on this.

      Do this for more than one visitor at a time.

      These claims, if enforced could make the web Microsoft's own little feifdom. What makes it most frightenin g is the filing date. Was

    • Take a look at
      http://www.lawnotes.com/patent/claims.html [lawnotes.com] for some details. I obviously cannot vouch for the accuracy, but I'd guess it's pretty good.

      Basically the broad early claims do have force (unless deemed unenforceable or whatever by a judge.) Certainly infringing on claim 1 in the MS patent in question is enough to bring a lawsuit, and then you'd need a few $m in the bank just to fight off the patent (which is enough to intimidate, even if the patent does not hold up in court.)

      I agree with many
    • There still must be like 50 or more major sites that may be seen as violating that patent. I can't imagine none of them having had all those features in '96.
    • http://news.com.com/2100-1027-5090679.html

      That story details a patent which is far worse. I see the patent presented by Microsoft as simply another protection mechanism.

      Yeah it looks silly when you do the 2 minute analysis. Yet, when looking down into the history of patents and litigation it just becomes insulation.

      Typically you get these nice little lawsuits, counter lawsuits, and then everyone settles confidentially with swapping of related patents and such.

      If anything, I would not be mad a MS for ge
  • the more stupid patents like this are granted, the greater the vested interest of those controlling the laws (corporates) in either getting the lawes fixed, or the Patent Office reformed.

    • I disagree. This weakens the patent system as a whole. Individuals and companies don't even bother to check for patents on their ideas anymore since they know they'll be sued anyway.
      • Re:more please (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Snags ( 18929 ) *
        "Individuals and companies don't even bother to check for patents on their ideas anymore since they know they'll be sued anyway."

        As a matter of fact, engineers are encouraged *not* to do a patent search. Having seen the patents that you'll probably infringe on anyway just proves intent, making the penalties worse. It's much better to infringe by accident.

  • Forums have been doing this for years right? I mean even /. customises its user interface based on user preferences, users being identified by a unique ID in a cookie...

    <sigh>

    Madness, utter madness...
    • > Forums have been doing this for years right? I mean even /. customises its user interface based on user preferences, users being identified by a unique ID in a cookie...
      Maybe years, yes. But MS filed this claim 7 years ago. Sounds a bit like cookies to me, though. They were invented by Netscape many years ago...


  • I read the article, and here's is how the abstract reads:
    User-selected customization information for a network (e.g., HTML) document is stored at a server with reference to user identifying information that uniquely identifies the user. Whenever the user navigates back to the network address of the HTML document, the user is identified automatically and receives a customized HTML document formed in accordance with the customization information.

    I'm not legal expert, but it sounds as if they just patented
  • They seem to be patenting the "cookie" system. Were cookies first introduced by MS back when? If so, they may have the "originality" claim. I'd even concede that this solution isn't "obvious".

    Still, is this an "invention"? is this patentable? How many people here think Leibnitz should have patented integration by parts?
    • I don't think this is patenting cookies it looks (from a brief scan of the doc) to be patenting a web page that changes its content solely on the basis of the cookie i.e. same URL and no form variables. It is basically a 'remember me' patent, though it could also apply to sessions based on cookies.

      Seems like an obvious solution to me, but then I am a web developer not a patent clerk.
    • Were cookies first introduced by MS back when?

      To the best of my recollection, Netscape introduced cookies to browser technology, not MS.

  • by Gadzinka ( 256729 ) <rrw@hell.pl> on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:41AM (#7219406) Journal
    Screw the weather report or stock quotes. The language of the patent describes also offline message retrieval via POP3 protocol.

    American patent system is scary stuff... ;)

    Robert
  • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda.etoyoc@com> on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:42AM (#7219426) Homepage Journal
    A shape for the minimization of expose surface area for rolling bodies. Since friction is a function of surface area, the ideal shape would be one that reduces the area from a plane to a point from all directions.

    Anyone who uses the Wheel group will have to pay me royalties for use of the name.

      • Like the rules of physics, common sense have anything to do with patent laws.

        But really, does your fuel economy go up or go down with under-inflated tires? It goes down. Why? Inflated tires have a larger surface area.

        Next example. Take a 5 pound block. Now, pull the block across the table. That was a bit of work. Take 2 wooden dowels and glue them to the bottom of the block. Now pull. That was a lot easier, even with the added mass of the "skis".

        Why are aircraft round instead of square?

        Your article

        • Why? Inflated tires have a larger surface area.

          Well, first off, we need to clear something up. Wheels certainly do reduce friction costs on motion, but not by reducing surface area. They do so by turning. The bit of rubber touching the road shouldn't be moving much relative to the road. The force from friction is precisely what's moving the car forward. A car is supposed to have great friction between wheel and road - again that's how it moves. This also explains why "braking" relies mainly on "stop
  • I fail to see how this is non-obvious once someone creates the idea of any type of personalized content online. The idea of the consumer internet is to provide them with information; if there was any system where one could stick in a ZIP code or even have a login with user information on them, it seems to be a short step to save information that the user would have formerly inputted. I guess this is the same sort of reaction to most of these patent stories on slashdot, but it does seem as though the patent
  • Sheesh, sounds a lot like what my old Commodore with a 300-baud dial up into someone elses Commodore as a "BBS" system would do. Of course the "Server" had 64K RAM and a 160K floppy disk, but it customized what you saw based on your login.

    I think this was in 1983 or 1984.

    Of course CompuServe did this in a bigger way as well as many other online providers. Anyone remember Quantum?

    • That doesn't sound anything like this patent. The patent clearly states that it covers implementations with HTML forms and cookies. Did you have those in 1983? I didn't think so.
  • by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @09:45AM (#7219469)
    This is only because of the idiotic US Patent system that microsoft has to buy a bunch of dumb patents because if they didn't some moronic company would come along sueing them for having a web browser that supports plugins.
  • in patently obvious.

    This is actually a patent for the use of cookies to alter web content for individual users.

    I'm a bit peeved because all of my websites do that, and they have been doing it for years. I will be more than happy to join a suit claiming prior art. I've been programming with cookies since at least 1999. (And yes I have written my own cookie implementations, and modified the cookie systems on the Tclhttpd.)

    • First of all, the patent was filed in 1996, so you're 3 years too late to be *prior* art.

      Secondly I would bet your pages don't infringe. Do you organize your customization form by topics like News, Life, Technology, or Weather? If not you're in the clear.
  • ... on how much longer the internet and open information exchange is around? I'm willing to bet stupid patents on obvious PROCESSES will be the end of the internet as we know it.

    Greed. It's NOT good. Do the world a favor, and don't listen to your lawyer for moral advice. Just because you CAN get away with something obviously seedy like this, doesn't mean you should.
  • You'd have to go out of your way to infringe this patent. Lets look at some of the things you have to do:

    You must provide the user's identifier on the server side. This means that if you use a user entered login name as the database index for the customization information, you're safe.

    The server side user ID *must* be stored in a cookie.

    Only HTML is covered. (I.E. not XHTML).

    Only HTML forms are covered.

    Customization options must be catagorized under headings, and the only headings covered are news, spo
    • Not quite. The patent is full of:
      "...in which the network document includes an HTML format..."

      XHTML is an HTML format. If the patent said "in which the network document includes *the* HTML format", then you might be right. But the patent is not specific enough. Any document that contains any kind of HyperText Markup Language format is covered by this patent.
    • by misterpies ( 632880 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @10:12AM (#7219817)
      I'm afraid you're not very practiced at reading patents. Each separate claim is an individual protected invention, insofar as it does not rely on the others. Thus just because claim (x+1) refers to "claim x implemented using HTML", that doesn't mean that the patent only applies to HTML. It means that it applies to both x implemented any old way, and to x specifically implemented using HTML.

      The reason for this is that if someone can defeat claim x (for being too broad), the patentee can still try and fall back on the more limited claim in (x+1).

      Furthermore patent claims are read purposively. Thus for example if a patent for invention specifies a vertical support, then you can't evade the patent by using a support 1 degree off vertical, unless you can establish that the invention patented truly requires absolute verticality. In this situation, a judge would probably rule that a patent covering HTML implementation would extend to XHTML and any other mark-up language that can be read by a standard web browser, since obviosuly the purpose of specifying HTML is to cover such documents.
  • Claim 6: "The method of claim 5 in which the topical groupings of customization options relate to one or more of: news, sports, financial matters, entertainment, science and technology, life, and weather. "

    The above claim is one of the only entries that tries to narrow down the patent from being for any client/server/databased user prefrerence system.

    But, it's not much of a saving grace. It states that the groupings deal with *one or more* of news, sports, money, entertainment, science & tech, life an
  • Does that mean that Microsoft will repair the hole in the ozone with a Security Patch, a Service Release Patch, a Service Pack, or a System Upgrade?
  • There are hundreds of thousands of websites currently infringing on this.

    Boy is this bad news.
  • by 4of12 ( 97621 )

    The cold war brought us opponents with arsenals so fearsome that no sane person could use them.

    With what's been going on in the software and business practice patents, we're coming to the same kind of brink (Eolas, this, the Amazon one-click, etc.).

    Enforcement of some of these patents would bring destruction onto large parts of the economy, only for the sake of a system that was originally meant to give innovators just enough incentive to keep innovating, so that society at large would benefit in the lon

    • There's a much bigger threat to large parts of the economy, and that's OSS. It's already starting to take it's toll. I don't know of any instances where patents have hurt the economy, but large software companies are doing layoffs, due in part to OSS. You want to be mad about something, be mad about OSS. That's really going to be horribly destructive. Then, when the economy is in the toilet and ever the rich little college kids can't afford to write OSS in their free time (they might have to get a *job

      • large software companies are doing layoffs, due in part to OSS.

        That has to be weighed against the benefit derived by consumers of software.

        Exactly the same argument could be made about lost jobs in any existing industry where there are artificial barriers in the marketplace.

        If solar photovoltaic cells were suddenly available that produced electricity for US$0.005 /kW-hr, a lot of good people in energy producing industries would lose their jobs, too. And if I were one of them I'd be put out. But overall

      • At the risk of being trolled, I would like to point out that Business chose to use OSS. OSS isn't taking away anyone's job. I've worked in the Semiconductor industry, and I was laid off at $12/hour so they could move my job to Singapore. That had nothing to do with OSS. It's greed and despiration.

        I would also like to dispel the myth of the OSS developer as one who sits around and has nothing better to do than code. I am an OSS developer, but I have a wife and kid. They need food, clothes, and all those ot

    • But you see, but making "ideas" property, it turns them into a finite resource. And finite resources are the only thing that markets can deal with. If it cannot be controlled, it cannot be sold. If it cannot be sold there is no oppertunity to dominate the distribution of it.

      There are deeper issues to be considered, mostly about the role of "property" in a world filled with billions of people and only so much dirt to go around. At the risk of sounding like a communist, you really can't go on keeping this o

  • "Customization of network documents by accessing customization information on a server computer using uniquie user identifiers"

    - good job I never use "uniquie" identifiers.

  • One of the references is to "New sites aim to personalize web navigation", Information & Interactive Services Report, BRP Publications, vol. 17, Issue 31, 9/96". The patent was filed in 12/96. So by definition, anything that was in that report can not be a claim of this patent.

    The point behind references is to show items upon which the patent built, and by being in the references it can not be used as a prior art argument. However, the converse is that the techniques used in referenced items are not p
  • it looks like the same patent examiner also granted them a patent on web services yesterday.

    patent 6,632,249 [uspto.gov]

    who is stephen s. hong?

    • When you think about it though, IBM has a fairly large arsenol of just about everything computer related too. To their credit, indeed to the credit of most good citizens of the corporate world, most leave them quietly tucked away like a revolver in a desk drawer.

      Okay, more like those fortress of doom armories in action movies.

      The patent you listed only describes web-content generated for application dialog boxes, using DHTML and another of their patents for something called "TRIDENT." It's so specific a

  • Today Microsoft was granted a patent for "the movement of air molecules using an organic bellows device for the purpose of saturating oxygen transport devices".

    Next thing you know, Gates and Ballmer will be licensing the air we breathe.
    • That's SCO's racket. They are trying to sell an enhanced re-mix of atmospheric gasses as SCOair. Anyone who doesn't breath SCOair must have copied the formula and has been distributing it illegally.

      Nose Pirate!

  • uniquie

    I hope they haven't patented their spell checking software.
  • by dfn5 ( 524972 )
    Sounds to me like they just got a patent for doing what slash does when I log into slashdot to get all of my customizations. That sucks.
  • Wouldn't this already be covered in their patent of ones and zeroes [theonion.com]?
  • Whenever we get a story on Slashdot about some new patent, usually by Big Evil Corperation, there are many posts citing possible prior art. Generally something like this:

    "What about [big obvious example]?"

    "Haven't they heard of [lesser known example, generally an Open Source project, or something that has been in UNIX distributions since time immemorial]?!"

    "I remember I used to use [Obscure example from the days of yore] and it did basically the same thing"

    But what do you DO with this information? It s

    • >But what do you DO with this information?

      If you're not involved in a legal action involving the patent, probably not much. However, posts about prior art can be handy for people involved in legal action (or threatened action) on the patent. At a small company where I once worked, we'd occasionally get threatening letters from people claiming to have patents on some fundamental (and usually obvious) piece of technology in our industry. Even worse, sometimes our customers would get threatening lette

  • I just read the claims in the patent. This is completely outrageous.

    In a nutshell, it covers the universal mechanism of delivering user-specific dynamic web content: tag the user with a unique ID (usually by way of a cookie), then use this ID as a lookup key into a database where user-specific settings reside (which the user provided at some earlier point by submitting an HTML form), then deliver HTML pages that are customized based on the stored user information (e.g. "This page was generated by a Barrel
  • After a seven year wait, Microsoft was granted a patent Tuesday for the binary value of 101010 (also known as 42 in base 10), patent lawyer-speak for the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything for such purposes as "complete and unchallengable ownership and control of everything". Microsoft later issues the following warning that due to a critical flaw, the universe will need to install security patch #12455231244453+e42 and then reboot.
  • As I read it, this sounds exactly like what Active Server Pages, Java Server Pages, and PHP are designed to do.

    Cookies are required, at least for ASP and JSP, as this is used for authentication and identification. I don't know about PHP, as I've never tried to turn off cookies and use it.

    The "customization options" are basically a request. In their example, if you only want to see weather, sports, and news, you would check those three boxes on an HTML form page and click submit. The returned web page o

Memory fault -- brain fried

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