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Microsoft Patents

Microsoft Applies For "Digital Manners" Patent 289

SirLurksAlot writes "Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has recently applied for a patent for a technology which would attempt to enforce manners in the use of cell phones, digital cameras, DVRs and other digital devices. According to the article, the technology could be used to bring common social conventions such as 'No flash photography' and 'No talking out loud' to these devices by disabling features or disabling the device entirely. The article also points out that the technology could be implemented in situations involving sensitive equipment, such as in airplanes or hospitals. The patent application itself is also an interesting read, as it describes a number of possible uses for the technology, including 'in particular zones to limit the speed and/or acceleration of vehicles, to require the use of lights, to verify an indication of insurance coverage and/or current registration, or the like.' While this technology could certainly be of interest to any number of organizations one has to wonder how the individuals who own devices which obey so-called 'Digital Manners Policies' would feel about it."
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Microsoft Applies For "Digital Manners" Patent

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  • Prior Art ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:35AM (#23761175) Homepage
    This patent has just been filed, not just granted.

    Details of similar systems have been recently described, including a summer of code project [openmoko.org] for OpenMoko (that wasn't accepted) which wanted to put a dbus architecture to let the user add conditions which cause profile to switch, for example: going to "silent mode" whenever the phone's gps detects it has entered into a meeting room.

    The summer of code project wasn't accepted, thus this system isn't currently implemented. Never the less, it's described on the OpenMoko wiki, and similar strategies have regularly been described on the web, including here on /. each time some company tries to market a GSM signal jammer, where approach similar to openmoko and microsoft have been said to be safer.

    To what extent can these description without implementation represent Prior Art ?

    I also fail to understand why microsoft is trying to patent this. For this to work, it must reach widespread usage, which means it must be an open standard (a real one, not an OOXML-like one), so that both all constructor can implement it easily, and some places or legislation can require it, without those requirement forcing people to give cash to a particular private company.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:50AM (#23761261)
    "And I, the consumer, would buy a new device that is explicitly less functional than existing devices... why?"

    Because you have no choice, perhaps? Take DVD players as an example. DVD region-codes have no legal basis, that is, makers of DVD-players do not have to respect them. Yet all major manufacturers do, in fact, respect the codes.

    For the electronic manners, it could easily go the same way...
  • Re:Prior Art ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:00AM (#23761335)
    > To what extent can these description without implementation represent Prior Art ?

    legally? a written description is certainly adequate prior art.

    the classic example is that of the waterbed [wikipedia.org]. which was unable to be patented in 1968 because Robert Heinlein had described it in three of his novels: _Beyond This Horizon_ (1942), _Double Star_ (1956), and _Stranger in a Strange Land_ (1961)

    practically? you can patent whatever you want in the US these days. all your idea are belong to US.

  • Re:Prior Art ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:56AM (#23761695) Journal
    And it sounds like MS has found a stack of Popular Science magazines in a second had book store in Redmond somewhere.

    Digital Manners? hahahahahahahahaha So much has been written that could be prior art for this in science fiction that it's not even funny. Since the first brick with an antenna on it, people have wanted to control when cell phones could be used. Enforcing driving habits? SciFi has it covered. In fact, I'm not certain, but I don't think there is anything you can call novel or non-obvious about it. It's just always been impractical or unpopular. Getting a patent on it won't make either of it.

    Imagine a person at the movies. The theater forces phones to be shut off. The email from someone's alarm system saying there is a fire is never received. When they get home the fire and police departments take them to the hospital so they can watch their two small children die of burns. Yeah, that will work out nicely in the papers.

    Say you try to control these things anywhere, there is a scenario not unlike that which could happen. Controlling speed of vehicles? Good fucking luck with that one pal. The remote kill switch functions some people have tried for stolen vehicles have NEVER passed muster for insurance companies. Why would MS get to do it?
    All it would take is one fatality and the class action law suit begins.

    In fact, where ever there is a human involved in controlling a machine or gadget there has never been any successful method to wrest control from the human in favor of a machine as far as I know. The cruise control is the best attempt that I know and that is a simple assistive technology.

    Sure, alarm system replaces security guard, but does not take control from a human over a machine. There are gray area examples, but you see what I mean. Getting a patent for doing so is like trying to get a patent on breathing air.

    If MS tries for the breathing air patent, I give up.
  • Re:Or here's an idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:39AM (#23761997) Homepage

    So basically, we're not going to give you the right to be an antisocial retard and annoy everyone else

    Actually, if you read the US Constitution you'll see that people already have the inalienable right to be antisocial retards. What you're proposing is taking that away.

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

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @10:36AM (#23763847) Journal
    Controlling speed of vehicles? Good fucking luck with that one pal.

    Actually, systems that do that are already very common in industry and railways. It may not be welcomed by the driving public, but there's plenty of other applications.

    In fact, I'd be very surprised if automation and controller companies like Sick [sick.com] didn't already have off-the-shelf solutions.

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