theodp writes "The USPTO has granted IBM a patent for utilizing naming conventions to assign gender-based avatars for instant messaging. A user named Teri, IBM explains, would be given a girl avatar, while a user named Terry would be provided with a boy avatar. The three IBM 'inventors' were stymied by users named Pat, who as a result will be assigned a 'generic, genderless human figure image as his or her avatar.' Way to honor that significant-technical-content patent pledge, Big Blue!"
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