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Microsoft Patents Entertainment

Bill Gates Patents 'Virtual Entertainment' 141

theodp writes "In the '80s, Bill Gates and his then-girlfriend went on 'Virtual Dates' by viewing the same movie at the same time in different cities and discussing it on their cell phones. On Tuesday, Gates and 15 co-inventors were awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,012,023 for 'Virtual Entertainment', which Microsoft explains: 'The subject innovation provides for systems and methods that supply immersive entertainment, and create a sensation for a user(s) that is similar to having guests (who are in remote locations), to be presented as virtual guests to the user during performance of an event (e.g., a live sporting event, spectator game, television shows, games and the like).' And that silly Audre Lorde said there are no new ideas!"
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Bill Gates Patents 'Virtual Entertainment'

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  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @09:47AM (#37326070) Homepage Journal

    Quick, someone patent Virtual Money so we can virtually pay for our virtual entertainment!

    I'm going to patent "Virtual Housing", "Virtual Transportation", and "Virtual Utilities"...

    Really... This is just fucking stupid. I'm so done. Please someone just blow up the patent office with a few RPGs, or there's going to be no end to this insanity.

  • So .... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @09:56AM (#37326186) Homepage

    He's got a patent on tele-presence? Web cams? Virtual meeting rooms? Avatars?

    I don't get it ... other than the belt, how is this conceptually different from lots of things which have been out there for some time now?

    I mean, really, how far back can you go with a movie that has a hologram sitting at the meeting table? Star Wars maybe? Maybe older?

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @10:01AM (#37326248) Journal

    Yeah, but this is on the internet which is what makes it novel. Sure, we may have used video conferencing to connect people for business and video lectures at school to have students in multiple locations all share the same class and professor, but that was mostly CCTV. This is the goddamned interner we're talking about. Of course it's a novel, patentable concept.

    Besides, if some goofball can patent "dividing the number of golf strokes outside 50 yards by # of greens in regulation" on an 18 hole round to get your "long game" handicap, certainly something like this deserves a patent.

  • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @10:12AM (#37326352) Journal

    Virtual Entertainment? - George Lucas has all sorts of prior "art" on that one.

    Let's hope he sues. And everyone sues everyone, until everything comes to a standstill, an impossible-resolution scenario. After Intellectual Property World War One, perhaps we'll have some peace treaties. Because as things are going, soon you won't be able to buy soap and bread anymore, you'll have a Subscription to Biological Sterilization and Nutritional Services, with an Agreement and License to Use Proprietary Methods for Human Sterilization and Nutritional Planning Programs. For only $698.50 per month, you can get service contracts, training programs, and... soap, milk, and bread.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @10:20AM (#37326448) Homepage

    Ideas are not patentable! Patents cover IMPLEMENTATIONS!

    According the article:

    For example, one of the scenarios shown by Microsoft in the patent filing a belt with “electronic and electromagnetic tracking components” for sensing the movements of the user (although the patent doesn’t appear to be limited to that specific approach).

    It sounds like they patented some vague idea of how something might be accomplished. That's not what patents are for.

    this patent application was actually submitted way back in 2006 and only approved after years of back-and-forth with the patent office

    I can see why... since it isn't a patent. Why was it granted at all? So in case I'm just overblowing this, lets look at the patent itself... [uspto.gov]

    ...Moreover, the presentation system 101 can employ a personal computer, a projection unit, a system including 3D goggles and headphones, or a simulator providing visual, audible, and physical stimulation, and the like, to present activities of the virtual guest to the user....

    Aaand how would you do that? Elsewhere in the patent it talks about presenting virtual smells to the user. Right now, there is no technology to do that. This would be like me patenting teleportation by saying there is some sort of matter-to-energy and energy-to-matter device at either end, with some form of communication in the middle. That's the *idea* of teleportation, not a patentable implementation of it.

    Almost every paragraph in the patent says something like this:

    What has been described above includes examples of aspects of the claimed subject matter. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of components or methodologies for purposes of describing the claimed subject matter, but one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that many further combinations and permutations of the disclosed subject matter are possible.

    So it keeps admitting that they have no idea how to do this, or what combination of devices might achieve it, but they want to have all of them covered. Ordinarily, a patent author tries and make the patent broad enough to cover similar implementations - so that a trivial change can't be used to avoid paying the royalties. But this is ridiculous.

    I think this is perhaps the second most quintissential example of the patent office gone wrong. The best example was when someone patented the tire swing. (Can someone find that? The closest I found was The patent on how to swing [slashdot.org].

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling