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Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chase 'Got Milk?' Patents 250

theodp writes "Among the new iOS 5 features is Reminders, which Apple explains this way: 'Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip. Since Reminders can be location based, you'll get an alert as soon as you pull into the supermarket parking lot.' But does Reminders infringe on a newly-granted patent to Amazon for Location Aware Reminders, which covers the use of location based reminders to remind a user 'to purchase certain items such as, for example, as milk, bread, and eggs'? Or could Reminders run afoul of Google's new patent for Geocoding Personal Information, which covers triggering a voice reminder or making a computing device vibrate when a user approaches a location if 'one of the user's events is a task to pick up milk and bread'? Not to be left out of the 'Got Milk?' patent race, Apple also has a patent pending for Computer Systems and Methods for Collecting, Associating, and/or Retrieving Data, which covers providing a reminder to a user whose 'to do' list includes 'get milk' when the user's location matches 'a store that sells the item "milk."' (Continues, below.)
theodp continues: "That should not be confused with Microsoft's pending patent for Geographic Reminders, which allows users to specify reminders such as 'pick up milk if I am within a ten minutes drive of any grocery store.' That all four tech giants chose to pursue remember-the-milk patents — and the USPTO is considering and granting them — is all the more remarkable considering that Microsoft suggested location-based reminders were obvious in a 2005 patent filing, which informed the USPTO that 'a conventional reminder application may give the user relevant information at a given location, such as 'You're near a grocery store, and you need milk at home.' So much for that immediate patent quality improvement promised by the America Invents Act!"
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Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chase 'Got Milk?' Patents

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  • by Pete Venkman ( 1659965 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:41AM (#38116524) Journal
    We are already all criminals anyway in one way or another. Why not just ignore these patents and keep living life? We're the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Good God... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:42AM (#38116532)

    So now a location-based reminder is a fucking patentable thing? What's next, a patent on something that remembers phone numbers for you?

    This shit has got to stop...

  • by Daneurysm ( 732825 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:50AM (#38116584)
    this sure seems to reek of obvious. The fact that multiple companies are racing to patent essentially the same thing--which is just seemingly logical extension of an existing idea (reminders)--seems to underscore that.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:18PM (#38116766) Homepage Journal
    Are going to run into trouble, since the guys at MIT were doing the same thing in the 90s. [], for example. I ran across a paper in the mid 90's about leaving messages for other users in specific locations. They also published some articles about some very neat camera things things they were doing, such as recognizing someone's face via a camera the wearable user was wearing, and looking up up relevant information on that user (I think out of BBDB.)

    So if you're looking for prior art to go patent busting on these big companies, a good place to start would be in the wearable computer projects in the 90's. A lot of these guys published in the journal of the ACM, too. Apple, Google and Amazon think their balls are all shiny and they're doing something new, but they're not.

  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:59PM (#38117078) Journal

    I offer up Tasker as potential prior-art. It does a lot more than remind based on geo-location, but that is one potential application of the tool. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:17PM (#38118456)

    For those who religiously doesn't RTF anything linked on /., here's the excerpt from the act [].

    ``Sec. 102. Conditions for patentability; novelty

            ``(a) Novelty; Prior Art.--A person shall be entitled to a patent
                            ``(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a
                    printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise
                    available to the public before the effective filing date of the
                    claimed invention; or
                            ``(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued
                    under section 151, or in an application for patent published or
                    deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or
                    application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was
                    effectively filed before the effective filing date of the
                    claimed invention.

            ``(b) Exceptions.--
                            ``(1) Disclosures made 1 year or less before the effective
                    filing date of the claimed invention.--A disclosure made 1 year
                    or less before the effective filing date of a claimed invention
                    shall not be prior art to the claimed invention under subsection
                    (a)(1) if--
                                            ``(A) the disclosure was made by the inventor or
                                    joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject
                                    matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the
                                    inventor or a joint inventor; or
                                            ``(B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such
                                    disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a
                                    joint inventor or another who obtained the subject
                                    matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the
                                    inventor or a joint inventor.

    I.e. "If it was published or used in any form before - patent's no go, unless the one publishing/using was inventor - then he has a year to patent it", which should encourage publishing inventions early.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.