It seems that every few days when new patents are announced there are a few gems from Microsoft. Take, for example, Microsoft's latest patent application on Phishing Detection, Prevention, and Notification. If they truly came up with an innovative way to stop phishing attacks, that would be interesting. Instead, it appears that the patent is for looking at the URLs found in an email or visited by a website, comparing them to a known list of phishing sites -- and then alerting you that the link might be fraudulent. In other words, it's the most obvious anti-phishing system around (and one that's proven to not be all that effective). If someone were to describe to you the problem of phishing, and ask you how to stop it, this would be nearly everyone's first attempt. It's hard to see how something so obvious deserves patent protection -- but the way our system works these days, the whole "non-obvious" requirement has been pretty much tossed out. Update: Clarifying that this is simply a patent application, not a granted patent -- but the fact that Microsoft even thinks it's worth applying for such a patent highlights the way the system works these days.
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