Microsoft Patents Adding 'www.' And '.com' To Text

from the just-as-Thomas-Jefferson-intended dept

theodp writes "Microsoft was just granted U.S. Patent No. 7,392,326 for Text Entry in an Electronic Device. From the patent: 'the invention may automatically add a 'www.' and a '.com' to the text the user is entering and display this combined text'. To get the point across, Microsoft included an illustration showing the 'invention' in action, transforming 'foo' into 'www.foo.com'. Sure it's not sorcery we're dealing with?"

The specifics of the patent show it to be for easier data entry on mobile devices, but it's difficult to see how this qualifies as either new or non-obvious. Basically, the concept is pretty straightforward and has been done on desktop browsers for some time. To simply add "and on mobile devices" doesn't seem deserving of a patent. Does anyone really believe this functionality wouldn't have been developed without a patent?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Homer J. Simpson, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Don't have a cow....

    DOH!! :)

     

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  2.  
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    Stephen Adams, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:15pm

    Complete BS

    This is complete BS, and more proof that patent examiners live in caves and are completely disconnected from modern society (who hasn't seen a browser do this exact same thing, since AT LEAST 1995?). Software developers have been producing code that completes partially typed phrases for years. There is nothing novel about this concept, and there's certainly nothing here that deserves patent protection. The fact that it's done on a mobile device is completely irrelevant -- it's no different than doing it on any other device. Extending a well-established activity from one keyboard-entry device to another doesn't make it new, unique, non-obvious or patentable. The whole purpose of software development is to make it easier for people to do things. Wait -- maybe I should patent that!

    The way I see it, Microsoft was deceptive by using the term "the invention" when what they really mean is "the software." Software is not an invention. This actually looks like a method to beat back Firefox and Opera. Since MS has now patented this for mobile devices, they can extend the patent to non-mobile devices, and then sue Firefox and Opera and every other browser maker. The intent may not be to sue, but it can sure be used as a cudgel ("Use our OS on your crappy cell phone, or we'll sue you for patent infringement, based on a bunch of marginal patents. Win or lose, it's going to cost you a lot of money.").

     

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  3.  
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    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    Prior Art

    Remember T9, the "mobile device" texting method of auto prompting for words using just the keypad of the telephone (0-9 * #) ? How does the patent office see this as Any different ? Not to mention this is in almost every popular browser when you hit ctrl, alt, and enter with a string of text in the address bar.
    http://www.t9.com/

     

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  4.  
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    zcat, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    Only a little prior art....

    Didn't netscape used to do this? Or was it mosaic? If you typed a word in the address bar and it wasn't a valid address, it would systematically try 'foo.com' 'foo.net' 'foo.org' 'www.foo.com' 'www.foo.net' 'www.foo.org' until it got something that worked..

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    I'm going to patent applying for a patent, using (gasp) a computer to fill out the application. Damn, someone beat me to it.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    that diagram, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    i laugh

    did anyone else get a kick out of that patent image? what i want to know is what happened to exhibits 201, 202, 203, 204, 206, 207, 208, and 209?!

     

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  7.  
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    Not Applicable, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Um, anyone for an AOL keyword?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    What is "patented" is defined and circumscribed by the allowed claims, in this case one very detailed and quite limited independent claim, and three independent claims that incorporate all of the recitals in the independent claim.

    MS has not invented a broad concept, and a quick review of the references used during prosecution of the application demonstrates this to be the case. Moreover, it was allowed with the approval of a Primary Examiner, a position within the Patent Office that denotes seniority and experience in the relevant technical arts.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:00pm

    More Prior Art

    In IE type ctrl+enter. What is new?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:02pm

    Re:

    "three independent" should read "three dependent".

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Re:

    "Moreover, it was allowed with the approval of a Primary Examiner, a position within the Patent Office that denotes seniority and experience in the relevant technical arts."
    Something smells rancid there. Sounds like the previous post might be right, someone just gave MS yet another club to beat up the industry with.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    "Moreover, it was allowed with the approval of a Primary Examiner, a position within the Patent Office that denotes seniority and experience in the relevant technical arts."
    Something smells rancid there. Sounds like the previous post might be right, someone just gave MS yet another club to beat up the industry with.

     

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  13.  
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    Jed, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:04pm

    This reminds me

    This reminds me of the guy that patented the wheel.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/07/02/australia.wheel/

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    zcat, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:06pm

    OMFG!!

    Someone actually got a patent on (for all practical purposes) "A method of applying for a patent -using a computer-" !!!

    Yep.. if you add the magic words -using a computer- then absolutely anything at all will be considered 'new and innovative' by the patent office..

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    sonofdot, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:12pm

    Re:

    Anyone with true "experience in the relevant technical arts" would have rejected this application immediately, since someone it has been used in commercial and non-commercial products for at least 13 years, and it has been incorporated into every browser ever assembled. However, someone living in a cave, completely removed from anything remotely resembling technology, and with absolutely no knowledge of programming and development practices, would have granted the application. Any software developer, possessing more than 2 weeks experience, would have added such an obvious and brain-dead simple feature. And until the stupid State Street decision, none would have ever thought to patent something so ridiculously simple.

    By this same token, maybe we can go down to the patent office, and patent rearranging the letters of the word "the" into the correct order when typed incorrectly. Then we can patent putting a period after a word, if you press the space bar twice. Then we can sue Microsoft, RIM, and anyone else who produces products that do something obvious and simple.

    Honestly, this patent "system" is incredibly fucked up, and apologizing doesn't quite cut it any longer. All that's happening now is there are companies, Microsoft included, that are simply gaming the system with patents that should never be granted. Perhaps the patent system needs a review panel, to review the rulings of the brain-dead examiners.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    microsofthater, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    already done

    The iphone already does this, and I'm sure other phones do it as well. This is BS

     

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  17.  
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    Eskimo Heel, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:23pm

    Patents for www. and .com

    I am pretty sure my Verizon phone browser does that now, and did so as early as 4 or 5 years ago. If only we had a Congress with guts, they could change the flawed patent system. Nah.. not enough money comes in for that kind of vote!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:29pm

    I may be useful to note that the patent was filed as an application in June 2001.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    inc, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:56pm

    firefox already does this as well.. not new..

     

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  20.  
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    Dudemaster, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:10pm

    ... gay.

     

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  21.  
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    Denise, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:15pm

    umm...

    My helio ocean does it now...

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    kdlucas, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    Patent System is in shambles

    The patent system is broken. Many companies now get patents not because they want to reap financial rewards, but because they need to protect themselves against "patent trolls" who survive only to get patents and then sue companies using that technology. This is ugly, unethical, and down right devious.

    I think the entire patent system needs to be revamped. I wonder what would happen if patents were no longer used... How would companies go about protecting IP without patents? There are ways to do this, but I'm curious what many of you think would become of IP.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re:

    What if it was intentional ? What if there was a strategy by allowing it through ? How would that make ya feel ?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Patents for www. and .com

    Actually in my opinion, I believe lobbyists are pushing (and spending) a lot for more strict laws in the area of Intellectual Property, and that their voices ($$$) are much stronger than ours. Government knows that we will accept their absurdity as if the two do not reside in the same world.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Ernesto Gluecksmann, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    This would be interesting to look at it's patent history file...

    This was filed in June 29, 2001.

    It took 7 years to award... this?

    This is really odd.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    spineemike, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:32pm

    Safari used to do this

    Safari for Mac used to have this functionality, but lost it when I upgraded to 10.5. Weird.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    eleete, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Patent System is in shambles

    It would take the Property away from Intellect. Which is why it almost didn't make it into the constitution anyway. Ever since then, it's been a tool used by large industry (and small) as a club to pursue one another. It basically insights pissing contests about who 'owns' what. Horrible idea from the beginning and now we're scratching our heads thinking... How else can people on this welfare system survive if it were to go away.... Poor artists : ( while industry soaks those poor artists even worse to line their pockets.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Palming Myself, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 4:42pm

    I think my Palm T|X already does this...

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 5:19pm

    I'm sure that AD is conflicted on this one .....
    I can imagine the steam rising out of his ears

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Wolferz (profile), Jul 7th, 2008 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Complete BS

    Actually... technically... I haven't seen any browser do this since the feature was first added to IE and I tried out...

    I just type the www. and .com myself each and every time. Assuming patent examiners do the same then it is possible they wouldn't know this already exists.

    Of course... this is even worse than if they had living in caves as an excuse. It cast doubt on the feasibility of the current system to accurately approve patents.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Good employees stop, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 6:06pm

    www.AmpleMoney.com

    Now that they hired Mr. Vale, I expect Vista to be bug free in 14 days.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    David Lagesse, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 6:22pm

    We won't be Happy 'till...

    Microsoft won't be happy until they can charge every human on earth for... Something... Perhaps breathing could be 'Taxed' by Big Brother. Oops I meant Microsoft.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    zcat, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 7:04pm

    Firefox does NOT do this...

    Firefox does something quite a lot smarter. When the input in the address bar isn't a web address it performs a google search and, if one site is clearly more relevant than the rest, goes directly to that site. Or where there are no clear winners, it simply presents Google's search results for the user to decide.

    But have Mozilla applied for a patent on this feature? I don't think so!

    (yes, I know MSIE does something similar, but MSIE's results are almost never what I was after, while Firefox's are almost always what I was after.)

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    zcat, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 7:12pm

    #30

    I can assure you, back when the web was relatively new and 'web pages' were mostly black text on a grey background, with no advertising and only the occasional GIF for illustration, the browser I was using was _already_ smart enough to try adding www. and .tla either side of whatever had been entered into the address bar and make a valid address from it. And that was so long ago I can't even remember what browser it was.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Doug Robb, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 7:22pm

    Patent is not the Last Word

    Without reading the details I would suggest that this patent would not hold up if MS actually took someone to court for alleged infringement - both on the prior art and obviousness of the application from anyone reasonably skilled in the art I think is the term they use.

    ie it's quite possible to be granted a patent for something that is easily struck out or ruled invalid under the closer examiniation of a court. So MS is likely not to want to pursue this one with too much vigour ....

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 8:04pm

    I like pooh

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Felix, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 8:28pm

    Now I Get It

    After reading everyone's comments, despite the absurdity of the patent itself, perhaps Microsoft is doing this as a defensive strategy. To protect itself from some lame patent troll obtaining this patent and then suing the entire planet, Microsoft got the patent first. Maybe their intent is benign, maybe not. Time will tell.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Molly Bloom, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 10:09pm

    Re: We won't be Happy 'till... a long time from now (probably)

    Ever wonder why those cute cottages in Ireland have such small windows? It's because in the olden days the English overlords taxed the daylight, i.e., the larger the window, the more tax.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Azrael, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

    Re: already done

    Actually Opera Mini (on any phones it's installed) has started doing it for at least two years now.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Yakzoo, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:38am

    Not only did Netscape do this, they have a patent on it.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Allen (profile), Jul 8th, 2008 @ 1:19am

    So the patent system is broken?

    The patent system is broken. Not really news.

    I do find it interesting to contrast the reaction to this particular example of patent dysfunction and the fan boy's reaction to the applications to add Instant Messaging and Video Conferencing to the iPhone.

    The real question is what can we do about it? There are a lot of $ at stake in maintaining the status quo.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    AnonyN00b, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Re: Complete BS

    Maybe before a lawsuit springs up, it'd be funny to see someone vandalize a Microsoft building with something like "www.bs.com"

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:07am

    But have Mozilla applied for a patent on this feature? I don't think so!

    Maybe they did! It took 7 years to get this patent awarded so maybe Mozilla has applied for one! I guess we'll find out in the next 5 years or so. But let's not forget that this patent is strictly for mobile devices, so Mozilla could still get one for desktop browsers.

    So now does Microsoft have the right to go after anyone who has incorporated this advancement since the patent was first applied for?

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Actual Inventor, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:37am

    Re: Firefox does NOT do this...

    But did Firefox do it in 2001? Oh, that's right...Firefox did not really exist in 2001.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    tbd, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 7:39am

    Did anyone actually look into the patent application and read the reasons why the examiner allowed it?

    And as Anonymous Coward stated, the application was filed in 2001, so saying that Firefox does this NOW wouldn't prevent this from patenting.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Of course there is no prior art here, no obviousness and absolutely no one does this on a daily basis already, right?

    And who said the Primary Examiner is actually familiar with the topic MS applied on and was approved.

    Apparently not.

    Want to bring the notion of patents into any more disrepute that it already has become? Show them this one.

    Insane and inane.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Complete BS

    Netscape 0.95b had this feature in 1994.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 12:18pm

    MShit is the biggest patent system abuser, not patent trolls

    For years those large multinational corporations were deliberately polluting US patent system with junk patent filings
    This is a clever strategy to dilute the value of a few really valuable patents held by small entities, to dissolve worthy patents in a sea of junk patents

    Well, the strategy worked

    We are all f*****d
    Say thanks to Billy Gates and his successor Stevie theFat Ballmer and that little piece of shit they hired called Marshal Phelps
    They are the real patent trolls

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    pinkles, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    so sue me

    Here's a one liner (prior art) that does it....

    echo 'someword' | sed 's/(.*)/www.1.com/'

    so sue me. what a farce. M$ is pathetic. and so is the patent office.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    just some guy, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:30pm

    Re: so sue me

    pinkles -> echo 'someword' | sed 's/(.*)/www.1.com/'


    echo 'someword' | sed 's/(.*)/www.&.com/'

    There, corrected that for ya.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: so sue me

    opps

    echo 'someword' | sed 's/(.*)/www.&.com/'

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: so sue me

    ok - so it appears that a backslash does not appear in the comments. Does one need to escape the escape ?

    echo 'someword' | sed 's/\(.*\)/www.&.com/'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: so sue me

    Yes - that did it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    crg, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 2:00am

    yeah

    Nearly every browser EXCEPT IE has done this since the mid-90s (and the ones that didn't exist in the mid-90s have done this since their inception). I'm guessing the patent people are drones that don't know any other browsers exist besides IE, so they think this is a newfangled concept.

    They probably also think Vista is an amazing OS.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    nobody, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    iPhone?

    Okay so I'm not really ALL that knowledgeable about this sort of thing, and I'm not staying around to watch people get on my case for not being another crusty old expert so don't bother, but mightn't Microsoft's purpose be to squeeze what it can from the iPhone and other Apple items? Let's face it, the iPhone is pretty cool, so Microsoft might be trying to be like "Hey well... well... well your users have to TYPE IN THEIR WWW's AND COM's so ... even though we don't have anything comparable... we totally owned you riiiiight" ... ?

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    IReadtheClaims, Oct 22nd, 2008 @ 7:31pm

    Clueless comments

    For all of you that say this has been around forever I challenge you to find a single instance of where a browser checks the geographic location before deciding what to add to the typed character string.
    The patent only covers instances where there is a geographic location check first and decision based on that location. All the browser people mention as "doing this for years" are outside the limited scope of the claims. Learn to read the claims of a patent before commenting on them! You can't just ignore parts of the claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    nsl, Jul 16th, 2009 @ 3:00am

    how are you

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2011 @ 5:58am

    V

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 7:23pm

    Wwwwxxx

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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