Google Tries To Patent Least Cost Routing?

from the er...-that's-old dept

First off, we should point out that there's a tendency in the press to discover a patent app (or even a granted patent) from a company and immediately write up an article claiming that the company is planning to implement what's in said patent -- as if the patent gives a glimpse into that company's future plans. The truth is that plenty of companies patent stuff that never amount to anything. So, reading the tea leaves via patent application is unlikely to be very accurate. So, it's difficult to put much weight into the claims from Wired that Google is planning to "kill off cellphone contracts" based on a recently revealed patent application on a flexible communications system, that would effectively bid out to various telco providers for the best possible rate before initiating a connection.

The real question shouldn't be about whether or not this will kill off mobile contracts, but why anyone should think this is patentable material. Least cost routing techniques have been around for ages, and you could buy a fax machine that would do it automatically for you years ago (I think I bought mine at least five years ago). It's hard to see what's all that different here, other than that it would be for data instead of voice or fax (which are really data in their own way) and that it could include mobile lines or alternative broadband options like WiFi. But that hardly seems worthy of a patent. Even odder? Google was sued about three years ago for apparently infringing on a least cost routing patent held by RTI, a patent holding company that recently had its tactics exposed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2008 @ 10:11pm

    One of the inventors listed on the pending patent application is Dr. Shumeet Baluja, a senior reasearcher at Google who has a CV that would put many academics and scientists to shame. Now, I do not know this gentleman, but one thing I have learned over the years is that persons with lengthy research experience is specific scientific disciplines have a pretty good idea concerning the current state of the art. In at least one instance a scientist I worked with was the "prior art", i.e., the acknowledged expert in his scientific discipline. Whether or not this is true of Dr. Baluja obviously would require further inquiry.

    The point I am making is simply that I would not casually dismiss his work and that of his co-inventors/colleagues simply because LCR techniques have previously been developed. What matters here is to identify the technique he and his colleagues have created, and to then compare that technique to prior art techniques to determine if it is new, useful and nonobvious.

     

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  2.  
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    Allen (profile), Sep 30th, 2008 @ 12:42am

    Re:

    A person or company may choose to lodge a patent application for a variety of reasons. And this looks like a defensive patent - Google know its pretty obvious but don't trust a court using a lower standard of obviousness to agree.

    I wouldn't take what Mike has said as a personal criticism of either the good Doctor or similarly qualified persons. Take rather as a frustrated howl that the system encourages obvious applications for reasons that have little to do with innovation.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Trevlac, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 2:29am

    There's so much prior art to this. In fact, the average person's home holds enough prior art to show this is bollocks.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Michial, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Example of how IP Owner gets screwed

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/09/dayintech_0930

    here is an article where a man makes a HUGE contribution to the medical profession, and through the same types of theft y'all seem to promote the man gets screwed into poverty.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    I agree - And Mike, I doubt that Google is talking about anything even remotely the same as what you are using for your fax machine.

    again - it's not what they are doing but how.

    Just because you can travel from here to there already by bicycle doesn't mean that traveling the same route by car isn't a different thing altogether.

     

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  6.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    Anti-lawsuit patent

    I think the last line of the article is the most telling. They have been sued for similar technology before. They want to use this technology without being sued. So, they patent it themselves, thus stopping any lawsuits against them. Google has not been aggressive with their patents in the past, and I don't see them getting that way with this one.

    Still, it is disheartening to see so many patents in the hands of one company, where a change in ownership or corporate philosophy could really harm tech innovation. And, certainly, this should not be patentable.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 6:20am

    How is that odd?

    Even odder? Google was sued about three years ago for apparently infringing on a least cost routing patent held by RTI, a patent holding company that recently had its tactics exposed.

    Why do you think it's odd that Google would try to protect itself from similar law suits in the future by obtaining a patent for its method of least cost routing?

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 8:07am

    patent the solution, not the problem

    I have not gone and read the patent but let me observe that you patent a solution, not a problem. While the idea of least cost routing may be old, new and better ways of achieving it may still be patentable (if you believe that methods / algorithms should be patentable ). Whether the new method is covered by the prior art will depend on the details of both.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 30th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Re: Example of how IP Owner gets screwed

    here is an article where a man makes a HUGE contribution to the medical profession, and through the same types of theft y'all seem to promote the man gets screwed into poverty.

    Theft? Please explain what was "stolen"? All I see in the article is competition that drove the medical industry forward, and one guy who was unable to compete.

     

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

  10.  
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    Anon Cow, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    My grandma invented this. She called it "comparison shopping"

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    shaniac, Sep 30th, 2008 @ 6:19pm

    Just One MVNO Could Make Wireless a Utility

    So if an MVNO launched a handset with antennas for all/most popular wireless protocols (GSM/CDMA), they could very quickly pit all the wireless carriers in any area against each other for both coverage and price. Very quickly the carries would revolt or they would simply become a utility. Then it becomes about price and coverage that keep the carriers alive. The device and services become the real killer app after that.

     

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


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