Microsoft Patents "Michelle Is Typing A Message…"
from the prior-art? dept
theodp writes “Instant messaging software has provided features to let you know when one of your friends is typing a response for at least three decades. But that didn’t stop Microsoft from applying for and the USPTO from granting a patent Tuesday for a System and method for activity monitoring and reporting in a computer network, which means “Michelle is typing a message…” will be displayed to let you know when Michelle is typing a message.” All of the major IM clients now offer this feature. Whether or not it’s been around for three decades, it certainly seems pretty obvious. I remember talking about it with people before Yahoo implemented it (the first IM client that I saw it on). Still, now I’m sure Microsoft can go after any such IM system for a licensing fee.
Comments on “Microsoft Patents "Michelle Is Typing A Message…"”
But does anyone at the USPTO actually look at submissions any more or do they just rubber stamp everything that comes across their desk that has a check attached for the right amount of money?
It would be nice if we implemented a new policy where the USPTO could actually fine people for submitting patents on things that they didn’t invent and for which there is sufficient prior art to invalidate the patent.
Maybe you could make a patent applicant put up a bond or cash retainer to prove the seriousness of their intent to patent and then if the USPTO finds out it’s not an original idea then they get to keep the bond/retainer and can use that money to hire new patent inspectors to reduce their backlog? Maybe even hire some people who know that adding the words “on the internet” to something doesn’t make it a new idea.
Re: Just curious...
USPTO patent examiners are paid by the number of patents they approve. Essentially they have just become a filing cabinet — they figure the courts can sort out any conflicts. It’s all part of their new “customer focus” (I am not making this up).
Re: Re: Just curious...
they figure the courts can sort out any conflicts.
Is this coddified in any official documents?
Re: Re: Re: Just curious...
Hope this helps. I originally learned of this from an interview with the head of the PTO that was in Herring or Upside, and so is hard to find these days.
Believe it or not, the primary reason for a business to patent things is to keep yourself from being sued by someone else, NOT to go off suing the world. Of course, there are spectacularly newsworthy cases of companies that do go on suing binges for vendettas, publicity and even sometimes in the usually wrongheaded notion that they’ll get a lot of money. This is not true of individuals who have dollar signs in their eyes as they file. I worked for a company that was an exception and actually had a profitable business for many years selling licenses to its patents. But it’s a yery tricky business and demands that you have a stable of patent savvy lawyers constantly searching for suspected patent abuse. Eventually my company gave up the patent part of the business because the habit of countersuing by the sue-eee led to some startling and wildly costly instances of patent reversal.
Remember we’re talking about a government agency that approved a patent for a little girl on how to swing sideways on a swingset.