Microsoft Patents Multi-Domain User Tracking With Cookies

from the this-is-new? dept

theodp writes “A patent for Tracking usage behavior in computer systems was granted to Microsoft Tuesday after the software giant explained how it can use invisible images and ‘small sized cookies’ to surreptitiously track visitors on its own and others’ web sites.” The claims seem to get fairly specific, concerning keeping the cookies small (as to be less resource intensive) and using the system across multiple domains (generally frowned upon for cookie usage) to track usage outside the single domain.

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Comments on “Microsoft Patents Multi-Domain User Tracking With Cookies”

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ThinkSolveDo (user link) says:

Re: will never hold up to a suit

MS does not need it to hold up. Simply burying a company with a costly lawsuit is enough. Even MS and APPLE had to make nice.

In the USA the law is FIRST TO INVENT. MS does have some very smart people who have been in the industry a very long time. There is a chance they did invent it.

The point is MS should have the same rights as Uncle Joe who invents in his garage. The patent system should be equally accessible to all; NOT SIMPLY the few with the most money.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: will never hold up to a suit

In the USA the law is FIRST TO INVENT. MS does have some very smart people who have been in the industry a very long time. There is a chance they did invent it

Again, you’re missing the point. Even if MS was first, the fact that so many others developed similar things at the same time suggest this shouldn’t be patentable. With so many people coming up with similar solutions it’s clearly “obvious to those skilled in the art” and, thus, not patentable.

The point is MS should have the same rights as Uncle Joe who invents in his garage. The patent system should be equally accessible to all; NOT SIMPLY the few with the most money.

Hurray for the strawman. No one is saying that the patent system should only work for those with the most money. I’m not sure why you bring this up.

Again, I ask you to stop making assumptions about what we’re saying and actually read what we say.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Figures... Your Not Slamming MS.

It is funny to see the Big corporate bias here.

Why is it funny? ThinkSolveDo keeps accusing us of being shills for big companies, but as we’ve said REPEATEDLY, we will point out abuses of the patent system no matter who is involved… and always have.

So, again, I ask why is it funny?

What IS funny is that half the time we get accused of being big corporate shills and half the time people accuse us of being anti-capitalists.

Neither is true. Why can’t you accept the fact that perhaps we have a valid opinion on this, based on a lot of research and experience?

Frank says:

You have *got* to be kidding

I love (and fear) hearing about ridiculous patents here on TechDirt, but this one really hits home. Just yesterday I was investigatinig how to create this exact setup for my company’s series of websites. One of the first hits I got was for what are called “web beacons,” but are also referred to as “web bugs” or “image beacons.” These are the ‘invisible images’ that Mike mentioned in his write up (and Microsoft in this patent).

They are used to pass session information between different domains, as a work-around for the domain limitations implied on cookies. I’m pretty sure all the write-ups I read about, as well as a number of examples, were around before M$ “invented” them.

Steve says:

This IS prior art

How clever. They’ve done it again: corrupted the U.S. patent system. THIS clearly IS prior art. The Cookie issue just got played down over the recent years after people got so overenthusiastic about cookies which, at some time, were “EVIL spys on your very computer” – isn’t this about what clever Microsoft strategists try to infiltrate into the market? Every decent programmer rolled an eye on that and now, after the cookie craze calmed down in public opinion they just make it a patent although this technology has long before been in use. And – what IS a very very small cookie? Cookies in general are very very small pieces of information. I haven’t seen a single programmer that placed an entire Episode of Lord of the Rings into a cookie, have you?!

Anonymous Coward says:

Microsoft, I think, is getting paranoid.

Yeah, let’s patent everything that way we don’t need to pay anyone any licensing fees.

You know, the licensing fees, like those that Microsoft charges exhorbitant amounts to those who would use their products.

Oh wait, this is a blatant contradiction…kind of like Microsoft itself.

Mathew Schlabaugh says:

Patenting Spyware... LOL

Just block all cookies if you don’t want them. It has always been this simple. Many quality sites already limit if not all together avoid the use of them. I was taught a basic thing in college regarding cookies.

Do not base the functionality of a web site on the presence of cookies. They should only “enhance” functionality if found.

Is Microsoft spending money to patent something that if used to support base functionality would be considered poor web programming? … Or are they trying to limit your ability to remain private on the internet and thoroughly track your online activities?

Whatever it is they feel that being able to track your activities online is so important it is worthy of patent protection.

It did occur to me that web cache cannot be properly blocked. “Temporary Internet Files” build up to a minimum of 1 MB up to thousands. They are not blocked properly in all instances. This means that Windows computers are “wide open” to this type of tracking system.

Is this how it would be used…??? Will this unstoppable picture be used to track your activity? Or will they be regular old cookie files? If they are just cookies… just block them if you don’t want to be tracked.

However, I feel that if the pictures will be stored in “Temporary Internet Files”. I propose action be taken. Their process is built to exploit weaknesses in their own system. Sounds like a “Backdoor” in the software. This all results in possible unwanted functionality for the user… This all sounds like they have patented spyware and/or a virus process…

I think they should put out a Windows Update to block their on patented process inside their “Malicious Software Removal” updates.

The important thing to know is that they want to track you so much it is worthy of patenting the process in which they do it…

I don’t know where this one will lead only time will tell…

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