Microsoft Patents Choosing 7 Out Of 10 Items To Display

from the display-this dept

theodp writes "So how did the folks at the USPTO see fit to grant eight Microsoft ‘inventors’ a patent for selecting N items to display from a pool having a number of display items greater than N? Maybe they were too preoccupied with the opening of the new USPTO Employee Art Gallery to give it their full attention." The patent in question only has 3 claims, and it’s difficult to see how this concept could possibly be patentable, but luckily for the US Patent Office, it appears that they don’t have to bother selecting N patents to approve from a pool having a number of applications greater than N. These days, they’ll just approve anything.

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Comments on “Microsoft Patents Choosing 7 Out Of 10 Items To Display”

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mkam (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I took a quick glace through the patent and it looks like Mike’s summary of it is fairly accurate. The only complicated part is them saying that they are using a method of selection that ‘normalizes the probability that the items of any one candidate set will be selected in relation to the items of the other candidate sets’.

So they patented selecting N from N+ using a rand() function. (but on the web so it is patentable)

chaizzilla says:

Re: Re: Re:

it’s got that little feisty spark of initiative like scalping tickets, especially in sentiment. innovative use of patents to inspire profit from a captive audience. someone out there surely has had the formula in a webby table or google spreadsheet for a while (i mean who hasn’t contemplated porting visicalc to dhtml and inventing a non-oop alternative in the process?); if we find them maybe they’d wanna invest some fractional settlement futures in our combo visionary tip & aggresive law team package deal.

Robert Massung says:

Did you even read it?

Did you even read the whole article? It is not just displaying items, it is displaying items in a preset, random, or selected order so not to give some merchants unfair allocation space when consumers are viewing webpages. ie. Go to Amazon, select DVD players and the first 10 players that show on the page are all made by X company. With this procedure, A,B,C,D, and E companies will all have equal chances of getting on the first display page. Now this wouldn’t include custom sorts but you get the point. Equal space for vendors. Yes it is a stupid ass patent but someone has to do it. I am sure if you dig deeper there are dumber ones out there.

The infamous Joe says:

Zombies! Run!!

“it is a stupid ass patent but someone has to do it.”

I think the point is that no one *has* to do it, friend. They do it because this great nation is all about making as much money as possible, no matter who you have to steal from, pressure, or decieve to do it.

I think all patents should be reset. Anything before now is fair game. Free to the public. Then they can change how patents are handled without worrying about the effect it may have on patents before it. Then they have to make it to where a LAYMAN could use the patent to make/create the item in question. Anything less specific would be thrown out.

The whole country (sans lawyers and big business) can easily look at this crap and and tell it’s a freakin’ joke.

If it’s not patents, it’s copyrights, or trademarks, or this person sues that person. It’s really starting to make me sick– when did the concept of earning a buck, instead of weaseling it away from people who did earn it, decay away?

We really should just get all the old men out of power and get the stagnant water flowing again.

Man, I can see my house from up here on this soapbox.

knome says:

Don't call it sequal.

It’s SQL. Structured Query Language. Not “sequal”. That is how you say it, not write it.

That stated, I agreed that there patent is basically a patent on performing a specific type of query. Here’s a quick and obvious implementation. But don’t use this! It’s apparently patented.

$sql = ‘ select distinct products_id , product_name , product_price from ( select distinct manufacturer from ( select product_type from product_types order by rand() limit 5 ) somePTs left join manufacturers_to_product_types MFs on PTs.product_type = MFs.product_type order by rand() limit 5 ) someMFs left join products on MFs.manufacturer_id = products.manufacturer_id order by rand() limit 5 ‘ ;

$result = mysql_query( $sql );

while( $temp = mysql_fetch_array( $res ) )
print $temp[‘product_id’] . ‘ ‘ . $temp[‘product_name’] . ‘ ‘ . $temp[‘product_price’] . “n” ;

This is stupid. These tools were designed to do the exact thing that has been patented.

They didn’t patent a hammer, they patented how to swing it.

Medezark says:

Jiminy, I have a great idea!

It seems that the reviewers at the USPTO have no clue as to what they’re really suppossed to be looking for in these patents, or lack the technical expertise to qualify them to review the patents. Thus, I will submit my patent application for “the application of friction between two substances in order to generate combustion.”

And, judging by the patents that have been awarded and upheld over the last decade or two, it will be awarded.

And I’ll sue you all for patent violation!

And I’ll make the licensing fees so high that I’ll either own the world, or drive it back into the stone age when you CAN NO LONGER CREATE OR USE FIRE!

Or, better yet, “method for extracting bio-nutrients from biomass pulp using enzymatic reduction!” If I repeat the word biomass enough times in one sentence, it’ll surely get through the review process.

Anonymous Coward says:

On a side note can the stupid patent office stop using Quicktime to display images? What the hell is that?

They don’t. They use TIFF for their images, and Quicktime has set itself as the default viewer for that file format on your computer.

I use the ALTERNATIFF viewer the USPTO recommends, but any time Quicktime updates it hijacks TIFF back again and I have to remove Quicktime from the plugins folder to get ALTERNATIFF going again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“They don’t. They use TIFF for their images, and Quicktime has set itself as the default viewer for that file format on your computer. I use the ALTERNATIFF viewer the USPTO recommends, but any time Quicktime updates it hijacks TIFF back again and I have to remove Quicktime from the plugins folder to get ALTERNATIFF going again.”

*sniff* *sniff* …. I smell a new patent in the works!!

PhysicsGuy says:

oh c’mon… if someone can’t show prior art on this then i’m giving up on life. i think what it comes down to is the uspto employing semi-retarded people who don’t actually understand the patents in question. this is worded so that someone lacking in logic and basic math concepts will not be able to understand. the people down at the uspto probably looked at this, their heads started to throb and they passed it.

Tin Weasel says:

Why they do it

I haven’t read the patent but…

It seems likely to me that many companies patent stupid ideas not because they wish to stop other people using them (if the ideas are that dumb they won’t hold up to a legal challenge anyway), but because they want to use the ideas without being subjected to frivolous lawsuits by other companies/individuals who do apply for the patent.

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