IBM Wants Patent On Conference Call Laugh Tracks

from the is-this-funny-to-you? dept

theodp writes "The first known use of a recorded laugh track is said to be in 1950, when the producers of the Hank McCune Show added canned laughter after the show’s taping. Almost 60 years later, IBM says it deserves a patent for ‘inventing’ adding canned laughter to conference calls. ‘A pre-selected stored sound (e.g., an interjection such as a laugh) may be generated if there is a period of silence on one of the telephone lines that exceeds a threshold,’ explains Big Blue in its just-published patent application for Enlivening Conference Calls to Make Conference Calls More Interesting for Participants. Eureka!"

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Companies: ibm

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Comments on “IBM Wants Patent On Conference Call Laugh Tracks”

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29 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

What are they patenting?

Are they patenting some kind of software that recognizes periods of silence and then injects an audio track onto the call? I would think that there would be several examples of prior art within current automated answering systems (the ones that answer, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that” if they don’t recognize or hear anything).

The other question I have is about applicability. If the software is listening for silence, is it listening in on the conversation too?

USPTO says:

Another excellent example of an implementation patent! Whats an implementation patent you ask?? Well think about the “on the internet” patent. It’s all the same stuff that’s been in the public domain, simply because our predecessors were stoodgy old stick in the muds who didn’t get the idea economy…. In this day and age we just tack “on the internet” to the end of any obvious action and BINGO it’s an “invention”.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From what I’m reading, it’s a patent for a device that listens for no sound on the phone line, counts down a specific amount of time, and plays a pre-recorded sound. The laugh track isn’t important here, it’s only used as an example.

This sounds like an automated version of a device I saw back in the early nineties. The device would plug into the phone, back when all phones were wired, and you could press a button and it would play a pre-recorded sound threw the phone line.

So, they are taking three devices and putting them together.

1) A device that starts a countdown on a non signal and will activate something when the countdown finishes unless a signal appears again. This is done in programing and electronics all the time. (a nand gate?)

2) A device that will play sounds threw the phone line. See the device I mentioned earlier or something like an on hold track.

3) A decibel meter. (If I have to explain that, I probably have to further explain the other two)

I can see that the only reason this hasn’t been patented before, or at least no prior art, is because it’s a stupid idea and would never be implemented in a professional environment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Such a unique idea

The radio station I worked at in the 80’s had one of these. If it detected dead air for a specified period, it would play a specific cart and also call the station manager and connect him to the studio telephone (the only one that RANG in the studio). You did NOT want to wake up to THAT call.

Thanks, IBM, for inventing something that was pretty common 25 years ago.

The Baker says:

A million monkeys at a million typewriters

Patent anything and everything you can get away with. If you do that a million times something is going to be worth some money some day. Perhaps I should patent sprinkling flower on the tabletop before putting down the dough …. remotely over the internet. Then when a company comes up with custom baked bread that you and your kids make over the internet and have shipped to your home….. I got em. No more white boogers for me, I’ll be sippin’ margaritas on my private island.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do not disdain patents, but I do disdain those within any company who seek patents for “inventions” that so obviously have absolutely nothing to do with the company’s strategic business interests.

Frankly, this application strikes me as little more than an attempt to secure a patent, not for business reasons, but for reasons having to do with the inventors getting a piece of paper with a nice ribbon for hanging on their ego walls and inclusion in their resumes/CVs.

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