from the omg dept

theodp writes “The USPTO has granted IBM a patent covering the Resolution of Abbreviated Text in an Electronic Communications System, lawyer-speak for translating “IMHO” to “In My Humble Opinion” and vice versa. From the patent: “One particularly useful application of the invention is to interpret the meaning of shorthand terms…For example, one database may define the shorthand term ‘LOL’ to mean ‘laughing out loud.'” So much for Big Blue’s professed aim of stopping “bad behavior” by companies who seek patents for unoriginal work!”

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Companies: ibm

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Comments on “OMG! IBM Patented LOL! ROTFLMAO!”

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John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

Re: Re: patenting translating code to langauge

Sharks with freaking LASERs are attacking both UNCLE and CONTROL we think it is KAOS and SMERSH teamed up with THRUSH and a bunch of BEMs. Fortunately SHEILD and UNIT are providing assistance in repelling this attack.

A bunch of old OSS agents that had joined the CIA had this sort of attack on their RADAR and prepared a dozen IBMs to get the blue menace.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“but I guess IBM is building up quite a case that software patents are absurd.”

It makes no difference. Big corporations always get their way.

While the Internet is generally good I think one problem with it (and I’m guilty of it too) is that it makes people lazy. People think that they can encourage the government to act in their interest by simply making a comment on a blog. Lobbyists, on the other hand, actually GO TO congress and congressmen and demands. Back in the days people would actually MARCH TO congress and overwhelm it with people until congress gave in. They would actually go out and protest and they would overwhelm the streets, etc… Now they think that posting on a blog is a protest and of course congress favors the lobbyists, who are at congress and talking with the congressmen in person, over some comments from people who can’t be bothered to go to congress. Also going to congress is something that costs the economy, people deviate from their work to protest congress and that causes economic harm (ie: less tax revenue for the government for one thing), so congress is much more likely to listen. Whereas posting on the Internet is often done on peoples spare time, no economic harm so congress could care less.

Same thing, people now send E – Mails, which cost virtually nothing whereas people used to send actual letters, which costs resources that could better be used for something else and so it’s a waste of economic resources for people to send letters (though it’s minor). Also E – Mails are much easier to delete and ignore whereas physical letters clog up our postal service and must be disposed of physically.

Jimr (profile) says:

Already Done and USED long long ago.

Microsoft Word do this a long time ago with the AutoCorrect feature back in late 90s (IE: Word 7, Word 2003)? Since MS Outlook can use Word as email editor then this feature is used in Electronic Communications System.

I know I put many many short hand items in the AutoCorrect’s dictionary. I have even worked at clients that had a custom dictionary full of their internal abbreviations. About 7 years ago we also used there internal abbreviations in the Database to automatically expand out short hand writing.

It seems to me this idea has already been out in the market for at least the last 10 years. And if I go back to the Automatic decoding Morse code machines into English or even the ticker tape machine translator. All these systems used Electronic Communications System and translated the abbreviation (be it Morse code, or every). You could even classify a compression algorithm like ZIP, Kermit, TAR, etc as a way of Resolution abbreviation in a Electronic Communications System.

The USPTO must just stamp things approved and then have the courts waste time and money for the eventual challenges that will occur. In the mean time IBM can sue the crap out of small companies that can not afford a court fight.

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Re: Already Done and USED long long ago.

ISTR the patent office gets paid something extra for approving patents, which incentivizes them to approve as many as they can. Not sure if this is entirely accurate, but ISTR having heard that.

Another, more likely possibility is that they are so swamped with junk patents they just rubber stamp them to get them out of the way. Only somebody needs to swap the “Approved” and the “Denied” stamps. 😉

Has anybody patented emoticons yet? :-0

Money Mike (profile) says:

I hate to take this conversation in a completely different direction, but I thought IMHO was short for in my honest opinion. I guess humble makes more sense… I always wondered why people would have to preface their statement with clarification that it was their honest opinion, as opposed to being some random bs.

I should point out that while I know the basics (LOL, ROFL, LMAO), I often have to look these things up (FUD, WYSIWYG) when people use them, so it kind of defeats the purpose of simplifying anything for me.

Yakko Warner says:

Prior Art: Unreal Tournament 2003

In the PC game UT:2003, like many others, you can type text messages to other players during the game. UT:2003 had an option where it would read incoming messages using a TTS engine, and it would automatically translate common gamerspeak abbreviations like “ROFL” and read them aloud as “rolling on the floor laughing”. (IIRC, it would translate “LOL” as “hahaha” though.)

Just to throw one more example onto the stack.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Just one question

I know that just because they haven’t doesn’t mean they won’t, but when was the last time IBM sued someone for patent infringement? Unless I’m mistaken, IBM has been completely defensive on patents.

Not so. IBM has been known to be offensive on patents as well. Remember when they sued Amazon for a patent on “e-commerce”:

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Just one question

From what I remember, that was a tit-for-tat response to the 1-click patent. IBM saying we can play this game too.

Again, not claiming IBM Is altruistic. Not claiming IBM doesn’t sue over patents. Just saying that IBM, for a big giant corporation with a metric shit-ton of patents does not abuse the system like our favorite East-Texas patent trolls.

Valkor says:

One or More

I was almost ready to try to defend IBM on this one as I was first reading the patent. If they had patented some novel way to implement a heuristic text substitution that could say, tell the difference between MS (Microsoft) and MS (Multiple Sclerosis), that would be something I personally hadn’t heard of before. Instead, they threw in phrases like “one or more databases” when describing how these words would be substituted, and turned half of this patent into some kind of basic autocorrect/autocomplete for, but not limited to, text messages. Guess who is most likely to get sued. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the company the devises a complicated system, but the company that implements an autocomplete that could fall under the broadest reading of this.)

Predictive text is already patented. Automatic substitution is already common. Is there a system that uses more than one data base for substitutions and has to deal with ambiguity? Is there anything else in this description that could be described as patentable? They claim one database, they claim more than one database. They claim application on mobile phones, PDAs, and computers. They claim database locations on local machines, on the internet, and on service providers transmission systems. Wow, broad patents suck.

One final question: Did they patent a program, or a programming project assignment?

Ed Burgueno says:

don't blame IBM, hold the patent office to the flame

The real issue isn’t IBM being plain stupid and filing a patent that may help them be more profitable / block competition. The real issue we have and the issue we should be outraged with is our US Patent office. Theses guys have been giving away patents in exchange for cash for years. Stuff you and I would look at each other and say, WTF, are you kidding. Who the hell bla bla.

If we can put any pressure on our government to stop and retract “common sense” patents we need to do it. For gods sake they are letting companies patent seeds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Knee-jerk reaction? Check

Let’s all assume that IBM is doing this with malicious purposes, because that’s the only option here.

Look – IBM frequently patents things not because it wants to monetize them, instead because it wants others NOT to. They are very experienced at getting things patented, and they actively encourage employees to patent things that are fairly obvious so as to insure that they won’t be restricted in doing the obvious thing in the future by someone who patented it and was litigious.

As a couple of people have noted above, the issue shouldn’t be with IBM here, but with a patent system that thinks it’s ok to patent really obvious things. Fix the system …

Anonymous Coward says:

Quite frankly, I am prepared to give the USPTO and IBM the benefit of the doubt since this is not a particularly difficult technology area to understand, the USPTO examiners are not idiots as so many here seem inclined to believe, and the employees at IBM are doubtless familiar with all of the above prior art tid-bits that commenters have latched onto in trying to ridicule this patent.

Now, whether or not the original application should have ever been filed is an entirely different issue. Of course, I am not privy to the reasoning behind its filing. Maybe people had too much time on their hands and said “What the heck. I/we need something for my/our ‘ego wall’.” Then again, maybe something is lurking around in IBM’s labs to which this may have utility.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: USPTO Worked With IBM to Make This Patent Happen

This is a normal occurrence during the prosecution of an application. The process is one of give and take, but in the end claims still have to be presented that distinguish over the prior art by being novel and non-obvious in order for a patent to issue.

What typically happens, by the way, is that an initial set of claims is presented, the USPTO conducts a search of prior art and almost invariably rejects all of the claims, whereupon the applicant amends the claims by narrowing their scope so that the claims now define an invention that meets all statutory criteria.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Quite frankly, I am prepared to give the USPTO and IBM the benefit of the doubt since this is not a particularly difficult technology area to understand, the USPTO examiners are not idiots as so many here seem inclined to believe, and the employees at IBM are doubtless familiar with all of the above prior art tid-bits that commenters have latched onto in trying to ridicule this patent.

Yes, that is because you happen to be a patent attorney who always likes to give the benefit of the doubt to the USPTO, despite whatever evidence may be presented to you.

Occupational hazard, I guess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In this case I am trying to figure out just what evidence has been presented that was not brought to the attention of, or already known by, the USPTO examiners.

The application’s description of the invention is relatively straightforward, the claims are not fraught with ambiguous terms, and the technology area is not so difficult that the applicants could “pull a fast one”.

I will admit I am puzzled a bit by the fact the claims are limited as they are given that the description of the invention is broader in scope. Of course, this could mean that a restriction requirement was given and that another application is pending that covers other aspects of the invention.

I will also admit I have seen instances where an examiner is not fully conversant in certain areas of technology. However, this does not appear to be such an instance, and all the more so given that the application was considered by both a primary and supervisory examiner.

Perhaps I may be proven wrong, but based upon what information is available I have no reason to conclude that the system has somehow failed.

HNY and wishing U a prosperous 2K10.

Tristan Young says:

Prior Art

This isn’t new.

I’ve used programs that do this very thing.

I guess IBM doesn’t do any searching for prior art before wasting their money on a dumb patent.

What’s worse, the USPTO granted the patent.

More proof the US patent system is corrupt and invalid, and big companies are hypocritical to the end.

john says:

ibm and the missing machine intelagence.

in the case of ibm versus the rest of intelegent life out there. They patented the beging of there first ai..
its seams to me that if they patent the prosses for an ai in the form of an all incluseve broad spectrum method to interpet the way we talk. They are starting at the ground floor for machine intelgence.

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