We're Saved! Company Claims It's Patented 'Containing the Spread of Disinformation' And Will Stop COVID-19 Disinfo
from the not-how-it-works-guys dept
A friend sent over a press release announcement from a company called CREOpoint that claims it has patented “Containing the Spread of Disinformation” and that it was now using it to “help contain the spread of COVID-19 disinformation.” Would that it were so, but that’s not how any of this works. Tellingly, the press release does not provide the patent number of any of the details about the patent — which should probably be your first sign that it’s utterly bogus. However, with a little sleuthing I was able to turn up the patent application… and it confirms that this is a ridiculous patent that never should have been approved. The official title is “Containing Disinformation Spread Using Customizable Intelligence Channels.”
The 1st claim is the main one and describes what the patent is about:
A computer-implemented method of rating the veracity of content distributed via digital communications sources, comprising: creating an ontology and selecting keywords for at least one topic of the content; creating a customizable intelligence channel for the at least one topic of the content and extracting from the customizable intelligence channel a first list of potential experts on the at least one topic of the content sorted by at least relevance and influence; mining trusted media sources for the at least one topic of the content to extract a second list of potential experts on the at least one topic of the content; providing the first and second lists of potential experts on the at least one topic of the content to a database; rating and ranking the potential experts as a function of at least one of professionalism, reliability, proximity, experience, responsiveness, and lack of self-interest in the at least one topic of the content to identify a short list of experts; providing the content to the short list of experts for evaluation; polling the short list of experts about the veracity of the content to create a veracity score; and delivering the veracity score with the content.
Basically, the “patent” is for automated review of some text, figuring out who the best experts are, and then “polling” those specific experts to see whether or not the content is valid. And, that’s neat and all, but also, I’d imagine that most people who work in content moderation would laugh at this as a “solution” do disinformation online, because that’s not how stop it.
Either way, this is exactly the kind of patent that the Supreme Court said was invalid in the Alice decision. That ruling said that you can’t get a patent if it “does no more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions.” But that’s exactly what this does. If you told someone to write a piece of software to route online content to experts, they’d pretty much all write exactly this software. So it’s a generic application, doing generic computer functions, in a manner that pretty much anyone else could do if it were useful.
This actually gets to the point we were just raising. In the beginning of 2019, the UPSTO issued “new guidance” regarding the Alice decision to patent examiners that caused them to start issuing a lot more software patents after a few years where they were rejecting them, based on what the Supreme Court said.
In fact, this kind of ridiculous patent is the kind of thing that CCIA warned the Patent Office would start getting approved despite the simple fact that courts have said such things are not patentable — including claims around “collecting, analyzing, and displaying information.”
The Guidance lays out three categories of abstract ideas: mathematical concepts, certain methods of organizing human activity, and mental processes. However, this categorization appears to omit a category of abstract ideas characterized by the Federal Circuit as a ?familiar class of claims??the set of abstract ideas that are directed to ?collecting, analyzing, and displaying  information? or ?collecting, displaying, and manipulating data.? While the Federal Circuit has made clear that it does not ?suggest that every claim involving the collection, organization, manipulation, or display of data is necessarily directed to an abstract idea,?7 this familiar class of cases is a significant aspect of the Federal Circuit?s abstract idea jurisprudence and appears not to be explicitly addressed by the Guidance.
So the courts say that most patent claims for collecting and analyzing data on a regular computer are probably generic and therefore unpatentable under Alice. A few years go by and the Patent Office issues “guidance” that does not include anything regarding that category of patents… and suddenly you get bogus patents like these, and silly press releases about how they’re stopping disinformation about COVID-19.