USPTO: TV + IM = Microsoft Patent

from the how-is-this-non-obvious-to-those-skilled-in-the-art? dept

theodp writes "From the patent issued Tuesday to Microsoft for its 'invention,' Multimode interactive television chat: 'the television content being displayed is a show and the Internet content is chat from a chat room corresponding to the television show.'" This is yet another in a long line of patents that are simply about combining two obvious things (like "wireless" and "email").
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  • identicon
    Salim Fadhley, 26 Apr 2006 @ 4:37am

    Prestel anybody?

    I rememvber using an 80s system called Prestel to do TV based live chatting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FiveBars, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:13am

    OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

    Glue + Paper Obvious no patent for sticky note ... except we had paper and glue for decades and no one saw it.

    Microsoft has been working on Interactive TV before 90% of the world knew what an internet was.

    While there have been a few bad patent grants.. there are clearly more uncreative people who can only spend time pretending the inventiveness of others is silly. Get a Life!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      GSA, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:31am

      Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

      >Glue + Paper Obvious no patent for sticky
      >note ... except we had paper and glue for
      >decades and no one saw it.

      Except that the patent wasn't on the idea of a sticky note, it was for the particular glue (I think the manufacturing process, IIRC) that makes it possible to stack the things, stick 'em on stuff and remove them again without being too sticky. That part is was decidedly non-obvious - so much so, that I believe it was discovered entirely by accident.

      Geez, haven't you seen "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion"?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:09am

        Re: Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

        >... that I believe it was discovered entirely by accident.

        This is my recollection as well. The glue for sticky notes is actually a "failed" experimental result an effort to make a regular glue that hardened fast.

        I seem to recall a nineties era music video channel that would dedicated a space for user submited comments. I think they thought of them as dedications, but the principle is much the same.

        Also, I was in Germany a year or so ago and saw some sort of TV channell that ran a slow sort of video game where people actually chatted. ... I wish I could remember more about either.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 10:09am

        Re: Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

        that I believe it was discovered entirely by accident

        Actually, the adhesive was discovered by Dr. Spence Silver by accident in 1968, but the ultimate purpose was discovered (more or less) on purpose in the 1970's by 3M employee Art Fry who was looking for a way to mark the pages in the church hymnal each week without damaging the book itself (he was a choir member). He had seen Silver's demonstrations of the reusable, non-marking, no residue adhesive. It took until 1980 to work out the details for manufacturing and marketing, but the rest, as they say, is history.

        References from 3M and MIT.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:01am

      Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

      First, a story. My father claimed to have invented the coffee lid with a tear-off sipping tab. He was a traveling salesman and spent lots of time sipping coffee to go. He said he got so tired of having to take the lid off the coffee and sip it through the crack that eventually he was struck with innovation: he begun always to tear holes in the lid so he could sip through that. Then he told this to some other businessman on an airplane and within a year all the coffee lids in the country had tear-off tabs. We'll never know who truly thought of it first. And it doesnt matter a bit. My father was just tickled to have lids pre-tabbed.

      Regarding the sticky notes: got to get the right kind of adhesive, thatsticks but doesnt dry or stick too much to the other note. Got to pick the right width of adhesive to work with that length of glue but be convenient for people to grab and rip off. Got to pick the right color of canary yellow. Got to convince people that they need this product--i cant remember the last time i ever used one, i certainly dont care about them--and then get them into the public consciousness and turn them into a successful business enterprise.

      You got to do all these things before you make your million. You dont get your million--and neither did however many people thought of the same thing during a bull session--just by thinking of it.

      Patent or copyright or whatever you want all the individual elements that took costly science and r&d to create, I'm not arguing with that. But a stroke of genius should not be patentable. This kind of lightning always strikes twice. Several times, in fact, before it hits someone with the means and motive to make something out of it.

      Its not a good idea until someone has made it economically productive. Millions of ideas are had every day and most are bad. They could all be patented, if we were jerks about it, and then when someone realized how to make good on our bad ideas we'd profit for doing essentially no work.

      Heres what you do with all your hot stuff ideas: tell people. Maybe someone will make it and the world will be richer. I give that someone permission in advance to use any hot ideas I've spread around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        phil evenrud, 11 Oct 2008 @ 6:52pm

        Re: Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

        i would like to know what year your father had the idea of tearing a hole in the coffe lid. i have some info that might be interesting..
        thanks
        phil

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ol' School techie, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:23am

      Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

      Hey let's patent calling patent bashing stupid. Or better yet, let's just call you stupid. Many scientists have been working on some form of IPTV, interactive TV, Multimedia, etc. when Bill Gates was still popping zits before pep rallies.

      Microsoft has the bank, they've always taken the best ideas from the marketplace and made them theres. They want to own everything technology. They have the bank to do it. And who could afford to sue them anyway.

      The whole situation has been and still is very lame.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:37am

      Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

      I don't think so Scooter!!! Please like PictureTel, Polycom, Tandberg, those were the ones working on Interactive TV. Not Microcrap!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

        Let be give you a tip, AC. Each post including any of the terms: microcrap or micro$oft or microshaft or microsucks are disregarded by the internet community as soon as the offending term is reached. We are very skilled at purging these posts from our memory. So dont waste your time.

        Maybe you dont disregard them, but then I don't consider you part of the internet community. Much like I do not view roaches in my bedroom as cohabitants.

        I am telling you this because I am in a good mood and feeling charitable today. Get a clue.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Todd, 26 Apr 2006 @ 11:42am

          Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

          Each post including any of the terms: microcrap or micro$oft or microshaft or microsucks are disregarded by the internet community as soon as the offending term is reached.

          Hey Anonymous Coward you don't speak for me - or anyone else but yourself...

          ...and I do not disregard anyone's comments when they say microcrap or micro$oft or microshaft or microsucks.

          Its out-of-touch faux intellectuals like you that make things so boring. You may find a more a more welcome reception at a BBS connected by 56k modem.

          T

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 11:56am

            Re: Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

            I'm not a faux intellectual. I don't look down on people because they socially mis-step on the internet. I have discovered, through long experience, that certain sorts of people are either irrevocably mentally crippled, or children for whom it is our honorable and necessary duty to teach manners--and in each case when they are in microsucks mode are invariably just wasting space.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pattoo, 26 Apr 2006 @ 11:00am

      Re: OK This Patent Bashing is getting stupid

      Good comments! I was starting to think that everyone was a "Patent Basher".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Todd, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:20am

    Dinosaur tactics

    Oy vey...

    Fostered a culture of "it barely works, but sell it anyway" software development? Like to use intimidation tactics to generate sales? Why not add a portfolio of unenforceable patents to your soon-too-be-extinct company, Mr. Gates?

    I have a patent on the concept of breathing air into your lungs in order to live - but I am too lazy to enforce it on all living mammals.


    T

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just One Guy, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:09am

    Three uses for a patent

    a) (parassite patents) You are a little technology company with no product, no production line, no customers, and a useless 15 year old patent on something that now can be considered, in some ways, similar to a new hot product. Or, you are a mid-size technology company with lots of employees, no bleeding edge product, waning customers and scared stock holders ready to dump you and their stock, and a useless 15 year old patent on something that now can be considered, in some ways, similar to a new hot product. So you exploit the new hot technology you did nothing to create and deliver, and ask the producer of the new hot product for compensation based on the patent.

    b) (aggressive patents) you are a mid-size or large technology company, and are developing a new hot product on some bleeding edge technology. Only, the idea is so minimal that you are afraid that, by technical sophistication alone, you will not be able to hold a significant part of the market and that competitors will be fast to implement and deliver a product that is just as good and possible better than yours. So you file a patent and prevent anyone to work in the field, or ask the competitors for compensation.

    c) (defensive patents) you are a large/very large technology company, who is sick and tired to pay small, mid-size and largish failing companies for parassite and/or aggressive patents, and thus decide that, regardless of obviousness, you will patent every single stupid idea that you are going to put in a product, just because it's cheaper this way. Once you have the patent, you know you will never really enforce it, because the court will immediately find the obviousness of the patent. Yet, you still ask for it because you will prevent other companies to sue you.

    Now ask yourself: where do you place Microsoft in this arena? Of course this is a defensive patent: Microsoft has enough strength to place a product and have it sell regardless of competition and actual technological sophistication: just look at PowerPoint, which is by far a weak product, and yet through mechanisms other than patent litigation has become the de facto standard for presentations.

    So, now, cool down. Nobody will come after you if you create a good product mixing up video shows and chats. But you won't be able to ask money to Microsoft for the idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Todd, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:51am

      Re: Three uses for a patent

      Nobody will come after you if you create a good product mixing up video shows and chats. But you won't be able to ask money to Microsoft for the idea.

      Dude, are you serious? Do you know how many companies Microsoft has shut down by enforcing their patents? Are you aware of their blackmail tactics to force Dell to sell ONLY Windows computers?

      T

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Biker John, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:44am

    USPTO....say that five time fast. I love new words....and I love my bike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:46am

    Mike,

    What's your thoughts on this:

    http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:56am

    Follow the money

    It's just business nowadays. It used to be that an individual would hold patents, therefore scientists, engineers and inventors would reap the benefits...hence they would pursue the research that leads to relevant patents.

    Now that it's businesses getting most patents, be it pharmceuticals or computer code, they resort to the "shotgun effect" and patent every little thing and see which one makes money. (some may refer to this as some other kind of effect in which 'something' is thrown at a wall to see what sticks).

    MS is just playing by the new rules. The world is a quickly changing place. You can be in the race, or stand on the curb and wave, but don't criticize a competitor for trying to win if you're not willing to race.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    discojohnson, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:09am

    obviously never watched MTV

    there's already previous art on this. not like they hardly ever play music videos on MTV, but on TRL (total request live) people post IM-style comments in real time on that show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mike Brown, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:26am

      Re: TV+IM

      You really have to read the claims in a patent before you decide it's another awful power grab and/or unbelievably broad. In this case, the patent doesn't cover any possible combination of TV and messages. It covers a narrow system of combining video and message traffic from two sources in frames, which allows the viewer to switch between a number of different modes:

      1. In a device having a graphical user interface and a display capable of displaying video signals and chat communications in frames on the display in any of a plurality of selectable display modes, each of the display modes defining the relative positions and sizes of the display frames, a method comprising:

      receiving a video signal at the device;

      receiving at the device one or more chat communications corresponding to the video signal;

      displaying the video signal and the one or more chat communications on the display in a first display mode, such that the video signal is displayed in a first frame that has a corresponding size and position on the display, and such that the one or more chat communications are displayed in a second frame that has a corresponding size and position on the display;

      displaying in the second frame a link to a second display mode that is different than the first display mode, such that when the link to the second display mode is selected, the second frame displays the one or more chat communications with at least one of a different frame size or a different frame position than was used by the second frame in the first display mode, and while still displaying the video signal in the first frame; and

      displaying a link to a third display mode within the second frame when the second frame is displayed in the second display mode, and such that when the link to the third display mode is selected, the second frame displays the one or more chat communications with at least one of a different frame size or a different frame position than was used by the second frame in both the first and second display modes, and while still displaying the video signal in the first frame.
      --

      A TV showing a video which has message text on it, like the MTV example, would not infringe because the TV does not separately receive the chat and TV signals and combine them into a framed display where the viewer can pick among different modes of displaying the TV vs the chat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:37am

        Re: Re: TV+IM

        Mike, I read the claims you posted and I have decided that they are unbelievably broad. All the jabber about display modes is just a complicated way of describing the most straightforward and obvious user interface for an interactive tv/chat combo. You put the picture in one frame and the chat in another. Stunning. This could range from godawful to ingenious depending on how cleverly you implemented it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:45am

    3M

    >Glue + Paper Obvious no patent for sticky
    >note ... except we had paper and glue for
    >decades and no one saw it.

    I believe it was indeed a result of a failure. One scientist was attempting to make a super sticky adhesive... he clearly failed. Another scientist sang in a choir and was frustrated that the little pieces of paper stuck in his song book always fell out. He remembered the "failure" of a fellow scientist and got the idea to put that glue on paper and bam, post-it notes were born.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Aaron Friel, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:05am

    Prior Art

    I rarely have the opportunity to do this, but I've witnessed prior art for this "invention." If you have G4TV folks, tune to it while "Trek 2.0" is playing, it's TOS just in case you are wondering. On the screen chat, stats about the episode, and the "Spock Market" are displayed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:09am

      Re: Prior Art

      That sounds like one-way text content, not interactive chat with controllable presentation organization options. But I've never seen it, which is why I am requesting clarification.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Denfro Licious, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:15am

    umm

    Anyone remember watching MTV? They played a song and had a chat box on the bottom where people would join the chat room and talk about whats on TV... hmmmm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    fishbane, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:26am

    I have a patent for a (1)multifunction (2) method and process for (3) relieving one's self while (4) using the cell phone.

    If I hear you chatting in the stalls, I'm gonna sue!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 10:16am

    Prior Art

    I personally wrote a chat frontend for an ITV solution in the mid 90s for a company that ended up being called Liberate Technologies, Inc. after being renamed from Network Computer, Inc. It did exactly this: displayed a TV signal in one frame and allowed for a show-related chat between viewers in another frame (or, if so configured, in a semitransparent floating frame over the lower part of the show itself). This product was marketed and sold. It is available even today.

    Proving that Microsoft produced it before Network Computer/Liberate would be quite interesting, but possible since Microsoft bought WebTV (ostensibly to kill it).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:53pm

    Mike,

    Do you think this patent is for an "obvious" thing?

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9059

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2006 @ 1:32pm

      Re:

      Those all sound like pretty clever patents. You see, in each case, it appears that some substantive, costly, and risky research that warrants compensation was involved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dean collins, 3 May 2006 @ 6:35am

    prior art

    I haven't bothered to check into the filing date for Microsoft yet but do a google search on CableCard3

    It's a document I published involving the overlay of text (including
    chat) over video streams from independent servers.

    Microsoft - I await your licensing call :)

    Regards,


    Dean Collins
    Cognation Pty Ltd
    +1-212-203-4357
    +61-2-9016-5642 (Sydney in-dial).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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