Microsoft Seeks Patent On Virtual Graffiti Years After The Idea Is In Use

from the a-little-late-to-the-party dept

theodp points us to a new patent application from Microsoft for the concept of "virtual graffiti" that someone could leave for mobile devices connected to a real geographic area. As theodp notes: "Here's what passes for inventive these days in Redmond: 'Mary, while at Tom's house, may create graffiti on her cell FVG-enabled phone that says, 'Party Here Friday Night!' and make the graffiti available to all her friends. Then any of Mary's friends (with their FVG-enabled devices) passing by Tom's house would become aware of the graffiti associated with the house and be able to view it, thus becoming aware of the planned party.' Microsoft proudly boasts that the technology can also be used to shout 'Subscriber!' to newspaper boys as they pass customers' houses and exclaim 'Great lunch joint!' to those passing by a restaurant."

If that doesn't sound particularly new or non-obvious that's because it's not. We wrote about nearly an identical system that was already in use at Cornell University in August of 2003, more than three years before this Microsoft patent application was filed. Even in writing about that story, we noted that there were a few similar systems already out there and that "people have been talking about such things for ages"). How this could possibly be considered new or non-obvious seems like a reasonable question. Hopefully the patent examiner agrees and rejects this application.

Filed Under: patents, prior art, virtual graffiti
Companies: microsoft


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  1. identicon
    mobiGeek, 13 Jun 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Why?

    While I don't think it is the case, there is the possibility that MS is doing this in order to "protect themselves" from others going out and patenting the same idea.

    This is a big problem with the patent system. You are damned if you do get a patent ("evil corp trying to stifle...") or you are damned if you don't (being sued by someone who actually does get a patent on "prior art" or "obvious invention").

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