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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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  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:10am

    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?

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  • icon
    Hulser (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:19am

    ...LOL

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

  • identicon
    USPTO, 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:22am

    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".

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  • icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:23am

    I'm feeling lazy today so I'm not going to go out and get information myself. Did they patent putting in the laugh track or did they patent a method for doing this? That makes a big difference.

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    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:56am

      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.

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      • icon
        aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        Thank you. That kept me from having to read the entire article, and yes, I agree that it's a stupid idea.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:52am

        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.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 8:28am

    "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. "

    That's prior art, you can't invent something, release it, and then ask for a patent years later.

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

  • icon
    taoareyou (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:23am

    A Sample Conference Call

    Regional Manager: So that's why had to shut down 12 stores and lay off half of you here. Any questions?

    Silence.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

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

    • icon
      iNtrigued (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:26am

      Re: A Sample Conference Call

      Regional Manager: Wow, I am glad you all are taking this so well. I guess then you won't mind that none of you are getting severance pay either! Bwahahaha!

      Silence.

      HAHAH*interrupted by sound of guns being loaded.

      Regional Manager: OH SHIT!

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

  • identicon
    The Baker, 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:33am

    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.

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    • icon
      iNtrigued (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 1:24pm

      Re: A million monkeys at a million typewriters

      Mwahaha!

      This is another one of the patents my family has had for YEARS! Now if you don't mind, I'll be suing you for those margaritas & the private island... and for good measure the rest of your hopes & dreams as well.

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

      • identicon
        The Baker, 17 Sep 2009 @ 5:41pm

        ... and for good measure the rest of your hopes & dreams as well.

        Sorry, GE beat you to it ... four years ago.
        They have lots of lawyers all in very nice suits.

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        • icon
          iNtrigued (profile), 1 Oct 2009 @ 1:46pm

          Re: ... and for good measure the rest of your hopes & dreams as well.

          Damn, thwarted by lawyers once again.

          You see, a lawyer be an ninja's arch enemy.

          Hence, the thousands of lawyers slain by my sword.

          A ninja must do his part to rid the world of the vermin lawyers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:44am

    "Let us have a moment of silence for our late VP that died at an eating contest."

    Silence

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 9:54am

    Another Sample Conference Call

    Executor of Millionaire's Estate:

    "I, Johnathan E. Moneybags, being of sound mind and body, hearby bequeath my entire estate to my cherished pet chihuahua "stinky". I leave nothing to my ingrate children or my frigid wife." Any questions?

    Silence.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

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

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:02am

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    I'm still scratching my head over this one. I honestly can't think of a situation where this would be a good idea. Laugh track, keyboard cat, current time and temperature, none of it sounds like added value.

    Are we just patenting everything that crosses someone's mind, now? Just in case?

    Silence

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

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

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:11am

    My new patent

    I'm going to patent something similar for those rare buy annoying TechDirt stories that seem to sit for 2 hours with no comments.

    No comments within twenty minutes?

    Insert:

    Silence....

    "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

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

  • icon
    Overcast (profile), 17 Sep 2009 @ 10:55am

    They are seriously wasting time and money on that?

    That would annoy me to no end on a conf call, they are bad enough as it is.

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  • identicon
    Beta, 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:03am

    Dibs!

    I call patent on crickets!

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

  • identicon
    NullOp, 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:29am

    My Patent

    I call dibs on the patent covering the combination of Hydrogen and Oxygen in any way, shape or form. I hearby also declare patents on all Nitrogen/Oxygen/Trace Gas substances. Oh yeah, I patent Carbon as well!!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 11:30am

    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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:48pm

    I'd patent stupidity, but there's apparently too much prior art.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2009 @ 3:54pm

    Actually, I almost hope they get this, so conference calls by other group do not have this ridiculous canned laughter.


    "Alright, does anyone know who flooded the corporate basement today?"

    Silence

    (You get the Idea).

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  • identicon
    Sylvia, 19 Sep 2009 @ 8:19pm

    Another way to belie reality?

    I see lots of people talking about technical elements but where's the "Hold on a minute; I don't need one more way to be manipulated"? I'm still worrying about the ways technology is breaking down real connection that reflects honesty. Laugh tracks online? Oh my.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Not Yet

    This really isn't a granted US patent, merely a "published application" that has yet to be examined by the Patent Office.

    The purpose of this is to demonstrate to the taxpayers that large American corporations retain their keen innovative edge.

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

  • icon
    conference calling (profile), 5 Aug 2010 @ 9:16am

    What is their benefit from this?

    Sounds interesting, but I would like to know what benefit do they get from patenting it.

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


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