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.

Filed Under: abstract ideas, alice, content moderation, covid-19, disinformation, supreme court, uspto
Companies: creopoint


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 3:34am

    I’m sure this company I’ve never heard of before, and will likely never hear of again, will do a much better job of containing the spread of disinformation than has Google or Facebook~.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 4:02am

      Re:

      I know that was sarcasm, but that's not the point, obviously. The point is to have something to cash in with once either company looks like they're trying to do something about it.

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 5:50am

        Re: Re:

        It's pretty clear that some troll saw all the news about governments pushing Google and Facebook to do something to control"fake news", and rushed to the patent office to get a rent-seeking patent on a basic idea. Even without Alice, a patent like this should be invalid. With Alice, it never should have made it past the first stage.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 5:10am

      Re:

      Their plan is to gain the patent, and then shake-down any company that does automated content moderation.

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

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 1 May 2020 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      I’m sure this company I’ve never heard of before, and will likely never hear of again, will do a much better job of containing the spread of disinformation than has Google or Facebook~.

      This particular case aside, generally it's not such a rare occurrence. IIRC, Google and Facebook solved many of their problems by buying companies you or I have never heard of before.

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 2 May 2020 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re:

        The issue here is that the company in question doesn't have a solution, they have a generic patent they intend to use one anyone else actually providing a solution.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 3:38am

    Ha ha ha ha.

    Another "with a computer" patent; algorithmic take over of your information sources. I think the mainstream media might claim a turf war there. What does "MediaGuard" have to say.

    Ha ha ha ha.

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

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 3:50am

    Now let's watch as it's used to try and block sites using automated systems to block disinformation in the run up to the presidential election in the hope it'll gum up the works just a little.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 4:38am

    From the “This website sucks dick” dept

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 5:34am

    been there

    I've already patented the process of patenting, so all of your base are belong to us.

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

  • icon
    mcherm (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 5:43am

    Try to avoid references people may not recognize

    In the article, you reference "CCIA" without specifying what organization that acronym refers to. From context, it could be some government agency, a consumer watchdog group, or any of a number of other things. If, indeed, you mean the Computer and Communication Industry Association <https://www.ccianet.org/&gt;, then you should probably specify that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 5:56am

    I look forward to seeing this new CEO push his product on the Daily Donny show.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:24am

    No only are we saved...

    We have someone to sue, if the Intertubes aren't completely free from 'Rona-lies by next Friday.

    I'm first in Class: anyone want in on the Action?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2020 @ 6:45am

    ...Yeah, because obviously patent holders have always actually used the patent they held instead of suing others doing something tangentially similar, right?

    /sarc
    /facepalm

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 7:07am

    Keeping it simple

    "... 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."

    This will fall apart once it becomes known that their potential experts list consists of one and he will only respond to them via a tweet, after not having read the 'content', unless it is presented in such a way as to suggest it may create another 'cure' no one else has ever heard of.

    They get around that 'lack of self-interest' part by claiming it to be a 'national security' issue and classifying as 'super duper top top secret compartmentalized' all incoming correspondence from the patent holder. The other 'expert' criteria are spot on, in the expert's mind.

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

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 10:17am

    A company claiming to have invented a computer system that can thwart the denziens of 4Chan and Reddit?

    They'd be better off patenting the drugs they're smoking.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 1 May 2020 @ 1:02pm

    No restriction

    Umm,
    Does anyone see a restriction in this Patent?
    They are not restricting to 1 thing.
    This is for ALL, data.

    And not to forget, How to select a person that is knowledgeable.. is a choice for the person/group/company/...

    This is so Broad, that is should never be considered.

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

  • identicon
    AlexisR200, 2 May 2020 @ 5:22pm

    Stupid patent should not have been granted on grounds that its far too generic and as such it can be used to extort all existing content moderation efforts. This patent does not even work either!!! In its very claims it describes rating and polling trusted sources online... I guess everyone involved failed to notice that disinformation is being spread by corrupting formerly trusted sources with disinformation. This piece is quite literally tailor made for patent trolling.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2020 @ 10:59pm

    I may not know much about paten, but I know a lot more than you idiots.

    Good patent.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2020 @ 1:51am

    Illegal pump n dump stock scam.

    Company patents something that can't possibly exist, share price goes up, owners sell company.

    Everything collapses.

    Same scam as Theranos.

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


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