Monday, January 04, 2010

Slashdot post rips IBM's US 7,640,233

A post on Slashdot notes of US 7,640,233 to IBM : USPTO records indicate the patent filing was made more than a year after Big Blue called on the industry to stop what it called 'bad behavior' by companies who seek patents for unoriginal work.

Within the text of US 7,640,233 (application 11/468,193, filed August 29, 2006 ), one finds an objective to translate shorthand terms trivially exemplified within the specification as LOL:

These factors have fostered the evolution of shorthand notation, wherein users abbreviate words and phrases to communicate using fewer keystrokes. For example, typing abbreviations like LOL ("laughing out loud") and IMO ("in my opinion") shorten the number of characters required in messages and expedite the communication process. However, as with any nonverbal communication, the effectiveness of text communication is often limited. The use of shorthand in conversational writing can make it difficult for people to understand one another. A complicating factor is that individual users commonly develop their own jargon, so that the shorthand notation of one user does not always agree with shorthand notation of another user.

While a number of software applications are available for facilitating text communication, such as IM, these applications have failed to optimally address the use of shorthand notation and evolving jargon. Confusion and misunderstandings often result due to misinterpretation. The flow of communication between users is further disrupted when one a user stops to ask another user for the meaning of a shorthand term rather than proceeding to author a reply.

Therefore, an improved electronic messaging system is needed. In particular, there is a need for easier, more efficient, and more precise ways to handle shorthand notation and jargon contained within text communication. More particularly, it would be desirable to have a method for determining the meaning of shorthand notation and jargon without interrupting the flow of communication.

A relevant claim:

A computer-implemented method of automatically determining the meaning of a shorthand notation in an electronic communication, the method comprising:
receiving, on a recipient messaging device, a text communication sent from a sender messaging device, wherein the text communication comprises at least one shorthand term;
automatically analyzing, on the recipient messaging device, the context of the text communication to automatically select one or more shorthand target terms from the text communication;
searching one or more databases from a plurality of databases to obtain one or more longhand terms for the one or more shorthand target terms, wherein the one or more longhand terms are defined with respect to the one or more shorthand target terms and wherein the one or more databases are selected from the group consisting of a personal database, a general purpose database, and a specialty database;
automatically evaluating the one or more longhand terms to determine whether the one or more shorthand target terms is ambiguous in the context of the communication, wherein the evaluating comprises determining a number of matching longhand terms to identify one or more unambiguous alternative longhand terms; and
automatically displaying, on the recipient messaging device, one or more of the unambiguous longhand terms proximate to, or within, the original text communication, wherein the displaying further comprises ranking the unambiguous longhand terms obtained from the one or more databases according to at least one of a sender identity and a recipient identity.

While the patent claims go beyond analyzing something like "LOL," one questions "how profound" the invention is. One wonders if the IP professors who write about the "swing patent" and "the peanut butter and jelly sandwich" patent will write about US 7,640,233?

See also

IBM patent policy: apparent schizophrenia?

USPTO Awards LOL Patent To IBM


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