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New Search Patent Filings: August 29, 2006 - Yahoo looks at Interactive TV and VOIP

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Yahoo patent filings include one detailing bidding for placement in paid search filed this past April, another that details a very interactive environment for watching television programming, a third describing a method of soliciting consumer reviews, and a granted patent for a Voice Over IP (VOIP) system that doesn't require Telephony Interface Cards.

Microsoft had two new patent applications published, including one which provides a means of suggesting alternative spellings for words, and another that interacts with searchers to help them construct queries.

IBM filed a patent application for building social networks within a business organization, and was granted a patent for a method of checking pages shown in search results for viruses.

America Online looks at the classification of queries in a manner which seems very similar to the editorial opinion decisions made in a recently granted Google patent.

Mobile search company Geovector comes up with a way to make quick hyperlinked image maps from mobile phones with cameras.

Yahoo

System and method for enabling multi-element bidding for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine
Invented by Ted Meisel, Peter Savich and Thomas A. Soulanille
Assigned to Overture
US Patent Application 20060190354
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on April 24, 2006

Abstract

A system and method for enabling information providers using a computer network such as the Internet to influence a position for a search listing within a search result list generated by an Internet search engine. A database stores accounts for the network information providers. Each account contains contact and billing information for a network information provider. In addition, each account contains at least one search listing having at least three components: a description, a search term comprising one or more keywords, and a bid amount. The network information provider may add, delete, or modify a search listing after authenticated login. A search term relevant to the content of the web site or other information source to be listed is first selected. A search listing includes the search term and a description. A bidding process occurs when the network information provider enters a new bid amount for a search listing. The system and method then compares the bid amount with all other bid amounts for the same search term, and generates a rank value for all search listings having that search term. The rank value determines where the listing will appear on the search results list page that is generated in response to a query of the search term by a searcher.

Framework for providing ancillary content in a television environment
Invented by Michael Mills, Philip Mckay, Michael Hoch, Kumiko Tanaka Toft, and Rod Perkins
US Patent Application 20060184579
Published August 17, 2006
Filed on January 5, 2006

Abstract

The present invention provides functionality for retrieving ancillary content associated with the content delivered to a given user's client device. According to one embodiment, the method of the present invention comprises retrieving the context of a given user and identifying a plurality of characteristics associated with the user's context. The one or more characteristics associated with the user's context are displayed to the user and the user may select from the displayed characteristics. One or more items of content are retrieved based upon the user's selection and presented to the user on the user's client device.

Group polling for consumer review
Invented by Norman Shi
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20060190475
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on December 20, 2005

Abstract

Using a computer system comprising clients at which users interface to the computer system and at least one review server that maintains a collection of reviews, each associated with a presentation, a method of collecting the reviews including providing a first presentation to a first user via a first client associated with the first user; maintaining a trust network linking the first user to the other users in the trust network; receiving a request for a review from the first user via the first client; routing a request for a review to the users in the trust network who are linked to the first user in the trust network; and saving at least some of the returned reviews in the collection of review.


Voice integrated VOIP system
Invented by Madhu Yarlagadda, Patrick Loo and David H. Nakayama
Assigned to Yahoo
United States Patent 7,095,733
Granted August 22, 2006
Filed on September 11, 2000

Abstract

An integrated VoIP unified message processing system includes a voice platform that processes data in native VoIP format. There is no use of hardware telephone interface cards (TICs) or software transcoding to transform data to PCM or other formats. Cost reductions are achieved by the elimination of expensive dedicated hardware and scalability is achieved by obviating the need for software transcoding.


Microsoft

Query spelling correction method and system
Invented by Justin Harmon, Kyle G. Peltonen and Shajan Dasan
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060190447
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on February 22, 2005

Abstract

A method and system for providing to a user a set of alternative query suggestions is disclosed. The method, system and computer readable medium product in accordance with embodiments of the invention includes generating an index of all words in a corpus of documents available to the application, generating a popularity table for the index having a popularity value for each word in the index based on occurrences of the word in the corpus, comparing each entry in the popularity table to suggestions from a word generator, compiling a lexicon of word generator suggestion words that are found in the popularity table, submitting each word in the search query to the word generator to determine suggestion words, and displaying to the user one or more of the suggestion words from the lexicon that are more popular than the query word.

Dynamic client interaction for search
Invented by Matthew R. Richardson and Robert J. Ragno
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060190436
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on June 23, 2005

Abstract

A system for guiding a search for information is presented. The system comprises a user interface that accepts a phrase and receives at least one suggestion based at least in part on the phrase. The system also includes a phrase suggestion engine that matches the phrase with the at least one suggestion. Methods of using the system are also provided.

IBM

Method, system and program product for building social networks
Invented by Margaret A. Strong and Albert Tien Yuen Wong
Assigned to IBM
US Patent Application 20060190536
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on February 23, 2005

Abstract

Under the present invention, a user with an existing profile page who desires to have a social network built will first submit a subscription request. If approved, an existing contact list such as a chat list or the like for the user will be compared to existing contact lists for other subscribing users to establish commonalities. Based on such commonalities, a configurable social network of contacts is built. Using a graphical representation of the social network, the user can (among other things) provide or read testimonials about the contacts therein; access the profile pages for the contacts; provide or read "ratings" for the contacts; be provided with levels/degrees of separation between the contacts; validate trusts and business relationships, etc.


Virus checking and reporting for computer database search results
Invented by Cary Lee Bates, Robert James Crenshaw, Paul Reuben Day and John Matthew Santosuosso
Assigned to IBM
United States Patent 7,096,215
Granted August 22, 2006
Filed on January 13, 2004

Abstract

An apparatus, program product and method integrate virus checking functionality into a computer database search environment to assist in protecting a user computer from contracting a computer virus when accessing search results. The generation of a display representation of a result set generated in response to a search request may be based at least in part upon virus status information associated with at least a portion of a plurality of result records identified in the generated result set. Moreover, an apparatus, program product, and method configure a first computer to receive virus status information generated by a plurality of computers, with such received virus status information stored in a virus database that is accessible by the first computer.

America Online

Web query classification
Invented by Abdur R. Chowdhury, Steven Michael Beitzel, David Dolan Lewis and Aleksander Kolcz
US Patent Application 20060190439
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on January 27, 2006

Abstract

A query phrase may be automatically classified to one or more topics of interest (e.g., categories) to assist in routing the query phrase to one or more appropriate backend databases. A selectional preference query classification technique may be used to classify the query phrase based on a comparison between the query phrase and patterns of query phrases. Additionally, or alternatively, a combination of query classification techniques may be used to classify the query phrase. Topical classification of a query phrase also may be used to assist a search system in delivering auxiliary information to a user who entered the query phrase. Advertisements, for instance, may be tailored based on classification rather than query keywords.


Geovector

Imaging systems including hyperlink associations
Invented by Thomas William Ellenby, Peter Malcolm Ellenby and John Ellenby
Assigned to GeoVector Corporation
US Patent Application 20060190812
Published August 24, 2006
Filed on February 22, 2005

Abstract

Computer pointing systems include schemes for producing image map type hyperlinks which are associated and stored integrally with image data from which they are derived. An object being addressed by a pointing system of is implicitly identified by way of its location and position relative to the pointing system. A geometric definition which corresponds to space substantially occupied by the addressed object is rotated appropriately such that it perspective matches that of the imaging station. When an image is captured, the image data (pixel data) is recorded and associated with image map objects which may include network addresses such as a URL. On reply, these images automatically present network hyperlinks to a user whereby the user can click on an image field and cause a browser application to be directed to a network resource.

My usual reminder about patents: Some of the processes and technology described in patents are created in house, and some are developed with the assistance of contractors and partners. A percentage are never developed in a tangible manner, but may serve as a way to attempt to exclude others from using the technology, or even to possibly mislead competitors into exploring an area that they might not have an interest in (sometimes skepticism is good.)

There are times when a Google or Yahoo acquires a company to gain access to the intellectual property of that company, or the intellectual prowess and expertise of that company's employees. And sometimes patents are just purchased.

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