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New Search Patent Applications: August 8, 2006 - Focusing on the Searcher

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This last week's patent applications involving search all seem to focus upon users of search engines, and finding ways to fulfill intentions behind searches.

There are a couple from Stanford professor Louis Rosenberg and his company Outland Research, that focus upon a searcher's personal interests and attributes, and two from America Online involving dictionary searches and meta searches. Microsoft also has a pair of patent filings on interesting ways to refine search results after a search has been conducted. And, IBM comes up with a related duo on measuring how documents served as search results are used, including an incentive feature for users to provide information about those documents.

Outland Research

The first of Outland Research's patent applications reranks search results based upon the age or the gender, or both, of a searcher. The second reranks results based upon the personal background of the searcher.

Methods and apparatus for using user gender and/or age group to improve the organization of documents retrieved in response to a search query
Invented by Louis B. Rosenberg
Assigned to Outland Research,. LLC
US Patent Application 20060173556
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: January 27, 2006


Abstract

A computer implemented method of organizing a set of documents, and associated apparatus, are adapted to receive a search query from a user; obtain identified-age and/or -gender data for the user; identify a set of documents responsive to the search query; assign a score to each identified document based upon a correlation between age- and/or gender-usage data for each document and identified-age and/or -gender data, respectively; and organize the documents based at least in part on the assigned score. The identified-age data describes an age of the user and the identified-gender data describes a gender of the user. The age-usage data describes a number and/or frequency of users who previously accessed the document who are of a particular age or age range. The gender-usage data describes a number and/or frequency of users who previously accessed the document who are of a particular gender.


Methods and apparatus for using personal background data to improve the organization of documents retrieved in response to a search query
Invented by Louis B. Rosenberg
Assigned to Outland Research, LLC
US Patent Application 20060173828
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: December 9, 2005


Abstract

A computerized method of organizing a set of documents includes receiving a search query from a user; obtaining personal background data from the user; identifying at least one personal background trait within the personal background data, the personal background trait being statistically correlated with documents that the user is likely to prefer; identifying a plurality of documents responsive to the search query; assigning a score to each identified document based upon a correlation between advanced usage information for each document and the identified personal background trait, the advanced usage information describing at least one of a number and frequency of users who have previously accessed the document who possess the identified personal background trait; and organizing the documents based at least in part on the assigned score.


America Online

America Online provides a process that can take membership in a community as a factor when returning results in a dictionary lookup, and a process involving meta search which may involve modifying queries to match a user's intentions, and scoring and sorting results to be served.

Retrieving and providing contextual information
Invented by Carl Bruecken
Assigned to America Online
US Patent Application 20060173806
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: October 31, 2005


Abstract

An electronic dictionary may be created by receiving a data request action for a word appearing in an electronic document, accessing information regarding the context of the word derived from within the electronic document in which the word appears, storing the definition of the word along with the context information for the word, and enabling access by the user to the definition and the context information.
Search fusion

Invented by Abdur R.Chowdhury and Gregory S. Pass
US Patent Application 20060173817
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: December 29, 2004


Abstract

Search results are assigned scores based on visual aspects of surrogate representations of the search results which are to be displayed to a query submitter in a search results summary overview. That is, the surrogate representations are relatively short summaries or excerpts of the search results that may be presented in place of the search results themselves, thus enabling an overview of various search results to be perceived by a user concurrently. The search results are assigned scores based on the presence, position, and form of some or all of the query within the corresponding surrogate representations. The search results may be sorted or filtered based on the assigned scores. Assigning scores to the search results based on visual characteristics of the surrogate representations mimics how a user may assess the relevance of the search results when viewing a search results summary page.


Microsoft

Microsoft's patent applications allow a user to further refine results based upon user feedback. The first enables the selection of attributes associated with results, such as positive and negative opinions associated with the subject of the search. The second process involves the creation of a user survey to enable a searcher to comment upon search results to help train the search engine, and also refine that particular search.

System and method for grouping by attribute
Invented by Eric B. Watson
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060173819
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: January 28, 2005


Abstract

A system and method are provided for implementing a search engine to produce search results grouped by attribute. The system may include an attribute indexing component for indexing available resources with reference to selected attributes in a search engine index. The system may additionally include a grouping component for grouping search results produced by the search engine into at least two attribute groups in accordance with the indexed selected attributes. The system may further include an attribute display component for displaying information pertaining to the selected attributes within each relevant available resource.

System and method for generating contextual survey sequence for search results

Invented by Eddie L. Mays and Oliver Hurst-Hiller
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060173820
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: January 28, 2005


Abstract

A system and related techniques generate a survey to capture a user's feedback about the quality of search results, in a continuous context with the user's Web page or other search activity. A survey frame inviting the user to undertake a set of search questions may be presented within a set of page frames which display search results. The survey frame enables the user to be prompted into a dialogue to supply feedback about their search experience, while still within the contextual workflow of that experience, and still being able to view or review results or content which they have received. User distraction is therefore minimized while feedback quality may be improved. The user's feedback, which rates the quality or accuracy of the search results or search experience may be stored and used to train search intelligence.

IBM

IBM's documents also take hints from user behavior to define search results. The first looks at how documents returned during a search are utilized by a searcher, such as whether they are viewed or printed out or bookmarked, by the searcher. The second builds upon that one by defining a process where rewards or credits may be awarded to a user for providiing document use information.

Systems, methods, and media for utilizing electronic document usage information with search engines
Invented by Viktors Berstis and Randolph Michael Forlenza
Correspondence Name and Address: IBM
US Patent Application 20060173818
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: January 11, 2005

Abstract

Systems, methods and media for utilizing electronic document usage information are disclosed. More particularly, hardware and/or software utilizing electronic document usage information to respond to user search requests with search engines are disclosed. Embodiments include receiving a search request from a requesting user and receiving document utilization information associated with one or more electronic documents, where the document utilization information provides an indication of the usage of the electronic documents by one or more users. Further embodiments include generating search results based at least partially on the search request and the document utilization information and transmitting an indication of the search results to the requesting user. Further embodiments include generating statistical information regarding the search results for electronic documents and transmitting the generated statistical information.


Systems, methods, and media for awarding credits based on provided usage information
Invented by Viktors Berstis and Randolph Michael Forlenza
Correspondence Name and Address: IBM
US Patent Application 20060173837
Published August 3, 2006
Filed: January 11, 2005

Abstract

Systems, methods and media for awarding credits based on provided usage information are disclosed. More particularly, hardware and/or software for collecting and disseminating usage information related to electronic documents and for awarding usage credits to users in exchange for providing usage information are disclosed. Embodiments include receiving an indication of the usage of an electronic document by a user and aggregating the received usage indication for the document with usage indications relating to other users. Embodiments may also include creating document utilization information for the electronic document based on the aggregated usage indications and awarding usage credit to the user based on the user's providing statistics on the usage of the electronic document. Further embodiments may include transmitting an indication of the awarded usage credit to the user and receiving a request to use the usage credits.

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.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our a href="http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/forumdisplay.php?f=21">Search Technology & Relevancy area of the Search Engine Watch Forums.


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