New Search Patents: May 18, 2006 - Yahoo's Active Abstracts are Calling

Some new patents and patent applications from the last week cover a wide range of search related topics. On Tuesday, I wrote about some possible enhancements to Ask's Binoculars. Yahoo seems to be looking at providing more information on search results pages with smarter snippets, or what they call "active abstracts" that can lead to such things as refined queries or maps or can even allow you to place a phone call. Microsoft comes up with an intermediary query interface which could be used with more than one search engine. IBM and Hitachi both present different ways of looking at clustered results after a search. The dominant Korean search engine describes methods for selling keyword-based advertising. S.L.I. Systems presents a human powered search, which uses community to tell it when to update pages, and which keywords to associate with those pages.

Yahoo

The first patent application I have listed for Yahoo is under their name in the US Patent and Trademark assignment database. The second isn't there yet, but it shares two authors, and is on a very related topic. They both cover very similar ground.

When a snippet, or abstract, is returned with a search result, it may be helpful to include a link in the snippet which might lead to something the searcher would want to see based upon the initial query. The search engine would try to include relevant "terms of interest" in the abstract.

These "terms of interest" could be single words, or a string of words. Some examples:

  • Yahoo defined keywords and categories,
  • Names - proper names, business names, organization names, place names, etc.,
  • Uncommon words,
  • Product names,
  • Trademarks,
  • Service marks,
  • Titles - music titles, book titles, titles of television shows, etc.,
  • Street addresses,
  • Telephone numbers, and;
  • Others.

These are all words or phrases likely to be used in a secondary search for information. These are called "active" terms in that they may be tied to some different actions, such as being links leading to other pages, or to Yahoo's mapping server, or a dictionary lookup, or a "voice over IP" call for a phone number, and so on.

The second patent application builds upon these active abstracts by providing additional ways that they can be used and activated. This can include translation, showing links to the most popular pages of a site, leading to reviews of products or services offered on the page, or even some results based upon information that the search engine might know about the searcher.

Search system presenting active abstracts including linked terms
Inventors: Chad Carson, and Douglas Michael Cook
US Patent Application 20060101012
Published May 11, 2006
Filed: June 10, 2005

Abstract

Upon receiving a search query, a search to identify at least one resource relevant to the search query is performed. At least one excerpt is extracted from the at least one resource, and a term of interest is identified in the excerpt. A link to a referral document is associated with the term of interest. Upon selection of the link, the referral document is displayed. Alternatively, the link is associated with a second search query, and the second search query is automatically performed upon selection of the link. A network telephone call can be automatically placed when a telephone number is the term of interest.

Active abstracts
Inventors: Chad Carson, Douglas M. Cook, and Kalpana Ravinarayanan
US Patent Application 20060101003
Published May 11, 2006
Filed: June 28, 2005

Abstract

Techniques are provided for generating search results that include, instead of or in addition to the traditional abstract links, other links to content that the user of a search engine may consider helpful. These other links are referred to herein as "non-traditional abstract links". In general, the search engine generates non-traditional abstract links that attempt to anticipate the "next move" by the search engine user. By selecting a non-traditional abstract link from the abstract of a matching resource, the user is able to navigate from the search result listing directly to locations other than the top of a matching resource.


Microsoft

Microsoft's patent application focuses on providing more efficient searches, by first putting a query into a structured form before looking to a document index at a search engine or cache files logs on that search engine or the user's browser. This process can involve the use of more than one search engine.

Application programming interface for text mining and search
Inventors: Eric Brill and Robert J. Ragno
US Patent Application 20060101037
Published May 11, 2006
Filed July 1, 2005

Abstract

Systems and methods are described that allow programmatic access to search engine results and query logs in a structured form. The search results can be retrieved from the search engine in an intermediary form that contains the information that is in the HTML pages provided to web browsers (potentially with additional information). This intermediary form can then be broken down on the client machine, using local resources, to assemble the structured objects. The library also provides for caching of the search results. This can be provided both on the local machine and on a remote database. When the results for a query exist in the caches, they can be retrieved from such location instead of querying the search engine. Documents and/or web pages can also be cached. The library can also be directed to operate only from the cache, effectively exposing a local data set instead of the remote search engine.


IBM

Method for organizing a plurality of documents and apparatus for displaying a plurality of documents
Inventors: Zhong Su, Li Zhang, Yue Pan, Li Bai, Li Ping Yang
US Patent Application 20060101102
Published May 11, 2006
Filed November 7, 2005

Abstract

The present invention relates to a method for organizing a plurality of documents and an apparatus for displaying a plurality of documents. Said plurality of documents are clustered, and the resulted clusters of different levels are displayed as virtual directories, thus helping the user to navigate to the target document quickly. The navigation may be performed with the aid of topics and abstracts. Furthermore, the user's operations may be reduced through controlling the displayed contents to be within the size of the screen.


Hitachi

With some clustering search engines, the categories created are displayed in a list of folders or a vitual directory that you can only drill deeper into one at a time. This patent shows the results of a search, in clusters, arranged on a grid so that users can see their relevance to the term or terms that were searched for. The images attached to the patent are pretty illustrative of how it would work.

Document information display system and method, and document search method
Inventors: Osamu Imaichi, Tetsuo Nishikawa, Toru Hisamitsu, Makoto Iwayama, Masakazu Fujio
US Patent 7,047,255
Granted May 16, 2006
Filed February 27, 2003

Abstract

The present invention visualizes the contents of a plurality of documents without a lack of the listing property. Two document units are extracted from a document database and relevance degrees between individual elements of a group of the document units are calculated. The results are displayed on a two-dimensional coordinate plane depending on the relevance degree.


NHN Corporation

The Korean search space tends to be strongly dominated by Korean search engines, as can be seen from an article in the Korea Times back in January, which discussed Why is Google Struggling in Korea. It points to the NHN Corporation's Naver as the dominant search engine. This patent application looks at some steps that may be taken by NHN Corporation involving advertising based upon keywords.

Method for generating a search result list on a web search engine
Inventors: Joon Hong, Woo Sung
US Patent Application 20060100988
Published May 11, 2006
Filed: February 27, 2004

Abstract

A Computer-readable recording medium in which a program for implementing a method according to any one of claims 1 to 12 is recorded. The present invention relates to a method for selling a search word to a network information provider and providing a search result list to a searcher based on the sales information if the searcher inputs the search word in an Internet search engine. The present invention includes maintaining a database for storing a plurality of search listings therein, each of the search listings including a search word and a network position associated with a network information provider, receiving the search request from the searcher, identifying a search listing having a search word corresponding to the search request, providing the identified search listing to the searcher as a search result list, if the searcher clicks a search listing of the search result list and accesses a network information provider's web page associated with the clicked search listing, receiving predetermined information on the use of the web page by the searcher, and charging the network information provider based on the received predetermined information on the use of the web page by the searcher. According to the present invention, there is provided an Internet search service method and apparatus for providing a variety of billing means to a network information provider by properly reflecting the profit made by the network information provider.


S.L.I. Systems, Inc

The intent behind this patent application is to create a unique search engine and "ameliorate the aforementioned disadvantages of conventional search engines by harnessing the cerebral power of the human operator." Pages selected in search results by users are the pages that get updated in search results. The more frequently a page is selected, the more frequently the information in the database about it gets updated. Users can also supply their own keywords to describe the content of a site, which can then be shared with others.

S.L.I. Systems is the founder and a co-owner of Eurekster, which Danny wrote about a couple of years ago in Eurekster Launches Personalized Social Search. This document appears to describe many of the features of Eurekster's swickis.


Search engine
Inventors: Grant James Ryan, Shaun William Ryan, Craig Matthew Ryan, Wayne Alistar Munro, and Del Robinson
US Patent Application 20060100956
Published May 11, 2006
Filed: December 21, 2005

Abstract

The present invention provides for a method of updating an internet search engine database with the results of a user's selection of specific web page listings from the general web page listing provided to the user as a result of his initial keyword search entry. By updating the database with the selections of many different users, the database can be updated to prioritize those web listings that have been selected the most with respect to a given keyword, and thereby presenting first the most popular web page listings in a subsequent search using the same keyword search entry.

Update

The CEO of SLI Systems, Shaun Ryan, sent me a friendly note correcting a couple of my statements about the relationship between SLI Systems and Eurekster. While they are a founder, they own a piece of Eurekster, and not the whole company. Thanks, Shaun.

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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