New Search Patents: May 25, 2006 – Yahoo Units and Microsoft Redundancy Filters

New patents from this week from Yahoo on indexing by concepts and on uses of scripts on different computers to share data between them. Microsoft looks at reranking search results based upon redundancy, annotations on web pages, and showing web ads based upon a person’s television viewing habits. IBM comes up with smarter bookmarks, and Amazon shows smarter search results when a first query doesn’t quite work.


This first patent from Yahoo is part of a trilogy of related patent filings. The other two haven’t been granted yet:

It’s interesting to see how these three fit together into a search system. Co-occurrence seems to play a large role under this system.

Systems and methods for generating concept units from search queries
Inventors: Shyam Kapur and Deepa Joshi
US Patent 7,051,023
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: November 12, 2003


Systems and method for enhancing search functionality provided to a user. In certain aspects, a query processing engine automatically decomposes queries into constituent units that are related to concepts in which a user may be interested. The query processing engine decomposes queries into one or more constituent units per query using statistical methods. In certain aspects, no real world knowledge is used in determining units. In other aspects, aspects of world and content knowledge are introduced to enhance and optimize performance, for example, manually using a team of one or more information engineers.

Method and system for enabling a script on a first computer to communicate and exchange data with a script on a second computer over a network
Inventors: Thomas Joshua Shafron and Christopher Staib
US Patent 7,051,119
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: July 12, 2001


A method and system for enabling a script on a first computer to communicate and exchange data with a script on a second computer so as to provide access by the script to data typically inaccessible by a script. The method and system enable a first computer to control the Internet navigation of a second computer, and also enable instant messaging between a first computer and a member of a synchronization group. The computers may be connectable with each other over any type of network (e.g., LAN, WAN, intranet, Internet, cellular, tc.).


This first patent aims at identifying and filtering documents that contain roughly the same information, and identifying and filtering off-topic information, in search results.

Utilizing information redundancy to improve text searches
Inventors: Eric D. Brill and Susan T. Dumais
US Patent 7,051,014
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: June 18, 2003


Architecture for improving text searches using information redundancy. A search component is coupled with an analysis component to rerank documents returned in a search according to a redundancy values. Each returned document is used to develop a corresponding word probability distribution that is further used to rerank the returned documents according to the associated redundancy values. In another aspect thereof, the query component is coupled with a projection component to project answer redundancy from one document search to another. This includes obtaining the benefit of considerable answer redundancy from a second data source by projecting the success of the search of the second data source against a first data source.

Scalable computing system for managing annotations
Inventors: Scott C. Cottrille, Yoram Yaacovi, and Antony Halim
US Patent 7,051,274
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: June 24, 1999


A scalable computing system for managing annotations is capable of handling requests for annotations to millions of documents a day. The computing system consists of multiple tiers of servers. A tier I server indicates whether there are annotations associated with a content source. A tier II server indexes the annotations. A tier III server stores the body of the annotation.

System and method of inserting advertisements into an information retrieval system display
Inventors: Phillip Y. Goldman, Michael A. Killianey, and Daniel J. Zigmond;
US Patent 7,051,351
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: March 8, 1999


Systems and methods for selecting and inserting advertisements in an information document displayed to a user, wherein the selection is based at least in part on television programming viewed by the user. The systems and methods may be implemented using the Internet or another information retrieval system that includes a client system and a remote server. The client system monitors television programming viewed by the user and compiles a user profile characterizing the television programming. When the user requests an Internet resource using the client system, the television programming information in the user profile is utilized to select an appropriate advertisement. The advertisement is then inserted in the information document and displayed to the user. Advertisement selection and insertion may be conducted at the remote server, the client system, or at the level of the Internet service provider. Such selection of advertisement increases the efficiency by which Internet advertisements are tailored to individuals. Instead of advertisements, information relating to the television programming may be retrieved over the Internet and displayed without direct user assistance.


Smart bookmarks
Inventors: Jason R. McGee, Christopher C. Mitchell, Michael John Morton, and Brent A. Peters
US Patent 7,051,117
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: July 25, 2002


A smart bookmark article of manufacture can include both a network address pointing to the network location of content specifying a form; and, one or more field references, each field reference corresponding to fields specified in the form. The smart bookmark article of manufacture also can include at least one field attribute corresponding to at least one of the field references.


When someone performs a search, there are sometimes no results that satisfy that query. This can happen when the query terms are very detailed and narrow, or when one of the terms in the query is misspelled or misremembered. Instead of frustrating the searcher by not returning any responses at all, search engines will often display results based upon some of the terms that were in the query, instead of all of them.

The following patent notes that a common approach to displaying these results with less than all of the terms is to arbitrarily remove some of the terms from the query, until a number of results are returned. The aim of the process in this document is to provide a more effective technique for displaying items relating to some of the terms in the query.

Identifying items relevant to a current query based on items accessed in connection with similar queries
Inventors: Dwayne Bowman, Greg Linden, Ruben E. Ortega, and Joel R. Spiegel
US Patent 7,050,992
Granted May 23, 2006
Filed: June 25, 1999



The present invention provides a software facility for identifying the items most relevant to a current query based on items selected in connection with similar queries. In preferred embodiments of the invention, the facility receives a query specifying one or more query terms. In response, the facility generates a query result identifying a plurality of items that satisfy the query. The facility then produces a ranking value for at least a portion of the item identified in the query result by combining the relative frequencies with which users selected that item from the query results generated from queries specifying each of the terms specified by the query. The facility identifies as most relevant those items having the highest ranking values.

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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