Headquartered in Armonk, NY, the International Business Machines Corporation, also known as IBM, is an international corporation involved in the development of business technology and computer consulting services. In terms of annual profits and number of employees, IBM is one of the top American companies in the technology sector. Recent announcements involving the upcoming development of mobile-based enterprise software show IBM’s desire to continue providing computer solutions for the corporate world.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office deals with a heavy amount of paperwork each week that has been assigned to IBM, including both patents and applications. This week in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we’ll take a look at the multinational technology corporation and some of the more intriguing applications and patents that have been published recently for the company.
Business interests and developments to enterprise software are seen in a number of applications we feature this week. One application assigned to IBM would protect a system of allocating software resources to a user’s network account once their presence is detected at a facility. An patent awarded by the USPTO protects an IBM invention involving a visual-based help tool for button icons within software applications.
IBM is also involved in developing a number of systems to aid computer users on a personal basis. One application describes a system of ordering computer icons on a user interface based on contextual factors, like the time of the week. Two related applications would protect a system of analyzing web applications for possible malicious data, protecting millions of computer browsers. Lastly, we also look at a newly devised system of filtering online shopping reviews based on the characteristics of an individual shopper.
Personalizing Aggregated Online Reviews
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130144802
Online reviews serve a valuable purpose for online shoppers. Often, these reviews are read by shoppers and help them decide whether a product or service is worth buying. These reviews can include a numerical rating and any comments pertaining to the product or service left by a prior customer
IBM wants to protect a system of tailoring user review results based on preferences and characteristics of the customer. A person’s age, gender, favorite activities or other aspects of a person can be used to filter online review results. In this way, more online user reviews could be returned that are likely to be of more use to an online shopper while making purchasing decisions.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give IBM the right to protect:
“A method for processing reviews, comprising: with a processor: identifying reviews that match a request criterion in a request from a user; filtering said identified reviews using preferences and characteristics of said user; and outputting a compilation of only those reviews filtered according to preference and characteristics of said user.”
Provisioning using Presence Detection
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130145004
Provisioning refers to an important process of allocating system resources to software applications to prepare it for a user. This can include installing software updates or allowing access based on proper security login credentials. However, the very act of provisioning resources can consume a lot of a user’s available network bandwidth or processor capability
IBM has developed a system it’s hoping to protect of using indications of user presence to begin the provisioning process for software applications. In the description, this application says that computer activity such as mouse, keyboard and e-mail activity, among other computer actions, can be used as an indication of a user’s presence for provisioning purposes. This system could also take into account regular periods of low processor activity to schedule provisioning when it would least affect a user.
Claim 1 of this patent application would protect for IBM:
“A method, comprising: receiving by a server on a computer system information for provisioning a software application on a computer on the computer system; obtaining by the server one or more indicia of user presence for the computer; determining by the server a time interval for provisioning the computer based upon the obtained indicia of user presence; and provisioning the computer by the server during the determined time interval.”
Dynamic Icon Ordering in a User Interface
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130145296
The user interface on a computer system’s monitor typically displays icons that allow users to interact with programs. Space constraints on the display screen may cause a user to have to resort to dynamic ordering of program icons. Dynamic methods of icon ordering typically list icons on a screen in order of their priority, which is usually determined by measuring a user’s level of interaction with that program.
This patent application, filed by IBM, would protect a system of dynamic icon ordering that filters icons based on certain parameters which can include the time of the week. For example, a computer using this system of dynamic icon ordering would display applications used for business during the work week, but might display media and game applications more prominently on the weekends.
As Claim 1 explains, IBM wants the right to protect:
“A method comprising: identifying from a plurality of icons a set of icons that satisfy a filtering rule; determining icon ordering parameters that satisfy a parameter icon ordering rule, wherein the parameter icon ordering rule specifies the icon ordering parameters that influence ordering of the set of icons; determining a conversion value from a value of each of the icon ordering parameters according to a set of one or more conversion rules for the icon ordering parameters; normalizing each of the conversion values to generate normalized values of the icon ordering parameters, wherein said normalizing is in accordance with normalization rules for the icon ordering parameters; for each of the set of icons, aggregating the normalized values of the icon ordering parameters for the icon to generate an aggregate normalized value; determining an order for displaying the set of icons based, at least in part, on the aggregate normalized values; generating program instructions to display the set of icons in accordance with the order.”
This system of detecting issues in web applications, for which IBM has filed this application to obtain legal protections, has been developed to help reduce the ability for malicious users to infect program code for web applications. Rewriteable portions of HTML code are identified within web applications using computing methods. A “taint analysis algorithm” would be applied to this code to analyze whether it contains malicious data.
As Claim 9 (Claims 1 through 8 cancelled) of the ‘266 patent states, IBM has developed:
“A computer program product residing on a computer readable storage medium having a plurality of instructions stored thereon, which, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: determining, via one or more computing devices, one or more values associated with a web application that flow to response data associated with the web application, wherein the one or more values are modifiable by unreliable input; generating, via the one or more computing devices, a representation of the response data associated with the web application; and determining, via the one or more computing devices, one or more potentially vulnerable portions of the response data based upon, at least in part, the one or more values modifiable by the unreliable input that flow to the response data associated with the web application, and the representation of the response data associated with the web application.”
Claim 1 of the ‘267 patent would give IBM the further right to protect:
“A method comprising: determining, via one or more computing devices, one or more values associated with a web application that flow to response data associated with the web application, wherein the one or more values are modifiable by unreliable input; generating, via the one or more computing devices, a representation of the response data associated with the web application; and determining, via the one or more computing devices, one or more potentially vulnerable portions of the response data based upon, at least in part, the one or more values modifiable by the unreliable input that flow to the response data associated with the web application, and the representation of the response data associated with the web application.”
Apparatus, System, and Method for Contextual Visual Search
U.S. Patent No. 8458592
Currently, many software functions can be operated by a user by selecting a program icon with a mouse click rather than inputting a text command. For example, a word processing software user can click a button to save a file, make their text bold, center the text within the page or a host of other options. However, due to the number of these icons and their complexity, determining the proper use for an icon tool can be difficult if a user is unfamiliar.
This patent, recently awarded to IBM by the USPTO, protects a system of providing help to software users by providing help topics based on graphical elements within a software program. The computer program protected here maps the graphical user interface (GUI) of a software application to analyze different icons. The program then provides a contextual visual search based on the image to pull up help topics related to the function of that button icon.
Claim 1 of this official patent gives IBM legal protections for:
“A computer program product comprising executable instructions stored in computer readable storage media for visual contextual searching, the computer program product comprising: a selection module configured to receive a selection area with user-defined boundaries encompassing one or more graphical user interface (GUI) elements of a GUI, wherein the one or more GUI elements provide one or more functions in response to being selected by a user, and, wherein the selection area is drawn by a user of the GUI while the GUI is running; a topic module configured to determine a set of help topics that provide instruction for use of the one or more GUI elements within the selection area defined by the user; and a display module configured to display for the user, on the computer display, a results section and a visual map of the GUI, the results section comprising one or more help topics in the set of help topics associated with the selection area defined by the user and the visual map of the GUI defining an association between the one or more help topics and the one or more GUI elements.”