The Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, WA, is well known as one of the world’s foremost developers of computer software. Since its rise to dominance as the developer of Windows operating system software in the 1990s, the corporation has grown to diversify into Internet technologies and even hardware. Recently, the New York Times reported that the company approved a 22 percent increase for shareholder dividends, indicating that the corporation is strong financially. In order to improve interest in the company on Wall Street, Microsoft held it’s first financial analyst meeting in two years on September 19.
Today, IPWatchdog returns to its Companies We Follow series to take a look at the various developments out from one of the world’s top developer of computer technologies. We’re pulling up a number of intriguing issued patents and patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to get an idea of the future of consumer and business electronics.
One patent application we explore in-depth is for a recommendation service that improves the ability of users to browse through application stores quickly. This system takes recommendations from other expert application users within a user’s social circles and implements that information when a user searches for mobile programs. Other interesting applications include a few electronic device improvements, including a rotatable kickstand, and some innovations regarding user interfaces, including the ability for a touchscreen to discriminate between touch inputs from multiple users.
A number of issued patents also stick out as interesting developments from Microsoft. A couple of patents protect improvements to entertainment systems created by Microsoft, including a better system for matching XBox players by ranking and a messaging system for notifying television viewers of programs that they might want to watch. Another patent makes it easier for advertisers to create ads for multiple platforms from a single template.
Application Store Tastemaker Recommendations
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130238592
Mobile phones have grown tremendously in functioning capability over the years. From the earliest models that only offered text and voice communications, our world now has millions of smartphones and other electronic devices that offer an array of digital tools to owners. These tools, or applications, allow owners to interact directly with different services, including financial, entertainment, informational and more.
Mobile device users can download free and paid applications at their own discretion by visiting the application store for their mobile network. However, with thousands upon thousands of applications available on these networks at any given time, it becomes difficult for mobile device users to find the exact program they need. In some cases, mobile application providers have hundreds of thousands of available applications, making it impossible for users to see every option. Even when filtering results by keyword, a user may still have dozens of results returned to them.
The ‘592 patent application has been filed by Microsoft with the USPTO in the hopes of protecting a system for providing application recommendations to mobile device users. This recommendation service is based heavily on rankings from “tastemakers,” or network users who are perceived to be experts within a genre of applications based on their usage.
This service is also designed to take advantage of the credibility of tastemakers in the eyes of individual mobile device users. The recommendation system may take into account whether an expert is a friend or social contact of a user searching for mobile applications. A viral marketing campaign can leverage social media contacts through this service to associate certain experts with the recommendation of an application who are socially connected to a mobile user querying for applications.
Claim 1 of this patent application would retain for Microsoft the rights to:
“A computer-implemented method comprising: under control of a computing device configured with executable instructions, receiving a query to search for an application; sending the query to search for the application to a tastemaker service; and receiving query results based on information associated with social acquaintances of the user.”
Other Patent Applications
Mobile device improvements are a major focus of Microsoft’s recent development goals, to judge by many of the other patent applications filed by the technology industry giant with the USPTO. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130229773, entitled Device Kickstand, has been filed to protect a support stand for electronic devices. This kickstand would be rotatable so that the device could be set up in several configurations. Another device-related innovation is laid out in U.S. Patent Application No. 20130237240, which is titled Identifying Meeting Attendees Using Information from Devices. This would protect a system of determining whether certain attendees are at a meeting by analyzing the proximity of that user’s mobile device to the meeting room. This system could also detect presence information from remote participants connecting to the meeting through a device.
We’re also noticing a number of applications related to better user interface systems for touch systems and advertisements. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130238449, entitled Polymorphic Advertisements, improves the capacity of marketing firms to develop advertisements for multiple platforms. This innovation involves an advertising template that makes it easier to develop ads that can run on mobile, desktop, gaming and other network environments. Finally, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130234992, titled Touch Discrimination, has been filed to protect a system of analyzing multiple inputs on a single touchscreen to determine simultaneous commands from multiple users.
The Road Forward: Software Patents in the Post-Alice Market
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Issued Patents of Note
Microsoft is well known as a developer of entertainment and gaming systems, especially through the company’s widely recognizable XBox brand of gaming consoles. Taking a look at recent patents issued by the USPTO with Microsoft, we’re noticing a number of legal rights issued for entertainment and lifestyle systems.
For one example, U.S. Patent No. 8539529, entitled Interest Messaging Entertainment System, protects a system of providing a data stream to television viewers that can notify them of programs that will be of interest to them. This was developed to help viewers navigate the ever growing number of broadcast television channels to find relevant and interesting content. U.S. Patent No. 8538910, titled Determining Relative Skills of Players, improves upon Microsoft’s existing Bayesian player ranking system by making it easier for a computer to process rankings analysis. U.S. Patent No. 8538807, entitled Predictive Shopping Notifications, protects a system of providing sale notifications to users through a mobile device based on regularly purchased items, including groceries and clothes.
Other patents assigned to Microsoft recently protect innovations to computer storage systems and digital rights management software, especially for business applications. One patent, U.S. Patent No. 8539543, which is titled Managing Digital Rights for Multiple Assets in an Envelope, protects a system for more secure digital rights management for nonlinear databases containing different sets of protected data. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 8539171, entitled Analysis and Timeline Visualization of Storage Channels, provides for a timeline describing disk read and write events for users who are seeking to find recently edited files.