The Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, WA, is a global leader in the development and delivery of computing goods and services. The corporation is a major player in technology markets all over the world, including recent forays into the emerging economies of Southeast Asia. Considered to be a leader in consumer electronics, Microsoft has also been making moves in the world of computer security, resulting in the recent breakup of a botnet hacking ring which is believed to have stolen $500 million from user bank accounts.
As a constant developer of new technologies, Microsoft is seen often as an assignee on a great many U.S. Patent & Trademark Office patents and applications every week. This week on Companies We Follow, IPWatchdog is taking a look at this corporation’s more intriguing patents as of late, including many of those that will affect consumer media use.
A few of the patent applications profiled here detail specific improvements to consumer entertainment, especially where movies are concerned. One application would protect a system of rendering video elements as separate from browser elements for easier user customization. Another application describes a more intuitive system of digital recording for live events. A third application in this area improves movie recommendation systems by taking contextual factors into account.
Marketing and advertising interests for businesses are also showcased in a few official documents. One patent we’re including here protects a method of creating an individual consumer profile based on web events, like visiting a webpage. Microsoft has also filed a patent application for a system of monetizing video recommendation portals for business advertising.
Anticipating Interests of an Online User
U.S. Patent No. 8458168
Mapping an online user’s preferences has been a focus for marketing professionals in recent years. The hope is that, by understanding a user’s preferences and interests, more targeted systems of advertising can be developed. Targeting an advertisement correctly can increase sales and cut down on a company’s marketing costs. However, an advertiser’s means of mapping online user interests are typically restricted to keywords and some social media interaction.
Microsoft was recently awarded a patent by the USPTO that gives them the right to protect a system that determines a “chain of intent” for individual users based on web events. For example, if a user visits many websites about cars, whether they pertain to used car lots, car insurance or other car-related information, it could be assumed that user may want to buy a car. Advertisements for new cars, car insurance and related products could be better targeted in this way.
Claim 1 of this patent application gives Microsoft the right to protect:
“One or more computer-storage media embedded with computer-executable instructions, the embedded computer-executable instructions are executed by at least one processor for performing a method of determining an intent that is related to a present intent of a user, the method comprising: receiving one or more actions performed by the user, wherein the one or more actions include at least one action toward a goal; determining, for the user, a present intent, which is an object logically accomplished by performing an online action, based on the received one or more performed actions, wherein the determined present intent is one of a plurality of intents within an intent ontology that defines relationships between intents and actions, and wherein each of the plurality of intents is associated with at least one other intent through a chain of intent, wherein the chain of intent includes a chronological sequence of two or more related intents, wherein the chain of intent has a chronological relationship based on a temporal progression of intents; selecting a related intent that is part of a corresponding chain of intent that includes the determined present intent; and retrieving an online object that is associated with the related intent in anticipation to the related intent.”
Monetizing Third-Party Recommended Video Content
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130139192
Typically, rates paid by advertisers to market their products on any television broadcast are tied to the number of audience members a particular broadcast can claim. In past decades, advertising rates were fairly simple to determine, but now many television viewers receive video content across various channels, some of which allow users to record programs. It’s difficult for a rating system to take into account whether a program has been recorded, and if advertisements have even been seen or were simply skipped over by a viewer.
Microsoft wants to protect a way to create a fairer payment system for advertisers based on video recommendations. Recommended videos are often suggested by online video applications to viewers of video content once their program has completed. Users have to click on a video to view a recommendation, creating a web event that can be logged. These recommendations would be monetized with advertising so that advertisers would pay based on user views of the recommended videos portal.
As Claim 1 describes, Microsoft filed this application to protect:
“A method of operating a digital video recorder service, the method comprising: receiving a programming feed from a recommender, the recommender being a user of the digital video recorder service; receiving information regarding one or more items of advertising content from one or more advertising publishers; scheduling recording of video content identified in the programming feed for a user that follows the programming feed; sending the information regarding the one or more items of advertising content to a client device of the user that follows the programming feed; receiving information regarding user playback actions that occurred during presentation of the video content identified in the programming feed and the one or more items of advertising content; billing the one or more advertising publishers for presentation of the advertising content based on the user playback actions; and arranging payment to the recommender based on the user playback actions.”
Video Streaming in a Web Browser
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130145267
A video element within a browser window is typically treated as an element of that browser. This means that the video element cannot be resized or moved without moving the rest of the content contained within the browser window. This creates problems in establishing playback when multiple video elements exist in the same window. Treating the video as a browser element also requires multiple layers of buffering when sent through media, browser and rendering engines, which can cause faulty playback.
This patent application, filed by Microsoft Corporation, would treat a video element as its own element separate from the browser. As such, it could be resized and moved on its own, independent of the rest of the content in the window. A video element could be docked, so that a browser could scroll through the rest of the window without the video element moving at all. Rendering of different video elements within the same page could happen in parallel, reducing playback issues.
Claim 1 of this patent application describes:
“A method of streaming video to a browser on a client device, comprising: receiving a video stream displayable in a video element of the browser on the client device; receiving content, separate from the video stream; displaying the video stream and content in a same browser page; and in response to user input, moving the video element relative to the content so that a layout of the browser page changes.”
Context-Based Ratings and Recommendation for Media
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130145385
Often, a movie viewer wants to receive a recommendation to watch something for any number of reasons. A person could read various newspapers and review websites to get an idea of what to watch, but going through dozens of movie reviews to pick one film is time consuming. Although recommendations are typically based on reviews by other viewers, these reviews don’t take into account many contextual items, like other people who may be watching.
Microsoft has devised a system of personalizing movie recommendations for users based on a number of contextual items, including the weather and a person’s work schedule. This system would even take into account other viewers and make suggestions based on that. For instance, if the system understands that a husband and wife want to watch a movie together, it might suggest a romantic comedy. If the husband was watching alone, it might suggest a military action film. If children are watching, the system would recommend children’s movies.
As Claim 1 explains, Microsoft wants to gain protection over:
“A computer-implemented method comprising: receiving a request for a recommendation of a media program, the request associated with a user having a current context; and determining, based on the current context and a reaction history associated with the user, a recommended media program, the reaction history based on prior reactions of the user, the prior reactions from the user reacting to other media programs during prior contexts.”
Recording of Television Programming
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130129321
Digital video recorders (DVRs) are often available as a service to television subscribers, allowing them to record shows to watch at a later time. Users typically select shows through an electronic program guide (EPG) which contains a menu of scheduled broadcasts. Live events, such as concerts or sports games, may start at a different time than originally planned or may last longer than their allotted time in the guide. Although the channel would finish broadcasting the game, the DVR would fail to record the end of the game.
Microsoft has developed a system of integrating sports and event data into DVR programming that would make the process of recording a game much more intuitive to programming adjustments. The data stream would include the status of the game being played, allowing a DVR to determine that it should continue recording through the stated end time of the program. Other data, including the names of opposing teams and information on injured player statuses, could also be contained within the stream, updating the EPG listing for the broadcast.
Claim 1 of this patent application would provide Microsoft legal protections over:
“A method comprising: receiving user input identifying an entity; receiving event data, the event data relating the entity to an event and independent of an electronic program guide, wherein the event data comprises a plurality of tags and each tag identifies a type of information provided by the event data; and selecting a plurality of values of recording parameters based on the related event and the electronic program guide.”