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Microsoft Patent: TV Chat

Microsoft has been issued a patent for “Multimode interactive television chat”. Involved: displaying a combination of television content and internet chat room in a single interface.

The abstract:

A user interface device has a graphical user interface that can simultaneously display a combination of television and Internet content in various display modes. The display modes may have different proportions, positioning or other features of the Internet and television content. A viewer of the user interface device may change display modes, such as by selecting a link available in each of the display modes. The television content being displayed may be a broadcast show and the Internet content may be chat from a chat room corresponding to the television show. Various display modes are provided for displaying the television show and corresponding chat, ranging from maximal television display and minimal chat display to minimal television display and maximal chat display. Changing television channels may initiate a corresponding change in the chat room being participated in and the content being displayed.

Techdirt, where I got the link, seems to like patent-bashing a little too much. Its not a bad idea, but like most Microsoft patents, don’t be so sure we’ll ever see it. Still, who knows? It could be a future feature in Media Center.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Media Center, Windows, General | 4 comments

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  1. Nathan,

    Why do you say we “like patent-bashing a little too much”? It’s a curious statement. We don’t *like* patent bashing at all. However, when we see story after story after story after story of bad patents being awarded and then being used to stifle innovation, we think it’s important to point those out.

    As the comments to that post show, there’s plenty of prior art on the idea, and it’s hard to see why the patent was granted.

    Whether or not it’s “not a bad idea” is irrelevant. All that matters in patent law is whether it’s new and non-obvious to those skilled in the art — and it doesn’t seem to pass either of those tests.

    It’s not about enjoying patent bashing. It’s about pointing out when the system is being misused because that’s harmful to the industry.

    Comment by Mike Masnick | April 27, 2006

  2. Mike, are there any instances where Techdirt has reported on a patent application from a huge company like Microsoft and not engaged, in one way or another, in “patent-bashing”? It seems that all of the articles about patents seem to accuse the applying company of over-stretching and applying for obvious and pointless patents. While I completely agree that a lot of patents are exactly that, it seems sometimes that the entire coverage seems to center on that of bad patents.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | April 27, 2006

  3. Oh, and my comments on your coverage, and those on the “good idea”, are supposed to be taken as exclusive of each other. I’m offering my opinion on the utility of the patent, which is the most important point in the reporting of it.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | April 27, 2006

  4. Hi Nathan,

    Well, I don’t consider it “patent bashing” to point out the problems of a patent. Patent bashing implies that we’re unfairly pointing out problems with the patents — and I disagree strongly. If there’s a problematic patent and a problematic patent system, and someone points that out, it’s not bashing — it’s highlighting a problem, which is something we should all be concerned with if we want the patent system to work properly.

    If someone points out that your site has a broken image, do you say that person is bashing your site? Or are they helping you by pointing out a problem?

    As far as I’m concerned, we’re trying to help improve the system. I don’t see how that’s patent bashing at all.

    So, I guess I still have a problem with your terminology — though, it shouldn’t be seen as “bashing” you either. :) Just clarifying.

    Comment by Mike Masnick | April 30, 2006

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