Google Acquires Jotspot, Inc. & Wiki Patent Application

The news this morning, posted at the Google Blog is that Google has acquired Jotspot.

I’ve been working with Jotspot wikis for a couple of internal business uses, and really enjoy it. This was an excellent choice for Google, and the program provides a nice additional tool to go along with Google’s Docs and spreadsheets. There is some overlap between what it offers, and what those programs provide, but the addition of the team behind JotSpot should work to make the programs even better.

Registration for the site is presently closed while it is moved over to Google’s achitecture, but it appears that once it is back running, Google will not charge people to use it.

There was a “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the web site which is not available anymore, involving the acquistion on the Jotspot pages, and I found a patent application that was filed by Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer of Jotspot, Inc.

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Microsoft Virtual Earth and Local Search Patent Applications

Microsoft’s Live Local (now Bing Maps) is powered by the Microsoft Virtual Earth platform (now Bing Maps for Enterprise). Five patent applications were published at the US Patent and Trademark Office this past week which detail aspects of how Microsoft’s Virtual Earth works, including roof-top overlays, virtual Earth images, real time driving information, user privacy, and community based recommendations.

I would have liked to have delved deeply into the intricate details of the patent applications, but used up most of my budgeted blogging time exploring the Via Virtual Earth community site I found which has some great articles on it about how to work with the Virtual Earth platform. I also spent too much time driving a sports car around the streets of San Francisco in a Virtual Earth Technology Preview. Unfortunately, the front and side level views didn’t work in some of the parts of the City that I wanted to explore. But, it was still a lot of fun.

There are some minor differences in the following patent applications, but also a considerable amount of overlap. If you would like to get a good insight into the mechanics of how this system works, and what features it may offer, you may want to skim through these.

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Building Links with Creative Commons

One of the members of Cre8asite Forums has a couple of sites that he’s filled with images of the locations of his sites. He’s a talented photographer, in addition to a skilled web master, and the pictures he has on his site are terrific. He has also placed those images under licenses from Creative Commons.

Because of the licenses, he’s had people use images from his site on their own noncommercial web sites, with links pointing back to his sites. He’s also had inquiries from people wanting to use his images in commercial works. Since the images are likely to be of interest to people who may want to find out more about what he has to offer, having links back to his site brings traffic to his pages from people who could possibly become customers of his.

The beauty of Creative Commons licenses are that they inform people that they could possibly use material created by other people under conditions expressed in the licenses. They don’t harm people’s rights under copyright law, but rather make communication about possible uses of those materials easier. The Creative Commons pages show how to use a license, and provide many examples.

Google and Creative Commons

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Flickr Interestingness Rankings Patents Released

I’ve posted some pictures to Flickr, but I’ve never really paid much attention to the “interestingness” rankings the site uses.

Interestingness and clustering were first used in August of last year, as announced by Stewart Butterfield on the Yahoo Search Blog and the Flickr blog.

Blog posts about Flickr’s interestingness, and a February Flickr forum post on changes to the interestingness rankings, show a lot of interest in the “secret sauce” on how photos are determined to be interesting. A couple of patent applications were published by Yahoo this week that delve into interestingness rankings, clustering of pictures, and metadata associated with Flickr images.

Before jumping into those, I found some other blog posts that shared some thoughts about interestingness:

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Amazon Acquisitions and Investments

Updates added July 28, 2009

I tried to find a list of companies that had acquired or had invested in, and couldn’t find any lists that looked close to complete. So I decided to create my own. I hunted down a number of their investments and acquisitions, which I’ve included below. Chances are that I’ve missed some, and if you have knowledge of any that you would like to share, please let me know.

Amazon has made some large purchases over the years, but they seem to favor making investments in companies, and marketing agreements with the companies they invest in. While some of their transactions were fairly public, a few were very private, and there aren’t many details on the web about those – for instance, it’s very difficult to find a date for the transaction involving Leep Technologies, which I’ve listed at the end of the 1999 acquisitions.

I’ve included links to a number of patents which were, or are held by these companies.

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Patents involved in IBM vs Amazon

Before I begin writing about this topic, I’d like to thank Pandia Search Engine News, which named SEO by the Sea as one of the Top 5 search engine marketing blogs. The selection places this blog in some very distinquished company. I’m not sure that I could come up with a top 5 or even a top 50 list of search marketing blogs because I find so much value in the voices of so many who share their thoughts and experiences and insights on a regular basis, which is reflected by the large number of blogs in the blogroll here.

Often, I write about new patent filings that have been published for the first time as patent applications or that have been granted. Sometimes, I’ll write about some that may have been acquired when one company purchases another, or when someone is hired by one of the major search engines and there is a large body of patents with their names listed as inventor or co-inventor.

Last night I noticed some reports of a legal dispute between two high profile companies over intellectual property possibly touching upon core aspects of the way the Web works, which I wanted to dig into more.

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Science Fiction Author David Brin Visits Google

A new presentation from Google, featuring author David Brin, and Professor and artist Sheldon Brown, was held on October 17th, 2006.

Third Millenium Problem- Solving
Can Visualization and Collaboration Tools Make a Difference?

Introduced by Dr. Larry Brilliant, this presentation is from the .org side of Google, and looks at new ways of solving problems in the future. (Link to presentation at Google video)

The presentation is also part of the “Authors at Google” series that the company holds, which has included speakers such as John Battelle on The Search, Daniel H. Wilson on How to Survive a Robot Uprising, and Seth Godin on All Marketers are liars.

Google Patent Filing Looks at Trademarks and Adwords

Ok, so lets say that I run a busy operation out of Washington State, and I want to advertise on Google using the word “apple” in my advertisement. If I were selling computers, I might have some problems (Apple Computers, Inc.). If I were considering selling music, I might also run into some issues (Apple Records). If I were selling produce, I’d probably be fine. At least I hope I would.

The state of the law concerning the liability of a search engine that allows advertisers to use others’ trademarks as keywords is uncertain at best, even with a recent ruling in Google’s favor (see Eric Goldman’s post Google Wins Keyword Lawsuit–Rescuecom v. Google). Added 5:00 pm, 10/20/2006 – Courts Can’t Figure Out if Buying Keywords Constitutes Trademark Use–Buying for the Home v. Humble Abode, in which the Federal District Court in the District of New Jersey decides that “keyword advertising is a use in commerce.”

Trademarks, Adwords, and Google Patent Filings

Earlier this summer, I wrote a blog post titled Automated Search Ad Approval Process, looking at an automated adwords review process from a Google patent application. It determined whether to accept ads, reject them, or require human oversight because of violations of Google policies, including possible unauthorized use of trademarked words or phrases.

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