AOL Top AIM Developer Joins Google

Steve Bryant broke the news yesterday that Google has just hired AOL’s top instant messaging developer, Justin Uberti. (Hat tip to Barry Schwartz).

Steve tells us that Justin was involved in AOL’s Open AIM Initiative. He also notes that this hiring is interesting in light of a December agreement between AOL and Google to have their instant messaging programs able to communicate with each other.

Curious about some of the efforts that Justin Uberti worked upon while at America Online, I searched for some of the patents that he was involved in filing on behalf of the company. The patent applications he co-invented include integration of email with instant messaging, sharing folders and files across an IM system, providing secure messaging, and implementing a number of personalization features for IM systems. There may be others pending publication.

The following have been assigned to America Online unless otherwise noted.

Filed March 23, 2004

Integration of e-mail with instant messaging services
Invented by Andy Wick, and Justin Uberti
US Patent Application 20050030937
(Assigned to Netscape)
Published February 10, 2005

Abstract

A system for instant communication in real time is described wherein it is determined if a user with a given e-mail address is available for on-line messaging.

The system takes in a group of e-mail addresses and automatically looks for screen names that are available for instant messaging. Once a screen name is available for online communication, an ion appears nest to the screen name. Instant messaging is achieved by pressing the icon.

The screen names, the icons and the e-mail addresses all appear in the same window, thereby, integrating traditional e-mail addresses with instant messaging services making real time communication an effective tool.

Filed April 2, 2003

Techniques for facilitating item sharing
Invented by Ira Rosenblatt and Justin Uberti
US Patent Application 20040199514
Published October 7, 2004

Abstract

A share window is provided to enable a first user of a first communication program executing on a first client system to share files or folders across a network with a second user of a second communication program executing on a second client system.

The first user can use a share window to designate files or folders for sharing without changing locations of the files or folders. When a file or folder is designated for sharing using the share window, the file or folder is added to a list of shared files or folders.

The shared files or folders are accessible using the second communication program regardless of whether the users of the first and second communication programs are actively communicating using the communications programs.

Filed February 20, 2003

Secure instant messaging system
Invented by Robert B. Lord, Terry N. Hayes, and Justin Uberti
US Patent Application 20040168055
Published August 26, 2004

Abstract

A secure instant messaging system integrates secure text instant messaging and secure file transfers into existing instant messaging systems.

At least one certificate authority (CA) is provided that issues a security certificate to a user that binds the user’s instant messaging screen name to a public key which is used by other users to encrypt messages and files sent to the user and by the user to decrypt the received messages and files.

A subscriber database is used by the CA to keep track of valid users and their associated information, such as: user screen names, user subscription expiration dates, and enrollment agent information. A user sends his certificate to the invention’s instant messaging server which publishes the user’s certificate to other users by creating a hash value of the user’s certificate and sending it to the other users which allows the recipients to decide if they need to update their caches with a new copy of the user’s certificate.

Instant messages and files are encrypted by a sending user using an encryption algorithm and the recipient’s certificate. The sending user can sign instant messages using his private signing key. The security status of each received instant message is displayed to the user.

Filed December 31, 2002

Remote instant messaging personalization items
Invented by Brian Heikes, James A. Odell, Justin Uberti, Andrew L. Wick, Xiaoyan Yin, and Xiaopeng Zhang
US Patent Application 20030225848
Published December 4, 2003

Abstract

Perception of a personalization item in an instant messaging communications session may be enabled by storing on a host system one or more personalization items associated with an instant messaging application operator,

receiving a request from an instant messaging participant system for the personalization items associated with the instant messaging application operator,

accessing the personalization items at the host system, and

communicating the personalization items from the host system to the instant messaging participant system for rendering in an instant messaging application running on the instant messaging participant system.

Sending instant messaging personalization items
Invented by Brian Heikes,James A. Odell, Justin Uberti, Andrew L. Wick, Xiaoyan Yin, and Xiaopeng Zhang
US Patent Application 20030225847
Published December 4, 2003

Abstract

Perception of wallpaper in an instant messaging communications session may be enabled by

rendering, on an instant message recipient system, an instant messaging application user interface for an instant messaging communications session involving at least one instant message recipient and an instant message sender,

receiving a message that includes a text message and wallpaper to be displayed by the IM recipient when perceiving the text message, the wallpaper being selected by the instant message sender system, and

rendering the wallpaper at the instant message recipient system when rendering another portion of the message.

Rendering destination instant messaging personalization items before communicating with destination
Invented by Brian Heikes,James A. Odell, Justin Uberti, Andrew L. Wick, Xiaoyan Yin, and Xiaopeng Zhang
US Patent Application 20030222907
Published December 4, 2003
Filed: December 31, 2002

Abstract

Perception of a personalization item in an instant messaging communications session may be enabled by perceiving an identifier corresponding to an intended instant message recipient designated by an instant message sender system,

accessing personalization items corresponding to the perceived identifier, and

making perceivable the personalization items corresponding to the received identifier to the instant messaging sender system for rendering in an instant messaging application running on the instant messaging sender system, where the personalization items are made perceivable prior to communication with the intended instant message recipient.

Filed November 27, 2002

Instant messaging personalization
Invented by Brian Heikes, James A. Odell, Justin Uberti, Andrew L. Wick, Xiaoyan Yin, and Xiaopeng Zhang
US Patent Application 20030225846
(Assignment not listed in USPTO assignment database)
Published December 4, 2003

Abstract

Perception of a personalization item is enabled in an instant messaging communications session by rendering, on an instant message recipient system, an instant messaging application user interface for an instant messaging communications session involving at least an instant message recipient and an instant message sender.

An identifier that enables identification of a personalization item of an individual instant message user is obtained, and the identifier is associated with the personalization item.

The personalization item is obtained independently of the message used to obtain the identifier, and the personalization item is rendered at the instant message recipient system.

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4 thoughts on “AOL Top AIM Developer Joins Google”

  1. Bill,
    Do you think that this will change the tone of the Google/AOL relationship with AIM?

    This seems a bit under-handed on the part of Google.

  2. I’m not sure. Google seems to have a good relationship with AOL, and even owns a small part of the company.

    It’s clear that AOL is still their own company – an area that this Pandia post explores – AOL Search 7.0 beta – a new take on Google.

    Unlike Google’s hiring of one of the lead firefox developers in January, 2005, the companies aren’t that close. But, if Google and AOL are going to continue to work together to make their instant messaging programs communicate, this may not be a bad move for either company.

    I don’t see negative blog posts over at Justin Uberti’s “Tales of a Running Man” (no longer available – AOL Journals closed down).

  3. Bill,

    Thanks for the Pandia post, it is very insightful as to AOL’s intentions as they move form the monthly user base to try to become (again) a true player in today’s user market.

  4. It would be interesting if AOL did develop their own search engine. I’d imagine that they could attract some attention if they did. In the meantime, working with Google on AIM doesn’t harm them.

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