Google’s Acquisition of Myriad Group Phone Patents

While Google started with a focus upon search on desktop computers, one of the areas where they seem to be growing quickly involves mobile technology. The future of search, of internet marketing, and SEO is increasingly moving towards mobile search and services as more people connect to the internet with handheld devices.

We see Google acquiring new companies and technology enabling phones to be used as electronic wallets, improving their capability to deliver secure digital content, including video, on a wide range of devices, including smartphones, and working on becoming more accurate in pinpointing where a user of their services might be for location-based services.

Google’s last quarterly financial statement noted that Google has made more than 40 acquisitions of companies in the past year, and a number of those involve mobile technology. One company that you won’t see on a list of acquistions by Google is Purple Labs, which until a year or so ago was busy developing (or acquiring) technology related to linux based software for mobile phones. But you may see their influence felt at Google.

In March of 2009, the shareholders of Esmertec AG agreed to the acquisition of Purple Labs, and approved a name change of the merged companies to Myriad Group AG. The CEO of Purple Labs, Simon Wilkinson was named the CEO of the new company. We’re told in the Myriad Group press release:

The new company holds the widest and most market-proven portfolio of mobile software in the world.

I was looking through the patent assignment database at the US Patent and Trademark Office, and noticed October 2010 recordings of Google being assigned the majority of patents that had been assigned to Purple Labs in the past. The portfolio of patents includes patents originally filed from December of 1995 through June of 2004. Many of those were assigned to Purple Labs rather than developed by them and include patents originally developed at Openwave Systems Inc. (including its predecessors Unwired Planet and Phone.com). In June of 2008, Purple Labs acquired Openwave’s mobile browsing and messaging software business. Purple Labs’ CEO noted in that press release that:

“The Openwave browser and messaging applications have always led the industry, and are today used by every major phone manufacturer in the world,” said Simon Wilkinson, Purple Labs CEO. “By acquiring this portfolio and the Openwave client team, Purple Labs becomes a global leader in mobile software, powering both traditional and Linux-based mass-market phones.”

There’s a bit of a mystery here about the assignments of these patents from Myriad Group to Google. On the Myriad website, an announcement was made in July that Myriad had assigned certain patent rights for 19 million dollars but didn’t reveal whom those assignments were made to.

This recent blog post provides an interesting take on the relationship between Google and Myriad – Google ally Myriad Group and Oracle sue each other over Java licensing: so much for Swiss neutrality

The patents cover a range of methods used on a mobile phone, starting with a predictive model that guesses what the next keystroke might be by a phone user, scrolling for zoom displays, linking and bookmarking and application launching through a mobile browser, as well as a number of approaches to optimizing browsing on a smartphone. Here on the patent filings that have been assigned to Google, according to the USTPO assignment database:

Predictive data entry method for a keypad
Invented by Alain Rossmann
Assigned to Unwired Planet, Inc.
US Patent 5,911,485
Granted June 15, 1999
Filed: December 11, 1995

Abstract

A predictive data entry method permits a user of a device to efficiently enter data using a keypad where each of a plurality of keys represents a plurality of different characters. When the user presses one of the keys representing multiple characters, the predictive data entry method determines the character within the multiple characters most likely desired by the user. Thus, in most instances, a single key stroke is sufficient to select the desired character.

Method of displaying elements having a width greater than a screen display width
Invented by Alain Rossmann
Assigned to Phone.com, Inc.
US Patent 6,147,670
Granted November 14, 2000
Filed: March 13, 1997

Abstract

A structured screen display process presents structured information that includes a plurality of elements on any width screen display so that the user is able to see as many of the elements as possible at once, and is able to see the complete text of any element as needed. The process dynamically adapts the display of structured information to the screen display width of the device. Further, in this dynamic adaptation, the user sees at a glance as many as possible of the elements of the structure, and the user can see any of the elements at the user’s discretion in a way which is compatible with using structured information such as a menu of choices. The structured information is presented on a screen display by displaying at least a portion of each element in a plurality of elements on the screen display where at least one of the elements has a width greater than a width of the screen display. The at least one element is scrolled horizontally while continuing to display the portion of each other element in the plurality of elements.

Method for displaying selectable and non-selectable elements on a small screen
Inventd to Bruce V. Schwartz, and Alain S. Rossmann
Assigned to Phone.com, Inc.
US Patent 6,209,009
Granted March 27, 2001
Filed: April 7, 1998

Abstract

A structured screen display process presents structured information that includes a plurality of selectable and non-selectable elements on any width screen display so that the user is able to see as many of the elements as possible at once, and is able to see the complete text of any element as needed. The process dynamically adapts the display of structured information to the screen display width of a device. The structured information is presented on a screen display by displaying at least a portion of each element of a plurality of elements on the screen display where at least one of the selectable elements has a width greater than a width of the screen display. The at least one selectable element is scrolled horizontally while continuing to display the other elements of the plurality of elements.

Scrolling method and apparatus for zoom display
Invented by Andrew L. Laursen and Craig Payne
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,288,718
Granted September 11, 2001
Filed: November 13, 1998

Abstract

According to one aspect of the disclosed system, a user supplies character-based queries to retrieve and display a record from a structured database. For every character the user enters, a progressively reduced list of indexes that start with the entered characters is displayed. When a desired index identifying the record is among those indexes being displayed, the user may cease the character entry and scroll a zoom window upon the desired index to explore the record. According to another aspect of the disclosed system, the zoom window maintains a display of an index and at least one field of a record. Consequently, the user can access and display pertinent information of a certain record from a database quickly and efficiently with less keystrokes.

Method and apparatus for displaying a record from a structured database with minimum keystrokes
Invented by Craig Payne, Andrew L. Laursen, Jonathan M. Wulff, and Alain S. Rossmann
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,370,518
Granted April 9, 2002
Filed: October 5, 1998

Abstract

An improved query input technique is disclosed in which a user supplies a few character-based queries and is able to retrieve and display at least as portion of a record from a structured database. For every character the user enters, a progressively reduced list of indexes that start with the entered characters is displayed. When a desired index identifying the record is among those indexes being displayed, the user may cease the character entry and scroll a zoom window upon the desired index to explore the full record. Various visual feedback indicators can also be displayed for the benefit of the user. Consequently, the user can access and display pertinent information of a certain record from a database quickly and efficiently with a reduced number keystrokes.

Method and apparatus for flexibly linking to remotely located content on a network server through use of aliases
Invented by Bruce Martin, Peter F. King, Bruce V. Schwartz, and Lawrence Michael Stein
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,457,060
Granted September 24, 2002
Filed: April 30, 1998

Abstract

Aliasing techniques that permit flexibly linking to remotely located resources are disclosed. The aliasing techniques are used by a browser application to link to a remote resource located on a network (e.g., the Internet) when the location of the remote resource is initially unknown or likely to be changed based on events external to the browser application. For example, the external events can include: relocation of the remote resource, use of a different device, user or carrier service to access the remote resource, or selection of different service levels. In one embodiment, a browser application executes on a wireless remote computing device and couples to a network gateway via a carrier network. The aliasing techniques are provided by sending alias information from the network gateway to the browser application, and then having the browser application form an alias table and store the alias table in the wireless remote computing device. The wireless remote computing device can be any of a wide range of devices that have wireless and computing capabilities, including a cellular phone, a personal digital assistant and a portable general purpose computer.

Remote bookmarking for wireless client devices
Invented by Paul A. Smethers;
Assigned to Openwave Systems, Inc.
US Patent 6,560,640
Granted May 6, 2003
Filed: January 22, 1999

Abstract

Improved techniques that enable wireless devices to implement bookmarks with improved transmission efficiency, reduced user navigation and/or reduced amounts of memory resources are disclosed. One aspect of the improved techniques pertains to use of a compact request from a wireless device to an intermediate server when requesting a document or file by selection of a bookmark. Another aspect of the improved techniques is the ability of a user to select a bookmark to request the associated document or file with reduced user interaction (e.g., a single button action). Still another aspect of the improved techniques is that memory resources of the wireless devices need not be consumed to store network addresses (e.g., URLs) for the bookmarks.

Application launcher for a two-way mobile communications device
Invented by Paul A. Smethers
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,463,304
Granted October 8, 2002
Filed: March 4, 1999

Abstract

A method and apparatus for facilitating access to a plurality of applications resident on a two-way mobile communication device. Existing keys or buttons of the two-way mobile communication device activate (or launch) resident applications. Additionally, the two-way mobile communication device presents the user with a displayed map on its display screen to specifically indicate which keys or buttons keys launch which resident applications.

Predictive data entry method for a keyboard
Invented by Alain S. Rossmann
Assigned to Phone.com, Inc.
US Patent 6,150,962
Granted November 21, 2000
Filed: June 14, 1999

Abstract

A predictive data entry method permits a user of a device to efficiently enter data using a keypad where each of a plurality of keys represents a plurality of different characters. When the user presses one of the keys representing multiple characters, the predictive data entry method determines the character within the multiple characters most likely desired by the user. Thus, in most instances, a single key stroke is sufficient to select the desired character.

Method and apparatus for zoomed display of characters entered from a telephone keypad
Invented by Francis S. Yu and Alain S. Rossmann
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,473,006
Granted October 29, 2002
Filed: November 23, 1999

Abstract

A method and apparatus to provide users with enhanced visual feedback after entry of data. When a user activates a key or inputs a sequence of keystrokes, a corresponding data character or characters is determined and displayed in a highlighting window. The desired character or set of characters may be determined by a predictive data entry method. The highlighting window provides greater visual feedback to the user through magnification, reverse video, or some other form of contrast enhancement method. If the user scrolls to a new character or characters because the currently displayed one(s) are not desired, then the new character or characters are displayed in the highlighting window. When the user ceases scrolling, indicating that the currently displayed character or characters are what the user desires, the highlighting window disappears and the display of the selected character or characters is restored to be the same format as previously entered characters.

Hypermedia identifier input mode for a mobile communication device
Invented by James P. La Fleur
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,708,214
Granted March 16, 2004
Filed: April 21, 2000

Abstract

A mobile communication device operable to allow a user to access hypermedia content via a wireless link is configured to allow a user to more easily input hypermedia identifiers, such as Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). The device includes a processor, a display, a set of user input keys, each of which is operable to allow a user to input a predetermined numeral, and a storage facility in which a microbrowser program is stored. The microbrowser program is executed by the processor to configure the mobile telephone to allow the user to access remotely stored hypermedia content via the wireless link. Also stored in the storage facility are a plurality of URL fragments. Each URL fragment is associated with one of the user input keys. In response to a single predefined user input at a given one of the user input keys, the microbrowser program selects the corresponding URL fragment and causes the selected URL fragment to be displayed. The user may then input additional characters that are appended to the selected URL fragment, or the URL fragment may be appended to characters previously input by the user, to form a complete URL. The number of keystrokes required by the user to input a complete URL is thereby reduced.

Heuristically assisted user interface for a wireless communication device
Invented by Craig William Payne and Paul A. Smethers
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 7,003,327
Granted February 21, 2006
Filed: June 14, 2000

Abstract

A method and apparatus for implementing a heuristic user interface for a mobile device that assists a user with the management and utilization of contact identifiers (e.g. phone numbers, facsimile numbers, email addresses and uniform resource identifiers (URIs)). Content stored on or being processed by a mobile device is analyzed for the presence of predetermined classes of contact identifiers. When a contact identifier belonging to one of the predetermined classes is encountered, it is presented to the user of the mobile device on the display screen and the user interface of the mobile device is provisioned (e.g., softkey assignments and screen displays) for the particular class of contact identifier encountered. The encountered contact identifiers may be used as direct contact identifiers or indirect contact identifiers. Direct contact identifiers are used to initialize the appropriate application for the class of identifier encountered (e.g. an email application for an email contact identifier) and establish contact with an associated entity (e.g. an email addressee). Indirect contact identifiers are used to retrieve locally and remotely held records containing the encountered contact identifiers.

Method and system for processing overloaded keys of a mobile device
Invented by Paul A. Smethers
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 6,907,273
Granted June 14, 2005
Filed: July 7, 2000

Abstract

Improved approaches are disclosed for processing overloaded keys substantially more in accordance with user’s expected behavior. With the improved approaches, users are less likely to undergo unexpected processing in response to overloaded key presses. In one embodiment, the processing ignores certain overloaded key presses and/or imposes delays to ensure that users have an opportunity to appreciate when an overloaded key has switched to another function. These approaches are particularly well suited for small scale mobile devices having reduced size displays and overloaded keys such as mobile phones (e.g., cellular phones), two-way pagers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), or other two-way mobile communication devices.

Dynamic display for communication devices
Invented by David Chen
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent 7,020,849
Granted March 28, 2006
Filed: May 31, 2002

Abstract

Techniques for displaying information on communication devices are disclosed. The techniques are highly beneficial for devices with relatively small viewing areas (e.g., remote wireless phones). An enhanced communication device can be implemented which can dynamically display information on an associated display. This means that there is no need to reserve various areas on the display for displaying. Instead, information may be assigned or unassigned to the different display portions dynamically. As a result, the display area can be used more efficiently.

Method and system for downloading configurable user interface elements over a data network
Invented by Benoit Schillings, Alan D. Minsk, Timothy W. Hyland, Charles H. Ying, Robert G. Huehn, and Michael R. Reed
Assigned to Openwave Systems Inc.
US Patent Application 20050021935
Published January 27, 2005
Filed: June 16, 2004

Abstract

A method and system for retrieving and installing for output display one or more configurable elements over a data network including the steps of receiving a list of configurable elements, selecting one or more of the configurable elements from the list of configurable elements, the each one or more of the configurable elements having associated therewith an attribute, the attribute including one or more properties associated with a user interface element of a mobile device, verifying the selected one or more configurable elements, and storing the verified one or more configurable elements is disclosed.

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10 thoughts on “Google’s Acquisition of Myriad Group Phone Patents”

  1. Bill – would you say that a local SEO firm should spend a ton of time helping local businesses gear up for mobile search?

  2. Hi Jerry,

    I think there’s some value in making a local business site accessible to mobile users, and ranking well in mobile search. It’s probably not a bad idea to focus upon ranking well in web search and local search as a first priority. But there are plenty of circumstances where being amongst the first results in local search can be a very real advantage to businesses.

    For instance, if I ran a towing service, I would expect that a good percentage of people trying to find me on the Web would be stranded on the side of a road, with their smart phones in hand, looking for someone nearby.

    The same might be true for many restaurants that might serve people who are traveling, and using their phones to find a nearby place to eat.

    If you can anticipate that a good percentage of your audience may try to find you on their phone, it makes sense to make sure that your site renders well on a phone, and makes it easy for mobile searchers to use.

  3. Bill – Google is definitely trying to establish themselves early on as a big player in evolution of mobile technology.

    I mean, the acquisition of 40 different companies in just a year, most of them being mobile companies is a definite sign that Google has switched focus from search on desktop computers to mobile technology.

  4. I think there’s no question that Google has been ahead of the game when it comes to mobile. The investment in the Android OS and getting firmly entrenched in that space may well have guaranteed their positioning as a dominant force in mobile search, without which mobile may have gone to whoever partnered with Apple.

  5. Hi Paul,

    A few years ago, Apple and the iPhone appeared to be the future of the mobile web. I agree with you about Google’s investment in Android. Given some of the other steps they’ve been taking lately, it’s clear that they do want to be one of the frontrunners in mobile technology.

  6. I really stirred some interest in this question. We’ve been doing SEO work for quite some time, especially for local businesses. But with the influx of mobile technology / apps available now and what we see coming down the pipe it makes complete sense to help businesses become “mobile ready” so they can be prepared for the future.

    Thanks for all your feedback.

    Jerry

  7. Hi Jerry,

    Thanks. It does seem like Google has adopted a “mobile first” approach to many of their new products and offerings, just as many more people are now, or will be in the future, connecting to the Web via their phone, whether they’re home or somewhere else. Mobile ready businesses will have any advantage if they can prepare ahead of their competitors.

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