Google Acquires Unisys Patents, Including a Java API Patent

Google appears to be continuing a trend that sees it acquiring intellectual property from some of the most well known names in the technology field (including Xerox, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and other acquisitions), by acquiring 36 granted patents from Unisys Corporation, in an assignment that was recorded at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 17th, and executed on February 29th, 2012.

The patent office doesn’t record information such as the financial terms of the transfer. Unisys will be reporting upon its first quarter 2012 financial results next Tuesday, April 24th, and maybe we’ll find out more then.

Google is presently in the fourth day of a patent infringement case initiated by Oracle, and both sides are supposedly having some problems explaining what an Application Programming Interface (API) is to the jury in the case. I have to confess that I would have some problems understanding some of the issues involved in the case as well.

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Google Acquires Glasses Patents

Last week, Google announced that they would be developing a pair of augmented reality glasses that would present informational displays to users based upon voice and motion commands, at their Google Plus Project Glass page. The announcement was accompanied by a video showing a mockup demo of how the glasses might work:

Google acquired three patents from former Indy 500 driver Dominic Dobson’s Motion Research Technologies, Inc., on March 30th, according to the USPTO’s patent assignment database. The assignment was recorded by the patent office as taking place on April 12th, 2012. The patents appear to have gone up for sale originally in March of 2011. A followup post on the Project Glass page responded to questions as to whether Google’s Glasses might work with prescription glasses. Interestingly, one of the patents acquired describes how it might work with eyeglasses as well:

A screenshot from patent 7,631,968 B1 showing a display device clipped on to a pair of glasses.

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How Google Might Index Link Behavior Information

Under a conventional approach to indexing links by a search engine, information about the targeted address that a link is pointed towards might be included in a search engine’s index, as well as the anchor text displayed within the links, and possibly even some text near the link itself. The Google Reasonable Surfer model points to the possibility of other information being collected about a link as well, which could be taken together as a whole to calculate how much value or weight might be passed along by the link to another page under a PageRank link analysis model or even in determining how much weight the anchor text used to point to a link might carry.

The question, Just How Smart are Search Engine Robots has been asked with more frequency lately, and a pending patent application published by Google shows how the search engine might be collecting a whole different type of link behavior information about links that are found on the Web. Given Google’s move towards building their own Chrome Browser and providing access to web pages via alternative screens such as those on smart phones and other handheld devices and television screens, it makes sense for the search engine to capture this kind of information as well. The image from the patent filing below shows sections of links, including target and onclick attributes that the search engine might now be indexing.

A screenshot from Google Maps showing an information box over the map that appears after clicking upon a link in the column to the left.

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Google’s Comment Patents and How Pages’ Web Rankings Might Be Influenced by Commentors’ Reputations

A rumor surfaced last week that Google would launch a third party commenting platform to rival Facebook’s. Coincidentally, Google was granted two patents this week describing comment systems, and how comments might be ranked under those systems. But the patents appear to describe comments on two different services from Google that have been discontinued. One of the patents appears to involve Google Sidewiki, which had more of a Web annotation service feel than that of a commenting system, and and the other involves comments on Google Knol.

Google Sidewiki and Google Knol and Commenting

Google Sidewiki enabled people to leave a comment on virtually any page on the Web, and could be accessed through the Google toolbar. A 1999 survey of Web annotation services showed that they have been around since the earliest days of the Web, and they differ from commenting systems in that they’ve been aimed at providing ways for people to leave private or public notes about web pages, sometimes but not necessarily with the participation of the authors of those pages. When Google announced that they were closing down Sidewiki last September, they told us that:

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