Neither The Nation or Computerworld should write about patents. Period. Never. In the past couple of days Computerworld posted a “breaking news” story about the publication of a Google patent application from 9 months ago (not breaking news). The Nation wrote a followup story on Computerworld‘s story, and made the same mistake.
Both saw optimism when they should have instead felt fear.
They weren’t publishing information about a 9 month old patent, but rather a ten year old patent. They would have known that if they ever wrote about patents.
It was an easy enough mistake to make, and one that most journalists will make if they don’t know much about patents, or don’t ask for the help of someone who does. It’s a story about how Google ranks stories in Google News, and what signals they might look at when deciding which source to feature out of a cluster of similar stories about similar topics.
Did Google sidestep a lawsuit with an acquisition of patents involving electronic phone payments?
One initiative that Google has been hard at work on is making it easy for people to make payments electronically by phone. The Google Wallet has been available as an Android app on some phones, and it looks like it’s been moving beyond the need to use near field communications (NFC) to make payments.
Last year, on September 8, 2011, E-Micro Corporation filed a patent infringement lawsuit against a group of defendents, including: Google, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America, L.L.C., Sprint Nextel Corporation, Sprint Spectrum L.P., Nextel Operations, Inc., Sprint Solutions, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Best Buy Co., Inc. and BBY Solutions, Inc.
Unlike Web pages, there are no links in books for Google to index and use to calculate PageRank. There’s no anchor text in links to use as if it were meta data about pages being pointed towards. Books aren’t broken down into separate pages that have a somewhat independent existence of their own the way that Web pages do, with unique title elements and meta descriptions and headings. There isn’t a structure of internal links in a book, with file and folder names between pages or sections that a search engine might used to try to understand and classify different sections of a book, like it might with a website.
A Google patent granted today describes some of the methods that Google might follow to index content found in books that people might search for. It’s probably not hard for the search engine to perform simple text based matching to find a specific passage that might be mentioned in a book. It’s probably also not hard to find all of the books that include a term or phrase in their title or text or which were written by a specific author. But how do you rank those? How do you decide which to show first, and which should follow?
Back in 2005, Google filed a patent application on Ranking video articles which gives some insights into Google’s future plans for what they might do with video, and some of the possible ranking algorithms they would consider using.
Google Video search went live in January of 2005, and its focus was in helping people find videos on the Web and on television, and providing a place for people to upload videos that could be watched from the service or embedded on other sites. The patent shows a screen that would allow you to enter your local TV provider:
Chances are that when you search for a video on Google or at YouTube, the results that you receive are based upon text about the video rather than the content of the video itself. The search algorithm involved might look at the title of the video, as well as a description and tags entered by the person who uploaded the video as well. Annotations on the video may also play a role in determining what terms and phrases the video may be determined to be relevant for as well.
For example, the video below announces Google’s new food recipe search option, and provides a detailed description about the new feature. But none of the text accompanying the video mentions that the person providing details about Google’s added functionality is one of Google’s executive chefs, Scott Giambastianai. If you search for [Google executive chef], you wouldn’t see this video appear in YouTube’s search results and you probably should.
There’s been some recent news about the possibility of Google working with the Dish Network to bring searches for television programming and YouTube videos to TVs, reported at places like the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ article tells us that besides actual tests of a Google settop box that allows searching for TV programming, that Google has “been talking to a range of other television-service providers and hardware makers, prodding them to use its Android-based technologies to offer a broader range of programming, a more personal experience and ads.”
If Google were to start providing a program guide for televsion and web videos, what would it look like? My suspicion is that it would be more like something we tend to see on the Web than many of the television program guides offered by cable services. And it might bring us tabbed windows on our TVs, like in the following images:
A new patent filing from Apple may be a sign of changes to the way Apple presents music recommendations at the iTunes store. That change was hinted at last December when Apple acquired the streaming music site, Lala.
The patent application lists Ryan Dixon, Digital Album Content Manager at iTunes, as the inventor, and provides a description of how such a recommendation system might work, along with the possibility of advertising in the streamed content. The patent filing is:
Geographic and political boundaries are challenged by the Web, where laws of one state or province or country may differ from another.
Web sites intended for an audience in one country can often be viewed by visitors from most other countries as well. Sites offering services for a global audience may try to find ways to adapt to different laws in different countries. Technology could be used to limit the content that a viewer could see based upon where he or she is located. While such technology could potentially lead to censorship, it may also be used to enforce laws regarding things such as copyright.
An example comes from a patent granted today to Google, which describes how the site might grant different access levels to books and magazines at Google Books, based upon the location of viewers.
One of the areas of law that is of considerable concern when it comes to displaying books and magazines online is copyright, and the rights of the holders of those copyrights. Google’s Book service provides access to a large number of books that are in the public domain, and are free of copyright limitations.