SYL Semantics Resurfaces with News of Patent Bill

January 2, 2014

The article Patent Removal Regretted, But Search Firm Pushes On from ComputerWorld explores the consequences of the Patents Amendment Bill on SYL Enterprise Search in New Zealand. SYL distinguishes itself from most Enterprise Search companies by basing its work not on hype but on “access to relevant information.”

The article states:

“SYL’s platform is based on a dictionary of 580,000 English words, with records of associations among them, such as what words are synonyms and how the concepts they indicate are related; for example that Wellington is in New Zealand. Specialist dictionaries can be added to deal with particular business areas with their own vocabularies. Surveys indicate as much as 25 percent of an executive’s time can be consumed by searching for information”

Syl’s engine works to reduce time-wasting metadata creation by automatically generating plenty of metadata by making associations with words in the document. The clause in the New Zealand bill that a computer program does not qualify as a patentable invention would not effect the patent that SYL already holds on its techniques, but that has not stopped SYL CEO Sean Wilson from voicing his dissent. He suggests that the time and investment put into any invention would be wasted if it were impossible to patent and protect against imitation.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 02, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google Patents: A Quote to Note

November 30, 2013

I read “Google’s Growing Patent Stockpile.” There is nothing like a search of commercial databases for patent information. The write up points out that Google is filing more patents. Only outfits like IBM and Microsoft are doing more filing and inventing, or is it inventing and filing?

Tucked into the article was this paragraph which is a quote to note in my opinion:

Gregory Aharonian, a technical analyst who works with lawyers to overturn patents, says that Google, like other big companies, knows that if it swamps the overworked patent office with applications, it will win patents, even if its ideas aren’t necessarily that novel. “The general rule is, the more patents a company has, the more closely the quality of their patent portfolio approaches the quality of all patents, which is to say the majority of all of these patents are invalid,” says Aharonian.

Good point. Google patents are useful for many reasons. One function for me is to gauge how quickly Google is becoming more like IBM and Microsoft. Is that a good thing? Just look at search. Google’s search innovations are redefining relevance and bringing a new connotation to precision and recall.

Progress is evident.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2013

California Inventors Patent Application for Natural Language Search Interface Now Available Online

September 27, 2013

The article titled “Multimodal Natural Language Interface for Faceted Search” In Patent Application Approval Process on Hispanic Business reveals that inventors in California have applied for a patent of their natural language interface. The inventors are quoted in the article as claiming that the problem of users implementing a “successful query” revolves around an issue of transparency in the criteria of the search being held. The inventors, Farzad Ehsani, Silke Maren Witt-Ehsani filed their patent application in February of 2013 and the patent was made available online early in September of 2013. The article states,

“Solving this problem requires an interface that is natural for the user while producing validly formatted search queries that are sensitive to the structure of the data, and that gives the user an easy and natural method for identifying and modifying search criteria. Ideally, such a system should select an appropriate search engine and tailor its queries based upon the indexing system used by the search engine. Possessing this ability would allow more efficient, accurate and seamless retrieval of appropriate information.”

This quote from the inventors continues on to address the current methods which do not meet the expectations of users in terms of selecting the best search engine and data repository as well as not formulating the search query in the appropriate manner.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 27, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

After Five US Patent Office Awards Search Patent To Simplexo

August 16, 2013

Is patenting search, a fundamental tool for users, the same as trying to trademark crust less peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? No, not if you just invent a new technology to improve the common feature. Techzone360 takes a look at the first search patent to be issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in five years in, “SearchYourCloud Awarded US Patent For Improve Search Engine Results.” Simplexo was given a patent for “Improved Search Engine-offers unprecedented search capabilities for users by leveraging Boolean and semantic search technologies to deliver enhanced search results.” Okay, so why is this important? Take apart the technical language and Simplexo offers a product that will search across clouds and its content, a better mobile design and security, improved Boolean search, and repetitive information reduction.

CTO of Simplexo Simon Bain had this to say:

“’The Improved Search Engine patent confirms SearchYourCloud as a leader in the search and application space and puts users in control of their data.  SearchYourCloud’s technology enhances users’ productivity and lets users find and secure their data in one, fast step. Unlike other search engines our applications can find emails with a ‘to’ and ‘from’ name, and subject or content body without the user having to type in too many different search boxes. It can also find content from more than one source effortlessly and de-duplicate the results.’”

The demands on search engines are getting bigger and it is about time the expectations are met. It has not been decided how Simplexo will package its software, but expect it to change the way we search.

Whitney Grace, August 16, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

USPTO and Its TIFF Image System

April 13, 2013

If you don’t have money and free patent services are not working, you may want to use the US government’s site to get the image files for a patent document. We used a fresh Windows 7 machine and got the system working, but there were a few tips we thought we would pass along.

First, you access the images by running a query from this page: You will want to pay close attention to the syntax for querying the USPTO system which reminds me of an old-style search service.

I ran a query for 7,953,642. Here’s what the USPTO system displays:


You will want to click on the “Images” link which is in the clump of red text at the top of the page:


When you click on Images you will see this if you have a Tagged Image File Format which supports an older image standard installed:


If you so see the patent document, you can generate a PDF by installing a freeware PDF printer. Just print each page of the patent and use software like Adobe Acrobat of FoxIt which allows a user to assemble individual files into a single PDF. When bundled, you have your complete patent.

If you do not have a suitable TIFF viewer, you will have to download software which supports the USPTO file format. I recommend Alternatiff which is available without charge from this page:

We learned that getting the TIFF viewer working was painless using Opera, Version 12.1. Your mileage may vary. Our efforts to get the viewer working with Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer were not productive.

One question which comes up whenever one of my team works with the the USPTO files is, “Why aren’t these folks using the Portable Document Format file type?” Another member of my team asked, “Haven’t these folks heard about HTML5, XML, or Word for goodness sakes?”

My response: “You want to question the United States government?”

I sure don’t.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2013

FTC Concerned about Some Standard-Essential Google Patents

October 19, 2012

It may be something. It may be nothing. But to Google’s expanding mosquito bites of legal woes, we can now add the issue of Motorola-originated smartphone technology. The New York Times reports on the “Widening Scrutiny of Google’s Smartphone Patents.” The Federal Trade Commission was already investigating the company’s search and search-advertising activities on antitrust grounds. Now, the agency is looking into the possibility that Google’s Motorola Mobility subsidiary is mishandling “standard-essential” patents, patents on technologies crucial for the basic operation of tablets and smartphones. Reporter Steve Lohr explains:

“Standard-essential patents, antitrust experts say, are the modern, high-tech equivalent of certain vital railway lines in the 19th century, like the Eads rail terminal and bridge across the Mississippi in St. Louis, the subject of a historic antitrust decision in 1912. Essential patents, like rail bridges, can become anticompetitive bottlenecks if the corporate owner withholds access to the technology or demands unreasonably high payment.

“In Senate testimony in July, Edith Ramirez, an F.T.C. commissioner, speaking of the potential abuse of standard-essential patents, said, ‘Holdup and the threat of holdup can deter innovation by increasing costs and uncertainty for other industry participants, including other patent holders.'”

Google picked up many of these essential patents when it acquired Motorola Mobility earlier this year, and pledged to license them out fairly and reasonably. The FTC is not too sure about the strength of that pledge. In fact, the agency is nervous about any “patent buildup” by the major players, rightly fearing that such collections can be used to inhibit the growth of newer and smaller companies.

Cynthia Murrell, October 24 2012

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Informative Paper on Patents

September 3, 2012

Many folks are alarmed and confused about the current state of technology patents, and rightly so. We have found an interesting paper that explains in great detail what has been happening, why and how, and what the trajectory means for the future. To be sure, “The Giants Among Us” (PDF) from Stanford Technology Law Review is not a coffee-break-length piece. It is, however, full of important facts, insights, and observations. A must-read for anyone concerned about today’s tech patent landscape.

The paper, written by Tom Ewing and Robin Feldman, begins with this observation:

“The patent world is quietly undergoing a change of seismic proportions. In a few short years, a

handful of entities have amassed vast treasuries of patents on an unprecedented scale. To give some

sense of the magnitude of this change, our research shows that in a little more than five years, the

most massive of these has accumulated 30,000-60,000 patents worldwide, which would make it the

5th largest patent portfolio of any domestic US company and the 15th largest of any company in the


“These entities, which we call mass aggregators, do not engage in the manufacturing of products

nor do they conduct much research. Rather, they pursue other goals of interest to their founders and


Indeed. The rest of the paper supplies facts about such mass aggregators (particularly Intellectual Ventures); gives a nod to potential positive effects; delineates the potential damages from the trend; and wraps up with ideas on what can and should be done. Ewing and Feldman proscribe regulatory oversight, transparency, and undermining trolls’ profit motive.

Excellent research, analysis, and conclusions. But will the FTC and DOJ listen?

Cynthia Murrell, September  03, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google and Apple Debate Intellectual Property

August 26, 2012

MacRumors recently reported on one way to solve the problem of intellectual property theft in the article “Google’s Top Lawyer: Some Apple Inventions Are Commercially Essential, Should Be Made Into Standards.”

According to the article, there is some disagreement between Apple and Google regarding whether or not commercial inventions that impact “consumer welfare” should be considered as important as technical patents. Google says yes, while Apple strongly opposes this idea.

In addition to highlighting a portion of  a letter written by Google General Counsel Kent Walker, the article summarizes Bruce Sewell, Apple’s top lawyer, stating that just because Apple products are popular among consumers does not mean that Apple has to license that technology to competitors.

In a rebuttal letter Sewell writes:

“The capabilities of an iPhone are categorically different from a conventional phone, and result from Apple’s ability to bring its traditional innovation in computing to the mobile market. Using an iPhone to take photos, manage a home-finance spreadsheet, play video games, or run countless other applications has nothing to do with standardized protocols. Apple spent billions in research and development to create the iPhone, and third party software developers have spent billions more to develop applications that run on it.”

While both sides bring up interesting points, we have to agree with Apple on this one and tell Google to go back to inventing its own stuff.

Jasmine Ashton, August XX, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Samsung in the Hot Seat for Destroying Evidence in Patent Case Against Apple

August 23, 2012

Jamie Condliffe of the GIZMODO blog recently reported on the latest in an ongoing patent infringement case in the article “Judge Sanctions Samsung for Destroying Evidence in Apple Case.”

According to the story, this is not the first time that Samsung has been in the hot seat. Despite the fact that Samsung is accusing Apple of deriving the original design for the iPhone from Sony, the companies accusations may not stand in court because it has a history of discovery abuses and has already been sanctioned four times. In this case, for destroying evidence which makes up part of the case it is fighting against.

Condliffe writes:

“On Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal explained that Sammy had ‘failed to prevent the destruction of relevant evidence’ in the form of company emails, and went on to suggest the company could have done more to preserve them.

As Apple no doubt sat gleefully rubbing its hands in excitement, Samsung was forced to explain its company policy of deleting all company email after just two weeks. But the judge pointed out that Samsung continued to delete emails even after it knew about the litigation—so it should have taken steps to change the policy.”

It looks like Samsung is going to have to come up with a pretty crafty plan to get out of this one.

Jasmine Ashton, August 23, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Did Google Overpay for Motorola?

August 3, 2012

Though Google cited patent collection as a primary motivation for acquiring Motorola, The Wall Street Journal now tells us, “Google Says Patents, Tech Were Less Than Half Motorola’s Price.” In a recent regulatory filing, the company revealed that $5.5 billion of the $12.4 billion investment covered ‘patents and developed technology.” Nevertheless, I suspect the company is pleased with its purchase; as writer John Letzing notes:

“Google has sought to bulk up on patents as a protective measure, as a number of its technology rivals have targeted both the company and its Android software with litigation.

“Oracle sued Google for alleged patent and copyright infringement by Android in 2010, though a related trial earlier this year resulted in a victory for Google.”

Yes, the protection a trove of patents can provide is a valuable thing, valuable enough to put up with a lot. The article also reveals:

“Google reported second-quarter earnings that included Motorola results from a portion of the period. Google said Motorola contributed some $1.25 billion in revenue, though the new unit also posted a $233 million operating loss.”

Eh, the patents and an operating loss of $233 million are but peanuts to Google. All in the cost of doing its globe-dominating business.

Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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