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Bill Gates Patents 'Virtual Entertainment'

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the in-my-first-life-i-have-virtual-friends dept.

Microsoft 141

theodp writes "In the '80s, Bill Gates and his then-girlfriend went on 'Virtual Dates' by viewing the same movie at the same time in different cities and discussing it on their cell phones. On Tuesday, Gates and 15 co-inventors were awarded U.S. Patent No. 8,012,023 for 'Virtual Entertainment', which Microsoft explains: 'The subject innovation provides for systems and methods that supply immersive entertainment, and create a sensation for a user(s) that is similar to having guests (who are in remote locations), to be presented as virtual guests to the user during performance of an event (e.g., a live sporting event, spectator game, television shows, games and the like).' And that silly Audre Lorde said there are no new ideas!"

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141 comments

Virtual Entertainment? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37325990)

Virtual Entertainment?

George Lucas has all sorts of prior "art" on that one.

Re:Virtual Entertainment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326040)

I want holographic Yoda to be my BFF...

Re:Virtual Entertainment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326122)

Virtual Entertainment?

It's something for the sexbots to do during their off hours.

I'd be interested in this. Poor Zeta is getting tired of Solitaire and Minesweeper.

Re:Virtual Entertainment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326150)

Don't forget wrestling!

(now on the sci-fi[/fantasy] channel because the idea of it being entertaining is definitely fiction)

Re:Virtual Entertainment? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326458)

The most (only) entertaining wrestling I have ever seen deserves to be on the sci fi channel.

http://kaiju.com/home.htm

License to Use soap, milk, and bread - $698.50/mo (3, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326352)

Virtual Entertainment? - George Lucas has all sorts of prior "art" on that one.

Let's hope he sues. And everyone sues everyone, until everything comes to a standstill, an impossible-resolution scenario. After Intellectual Property World War One, perhaps we'll have some peace treaties. Because as things are going, soon you won't be able to buy soap and bread anymore, you'll have a Subscription to Biological Sterilization and Nutritional Services, with an Agreement and License to Use Proprietary Methods for Human Sterilization and Nutritional Planning Programs. For only $698.50 per month, you can get service contracts, training programs, and... soap, milk, and bread.

Re:License to Use soap, milk, and bread - $698.50/ (2)

freudigst (1778168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37328056)

Great! Then the lawyers will have even more of the money, and more of the influence! Take that, you corporations!

Re:Virtual Entertainment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327442)

You mean Habitat [youtube.com] ?

Explain that to my best friend (1)

iadude (1981126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326006)

What am I gonna do about my porn now?

Re:Explain that to my best friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326840)

Watching porn might be considered cheating on your virtual girlfriend after your virtual dates, by having virtual sex with other women in your own virtual reality. Just don't get virtually married by a virtual church, or you'll be in virtual hell when her virtual lawyers get done with you. :-P

Before the naysayers chime in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326008)

This is amazing. Nobody ever communicated with another person remotely about a sporting event or film before Bill gates invented the idea. Thank diety we have the US patent system to protect such innovation!

Re:Before the naysayers chime in... (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326248)

Yeah, but this is on the internet which is what makes it novel. Sure, we may have used video conferencing to connect people for business and video lectures at school to have students in multiple locations all share the same class and professor, but that was mostly CCTV. This is the goddamned interner we're talking about. Of course it's a novel, patentable concept.

Besides, if some goofball can patent "dividing the number of golf strokes outside 50 yards by # of greens in regulation" on an 18 hole round to get your "long game" handicap, certainly something like this deserves a patent.

... In other news... (2)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326024)

In other, related, news the US [software and methods] patent system is completely fucked up - beyond broken. Everybody knows it but nobody is willing to fix it.

Re:... In other news... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326246)

You know, that gives me an idea!
I'm going to patent a method of creating patents of ideas either absurdly obvious or already existent. That way all these patents will be, in effect, mine.
The best thing about it? I'll probably get that patent!

Re:... In other news... (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326316)

Unfortunately there is tons of prior art all ready out there.

Re:... In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326788)

so? all those you will sue are pretty weak too, they must understand that if you sue for a low enough money, settling is the better option.

Re:... In other news... (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326422)

There are many people who would be willing to fix it. The problem is that it is in the best interests of the people in a position to fix it not to fix it. And the people with the power to remove those people from office are too busy watching mindless TV shows.

Re:... In other news... (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327172)

There are people willing to fix it, but "fix" is a function of your sponsors, be them pharmaceutical companies, tech corporations, or banks.

Re:... In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327594)

In other news, Apple just patented Virtual Entertainment using an iPad and touch screen interface.

Quake arena (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326026)

Immersive game with others being virtually present and trying to kill you... no new ideas indeed

Video Conferencing (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326032)

How is this different from an application of video conferencing?

Re:Video Conferencing (2)

drakaan (688386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327076)

It's not. vyew, gotomeeting, or whatever web conferencing software you're familiar with is prior art. Is the USPTO honestly saying that having an avatar in the conference window and it having something to do with an entertainment event makes this novel and some important advancement of the arts?

Bad patent.

Re:Video Conferencing (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327724)

How is this different from an application of video conferencing?

I would say that in the new proposal you can interact with entertaining persons only.

Re:Video Conferencing (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327870)

Just as there were hundreds of patents for "1. Do something that people have done for a long time 2. But On a Computer!" and "1. Do something that people have done for a long time 2. But On the Internet!", this is a patent for "1. Use the videoconferencing tools you normally use for business. 2. But For a Party!"

And yes, it's already been done. I was at a party a couple of years ago where one of the people was attending remotely from the Netherlands by videoconference, and then later, when she was in town, some of the other people were attending that party from the East Coast by videoconference. And there's always Fahrenheit 451 as literary prior art, with TV walls and non-player characters.

Not exactly new (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326060)

It sounds like what 4chan /tv/ does every Monday night when there's a new House episode on.

Re:Not exactly new (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326402)

It sounds like what 4chan /tv/ does every Monday night when there's a new House episode on.

We used to do exactly what has been patented, in Second Life, almost one decade ago. Lets say, 2004-2005ish.

Re:Not exactly new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327818)

Or if any of you are old enough to remember in the mid 90s oh about 94 95, a little program called The Palace, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Palace_%28computer_program%29 [Wikipedia] and the home page, http://www.thepalace.com/ of course its no longer supported but you can still use the client.

Virtual "fill in the blank" (4, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326070)

Quick, someone patent Virtual Money so we can virtually pay for our virtual entertainment!

I'm going to patent "Virtual Housing", "Virtual Transportation", and "Virtual Utilities"...

Really... This is just fucking stupid. I'm so done. Please someone just blow up the patent office with a few RPGs, or there's going to be no end to this insanity.

And On the SecondLife grid (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326176)

you actually can have all of that

Now With Collada Mesh Support!!

the only thing thats a bit iffy is the virtual utilities but you can have scripted objects that have to be "refilled" at intervals so that can be done. And SL has had Media On A Prim for months now

Holy Prior Art BOFHman!!

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326178)

You can't patent "Virtual Housing", I already have a virtual patent on that

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327406)

Howabout we patent virtual patents? Then we'd effectively own all patents in a virtual environment. Figure a way to translate the virtual cash generated by virtual litigation into real cash, and PROFIT!

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326196)

I'll patent virtual love, and the billions of left/right-hands of prior art wont stop the patent office from granting me the patent.

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327514)

I'll patent virtual love, and the billions of left/right-hands of prior art wont stop the patent office from granting me the patent.

You, sir, have just added a whole new dimension to the expression 'Get a grip on yourself'. Where can I subscribe to your newsletter?

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (2)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326434)

Please someone just blow up the patent office with a few RPGs, or there's going to be no end to this insanity.

That's so 1990's. These days, you patent a Document Reviewing Process, sue them, and get an injunction.

blow up the patent office with a few RPGs (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326680)

Yeah, storm the place with a whole lot of Role Playing Gamers with swords and wearing armor (and a handful of clerics and magic users.)

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326662)

Quick, someone patent Virtual Money so we can virtually pay for our virtual entertainment!

I'm going to patent "Virtual Housing", "Virtual Transportation", and "Virtual Utilities"...

Really... This is just fucking stupid. I'm so done. Please someone just blow up the patent office with a few RPGs, or there's going to be no end to this insanity.

I tried throwing my copies of FFTactics and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker at the Patent Office, and even e-mailed a link to the Ultima wikipedia site, hoping to at least blow up a server, and nothing happened.

Am I doing it wrong? Does anyone have a copy of FFXIII?

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326798)

oh this sux i am on virtual wefare, this virtual money has no real value and virtually there is no hope

Re:Virtual "fill in the blank" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327876)

Quick, someone patent Virtual Money ...

Too late, they're called bitcoins. http://bitcoin.org/

now, this can't be real! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326076)

WTF?! How can someone patent that? What's next.. a patent for walking on 2 legs?! WAKE THE FSCK UP, WORLD!

Re:now, this can't be real! (2)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326378)

One can only get a software patent if hardware is involved.

For example: you can't patent using an float calculation, but you can patent float calculation inside a GPU and framebuffer when nobody but you (or your company) has been engaged in researching it. (AMD has been sued for that and lost).

Walking on two legs has been done before by other, so no patent for you. Walking on two legs in a computer program can't be patented either, because there is no hardware involved that you invented or thought up that nobody used before.

What you could patent is a software program that aids a soldier who had his legs blown of during war, in walking, by having the software run on a processor that analyses with a 3D camera (depth values and speed) where to place the next step and then steer some robot legs, so someone can walk forward, without realy thinking about it.

But then you'd have a useful invention, even if software and robot legs have already been invented before.

So do you want to write of such inventions? Or where do you draw the line (patenting a link on the Windows 98 CDRom to go to a Microsoft website)? And based on what, how do you decide what is wrong and what is right?

Already been done (1)

EQ (28372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326088)

Trade chat in World of Warcraft during the Superbowl or World Series or World Cup. Heh. (Of course, IRL I doubt I would have *any* of most of the people that troll trade chat in WoW over to my house, at least not without a plan to dispose of their corpses).

TMS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326854)

Comes complete with Chocolate Cake and witty comments.
'The bowlers' Holding, the batsmans' Willy'.
'Botham is getting his leg over'
Both taken out of context could be rude but in context, they made perfect sense. RIP Johnno.

For those who don't know, TMS = Test Match Special on BBC Radio. Has Texts and twitter posts now but years ago they used to read out listeners letters.
A very British Institution.

Friends (2)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326110)

Bill has so little friends he has to invent virtual ones?

Re:Friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327092)

What does the size of his friends have to do with it?

In America, it is not date of submission (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326118)

it is date of invention idea. If he, like many others, did this in the 80's, then it should be expired.

However, what amazes me is that with a patent like this, I am waiting for a patent to be approved for breathing.

Re:In America, it is not date of submission (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326330)

However, what amazes me is that with a patent like this, I am waiting for a patent to be approved for breathing.

Don't hold your breath! Sorry.

Re:In America, it is not date of submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326694)

I did this with Bulletin Boards and conferences on them...a LONG time ago.

Come along, Virtual Reality... (1)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326132)

"... Step into the cell, and face the wall," the officer commanded. Virtual Reality did so, and the officer moved behind him and roughly released the cuffs.

"Do NOT turn around until I say so!" the officer barked, and the officer flinched a bit as he thought he saw movement in Virtual Reality's shoulder. The officer's hand flew to the tazzer on his belt, and he glared at Virtual Reality for a long moment.

Then the officer suddenly back peddled quickly and slammed the cell door shut. The electromagnetic lock snapped securely.

"You are lucky, really!" the officer smirked. "You get credit, as your sentence started in 2006. You only have to stay locked up for 15 years!"

There was a long pause, as Virtual Reality's forehead softly struck the wall. Somewhat muffled, he asked:

"....Can I turn around now?"

Cell phones? (1)

Beacon11 (1499015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326184)

They existed in the 80s?

Re:Cell phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326308)

Yes, but most of the time you had to pass credit checks to get one.

Re:Cell phones? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326462)

Yes, but most of the time you had to pass credit checks to get one.

Not much has changed, in that regard. Also they cost "about" the same, weirdly enough. A couple thousand bucks for about two years of service. Some things never change.

If by "cell phone" you mean more generically any cordless phone where you don't own/maintain the base station, IMTS was pretty popular in the late '60s, if you were wealthy enough.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improved_Mobile_Telephone_Service [wikipedia.org]

I'm told the original MTS from the '40s is still sorta around, like in the wilderness.

Re:Cell phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326420)

They existed in the 80s?

Yes, but unless Bill Gates was the first to ditch his land-line for one (not likely, since he'd need one for rocking his BBS connections) I'm doubting that. Plus minutes were so expensive back then, to be on the phone for 2 hours (watching a movie) he wouldn't likely be the richest man in the world today. Nobody gets rich spending all their money after all...

So .... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326186)

He's got a patent on tele-presence? Web cams? Virtual meeting rooms? Avatars?

I don't get it ... other than the belt, how is this conceptually different from lots of things which have been out there for some time now?

I mean, really, how far back can you go with a movie that has a hologram sitting at the meeting table? Star Wars maybe? Maybe older?

Re:So .... (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326512)

He's got a patent on tele-presence? Web cams? Virtual meeting rooms? Avatars?

I don't get it ... other than the belt, how is this conceptually different from lots of things which have been out there for some time now?

I mean, really, how far back can you go with a movie that has a hologram sitting at the meeting table? Star Wars maybe? Maybe older?

SF goes way, way back. I'm sure that with a little digging we could find a dozen short stories from the 50s or even the 30s.

I seem to recall that H.G. Wells described people attending plays and concerts remotely in "The Sleeper Awakes" which was originally written in 1899 and then revised in 1910.

Re:So .... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326658)

"and there are no new ideas"

exactly. but this is about telepresenting the _audience_.

though, that's exactly what's been going on in ug internet radio stations.. that's what keeps the hosts going, that there's feedback - maybe even more and immediate feedback than on traditional radio.

because you know, for the band that is playing in some garage and is streaming their live gig, it won't feel like they're doing that unless there's some feedback.

likewise, if the viewers can't participate in any way - then the gig might just as well be recorded in the 80's and be coming off from their vcr. there has to be some feedback going both ways for it to be "live" feel.

I could be a patent holder.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326190)

"Back in the day" my friends and I used to do the same thing, but instead of using cell phones, we chatted via IRC, ICQ!
We even had an End of the World - Y2K party where people in various time zones around the world would let everyone else know the world had NOT ended.
Dang here I could have patented the concept and made a million!!!!

Is this like phone sex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326230)

I mean come on bill, I've been doing this since the 80's too... My girlfriend would be at home alone and I would be somewhere away and she'd be missing me and all and we'd had a good 10 minutes of virtual sex by rubing our repspective parts and talking to the other while doing it. Im sure this isn't new and I'm sure I didn't invent it.

My bro and his Web Wife have prior art. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326242)

My brother met his wife on World of Warcraft, and since they lived states apart at the time they had "web dates." They used to have a date night where they'd get on the cells and watch the same movie. They did all sorts of creative things to keep the relationship going, before she finally moved to live with him and they got married. So sorry Gates, couple's who met online have been doing this stuff for ages.

Re:My bro and his Web Wife have prior art. (1)

Rizimar (1986164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326494)

Even before WoW, Everquest, or any other MMORPG like it, there was a Lucasfilm game called Habitat [wikipedia.org] that was released in the late 80's. There wasn't any real objective; it was more or less a graphical chat room where you can do different things like look for treasure, read newspaper, etc. People would go on "virtual dates" in that game. This long promotional video of Habitat [youtube.com] shows just how easy that would be.

Re:My bro and his Web Wife have prior art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327358)

So what kind of VR system did they use that "emulates real-life activities of a guest that is remotely viewing a spectator event that takes place outside of a virtual environment"?

Troll at large (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326270)

Bill Gates is trolling the patent office. Good stuff

Similar but unrelated thought. (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326274)

I'd love it if there was a mechanism for Netflix Instant-Watch to sync up the playback of a movie on two different accounts. I watch movies over the phone all the time.

Re:Similar but unrelated thought. (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326468)

There is ... at least if your watching as a "Party" using the silly add-ons in the M$ Xbox Live Netflix application. It also lets you do live voice chat in the same interface, though I've yet to use it myself.

Re:Similar but unrelated thought. (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326686)

Then I guess you better start paying Bill Gates his fair royalties for inventing your idea!

Horrible article (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326302)

Since TFA links to the pre-grant publication (with its at-publication-time-not-yet-examined claims) instead of the issued patent, here's the first issued independent claim:

A computer implemented system comprising: at least one processor that executes the following computer executable components stored on at least one computer readable medium:

a virtual reality generation component that emulates real-life activities of a guest that is remotely viewing a spectator event that takes place outside of a virtual environment into corresponding virtual activities of a virtual guest representation in the virtual environment; and

a presentation component that presents the virtual activities of the virtual guest representation to a user that is attending the spectator event as an in-person spectator, the presentation system to facilitate an interaction of the user with the virtual guest representation provided in the virtual environment as the guest is remotely viewing the spectator event.

Re:Horrible article (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326400)

I think that "horrible article" could be applied by default to "Hey, did you hear they're applying on patent for [trivial thing]?" articles. I'm no fan of the actual patent system, and it's clearly broken, but the version of the patent system presented on Slashdot is fictional.

Re:Horrible article (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326538)

t the version of the patent system presented on Slashdot is fictional.

It goes with our fictional news, fictional politics and fictional economy.

Re:Horrible article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326848)

So he is getting a patent on Second Life and all the various virtual worlds that allow viewing of Youtube videos, hold live concerts etc????

Re:Horrible article (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327058)

it's just doing a *golfclap* over the internet.

nothing more, nothing less. you can use 100 words to say the same thing, but that's it.

Serious question (1)

Vitani (1219376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326366)

So this patent was applied for in April 2008 and has just been granted. Disregarding any prior-art that existed before that date, what happens if you or your company "re"-invented this technology between 2008 and now? Do you now have to pay a nice fee to Bill Gates and his friends? That seems a little unfair to me.

Bonus question: If it took 3 years to grant a patent from 2008, and more and more things are being patented as the years go by, how long will it take to grant a patent filed in 2011? Six years? Doesn't look like this arrangement is sustainable to me.

bad news for chill.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326370)

bad news for chill.com

This is about VIRTUAL reality (1)

MichaelJ (140077) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326388)

So my reading of it says that a teleconference is NOT the same. If you have a real image of the person on the other side of the communication, that's not the "virtual reality emulating real-life activities" in the patent.

prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326408)

I did this with the original Star Wars in 1978. VHS tape and a telephone and a girlfriend.

This is not patentable! Aaraarggh!! (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326448)

Ideas are not patentable! Patents cover IMPLEMENTATIONS!

According the article:

For example, one of the scenarios shown by Microsoft in the patent filing a belt with “electronic and electromagnetic tracking components” for sensing the movements of the user (although the patent doesn’t appear to be limited to that specific approach).

It sounds like they patented some vague idea of how something might be accomplished. That's not what patents are for.

this patent application was actually submitted way back in 2006 and only approved after years of back-and-forth with the patent office

I can see why... since it isn't a patent. Why was it granted at all? So in case I'm just overblowing this, lets look at the patent itself... [uspto.gov]

...Moreover, the presentation system 101 can employ a personal computer, a projection unit, a system including 3D goggles and headphones, or a simulator providing visual, audible, and physical stimulation, and the like, to present activities of the virtual guest to the user....

Aaand how would you do that? Elsewhere in the patent it talks about presenting virtual smells to the user. Right now, there is no technology to do that. This would be like me patenting teleportation by saying there is some sort of matter-to-energy and energy-to-matter device at either end, with some form of communication in the middle. That's the *idea* of teleportation, not a patentable implementation of it.

Almost every paragraph in the patent says something like this:

What has been described above includes examples of aspects of the claimed subject matter. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of components or methodologies for purposes of describing the claimed subject matter, but one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that many further combinations and permutations of the disclosed subject matter are possible.

So it keeps admitting that they have no idea how to do this, or what combination of devices might achieve it, but they want to have all of them covered. Ordinarily, a patent author tries and make the patent broad enough to cover similar implementations - so that a trivial change can't be used to avoid paying the royalties. But this is ridiculous.

I think this is perhaps the second most quintissential example of the patent office gone wrong. The best example was when someone patented the tire swing. (Can someone find that? The closest I found was The patent on how to swing [slashdot.org] .

Re:This is not patentable! Aaraarggh!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37328010)

I think Google has us covered - I'm sure Second Life has prior art on this one.

Xbox Live...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326452)

Watching movies with your friends as avatars....as Kinect people...did they do these things without patents before?

Back in 1960... (1)

MEK (71818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326456)

... my future wife (married in 1976) and I did this. We watched our first opera together -- Don Giovanni on NBC -- she in Wisconsin, I (7 ayears old at the time) in Oklahoma. Of course, it would be a while before we would actually first meet each other. ;~}

MEK

Sounds more like Bill Gates just patented being a (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326522)

social loser, to me.

Watching a movie on TV while you talk to a girl watching the same movie on TV is the most pathetic date I can imagine. Only Fucking Bill Gates would think of patenting this -- he should patent ordering pizza, sitting around in his underwear, and squeezing pimples while he's at it.

Re:Sounds more like Bill Gates just patented being (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37328018)

Watching a movie on TV while you talk to a girl watching the same movie on TV is the most pathetic date I can imagine.

It depends on the girl. The reality is that some of us are living a long way from our loved ones for a few months or years and this kind of thing is the best we can do for now. An idiot would say, "Well your reasons for being apart must be stupid!" but who cares what an idiot says?

IRC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326580)

So he patented IRC?

Second Life has already been doing this for years (1)

Cito (1725214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326602)

The is nothing new. Second Life has been doing this for years. Their system allows media to be set, movies from full length to YouTube can be streamed on a "Prim" in world so that all avatars can sit and watch the movies/videos at the same time as a "virtual date" of sorts and more.

I could see Linden Labs fighting this is they wanted to. regardless of what people think of Second Life they've already done this for several years.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326648)

Any long distance relationship

There is so much precendent for this (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326660)

How the hell does a patent so vague and obvious get granted when there is so much prior art? Video conferencing, IRC, VR, muds / MMOs, remote controlled sex devices, outdoor screens, pub quizes, remote TV broadcasts, etc. etc. There is prior art stretching back years.

Filed 28 September, 2006 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326930)

I thought "on the internet" patents had already been excluded by then.

Prior art: Sleepless in Seattle? (1)

kfsone (63008) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326966)

Of course - we're all just responding to the /. synposis, though even that suggests that it is a patent for a particular set of technologies/methodologies for providing the experience and not the experience in general:

Windows Live Messenger, for instance, provides a "Watch this Together" link when you past a video or youtube URL to someone, which provides an API for synchronized viewing of the linked content. Obvious idea, sophisticated and non-trivial behind the scenes implementation.

PS3 home anyone? (1)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326970)

sounds like what i can do in PS3 home now.. invite people over to "my place" and we can watch videos on my virtual TV and talk at the same time.

Arthur C. Clarke... (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326980)

in his novel "Against the Fall of Night", talked about this with a whole stadium of spectators. It also was made to seem that each of them thought they were in the best seats in the house and seated next to their friends.

I think this story was published in the 50s.

Other people are why I avoid theatres/concerts/etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326992)

I wait for movies to come to disk before I watch them specifically because I don't want to deal with other people disrupting my entertainment experience. People in theatres talk, text, or otherwise detract from my experience. Same thing applies with concerts, sporting events, etc, where large crowds gather. People at those venues smoke tobacco/pot, act rude, use profanity, and more. Why would I want their virtual presence? I have never watched a movie or match on TV and thought "I wish someone else was here to experience this with me." Not once.

patent approval date? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327134)

where does it state it was awarded today? the patent page only says april 2008 and the original filing of sept. 2006

Just implemented on Node Knockout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327508)

This was just implemented by one of the finalists of Node Knockout. They made a webapp that synchronises viewing of a YouTube playlist for several members of a group, all at different PCs. As the name suggests, it was written in node.js JavaScript.

Cellphones in the 80s? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37327784)

Back in those days they were called Advanced Mobile Phone Systems.

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