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MS Patents IM Feature Used Since At Least 1996

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the uspto's-perverse-incentives dept.


splorp! writes "Once again, a company is patenting a feature that another company implemented years before. C|Net's reports that patent no. 6,631,412 grants Microsoft the rights to 'an instant messaging feature that notifies users when the person they are communicating with is typing a message.' Excuse me? Does anyone remember Powwow (now defunct)? I remember using that one back in '96 and it alerted the other people to whom you were chatting that you were typing. Or, alternately, it allowed you to SEE the other people typing in real time. Yeah, Powwow is gone, now, but that doesn't mean those features never existed."

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Don't forget (1) (637314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162896)

Yahoo had this forever. There's also more coverage here, stating that AOL and Yahoo were not available for comment.

Re:Don't forget (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162922)

Ever think they are patenting it so they won't get sued like the stupid plugin lawsuit for IE. MS has shitloads of patents, most of which they never enforce.

Re:Don't forget (5, Funny)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162959)

...AOL and Yahoo were not available for comment.

but they were typing a responce...

Re:Don't forget (1)

pebs (654334) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162977)

ICQ had something similar, though not exactly. In multi-user chat, you could see what everyone was typing as they typed it. I hated that feature.

Re:Don't forget (actually) (1)

PhiltheeG (688063) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163016)

Actually I don't remember Yahoo having this until version 5 or 5.5?

I remember it distinctly because my girlfriend's Yahoo wasn't working so we had to default to (ugh) MSN messenger. We liked the Yahoo emoticons better but the only thing I liked about MSN messenger was the message that someone was typing a reply, thinking "wow, I wish Yahoo had that."

Re:Don't forget (1)

SpekkioMofW (711835) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163044)

I wonder...Microsoft is attempting to patent a feature that other IM clients (Y!M, AIM) already have (and has existed for years) and nearly simultaneously made changes to its protocol to block out Trillian, et al. (Not that the block lasted for long, but still, they did it.) Plus MS shuts down chat rooms, claiming that they will be concentrating on MSN Messenger. Is this the start of a new IM war?

First post (-1, Troll)

nekosej (302666) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162899)

I am going to patent the idea of first post

Re:First post (1)

alecto (42429) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162934)

Sorry, dude. Looks like has prior art.

Re: First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162939)

But not practice what you preach evidently...

Re: First post (1)

nekosej (302666) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163021)

Interesting. Maybe you should patent that idea of practicing what you don't preach (before I do) !

Or patent the idea of patenting. I'd call it GARP (GARP's A Recursive Patent)

Gar (-1, Informative)

Tyreth (523822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162900)

Patents are so ridiculous, as you all already know, and so is this one.

Nothing insightful in my post, just a chance to gripe about how absurd this is.

Re:Gar (1)

Planar (126167) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163093)

The patent system is like communism: in theory it is a good thing, but in practice it is so totally broken that it will soon collapse, destroying a large part of the economy in the process.

Where's Powwow? (1, Troll)

barfomar (557172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162903)

Where do I buy the rights's to Powwow?

Even older prior art (5, Funny)

Gzip Christ (683175) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162906)

What about the UNIX "talk" command? That command allows you to see what the other person is typing in real time and it's been around forever. I wouldn't be surprised if there were cave paintings showing our ancestors using "talk" to tell their buddies how the wooly mammoth hunt was going.

The fake Gzip Christ isn't not user number ~0xA6CA7

Re:Even older prior art (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162938)

So it's not unlike the telegraph, is that what you're saying?

Re:Even older prior art (1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163052)


The talk command appeared in 4.2BSD.

Almost forever.

Re:Even older prior art (1)

skwirlmaster (555307) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163088)

Exactly, talk's ancestry traces back before UNIX, if this is to be believed: 002-December/000205.html And now MS will probably own it because of how b0n3d the IP system is in this country... Now I'm off to patent some naturally occuring amphibian DNA *just in case* :)

Re:Even older prior art (2, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163099)

Don't forget the unix "write" command. And "wall" for everyone on the system.

I remember the "phone" command for VMS. A bunch of people over a network could talk at once. Your could reach out and touch someone with the finger command and dial them up.

History of "talk" (3, Informative)

cheesedog (603990) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163114)

There is a very interesting post (dated Dec. 2002) by David P. Reed [] on the origin of 'talk' at: []

In short, this goes back to at least 1967. I'm sure there is no way our esteemed patent office could possibly have found prior art back that far, let alone what happened last week. Someone should alert them to the existence of google.

Re:Even older prior art (5, Informative)

NickFitz (5849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163120)

RTFP. From this week's "great innovation for customers":

Unlike telephonic communication, when participants know that a person is speaking, participants in an instant messaging session do not know that somebody is preparing a message for transmission. Without a cue that the other person is transmitting information, it is difficult to have a smooth conversational flow. One mechanism that addresses this problem is employed by a UNIX "talk" program, which performs a character-by-character transmission of an instant message. That is, each time individual types of a single character on the computer keyboard, that character is transmitted to all other participants in the instant messaging session. Because other participants are essentially watching the person type, there are clear cues that a user is "talking."

However, this approach has several limitations. First, character-by-character transmission greatly increases the flow of network traffic because each character requires one or more data packets to be sent to each participant in the instant messaging session. In addition, many users do not like to be "watched" as they type, as their typing errors and incomplete thoughts are transmitted before they can be corrected. Finally, message recipients are often distracted by watching the flickering screen in which characters appear one time as a complete message is formed. Therefore, it can be appreciated that there is a significant need for a system and method that will provide the desired notification of user activity in a computer network. The present invention provides this, and other advantages, as will be apparent from the following detailed description and accompanying figures.

As far as I can see from a quick reading, the idea is not that you see what people are typing, but that you have an indicator which lets you know that they are typing.

Unix talk (1, Redundant)

Kingpin (40003) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162908)

How about unix talk? I haven't used it since about 96, but I seem to remember that either the text got sent real-time (which could be considered a notification..) or there was a status change.

Re:Unix talk (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162942)

Yes, I first used unix talk in 1989, and it was real time communication, which I suppose can be called a type of instant messaging. You even got to watch the other person backspacing over their tyop^H^Hpos :)

Re:Unix talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163017)

Did you actually read the article? It mentions talk and the difference

Re:Unix talk (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163094)

I didn't read the patent, if that's what you mean... the linked article at doesn't contain the word 'talk' at all.

Re:Unix talk (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162960)

I was thinking the exact same thing. Not only UNIX talk, but anyone remember old BBS "chat" functions?

Frankly, I think it's a non-issue. While some chat-happy people might be all excited about knowing if someone is "typing", it's not a deal-killer for me.

Re:Unix talk (1)

Asgard (60200) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163106)

type-notifications are handy since they assist in the '20 second attention span' problem. It may take me more than 20 seconds to type my reply, but that way the other person knows something is coming and shouldn't divert their attention elsewhere.

Re:Unix talk (1)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162961)

Yup, text was sent in real time. Unix talk dates back to... uh... dunno. Probably one of the original BSD releases from UC Berkeley. It was certainly ubiquitous in the early '90s.

Re:Unix talk (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163089)

From the man page:


The talk command appeared in 4.2BSD.

And a quick google search places 4.2 at August of 1983.

Re:Unix talk (1)

kfhickel (449052) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163000)

I first used talk on BSD running on a VAX in 1983, but then, I'm old.


And how about 'phone' on VAX/VMS in 1983? (1)

talexb (223672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163102)

We took delivery of our VAX 11/780 in August 1983 and were thrilled with all the doodads on it, including 'phone' that split the screen and allowed each user to see what the other user was typing, in real time. And last time I checked, 1983 happened before 1999 when this patent was filed.


Re:Unix talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163048)

RTF patent, it cites talk and why the "invention" is superior to talk.

Maybe it's a pre-emptive patent (1, Offtopic)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162910)

Hey, maybe it's a pre-emptive patent. You know, patent it now so someone with less morals won't screw them over...later...hey, why is everyone laughing at me? :)

ICQ (5, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162915)

ICQ had/has this as well, in the direct chat (not im) mode.

Re:ICQ (0)

Entropy Unleashed (682552) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163028)

Yahoo Messenger has had this implemented since before December of 2002.

Re:ICQ (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163092)

Yes and ICQ had it at the time that Powwow went under. Which was, as I remember and was publicly stated, a community effort by a community in Colorado that wanted to build virtual communities, offer if free and they did, until they couldn't any more. They were I believe the first successful sophisticated free IM service out there. They are missed.

Ahh.. those were the days.

yeah... (0)

dragin33 (529413) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162918)

but for all we know powwow is now defunct cause M$ paid them off. :-p

it gets ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162919)

time to found a country without any patent laws

Re:it gets ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163085)

like Israel ?

Help! I think I might be gay! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162923)

So I've got this friend, let's call him Cmdr T. No, that's too obvious, let's call him C.R. Taco Anyway, Mr. Taco has been "noticing" other men lately, if you catch my drift.

It all started out when Taco was at his favorite local bar, the Man Hole. He would go there every night and have a few banana daiquiris and watch pre-taped episodes of The View and Oprah. So there he was in his favorite leather chaps and little else, sipping his daiquiri and watching Oprah when this guy sits down at the stool next to him. One thing leads to another and Taco is in the parking lot bent over his Mazda Miata, taking it up the ass like a champ. His suitor comes hard, and they decide to head back to Taco's apartment.

So the next thing you know, Taco has this guy strapped to his pommel horse and he's pounding the stranger's ass with everything he's got. All of a sudden, it hits him: "I might be gay!"

So I'm asking for your opinion here. Do you think that cruising floof bars and having anonymous sex with other men makes me, I mean him, a little gay, or is this perfectly normal heterosexual activity?

BBS! (2, Informative)

Ass, Ltd. Ho! (714400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162924)

I used BBS chatting software in 1989 that allowed me to know when the other user was typing.

I spent a year working for patent attourneys. What did I learn? If I ever go rogue and start taking out government buildings, the patent office is first on my list.


Re:BBS! (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163025)

1989! The telegraph did the same thing about 100 years before that. Does that mean the idea is now in the public domain?

Back in the day (1)

BrodyVess (455213) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162927)

All my friends were pissed that I enabled the feature to watch someone type in ICQ, and would then call them on things that they were about to type but never hit enter on...

Also.. (2, Redundant)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162928)

it allowed you to SEE the other people typing in real time

ICQ has done that for a while too

Re:Also.. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162984)

I used to use that a lot, I always thought it was fun to watch all the backspacing everyone did do to poor spelling.

nice design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162929)

this page [] 's design proves it must have been there around 1996 :) It looks worse than my first webpage.

Re:nice design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163036)

WTF?? You are posting to exactly the same link as the article???

topple (1)

l2b (40934) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162936)

gee - we had topple on our dec 20s wayyy back in the 70s....

Are you sure? (3, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162941)

Are you sure this patent grants them the rights to any implementation, or only their implementation?

Btw, would you need to sue MS in order to get this patent overturned, or could you do something like sue the patent office?

Re:Are you sure? (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163070)

would you need to sue MS in order to get this patent overturned
No, you could just breach it, and wait for MS to sue you. If the court found for you, for reasons related to the validity of the patent, that would pretty much kill it stone dead.

UNIX talk and MUDs (1)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162943)

How about UNIX talk and MUDs? Those have been around for decades.

Prior Art may be the key (5, Interesting)

matchlight (609707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162946)

Check out this site [] for complete details but to lift a few important parts:

a person is not entitled to a patent if the invention was "known or used by others in this country, or was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country" before the date of invention by the applicant for the patent

But later there is a brief comment:

Naturally, if an inventor abandons the invention, he or she cannot obtain a patent.

And finally in support of M$'s patent, and likely the way they got it:

In a fast-changing world, finding a single piece of prior art which discloses the same invention as that claimed in a patent is not the most likely scenario. What is far more likely to occur is that the prior art will be something similar but not identical to the patented invention. The patent statutes also provide for this situation--in a negative manner. Specifically, section 103 of the code provides that a patent may not be obtained "though the invention is not identically disclosed or described [in the prior art] if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art." The test which is posed by this section is whether a worker of ordinary skill, knowing the prior art, would have found the patented invention obvious.

Re:Prior Art may be the key (1)

matchlight (609707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162995)

The 3rd reason is actually AGAINST M$ getting the patent, oppsie.

More text than code (5, Funny)

javatips (66293) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162948)

What I find amusing is that it probably took a lot more time filling for this patent than implement the feature.

One must be very creative to describe such a simple feature in so many pages of text!

Software patents (1)

McLion (191908) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162950)

Another good example why software patents are bad for us. As M$ was sued recently for the use of the parameters, and we will all have to recode our pages that they will work in explorer... the same could happen with this pattent... Even if it's not essential for chatting, it is cool to se how someone on the other side of the world types. It makes the conversation more "human".

patents have to be the answer (0, Troll)

dnotj (633262) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162951)

1. IPO
2. waste $$$
3. make something unique
4. cease to exist
5. wait
6. sue M$ for prior art patent violations

I'm off to create something for micro$oft to steal from me.

Forget the patent... (0, Offtopic)

tzanger (1575) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162952)

Does anyone know if the MSN-T Or nextgen-msn-t is actually stable form jabberd yet? The latest one I tried (1.2.8pre10 I think?) segfaulted in the pthread code about every 3-8 minutes.

Next week: patent for watchdog timer .. (0, Offtopic)

talexb (223672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162954)

.. which is described in the original patent filing. Is this stupid or what?

patent (2, Informative)

aphr0Scorp (690069) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162962)

A link to the actual patent [] might have been nice.

ICQ does the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162963)

ICQ, at least the Windows client, also notifies that the other user is typing.

Great Business Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162967)

As much as we may dislike the MS products, they do have the inate ability to circumvent common knowledge and pass it as their own creation.

When Bill Gates and Steve Jobs co-operated in the late 70s with Novell to create the IPX stack for the Watcom compiler, we knew that this was history in the making.

In our corporation we shun Microsoft products as much as we can. Right now only our mail system, database infrastructure, firewall, web server cluster, browsers, and office suites run with Microsoft. The rest are all third-party products.

Which is nice.

It's the application date that matters (4, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162972)

Just because Microsoft was granted the patent now doesn't really mean anything. It takes years for a patent application to wind its way through the Patent Office. Because of that they are retroactive to the time of application.

The question shouldn't be, "How can they do this if had it in '96?" It should be, "When did Microsoft apply for this patent?"

Re:It's the application date that matters (5, Informative)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163029)

if you look at the patent, it looks like december 2002.

Re:It's the application date that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163104)

From the USPTO page (linked in the article):

Inventors: Glasser; Daniel S. (Seattle, WA);
Liffick; Stephen M. (Seattle, WA)
Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA)
Appl. No.: 327384
Filed: December 20, 2002

So it was filed in 2002.

in other news ... (1)

Dreadlord (671979) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162983)

Microsoft announced today that it holds a new patent that grants it the rights " an OS feature that allows the user to move a piece of hardware called a Mouse(TM)(R) to control a pointer on the screen and issue commands. "

WARNING: Mouse(TM)(R) is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Microsoft Patent (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7162986)

Why do companies need to patent this stupid little ideas? Why is it allowed that a company can patent an IM? If an IM is missing a feature people want, and the company won't add it, why can't another company create their own? It should be a monopoly.

Now this stupid little typing notification patent? Microsoft did not have it first? AND WHO CARES? Why is it allowed to be "owned"? its just some gay little feature that retard end users want.

i am writing this while taking a massive shit on the toilet. I love laptops and wireless.

Anyways, this whole thing is just stupid. This is my rant. Answer me this... are companies outside that US that create an IM with the gay "typing noticiation" feature, are they affected?

write/talk (1)

jaredmauch (633928) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162987)

Seems like write/talk (for us *nix people) also did the same thing. Two systems that I learned a lot of my *nix skills on back "in the day", GREX [] and M-Net had a version of write that was written by Jan Wolter. The link to his version can be found [] here []

Which Patent Trumps? (1)

hobbespatch (699189) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162989)

According to coverage of this news article ZDnet Article [] :

Microsoft is not the first company to pursue a patent over IM. In December 2002, AOL subsidiary ICQ won a patent that claimed rights as the inventor of IM. AOL has not flexed its muscle on the patent, and competitive IM services remain active.

So 2 questions, if AOL has the patent for IM how can MS patent a feature?

If push comes to shove, which patent will trump the other?

write? ytalk? (0, Redundant)

krinje (179079) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162990)

What about all the real-time unix talk variants? I used them back in '90, '91 and could actually see what the user was typing!

Let's begin (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162996)

Enough! I am going to patent every useless thing starting now:

Device for controlling the position of a computer cursor

Method for entering text into a computer by a key matrix.

C'mon gimme more ideas!!!

this post used CAPS LOCK since the shift key is now a DMCA circumvention device...

Microsoft screwed itself (reference to US code) (2, Interesting)

yerricde (125198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162997)

If an inventor distributes embodiments of an invention to the public in the United States, the inventor must either have already applied for a U.S. patent, or he loses the patent (35 USC 102(a) [] ). This patent was applied for in December 2002. I remember using a version of MSN Messenger with this feature in 2000.

How about ICQ chat (1)

radoni (267396) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162998)

...where what you were typing actually showed up on the other person's screen? That sounds like notification to me.

+40 roll of "duh"

No doubt the MS press release will say..... (3, Insightful)

mormop (415983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7162999)

This is another example of Microsoft's long history of "innovation".

Errrr, couldn't agree more personally.

But the Microsoft feature is different (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163002)

Powwow never had Clippy tell you the other person was typing.

how long has it been in AIM? a while now (1)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163006)

i know AIM off and on would tell you "your buddy is typing"..... i don't know if it worked with certain versions or is part of another feature or what, but it's been in AIM for some time now too. Not to dismiss the other older ones, but AIM is so huge that they can't ignore it... and it's still in popular use. I don't think it shows up on Adium (for OS X) or other 3rd party apps, but it does for AOL's AIM app.

Re:how long has it been in AIM? a while now (1)

stasis00123 (688741) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163051)

It's in AIM direct connect sessions, and has been for quite a while. As it's been in every instant messaging client to some capacity for quite a while.

Innovation (1)

imAck (102644) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163009)

I could see if they had pioneered some innovative new technology, and wanted a return on their research investment. When you think about the amount of resources that must have legally gone into this, to me it seems to indicate that the company is running out of ideas. I mean, winning the IM wars? If that's even part of your strategy at this point...

Chat with sysop.. (1)

Garion911 (10618) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163023)

When I first started with modems and the like in 86 or so, every BBS I was on had a "chat w/ sysop" feature... Realtime typing... Though some folks could get ahead of the 300 baud that the was popular at the time.. So this predates my first experiences...

It wouldn't suprprise me if the first computer to computer comminucations were a simple app that just sent whatever was typed to a receieving program on the other end.. ITs certainly one of the first things that I would do...

Out with patents altogether (1)

Broodje (646341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163030)

Can someone who knows better tell me why we have patents these days? From all the expert witness and legalese and resources (money AND skill) to support the patent system you'd think as a nation we could redirect that energy to _making a better mousetrap_ instead of wasting time on protecting old ideas.

There has to be another way of spurring innovation and protecting inventor's ideas without giving all our cash to these faulking lawyers.

Phone on VMS? (1)

matuscak (523184) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163033)

Sounds like the VMS phone utility from about 1979. IIRC, phone was a copy of something older from TOPS-20

No Worries (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163037)

Powwow is gone, now, but that doesn't mean those features never existed.

Also keep in mind that even though patents are often granted for what is obviously prior art, they can easily be revoked after a suitable demonstration -- in essence, as if the patent never existed. Also, the patent itself is fairly useless unless the owner tries to enforce it. For instance, AOL/ICQ haven't stopped other companies from developing their own IM clients. IMO, this one should be fairly easy to overturn if MS ever decided to try and sue anyone.

Yes, the patent system is horribly flawed, but it's not the end of the world. Yet.

Gee (0, Redundant)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163039)

What about TALK? It showed what you were typing when typing it!

It's simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163055)

What happened is simple. MS copied the program material from the back of an AOL "Free Hours" disk and changed the program just enough to avoid prosecution under the incomprehensible intergalactic intellectual property laws.

Then, a much more wiley project manager dropped a copy of the program through a worm hole that went back in time and, so there by allowing Microsoft the sue for copyright infringement.

BBS feature in 1990 (1)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163056)

Heck I remember having dialup BBS software that had this feature 10 years before MS filed for this.


stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163057)

You're all the ones who want to live in the "information age".

Oh look, lets feel good about our generation, lets name our new age. Its the information age! Information is what's valuable now! It was all so cute to spout off about it during the .com boom wasn't it? A whole new age! Information age! Hooray! A revolution, just like the invention of the printing press or steam engine! Whoopty la de da da do do! ...

You tools fell for that marketing bullshit. You ALLOWED information, copyrights, patents and trademarks to have more value than tangible goods.

SO wallow in it you hippy bums.

How about we scrap this "information age" horseshit, and go back to fucking reality?

VMS Vax Talk (0, Redundant)

frode (82655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163060)

I used Talk on a VMS Vax machine in '94 and it was
basicly an IM app. Heck the other user could see the letters as you typed them. So unless M$FT started the patent process before Talk was invented I'd say their SOL.

Link to patent (4, Informative)

ajakk (29927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163064)

Here is a link to the patent itself: 6631412 []

It should be noted that UNIX talk is specifically talked about in the patent and the advantages of this system over it are mentioned. This does not get around the apparant prior art of POWWOW. Remember that it is the claims of a patent that are important, not the abstract. It appears from quickly looking at the claims, that the broadest requirements are for client A to send a message to client B that client A is typing. Then client B must indicate that client A is typing. Finally, that message is turned off when client A sends another message that it is done typing. The initial typing message must be based upon typing within a predefined period of time.

Any prior art asserted against this patent would need to have been in use on or before July 21, 1998.

Prior Art? (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163066)

What I'm curious about is that in so many of these cases....people think up TONS of instances of prior art. But what can be done about it? Its not like you just go to the USPTO and say "hey, here's the prior art, their patent is invaldi". Does it have to go to court? If it does.....the only people with the incentive to knock out patents are those who intend to use the idea....rather than those who just oppose a company having one more patent.

Gaim (1)

Syris (129850) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163073)

Gaim [] also has this feature implemented now. I don't know how long they've had it, but it's a least a couple years.

And it's Open Source!

unix talk (0, Redundant)

kakapo (88299) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163075)

Doesn't unix talk do this -- can't you see the characters as the other person types them.

OK, it does -- just tried it between two accounts, and whaddaya know?

I first used talk in 1990 -- I think -- when phonecalls across the Pacific cost an arm and a leg, and any sort of real-time communication over the net seemed just enormously cool.

When Instant Messaging was suddenly the next big thing I had to smile -- talk and finger (back in the day when most sites didn't block finger requests) do much the same thing as an IM system with a central server. Right down to having an analog of the unix .plan "away message"

morons release pateNTdead eyecon0meter to public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163079)


that's right those phonIE corepirate nazis won't benefit from yOUR kode on this won.

of course, they are scared to debt/afraud of J. getting a whiff of the winds of change, which are bullowing at gale force. lookout bullow.

consult with/trust in YOUR creator...

you won't be needing any felonious payper liesense softwar gangsters' infactdead devices, in order to see the light/help with the increasingly popular planet/population rescue initiative.

Blame the courts, not MS (1)

dewdrops (79519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163082)

Given that the courts are willing to grant patents for simple, obvious features which have been around for years, why wouldn't they go get a patent on it ?

If nothing else, it protects them from other companies doing this and suing them over the ridiculous patent [] .

The people to blame here are the patent office ad the US courts for continuing to not only grant these patents but also to enforce them.

PowWow (1)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163084)

I remember that from way back. People in the MSN chatrooms (the first MSN that came with Win95) would all join up in PowWow chats so they could trade files, etc.

More at the onion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163091) .html

So sue them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163097)

The patent office doesn't care about prior art. This isn't the 19th century. If you have a problem with the MS patent then take them to court.

Available since at least 1986... (2, Informative)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163101)

That's the first I remember seeing it on a chat BBS, anyway. Lambda Switchboard software. At least two of the original systems are still online - I'm sure a few slashdotters know what I'm talking about. LOIS, TREX I, TREX II, and.. LOLA and LANE, I think?

The DOS-based Lambda software was replaced years ago with the Unix-based Mu clone, but it's still got the idle indicator in the 'F'ull who listing.

In a recent story.. (1)

56ksucks (516942) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163110)

..Microsoft is patenting the color blue for display on PC's. Microsoft now ownes the rights to the color code #0000FF. Anyone using this color in their operating system or web site will be in direct violation of the patent. Microsoft also has a patent pending for the letter "M". Which if successful not only means that non-Microsoft keyboards will be manufactured without the letter "M", but any operating system or software title that is not Microsoft may not use the letter "M" anywhere on the screen. This also applies to Web sites.


Prior Art.... (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163111)

Yahoo Messenger has been doing this for a while..

Old DECnet "phone" utility worked like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7163117) that it could be started and showed everyone's typing in realtime, back in the early 1980s. It also alerted you when someone else was trying to reach you or connected.

Some of the instant message antecedants go back quite a way and are very clearly ahead of anything Microsoft did.

Is there a way (1)

sgups (449689) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163119)

Is there a way for the common public (err I mean slashdotter type people) who are aware of prior art where they can tell the patent office
'listen you dimwits, here is prior art to the feature you just granted patent for. The company who applied for a patent would obviously not point it out to you. So we are doing it. Now revoke the f*&^&%n patent'

Lets not get into the story how the whole notion of patents is absurd.
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