Nov, 27 2012

The patent wars never cease to push forward into realms previously thought too ignorant to explore. While tech companies blindly register for thousands of patents ranging from painfully general to weird and obscure, the US Patent and Trademark Office seems to approve said patents at an equally alarming rate. The most recent? A patent filed 2 days ago by Microsoft, in an apparent attempt to secure exclusive rights to a product Google already has in development: Project Glass.

Quoted directly from the patent filing:

A system and method to present a user wearing a head mounted display with supplemental information when viewing a live event. A user wearing an at least partially see-through, head mounted display views the live event while simultaneously receiving information on objects, including people, within the user’s field of view, while wearing the head mounted display. The information is presented in a position in the head mounted display which does not interfere with the user’s enjoyment of the live event.

I’m not quite sure how such a claim would even be patentable. Someone could accomplish the above by taping their phone to their head. It would be a pretty terrible product, but the point is the general concept is nothing original. Especially considering Google has already locked up a bunch of patents directly related to Project Glass.

WAIT. Microsoft received their patent on November 22nd, 2012 whereas Google’s patent was issued on May 22nd, 2012 but Microsoft actually FILED their patent request earlier. Microsoft’s submission for their “EVENT AUGMENTATION WITH REAL-TIME INFORMATION” came in May 2011, a full 5 months before Google’s “Wearable display device section”.

This could get sticky, and if eventually litigated (which we’ve come to expect), chances are these patents will come down to the utility and design more than the concept alone.

A couple interesting notes, though, are Microsoft’s examples of how the product may be used, mostly in conjunction with live sporting events and concerts. Take for example this picture of how Microsoft’s Google Glasses (note: sarcasm) would work at a baseball game:

Several problems here. First of all, the Yankees don’t lose to the A’s. Second of all, Willie Randolph is at bat, a ball player ¬†who hasn’t played in the Major Leagues in 2 decades. Perhaps that’s part of the strategy… you know, maybe they’ll think we drew this picture twenty years ago and grant us the patent.

Here’s another example from Microsoft used at a football game:

[0001] Fans of live sporting and artistic events have enjoyed various types of information which is provided on different displays to supplement the live event. This supplemental information is provided both when the user is in attendance at the event and when the user views the event on broadcast media. One example of this is the augmentation of football games to display a first down marker superimposed on a playing field in a broadcast television event, and the broadcast of replays both on broadcast television and large displays at the venue of the event.

Interesting indeed, but telling us how a developer might leverage the product to create an app for Project Glass doesn’t make it patentable. Especially considering that whole yellow first down line thing is already patented.

[Via WinSource, LaPresse (thanks Alexandre!)]

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