Microsoft hopes to patent 'automatic goodbye messages'

Microsoft is trying to patent automatic goodbye messages, including "Have a great afternoon!" and "Ciao, Harry!"

Last week, the Redmond software giant tossed an application at the US Patent Office that demands the exclusive rights to a tool that lets you "automatically send a goodbye message when ending a conversation" over IM and VoIP services.

When you close your IM client, for instance, the tool could instantly send mini-missives to all your buddies. And you'd have free reign to customize these messages.

"As an example, the facility may select a goodbye message based on the identity of the converser," the patent reads, in standard patent-speak. "As another example, the facility may select a goodbye message randomly. As another example, the facility may select a goodbye message based on other aspects of the conversation, such as time of day, length of conversation, mood indicated by the user, and so forth."

The patent even describes what the missives might look like. "Examples of such goodbye messages are: 'Have a great afternoon!', 'Sorry, I have got to go!', 'Have a terrific day!' and 'Ciao, Harry!'".

You could argue that IRC clients have offered this sort of thing for years, but that hasn't stopped Microsoft. With their new patent application, Ballmer and company hope to eliminate rudeness across the net.

"Ending a conversation without first sending an appropriate communication or other content can sometimes be misunderstood by a converser with whom a conversation is ended," the application continues. "As an example, a converser may be insulted when the user terminates a conversation without saying goodbye or may consider it to be rude to end a conversation abruptly without a communication that the conversation is ending."

News source: The Register

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19 Comments

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If you're logging off, why say goodbye twice? And most times when I log off, I close the program with rightclicking goodness; I expect the ****er to close right then and there...not spend 15 seconds sending messages.

Stupidity at its finest... I can't imagine what sending messages to everyone listed in a corporate network would do if it was used in a corporate environment. Not only that, but even on a personal account it would be ridiculous. I log off and it messages all of my buddies with various messages, even if I specify a message with NO CONTENT. I can imagine what it would be like:

George -
*rpgfan3233 (timestamp) says "Ciao, Harry!" and signs off.*

Nick -
*rpgfan3233 (timestamp) says and signs off.*

I also have an average of 15 friends signed on at any time that I'm signed on. What a horrible thing that would be to do to my friends... While I do agree it could be useful, from the text that I read, the concept could use a bit of reworking.

I think it's a great patent.

If no one has it in their software in this context, then it's perfectly valid. How can you argue with the validity of it?

Just because it may seem obvious [ now that Microsoft have pointed it out ], it doesn't invalidate the patent.

lunamonkey said,
I think it's a great patent.

If no one has it in their software in this context, then it's perfectly valid. How can you argue with the validity of it?

Just because it may seem obvious [ now that Microsoft have pointed it out ], it doesn't invalidate the patent.

IRC has had quit messages for years; it's the same thing.

FloatingFatMan said,
IRC has had quit messages for years; it's the same thing.
Not the same. IRC is a different system than IM.

While I think this is a ludicrous thing to try to patent, to the patent system, this is a patentable idea. It doesn't matter if the general "process" has been used before, as long as this implementation hasn't been patented before. You can patent the same result with different methodology/medium, depending on the wording and scope of previous patents (in this case, I know of no previous patents).

markjensen said,
Not the same. IRC is a different system than IM.

While I think this is a ludicrous thing to try to patent, to the patent system, this is a patentable idea. It doesn't matter if the general "process" has been used before, as long as this implementation hasn't been patented before. You can patent the same result with different methodology/medium, depending on the wording and scope of previous patents (in this case, I know of no previous patents).

There doesn't need to have been previous patents, just prior art. I think IRC quit messages could be considered prior art, unless the patent is very tightly worded, in which case it's value is decreased.

eAi said,
There doesn't need to have been previous patents, just prior art. I think IRC quit messages could be considered prior art, unless the patent is very tightly worded, in which case it's value is decreased.
Exactly. If this patent is workded as an "enhanced new feature" to an "IM system", then you might be limited in scope to prior art specific to Instant Messaging.

It's all the lawyers' fault! :P

Except that IRC is IM as far as messaging goes, only with the default destination switched:
IRC defaults to "send message to all recipients in group" == channel message
IM defaults to "send message to particular recipient" == private message. If IM sends to multiple recipients, then you're in a channel.

An IM conversation is exactly the same as a private invite only channel in IRC, hence prior art on quit messages.

With their new patent application, Ballmer and company hope to eliminate rudeness across the net.

Ballmer! Protector of the innocent! Fighter of the.. internet meanies?

That's really lame. Surely you can't patent anything like this. It's like an out of office email reply.

The sooner they get rid of software patents the better.

Oh, you can apply for a patent on a great many things!

And some of these will get through and be approved.

At that point, it can take a court battle to determine validity, at great expense. If the battle can be made to draw out a long time, than he with the most money wins.