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back to article Google lands patent for, um, estimating shipment time

Four months and nine days after April Fools' Day, Google was granted a patent for telling a customer when a product shipment will arrive. The patent, entitled "Electronic shipping notifications" and awarded this Tuesday, covers the calculation of the estimated time of a shipment's arrival based on an order's status and "other …

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Amazon?

Surely Apple would be the more tactical target?

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Stop

excuse me

I hold the patent for taking the pith out of stupid patents, that'll be 5 dollar pounds please!

Shades of Monty Python

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I hold the patent for...

suing the supplier if the shipment doesn't arrive as predicted by the patented technology. I see my payday looming close.

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Silver badge

Holy farting Mary ...

Can I patent a convenient switch, just within a doorway, always at the same height & distance from the non-hinge-side of the door-frame, that allows (me/others/everyone) to provide electrons to a lightbulb by reflex, thus lighting the room so (I/we/people) don't trip over anything in the dark?

The mind boggles ...

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Unhappy

Ha...

..in house we have a workaround...Called builders sparkees that put the switch on the hinge side.

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Silver badge

Probably not the electrician's fault ...

It was probably the idiot who hung the door after the wire went in ;-)

Or the rookie bleeding on the plans.

Or the daft git who ordered the wrong "pre-hung" door.

Or the guy who shipped the wrong "pre-hung" door.

Or ... I could go on and on. I'll spare you. But blaming Sparkie for that particular mistake is probably not in order.

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Very disappointing G

I'd love to believe Google's arguments against the software patent system (even though I know they're doing it out of self interest, I still believe it's a worthy cause) but when they go and do this sort of arsehattery it just makes them look like the 2-faced onanists they (and all large corporations) are. FAIL

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Pirate

Perhaps

Perhaps they are attempting to demonstrate the complete and utter crapness that is the US patent office these days.

We can but hope I guess . . . .

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WTF?

Let's all get in on the action!

It's all getting a little silly but I think that with this in mind I have an idea that I'm going to patent - delivering ordered items... WHILE FULLY CLOTHED! Yes, that's right. I'm going to patent wearing clothes while you deliver products. I think a number of logistics companies backed by some big names are going to be shelling out to use my idea or risk having their operatives turn up at people's houses stark naked!

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Coat

Letters, digits.

Could you also file a second patent as well, on delivery men being, well, men. That way, if my goods MUST be delivered by someone in the nude, at least it's going to be a woman.

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aksdjnasdkjn

... called Helga... with a beard.

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Holmes

Algorithm

What's the algorithm?

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Boffin

Algorithm

It appears to be that Google's servers will ping DHL's servers regularly the day before delivery, presumably noting the time at which it transitions to (say) DHL's warehouse nearest your house, and from that estimating the time of arrival based on this data and no doubt terabytes of previous experience with DHL in that area in true Google style.

Stupider things have been patented.

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Hmmm...

If it's DHL that's doing the delivery, then the estimated time software had better have some damned good isNAN Exception handling in place.

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Thumb Up

@CD001

I LOL'ed!

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WTF?

A modest proposal....

How much does it cost to acquire one of these POBOs (Patents Of the Bleeding Obvious)?

It might be an interesting Reg endevour to develop your own one (I can imagine that Patent specialists who read the Reg might provide some free support?).

Then, when you have a patent on telling the time of day from the height of the sun, or something equally obvious, we can all incorporate it in our work, and pay you for the privilege....

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Super.

How natural that google (a company who before last year didn't sell anything that could be delivered) will use this "already in the wild for quite a long time" idea to enrich all of their lawyers' lives.

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Bronze badge

title?

In a previous job, I had to do a patent search relating to unconvntionally powered cars. My favourite one I came across was for powering a car with a steam engine.

Like, you know, the first cars ever made, in the eighteen hundreds. Talk about prior art.

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WTF?

WTF

Why was this granted a patent?!

Unless I'm missing something ridiculous (and it's pre-first coffee of the day, it IS possible), Google can sue Amazon, and Amazon can *trivially* lay the smackdown of prior art for most of a decade on the filing.

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Facepalm

You have got to be kidding ...

'Nuff said

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FAIL

That's odd.

Most logistics businesses use a rather more complicated flowchart than that. That's just the little delivery estimation bit that sits in the shipping process. It should have realtime updates of transit delays in there too, everyone else does that and they'll never compete without it.

I wonder whose they copied it from?

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I'm afraid I've patented the process for mocking inane patent awards

My bill for $147 in actual damages and $796,456,123,357 in emotional trauma will be in the post (I'd send it via email, but someone in Nigeria has almost certainly patented the delivery of spurious bills through an electronic medium).

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No evil.

That and latest developments in their various suits, and you see there's no end to Google hypocrisy.

Truly the new Micro$oft.

Start typing G$$GLE.

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Far be it from me...

... to disagree with El Reg's signature snark, but I suspect that this filing is much more of a defensive move than offensive. Rather than Google vs. Amazon, I think this is meant to prevent (or at least forestall) Lodsys vs. Google.

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Silver badge

Yes, good idea let's trust them...

Same as we can trust them not to read our emails, trust them to open source Android code on release as they said they would, trust them not to sniff our wifi, and trust them not to take our photo's, or books for "end-in-itself" services generating them advertising revenue, like Google images or Google books. Same as if you were a competing business who owned and produced film content you could trust Google owned You Tube not to accept it from illegal sources and show it and use it to build business and their advertising model without asking your permission. They didn't have to be dragged by court action into controlling that at all did they.

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Idea

Ship all of our looters and rioters to the US. Lie to the US authorities about their criminal records, naturally. Then direct them all to torch the USPTO, and to beat and rob any "patent examiner" they come across.

For the price of a couple of charter flights to the states, this would solve us some enormous problems.

1. It would (temporarily, at least) stop any more stupid patents from being granted.

2. It would move the problem of the feral youth out of our jurisdiction, into one where......more extreme punishments are available.

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Pint

And a damn good idea at that!

Enjoy a complimentary pint from the Society of Wishful Thinkers :D

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WTF?

title

You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?

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Stop

I, I, Me, Me, Mine!

That's just not what patents are for. Grrrr.

These big corporations are like snotty little kids fighting over their toys. The progress of humanity is at stake here!

So the next time I want to know how long a parcel's going to take to get to me someone has to pay a Google tax?

Why don't they just patent eating or something?!

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A cunning plan

Perhaps Google have a competition going to see how long it takes to subvert the US Patent system with ridiculous patents. And if they happen to make money.

I don't know the US patent system, but I'll be there are thousands of flowcharts out there that pre-date google's existence by at least a decade, doesn't prior art trump this?

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Alert

Elementary, my dear Watson

Clearly Google is just trying to demonstrate how stupid the US patent system is.

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Texting...

"On my way. Will bring a curry. should be there about 7.."

*BEEP-BOOP!* THIS TEXT MESSAGE IS IN VILOATION OF PATENT#7,996,328. PLEASE REMAIN STILL WHILE LAWYERS ARE DISPATCHED TO YOUR LOCATION

Because, you know, there's no prior art here at all.

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FFS

I ordered something from CCL recently. They sent me a text giving the 1 hour timeslot that it would be delivered in. So now Google "owns" that process?

We've had a few problems lately in the UK with people arbitrarily reassigning ownership of things. How exactly is this different from what the USPTO does? It is time there was some hefty punishment for them when they do idiotic things like this.

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FAIL

still looking for evidence that the patent system is broken?

any way:

"Mark my word, dear reader. It won't be long before you read in The Reg about Google launching a suit against, say, Amazon, for infringing upon US Patent #7,996,328."

if I understand it correctly, it is not "we estimate the delivery in 2 to 3 days", but when the box is put on the delivery truck you will get an SMS or Email telling you that the package is on it way to your door.. so be ready.

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Unhappy

I already get those

from at least 2 companies I've been getting deliveries from for a number of years now

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Anonymous Coward

Me too.

Several companies have been doing it for ages with SMS and or email updates on progress through the delivery system.

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Title

I think it's pretty obvious what Google are doing... I wonder how many other patently obvious "inventions" they've filed so that once they are granted can be used to discredit the whole system.

P.S. - that's a funny phrase isn't it - "patently obvious"?

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Devil

It's a medical case

"Patenting Diarrhea". Can be deadly. Highly contagious. Often associated with severe nausea.

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Happy

And for the next patent...

Using toilet paper to wipe your arse. Probably plenty of patents out there on making toilet paper, pills for and against shitting and all that, but none on how toilet paper should be used. (Feel free to correct me on this.)

So the process to be patented would go: Sit on toilet - deposit faeces in toilet – take sheets of toilet paper – wipe rectal opening – deposit toilet paper in toilet.

Including flushing of the toilet would probably infringe on other patents, so I have omitted this. By implication, the patent covers shitting somewhere other than a toilet and using different paper, for example, printouts of patents.

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Trollface

I shall counter-patent

with my very own patent for using toilet paper. However my flow-chart will go as follows...

Sit on toilet - deposit faeces in toilet – take sheets of toilet paper – wipe rectal opening – deposit Toilet paper into portable wrapping

again im ommiting "put portable wrapping into bin" as that can be mixed in with the patents that relate to kitchen or garden waste.

Portable wrapping could mean plastic/paper/cloth bag etc.

am i doing patent right?

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Coffee/keyboard

New Keyboard Please!

"By implication, the patent covers shitting somewhere other than a toilet and using different paper, for example, printouts of patents"

Priceless :D

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Devil

Good grief!

This was one of the first uses of the telegraph - how much prior art do you need?

I notice that USPTO is an anagram of "to sup". I just hope they have the traditional long spoon available.

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WTF?

Whatever next?

Next they'll be patenting changing the logo on your website... oh they already have

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WTF?

Ridiculous

Quote from UK IPO:

Your invention must have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject

What's inventive about this?? Now, I wonder if we can get a petition going (ideally initiated through Google+) to get this thing rescinded...

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this is a title

Try reading the article dimwit - this is the US Patent office. the UK Patent office isn't quite so dumb... yet.

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Not sure this is a big deal

"Google loves to whine about how bogus the whole patent-protection racket is, even as they play the game to their own benefit."

Personally I don't have a problem with silly patents, until they're used to launch silly lawsuits. Google haven't done so yet, so I'll reserve judgement.

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Trollface

Cue Commentards!

.. tell us about how you will patent the act of breathing in and out, thus making you million$

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Don't forget...

That the actual protection is defined in claim 1. Which is this:

A method of providing notification of impending delivery of a shipment shipped by a shipper to a shipping address specified by a customer, comprising: periodically querying, by a broker computer system independent of the shipper and a merchant and which enabled the customer to purchase an item contained in the shipment from the merchant, a shipper computer system to obtain status information for the shipment with each query, wherein a periodic query of the shipment computer system comprises: requesting status information from the shipper computer system by providing a shipment identifier of the shipment to the shipper computer system; and receiving status information in response thereto; responsive to status information obtained with a periodic query indicating an estimated delivery date for the shipment, halting, by the broker computer system, the periodic queries and scheduling the restart of periodic queries of the shipper computer system a day prior to the estimated delivery date; restarting, by the broker computer system, periodic queries of the shipper computer system the day prior to the estimated delivery date to obtain updated status information with each query; responsive to updated status information obtained with a periodic query indicating that the shipment is out for delivery to the customer, halting, by the broker computer system, the periodic queries and calculating an estimated delivery time for the shipment based at least in part on the status information; and sending, by the broker computer system, an electronic message including the estimated delivery time to the customer.

So, not such a simple patent after all!

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Still, prior art.

*phone shop*

"Have you shipped my thingy yet?"

"No"

*wait a bit*

*phone shop*

"Have you shipped my thingy yet?"

"No"

*wait a bit*

*phone shop*

"Have you shipped my thingy yet?"

"No, but we'll send it next Thursday"

*wait till next Wednesday*

*phone shop*

"Have you shipped my thingy yet?"

"Yes. First class. It should be there tomorrow."

*wait till tomorrow morning*

*phone postman*

"Have you got a thingy addressed to me"

"Yes. I'll be round about 11"

*stop*

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Stop

A short point made long

That's merely the expression of the following; build SMS server which queries delivery partner's database (for a myriad obvious shipping details) and once requested information is passed back to SMS server forward SMS (or other) response to customer.

The lack of simplicity comes from the legalese description of an otherwise obviousa and simple process and not the process itself; any halfwitted sysadmin could knock up a system like that in day, it's no different from network server monitor software other than you;re monitoring someone else's database

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