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Can URL Transaction Tests Be Patented? 12

Posted by Cliff
from the is-this-for-real? dept.
amazedByTheUSPTO asks: "There is a new patent by Freshwater that covers eBusiness Transaction Monitoring. In reading the patent, I was surprised that the U.S. Patent Office even issued this one. If memory serves me right, Big Brother has been doing this for way longer than what the patent states. Because of this patent, am I going to pay for my home grown scripts that test to see if my server is up and running?
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Can URL Transaction Tests Be Patented?

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  • Some time ago there was an article on /. about an Patent Horror Gallery [slashdot.org]. This could/should be just one of them.

    Maybe someone should Patent HyperLinks :)


    --

  • BT has already done that.

    Hey, you didn't pay me the royalties on my breathing patent.

  • They are patenting the process for testing web sites. They are being somewhat specific and vague. Specific because there are details in the abstract, but vague because some of the details still leave the patent very broad. For example:

    analyzing the HTML for errors storing results in the database - Store in an RDBMS? or is a text file considered a database? Also is the analyzing on the content returned or the checking the HTTP header? Or do they imply HTTP header is part of the HTML which it is not.

    . Preferably, the test configuration ... - Preferably? Heh? How can you get a preferably in a patent? Either you do it or you don't. Then you file 2 patents. Preferably leaves wide open whole for various implementations which violate the patent.

    It is somewhat specific because it takes the HTML coming back and creates a new HTTP request based on the response. (Sounds like a bot now) ...

  • It seems like linkbot and similar commercial programs could also get a problem here, or am I wrong?
  • Yeah ... that is my thought too. Now I'm no legal expert here but in reading this vaguely written piece of work other things that could get included would be:
    • Load test tools
    • Search engines
    • Caching software
    This just seems like a big mistake by the USPO. Sure I think inteluctual property should be protected but there are some reasonable limits.

    An this one seems way out of bounds and not reasonable at all!

  • Because patents allow for this - patents exist for the exact purpose of allowing you to see how something works, and actually building it, to gain a "hands-on" knowledge of the device/process patented. Once you have that knowledge, you can then make improvements on the existing device, submit the improved version, and reference the original patent in your abstract (IIRC - IANAPL).

    It is only when you try to sell or distribute the device in some way that it goes into patent infringement. So your homegrown scripts should be fine (if you were really worried about them at all), but if you decide to put them on SourceForge - well, good luck...

    Personally, I think this patent is a bunch of bull, I am certain there is plenty of prior art...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • You have a point, AC - maybe I should've made a statement to the effect that "you are fine as long as you don't use them for commercial gain". That seems better.

    I was assuming (a bad thing to do), that when the poster said "home-grown", he meant he used them from home to monitor a remote server (that he owned), for no commercial gain.

    I can see how this would be a thorny thing in a commercial environment.

    I agree, this is a pretty lame patent...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Too bad software patents don't require the release of source code, which is the true equivalent to releasing design diagrams for machines.
  • If you wrote the other comment, can you point me to the relevant bits of law regarding this? I would be very interested in reading about it...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Cna you point to information regarding this? I would be very interested in reading about it.

    Mainly because of VR - VPL locked up glove patents (among others) - which is why there aren't many gloves as input devices (at least in the VR environment). I published a text file detailing how to "homebrew" a VPL-like glove (after seeing publically available information). By your statement, I would be infringing.

    Just wanting to know if I really am...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • That was a different coward. Than the earlier threat ... I too am interested in reading about this being relevent. Thanks
  • The patent clames:
    1. A method for testing a web site comprising:
    • formulating a test configuration file comprising a series of test inquiries for a web site to be tested
    So in my prefs.js configuration file for Mozilla, my homepage is setup to look at the / doc on my companies web site.
    • initiating an HTTP communication to form a connection with said web site;

    Every morning at work I fire up Mozilla. Upon starting, Moz' automatically contacts the webserver, requesting the home page (as per my configuration file).

    • repetitively communicating with said web site by:
      • receiving HTML from said web site;
      • analyzing said HTML for errors and storing results in a database;
      • and formulating a new HTTP communication based upon said received HTML and said test configuration file.

    If the document doesn't exist, then I'd be alerted to the error condition with a 404 message.
    If the home page exists (as per my prefs.js config file), Moz' downloads the content, and chances are it stores the document in a datbase [it's cache].
    Then Moz' analyzes the HTML content, repetitively executing more HTTP requests for any images, scripts, and other objects referenced in the HTML, because Moz's configuration file says to automatically get images.
    If an image doesn't exist, I'm alerted to the problem with the generic-busted-graphic image.

    Gosh-golly, it sure is nifty that Mozilla violates the First claim of the patent.
    *sigh*
    I guess it's gopher[?] [everything2.com] for everyone.

Mirrors should reflect a little before throwing back images. -- Jean Cocteau

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