Google’s battle against Microsoft and Apple over their use of “bogus” patents promises to result in greater scrutiny of its own intellectual property holdings. And we have a hunch that, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and pretty much everyone else in the shipping business will be highly interested in this new addition to Google’s portfolio.

The search giant this week was awarded a patent on electronic shipping notifications, of all things. Here’s the abstract, explaining the approach.

A broker facilitates customer purchases from merchants. Shippers ship shipments containing the purchases from merchants to the customers. A shipper identifies a shipment using a shipment identifier. The broker uses the shipment identifier to obtain the status information for the shipment from the shipper. The broker analyzes the status information in combination with other information to calculate an estimate of the time that the shipment will arrive at the customer’s address. The broker sends an electronic message, such as an email or text message, to the customer prior to the estimated shipment arrival time to inform the customer of the impending arrival. The customer can thus arrange for someone to be at the shipping address to receive the shipment at the estimated arrival time.

Of course, the real test is whether Google will assert the patent against anyone who does something similar, as Microsoft and Apple are doing against Android with their own patents.

In the meantime, we’ll be left scratching our heads over the need to patent something like this.

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  • Derek Gathright

    > Of course, the real test is whether Google will assert the patent against anyone who does something similar

    True, that is the real test.  But the threat is still enough to dissuade some companies from trying something similar.  As long as the threat is there on something so trivial, it’s a major disservice to the software industry and makes Google’s claims against Microsoft & Apple a farce.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like they are seriously turning up the heat dude.

  • syawal

    what a BS patent!

  • Disgusted

    I am disgusted.  Google cannot own the world.  Who is going to step up and create innovation outside of Silicon Valley?  I challenge you all!  It’s time for some new players. 

  • Anonymous

    FUD at it’s worst.Google has sued all of one party over IP claims- the makers of the Cyanogenmod ROM over their inclusion of YouTube and Google Map applications which they aren’t licensed to distribute (this was back in 2009). True this is copyright infringement as it gets, but if you want to talk patent or trademark, please cite even one such occasion.

    • Guest
      • Anonymous

        I stand corrected- on trademark infringement lawsuits. Can you find one on patents? :)

        • Guest
          • Anonymous

            Look again, I don’t see a patent infringement lawsuit initiated by Google in those search results.

            The 4th result for (re: Geotag) where Google was plaintiff was to invalidate a patent, not to “protect” on their own patents from being infringed. That said, I don’t even know if Google sued Geotag, or if this is some motion they present to the court to have the USPTO reverse a patent, but not necessarily served to Geotag as a defendant.

            But that’s beside the point that GeoTag was the company that appears to have originated the action, forcing Google and Microsoft to defend themselves against a patent infringement lawsuit.

  • Peter H

    To my mind the real issue is the patent office has completely failed at testing patents for obviousness before issuing them. The problem with this particular patent — like so many like it — is that it is something that anyone skilled in the art would come up with.  It’s not “novel” as required by law. 

    The patent on RSA’s elliptic curve security mechanism is a good example to me of a non-obvious algorithm that requires genuine inventiveness and is worthy of patent protection.  The idea of sending shipping notifications absolutely does not.

  • Bewildered

    Read the patent… this article is grossly misrepresenting the patent.  It is for notifying a person by email, phone or text message 30 minutes before a package is to be delivered to their address.  Allowing them to get home to sign for it.

    Taking an abstract out of context without reading the entire method outlined in the patent os irresponsible journalism.

  • krisha

    The US patent system is obviously broken.

  • ASDF


  • Anneo Nymous

    Some shipping companies like FedEx can and do already do this. Didn’t know patents can be approved for things already done/invented.

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