New and Mischievous Patent Covers Instant Messaging

Yet another company has obtained a mischievous and wrong-headed software patent. This time the subject is realtime text communications, and you can find the patent here, and the press release here.

Lest you think that’s somehow not important, the patent arguably covers many aspects of instant messaging, including buddy lists and group broadcast. Unbelievable stuff.

A system for real-time, communication between a plurality of separated users comprising at least one communication device for use by each of the plurality of users and having an associated display, at least one communication network to which at least first and second users can connect by logging in at their respective communication devices.

Further included are at least one service record for the first and second logged in users, the at least one service record including user identification information and an associated location where each user is logged in. Computer software also is provided for causing display of a user identifier for at least the second user on the display of at least the first user’s communication device, and generating a signal in response to a user selecting the displayed second user’s identifier.

Further, there is collaboration initiation software that functions to cause the retrieving of necessary addressing information of the second user, and to cause the establishing of a connection between the first and second users, and thereby to enable real-time communication, including video images of at least one user and real-time text messages to be displayed on the display of at least one user.


  1. The point of patents was to be that a third party could take the patent and recreate the invention. This patent does nothing of the kind; it is simply a vomiting of ideas onto the written page–worse it simply describes a myriad of technologies already in existance.
    The patent system is broken–so broken, I think it’s beyond tinkering, it needs to be reconceived from the ground up. I’ve written my congressman and senators about this and have been summarily dismissed.
    The most disturbing violation of the patents laws is obviousness, the second is prior art. This patent clearly falls under the latter category. Teleconferencing has been around in both reality and concept for half a century. (And inventing the term Media Local Area Network about made me vomit, especially since the so-called MLAN turns out to be just a regular LAN.)
    (In addition to banning idea and design patents, life and discovery patents need to also be prohibited.)

  2. Can this patent actually be enforced? Isn’t there “prior art” (?) that would negate the patent?
    Thanks in advance.

  3. Hi Paul,
    Thnaks for this entry and link. What is your take on the issue of “Continuing patent application” (ref Wikipedia) here? As I found and blogged, the chain of continuations go up to 1993. Even this game may suck, but are the inventors (Collaboration Properties Inc.) still playing within the rule of the game? Got any insights from patent lawyers that may know more?
    P.S. I found some basic info and quick links for further research and kept them in my blog entry “The game of Continuing Patent Application – Instant Messaging”.