"We invented interactive agents. Anybody using his or her own tools (to make bots) is obviously using our technology without paying us to license the server, for example. We are a startup company and we have to protect our future. That's basically why we secured this patent"--ActiveBuddy (now Conversagent) founder Tim Kay
It may seem absurd that you can get a patent on an idea that is as old as ELIZA, for which there is much prior art in the public domain. But that has not stopped a variety of entrepreneurs for applying for patents on natural language technology nor has it stopped the United States Patent and Trademark Office from granting them. In fact, before 1980 it was legally impossible to obtain a patent on software or a mathematical formula. Even today many people consider computer programs to be laws of nature that should not be subject to laws of property that govern mechanical or creative invention. What is more, it is one thing to write a patent that claims an invention along the lines of "a computer program that types a natural language reply in response to a natural langage query"; it is quite another thing to actually implement such a program.
Most of the information about patent lawsuits we've learned from reports published in the press. Usually these cases are reported when the cases are filed. Rarely is anything reported when the cases are settled. This is due to the fact that few patent disputes ever go to court. They are most often settled in out-of-court agreeents, which usually include a contract that forbids the parties from disclosing the terms of the settlement. So it is possible to search the web and learn about cases that have been filed, but it is hard to learn about the settlements except by word-of-mouth or gossip. On this site we have published only information that can be verified by press articles published elsewhere on the web. We make no claim to be offering legal opinions or advice.[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Include the patent number(s) also if you know it.
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