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Chat Robot Survey

The A. I. Foundation presents this overview of the chat robot industry as a unique service sponsored by our members. We include a database not only of AIML Bot projects but also of closely related AIML spinoffs, as well as proprietary non-AIML languages and companies, and a survey of chat robot software patents.

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Copyright © A.L.I.C.E. AI Foundation, Inc.

Chat Robot Patents


"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.

Company: IpLearn
URL: http://web.ipventure.com
Principal: Peter Tong, Partner
Remark: Sued Ask Jeeves in 1999
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 5,884,302

Company: Leverance
URL: www.leverance.com
Principal: Chuck Cosby - CEO
Remark: First invented in 1976.
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 5,682,539

Company: MIT
URL: http://start.csail.mit.edu/
Principal: Patrick Winston, Professor
Remark: Sued Ask Jeeves in 1999
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 5,404,295 and 5,309,359

Company: ScanSoft (SSFT)
URL: http://www.scansoft.com/
Principal: Paul Ricci, Chairman
Remark: Sued Voice Signal in 2004
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 6,501,966

Company: Colloquis (Formerly Conversagent)
URL: http://www.colloquis.com/
Principal: Stephen Klein, CEO
Remark: formerly ActiveBuddy, Acquired by MS 10/2006
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 6,430,602

Company: Verity, Inc. (VRTY)
URL: http://www.verity.com
Principal: Anthony Bettencourt, Chairman and CEO
Remark: formerly Nativeminds, Neuromedia
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 6,314,410

Company: Conversive, Inc.
URL: http://www.conversive.com/
Principal: Rob Rappaport, President and CEO
Remark: formerly Virtual Personalities
Patent: U.S. Patent Pending

Company: Eidoserve
URL: http://www.eidoserve.com/
Principal: R. F. Culbertson III, CEO
Remark: Based in Pittsburgh
Patent: U.S. Patent Pending

Company: Philips Electronics (PHG)
URL: http://www.usa.philips.com/index.html
Principal: L.C. van Wachem, Chairman
Remark: Inventors based in U.S. Division (N.Y.)
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 6,795,808; 6,731,307, and 6,721,706

Company: Neuric Technologies, LLC
URL: http://www.neuric.com
Principal: Visel; Thomas A.
Remark: Method for inclusion of psychological temperament in an electronic emulation of the human brain
Patent: U.S. Patent No. 7,089,218


Last update: 10/20/07


The chat robot industry survey is a work in progress and remains incomplete. If you know of a project or company that should be listed here but isn't, please send a message to info@alicebot.org. Be sure to include the project name, URL, principal (such as President, Chairman, CEO, Director, or Project Leader), and a brief remark describing the project or its goals.

Include the patent number(s) also if you know it.

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