March 3, 2008 | By Emily Berger

Wanted: Prior Art to Bust Firepond/Polaris Patent

The Patent Busting Project fights back against bogus patents by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders. We've successfully pushed the Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine four of the ten patents on our Most Wanted list, and now we need your help to bust another.

A company called Polaris has a patent on a method for telling whether or not an incoming message (e.g., an email) is a simple, standard request that can be answered automatically, and, if so, for answering it. The method processes incoming messages by consulting two databases: a database of IF-THEN rules, and another database of previously classified messages (cases). In other words, Polaris claims to have invented the basic concept of almost any technology that is used to determine whether the message can be answered automatically or must instead be forwarded to a human being.

To bust this overly broad patent, we need to find prior art that describes a product made before 1997 in this way. Take a look at the http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/prior.php?p=firepond">description and please forward it to anyone you know who might have special knowledge related to natural language processing. Prior Art can be submitted here.

We anticipate that a lot of useful prior art will lie in the area of helpdesk automation or customer service automation or in server software. Consider specifically:

  • Helpdesk automation systems that automatically respond to user queries or
  • Systems that help customer service operatives identify solutions to user problems by means of both rule and case databases.

Where to send information on prior art:
Email: priorart@eff.org
Web submissions: http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/contribute.php?p=firepond


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