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Google Patents Transportation Your Rights Online

Google Patents Telling Time 267

Posted by timothy
from the ok-ok-I'm-with-theo-on-this-one dept.
theodp writes "Will Google's battle against Microsoft and Apple over their use of 'bogus' patents result in greater scrutiny of its own IP holdings? Take Google's new patent on 'Electronic Shipping Notifications' (please!), which might pique the interest of Amazon.com, UPS, the USPS and others in the shipping business, since providing customers with guesstimates of what time The King of Queens will show up at their door with Christmas presents could now constitute patent infringement. From the patent: '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.' To help the USPTO understand its invention, Google supplied this diagram."
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Google Patents Telling Time

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:20PM (#37060656)

    Chill. It's Google doing this, so it must be okay.

    These are not the absurdly obvious patents you are looking for.

    • by AJH16 (940784) <aj@gccafBALDWINe.com minus author> on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:29PM (#37060798) Homepage

      Personally I wonder if they are intentionally patenting the absurd simply to point out how broken the system is. I know some people don't like ads, but at the end of the day, ads displayed on websites by the choice of those websites as a means of generating revenue is not evil. Trying to make the ads more targeted so as to be meaningful to the user is not evil. It is actually really kind of good. The deal is they take what I want to do anyway and use it to be able to get marketers that I might want to actually hear from to pay for what I want to use and show me other things I may want to use. That is not a bad deal for me, it is in fact far better than the classical model of throwing any old thing in front of me regardless of whether it could have anything to do with my interests and wasting my time while giving me almost nothing for it.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        This is Google poking fun at the patent office. They probably have hundreds of these in the pipeline, all with the same purpose: find out "How stupid a patent can you get?"
        • by zget (2395308)

          This is Google poking fun at the patent office. They probably have hundreds of these in the pipeline, all with the same purpose: find out "How stupid a patent can you get?"

          Now seriously. This is just on the side where I don't know if you're serious or poking fun at the Google fanboys who really believe that Google is some kind of new jesus on earth. If this was Microsoft patenting this there would be huge outcry about it. But when it's Google, it's suddenly "poking fun at the patent office" and trying to find some kind of higher meaning in it. There isn't one. They patented it because they also do specialize in such applications. It's strictly for business purposes, not some

          • by AJH16 (940784)

            In fairness, it probably is also for business purposes of protecting themselves from law suits from someone else patenting it. They have to defend themselves and if they can have more absurd ones and sit on them, then why not? When they start going after people for patent violations, then I will agree they are being evil, but until such a time as they use their patents in an offensive way rather than a defensive way there is no story.

          • by IrquiM (471313)
            Google-Jesus is not perfect, but he's certainly better than Microsoft-Jesus and Apple-Jesus!

            That being said, I'm an Atheist.
        • by icebike (68054)

          This is Google poking fun at the patent office. They probably have hundreds of these in the pipeline, all with the same purpose: find out "How stupid a patent can you get?"

          It could be, but they filed this in 2007. That is long before Google was on its current anti-patent abuse crusade. I doubt even Google was prescient enough to predict in 2007 that they would be bad mouthing the entire patent trolling industry in 2011.

          There is one interesting difference (which the summary and the linked article fail to mention):

          16. The system of claim 15, wherein the arrival prediction module is further adapted to determine actual delivery times for previous shipments to locations geographically proximate to the shipping address specified by the customer.

          We have all received shipment notifications via email, some of which were automated as far back as 1995 ( found in my saved mail folder from that date). But these w

          • Because this patent was in fact issued, the examiner must have thought that some aspect of it was dissimilar enough from existing practices to warrant the patent.

            AND not plainly obvious is where it tends to fall down.

          • Given that both pharmacies and pizza delivery have for decades told people electronically (i.e. by phone) when something will be ready for pickup or will arrive, merely moving the communications medium to the Internet does not make the idea new.
            • by icebike (68054)

              Given that both pharmacies and pizza delivery have for decades told people electronically (i.e. by phone) when something will be ready for pickup or will arrive, merely moving the communications medium to the Internet does not make the idea new.

              Easy when you live just down the block.

              Pretty hard when you ship across country to an address that might be 50 miles from the nearest UPS/FedEx office.
              Until you have an exhaustive database of geo-coded streets (Google Maps) and history of ACTUAL cross country deliver times, its strictly guess work.

              The fact that it the notification was delivered electronically was NOT what they were patenting. Go read the patent.

        • by Trillan (597339)

          So you're of the "This is Google, we can trust them" school of thought?

      • by bonch (38532) * on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:47PM (#37061070)

        Oh, I see, so when Google patents absurd things, it's a protest against the patent system. Like when they patented changing their logo for special events and holidays [pcworld.com] back in 2001. Thank goodness Google is rebelling against the patent system by patenting the invention of "periodically changing story line and/or special event company logo to entice users to access a web page."

      • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:16PM (#37063590) Homepage

        As usual, actually reading the patent helps. The patent is not on "shipping" or on "shipment notifications" and is obviously not on "telling time." It is on a process whereby a third party can analyze status information provided by the shipper, possibly in light of historical data, to predict an arrival time (not just date). This sounds like a new and useful service to me.

        As usual, I'm open to the suggestion that this is obvious, but could we at least begin our discussion with a remotely accurate description of what is claimed in the patent? Here's a tip for reading patents: glance at the abstract for context but know that it doesn't mean much; the meat of a patent is in its "Claims" section.

        I agree that there are problems with the patent system, but posts like these get in the way of having real discussions about them. This is totally unserious journalism from a site that will use any excuse to mock the US patent system, actual merits of the patent be damned.

    • I think Google is just trolling the patent office, myself.

      TROLOLO!! [youtube.com]

    • by Trufagus (1803250)

      As a Google fan this is exactly what I want them to do: get real and start playing the game.

      Google should maintain their general position that the patent system is badly in need of reform and patents shouldn't be used in place of competition, while at the same time playing the patent game like the rest of them.

      You might see that as hypocritical. I see it as working within the system as it is, while trying to change it.

      It's like their position on Flash: they don't really like it and are doing a better job t

  • by aardwolf64 (160070) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:20PM (#37060664) Homepage

    No! That means no more pizza tracking from Dominoes!!! :-(

    • Telephone systems are electronic. Calling up the customer by phone and telling them you'll be there around 3pm is therefore delivering an electronic message. There's prior art, but getting the messenger service or the pizza or the cable repair guy to actually show up around 3pm is a bit more tricky.

      The diagram was "Page 6 of 6" and showed steps 610-616 - perhaps the useful and novel part of the patent was in steps 1-500?

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:27PM (#37060752) Journal

        perhaps the useful and novel part of the patent was in steps 1-500?

        Perhaps. But where's the non-obvious part?

        • by tycoex (1832784)

          Does not the word "novel" basically include non-obvious?

          • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

            Not exactly, no.

            Nonobviousness means "sufficient difference from what has been used or described before that a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention would not find it obvious to make the change". Novelty just means there isn't prior art.

            http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/patent/obtain-patent/useful-novel-nonobvious.html [findlaw.com]

            So if a pizza chain decides that instead of calling you 10 minutes before the delivery guy arrives like their competition does, they'll have their deli

          • by sjames (1099)

            Literally any human action was at one instance novel. Most of them were perfectly obvious once the prerequisites were in place and an actual need arose. There's probably uncountable perfectly obvious actions that nobody has yet taken simply because the exact circumstances that would call for that action haven't come up.

            For an example, shooing the penguin out of the driver's seat before going to work would be completely obvious IF I ever found a penguin in the driver's seat. Since I have never had a penguin

        • Having wasted a lot of my life waiting for deliveries, I'd say the non-obvious part is in actually making it work to an accuracy of less than a Saturnian season.

    • Why on earth would you order a pizza from that dump, or one of the other God-awful chains, in the first place? Support a local Mom & Pop and starve the beast!

      If that was the only pizza place near me....I'd make my own. You'd have to be seriously deficient in the culinary arts to make a pizza at home that doesn't taste better, and pizza is one of the most retarded easy foods to make. Hell, put it on bagels if you can't handle the crust...10 minutes prep, 10 minutes cook time. Done and done.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        You still have to make the dough, which takes a lot longer than 10 minutes.

        • You can buy that pre-made, and even the grocery store pizza dough is usually much better than the crap Dominos puts out...

          Still, pizza dough doesn't take that long to make, and it freezes well.

      • by dknight (202308)

        I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I *love* dominos pizza.
        Seriously. I probably have 3-4 pizzas from dominos per week, on the low side. The things most people hate about dominos are precisely the things I like. Though I will admit, they have taken a downturn recently with their "improved" pizza.

        If I can taste the sauce, I'm not happy. Sauce is just there for the cheese to sit on. And the garlic/butter/whatever stuff that they're putting on their hand-tossed crust was good for the first week, but then j

      • Even with local pizzerias accessible, I still take the cheap and easy option of heating up a frozen pizza.
        I do like slathering pizza stuff on plain bagels though.
        In general, I'd agree that there's plenty of decent stuff that's reasonably easy to cook yourself, so why take the lazy and expensive way out?

  • From the supplied (extremely complex) diagram I can see that Google put a great deal of effort into this. Looks like Google is finally learning to play the silly patent game like the rest of corporate America.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      I kinda wonder if Google didn't apply for this patent just to show how thoroughly bad the patent system is broken. I mean, come on, this patent is absolutely ridiculous. It can't be that Google doesn't know about it already (it is a search engine company, after all). But if Google can go to court and hold up this patent as being granted, it pretty much calls into question the entire USPTO and every patent they have granted in recent years.

      Unless there is something more to this patent than meets the eye, whi

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by bonch (38532) *

        This is a great defense fans have invented here for Google. Every company should use it. "It's okay when we do it! We're just trying to show how bad the patent system is!"

        P.S. They also patented the changing of their logo for holidays [pcworld.com] back in 2001.

      • by icebike (68054)

        I kinda wonder if Google didn't apply for this patent just to show how thoroughly bad the patent system is broken. I mean, come on, this patent is absolutely ridiculous. It can't be that Google doesn't know about it already

        Oh, come on.
        It was filed in 2007, not last week.

        If you had read it, rather than rushing in to bad mouth google, you would have seen that there were elements that were unique back in 2007.

        Hint:: see claim #16.

        • by Wovel (964431)

          Expecting /. Users to read anything in context is like asking chickens to do calculus.

      • by Americano (920576)

        Really? Because I haven't wondered that at all.

        Google is happily trying to play both sides of the issue:
        - Poor besieged underdog when somebody else is alleging they infringe on something;
        - Really nice guys, and titans of innovation and industry whose ideas are just being jacked left and right by all their competitors, if they happen to hold a patent relevant to the domain;

        Do you really think for a second that if Bing started really chipping away at Google's search business, that Google wouldn't find a half

    • by Wovel (964431)

      It is from 2007. Google has been a big player in the patent game since they opened their doors.

  • too many cookie requests! so to screw them back, here's the article for all that its worth:


    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 Amazon.com, 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.

    man, last time I leave cookies enabled on FF's prefbar. sheesh! I had forgotton how NASTY some sites really are.

    fuck them. so here's the text - no need to visit their damned site.

  • called me on their phone/smart phone about making sure someone was at the house for my last two orders from Dell.

    • Nice! I might spring the $14.99 for proper shipping form Purolator instead of relying on Futureshop's default free Canada Post overnight delivery.

      Canada Post (the f-ers) left my brand new (free!) XBox on the step in full view of the street with a threatening thunderstorm. Fortunately the retired couple across the street noticed and picked it up before either the weather or someone untrustworthy did.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:32PM (#37060832) Homepage

    This is about as close as I've seen to a "System for accomplishing a well known task with a computer".

    This patent sounds like complete rubbish. I'm pretty sure that FedEx and several other companies have been giving me an estimate as to when my parcel will arrive for some number of years.

    • by marga (455344)

      Even though it's still obvious and quite plainly not patentable, what the patent says is that _the broker_ (i.e. not _the shipper_) 'pushes' the estimate the client.

      So, it's not the same as inputting your tracking number into a FedEx website, because it's A) a separate entity B) it's a push rather than a pull.

      That is not to say that other people don't do exactly this, but still, it's better to really know what's being patented here.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Had you read the patent you would have seen that systems from UPS and DHL were already in place when this patent was filed back in 2007.

      But those just guessed on the delivery time based on plane flights and truck time etc.

      This one contained a more real-time estimate based on ACTUAL transit times to similar geographic locations. This was not common in 2007. Back then you got a best guess.

      I understand that its fun to poke fun at Google and the patent office. And its a whole lot easier than reading the actu

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        This one contained a more real-time estimate based on ACTUAL transit times to similar geographic locations. This was not common in 2007. Back then you got a best guess.

        Yeah, but you're describing an incremental improvement to a process that's been in place for most of the last decade.

        Is that really the intent of a patent? I'm inclined to think not.

        However, the trend seems to be to patent something people have been doing for years but with one more component. That doesn't make for a novel invention, that m

        • by icebike (68054)

          This one contained a more real-time estimate based on ACTUAL transit times to similar geographic locations. This was not common in 2007. Back then you got a best guess.

          Yeah, but you're describing an incremental improvement to a process that's been in place for most of the last decade.

          Is that really the intent of a patent? I'm inclined to think not.

          However, the trend seems to be to patent something people have been doing for years but with one more component. That doesn't make for a novel invention, that makes for a minor refinement.

          And of course you are free to use such systems minus this one improvement.

          The wright brothers patented their airplane.
          Does that mean that boeing and airbus have nothing to patent?

          The technology of the world progresses by baby steps.

          Measuring ACTUAL delivery times of packages to NEARBY addresses is neither trivial or obvious. No one else did so back in 2007.

    • by eh2o (471262)

      The patent claims a "delivery estimate and notification system" that is calculated by a third party (a "broker system"), since FedEx/UPS is the shipper, not the broker of the sale, their current and pre-existing tracking systems are not in conflict with the invention.

      Moreover the patent claims that the utility of the invention is in that estimates provided by the shipper are typically inaccurate, forcing the receiver to wait for "days" at home, meanwhile playing hooky from work and school as to not miss the

    • by westlake (615356)

      This is about as close as I've seen to a "System for accomplishing a well known task with a computer".

      Everything the computer does could be done by simpler machines or with pen and paper --- assuming you have unlimited time, money and manpower.

      The tractor with a PTO and three-point hitch replaced the plow horse.

      The tasks are the same (preparing the ground, harvesting the grain, and so on.) But there are vast improvements in efficiency and safety, if you do it right.

  • Software patents are patently ridiculous. When I worked for a subsidiary of Microsoft, I was harassed (it's how I felt, being interrupted from writing code for what I perceived as silliness) into helping finding any angle in the code which could be turned into a patent, and to help with the serious-sounding language to describe the patent. I'm ashamed my name is out there attached to silly laughable software patents which purpose is just to perform the obvious.
  • We've had such package tracking in use for YEARS. Now, all of a sudden, someone can patent it? I wonder who will patent the wheel? How about a patent on picking one's nose or walking across a street? Aren't there rules that prevent such absurdity? Or is the entire patent office about as incompetent as the White House?

    • I do believe that the sentiment you express here is exactly what Google are hoping the patent office, lawmakers, etc, will finally realize. It's what I first thought when I read it. I also believe they already have a list of examples prepared when they get challenged on this new patent. I also think they will also patent all kinds of other silly things real soon. The sillier the better. The system is broken, clearly, and perhaps they think that if they lean on it a little it will come crashing down. Here's
    • Because it's not the same thing. What you see on UPS's website when you provide your tracking code and what Google is claiming is actually different.

      Not that I support this patent.

      • Mod parent up. I read the summary and thought "I've never had USPS or UPS notify me of an eta in advance." Seriously wish they would, then I wouldn't need these silly scripts that poll the tracking websites looking for changes.
    • by MiniMike (234881)

      We've had such package tracking in use for YEARS.

      This patent was actually filed in 1952, according to a Google search.

  • ...the life out of inventiveness.

    Sadly in the current "patent" climate, everyone have to obtain as many patents as they possibly can, bogus and all, simply to have enough of a patent portfolio to scare off competitors who might try and quench competition, as we see ... well all of them do at the moment.

    The best thing that could happen would be an immediate stop for new patents, and a permanent stop and revocation of all "software" patents.

    But because it'll be the best thing to happen, it never will.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:46PM (#37061054)

    Looking at the actual patent, what they're doing is figuring out based on historical delivery information a more accurate estimated time of day for the delivery and sending an email to the recipient with that information *on the day of delivery*.

    Basically it saves the recipient having to constantly check the tracking page for the courier.

    Not earthshaking, but more than is currently offered.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      I've often wondered why FedEx/UPS/USPS could never give me a better prediction than "sometime this day." (I think one of the three may have narrowed it down some, but not much.)

      They've got the same trucks doing mostly the same routes every day, they've got to be able to make some kind of general prediction about the time.
    • by jkcity (577735)

      orange in the uk use a delivery company called dpd that do this except instead of sending you an email they send you a txt message to your phone although I guess back end of working it out may be very different. while this is in uk and not usa I bets oemthing similar already exists over there.

    • Looking at the actual patent, what they're doing is figuring out based on historical delivery information a more accurate estimated time of day for the delivery and sending an email to the recipient with that information *on the day of delivery*.

      Basically it saves the recipient having to constantly check the tracking page for the courier.

      Not earthshaking, but more than is currently offered.

      I looked at the actual patent and I don't think you can be more wrong. Do you seriously believe that is novel and patentworthy? It's an obvious idea. Should Google be given a monopoly on it simply because they wrote it down and paid the filing fee for the patent office?

      We should blast Google for patenting something this obvious, just like we would have blasted Microsoft or Apple for doing so.

  • by beachels416 (1275784) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @03:48PM (#37061094)
    For those that are so quick to jump on Google about this (which I suppose is understandable these days), you would hope that one would actually read the patent, or understand that the only important part of a patent is the claims, NOT the abstract or diagram provided. Yes, Google has patented providing delivery notifications...but the important, relevant question is HOW it calculates and provides those notifications. For, example, Google has decided that it is more efficient to, during shipment, halt the queries to the shipper's computer system until the day before the expected delivery date, then resume so as to provide up-to-date notifications. It has also claimed analyzing historical data of shipping routes and times to determine, down to the minute (theoretically) estimates of an arrival time, not based on what the shipper says, but what it has demonstrated in the past. Finally, UPS or other shippers could not possibly infringe because the patent clearly provides for a "broker" computer, which is explicitly not the shipper's computer, to query the shipper's database. The point is that Google has a novel idea here, and has defined it as such. Boiled down to its essence, it provides shipping notifications just like others do. But ice and a/c units both cool air, coffee cups and vases both hold liquid, dial-up and cable both provide access to the internet. The method is what is important, not the end result. To infringe a patent, one has to infringe on all claims. While some claims may be obvious, it is the (sometimes few) non-obvious ones that actually matter. Google has provided some of those non-obvious, novel claims (at least it appears to have) and it seems to have a valid patent.
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Welcome to any Apple-themed post, except this time it's Google.

      You didn't expect any of these armchair patent experts to actually *read* more than the headline before offering their infallible expert opinion, did you?

      Also, hilarious that we have apologists out for Google too. When Apple patents something absurd it's "evil, greedy, anti-competitive", but when Google is perceived to do the same they are "doing it as a protest to put a spotlight on absurd patents". Nice hypocrisy, slashdot!

    • I was all with you, till you said "To infringe a patent, one has to infringe on all claims". That is actually not true.
      It depends on how the patent is structured and how nice the court is when the patent is tried there (Hello Texas!).

      For example, typically claim one says "Claimed is the same thing you all are used to, but with an improvement".

      Then claim 2 says "The object of claim one, with yet another improvement", then claim 3 either says "The object of claim 2, with yet another improvement" or "The objec

    • by houghi (78078)

      I have used it and it works. Based on past history and experience I can say with confidence and with scientific proof: The check is in the mail and will be there tomorrow.

    • The point is that Google has a novel idea here, and has defined it as such. [..] To infringe a patent, one has to infringe on all claims. While some claims may be obvious, it is the (sometimes few) non-obvious ones that actually matter. Google has provided some of those non-obvious, novel claims (at least it appears to have) and it seems to have a valid patent.

      No, you need to infringe at least 1 of the claims. Not all of them. (You do need to infringe on all the elements in a single claim, though.)

      Claim #1 here is absurdly generic. This is yet another example of the patent office granting a ridiculously obvious patent.

      So then how is your comment modded to +5 informative? Can it be that here on Slashdot we are so pro-Google that we praise them for filing and receiving bogus patents? Please tell me it hasn't really come to that!

    • How is this different from the delivery man who phones you up on the delivery day to say, "I'll be there about 2:00?" You're getting the notification on the day of delivery, and I'm sure he's taking historical information (his own experience) into account when generating the estimate. Ok, it's a human rather than a computer, but a human brain is functionally equivalent to a computer in this situation. Simply substituting an electronic computer for a biological one does not make something patentable. The
    • by Cato (8296)

      "To infringe a patent, one has to infringe on all claims."

      Wrong - you only need to be covered by one claim in a patent to infringe the whole patent. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_infringement#Elements_of_patent_infringement [wikipedia.org] (2nd paragraph).

  • Something which seems to be overlooked by most of the commenters is the fact that the human readable description of a patent does not define the patent. The part you need to read to really understand a patent is the claims. Some patents which seem fairly obvious when reading the title, and description of the patent are actually very narrow when looking at the claims. Other patents seem fairly narrow when reading the description whereas the claims are very broad.

    I'm not a lawyer, so take the remaining parts

    • by dtmos (447842) *

      This.

      Claim 1 breaks down like this:

      1. A method of providing notification of impending delivery of a shipment shipped by a shipper to a shipping address specified by a customer, comprising:

      (a) periodically querying, by a broker computer system independent of the shipper and a merchant and which enabled the customer to purchase an item contained in the shipment from the merchant, a shipper computer system to obtain status information for the shipment with each query, wherein a periodic query of the shipment computer system comprises:
      --requesting status information from the shipper computer system by providing a shipment identifier of the shipment to the shipper computer system; and
      --receiving status information in response thereto;

      (b) responsive to status information obtained with a periodic query indicating an estimated delivery date for the shipment, halting, by the broker computer system, the periodic queries and scheduling the restart of periodic queries of the shipper computer system a day prior to the estimated delivery date;

      (c) restarting, by the broker computer system, periodic queries of the shipper computer system the day prior to the estimated delivery date to obtain updated status information with each query;

      (d) responsive to updated status information obtained with a periodic query indicating that the shipment is out for delivery to the customer, halting, by the broker computer system, the periodic queries and calculating an estimated delivery time for the shipment based at least in part on the status information; and

      (e) sending, by the broker computer system, an electronic message including the estimated delivery time to the customer.

      If one does not do even one of these five elements, one doesn't infringe on the patent (well, there's the other independent claim 11 to review, too).

      Before people get worked into a lather about the latest patent scandal, may I suggest that we all mentally add the phrases "A method of. . ." or "An apparatus for. . ." to the title of every patent we see? Because that's really what is meant.

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