Top patent applications from the companies you love [October 2012]

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 10, 2012
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Apple, Companies, Google, Microsoft

Welcome to this new monthly series here on Ghacks. Each month I'll be looking through all patent applications submitted by Apple, Google and Microsoft to find the most interesting applications from a user perspective. Patent applications may provide us with information about technologies that are already in use or will likely be used in the near future by the companies that applied for the patent.

Each patent application is described in one or two sentences that capture the main idea of the patent. Links point to the full patent application where detailed information are provided.



  1. Click disambiguation on a touch-sensitive input device - The surface of a touch-sensitive device may be used as a physical button, and this patent application describes a system how left and right-clicks can be distinguished.
  2. Ranking blog documents - Ranking blog documents based on relevance and quality of the documents. This may mean that the most relevant document may not be ranked first if another beats it because of its higher quality score.
  3. Customizing mobile applications - Describes a method to use user input to create a personalized application based on the user's preferences.
  4. Aggregating product review information for electronic product catalogs - A method to aggregate product data either by product identifiers if listed on a document, or by performing an Internet search to find an identifier that can be used.
  5. Mobile device-based bandwidth throttling - Moves the bandwidth throttling to the device based on instructions by the wireless provider. Currently, throttling is executed by the provider itself.


  1. Detecting script-based malware using emulation and heuristics - Running scripts through a virtual environment using emulation before it is executed on the user system.
  2. Phishing detection, prevention and notification - Among other things, detecting a phishing attack by parsing the web browser history and notifying the user via email or other forms of notification about it.
  3. Automated malware signature generation - Analyzing a file using various methods to determine whether it is malicious in nature. If it is, creates a signature automatically that anti-virus software can use to detect, block and disinfect.
  4. Self-sterilizing input device - Using a chamber and UV light to sterilize an input device.
  5. Remote disabling of applications - Revoking software licenses on machines, for instance those that get stolen so that the rightful owner of the license can use it on another system without having to purchase it anew.
  6. Taskbar media player - A system to control a media player via the taskbar.
  7. Reordering document content to avoid exploits - Reordering document contents to block embedded malware from being executed.
  8. Human user identification - Identifying human users with captchas.
  9. Speaker identification - Describes techniques to identify a speaker based on sample data.
  10. Using a proxy server for a mobile browser - Using a proxy server to improve the overall web browsing experience on a mobile client system by reducing the processing load on the device with the help of the server. Looks to me like an advanced version of Opera Turbo.

Would you like me to add another company to the list? Let me know in the comments.


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  1. DeadSkin said on November 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Number 10 from MS is fully implemented in Opera Mini/Mobile, at least for SymbianOS, I’ve used it since ’09 and for the whole time all the traffic was proxied.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Is not Opera only compressing and optimizing websites? As far as I understood the patent application, MS creates an image of the site and sends that to the device.

  2. slomem said on November 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    How about Intel and AMD ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      I can take a look but I’m pretty certain that it falls into the engineering category as well which I’m afraid is a bit too hard for me to go through.

  3. Miguel said on November 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Number 4 from Microsoft would be nice for some shared computers… and even some home computers of a few friends :P

    Being the guy they usually call to check or repair their computers, I sometimes have to see some “rough” and “dark yellow colored” keyboards that would really benefit from such invention. Or at least from having a proper cleaning from time to time…

  4. berttie said on November 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    How is it possible to get a patent for rounded corners on rectangles? It is hardly a new, novel idea.

  5. Paul(us) said on November 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Nice (new) series great the you included the links. Its quit a difficult read for me but thatch good because so I am learning.

  6. bastik said on November 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Nice series.

    On Apple: they patented to turn their packaging into a docking station. Nice idea.

    Patent for “rectangle with rounded edges”

    On MS:
    Without looking into it 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 seem to exist already.

    Especially point 3 is common, there are so many malware samples that it would be impossible to get new signatures out every x hours.

    Point 4 sounds nice, for something to have not for a patent. I’d like to see this for public terminals. Point 5 is a little scary, although people use the same on cars.

    Point 7 is interesting, would like to see it working. I for instance try to create PDF files without active content (PDF/A), but it looks like any other PDF file which could carry and exploit. I recreate an PDF file to scrub potential exploits, at least I hoe it helps, but in the end it requires trust.

    Point 9 works. Researchers have shown that it is possible to identify persons, you have samples of, during *encrypted* VoIP calls. Based on compression and audio format it’s possible to find out what is spoken.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      I decided to look at patent applications only, which usually become public 18 months after the initial filing. So, it is likely that some are already in use.

      Microsoft is one of the top companies submitting applications, it in fact is filing more than Apple and Google are filing together.

      I’m thinking of other companies that would make a good fit here. I’m no engineer so patent applications from Samsung or Nokia are not really that interesting for me, but applications by software companies like Facebook or Twitter might.

      Need more input though if that is of interest or if I should concentrate on the three big players.

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