back to article Microsoft hopes to patent 'automatic goodbye messages'

Microsoft is trying to patent automatic goodbye messages, including "Have a great afternoon!" and "Ciao, Harry!" Last week, the Redmond software giant tossed an application at the US Patent Office that demands the exclusive rights to a tool that lets you "automatically send a goodbye message when ending a conversation" over IM …


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  1. Shane McCarrick


    If Microsoft want to patent the way we are allowed to finish our conversations- why don't we just throw in the towel and give them the list of all our colleagues and let them converse with them on our behalf. I'll hang-up on someone if I feel like it, ignore someone I had a falling out with over the weekend, or chat up my wife on IM as I see fit. This proposed patent is a good reason to hang up our keyboards altogether and actually start talking to people the good-old way again.......errrr most probably by Skype or mobile phone........

  2. Gannon (J.) Dick

    What would be nice

    What would be nice is if your computer would send an automatic "Goodbye Cruel World" message before downloading MS patches ...

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Full of crap

    They postponed Vista umpteen times and then released it full of bugs and looking like crap. Now, having nothing better to do they are sodding about trying to patent ideas that are, patently ridiculous.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    I thought that was what "Invalid Page Fault" and "your application has encountered a serious error and will be shut down" meant.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    They can build it into their own operating system so it can say things like "I'm very sorry but I seem to have just fucked up your day by crashing. I'm ever so sorry... Bye", and then blue screen on me.

  6. Dunstan Vavasour

    Of course

    If they try to make money from this patent, they'll infringe IBM's patent on making money from patents:

  7. James Le Cuirot

    If this goes through...

    It'll really show just how incompetent the US patent system is. As was mentioned, this has clearly been done by IRC for donkeys years and anyone who's ever used it would be able to tell you that. That's a lot of people.

  8. Timo

    Oh sure this is going to work out great.

    So lets see, how is this goiing to work?

    Lets say that you are IM-ing your friend Bob, and when you close your session window it will send a "Buh Bye, buh bye now" message. Then Bob closes his IM window which automatically sends you an IM of "Ta for now"...?

    Doesn't that then open up a new IM session window on your desktop? And then you close that window and the cycle repeats?

    Can I patent the idea of the intelligent widget that breaks that insane cycle?

  9. Olof P

    Bloody obvious

    or should be, to "anyone skilled in the field". Gaim (and I'm sure other IM clients) has for years given the option of sending a message (or doing most anything said program does, for that matter) whenever a buddy logs in/out/goes away/comes back/etc and this is just a tiny extension of that.

  10. BoldMan

    Problem is...

    the patent office will just say they should have submitted their own patent first!

    Which reminds me, I must submit that patent for ambulatory movement performed by moving one foot in advance of the other foot. Hmm.. I think I will call this "foot-centric ambulatory travel"

  11. Kym Farnik
    Gates Horns

    Inventive? NO! Prior Art? YES!

    M$ sux! Have they no shame?

    Customised logout messages have been around since at least the early 80's (was doing it on green screen systems).

    When is the invention? Notifications of people going on/offline have been in various chat system since... DOT

  12. Aubry Thonon

    Prevent rudeness?

    "With its new patent application, Ballmer and company hope to eliminate rudeness across the net"

    Sorry? Did I miss something? When someone doesn't turn up to a meeting or return your calls, having his/her secretary apologise to you doesn't make them any less rude.

    Ditto with this little idea - it just makes it easier for people to forget the niceties that are the lubricant of the social machinery.

  13. jubtastic1


    I don't get it, are they really that bloated and incompetent that they can piss away money on something like this without anyone with even passing interest in the target market remarking that it's already been done?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Yahoo messenger has something similar

    I was always fond of the one which says "Gotta go, my parole officer needs to use the computer."

  15. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Prior art


  16. Matt

    For a split second, it makes you...

    Sympathize with Musharef and Dick from King Henry VI. This smacks of lawyers needing to keep themselves employed with busy work at mother Micro.

    And we won't get into the waste of a college education -- never mind oxygen -- represented by the attornies in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the last 15 years.

  17. Graham Marsden

    They missed out...

    Share and Enjoy!

  18. Joe Greene


    Anyone remember IRC scripts from the mid 90's.. oh wait.. they still exist and are in use.. see mIRC for example, or dozens of other IRC clients.

  19. Steve Welsh
    Thumb Down

    Utter Bollox

    As I recall from an FTP server that I ran MANY years ago, it would greet anonymous users with 'What the fuck do you want?' and it would send them rejoicing on their way when they logged out with 'Good - Fuck Off'

    Should have patented it then, it seems.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    /quit "See you later"

    Nuff sed.

  21. David


    No one can say that Microsoft doesn't innovate after this one.

    This will silence the critics.

  22. Will

    Hope they get it

    Hope they get it...

    'the facility may select a goodbye message based on other aspects of the conversation, such as time of day, length of conversation, mood indicated by the user, and so forth."

    ...Cant wait for the first 'Land of the Free' law suit for 200million based on the MS gadget selecting 'I sick of you you boring little f**k, goodbye' based on the mood it had selected. Heh..maybe they will measure how hard you are punching the keys and choose your mood on that.

    Oh goodie, this will be fun

    Coat, Taxi..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    FGS, it's not "free reign" ...

    ... it's "free rein". You know, like horses have.

    You ugnorant got.

  24. Tuomo Stauffer


    I think this is Microsoft way trying to force the patent system change. Why else would they put a patent like that? It is one of those where you really can show how stupid the patent system has gone. I give them the credit making stupid patents, the more, the faster we will get a change where only real inventions can be patented. Now, copyright is different, say "here is your friendly Microsoft system and we hope you have a great day" is different but can't patent that.

  25. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Down

    @ /quit /quit See you later!

    Aliasing was the way to go (aliases.ini for those who use mIRC).

    Anyway, I'm sure with this move, it won't be long before Microsoft stary to copyright gerunds, articles, preposisitons, and other categories of grammar. Then we'd be liable to pay costs (or be branded pirates) for using a, an, the, on, at, in, or any word ending in "-ing". It really, really wouldn't surprise me.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it too obvious, and too old hat.

    Is it too obvious, and too old hat.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    give M$ a break

    They are only trying to build up a pile of patents they will use to attack GNU/linux ...

  28. John Angelico

    Prior Art??

    Sorry, but this application is stretching the terminology as well.

    Since when did "Ciao, Harry!" constitute art??

  29. Anonymous Coward

    The truth is revealed

    Having used the 'MSDN online concierge' recently I reckon it won't be long 'til Microsoft patent the whole of the conversation, seemingly as it is generated by some bot IM client.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why stop at goodbye message

    They should be able to claim no prior art to the welcome message that castigates you on start up for not shutting windows down properly when what really happend was that the bleeding thing decided to stuff itself up it's own arse.

  31. Slaine

    Suggestions for the "goodbye message"

    1) - F*CKIT, internet connection's gone again - BRB

    2) - F*CKIT, MSN has logged me out again - BRB

    3) - F*CKIT, clicked the wrong "X-it" - BRB

  32. TeeCee Gold badge

    Calling VXers..

    Roll up your sleeves lads, do some good for a change. What we need is a nice, contagious worm that updates the "auto disconnect message" settings on Windows machines to issue "FUCK OFF SHITHEAD" whenever they disconnect from MS tech support.

    Should be easy, whatever product this makes it into should have more holes in it than Swiss cheese if previous experience is anything to go by.

  33. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    eliminate rudeness across the net

    Well if that is really the goal, the means are simple : stop IE from working, stop Outlook from sending mails and pull the plug on MSN and all affiliates.

    Oh yeah, one more thing : Ballmer, shut up permanently.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    @ Boldman

    "...The patent office will just say they should have submitted their own patent first..."

    That's not how patents work. There doesn't have to be a prior *patent* to make an application invalid, it just has to have been shown before in the public domain: "prior art".

  35. Nìall Tracey

    Invalid Patent!

    There is no such word as "converser" -- does that mean the patent can be ignored?

  36. Ascylto


    Thanks to Anonymous but Cowardly Nonetheless for correcting Cade Metz's 'free reign'.

    Oh, Cade, while we're on the subject of ignorance, don't forget to post an anti-iPhone rant tomorrow, UK's iPhone Day!

  37. Brian Hitchen

    One you missed

    I believe they are also trying to patent the Personal Portable Environmental Modification Device (PPEMD) which is a brilliant concept. If you are walking and the environment turns "user hostile" and start raining, you can open this device, lift it so the "mini climate deflector" is over your head the the rain no longer falls on your head. I can't think why no-one thought of it before. Thank God for Microsoft. Oh, apparently, if you are currently infringing this patent, by using a non-Microsoft versioon of the device, you can get a personal license for just $100, of course this will only license the PPEMD for you and any attempt at covering another, unlicensed person will be an offence, but still, it IS progress.

  38. Anonymous John

    "It looks like you're trying to say goodbye.

    Would you like help?"

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Screw you guys..

    ..I'm going home.

  40. This post has been deleted by its author

  41. Mostor Astrakan

    Could be very useful...

    For those "brb, gotta reboot!" messages. It could even detect if you've installed a few fixes and say "OK, fixes installed. Rebooting. Pray for me!"

  42. Anonymous Coward

    How does the US patent system work?

    From casual observance it would appear that the only place they look for prior art is a bank statement.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Err... Prior Art?

    From memory (not got it on this PC), Trillian has implemented automatic goodbye messages for many years now.

  44. Mark

    In support of Boldman

    Although just published is enough to show prior art, the patent office don't look everywhere. They generally only look in the patent applications. If they had time, they'd maybe look at other sources.

  45. Dunstan Vavasour

    Prior Art

    There are only two ways to establish prior art:

    1) File a patent with an earlier filing date

    2) Publish

    Publishing means more than telling a friend, it effectively means that you have to present the invention in a reputable journal, or at a public symposium of repute. There has to be no way that the date of publication can be falsified.

    This application falls into the class of "ideas so trivial that a reputable journal would laugh if you tried to publish it" - which means that establishing prior art involves scouring journals to see where "automatic goodbyes" are mentioned as an aside.

    What's needed is a "Journal of the Bleeding Obvious" with user contributed content. Something like lulu could be used to print it, and copies catalogued in a friendly university library. Imagine the exchanges in court "Your honour, I submit as exhibit 2 the Journal of the Bleeding Obvious dated November 8th 2007".

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Stating the bleeding obvious

    With their penchant for passing laws named after people maybe our distant cousins on the other sied of the pond could push for a "Sybil's law".

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Prior art.

    When a SIP (VoIP) seesion ends, it sends a "BYE" command to the device. Does this count?

  48. Karl Lattimer

    not patentable

    there is prior art, gaim 1.3 I believe had a plugin to do just that.

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