Valentine’s Day 2017 – Patenting Love

With today being Valentine’s Day, we consider the concept of love, which can have different meanings to different people around the world. Does such universal ambiguity leave love too abstract for consideration as patentable subject matter?  Here is an issued patent that brings love straight into the claims:


U.S. Patent No. 9,269,077 “Address book autofilter”

This AT&T patent provides a filtering mechanism for an address book with focus on connections with social networking sites. An individual’s contacts can be ranked according to interactions with the contact, where messages with affective terms can cause a contact to be ranked higher.  Claim 12 brings the romance, where a processor can parse messages between an individual and their contacts to determine when the affective terms are “indicative of meaningful relationships” and “wherein the affective terms are indicative of expressing love.”  How is a processor capable of discerning whether someone is expressing love?  The patent specifies that “[a]ffective terms and phrases may be predefined and stored, e.g., in the database 80 and/or user profile 115, and affective terms and phrases may include love, like, miss you, see you soon, along with other terms understood to show affection.”  Perhaps some people could benefit from the cold and calculated understanding of love by our machines.


Is the AT&T patent more romantic than this patent application for proposing marriage to an individual?  We’ll let you decide.

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