24 February 2015

The E-Bible

This patent, applied for in 2004, and published in 2006, is so glaringly obvious, that I don't see how it could possibly have flied in 2006, let alone 2004.

The INVENTION: The E-BIBLE™ offers consumers a rechargeable, battery powered, hand held, electronic personal assistant with interactive software enabling a user to electronically access bible verses.»

In 1999, an acquaintance of mine had a Palm Pilot. I don't remember if the Bible was a text file, or an application for it. Either way, it was a rechargeable, battery powered, hand held, electronic personal assistant with interactive software enabling a user to electronically access bible verses.

Furthermore, contrary to the claims within this non-patent, this non-inventor did not invent E-Bibles. 

Franklin has been selling electronic Bibles since at least 2000. Going by the randomly downloaded manual, I'd suggest that they were doing so by 1993, and possibly as early as 1989. (NIV copyright dates are 1973, 1978, 1984.)

Thankfully, the the inventor of US6887081 B1 let his patent application lapse.  Otherwise we'd all be in trouble.

Patent # US 20060123352 A1

23 February 2015

Didn't Logos have this functionality back in 2007?

In this post, I'm railing against yet another non-patent that should have been rejected on sight, and not only because it is blindingly obvious to all.

I'm using Logos as the example, because I think it had most of the features described herein, back in 2007.  Regardless, I am fairly confident that a search of the Logos archives back then, will show that users were asking for them.  Some, perhaps most of the listed features were discussed/requested on the mailing lists, and web forums, of other Biblical software, at least as early as 2003.

In most scenarios, neither "on a network", nor "on a computer", nor "using a mobile device", which phrase this non-patent does not use, are novel enough, to warrant granting a patent. Pretty much everything in this non-patent is a straight forward application of what people do, when they have books, file folders, pens, pencils, and blank sheets of paper, littering their desk, when they engage in an in-depth study of the Bible.

The hard copy books would include, but not be limited to:
  • Crudon's Concordance;
  • Nave's Topical Bible;
  • Treasury of Scripture;
  • Strong's Concordance;
  • Textus Receptus;
  • Masoretic Text;
  • Glossa Ordinaria;
  • Matthew Henry's Commentary;
  • The Poor Man's Commentary;
  • The Poor Man's Dictionary of the Bible;
  • Vulgate;
  • Books of Sermons;
  • The rest of the 1,000 books that a pastor circa 1900 would be expected to have

«A graphical user interface on a computer comprising: a search field configured to enable a user to enter a search term, the search term being recognized as a subject focus element; a bloom diagram window configured to display an initial bloom diagram having the subject focus element at a center location and resource elements related to the subject focus element at locations surrounding the center location; a passage window configured to display one or more passages of a classic literary work, the passages related to the subject focus element; and a resource window configured to display a description of the resource elements, wherein the resource window comprises a cross-reference pane configured to display passages of the classic literary work and topics related to the search term, a definition pane configured to display definitions of the subject focus element and definitions of words related to the subject focus element, and a thoughts pane configured to display commentaries and notes from respected scholars, and wherein one or more of the resource elements are represented as dots, wherein dots are visually coded to correspond to one of the cross-reference pane, the definition pane, and the thoughts pane.»

Translating that into plain English.
  • Search for a word in the Bible. (Hebrew or Greek in the passage above, but IIRC, Latin, Coptic, Aramaic, and Old Church Slavonic also worked in Logos 3.);
  • Display the results as a three dimensional window that expands, contracts, or moves, as one uses a mouse to glide over the individual results;
  • As one slides over the individual result, a new window is created, that includes definitions, grammatical information, cross-references, translations into other languages, notes from other resources, such as commentaries, handbooks, critical editions, study guides, treatises, missals, etc, used by Biblical software, and other points of actual, or alleged interest that are, in theory at least, related to to the term being displayed;
  • Sliding the mouse enables one to select items from a specific point in time, theological point of view, or a geographical point, or a specific person;
Maybe I'm just mis-remembering things, and conflating them with talks at BibleTech 2009.

Aargh! I probably can't  fly by adding Coptic, or Japanese^1.  This non-patent specifically mentions Latin, French, and Spanish, and "Ancient Languages".

Oh wait, this requires a network. Logos 3 didn't require a networked connection, so that is new. But then "over a network" should not be enough of a novelty, to make something patentable.

That network is to be used for:
  • Trial memberships;
  • Buying a subscription;
  • Interacting with other community members;
  • Share studies with other community members;
  • Ask questions of other community members;
  • Tutorials;
  • A database to manage those activities;
There was:
  • The Logos Newsgroups;
  • The Logos IRC channel;
  • The Logos web forums;
  • The Logos web store;
  • Third party sites for additional Logos resources --- both gratis, and non-gratis;
  • Both official, and third party web based tutorials;
  • Camp Logos probably doesn't matter in this instance, but I'll mention it anyway;
So even there, Logos in 2007 might have scraped past those requirements.

Faithlife is gratis ^2, and it enables users to do everything described as part of the network functionality/capability, except pay for a subscription. (In as much as in-app purchases can currently be done, a non-gratis subscription would be trivial to include.)

«It should be understood that the routines, steps, processes, or operations described herein may represent any module or code sequence that can be implemented in software or firmware. In this regard, these modules and code sequences can include commands or instructions for executing the specific logical routines, steps, processes, or operations within physical components. It should further be understood that two or more of the routines, steps, processes, and/or operations described herein may be executed substantially simultaneously or in a different order than explicitly described, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. 


It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments are merely possible examples of implementations, merely set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the present disclosure. Any process descriptions or blocks in flow diagrams should be understood as representing modules, segments, or portions of code which include one or more executable instructions for implementing specific logical functions or steps in the process, and alternate implementations are included in which functions may not be included or executed at all, may be executed out of order from that shown or discussed, including substantially concurrently or in reverse order, depending on the functionality involved, as would be understood by those reasonably skilled in the art of the present disclosure. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the present disclosure. Further, the scope of the present disclosure is intended to cover any and all combinations and sub-combinations of all elements, features, and aspects discussed above. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of the present disclosure, and all possible claims to individual aspects or combinations of elements or steps are intended to be supported by the present disclosure. »

That is clearly an overarching reach. Unlike the usual patent, whereby substituting "Drink an Espresso" for "Eat a Smartie", usually enables one to avoid patent infringement, this implicitly denies that legal defence.

But perhaps the worst thing about this patent, is that any Biblical software that provides features similar to those described here, can either pay the Danegeld, or pay US$10,000,000 to have a court rule that the patent is null and void.

At least Tom Philpot's and Rick Brannan's respective talks at BibleTech 2015, won't be a patent violation. Merely implementing the features discussed in their respective presentations will be.

FWIW, I stumbled over this patent, when looking for the one that James Convington's talk at BibleTech 2015 is most likely to infringe upon.

Going by the drawings, Biblical software on smart-phones, feature-phones, tablets, or ebook readers will violate US 20030006969 A1. 
A Bible reader made using an Arduino board might.

OTOH, Biblical Software that conforms to Palm requirements for software, will violate US5987451 A. Fortunately, that patent has expired.

Equally fortunate for Biblical software developers, is that US 5871238 A & US 4445196 A have expired. 

^1:  Shinto priests have preserved at least two ninth century Japanese manuscripts of the Bible.

^2: Whilst purchasing one of the various packages enhances the functionality, and usability of Logos, Verbum, Biblia, or other apps tailored for specific groups, doing so is not mandatory. (A forum post implied that not all Logos packages delivered content to all of their apps. So choose your Faithlife app ^4 with care.)

^3: # 8,407,617. US 20100293498 A1 is another junk-patent related to Biblical software. 

^4:  Since the company name is Faithlife, I'm using that term for all of their software, including their desktop programs.

11 February 2015

BibleTech 2015

About a fortnight ago I received an email from Logos, announcing BibleTech 2015.


30 April - 2 May.

Talks that look useful to me:
  • LaRosa Johnson: Battling Bible Illiteracy: Solving the Problem of Biblical Illiteracy;
  • Jeff Jackson: Cross Interlinear: A New Way To Compare Texts;