P3P and the Intermind patent

WANTED: When did you first see a technology like this?

Intermind has recently received a U.S. Patent, which it has indicated may be infringed by W3C metadata technologies, including the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). W3C is researching the strength and applicability of this patent, and is looking for help in this process.

P3P is designed to keep users informed of sites' privacy practices, and to ensure that any information sent back to a site is in keeping with the stated privacy practices of the site. P3P privacy disclosures and requests for information are expressed in the W3C's widely deployed Extensible Markup Language (XML). P3P was developed within a consensus process involving representatives from more than a dozen W3C member organizations, as well as invited privacy experts from around the world.


The essence of Intermind's top claims are that two nodesa sender and receiver have persistent storage, communicate over a network, and exchange a control structure defined by metadata (e.g. an XML file) which describes: 1) how to transfer updated information from the publisher to the subscriber, 2) how to transfer feedback information (and updates to that information) from the subscriber to the publisher, and 3) how to process the exchanged information by reference to the control structure. In addition, at least the receiving device must be able to process the metadata using instructions external to the control structure, i.e. process instances of a communications object.

"About Intermind's Communications Patents," http://www.intermind.com/materials/patent_desc.html

Intermind has also stated that its "patents cover numerous additional features of communications object systems."

A representative claim of the patent is shown below. A full text of the patent can be found at: http://www.patents.ibm.com/details?pn=US05862325__&s_clms=1#clms.

W3C is looking for information concerning any systems that predate the Intermind patent and create communications objects or data structures and transfer them from one machine to another so as to control communication of feedback information or update information between machines. Additionally, any information on added functionality related to protocol selection or control (e.g. HTTP vs. SMTP), encryption, persistence, distribution (subscriptions, forwarding), and particular applications such as determining user preferences or form processing are of interest.

One example of technology of interest would be an ActiveX, JavaScript or Java object or SGML data structure transferred from a web server to user agent (such as a browser) that causes the user agent to check a data repository for specific information and, if the information is not present, present a form to the user asking for it. After checking the form for consistency or correctness in accordance with the object or data structure, the information would be transferred to a URI contained in the object or data structure.

Relevant Dates

W3C is looking for information showing the state of the art prior to the earliest possible priority date for the Intermind patent, February 29 1995, or at least before the filing dates of February 29,1996 and September 27 1996.

If you are aware of any prior art publications, specifications, software programs, books, systems or any other information about any technology that performed any of these functions prior to February 29, 1995 (or less desirably, February 29, 1996), please send such information to patent-prior-art@w3.org and include the following information:

  1. Name of the publication or system
  2. Date of the publication or date system was publicly known
  3. Where can the publication or system be found (ie. university, reference library, company, contact person)

Representative claim of the Intermind patent:

Claim 20: