Habitual readers may suspect already that I think software patents are a *bleeping* bad idea. Yeah, they are often filed by *bleeping* patent trolls, or are awarded to *bleeping* obvious “inventions” that do not advance the state of the art in any *bleeping* way.

Enter U.S. Patent 7,437,290 which describes a method for automatic censorship of audio data for broadcast. The abstract reads:

“An input audio data stream comprising speech is processed by an automatic censoring filter in either a real-time mode, or a batch mode, producing censored speech that has been altered so that undesired words or phrases are either unintelligible or inaudible. The automatic censoring filter employs a lattice comprising either phonemes and/or words derived from phonemes for comparison against corresponding phonemes or words included in undesired speech data. If the probability that a phoneme or word in the input audio data stream matches a corresponding phoneme or word in the undesired speech data is greater than a probability threshold, the input audio data stream is altered so that the undesired word or a phrase comprising a plurality of such words is unintelligible or inaudible. The censored speech can either be stored or made available to an audience in real-time.”

What the *bleep*? What sort of stupid *bleep* is that? How can Microsoft claim such *bleeping* idiocy?

Seriously though, I actually think this is a useful invention. Otherwise the above text would be rather colourful. Now I’m off to swear in the shower, the last refuge of the foul mouthed.



Noah Clements · October 21, 2008 at 9:34 am

Do you dislike the policy of bleeping out colorful words or do you think the invention is obvious or covered by prior art? From the intro it seemed the former, but after quoting the claim, it seemed the latter. Which is it? Both?


Andres Guadamuz · October 22, 2008 at 2:58 am

Apologies, I traded facetiousness for clarity. I think that software patents in general are a bad idea. However, in this particular case, we may actually be in front of a legitimate invention that has a technical effect. I am against censorship in general, and I'm not certain of the value of this invention. In balance, this is a good patent, but a bad invention.


Ray Subs · June 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

I strongly feel that software should be able to be patented and that strong patents help to minimize patent infringement and improve patent enforcement. I believe software creators should be able to make money on their creations just like anyone else in this country!

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