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This is obvious to anyone who has ever waited for a package to be delivered to their house. What does this patent actually claim, and what makes it novel from the systems we all use?

In reference to the patent: US6975998

The first claim is:

  1. A system for reporting impending vehicle deliveries, comprising: memory storing a vehicle schedule, said vehicle schedule identifying packages that are to be respectively delivered to a plurality of recipients by a vehicle during a first time period and indicating an order that said vehicle is expected to deliver said packages;

    a first communications device configured to establish communication with remote communications devices; and

    a system manager configured to analyze said vehicle schedule and to determine, based on said order, a second time period that said vehicle is expected to deliver one of said packages, said system manager further configured to transmit a notification message for a respective one of said recipients of said one of said packages via said first communications device, said notification message identifying said second time period,

    wherein said second time period is within said first time period.

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  • Heads up, I've edited this to be a "claims interpretation" question. Claims, in case you aren't familiar with patent structure, are the parts that actually tell what the patent is trying to protect. Other parts (like the specification) can sometimes give a hint, but don't tell the complete or relevant story. It might be worth reviewing the claims, if you haven't already done so, to see if you have any more specific questions, although that's not necessary. Jan 11 '16 at 20:16
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When granted, it was not found obvious 21 years ago, and 16 years before this question.

Sometimes incremental improvements that are "not obvious to a person with ordinary skills in the art" may get a patent; just add one such non-obvious step to a workflow or other method, and you may be able to assert a patent.

If your extra or substitutive step is not essential or substantially beneficial then having a patent may also be meaningless from a business perspective.

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    "If granted" I was definitely granted. The linked file is an issued patent.
    – Eric S
    Sep 6 at 14:43
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    Don’t remember why I asked this but it sounds like I may have somehow not considered the date??? 😬 Sep 8 at 1:43
  • @EricS answered generally because I could not foresee the exact states-of-the-art; I specified it more. (subjectively perceived and objectively being out at these past dates, and was especially difficult for me as I do not have the ordinary skill in the art in this field) Also, it may have been just a spontaneous error in my English use; in my first language 'if' is generally used in place of 'when'. I probably looked closer at the patent since I found its years. Sep 8 at 1:50
  • @DustinWehr That's what it seemed like! Sep 8 at 1:52
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    Your edit is fine. You make an excellent point that things often seem obvious given the passage of time.
    – Eric S
    Sep 8 at 3:24

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