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I'm working on app not similar to Uber, but one that also facilitates peer-to-peer economic activity. However, I recently came across a patent filed by Uber, entitled

"Providing a summary or receipt for on-demand services through use of portable computing devices"

Here is the abstract:

ABSTRACT

A method for providing a service summary or receipt on a computing device is provided. One or more processors determine information for a service rendered for a user. The information includes a cost for the service, a type of service performed, and a person who performed the service. A summary receipt panel is provided on a display of the computing device and includes the information for the service rendered. The one or more processors provide, on the summary receipt panel, a map that identifies a location relevant to the service rendered and a feedback feature that enables the user to rate the service received.

I'm baffled that this could even be patented at all. Regardless, how can I ensure that the receipts in my app do not infringe on this [ridiculous] patent? Is it enough to not use a map in the receipt, or to not include the feedback widget, etc?

On a more general note, and the title of this question - **is it at all possible to avoid software patent infringement? ** By now it would seem everything you can think of is patented.

  • Don't worry about the abstract. Just focus on the claims. – Eric Shain Sep 29 '17 at 2:18
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Thats not a patent, that's a patent application. Which means, it doesn't protect anything yet and might never. See this question for more information.

Furthermore, the abstract and description of a patent can contain anything. The protection of a patent is defined by the claims. The independent claims of the patent application currently read as follows below, however they are subject to change (read: narrowing) during the prosecution, so this might not be the final form. It is normal to have very broad claims in the application - but those have not yet been found patentable by the patent office - I can go and claim the world, doesn't mean anyone will give it to me.

Independent claim 1

  1. A method for providing a service summary or receipt on a computing device, the method being performed by one or more processors and comprising: determining information for a service rendered for a user, the information including a cost for the service, a type of service performed, and a person who performed the service; providing a summary receipt panel on a display of the computing device that includes the information for the service rendered; providing, on the summary receipt panel, a map that identifies a location relevant to the service rendered; and providing, on the summary receipt panel, a feedback feature that enables the user to rate the service received.

Independent claim 8

  1. A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing instructions that, when executed by one or more processors, causes the one or more processors to perform steps comprising: determining information for a service rendered for a user, the information including a cost for the service, a type of service performed, and a person who performed the service; providing a summary receipt panel on a display of the computing device that includes the information for the service rendered; providing, on the summary receipt panel, a map that identifies a location relevant to the service rendered; and providing, on the summary receipt panel, a feedback feature that enables the user to rate the service received.

Independent claim 15

  1. A mobile computing device comprising: a display; one or more memory resources; and one or more processors coupled to the display and the one or more memory resources, the one or more processors to: determine information for a service rendered for a user, the information including a cost for the service, a type of service performed, and a person who performed the service; provide a summary receipt panel on a display of the computing device that includes the information for the service rendered; provide, on the summary receipt panel, a map that identifies a location relevant to the service rendered; and provide, on the summary receipt panel, a feedback feature that enables the user to rate the service received.
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    Really good answer with one missing bit. You should emphasize that to infringe on a patent you have to implement every step of at least one claim. A lot of people think each step in a claim is separately protected. – Eric Shain Sep 29 '17 at 14:55
  • @EricShain do you have a source for that ? – CodyBugstein Oct 2 '17 at 3:09
  • @CodyBugstein Not off hand, but it is a basic principle of infringement. – Eric Shain Oct 2 '17 at 12:27
  • @EricShain if you are correct, then perhaps my question should have been "is it possible to obtain a software patent that protects you?" since with software it is easy to change some minor details and avoid infringing on a patent. – CodyBugstein Oct 3 '17 at 13:50
  • @CodyBugstein A computer program, as a whole, isn't patentable. An algorithm used to solve a specific need may be. Good claims are written to avoid being circumvented by trivial differences. – Eric Shain Oct 3 '17 at 14:37

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