Do you remember cordless landline phones? Specifically, do you recall or know of any technology for selectively forwarding phone calls to particular cordless landline handsets, based on the phone number of the caller? How about technology for selectively blocking calls from particular callers? The prior technology must have been known or used before December 4, 2000.

United Patents, a group of patent owners and technology companies, has announced a reward for prior art related to US Patent 6,970,706. This patent has been involved in litigation against nine mobile phone companies. I post a summary here to provide notification of the contest, and to encourage further discussion of these claims.

TITLE: Hierarchical call control with selective broadcast audio messaging system

Summary: Prioritizing callers in a cordless landline telephone system. The telephone system maintains a database with phone number and respective priority, and forwards incoming calls to zero, one, or more than one handsets based on the caller's priority.

  • Publication Number: US6970706
  • Assignee (of public record): VALYRIAN IP LLC and Siemens Information and Communication Products LLC
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior art predating December 4, 2000
  • Patroll Contest end date: May 31, 2020 (10:30 PM Central European Summer Time)
  • Previously considered: during examination, the USPTO considered patents and non-patent documents. For the purpose of the Patroll Contest, those documents (and other members of the same patent families) are not of interest.

Claims 1 through 3 are the focus of this request.

Claim 1 requires each and every element listed below (copied from published claims):

A system for providing a hierarchical call control paradigm in a cordless phone system, comprising:

a base station operable in a broadcast mode and a standard mode;

a plurality of mobile units communicatively coupled to the base station;

a directory server coupled to the base station;

a phone number database included in or coupled to the directory server arranged to store any number of phone numbers,

a caller identification database coupled to the phone number database arranged to store a caller identifier uniquely associated with a phone number corresponding to a received phone call; and

a priority level data base coupled to the caller identification data base arranged to provide a priority level for the caller identifier,

wherein when the phone call is received, the directory server

identifies a phone number of the received call,

identifies a caller based upon a retrieved caller identifier associated with the identified phone number,

retrieves a priority level for the identified caller, and

forwards the call to a specific mobile unit based upon the priority level.

Claim 2 requires the addition of all of these elements:

  1. A system as recited in claim 1, wherein the priority level is selected from a group comprising: a lowest priority (DO NOT DISTURB), an intermediate priority, and a highest priority.

Claim 3 requires the addition of all of these elements:

  1. A system as recited in claim 2, wherein when the priority level is the lowest priority, then the incoming call is not forwarded to any of the plurality of mobile units.

In English, claim 1 requires:

  1. A base station capable of forwarding phone calls to multiple mobile phone handsets,

  2. A database that stores phone numbers and associated priority levels for each phone number

  3. When an incoming call is received from a phone number, the priority level associated with the phone number is retrieved from the database

  4. Based on the priority level, the base station forwards the call to zero, one, or more than one mobile phone handset(s).

Claims 2 and 3 clarify that the base station has a mode in which phone calls from a particular phone number are not forwarded to any of the mobile phone handsets because they are assigned a low priority in the database.

Good prior art includes a description of similar systems (including base station, handsets, and a database) that merely does not forward calls from a particular phone number to the mobile phone handsets. They important feature might be called "caller block", "always voicemail", "known telemarketer" or similar. Alternatively, selectively forwarding calls to one or more than one mobile phone would also be useful. The prior art must have a publication or U.S. priority date earlier than December 4, 2000.

  • fixed date of publication or priority from 2020 to 2000 in one place. And removed the word "overbroad" as an un-established gratuitous pejorative
    – George White
    May 15, 2020 at 2:30
  • Thanks! I kept typing 2020, habit. May 15, 2020 at 6:28
  • Also, a "database" in this context can be any searchable computer file. No elaborate SQL required. May 15, 2020 at 6:33
  • And welcome to Ask Patents
    – George White
    May 15, 2020 at 17:56


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