AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON Away/Available/Busy status - This application from Apple seeks to patent the idea of...displaying a status to contacts that would indicate whether you’re available to field a call or not! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 6/13/2007 that discusses:

  • Sharing Away/Available/Busy status on a mobile phone along with your location

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

EXTRA CREDIT - A reference to anything that meets all of the criteria to the question above AND ALSO takes into account user preferences, determining what information it can share as set by a user, or filtering inbound calls against a phone’s contact list to help preserve privacy before sharing any information

TITLE: Away/Available/Busy status on a mobile phone

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method for displaying contact information about a first phone to user of a second phone. Contact information of user includes Away/Available/Busy status for the user of the first phone and his location. Main idea is letting user set and forget preferences around just how much status they’re willing to share and with who, and letting the automated system do the rest

  • Publication Number: US20130177141 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/785,294
  • Assignee: Apple
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 6/13/2007
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through 1/7/2014

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A computer-implemented method, comprising:

  1. receiving a command at an operating system of a first mobile phone for displaying contact information of a remote user having a mobile phone number of a second mobile phone;

  2. in response to the command, transmitting a request to a remote server from the first mobile phone over a cellular network requesting an operating status of the second mobile phone;

  3. receiving the operating status of the second mobile phone from the remote server over the cellular network; and

  4. displaying the operating status of the second mobile phone on a display of the first mobile phone as a part of contact information of the remote user associated with the second mobile phone, the operating status including current locality of the second mobile phone.

In English this means:

A method of displaying contact information of a remote user, comprising:

  1. User of first phone asks for contact information of user of second phone

  2. First phone asks remote server for contact information of user of second phone

  3. First phone receives contact information over a cellular network

  4. First phone displays status of second phone (e.g. Away/Available/Busy) and location of second user as part of contact information for the second user

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 6/13/2007

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming using user preferences and privacy settings to show Away/Available/Busy selectively

"Away/Available/Busy status on a mobile phone from the Applicant"

What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.

4 Answers 4


Well, I can't write a perfect answer, but hopefully this is enough for people to get started: AIM could display status and selectively block it as far back as 2004. See http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=278608

  • 1
    But that's not a mobile phone, so does that count? But if applying an existing idea to mobile phones can I just add "on a mobile phone" to an existing idea and have it be patentable?
    – McKay
    Aug 23, 2013 at 13:49
  • Even if this were not considered prior art, it at least shows how trivial the idea is.
    – houbysoft
    Aug 27, 2013 at 17:09

Found this (1) text on this site: http://www.it.iastate.edu/services/lync/training

Can't find a start date however, and it is not for a mobile device.

(1) How do I use the presence function in OCS?

OCS Presence displays the availability of remote OCS users. You can decide whether to initiate communication with someone via email, voice, IM, video, desktop sharing, or Live Meeting, based upon the contact's availability. Your presence can describe your activity, location, willingness to communicate, and contact information. Various conditions, such as whether the user is in a meeting (busy) from the Outlook calendar or is away from the computer (inactive, then away), cause your presence status to be automatically updated.


I think I just earned myself some extra credit.

Publication number US8489994 B2

Publication type Grant

Application number US 10/580,800

PCT number PCT/AU2004/001673

Publication date 16 Jul 2013

Filing date 29 Nov 2004

Priority date 27 Nov 2003

Inventors Christine Satchell

Original Assignee Smart Internet Technology Crc Pty Ltd.


The present invention relates generally to systems and methods for communicating. More specifically, the present invention has particular—but by no means exclusive—application to communicating via mobile communication devices such as a mobile telephone.


Whilst today's mobile telephone networks have undoubtedly enhanced our ability to communicate with each other, there are several aspects of their functionality that could be improved in order to further enhance our ability to efficiently communicate with each other. One aspect that could be improved is the ability for a user of a mobile telephone to readily determine what another mobile telephone user is doing without having to communicate directly (for instance, speak) with the user of the mobile telephone. For example, it would be advantageous if the user of a mobile telephone could program the telephone network (or their mobile telephone) to provide information that informs parties calling the mobile telephone that the user thereof is currently in a meeting without having to communicate directly with the user.


Claim 18 -

A system for providing communication between mobile communication devices, the system comprising:a receiver configured to receive from a first communication device data indicative of a first status and a second status of a user of the first communication device, the first status being different from the second status.


the VoIP specification covers most if not all of these claims

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .