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Chocolate Factory moves into the fridge

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It’s hard to decide which is worse: the breathtaking triviality of the patent, or the idea that Google doesn’t just want to see your fridge, it wants to track changes of ownership.

The patent in question, US 8,091,772, was granted on January 10, part of a clutch winding its way through to publication in the last fortnight to plant the tech sector’s – and Mountain View’s – flag in ever-more everyday activities.

This patent, entitled “Automated appliance registration”, adds a new layer of creepiness to moves to wrap property like refrigerators into the same click-wrap, one-sided, DMCA-protected embrace of the tech sector. Even the simple business of flogging last year’s model on eBay becomes the property of The Chocolate Factory.

The patent claims “a method for registering change of ownership of an appliance” via communication cards connected to the appliance, “wherein usage information about the electrical appliance is stored within a memory”, “issuing a notification … via the communication card that its ownership is being relinquished”, using a second communication card “wherein information about a new owner is stored within a memory in the second communication card”.

The change of communication card, the patent says, would be the means by which the change of ownership is registered … in other words, Google wants to prevent anyone else using something like a SIM to identify ownership of whichever appliance it’s snooping tracking.

Appliances covered by the patent include cars, photocopiers, home entertainment kit, phones, fax, cell phones, computers, printers, scanners refrigerators, microwaves, washers, dryers, air conditioners, treadmills, PDAs and cameras.

You will be pleased to know, however, that the careless Oompa-Loompa drafting the patent has kept Google’s fingers out of the coffee grinder and espresso machine. Small mercies… ®

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