Four months and nine days after April Fools' Day, Google was granted a patent for telling a customer when a product shipment will arrive.
The patent, entitled "Electronic shipping notifications" and awarded this Tuesday, covers the calculation of the estimated time of a shipment's arrival based on an order's status and "other information", and the sending of an "electronic message such as an email or text message" to the customer informing them of that estimate.
"The customer can thus arrange for someone to be at the shipping address to receive the shipment at the estimated arrival time," the patent reads. How considerate.
A flow chart included in Google's new patent – and, no, we're not making this up
The patent, which was filed in January 2007, deems its customer-notification system to be superior to the standard customer-looks-up-the-delivery-time-using-a-tracking-number system, which it says "might include an overly-conservative, and incorrect, delivery date prediction.
Even worse, the patent claims, with that old-fashioned look-it-up system, "even if the delivery date prediction is correct, the status information does not provide the likely time of delivery."
Now, we're not saying that delivery-time prediction and notification can't or shouldn't be improved. But in these patent-litigious days, should common-sense improvements to basic customer service be subject to patent protection?
And now you hand them this silliness?
Mark my word, dear reader. It won't be long before you read in The Reg about Google launching a suit against, say, Amazon, for infringing upon US Patent #7,996,328. ®