Patents related to shipping logistics normally aren't the concern of the public. But when Google receives a patent for electronic shipping notifications, one has to wonder what that means for online merchants, like Amazon, and major shipping companies, like UPS.
The patent abstract, which was drudged up by GeekWire, reads something like this:
A broker facilitates customer purchases from merchants. Shippers ship shipments containing the purchases from merchants to the customers. A shipper identifies a shipment using a shipment identifier. The broker uses the shipment identifier to obtain the status information for the shipment from the shipper. The broker analyzes the status information in combination with other information to calculate an estimate of the time that the shipment will arrive at the customer's address. The broker sends an electronic message, such as an email or text message, to the customer prior to the estimated shipment arrival time to inform the customer of the impending arrival. The customer can thus arrange for someone to be at the shipping address to receive the shipment at the estimated arrival time.
That basically describes the generic system used by most major shipping companies today. So to what extent does Google have domain over this infrastructure? Is it just the notification aspect (sending an email or SMS)? Or do they now own the copyright to any system where a customer enters a tracking number and is given an estimated delivery time?