The nice thing about startups, though, is that most don't survive long enough for the damned patent to actually get *granted*, and they tend not to be pursued much afterwards. But I was always sure that Memento would have legs, and the consequence of that is that the first of the patents I helped write there has actually been granted.
(Of course, I found out about this because today I received flyers from not one but *two* competing companies, each trying to get me to spend hundreds of dollars on a mounted plaque commemorating my patent. Not exactly likely.)
Still, for the curious, it's patent number 8,290,845: "System and Method for Presenting Quasi-Periodic Activity". The hell of it is, the patent is entirely valid by the numbers -- it's an innovative and rather clever way of illustrating repeating behaviour in a bank account. One of the problems in check fraud detection is "false positives" -- most of the old systems produce literally *hundreds* of false alarms for every real fraud they detect. We spent a huge amount of work reducing that through many techniques.
Quasi-Periodic Activity (the math team's term) is part of that: if a check is part of a recurring pattern of activity, it's much less likely to be fraudulent. (The "Quasi" part is because much of the repeating activity isn't necessarily exact -- we want to catch "about $82 about every four weeks for the phone bill" and things like that, which made the programming for the math team rather more entertaining.) The important part is really *detecting* that, but we also needed to *display* that to the analyst, so that they would know why we're alerting this check but not that one; the display is really what the patent is on, even though it's the less important part in the grand scheme of things.
The patent is, as usual, totally opaque -- part of why I hate patents is that they take lovely algorithms and turn them into incomprehensible gobbledygook to satify the Patent Office. But the pictures are pretty (if a lot less pretty in black-and-white than the original color), and show you what I spent a couple of years building at Memento. These pictures are just the design, but the actual implementations looked extremely similar -- part of why I built everything in Flash was so that I could take the ideal designs and follow them really faithfully. (Which used to be very hard in HTML.)
The truth is, I consider myself relatively minor here. Greg (our Chief Mathematician) came up with the core ideas, and Katy (our UI/UX designer) came up with the actual look-and-feel; I just *built* the thing so it would actually work the way they wanted it. But that's still important from a patent point of view, so there I am on it. (Not that I actually *own* it in any meaningful sense -- like most such work, the actual ownership got assigned to the company long ago.)
All of which does leave me wondering about the state of the *other* four patents I worked on there...