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Information retrieval system that uses context information and takes privacy issues into account

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000012601D
Original Publication Date: 2003-May-19
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-May-19
Document File: 3 page(s) / 12K

Publishing Venue



The invention described here can be used to make online offerings or to provide customers with individual information over the Internet or an intranet. The problem described above is solved by only roughly preselecting contents and transferring them to the computer system of the customer. Basically all documents that might be of interest for any customer in that situation are transferred. An automated evaluation process that is running on the computer system of the customer selects a subset of documents that are relevant for that specific customer. To achieve this, a customer specific profile is used that also resides on the computer system of the customer and that cannot be directly accessed by the content provider. Thus, the customer specific profile may contain sensitive information about the customer.

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  Information retrieval system that uses context information and takes privacy issues into account


Companies need detailed information about their customers to make customer specific offerings or to provide them with individual information. On the other hand customers are not willing to make sensitive data available to companies due to privacy considerations.

    In other words, the goal is to provide customers with customer specific offerings or individual information without having sensitive information about them. Examples

Retail: Sensitive information about the preferences, habits, and needs of customers and information about their financial potentials are needed to make customer specific offerings. Software support: Detailed and thus sensitive information about the customer's hardware, software, and skill can be used to improve support in case of problems.

Detailed description

This invention solves the problem by

A customer specific profile (= collection of potential sensitive data about the

customer) that resides on the customer's computer system. It is either created by the customer (see retail scenario below) or automatically generated on the customer's computer system by using potentially sensitive information (see customer support scenario below). The structure of the profile is known to the information provider. Preferably a public format is used. A set of documents on the computer system of the information provider. Each

document contains a formal condition that uses a subset of items within the customer specific profile. A document can be an offering or any other kind of information. A piece of software running on the customer's computer system which computes

each formal condition of the information provider's documents (#2) or of a subset of it based on the customer specific profile (#1). The result of the computation is a positive list of documents that apply to the requirements of the customer.

Description of the information retrieval process:

Based on his wishes or needs, the customer preselects a subset of the

documents (#2) from the company, e. g. by running a full text search. The customer does not need to look at the resulting documents at this time. The complete subset is transferred to the computer system of the customer via

the Internet or an intranet. The subset may contain the complete documents or just parts of it. At minimum, the id number and the formal condition mentioned in #2 need to be transferred. Based on the customer specific profile (#1) the software (#3) selects all

documents that apply to the requirements of the customer and presents it to the customer. This step is only relevant if not the complete documents have been transferred in

step B: the customer selects those documents that he wants to see and downloads the missing parts (e. g. detailed description, images) from the








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company via the Internet. This step can be done implicitly by step C before presenti...