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Microsoft's Bold Patent Move

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  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:08PM (#13304494)
    OK, I like bashing Microsoft just as much as the next guy. But I just skimmed through the application and they're not simply trying to patent "displaying numbers in a box." The application is for dynamically highlighting (or whatever) all numeric elements within a document, even if the numerics are expressed in words (e.g., "one thousand") in any supported language. While possibly of limited use, this does seem to be a unique feature.

    Now, whether Microsoft (or anyone) should be allowed to patent such thing... I don't know.

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:13PM (#13304540)
      IMHO they POSSIBLY could patent their search algorithim to find such numbers, but not the display method of placing a box around them, since that could be considered 'obvious'.
      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuietLagoon (813062)
        Obvious doesn't matter here. Microsoft is trying to build up a portfolio of patents. The purpose of the portfolio is not really to protect intellectual property, but to give Microsoft's lawyers another weapon in any disputes with other companies.
      • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday August 12, 2005 @02:54PM (#13306124) Homepage
        Nothing is considered obvious anymore. After all, if it was THAT obvious, somebody would have patented it already. Yes, the US patent system is broken. The only disagreement possible is in exactly HOW it's broken. If you listen to patent lawyers, it's broken because the USPTO's fees go into the general budget. If you listen to patent victims, it's broken because mere thoughts are being patented. If you give me a problem, and I can solve it in my head using nothing more than pencil and paper as a scratchpad, that solution should not be patentable.
        -russ
        • by Misanthropy (31291) on Friday August 12, 2005 @03:11PM (#13306303)
          if it was THAT obvious, somebody would have patented it already

          I don't think so. The idea being that if something is obvious a person wouldn't bother to patent it.
          I can think of many things that I've "invented" but would never bother pursuing a patent on because it IS obvious.

          What they are trying to patent is basically a document search with the search crtiteria predefined (i.e. highlight numbers).

          It's gotten to the point where companies are no longer trying to patent unique or original ideas; they are trying to patent ALL ideas.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Trigun (685027)
      Yep, this is right up there with the Lempel Ziv algorithms, definitely not something that could be done easily with a regex.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

        by thing12 (45050) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:33PM (#13304774) Homepage
        Of course it can -- take a look at Perl's Lingua::EN::FindNumber [cpan.org].
        qr/((?:b(?:akers?dozen|illi(?:ard|on))|centillion| d(?:ecilli(?:ard|on)|ozen|u(?:o(?:decilli(?:ard|on )|vigintillion)|vigintillion))|e(?:ight(?:een|ieth |[yh])?|leven(?:ty(?:first|one))?|s)|f(?:i(?:ft(?: een|ieth|[yh])|rst|ve)|o(?:rt(?:ieth|y)|ur(?:t(?:i eth|[yh]))?))|g(?:oogol(?:plex)?|ross)|hundred|mi( ?:l(?:ion|li(?:ard|on))|nus)|n(?:aught|egative|in( ?:et(?:ieth|y)|t(?:een|[yh])|e)|o(?:nilli(?:ard|on )|ught|vem(?:dec|vigint)illion))|o(?:ct(?:illi(?:a rd|on)|o(?:dec|vigint)illion)|ne)|qu(?:a(?:drilli( ?:ard|on)|ttuor(?:decilli(?:ard|on)|vigintillion)) |in(?:decilli(?:ard|on)|tilli(?:ard|on)|vigintilli on))|s(?:core|e(?:cond|pt(?:en(?:dec|vigint)illion |illi(?:ard|on))|ven(?:t(?:ieth|y))?|x(?:decillion |tilli(?:ard|on)|vigintillion))|ix(?:t(?:ieth|y))? )|t(?:ee?n|h(?:ir(?:t(?:een|ieth|y)|d)|ousand|ree) |r(?:e(?:decilli(?:ard|on)|vigintillion)|i(?:ginti llion|lli(?:ard|on)))|w(?:e(?:l(?:fth|ve)|nt(?:iet h|y))|o)|h)|un(?:decilli(?:ard|on)|vigintillion)|v igintillion|zero|s))/i;
        It may look ugly but it's quite simple.
        • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

          by TCM (130219)
          It may look ugly but it's quite simple.

          Aren't the two mutually exclusive?
        • That is fucking beautiful, man.
        • by coats (1068) on Friday August 12, 2005 @01:28PM (#13305320) Homepage
          Given that:
          • The fact that the numeric data test can be expressed as a regular expression implies obviousness (and that expression having been described by a slashdot reader within the first fifteen minutes of posting); and
          • The fact that run-time (re-)configurable highlighting has a long history (I point to syntax highlighting in your favorite programming editor; I know that at least for nedit it can be turned on/off by a click)
          implies to me that this is a combination of obviousness and prior art, hence should not be patentable.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RailGunner (554645) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:16PM (#13304576) Journal
      While possibly of limited use, this does seem to be a unique feature. Now, whether Microsoft (or anyone) should be allowed to patent such thing... I don't know.

      No, because I (personally) can implement this in no fewer than 5 seperate programming languages, and literally thousands of different ways. This patent is bullshit. If they want to copyright their implementation of this, that's fine. But a patent? No.

      For example, let's say I wrote a perl script that converted a text document to HTML. If I wrapped numbers and words believed to be numbers in bold tags, technically I'd be violating this patent.

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:27PM (#13304714) Homepage Journal
        For example, let's say I wrote a perl script that converted a text document to HTML. If I wrapped numbers and words believed to be numbers in bold tags, technically I'd be violating this patent.

        Actually, you might not. According to the patent, one of the major features of the software is the ability to remove the highlighting. In fact, the highlighting is intended to be temporary, and is not embedded into the document stream. If you wrote software that embedded bold tags into the document itself, you'd be doing something similar yet quite different.
        • CSS (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Lifewish (724999) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:52PM (#13304954) Homepage Journal
          Actually, you might not. According to the patent, one of the major features of the software is the ability to remove the highlighting.

          OK, so what if I enclose all numbers in DIV tags, setting the class on each to "number"? That's something that you might well want to do (i.e. fairly bloody obvious), and then it's possible to toggle borders using one line of CSS. Come on, we have an entire style system devoted to handling this sort of change!
      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rick the Red (307103)
        Not at all, you'd just be formatting your own document. What's patented is a method for recognizing an instruction to highlight all numbers, finding all the numbers in the document, then somehow highlighting them. So unless your perl script for converting text to html also responded to a command to highlight all numbers, this patent would not apply. Then again, IANAL and certainly IANAPL.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ConceptJunkie (24823)
      Now, whether Microsoft (or anyone) should be allowed to patent such thing... I don't know.

      No, this is laughable even among laughable patents. But you can't blame Microsoft, as much as you might want to, you need to blame Congress, which allows this complete farce of a department to slowly undermine the entire economy of the U.S.

      It's just a matter of time before something like the alleged patent on hyperlinks by BT actually gets issued and some company decides to hold the entire computer industry hostage.
      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:59PM (#13305029) Homepage
        "The system is screwed, you can't blame MS for using it."

        Yes, you can.

        They bought their way out of an antitrust conviction. If they don't like the patent system, bribe the same assholes to change it.

        I don't see them doing that.

        Trust me, Gates LOVES the patent system. It's his last defense against OSS and he's going to use it.

        Eben Moglen pointedly targeted Microsoft's patent acquisition program Tuesday at his talk at LinuxWorld. He KNOWS Microsoft is going to do this, and the OSDL Patent Commons Project and other methods for fighting the patent system are being put in place to make sure "SCO doesn't happen again."
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slavemowgli (585321)
      Being unique is not enough for something to be patentable - it also has to be novel in a non-obvious way, i.e., it has to be something that someone working in the field would not be able to come up with after two seconds.

      Take medications, for example. IANAL, but my take on it would be that (for example), if I come up with, say, a new class of painkillers that are different from those we have today, then that's patentable, because it wouldn't be obvious that substances of the new class do function as painkil
    • OK, I like bashing Microsoft just as much as the next guy. But I just skimmed through the application and they're not simply trying to patent "displaying numbers in a box." The application is for dynamically highlighting (or whatever) all numeric elements within a document, even if the numerics are expressed in words (e.g., "one thousand") in any supported language. While possibly of limited use, this does seem to be a unique feature.

      Now, whether Microsoft (or anyone) should be allowed to patent such thin

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tester (591) <olivier.crete@ocret e . ca> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:20PM (#13304634) Homepage
      OK, I like bashing Microsoft just as much as the next guy. But I just skimmed through the application and they're not simply trying to patent "displaying numbers in a box." The application is for dynamically highlighting (or whatever) all numeric elements within a document, even if the numerics are expressed in words (e.g., "one thousand") in any supported language. While possibly of limited use, this does seem to be a unique feature.

      Actually, you are misreading the patent. In a US patent, each claim stands on its own. If only have to reproduce one of them to infringe on the patent.

      And claim 1 is: A method for emphasizing numerical data contained in an electronic document, the method comprising: determining whether a request to emphasize all of the numerical data in the electronic document has been received; and in response to receiving the request, locating all of the numerical data contained within the electronic document and emphasizing the located numerical data.


      This is really as ridiculous as we beleive..

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dilute (74234) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:31PM (#13304762)
        That's right. However, it is only an APPLICATION - it may not be granted, but you never know. It would be an infringement of this "patent" - if it ever issues - to perform the claimed "method" by hand - manually bolding (say) all the numbers in a document. In fact, this process is perfomed in the usual process of writing a patent application - by convention, in a patent application, all of the numeric references to the drawings are put in bold face. So, someone revising a draft patent application so as to bold all of the figure references would infringe this patent (assuming there were no other numbers in the document, which is quite possible). Absurd.
      • Actually, you are misreading the patent. In a US patent, each claim stands on its own. If only have to reproduce one of them to infringe on the patent.
        I wasn't aware of that. I thought that a patent issued and legally binding as a whole. I can certainly see how the entire thing may be something that could be patented, but some of those early claims are a little too vague. They should probably be left in there, but changed to cite prior art instead.
    • Gosh. That is a real, real, real, real, real breakthrough. Why just think how much that is a leap from any of the systems that highlight all occurances of a regular expression in a document. Why the next thing you know, they will have something as advanced as a "find" to let you tab through these.
    • This is almost the same has creating a search that highlights a given word in an article or document, similar to the find feature with Firefox.

      They're only extending the search to include all numbers and words representing numbers. Essentially instead of searching for just one word, number, or collection of symbols, they're searching for a whole bunch at the same time and emphasizing the results.

      Essentially we get a preprogrammed search to pick out anything that might represent numerical data. I'm certa

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by JavaTHut (9877) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:29PM (#13304735) Homepage
      I can't really tell if the purpose of this post was actually to bash Microsoft, or an elaborate DDOS plot to take out the Patent system by putting a link to its website labeled "microsoft bad" on slashdot.
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Iriel (810009) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:33PM (#13304775) Homepage
      You also have to consider the possible applications of this patent (and the people they can collect from) if Microsoft happens to be granted this in loose enough terms. I'm not blindly casting stones at The Man here, but this is the same company that has filed patent claims for the technology of pressing the 'Tab' key to navigate hyperlinks on a web page.

      Microsoft isn't the only one guilty of this though. In the past few years, a lot of large (semi) monopolistic companies have gone on Intellectual Property acquisition sprees in attempt to collect royalties/settlements for patents and copyrights in a field that the USPTO had been far too unknowledgable of, previously. The courts are starting to get the USPTO and friends to play catch up after such debacles as some of the recent outlandish URL trademark rights lawsuits (i.e. Microsoft, Dell, etc.).

      I just hope this blows over without any fuss.
  • I'm sorry, but I looked at the patent application and I just don't get it. Can someone explain?
    • Re:Am I dumb? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Saven Marek (739395)
      what it patents is if there is data in a document that should be brought attention to, microsoft has patented the idea of giving it a standout attribute
      like putting a box around it or underlining it or boldening it or making it a brighter color.

      so if you have a document with an underlined word in it now you are infringing on microsofts patent. you better pay them your $699 or they will come after you.
      • ...on numbers. If it wasn't, Google (for instance) had prior art.
      • what it patents is if there is data in a document that should be brought attention to, microsoft has patented the idea of giving it a standout attribute
        like putting a box around it or underlining it or boldening it or making it a brighter color.


        Actually, no. Mr. Hope's patent (which he assigned to Microsoft) is for a method of scanning through text and auto-highlighting numbers (e.g. 1,2,3,4), numerals (e.g. I, II, III, IV), numerical text representations (e.g. "one", "two", "three"), and mathematical formu
    • Lord Grey (first post) already gave a fairly good description, but I'll repeat it here. Basically, the patent is for software that can detect all manners of numbers (e.g. 1, II, "three", etc.) and highlight them in a given document. Contrary to the explanation given in the summary, the method of highlight is not actually specfied. There is, however, a B&W drawing that uses a line box as a standin for highlighting (most likely yellow-marker style highlighting). My guess is that the submitter looked at th
      • Basically, the patent is for software that can detect all manners of numbers

        so . . . they have patented synaesthesia?
      • by kwiqsilver (585008) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:19PM (#13304620)
        My guess is that the submitter looked at the pretty pictures and jumped to conclusions.

        No /. poster would ever do such a thing! Especially not if his first glance at the story could show microsoft in a bad light.
        And even if a poster did such a thing, it would never get through /.'s fact checking department.
    • What, can someone explain the patent or why you don't get it?

      Just kidding...
  • by venicebeach (702856) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:11PM (#13304522) Homepage Journal

    I'm sure they are working on a patent that covers the process of applying for a patent.

  • by elucido (870205)
    The sooner we patent the building blocks of life, the sooner we own life. This is the ownership society, so lets own stuff!
  • Uh oh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bahwi (43111) <[incoming] [at] [josephguhlin.com]> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:13PM (#13304545) Homepage
    Slashdotting a US Gov't website? Some pent up anger people?
    • Re:Uh oh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by mtdenial (769442) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:48PM (#13304920)
      Heh. A close friend of mine is a Canadian patent examiner. A month or two ago, I got an email basically complaining about how the USPTO site was slow. Coincidentally, there was a /. story on patents on the front page. A couple of weeks later, same thing happened. I mentioned it this time and /. gained a new casual reader.

      Not 5 minutes ago, I recieved an email consisting of, and I quote, "Goddamned slashdot linked the USPTO again during work hours, guess I'm staying late today..."
  • Post Text Missing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SwornPacifist (121005) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:13PM (#13304546)
    Shouldn't the link text be Microsoft has a patent pending for displaying numbers in a box?

    Not trying to be a grammar nazi, but there's a whole friggin' word missing there...
    • I didn't think you were being a Nazi. I read the writeup, and I couldn't figure out what the hell he was talking about.

      Displaying what in a box? Since the website seems to be Slashdotted, it seems I won't know for at least several hours. What a useless story.
  • by Limburgher (523006) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:14PM (#13304550) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't the context highlighting capabilites of, say, Emacs, Joe, and countless others be considererd prior art? It couldn't be that hard to created An Emacs Major Mode that did this, if there isn't one already. I don't see anything worthy of a fresh patent here. That it's MS doing it is irrelevant.
    • Just because it couldn't be that hard to create doesn't strike me as a reason to refuse a patent. Some patents are just for ideas rather than implementations. I don't like software patents, but I think Microsoft is trying to shield themselves from someone else suing them. I fin it much more vile to use a patent against someone than to apply for one. Nowadays if you're playing the game you simply must patent everything.

    • by Zordak (123132)
      Prior art is not just as easy as saying, "I'm pretty sure I saw somebody do this on Emacs back in '89." Prior art is very technically defined by 35 U.S.C. 102, and at a bare minimum, has to be published. If you can find a published reference showing how somebody did this prior to the application date for this patent, you're in business. If you can find it within the next two months, you may be able to stop this patent from ever issuing. If not, the only hope is that the examiner will give it a 35 U.S.C.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:14PM (#13304551) Homepage Journal
    One of the inventors is named -

    Thiti Wang-Aryattawanich

    I'd just like to know his nickname, is all...
  • Quote from the topic:
    "displaying in a box to make them stand out. ""

    Display what in a box? I'm guessing numbers looking at the other posts but I can't reach the linked text.
  • Nice summary. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daniil (775990) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:14PM (#13304554) Journal
    Is it really that hard to write a three-line summary that actually says what the patent is about? I actually had to read the patent application to find out what the article is about.

  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:15PM (#13304563) Homepage
    Highliting (or otherwise bringing attention to) data (numeric or otherwise) has been done since the old DOS days, and probably before. This certainly isn't new, and isn't unique by a stretch of the imagination.

    Of course, by filing the patent, they want it to seem that Microsoft is the originator if this technique. If the rules the USPTO seems to apply to software patents were applied to 'real world' patents, you'd see the whole lot of them thrown out on their asses, and the whole office revised from the janitor on up to the chief.
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:17PM (#13304583)
    I am now dumber for the effort.

  • by rscrawford (311046) <rscrawford.undavis@edu> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:19PM (#13304610) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone come up with a patent for bringing down a website by posting a link to it on another website and counting on thousands and thousands of people to click through, thus generating high but perfectly legal traffic?

    If not, I'm filling out my forms right now, and someone around here's gonna owe me a lot of money.
  • I wish Slashdot would put a "Fuck Microsoft" button on the comment submittal page - it would save sooo much time for all of us.
  • by smoondog (85133)
    I guess I'm not surprised though. Things are getting really competitive for MS right now, with Apple, Google, Yahoo, Linux, etc. If things start really going south for this company, however, expect to see all of those dumb MS patents get pushed upon other companies.
  • BAH (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186)
    It's pretty obvious, since MS started this patent craze after being sued over ridiculous overbroad patents, that they are just doing things like this to cover their butt. They've NEVER sued anyone over a patent. I highly doubt they ever will unless it's a blatent and public rebellion or something...
  • by sigaar (733777)
    What plugin do I need to view the images?
  • With all the brouhaha about simpleminded patent examiners and useless patents being granted, I'm wondering if it isn't all deliberate?

    If after a few stupid examples a number of patent examiners have gotten it into their heads to sabotage the whole process by granting increasingly more moronic patents? All being done in hopes of getting the whole process fixed...

  • Is it just me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kinglink (195330) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:24PM (#13304675)
    I mean the stuff that you can patent now is getting really ridiculous and you know who gets hurt? The small guy? Microsoft can make a million patents and then ride off the tithes from them, and an independant person will have to dodge through a mine field of patents to make a product.

    I'm all for the Office of Patents, which was an idea to show who was the first with the idea, granted there's some flaws, (Bell is created with created the phone while there's a good amount of evidence where he's not the originator)

    But the original idea was for people to get credit for their ideas, and be able to own them.

    However The Corporate world we live in today, has made patenting a game almost. You can patent any abstract idea, and even if your version completely fails and you couldn't program for crap, you can sue anyone else who succeeds at your worthless attempt even if it takes them 10 years, because you own the patent?

    I think we need to revise the patent system to at least show that head way is made or such and if the system never gets implemented, the patent is worthless.
  • So why is it that we never get headlines like "stupid patent rejected" on Slashdot? Do all these "inventions" get the patent granted or what?
  • Patents, like gasoline are just something kids two generations from now will be talking about in history class.

    The end is near! Front row tickets still available!

    Tom
  • So, I there's this revolutionary idea: we call it language. It allows one to serialize a concept into "words" using a "grammar" to tie them together into meaning. Unfortunately, the writeup doesn't seem to take this into consideration. I see all these words, but they make no sense. I read the damn writeup here three or four times, assuming I missed the noun referred to by "make them stand out". I gave up. Then I read the last sentence and wondered "That's 'That's'" referring to? I know we grouse and moa
  • by rlp (11898) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:27PM (#13304723)

    +----------+
    | Amazing! |
    +----------+
  • by sRev (846312) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:30PM (#13304751)
    I've just patented using letters to form words.
  • ...we slashdotted the U.S. Patent Office, booyah! Is the linked page failing to load for anyone else?
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:44PM (#13304887) Homepage
    I've got some bad news and some good news.

    The bad news is that the USPTO granted Microsoft assanine patent.

    The good news is that we slashdotted the USPTO (and I just saved a bundle on my car insurance)
  • by NetSettler (460623) <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Friday August 12, 2005 @12:52PM (#13304960) Homepage Journal
    Symbolics Genera (a descendant of the MIT Lisp

    Machines)used something called "Dynamic Windows" which was later further developed as CLIM (the "Common Lisp Interface Manager"). Among the various features of that system was the ability to annotate output with its datatype. e.g., and I'll simplify notation here for presentational clarity (and to save me looking it up) but it's substantially like this:

    (with-output-as-presentation (stream 'integer :data 5.3) (write-string "a bit more than five" stream))

    This would cause the user to see the string "a bit more than five" but the system to have backing store information (kind of like the HREF that underlies a URL presentation in a browser, except that's really more imperative in nature rather than declarative) that says that if the user clicks on that, he's really clicking on 5.3 instead.

    What was interesting about the way Genera did it was that there was a conceptual relationship between "presentation" (the analog of printing output) and "accepting" (the analog of reading input). If someone later did:

    (accept 'integer :prompt "Please input a number")

    then the mouse would become aware of all the occurrences of things that had been presented as integers (or even things that could be coerced to integers). The system could be further abstracted so that if you output British Pounds and someone asked for input of American Dollars, translators ran so that when you clicked on the value in pounds, it got translated at input time to the appropriate representation (presumably the translator you wrote knew how to acceess the currency exchange to do this). Output in inches could be converted to feet or meters, of course, without such network appliances.

    But the key feature which seems to have been "obvious" even decades ago when Symbolics did this work was the idea of highlighting data of various kinds with boxes. In that case, it wasn't even limited to numeric data. It could be any kind of data, even things of different types that were hierachically presented (such a filename listing being sensitive on its whole line as a file, but as only part of the line for this and that date mentioned in the listing).

    And it didn't get patented then, which to my understanding of patent law means it's missed its chance...

    The really sad thing is that so few people know about this I/O paradigm, which had some very cool features. And then such sadness is compounded when others come along and attempt to say they dreamt up the idea.

    I mean, geez, people have been drawing boxes around in paper for a long time. I don't doubt there's some implementation of a kids' book that has a piece of cellophane you can pull back and forth to highlight something. I recall things that use red over red text to make the text "become invisible" being implemented in physical books when I was a kid. That's a form of emphasis through boxes, too!

    The patent office is way overboard these days. I think software copyright serves a critical purpose, but I think software patents are an abomination. I'd like to see the software patent system overhauled completely [nhplace.com].

  • by pixelgeek (676892) on Friday August 12, 2005 @01:52PM (#13305530)
    Not to defend MS but the problem isn't that they apply for these patents but that they can and that they have to.

    Apple's case against MS defined the legal benchmark by which you could protect any new features in an OS and by extension, I think, in an application.

    Companies, especially public companies, now know that the only way to defend themselves against litigation, especially in the US, is to establish patents covering features. Even if those patents are utterly bogus.

    MS might also be in a position where they could be held legally responsible by their shareholders for not trying their upmost to defend the companies work via patents.

    Its stupid that companies can get these sorts of non-trivial patents but don't complain about MS or other companies that do this. Complain about the legal precedents and the patent system that allows it.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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