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Microsoft Patents

Microsoft Retracts Patent 182

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the too-hot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has retracted their recent controversial patent application. The story was first brought to light by Slashdot on Saturday. Today, Jane Prey of Microsoft announced the retraction on the SIGCSE (Special Interest in Computer Science Education) mailing list. 'Many thanks to the members of the community that brought this to my attention — and here's the latest. The patent application was a mistake and one that should not have happened. To fix this, Microsoft will be removing the patent application. Our sincere apologies to Michael Kölling and the BlueJ community.'"
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Microsoft Retracts Patent

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  • by tehwebguy (860335) on Monday January 29, 2007 @01:57PM (#17802226) Homepage
    Here is the description from the linked slashdot post, if you were wondering what this patent was about:

    "BlueJ is a popular academic IDE which lets students have a visual programming interface. Microsoft copied the design in their 'Object Test Bench' feature in Visual Studio 2005 and even admitted it. Now, a patent application has come to light which patents the very same feature, blatantly ignoring prior art."
  • SIGCSE (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:08PM (#17802414)
    Your acronym is missing a G. It took me all of 3 seconds to find out that SIGCSE is the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education. You can even copy and paste from the first google result if you're feeling especially lazy. I'm guessing you are.
  • by gregarican (694358) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:11PM (#17802460) Homepage
    In more detail this feature is something akin to an Object Inspector, something that has been a part of Smalltalk languages for probably 20 years in a GUI form. Funny thing, seeing how Visual Studio 2005 has an Object Browser, which is another throwback to the System/Object Browser feature of various Smalltalks dating back to Smalltalk-80 :-)
  • Mistake? (Score:2, Informative)

    by MaggieL (10193) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:14PM (#17802496)
    Anyone who thinks this was an innocent mistake in "implementing a suggestion" probably hasn't seen the screenshots comparing The VS screens with BlueJ. ( http://www.bluej.org/vs/vs-bj.html [bluej.org] )

    Personally, I'm convinced the most plausible explanation for the *extremely* close replication of the BlueJ screens in the MSFT product is that the BlueJ source was ported to C#, probably using an automated tool.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:20PM (#17802572)
    prey, v., intr., preyed, preying, preys
    1. To hunt, catch, or eat as prey: Owls prey on mice.
    2. To victimize or make a profit at someone else's expense.
    3. To plunder or pillage.
    4. To exert a baneful or injurious effect: Remorse preyed on his mind.
  • by kansas1051 (720008) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:20PM (#17802576)
    Each inventor listed in a U.S. patent application has to sign an oath (declaration) that states that he believes that he is the first to invent what is claimed in the patent application. So you are correct in that these Microsoft inventors were either: (1) lazy (didn't read the patent application); (2) lying (knew of BlueJ and didn't care); or (3) incompetent (didn't know what BlueJ was).
  • I'm not so sure (Score:3, Informative)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:23PM (#17802634) Homepage Journal

    Watch now for patents that come as close as possible to stepping over the line, but stop just short. Microsoft easily has the resources to toss up nuisance patents that block possible future development of BlueJ.

    After publicly admitting the misstep with the original patent, I'm not sure what the value to MS would be in aggressively trying to thwart BlueJ. It seems their strategy here is to hold themselves out as an ethical player. They have to know that they're on notice now about BlueJ, and any attmpts to block it would be immediately picked up by the technology press, not to mention by existing BlueJ users.

    Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but it seems it would be monumentally stupid for Microsoft to attempt to destroy BlueJ through legal means at this point. Perhaps they'll have to suck it up and just compete on technical merits. ;)

  • by kansas1051 (720008) on Monday January 29, 2007 @02:25PM (#17802648)
    As a follow up to my own post, inventor oaths are typically made under penalty of perjury, so that if an inventor knowingly signs a false declaration, the inventor may be punished by fine and/or imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. 1001.
  • by nexuspal (720736) on Monday January 29, 2007 @03:57PM (#17803890)
    The big guys don't pay for others patents. Instead, they cross-license patents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-licensing/ [wikipedia.org]), which is sharing Patent portfolios to prevent mutually assured destruction (in litigation) because every big company cannot be in business WITHOUT violating some other mega corporations patents.

    The little guy does indeed get screwed over as you pointed out. Doesn't that go against the original intent of the Patent system?

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