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Microsoft Is Sued For Patent Violation Over .NET 288

Posted by Zonk
from the is-it-weird-to-root-for-the-megacorp-on-this-one dept.
randomErr writes "As reported by Info World, Microsoft was issued a cease and desist order on February 7 of this year by Vertical Computer Systems. The order was for patent infringement by the current implementations of the .NET framework. Both the .NET framework and Vertical Computer Systems' SiteFlash use XML to create component-based structures that are used to build and operate web sites. Vertical Computer Systems is requesting a full jury trial. If VCS prevails, .NET technology implementations as we know them may completely change and Microsoft would probably have to pay out a hefty sum."
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Microsoft Is Sued For Patent Violation Over .NET

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  • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:15AM (#18822201)
    From the patent:

    "A system and method for generating computer applications in an arbitrary object framework. The method separates content, form, and function of the computer application so that each may be accessed or modified separately."

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fs rchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,826,744.PN.&OS=PN/6,8 26,744&RS=PN/6,826,744 [uspto.gov]

    I think I might buy some old IT books, move to America, then patent everything in them.
    • by julesh (229690) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:00AM (#18823099)
      I don't think what's covered is MVC. Read the first claim, which all the rest are derivitives of:

      A method for generating a computer application on a host system in an arbitrary object framework that separates a content of said computer application, a form of said computer application and a functionality of said computer application, said method comprising: creating arbitrary objects with corresponding arbitrary names of various object types for generating said content of said computer application, said form of said computer application, and said functionality of said computer application; managing said arbitrary objects in an object library; and deploying said arbitrary objects from said object library into a design framework to create said computer application. (emphasis mine)

      What they've patented is the use of "design mode" with a "toolbox" of object types, in the specific way that visual studio does it.
      • by eonlabs (921625) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:26AM (#18823993) Journal
        So what's to say someone can't patent something like "the use of C++ code in the creation of executables." I mean, this sounds exactly like the point of XML to me. It's an open ended language designed for compartmentalizing and tree-like structural definitions. Shouldn't the patent get dropped for this move? It's an obvious use because the language was designed with that in mind.
    • It sounds more like a patent on a make system. The description in the technical content section describes regenerating web-pages after assets have been changed without a programmer being involved. I'd say that make, or even visual studio would count as prior art. The patent was filed in 1999 but build systems have been around for decades.
  • And you wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:15AM (#18822205)
    And you wonder why MS is obligated to patent more and more trivial things? Nobody wants to be eaten by sharks.
    • Re:And you wonder (Score:4, Informative)

      by gerrysteele (927030) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:34AM (#18822263)
      Microsoft was one of the companies who pushed for the idea of software patents. They get no sympathy when patent triviality bites them in their bloated sagging asses. Their defence mechanism is the fact that they have a huge legal department that is consulted during the development stages of new ideas. I'm sure they are aware they are a target and that is considered an acceptable loss for the net gain they get out of the subjugation of competition.

      They are not obliged, as you say, to patent trivial things. It is a clear business decision to take advantage of a terrible system

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by symbolic (11752)
        Their defence mechanism is the fact that they have a huge legal department that is consulted during the development stages of new ideas.

        New ideas? This is Microsoft. The standard m.o. seems to focus on taking ideas that are readily available, modifying them in insignificant ways, and calling it "innovation," and then patenting it. This isn't unique to Microsoft, but it's sure a large part of their approach to R&D.
    • bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nanosquid (1074949)
      Getting sued over patent infringement is no reason to go patenting things yourself: you can still be sued for infringement anyway. And I doubt Vertical Computer Systems will be interested in a patent cross-license agreement (and they are monopolistic anyway).

      Microsoft patents a lot because they hope to be able to kill open source competition with it--open source competition they have not been able to outcompete otherwise and where their usual monopolistic tricks have failed as well.

      Vertical's patent is, of
  • by HuguesT (84078) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:17AM (#18822211)
    Pretty soon, we'll be talking about serious money.
    • Not that soon: Bill probably doesn't have a note this small in his pocket, though Steve might have to forego breaking any W^Hwindows this week to cover the costs...

  • by localman (111171) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:24AM (#18822233) Homepage
    ...but I sort of hope they get bit badly by this. Am I a fool to assume that the only way for patents to be reformed is for the big players to get bit so bad they start lobbying for change?
    • by rucs_hack (784150) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:54AM (#18822333)
      more likely this and other cases will make microsoft start patenting more and more trivial crap.

      It's going to reach the point where no software company in america will be able to create anything original at all. That will open the stage for new players, like China, India or the middle east (yes, shock horrer they do have smart people there, and software companies too, amazing isn't it...).

      I think that's why microsoft is bricking over Linux et al. While Microsoft is being drown in a shitpool of its own making, Open Source is powering ever onward.
      • more likely this and other cases will make microsoft start patenting more and more trivial crap.

        And how is that going to help them? They're still infringing this patent and Vertical isn't interested in cross-licensing. Furthermore, even if patents were better prior art than--well, prior art--even Microsoft doesn't have enough money to patent all the trivial crap in the world.
        • Furthermore, even if patents were better prior art than--well, prior art--even Microsoft doesn't have enough money to patent all the trivial crap in the world.

          They don't need all of it, only enough to sue irritations like this into oblivion (or to force a hostile takeover with the threat of doing so).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by localman (111171)
            Actually, the patent-arms-race strategy only works aginst companies that produce products and could in theory be infringing your defensive patents. But pure patent trolls exist, where there is no business, just a bunch of purchased patents and lawyers, and there's nothing to counter sue. "Companies" like that are pretty hard to deter.
            • In the UK,if a company goes titsup, I think directors can be disqualified if they areproved to be at fault.

              Cold this happen on your side of the pond?

              If this was the case, I could see MS using that as an unspoken threat, or even doing it to some of the worst golddiggers.

        • by rucs_hack (784150)
          I'm not talking about this patent, chances are they are guilty.

          No, the thing is that the more patents they have for what we might consider as insignificant crap, the less likely it will be that someone could come along and derail their products by producing a patent to some piece of technology it contains.

          It's a no win scenario in any case, the only possible end is an industry that cannot innovate because of the patent fog that obscures all routes to new technology.

          It's well established that there are no te
      • "It's going to reach the point where no software company in america will be able to create anything original at all"

        I agree. This will almost certainly happen by 1998, and definitely by 2001
    • by tgd (2822)
      They won't get bit by it... there's a ton of prior art covering the exact set of claims in the patent.

      I doubt anyone at MS is sweating it... I wrote three web development frameworks going back seven years before that application producing web applications from metadata driven definitions of collections of XML-aware objects. They did some cool stuff but were hardly unique.

      MS won't have to look very hard to find prior art to get it tossed.
  • How long until... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaXMC (138127) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:30AM (#18822247) Homepage
    Microsoft just buy them?
    • No. If Microsoft buy them that will just motivate other small companies to do the same. This is just the same as the SCO-IBM lawsuit - IBM's best play is to sue SCO into the ground. Expect Microsoft to likewise fight in the courts to the best of their ability. They have plenty of money to waste.
    • Re:How long until... (Score:5, Informative)

      by john.r.strohm (586791) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @08:34AM (#18822983)
      They may be praying that Microsoft will buy them. They appear to be in the process of imploding.

      Their last 10-K contained a couple of zingers.

      "As of the date of the filing of this Report, the Company does not have sufficient funds available to fund its operations, invest in additional resources for growth and repay its debt obligations. Therefore, the Company needs to raise additional funds through selling securities, obtaining loans or increase sales. The Company's inability to raise such funds or renegotiate the terms of its existing debt will significantly jeopardize its ability to continue operations."

      "The Company has incurred significant losses from operations for the year ended December 31, 2006. In addition, the Company had a working capital deficit of approximately $10.3 million at December 31, 2006. The foregoing raises substantial doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern. Management's plans include seeking additional capital and/or debt financing. There is no guarantee that additional capital and/or debt financing will be available when and to the extent required, or that if available, it will be on terms acceptable to the Company. The accompanying financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty. Our auditors have included a going-concern paragraph to their audit report."

      The entire 10-K makes for interesting reading.

      See http://yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com/fetchFilingFra meset.aspx?FilingID=5107317&Type=HTML [edgar-online.com] for more information.
      • So all Microsoft has to do is delay and cause these people huge legal bills (pocket change for Microsoft) and then probably buy up the entire patent portfolio at firesale prices.
  • So how far reaching is this rediculous patent system. The USA is a write-off i know. Things are similar in europe yes? What parts of the world are still 'free' so to speak, in regards to patents? Is there anywhere left where a developer can put together what they want and distribute it without worrying about all this bullshit?
    • by Omicron32 (646469) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:55AM (#18822341)
      Russia and Sweden.
    • So how far reaching is this rediculous patent system. The USA is a write-off i know. Things are similar in europe yes?

      No. The European legislature has so far rejected [bbc.co.uk] attempts to force the EU member states to implement software patents.

      This is not to say that no patents have ever been granted on software in EU states. Indeed, one of the few good things about the various failed proposals was that they would have regulated an area that is somewhat messy in some countries at present. But those patents ma

  • by kroepoek (1078915) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:48AM (#18822319)
    It's a bird! It's a plane!

    OMG It's flying chairs from Redmond!
  • by walkie (794662) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:50AM (#18822329) Homepage
    Hurray for software patents!
  • by nocynic (907095) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:54AM (#18822335)
    The patent issue in the US is going/gone from bad to worse. The retrieval form is bloody tough for any regular developer to sit and verify whether or not what he just developed is actually patent free or not! For all we know, there are a ton of ideas, not limited to computers alone, that have been developed by some really smart people who don't know whether or not their idea falls under some patent statement, fearing which, the inventor hasn't brought his creation under the public eye!
    • by gujo-odori (473191) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:09AM (#18822405)
      I'm a former employee of a certain large software company related to TFA, and interestingly, one thing they tell you when you go to work there (and I suspect other large companies that file lots of patents also do this) is that you should not - never, ever, ever - do any research into patents to try and find out if something you're developing or have developed and may be filing a patent application on might infringe any existing patents.

      The reason for this is that if you do, infringement becomes easier to prove for anyone who does happen to sue you, because they can point at you and say "See, these programmers did patent research in this area, then produced a product and/or filed a patent on stuff that does what my stuff does" and if they win, then they will do better in the damages phase because they can present evidence showing willful infringement.

      The bottom line was, leave any patent research, including the decision of whether or not to do it, up to the legal department. Don't get anywhere near it yourself.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Wilful infringement is triple damages. Therefore that advice is given by all clueful companies, unless they want to head quickly into bankcruptcy.
      • by trifish (826353)
        Umm, slightly more sensible advice would be:

        DO search the patents for possible infringement, and:

        1. If you find out what you have been programming is patented, do not release it to avoid patent infringement OR buy a license for the patent.

        2. If you find it is not patented, go ahead and use it. You will be able to show beyond reasonable doubt that your use should classified as "in good faith".
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        I bet that worked really well when the legal folk walked up and announced that your last 2 months of work were wasted and had to be scrapped, because something that was fundamental to the design happened to infringe on a patent.

        *Glad not to be in the US*
    • by Jessta (666101)
      The retrieval form is bloody tough for any regular developer to sit and verify whether or not what he just developed is actually patent free or not!
      It's actually pretty easy. Any software you make is covered by some patent.
      You can only hope that you don't have enough money for someone to notice or that you can find prior art for everything your software does.
  • The whole concept (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:59AM (#18822363) Homepage
    of patents and copyrights seems to be due for a major overhaul. It's OK to get patents for a limited time to protect your investments. On the other hand - other companies may also invest in similar or the same solution. As it is now it's first come, first served when patents are handled, which means that even though there are several different vendors for an invention, there will be only one "winner", which ultimately is bad for competition.

    One problem is that patents are filed and granted for "inventions" that has too low technical merits. By raising the standard requirements for patents this may help things a bit. One problem is also that the patent offices gets their revenue from the patents, and that doesn't help a bit. Instead that causes the patent offices to grant patents based on the fact that they get the money from it!

    In today's world with software development it's a complete minefield to have patents on software. In the end it will limit the functionality of the software we use and require us to pay more for less.

    When it comes to copyright, the issue is a bit more complicated. Movies and music has a rather long market lifetime, so a decades issue shouldn't be a problem here. When it comes to computer software the issue is different. In my opinion the copyright should be rendered invalid for commercial software packages whenever support for it is terminated. (Think MS-DOS, CP/M etc.) Even on movies and music there should be a "bail-out" option that allows for the copyright to be released. E.g. when the copyright holder no longer can be located with reasonable efforts.

    • due for a major overhaul

      The trouble with overhauls is that they tend to be driven by the people who benefit most from the systems failings.

    • of patents and copyrights seems to be due for a major overhaul. It's OK to get patents for a limited time to protect your investments. On the other hand - other companies may also invest in similar or the same solution. As it is now it's first come, first served when patents are handled, which means that even though there are several different vendors for an invention, there will be only one "winner", which ultimately is bad for competition.

      Well we could start by doing some scientific studies into whe

    • One problem is that patents are filed and granted for "inventions" that has too low technical merits. By raising the standard requirements for patents this may help things a bit.

      No, it probably wouldn't. There is already a standard requirement for patents that the invention be not "obvious...to one having ordinary skill in the art". That means that if you come up with a mechanism for something (say, one-click-shopping) if a programmer of ordinary skill could figure out how to do it, given the specificati
    • 1) eliminate it entirely --- This will solve the worst problems, but it'll make new much smaller problems that people will bitch about, and it'll create havoc on wallstreet.

      2) reduce duration to 7ish years from "going to market" which no infringment by older products --- This means your patent is not yet "active" even once filed and anyone may infringe freely, but you may later "activate" your patent by declaring it used in a specific product. No truely new products may directly infringe upon your patent o
  • Other affected (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:07AM (#18822397)
    From the wording of the patent (overly broad of course), other affected may be:

    Adobe's FLEX platform (the XML language being MXML)
    Sun's Java JSP
    W3C (the language being.. XHTML)

    as well as smaller players like Laszlo and a myriad of other platforms with a procedural part and declarative part in XML (including platforms I've written myself for PHP and Java).

    It's laughable, I hope the court acknowledges the loads of prior art. Few years ago someone patented interactrive CMS system (i.e. web appsf or managing sites) and the community was outraged, as the patent was directed straight at everyone using Java/Flash/JS for creating online CMS systems in the form of rich internet applications. The "reference" implementation used Flash.

    Nothing came out of it. My advice is don't worry and let Microsoft take care of those clowns (hopefully this doesn't pan out like the Eolas case).
    • by julesh (229690)
      From the wording of the patent (overly broad of course), other affected may be:

      Adobe's FLEX platform (the XML language being MXML)
      Sun's Java JSP
      W3C (the language being.. XHTML)


      Have you actually read the patent? I don't know anything about FLEX, but I'm sure neither JSP nor XHTML are infringing. The patent says nothing about XML, nor is it about separation of procedural and declarative components. It's about automatic application generation by maintaining a library of component types that can be integrate
  • by MarkEst1973 (769601) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:15AM (#18822425)

    Kodak won $1 billion from Sun [com.com] for (spurious?) patent violations in Java. I would not be surprised to see MS lose this fight.

    And considering how similar C# and Java are, I'm surprised Kodak isn't alleging the same patent violation.

  • by muukalainen (969833) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:26AM (#18822465)
    I suppose they could threaten them with a batch of their own patents, say something like "mouse click", "graphical interface", ...
    • Are you trying to be funny? Microsoft didn't invent any of that (neither did Apple, for that matter).

      Furthermore, who are they going to threaten and with what? That company probably doesn't care, they just want money from Microsoft.
  • by javilon (99157) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:35AM (#18822493) Homepage
    Now it is the perfect time to show Microsoft that FUD works both ways:

    LEGAL WARNING:

    If you use .net to develop software, in the future your projects can be taken down because of patent infringement.

    Using Microsoft products is a legal minefield!!!

    You should consult your legal department before purchasing any Microsoft product.


    • by Ctrl-Z (28806)
      Yes, I remember how well that worked when Microsoft had patent issues with SQL Server. Hmm. Well, it was a nice thought.
  • omgzz they've patented standing your computer up? Quick, everyone flip your towers over before the patent police get to you. They have equipment that can detect the orientation of your motherboard from outside your home.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:49AM (#18822533)
    Or does Mono not implement the relavent bit of .NET?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nurgled (63197)

      I assume from the description that this is referring to XAML, which is a format for expressing an arbitrary heirarchy of objects usually GUI controls in XML. This was introduced in .NET Framework 3 as part of the new Windows Presentation Foundation. The Olive project [mono-project.com] over at Mono is aiming to implement this new stuff, and reportedly does have a XAML implementation, but they don't yet have any completed implementations of the GUI widgets XAML is usually used for.

      So I guess the answer is "maybe". :)

  • by nagora (177841) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:58AM (#18822569)
    "The method separates content, form, and function of the computer application so that each may be accessed or modified separately. The method includes creating arbitrary objects, managing the arbitrary objects throughout their life cycle in an object library, and deploying the arbitrary objects in a design framework for use in complex computer applications."

    Sounds like Smalltalk and a serialised Model View Controller to me. Using XML for the resource file isn't exactly rocket science either since that's the sort of thing XML was designed for.

    TWW

    • Yeah, this patent smells of prior art and overbroadness -- just another troll. Of course, IANAPL, but this just has bullshit written all over it.
    • by hey! (33014)
      The truth is that when you describe objects in XML according to an XML schema, you are for all practices creating a program, albeit one in a language with very restricted semantics.

      So what is patented here is building a computer program using components written in two different languages.

      If there is any originality in this, it is this: to enforce a separation of concerns by coding the presentation layer in a different language incapable of expressing business logic.

      If you had to look to prior art, then I wo
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @07:25AM (#18822705)
    Summing up a bunch of comments: the current insanity of software patents, and the risks of this kind of nuttiness, could be extremely nasty to lots of open source projects. Microsoft and other big companies develop big patent portfoloes to protect themselves, and to use against competitors with even vaguely similar projects.

    Open source developers have no such protection. It's exactly why Sendmail rejected using Microsoft's patented "SenderID", as described by Eric Allman here . And it's exactly why GPLv3 has all this complex and oddly writtten patent material (at ), as mentioned in other old Slashdot stories. Even if you think it's silly, or think that software patents are a burden to the market that should be thrown the heck out. it's a necessary licensing step to protect us from this sort of whackiness.

    I hope the Mono project can be re-licensed under GPLv3 to avoid repercussions from this sort of suit.
  • The patent is too broad too obvious. Ideally it should not stand in court. Jope MSFT fights these trolls and invalidates the patent Or it can pull an RIM and pay a large sum and thus give this patent credibility it does not deserve. With the money from MSFT this company can wreck havoc in the small underfunded and unfunded Open Source projects.
    • by killjoe (766577)
      They might pay the company on the condition that the company go after adobe. 10 or 20 billion is nothing to MS but it would crush adobe like a grape.
  • by udippel (562132) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @08:13AM (#18822899)
    As former patent examiner I am appalled that something like this was granted; or had to be granted:

    Claim 1. A method for generating a computer application on a host system in an arbitrary object framework that separates a content of said computer application, a form of said computer application and a functionality of said computer application, said method comprising: creating arbitrary objects with corresponding arbitrary names of various object types for generating said content of said computer application, said form of said computer application, and said functionality of said computer application; managing said arbitrary objects in an object library; and deploying said arbitrary objects from said object library into a design framework to create said computer application.

    This grants the patent owner all rights to royalties to a system that any third party brings to the market within the time frame of validity of this patent, and that uses this method.
    In technical terms it is obvious; and probably anticipated a few hundred times. In legal terms this is different. As patent examiner you'll find yourself in a quagmire: you may have prior art for the concept, but not for the wording. I agree, that anticipating the concept should be enough. But the vultures of lawyers will pull you apart within minutes, and the chambers and courts of appeal will usually folllow (and your bosses rebuke your rejection of the application). You will be asked for a document to anticipate the wording, and that might not exist.
    Only in high-profile cases will the parties drill down to the concepts. Why ? Because that is very costly, and if nobody forks out these costs, the average examiner will have to grant.
    Of course, the wording is overly broad. But try to cite a 'library' against it: would it be a 'object library' ? Is pulling in a function ('printf') pulling in a function of a 'object library' when C is doubtlessly not object oriented ? Let us continue with the 'object framework'; more so one that separates: content - form - functionality. Where in the 'prior art' cited here can we make out 'various object types' (not one, that is !). How do you anticipate the 'managing ... objects ... in a library'; as well as 'deploying ... objects ... into a design [!] framework' ?
    FYI: All this would have to be anticipated in a (usually) single document, before October 1, 1999.

    No, I am not all trying to defend the vultures of applicants. This patent ought to never have been granted.
    But one should keep the following in mind as well: The USPTO was never willing to grant software patents, actually refused to do so, but was - in the 1981 case of Diamond v. Diehr - forced to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was not the - then - P.T.O. that started the insanity. It wasn't your House of Representatives or the Senate. Though the House would be very much encouraged to change the legal framework ... !

    • The parent post very nicely explains things, and contributes to more sleepless nights for me. As described by the parent post, software patents are indeed a hopeless situation.

      The parent notes that prior art may be irrelevant, but here are some possibilities anyway.
      ARINC Specification 661-2 Cockpit Display System Interfaces to User Systems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARINC_661 [wikipedia.org]
      NeXT/Apple Web Objects http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebObjects [wikipedia.org]
      http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.13/13. 05/WebObjectsOverv [mactech.com]
    • by mavenguy (126559) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:18AM (#18823493)
      As another ex-examiner I agree with the points you have made. I took a quick look at the prosecution [uspto.gov] of this application. There were three non-final rejections made before the application was allowed. The examiner spent a good deal of time in laying out rejections under 35 USC 102 (anticipation) and 35 USC 103 (obviousness), using a two column format with the claim limitations in the left column and relevant sections from the prior art in the right column. The applicant made essentially no substantive changes to the claims and just asserted that examiner didn't show what was asserted. I think the examiner made a big mistake in the second and third rejections of failing to respond to the arguments made by the applicant in the amendments; this was noted by the attorney in the last amendment after which the application was allowed.

      There are three things one must keep in mind in figuring out exactly what is covered by a patent. Fundamentally it is the claims that measure the invention, not the title or abstract, or random pieces of the specification. However, the language and terms in the specification must be interpreted in light of the description given in the specification. So, if a term in a claim is an "object library", for example, it wpould be interpreted as this term is discussed in the description. Finally, and relevant to the failing pointed out in the previous paragraph, the scope of the claims is further qualified by the back and forth of the comments and arguments made by the examiner and the applicant. If the applicant tries to avoid a rejection by arguing that a prior art reference feature is not covered by some limitation in the claim the applicant will be bound to this interpretation in any infringement action should a patent be issued. One of the purposes of making rejections, even if it might not be spot on a limitation is to flush out and clarify such possible ambiguities. This is particularly applicable here where an examiner decides to allow a claim previously rejected with no further limitation added. If an applicant is going to squeeze through a narrow "hole" in the prior art not coverable by an obviousness rejection it is important to make sure it is as narrow as possible. By failing to engage the attorney's arguments in the following rejections here the examiner weakened this aspect of prosecution. Instead it looks pretty much like set arguments back and forth, with the examiner essentially saying "OK, I give up, you win" with no further comment.

      Fianlly, I see that a continuation [uspto.gov] has been filed, but, so far, has been stripped to just claim 1 of the issued patent (with one misspelling). There will clearly be a preliminary amendment filed with claims applicant wants to prosecute, but have no idea what this might be.
      • As another ex-examiner I agree with the points you have made.

              Thanks for the insight from you and GP ex-patent examiners. I will go back to recent thread on proposed patent law overhaul and see whether the GP's point about Supreme Court (idiotic) ruling that required granting patents like these is addressed and overruled, so to speak.

          rd
      • by udippel (562132)
        As another ex-examiner ...

        Welcome to the club ! - Are you in for a drink ?

        I don't have access to the prosecution, though from the outside I might side with the examiner. There is so-called production pressure, meaning your promotion goes with the number of cases, not necessarily with the quality. My wild guess is that the chap knew how fishy the application is, argued for anticipation and obviousness (obviously, what else !?); though knowing deep inside that it would be costly in time (too costly) to follow
  • Microsoft and any other legitimate technology company must be decidedly anti-patent. While Microsoft could benefit from collecting tolls on dumb patents, they're at far greater risk of paying out on dumb patent violations. The moment they try to enforce a patent claim against someone else they legitimize every jerk who patents a link-list and sues them for $100 trillion. Their position must be decidedly anti-software patent.

    Isn't it time for a technology patent defense network? Every technology compa

  • by N8F8 (4562) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:41AM (#18823303)
    The method separates content, form, and function of the computer application so that each may be accessed or modified separately. The method includes creating arbitrary objects, managing the arbitrary objects throughout their life cycle in an object library, and deploying the arbitrary objects in a design framework for use in complex computer applications.

    Sounds like any application framework to me. Just because the language syntax is different, why should it be patentable just because it's XML? This was granted in 2004, what about MS's own WSC (Windows Script Component) component architecture fro mth lat 1990's? Isn't that the predecessor to .NET component architecture?
  • by Vexorian (959249) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @09:45AM (#18823325)
    Look at this! "A system and a method to do something with XML" And now they can sue microsoft!

    Everyone should take this opportunity let's just have ideas of how to combine the different available technologies with different objectives and PATENT THEM! I don't even think we have to produce anything.

    Let's patent "A method to sort an array by swapping specific indexes"
  • by thewils (463314) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:37AM (#18823637) Journal
    When you figure that Microsoft will be attempting to find prior art to invalidate the patent. If they fail, they will be hosed, if they succeed then the concept is something that they will be unable to patent and therefore will be available to the open-source community.
  • Nah.. worst case microsoft buys them out and passes the bill along to the consumer.

    I doubt anything will *fundamentally* change with .NET as its far too ingrained in Microsoft now. ( incrementally, sure, but not fundamentally )
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @01:21PM (#18824899) Homepage Journal
    Somebody applied "a method to render a website non-functional to external parties by attracting the sufficient attention of multiple hyper-link-capable users within an effective time-range". In other words, we slashdotted the article.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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