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Patents Microsoft

Microsoft Patents "Pg Up" and "Pg Dn" 350

Posted by kdawson
from the your-grandfather-had-prior-art dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Microsoft has been granted a patent on "Page Up" and "Page Down" keystrokes. The article links an image of an IBM PC keyboard from 1981 with such keys in evidence. "The software giant applied for the patent in 2005, and was granted it on August 19, 2008. US patent number 7,415,666 describes 'a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed.'... The company received its 5,000th patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office in March 2006, and is currently approaching the 10,000 mark."
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Microsoft Patents "Pg Up" and "Pg Dn"

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  • by monsul (1342167) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @08:56PM (#24824793) Homepage
    Although the point here is not how ludicrous the patent is. Small companies simply can't afford the legal fees necessary to show this on court. Every single software patent out there, no matter how silly, is effectively enforced to everyone who doesn't have the resources to show up in court. The system is broken. I hope someone "up there" notices before it's too late
  • What now? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Proud Virgin (1354837) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @08:56PM (#24824795)
    I wonder what those keys will be named on non-MS keyboards from now on!
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wanderingknight (1103573) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @08:58PM (#24824829)
    You're right, it's not exactly the same. Still, the difference is ludicrous, and getting a patent for this would make a very sad joke.
  • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:01PM (#24824859)
    I can't say I remember hearing of Microsoft sue a bunch of companies over a broad patent like this before, so I guess it's better that they have it than some stupid IP holidng patent troll company.
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:04PM (#24824889)

    In other words, someone in QA opened a bug that the Page Up and Page Down didn't do the right thing when the doc was being zoomed. Then there was lots of email back and forth about what "the right thing" was supposed to be, and they settled on one. At the same time, other email chains in the Outlook inbox were reminding developers of the importance of filing for patents early and often, "even if you don't think it is especially original, things could turn out differently", with the implication that one's compensation and prospects for advancement (or not getting laid off) were at stake.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:05PM (#24824899)

    Not even. They patented a method for scrolling up/down the same amount regardless of any zoom factor. Not all methods, and certainly not pgup/pgdn.

    Why is it that every patent story on slashdot always obfuscates the fact that patents cover methods of implementation, and not all encompassing ideas? Is it naive to think that this isn't a purposeful ommission?

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:08PM (#24824931)

    This is a kdawson post. kdawson is the epitome of stupidity and sensationalism. If a story sounds like it is too ridiculous or belongs in Idle (but is not), it's most likely a kdawson post and you should just disregard it.

  • by powerspike (729889) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:11PM (#24824973)
    No, they'll just use it along with rest to force smaller companies into licencing deals, you got something microsoft wants? well you give it to them, other wise they'll throw a couple thousand invalid patents at you, wouldn't cost that much to strike them down right?
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:12PM (#24824989)

    No, it makes total sense. Microsoft is in the idea business and uses patents to extend its financial viability.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:14PM (#24825001) Homepage

    They have no guilt, no shame and no conscience. If corporations were people, there's a good chance they'd be just a little bit embarrassed in filing for a patent as obvious and pre-existing as this.

    Instead of a corporation being required by law to be beholden to the shareholders interests, let's have that law changed to make corporations beholden to the interests of the people in their community.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:15PM (#24825005) Journal

    obfuscates the fact that patents cover methods of implementation

    Because you're wrong? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_equivalents [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:17PM (#24825025)

    The difference is enough that the problem here isn't MS, it's the patent system. But we knew that. We're vilifying the wrong people. Our efforts should be focused on demonstrating the inferiority of this system, and exposing any corruption involved in maintaining it.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:18PM (#24825037) Homepage Journal

    sounds more like they patented scrolling up/down the same amount regardless of any zoom factor.

    To gett arround the patentt, just be sligghtly offf. I ussed a simmilar techniqque to gett arround a speling patentt.

         

  • Nonetheless, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlad_petric (94134) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:25PM (#24825107) Homepage
    They still use patent threats and indemnification as a way to scare companies off Linux distributions.
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:32PM (#24825177)

    The Doctrine of Equivalents still requires something to be done in substantially the same way as a patented method to be considered infringing. It exists to prevent someone from taking apart an invention, changing something trivial, and then trying to pass it off as their own. It does not mean MS or anyone else can patent ideas.

    But go ahead, link to a case where someone has been sucessfully sued for infringing on a software patent where the methods of implementation in question were independently developed. I'd love to see it.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drcln (98574) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:50PM (#24825323)

    Why is it that every patent story on slashdot always obfuscates the fact that patents cover methods of implementation, and not all encompassing ideas? Is it naive to think that this isn't a purposeful ommission?

    Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor [wikipedia.org]

    The only part of a patent that matters are the claims. So, no this patent does not cover all PgUp / PgDn, but only paging that is carried out according to the formula in the claims. Still, it seems that paging through a document as if it were a book with fixed pages and always showing the same part of the page would have been obvious.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez (667058) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:53PM (#24825341)

    But go ahead, link to a case where someone has been sucessfully sued for infringing on a software patent where the methods of implementation in question were independently developed. I'd love to see it.

    There is absolutely no need for someone t have successfully done that for absurd patents to become problematic. Essentially no one can afford to be sued by, say, MS, even if your implementation of Page Down is provably different to theirs.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:59PM (#24825395) Homepage Journal

    Of course, by that logic, any patent what-so-ever is potentially "problematic". So all you're saying is that if Microsoft wants to sue you then you're in a mess of trouble and frankly, that's not very insightful.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:04PM (#24825435)

    I just clicked through the badsummary tag, and there are now 6 stories that have the word patent in the title.

    Any chance we can drop the FUD and raise the writing standards a bit, gentlemen?

    Thought not.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Harry8 (664596) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:05PM (#24825445)
    Is it naive to think that an Anonymous Coward apoligising for an unconscionable microsoft patent is paid for doing so? We know they've paid to push propaganda on wikipedia. Clue: the "method" is to press the Page Up or Page Down key. Or you're arguing that the "method" they've patented is the use of basic arithmetic.
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:26PM (#24825587)
    Yes, it is. Not only is it naive, it's hopelessly paranoid. Worse still, it stifles discussion, much in the same way calling someone who disagrees with you a troll does. The poster is most likely a random person posting their honest opinion, who was afraid that the corrupt moderators /. has would abuse their power because they didn't like what he was saying (thankfully, he was wrong... we must have the decent moderators on tonight). Sweet Jesus, some people must have an "omg astroturf!!!" macro, because they're ready with their bullshit cries the instant someone defends a product/company they don't like.
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udippel (562132) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:31PM (#24825613)

    Not that I thought it was a great patent idea (to me it isn't), kdawson got it wrong, again, as many pointed out.
    Just to clarify it, again:

    beginning at a starting point offset from a top of the document and from a top of the first page; calculating a height of at least the first page; calculating a row offset of the starting point of the first page; calculating a vertical offset at the starting point of the first page, wherein the vertical offset is calculated according to a formula of the form {[(p-1)/c]h}+r, where p is equal to the number of pages in the document, c is equal to the number of columns of the document which are simultaneously displayed, h is equal to the height of at least the first page, and r is equal to the row offset of the starting point of the first page

    I can't make out the details, but what they propose seems to be a somewhat more intelligent scrolling. I myself have at times cursed the PgUp/PgDn for straightforwardly scrolling, without considering horizontal scrolling (zoom).
    I for one will be grateful if in future I can read an academic paper of 2 columns by zooming in on the first column, and use PgUp/PgDn to navigate up-down on that same column, with useful steps.

    A patent for this: God beware!

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firehed (942385) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:34PM (#24825631) Homepage

    It makes perfect sense for them, certainly. But could a single keystroke that advances or rewinds the document by 96% of the height of the viewport (fancy for Page Up) NOT be classified as obvious?

    Respect to MS for getting the patent I guess (if you're first then you're first; more power to them), but it just goes to prove how fucked up the patent system is.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:36PM (#24825651)
    The patent system is to blame yes, but with MS no one can really fight them. With a random patent troll you can give them $40,000 and they will back off, for MS even $4 million is pocket change. Not to mention how a random patent troll will attack all projects just the same, MS only wants to sue F/OSS projects.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:45PM (#24825711) Homepage

    Oh. Wait. This is Slashdot.

    (The patent is still crap, but it is not an attempt to patent PageUp and PageDown keys.)

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @10:51PM (#24825743)
    it's the patent system

    Really? I thought it was the people (ab)using it.

    "Interprocess communication mechanism for heterogeneous computer process"

    Wouldn't you think it takes somebody with double-blind eyes to file a patent on this? Actually, this seems to be an attempt to highjack the Internet - who would want to try such a thing?
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @11:44PM (#24826177)

    Most large corporations are run by sociopaths. That's why you're seeing this correlation.

    Studies have estimated that sociopaths constitute around 3% of the population. There's two kinds of sociopaths: stupid ones, and smart ones.

    The stupid ones are usually called "criminals", and are frequently found in prison. They have no conscience and don't care about anyone but themselves, so they naturally turn to crime to get ahead, but aren't smart enough to do it for long without getting caught. (Note that this doesn't mean that all common criminals are sociopaths; many are just screwed-up people, or drug addicts, who have become desperate or made very bad choices, but still feel some remorse for their actions like any normal person.)

    Smart sociopaths, however, are the real cancer in our society. Instead of becoming common criminals, they're smart enough to avoid that trap, and instead go to school (probably cheating their way through), and using their uncanny ability to work people, they work their way up into the top echelons of companies like Enron, Worldcom, Microsoft, etc. Others go into politics, and become Senators and Presidents. They're better at getting into these jobs, precisely because they have no conscience holding them back and keeping them from doing unethical things, and that's why so many of these jobs are held by sociopaths.

    Another poster commented that there's no law against being a sociopath, but there probably should be, considering the damage they do to society when they're placed in positions of power over the rest of us (especially in the political or legal fields, where we're trusting these people to do the right thing, and they're using us to their own benefit instead).

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @11:51PM (#24826209) Homepage

    mod +5 amen-brother

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slarrg (931336) on Monday September 01, 2008 @12:12AM (#24826351)
    Apple's Preview does this when you select "Previous" or "Next" and their keyboard shortcut can be mapped to any key you wish. How is this innovation?
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by registrar (1220876) on Monday September 01, 2008 @12:20AM (#24826403)

    So all you're saying is that if Microsoft wants to sue you then you're in a mess of trouble and frankly, that's not very insightful.

    That conclusion is important to keep in mind, even if it's not a new discovery. It shows that the patent system is only part of the problem, the legal system is another half. The political system is another half of the problem. If your legal and political systems were less biased towards wealthy clients, then it would be less of a problem that the USPTO is broken-people could get justice despite it. The fact that the courts are broken means that the all patents are potentially problematic.

    In complex societal discussions like this it's easy to focus on one particular group as responsible for all of the problems (here the USPTO). It's important here to identify problems that the USPTO is partlyresponsible for. Both the USPTO and the US courts need to be fixed, but not both at once.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mobets (101759) * on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:23AM (#24826883) Journal

    Hasn't Acrobat done this as the default for quite a while?

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wdr1 (31310) * <wdr1NO@SPAMpobox.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:32AM (#24826963) Homepage Journal

    Never in my life have I wish so badly that I had mod points. kdawson is the new timothy.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bit01 (644603) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:59AM (#24827101)

    Not even. They patented a method for scrolling up/down the same amount regardless of any zoom factor. Not all methods, and certainly not pgup/pgdn.

    Which is obvious to somebody skilled in the art.

    Is it naive to think that this isn't a purposeful ommission?

    Why is it that every patent story on slashdot always obfuscates the fact that patents cover methods of implementation, and not all encompassing ideas?

    Because even the patent office hasn't a clue what is the difference between methods and ideas. The entire patent edifice is based on little more than handwaving, though they try to obscure that fact with lots of terminology and assorted other BS.

    They can't even objectively answer whether two ideas are the same or different. Nobody can, particularly in something as amorphous and ill-defined as software (e.g. they are forever confusing new words with new ideas), and the fact they fraudulently claim they can means everyone suffers.

    ---

    Every new patent is a new law; another opportunity for a lawyer to make money at the expense of the wider community.

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:29AM (#24827241)

    The difference is enough that the problem here isn't MS, it's the patent system.

    The problem MS. Most people learn in kindergarten that just because you can get away with doing something wrong doesn't mean you should.

    There is no justification for Microsoft to file these ridiculous patents, and they should be vilified for it.

    Not only is the fact that they are applying for these patents evil, it is just as evil that they are clogging up the patent system and patent examiners with this bullshit.

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:39AM (#24828427)

    There is no justification for Microsoft to file these ridiculous patents, and they should be vilified for it.

    Critical thinking needs to be applied here...

    If you were MS and hit with almost daily 'insane' patent lawsuits, what would you do? Just let every idiot create a patent and sue you out of existence because THEY CAN?

    This is a defensive measure on MS's part, and is EXACTLY why they are doing it.

    Microsoft, even with the Linux threats, has had almost NO offensive patent litigation, and this is with them holding as many as they do that pokes holes all the way into GUI features of OS X and Linux that they could probably win and get the products changed.

    If MS was truly as evil as we would like to believe, they would have used their patent wealth to shut down all other competing software by now.

    (Even inline spell checking, red squiggle lines for spelling, and even dragging and dropping text is a MS design from the Word team, and arguably something they own as the current Patent laws have been upheld. How do you think this would affect any GUI OS or GUI based software product?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2008 @06:46AM (#24828815)

    If MS was truly as evil as we would like to believe, they would have used their patent wealth to shut down all other competing software by now.

    Another interpretation is that they don't dare start a patent war against FOSS such as Linux since:
    a/ It could be seen as an anti-competitive move by the EU which has got its eye very firmly fixed on MS at present.
    b/ IBM is very big on FOSS including Linux. IBM has more and scarier patents than MS and could probably take it apart in a patent war.

  • by canuck57 (662392) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:16AM (#24829347)

    That is unquestionably the best post I have read in weeks.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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