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

    by Repton (60818) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:22PM (#24825079) Homepage

    Isn't that what Acrobat Reader does? You hit space, and it scrolls you down to the next screen-sized bit of document. Or, you hit pagedown, and it scrolls you exactly one page worth (which takes you to the same place on the next page).

  • Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Sunday August 31, 2008 @09:36PM (#24825207)

    Jeez... why did it take them so long? I've been waiting for 25 years for this! This is a killer feature!

    Oh, wait.

  • Re:No they didn't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spazdor (902907) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @11:51PM (#24826207)

    Well, yeah. But the tricky word is "substantial", and its moving goalposts.

    If a particular implementation A of a function M is patented, but M is the type of thing that other software developers need to accomplish too, then I will need another implementation B of that same function.

    But since B can differ from A as much or as little as I like, the question is "how much is substantial?" I could just take A, add a NOP at the end, and call it a distinct function. That probably doesn't meet the definition.

    Now what about two NOPs? What if I unroll all the loops, or switch around register names, or swap the operands of all the 'Add' instructions?

    Turing-Church essentially promises that regardless of a little bit of obfuscation, or a lot, or none at all, the underlying computation going on in B is isometric to that in implementation A.

    That there are an infinite number of alternative implementations, will just be used as a slippery slope argument by a good lawyer. "Why, if we allowed the defendant to publish implementation B, because it's a different algorithm, then we'd have to allow every software patent to be violated by anyone who knows how to obfuscate an algorithm! Nazis would once again ride on dinosaurs!"

  • seems like (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday September 01, 2008 @12:38AM (#24826529)

    They filed for a patent in 2005 for essentially a method that applications were using in 2004 and earlier.

    Take Mozilla Suite and Mozilla Firefox, for instance. You push the 'page down' key... text zoom factor doesn't matter, you're going to scroll a fixed amount of document space.

    Acrobat Reader does something similar also.

    There is and was nothing novel about scrolling a fixed-size page increment regardless of zoom factor.

    It was so trivial and widely done, that it is unlikely anyone bothered to publish anything about it.

    If taking common practices and algorithms, writing them down, and using a fancy formula to express them permits patenting of the general method, then we live in a world where everything's going to be patented, and it's going to be impossible to create anything or express any idea.

    Because to create something, the expression of a novel idea, you always need some simple (self-evidence) ideas involved.

    Microsoft is trying to lay claim to the simple self-evident ideas that noone should be allowed to claim.

    Even though those ideas may have not been formally expressed before, thus there may be no officially recognizable "prior art".

    Not recognizable, because it exists in physical form and not written form suitable for analysis by the patent office, courts, etc.

    ( Other proprietary developers of proprietary SW that existed before are unlikely to disclose enough information about their pagination algorithm to show their prior-published app is a piece of prior art.)

    And no reputable-enough publisher or publication is likely to ever document the behavior of something so absurdly simple as say Acrobat's "page down" action in enough detail to invalidate M$ patent; it would rightly be considered a waste of paper.

  • by mike_diack (254876) on Monday September 01, 2008 @06:46AM (#24828813)

    After all the PC keyboard and hardware are IBMs design. How can Microsoft possibly thus patent that?

    Mike

  • funny... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by W33B (901545) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:21AM (#24829033)
    Personnally, I thought they would have gone for ctrl, alt and del....seems more relevant somehow!
  • Re:No they didn't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smallfries (601545) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:03AM (#24829257) Homepage

    It is a lovely feature. When I was writing up my thesis a few years I found it to be completely invaluable. It meant that I could line up the rendered output of a thesis page on the screen so that the margins were cropped, and the view was zoomed in on the actual text. When I hit forward / backward the viewer would skip the exact same point on the adjacent page. It saved a lot of time, and it's feature that is missing from a lot of document viewers *cough* Adobe Acroread I'm looking at you.

    Of course I'm talking about using ghostview which has supported this feature for decades. But I'm sure Microsoft don't believe it's a real patent either. They're just playing the numbers game.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:53AM (#24829563) Homepage

    "It is the only way..."

    No it isn't. And it fails to ask the question "should abc corporation continue to exist?" It is in the best interests of my cells that I continue to exist, but if I were to go around killing other people, corrupting governments, destroying the environment, and generally being a negative on society, I would be in jail or executed. And it isn't the only way... there was a way before this '80s corporate mentality got started in the first place. There was a time when corporations somehow acted as if they felt compelled to help take care of their employees and communities to some degree.

    "Broken by design"? I wouldn't go that far. I would say that evil businesses have managed to change the rules in their favor and this is especially true of IP rules like patents, copyright and trademarks. They have turned these defensive devices into offensive weapons to wield against anyone and everyone that seems to threaten their income.

    "The USPTO does [make the rules]" Yeah they do. And the rules keep getting changed under whose influence and for whose benefit?

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