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Microsoft Seeks Patent On Brain-Based Development

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the patent-on-defying-parody dept.

Patents 173

theodp writes "With its just-published patent application for Developing Software Components Based on Brain Lateralization, Microsoft provides yet another example of just how broken the patent system is. Microsoft argues that its 'invention' of having a Program Manager act as an arbitrator/communicator between a group of right-brained software users and left-brained software developers mimics 'the way that the brain communicates between its two distinct hemispheres.' One of the 'inventors' is Ray Ozzie's Technical Strategist. If granted, the patent could be used to exclude others from making, using, or selling the 'invention' for 17 years."

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173 comments

BOFH (4, Funny)

AnotherBrian (319405) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697969)

So they just patented the concept of a manager. I really hope Microsoft enforces this one.

Re:BOFH (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697985)

They're probably the only tech company who still uses it anyway. Or if they're not they should be. Let MS have it.

Re:BOFH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698211)

Christ, I love Greek! Women just don't seem to understand that a man can find just as much pleasure in the warm confines of a well- muscled ass as they can in the satin embrace of a well-wetted cunt. Maybe we men have conditioned them too well to ignoring one hole for the other: nonetheless, every man I've talked to about it loves Greek and every woman who I've talked to about it has been less than enthusiastic. So imagine my surprise last weekend when Kathleen treated me to the joys of anal sex in what must be the first time in five or six years.

The night started our strangely. Kathleen had just finished re- arranging her large library and was exhausted. As suits my biological clock, I was just coming awake at 10 PM when she was turning in. She invited me to bed and I politely declined: I was horny as usual and told her I'd keep her awake. After a couple of more requests from her, I stripped and crawled in beside her. Kathleen loves to snuggle and wasted no time in curling her small body up next to mine. I turned and kissed her. She was oddly responsive for her tired state, and teased me with a hint of tongue in her kisses. I reached down to feel her muff and found it just beginning to rev as her right hand slipped down her belly to her clit.

I took up what has become my customary position between her legs - kneeling and using my cock as a sex toy to tickle her lower labia and the entrance to her cunt. But this time I let my aim wander lower to the wonderful curve where ass, crotch, and leg meet. I rubbed my cock against this soft crescent and expanded the stroke to brush against the entrance to her ass. I noticed that every time that my prick touched her rosebud, her strokes on her clit quickened. It wasn't long before I was pressing the tip of my cock against her asshole.

Surprise! My cock slipped easily into her ass until the entire head was buried inside, and just as I was about to pull out and apoligize, she handed me a bottle of sex lubricant and said "What the fuck? Why not?". I pulled back and poured the lubricant on my hard cock and noticed her pussy was swollen and very wet. I worked my cock back into its previous nest. It was so easy. I could feel her ass muscles relaxing and opening for me. I eased ever so slowly deeper. Such heaven! Like a warm, wet hand gripping all around my prick - so much tighter than pussy, and delightful in an entirely different way. I could feel her hips grind against me as I worked the last of my seven-plus inches into her back door. Realizing where I was and how long it had been since I'd known this pleasure, I had to fight to pull the reigns in on my orgasm.

It seemed like forever - my slow rocking pulling my cock almost full-length out of her ass before easing it back in until my balls rested against her firm buns. Her right hand furiously massaged her clit and her left hand played at the entrance of her cunt, pressing on the full length of her labia. And all the while my cock was enveloped in a firm net of gripping muscles that wrestled to bring the cum from me. "It's so weird," she said as she searched for the grip on her own orgasm. Suddenly, it was upon her. I felt her ass open up like a mouth that was just to blow up a ballon. "Are you close?" she hissed. "No," I grunted. She was close, tho'. Too close to stop. I felt her stiffen and lurch under me. "Uuhhhh! Come on you bastard! Fill my ass!" she yelled as she dug her nails into my back. Amazing what a little dirty talk will do - from that special nowhere where good men hide their orgasms until their lovers are ready, my load bolted from my crotch to my brain and back to my flushed balls. I gripped the pillow with my teeth and jerked my neck back and forth and tried not to deafen Kathleen when my cum blasted out of my cock like water from a firehose. The rush of jism racing up my tube seemed to last for stroke after stroke until sweaty Kathleen gasped, grunted, and pushed me from on top of her. Since I have a little anal experience myself, I knew the sudden discomfort of having something in your ass after you've orgasmed. I considerately slipped out of her despite not having finished my own orgasm to my complete satisfaction.

I kissed her and thanked her for her special gift, but she pushed me away. "Go wash off and fuck my pussy," she said " I feel like something's undone." So after a quick and thorough shower, I returned to the futon where her dripping, swollen twat waited for my not-quite-recovered cock.

And that's another story...

Re:BOFH (2, Funny)

l0cust (992700) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699169)

Hey! Continue ffs! I have tissues ready and who cares about some microsoft patents anyway..

Re:BOFH (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698035)

Ray Ozzie gets paid how much to do WHAT???

Prior Art. (4, Funny)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699039)

Tom Smykowski: Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?

You say that as if it's a bad thing (5, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697977)

If granted, the patent could be used to exclude others from making, using, or selling the 'invention' for 17 years
Not sure I understand your point of view on this one. I consider any legal device that prohibits selling software like Microsoft's to be worthy of praise.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698019)

Usually it's not the concept of Microsoft's software that's all that bad, it's the specific implementation. This makes sure that their implementation is always the only one out there.

Also, patenting something based on the brain is ridiculous. Might as well patent "bi pedal motion", sue everyone in the world and get it over with.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (5, Funny)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698045)

...Might as well patent "bi pedal motion", sue everyone in the world and get it over with.

Except that would only affect people with two legs, not everyone.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (2, Funny)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698077)

...Might as well patent "bi pedal motion", sue everyone in the world and get it over with.
Except that would only affect people with two legs, not everyone.
Yeah, people could avoid being sued by crawling around all day instead of walking.

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698113)

Yeah, people could avoid being sued by crawling around all day instead of walking.
Doesn't stop this guy [pineight.com] or these girls [youtube.com] the woman in this video [youtube.com] and this video [youtube.com] .

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (2, Informative)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698085)

Won't be the only one out there, since software patents are only enforceable in a few countries. Someone in Europe will distribute a decent implementation of it.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698119)

Someone in Europe will distribute a decent implementation of it.
And then the server logs will get subpoenaed so that Microsoft can sue anyone with a U.S. IP address who downloads the implementation.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698907)

Usually it's not the concept of Microsoft's software that's all that bad, it's the specific implementation.

The concept is normally "borrowed" from someone else.

It's only the implementation that's their own.

Re:You say that as if it's a bad thing (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699427)

But if it "mimics the way the brain works" isn't that evidence of prior art?

I don't understand the world.

it's ok they are all going on the B-Ark (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697989)

So are we putting prolific useless patent filers on the B-Ark along with those with their brains stuck somewhere between right and left?

Re:it's ok they are all going on the B-Ark (2, Informative)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698125)

you misunderstood, as sad as it is, we're all descendants of the people from the B-Ark, we don't get to send one out

Re:it's ok they are all going on the B-Ark (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699445)

Speak for yourself!

The patent office - retarding development? (5, Interesting)

TRAyres (1294206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698021)

Essentially what this does is retard the development of obvious software for 17 years.

I wonder if I can get a patent on a 'for' loop and then declare all software that uses it to be violating my patent?

Fucking ridiculous.

Only in America.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698409)

Only in America.

Not hardly. The madness is spreading.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Funny)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698533)

> Cheap +5 Insightful: just say "All Americans suck because {insert generalization here}"

All Americans suck because all generalizations are false.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698445)

The key word here being "retard."

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (5, Interesting)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698509)

This is not a troll. Please realize that as you are reading my post.

It is clear the system is broken, but of all the comments I've ever read on slashdot (as infrequently as that may be) what is the solution? I mean you can't just throw out the thing all together. Having no patenting system would make the whole market far too volatile. If you could start over and rebuild the whole thing, what would you do?

My first thoughts where along the lines of something like:
  • Company 1 comes up with idea and puts a "patent hold" on it. No one else can find out about it.
  • Company 2 comes up with the same / similar idea and puts its own "patent hold" on it. Again, no one finds out.
  • Company 1 finishes its product and takes it to market. Company 2 is informed.
  • Companies 1 and 2 are given patents on the idea. No more companies may put a "hold" on the patent.
  • Company 1 and 2 battle it out, creating competition, but with some market stability.
This way, no one company can sit on it. If they want to do something about what they've come up with, they can't just sit on it. They actually have to act on it, and to minimize their competition, they need to develop it as quickly as possible, effectively incentivising progress.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Insightful)

Shai-kun (728212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698549)

First of all we should get rid of software patents. They are ridiculous, like patents on math.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1, Insightful)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698707)

No!

Patents on non obvious algorithms and Math are very valid and do give a great deal of advantage (plus it keeps a line of jobs for the true geeks). Patents on simple concepts however should be forbidden (not just for software)

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698943)

*Ahem.*

"True geeks" are interested in ideas for their own sake; money---although a certain amount is necessary for survival, and a bit more is desirable for comfort & security---is a secondary concern. And it's obvious you know absolutely nothing about mathematical culture if you would seriously consider the notion of patenting a theory or its proof; mathematicians, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the wisdom of Ben Franklin's words: "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

+3 Insightful? WTF?

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698959)

That would be perfect if you could decide which patent ideas are trivial and which are not. In the end this delimitation cannot be made objectively because everybody has a different way of thinking.

In the past there were no patents and science was going better. Sure, all the major accomplishments were credited to anyone else but the inventor.

This, however, gives an interesting side-effect: when people created they knew there are little chances of getting rich from it, so they did it because they wanted to do it. It's different than all the patent trolls these days that rush to make something patent worthy for some quick bucks.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699459)

Patents on non obvious algorithms and Math are very valid and do give a great deal of advantage (plus it keeps a line of jobs for the true geeks).

Every mathemathical truth is obvious, since it follows from the postulates. And every algorithm is obvious in hindsight.

Patents on simple concepts however should be forbidden (not just for software)

Simple to whom ? The patent examiner, who gets to read the obfuscated patent claim ?

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698715)

Fails.

Either the patent office is required to judge non-trivial implementations of the patent, or acquiring the non-hold-patent just requires whipping up a really quick tech demo.

Also requires Trade Secret-like restrictions on people knowing about Company 1's work leaking it to Company 2.

The easy solution is simple: Patents would cover only knowledge gained from examination of the patent or something implementing the patented technique. Think infectious Copyright... Want a legal reimplementation? Better clean-room it.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (4, Interesting)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698815)

The patent system only makes any sense for protecting inventions. The problem with IT patents - and I've read a lot - is that 99% of them are bleeding obvious. So there's no problem with others finding out about them. Unless, as in this case, the patent is pseudo-scientific twaddle, in which case who cares?

If you're serious, how about replacing the current invention standard for new patents by a jury of software programmers who are presented with the problem and asked to design a solution. If any of them gets close to any "invention" in the would-be patent, it's "obvious" and fails.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1)

gnupun (752725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699413)

Agreed. Patents are needed if programmers want to keep their jobs and prevent competitors from stealing their ideas and future income. However, trivial patents should not be allowed -- legally, a patent must be non-obvious before it is accepted.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (3, Insightful)

monkeythug (875071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699595)

So, just to be clear, you agree that, for example, the inventor of the Quicksort algorithm should have patented it? What about the inventor of the Binary chop search algorithm? Or how about line drawing algorithms such as this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bresenham's_line_algorithm [wikipedia.org]

All of these algorithms were arguably non-obvious at the time.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (3, Insightful)

Inoen (590519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699441)

Unlike copyright, patents don't exist in order to protect inventors. They exist to encourage inventors to publish their inventions rather than keep them as trade secrets.
A book (which is what the first copyright systems covered) is not very useful for the author unless it is published.
Inventions on the other hand can (in many cases) be useful even if kept secret. This is why patents were invented - and why publishing is part of the patenting process.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699435)

I mean you can't just throw out the thing all together.

Yes you can.

Having no patenting system would make the whole market far too volatile.

According to...? As demonstrated by...? Which would be bad because...?

The whole software industry has shown over the last 30 years that patents aren't at all necessary for development; in fact they've rather indicated patents slow down progress. The free software movement is in the middle of demonstrating you don't even need copyright to encourage development.

It's becoming fairly obvious that technological and innovative development is driven by need, necessity, competition and information accessibility. As a thought experiment; lock a smart innovator in a basement for ten years. What do you think he'll have invented when he comes out? Personally I'll bet most of the time it'll be something 9 years and six month out of date, independently invented five times in the first year and completely irrelevant to the world ten years later.

A single innovative mind, or a single development group simply has no chance to beat a million monkeys banging away on their keyboards, as long as the monkey build on each others advances.

If you could start over and rebuild the whole thing, what would you do?

Rebuild it from scratch with the actual purpose in mind. The single most usable feature about the patent system is disclosure. The single most damaging feature is the monopoly nature. So at the very least have those two in mind as fundamental aspects that cannot be compromised.

So to describe one possible example the same way you did:

* Inventor A comes up with an idea and registers it. Now anyone can read about it.
* Company B reads about the idea which solves a problem they're having. They start using it. They register their usage of the active patent and indicate the approximate savings/revenue/units sold derived from the patent.
* Patent office pays Inventor A appropriate remuneration
* Company C reads about the same idea, expands the idea, registers the expansion, and starts using it, again registering the approximate savings and revenue derived from the A part.
* Patent office pays Inventor A appropriate remuneration
* Company B reads about the expansion, incorporates the expansion, register their further use.
* Patent office pays Inventor A and Company C appropriate remuneration
* Etc.

There are several possible objections to this; paperwork and difficulty to assess revenue derived from a specific part. Compare with todays system; today you can either get a) a license from the patent holder which may very well be the same paperwork plus the cost or b) get sued. Which is a whole lot more cost and paperwork. And which may end up with you not being able to use the invention at all. Compared to the usual tax reports this would be a minor reporting issue.

Another objection would be the financing; first, the financing today may seem 'free', but the fact is it's exacted from the economy as a whole as a form of taxation on 'new' products, with licensing costs baked into the end price (in the best case. In the worst case we're paying by products not getting to the market at all). So we're paying in everything from high medical insurance costs to expensive environmentally improved technology.

Financing of a innovation incentive system could be done in any of a number of ways; personally I'd prefer one that didn't penalize things we might actually want rapidly adopted like more efficient medicines or more energy efficient technology. A flat sales tax on the appropriate industry segment might be appropriate. Initially it could even be tuned to approximate current expenditure on patent licenses in the field to ease transition.

Third would be the remuneration process; once you have an actual budget and an actual goal it becomes much easier to maximize the benefit of the funds available. Today nobody is responsible for the budget so we get the patent office granting patents without any regards to the consequences; each patent is effectively a license to tax the economy, but as nobody with an incentive to keep the costs of the system down is represented in the application and granting process we get a constant expanding 'taxation'.

Starting from the available budget and sitting down and evaluating how much and for how long an inventor should get paid in relation to the economic value created by his disclosure of that invention would be far easier. Not easy, but at least you have the factors available; pay more for longer and you can pay fewer inventors, and would have to reject more registrations. Accept more trivial applications and there's less money for each, etc. You get a self-tuning system where the parties may actually lobby for saner rules.

So there would be a lot of advantages; not the least of which would be for inventors, they would no longer have to bother with the whole business thing. Production, sales and marketing can be done by the companies already geared up for it, and in competition. The innovator gets paid anyway. He wouldn't need to sue to get paid either; the ultimate arbiter for both parties is the state, just as in any other tax/incentive scheme.

Re:The patent office - retarding development? (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699505)

Having no patenting system would make the whole market far too volatile. If you could start over and rebuild the whole thing, what would you do?

The problem with patent system is that it tries to reward the invention before its worth has been proven and, on top of that, does it with granting specific legal rights (to exclude others) which is not a liquid tradable item.

A much better system would be to grant the applicant a kickback from increases in government taxes that were made possible by the invention/activity.

This would solve the problem of measuring worth (the applicant would have to prove they increased taxes - this is a much easier task than figuring out whether a gimmick X is worth 20 years patent protection), disentangle inventors and producers (old system was designed for the case when they are the same) and apply to non-patent cases as well (consider education for example).

You can view this as regularization of existing practice of rewarding companies with tax breaks and grants.

I thought so ... (1)

mmarlett (520340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698039)

I thought Microsoft would do this, but I didn't think to patent it first. Crap. Just thinking that I probably owe it money now.

Maybe... (5, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698043)

The left brain doesn't know what the right brain is doing at Microsoft.

Re:Maybe... (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698343)

Their next patent is: How to manage staff that appear to be brain dead.

Looking like Microsoft Managers need something like that right now! They certainly appear to need something like that in the legal division. (I shudder when I imagine what a M$ "think tank" might look like.)

Re:Maybe... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699465)

Their next patent is: How to manage staff that appear to be brain dead.

Have an evil cleric rebuke them until they are commanded ? Microsoft Managers should be able to use half their manager level for that...

Re:Maybe... (1)

ELTaNiN (1297561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699085)

The left brain doesn't even know what itself is doing at Microsoft!!!

Re:Maybe... (1)

garlicbready (846542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699233)

more to the point how this will affect split brain DNS?

prior art .... (2, Interesting)

taniwha (70410) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698063)

it's called the videogame business ....

Re:prior art .... (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698107)

Forget that-it's called life.

How telling, and how sad (4, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698067)

How sad that Microsoft considers metric-driven software development that connects users and developers a new invention. :-(

"At Microsoft, these two halves of the brain come together in the colon."

Metric? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698133)

How sad that Microsoft considers metric-driven software development that connects users and developers a new invention. :-(
You say "metric-driven". Does this make inch-pound-driven software exempt from this patent? ;-)

Re:Metric? (2, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698703)

Well, it certainly confirms their usual methodology is to just pound it out. ;-)

"I'm nearly two kilometers tall."

Re:How telling, and how sad (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698207)

It's sad that you can't be modded +7, Funny AND Insightful

The good new is... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698383)

The application proves they have no brain, which means they have no proof of concept, which may make the patent invalid.

Ugh (4, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698071)

1) This is only an application. Any dumbass can file an application so long as he pays the fees.
2) The poster doesn't even know how long patents last, let alone anything relating to what is *actually* wrong with the patent system.
Just my two eurocents (since they hold their value better).

File + 20 vs. grant + 17 (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698147)

The poster doesn't even know how long patents last
A patent is renewable up to a total of twenty years after the day it was filed. The commonly quoted figure of 17 years after issue used to be law, but it is still reasonable because because it takes close to three years for a patent application to get through the patent office.

Re:Ugh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698175)

The problem is what seems to be the big rubber stamp at the other end of the patent application. And, I strongly suspect any actual attempt to remove that rubber stamp would succeed in only getting it's utility removed from the small fry, and a few minor examples for the press releases. The fat cats will still have it. And, we will still have this problem.

Wrong title (5, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698121)

Microsoft should seek patent on brain-damaged development. At least with that one they will have the monopoly on prior art.

Testing the limits? (4, Interesting)

TheNucleon (865817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698123)

I read some of the patent application. It's the standard format, but the subject matter is remarkable. I can only think that Microsoft is testing what they can get away with at the USPTO.

If I had the money, I would patent the placement of pineapple on pizza in adjacent hexagonal cells to reduce juice runoff. I would have diagrams. It is novel, non-obvious, and I doubt there is prior art. Then we'd see if the folks in the USPTO are even reading these things.

As a (small) stockholder of MSFT, I have to wonder, don't they have better things to do?

Re:Testing the limits? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698541)

It is novel, non-obvious
Sphere packing [wikipedia.org] is well studied. In fact, your particular method is colloquially known as orange packing, after a different fruit.

It's even funnier (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698563)

I read some of the patent application. It's the standard format, but the subject matter is remarkable. I can only think that Microsoft is testing what they can get away with at the USPTO.

If I had the money, I would patent the placement of pineapple on pizza in adjacent hexagonal cells to reduce juice runoff. I would have diagrams. It is novel, non-obvious, and I doubt there is prior art. Then we'd see if the folks in the USPTO are even reading these things.


You seem to assume that if they read it, they'd send you your pizza patent back and tell you to go fly a kite. That's actually incorrect. You'd probably just get the patent anyway. Heck, you could even patent the looks of a pizza.

A patent attorney actually patented his son's way to swing in an oval shape on a swing. The patent office originally didn't want to let it through. The father argued that although there are a couple of patents on swing designs, none is about how to swing on one. He got the patent.

IIRC, someone patented a cap with an american football goalpost on top, and a little ball on a spring to bob around between the posts. It's so stupid, it makes even a propeller beanie seem decent by comparison.

Speaking of american football, there's IIRC a patent on a crochet "replica" of a helmet.

A quick googling also produced this abomination of a hat [costumecraze.com] that claims to be patented.

Etc.

So basically not only you would probably get a patent on that pizza layout, it wouldn't even be the worst you could do with patents. By far. All legal and with them actually reading it.

Re:It's even funnier (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699255)

The people who posted the ad must be missing a few numbers for their patent. Using the patent number supplied you get a patent issued Jan 17 1888 [uspto.gov] .

Re:Testing the limits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698899)

Are you referring to "juice runoff" from when the pizza is sliced, i.e. ensuring that each piece of pineapple is some minimal distance from its slice's edges?

Real People (2, Interesting)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698131)

I find it remarkable that real people put their names to stuff like this.

Anybody here know someone personally with a silly corporate patent like this one? Do they believe in their "work"?

Stephan

Re:Real People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699013)

I personally have lots of patents like this. I do not believe in software patents. I am however very loyal to my employer, and if they want to file patent applications on all my novel ideas then please, by all means, do so. I expect the current patent system to be changed within two years anyway.

Re:Real People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699205)

I personally have lots of patents like this. I do not believe in software patents. I am however very loyal to my employer, and if they want to file patent applications on all my novel ideas then please, by all means, do so. I expect the current patent system to be changed within two years anyway.
Congratulations: you are officially Part Of The Problem(tm).

I personally have denounced lots of Jews to the authorities. I do not believe in the Final Solution. I am however very loyal to the Nazi party, and if they want to gas all the Jews I identify then please, by all means, do so. I expect the Third Reich to fall to the Allies within two years anyway.

(Oops, Godwin strikes again. Darn, you win.)

You're not licesed to user your brain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698153)

So do I get this right? Unless we pay license fees, we're no longer authorized to use our brains because M$ got a patent on synchronizing brain hemispheres?

Microsoft Seeks Patent On Brain-Based Development (2, Funny)

hidannik (1085061) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698159)

...which is a significant improvement over our established posterior-based development process.

This must be patentable... (2, Funny)

Genda (560240) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698165)

I think anyone who reads the article can plainly see that Microsoft has apparently invented a nearly perfect process for blowing their smoke up someones else's ass... I believe this makes them the proud inventors of the remote smoked ham... Bravo Gentlemen!

When they market it... (1, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698181)

Will it finally mean you can have a meaningful conversation with a Mac user which does not include chanting the mantra about how easy the Mac is to use because it only has one button on the mouse?

Two degrees of separation... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698183)

invention ... mimics 'the way that the brain communicates between its two distinct hemispheres'

Microsoft can pry my Corpus Callosum from my cold, dead brain. I think either God can claim or Darwin can demonstrate some sort of prior art here. Just need to schedule a court appearance for one of them...

Re:Two degrees of separation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698331)

The hell with that. Last thing we need is for MS to win that court cause because of a no-show.

Re:Two degrees of separation... (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698461)

Microsoft can pry my Corpus Callosum from my cold, dead brain.


At first I read that as Corpus Cavernosa (saw that an article earlier today was submitted by a user with that nick - must be a dick). Then again, it might be that a typical MS manager has a corpus cavernosa where his/her corpus collosum should be.

Does the movie "Office Space" count as prior art? (1)

jbeach (852844) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698199)

"Well I have to take the customers specs to the engineers...well I don't actually do it myself I either have my secretary do it --or it gets faxed directly to them. "LOOK--I'M A PEOPLE PERSON DAMMIT! I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!"

April Fools Joke (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698297)

It was actually posted on April 1, and it simply took this long to be processed and publicly posted.

The reason why it's listed as having been filed on November 6 is that whomever filed it forgot to turn of the auto-predating feature. (Yeah, I know it's illegal, but we're talking about Microsoft, here).

Patent fees (1)

imneverwrong (1303895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698299)

Perhaps to prevent proliferation of patent applications like this that just waste the examiners time, the patent system could charge fees that start at the marginal cost of examining a patent (e.g. $500), and then double after every n-th patent. That way Microsoft/Bigcorps who hold tens of thousands of patents will at least have to choose which applications to submit, and allows for a properly funded patents office. Who can then turn down applications like this one.

Re:Patent fees (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698367)

It costs something like $5,000-$10,000 to prep a patent, once legal fees are thrown in; a patent pricing scale is trivial in comparison.

I'm still wondering how someone in legal vetted it- this doesn't seem remotely patentable as it's not a process, invention, or even an idea. It's just a person acting as go between, which yeah, has been around since the beginning or time or at least since civilizations started having brokers between their artisan classes and the buyers of such goods.

It's The Same Old Problem Reworked (3, Interesting)

arctanx (1187415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698315)

In part 0016, or in that diagram, it's saying that the designers, engineers, etc. who actually work at Microsoft are all left-brained people, and the customers and people who sell the software are right-brained. Which from a business standpoint puts the "arbitrator" squarely on marketing/sales.

That makes it the same old problem we've been having for years. The engineers have one idea, the clients have another, and there's a communication problem between them. This has been well documented [dilbert.com] .

And to be honest, if Microsoft can really fix that problem with a brain-like structure, they probably deserve a patent for it.

Let them patent it, and enforce the patent (5, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698319)

The concept of program manager is the single most fucked up aspect of Microsoft culture, IMO. Basically, the assumption is that developers can not, on a fundamental level:

1. Talk to each other directly
2. Understand what the customer needs
3. Deliver software on time

Anyone with any brain at all sees immediately that all three assumptions are pure bovine excrement, but there's a large layer of well entrenched PM's at Microsoft, up to about 30% of each product team. 95% of these folks do absolutely nothing but (mis)communicate, hold meetings, "manage releases" (whatever the heck that means) and manage up. The remaining 5% are worth their weight in rare earth metals, but they're a tiny minority and they would be better used in a position of authority, like a Project Manager. Program manger has no reports and no authority over either development or test. Oftentimes they have no specialized education and no area expertise. They are randomly assigned to "areas" and told to "spec them out". Most of them even have to design UI, despite not having any usability or UI design experience (I'm sure that explains a lot). So they throw together a primitive spec, and the developer (who is typically an area expert) then spends a lot of time trying to politely explain how big a pile of flaming poo their spec is and why certain things need to be done differently to be even possible.

The worst part is, PM role is typically considered something of a fast track to management. So you end up with a lot of people who have not a slightest idea what they're talking about making strategic decisions.

So I say, let them have it. The rest of the world will just assume that their developers and testers have a brain. Seems to be a pretty safe assumption to make, most of the time.

Re:Let them patent it, and enforce the patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698757)

Very true, I work there too :)

On top of that our CEO is the most bitter, vindictive bad tempered CEO you ever could have.

 

Re:Let them patent it, and enforce the patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698969)

"I'm going to fucking kill Anonymous Coward!"
-- Steve Ballmer, seconds before throwing another chair.

Re:Let them patent it, and enforce the patent (1)

FreudianNightmare (1106709) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698937)

...developers can not, on a fundamental level: 1. Talk to each other directly 2. Understand what the customer needs 3. Deliver software on time .
To be fair though, this does sound about right to me. And I speak as a developer here. Of course, this doesn't mean problem solved, since I would (turn and turn about) assume that management, of nearly every stripe can't:

1: Talk to the customer without unrealistically inflating their expectations and WON'T talk to the developers to see if what they just promised is even possible.
2: Understand what the customer might be able to get for a given amount of cash and time.
3) Deliver software on time.

I call it the 'Yes, but I've told the customer it will shoot lasers' syndrome.*

Either way, the concept of Program Manager is hardly unique to MS. Sadly.

*. Sadly, this doesn't work as derogatory if you work in a Laser laboratory.

Karma Bedamned! (0, Offtopic)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698321)

I will shoot myself in the face before I accept MS's ideology.
I'm happy with Kubuntu 8.04, so GO AWAY MS.
Check my post history-I gave up on MS's bullshit long ago.

Re:Karma Bedamned! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699317)

You have a hotmail email address.

Another patent (1)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698341)

I heard the CEO has just been awarded patent #093454509485, Method and Apparatus for the Reproduction of Human Life, because that process (now patented) mimics what he wishes could happen every time he logs on to the Internet on a lonely evening.

Bwa? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698361)

... I don't understand what the summary said. Please, someone, explain for me.

Re:Bwa? (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698415)

They patented managers.

Re:Bwa? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698575)

I thought that was already patented!

PHB must be running MS (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698381)

This should not be an issue...Kill it before it breeds!
Anything else is just excuses
Quit enabling this shit, otherwise it is your own fault.

Re:PHB must be running MS (1)

awrowe (1110817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699155)

That was almost a haiku! Wish I had mod points.

Wait a second... (2, Insightful)

catdevnull (531283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698413)

I thought the idea of the patent was to protect an invention--the method or design of the apparatus--not an idea. Ideas aren't worth jack; it's the invention that makes the idea come to reality that is the patentable item.

This is just, excuse the expression, patently absurd.

Unfortunately you can patent business processes (2, Informative)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698553)

That's somewhat recent. And just plain wrong, but there it is.

I think that can be done only in the US. Are there other countries that allow business process patents?

OH my God!! (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698443)

Does this mean that Microsoft owns the rights to my brain now???

On the other hand... (0)

plowfunkel (1151639) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698477)

Microsoft applies for patents primarily to defend itself should it become the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. MS isn't a patent hawk, they make nearly all their money from selling software, but they are a constant target of patent lawsuits. Until the patent system is fixed, these defensive patents are completely acceptable.

Re:On the other hand... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698655)

Is Microsoft only a victim?
Haven't they implied on more than one occasion that Linux is violating X patents?

That sure doesn't sound like a victim...

Re:On the other hand... (1)

awrowe (1110817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699183)

A patent is supposed to be protective, not defensive. The idea is that a patent allows the holder to exploit his/her idea for a certain amount of time without interference.

Getting a patent and sitting on it without using it is abhorrent. It is basically saying 'I'm not going to use this idea, but I'm going to make sure no one else can either'. It isn't what the patents system was intended for.

Defensive patents being perfectly acceptable? What a load of shit. All a defensive patent does is choke the market

A idea (3, Funny)

ozonearchitect (1290376) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698515)

They need to patent their OS releases... it mimics the way a human being takes a dump.

I'm patenting the deliberate creation of shyte s/w (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698551)

Business Process and Method:

By creating bolloxed, over-complex software applications, interfaces, frameworks, and modules, the "wrong-minded" "development organization" thus enables an entire business
eco-system engaged in the production of "for dummies" manuals, malware detection and security services, and IT support, which is needed to arbitrate between the shyte software, and the "right-brained" users.

finally, a REAL reason to bash microsoft... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698827)

Having a casual interest in what's inside my own head, I've done a little light reading about the left/right brain issue, i.e. lateralization of brain function. Even that small amount of light reading has taught me that the notion of there being "left brained" or "right brained" people is the result of no-brained journalists (redundant?) mischaracterizing the results of early functional brain-mapping research. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] says it well (emphasis mine):

Popular psychology tends to make broad and sometimes pseudoscientific generalizations about certain functions (e.g. logic, creativity) being lateral, that is, located in either the right or the left side of the brain. Researchers often criticize popular psychology for this, because the popular lateralizations often are distributed across both hemispheres, [1] although mental processing is divided between them. ... Hines (1987) states that the research on brain lateralization is valid as a research program, though commercial promoters have applied it to promote subjects and products far out of the implications of the research. For example, the implications of the research have no bearing on psychological interventions such as EMDR and neurolinguistic programming (Drenth 2003:53), brain training equipment, or management training. One explanation for why research on lateralization is so prone to exaggeration and false application is that the left-right brain dichotomy is an easy-to-understand notion, which can be oversimplified and misused for promotion in the guise of science.[9] The research on lateralization of brain functioning is ongoing, and its implications are always tightly delineated, whereas the pseudoscientific applications are exaggerated, and applied to an extremely wide range of situations.

A little more reading will also tell you that functional lateralization is far from exact; for example, while right-handers typically have speech centers located in the left hemisphere, lefties are more likely to have speech control divided between both hemispheres. Are there statistical tendencies in function lateralization? In so far as there are tendencies in function localization, yes. Furthermore, there's nothing wrong with saying that people have certain information-processing preferences. (Oh, and by the way, it's usually much easier to just ask people what their preferences are, rather than using one of those lame MBTI tests. Self-reported preferences don't automatically become "scientific" by assigning them alphanumerical codes.) However, the ideas that you can (1) infer properties of someone's neurological structure based on their job title, and (2) use said properties to devise an optimal communications strategy, are 100% grade-A #1 hogwash. The media's gross unwillingness (or, more likely, inability) to interpret basic research leads to all kinds of farces like this. (For example - the next time someone refers to that old chestnut about how we use only 10% of our brains, consider what the result of using 100% of your brain would be: a skull-fucking seizure. Med students, back me up! Or tell me off; I just want to know...)

(begin microrant) But the worst exploiters of this pseudo-scientific garbage are educational consultants - you know, the ones who neurotic mothers pay (either directly, at clinics, or indirectly, through shitty-book sales) to have their children diagnosed as misunderstood geniuses. "Oh, my little Johnny! Sure, he gets Cs and Ds in every subject in school, but that's just because he's a special learner! He's a right-brained, visual-spatial prodigy with mild autism and extra cheese, just like Einstein! The teachers just don't know how to deal with him!" Here's a hint, folks: the more stringent the conditions under which someone's genius is supposed to manifest itself, the more likely that said genius is nothing more than neurotic maternal rationalizing. Every mother wants to believe that her child is special, and today there are legion Education PhDs (cough*bullshit*cough) who will tell her just that. Oh, and when did every incompetent do-nothing on the internet get self-diagnosed autism? Was that before or after the lolcats meme? (end microrant)

Just for laughs, let's pretend, just for a minute, that the bogus medical premiss under which this patent was filed has some validity. Microsoft says, in essence, that software developers are typically "left-brained" and users are typically "right-brained", and Microsoft conflates technical skill with a preference for sequential, analytical information processing (v. holistic, synthetic processing). Not only does the former association (techies=left-brained) seem to be based on little more than some marketroid's stereotyped conception of programming work, but the latter association is just ridiculous: in my experience, the typical business user (e.g. MBAs, accountants - NUMBERS guys!) easily fall more in line with a left-brained stereotype. I could go on, but why bother; my point is simply: not only is the patent's premiss without grounding in scientific reality, but its retarded logic isn't even self consistent, i.e. Excel users should be "left-brained" while Photoshop users are "right-brained". As many other comments in this thread point out, there are other, more obvious (and unpatentable) reasons for the failure of software projects than a "left-brain"/"right-brain" mismatch.

But If I might do a little baseless speculation of my own, I'd posit that people who push these simplified views of human nature are suffering from arrested development - specifically, they're unable to grow beyond a high-school mentality where every person can be labeled a jock/nerd (and subdivided further based on certain school-subject performance in any given year). For these people, the notion that a software developer ("left-brained") could also play saxophone in a local ska band, or the notion that a business user ("right-brained") could teach calculus on Thursday evenings---these things are utterly incomprehensible to the person whose conception of sociodynamics is basically an internalization of "Revenge of the Nerds".

In conclusion: this is the most retarded thing I've read all year. I'm simply overwhelmed by the ignorance contained therein; perhaps someone else can take the next step and Google the four so-called "inventors" for the purpose of further ridicule.

MOD PARENT UP DAMMIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699541)

Damn it, where are my mod points when I need them? Kudos to you, AC, for actually knowing something about the subject (or doing a convincing impression thereof).

I too am fed up with pseudo-neuroscientific bullshit. In fact, it's led me to change one of the key points of my philosophy: I used to oppose the death penalty. I still oppose its use for murderers and the like, but would wholeheartedly support its use on lazy journalists, who do far, far more damage to humanity than even the most prolific serial killer.

Dear Mr. Ozzie - go screw yourself (1)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698973)

I have so many fundamental objections to this... but ignoring the technical reasons (ie. it shouldn't be a patent, period)...

I'm an engineer.

I'm also a writer (of fiction, no less).

I'm also an artist.

I communicate well with others.

I appreciate music. I have insight. I understand 3d forms.

If this is how you, Mr. Ozzie, run your org, you can expect me never to consider working there. Ever. Because frankly, the idea of being pigeonholed as a bit-pusher annoys the hell out of me.

You know what you get if you encourage your programmers to use the other side of their brains? Better, more well rounded, autonomous programmers who can get the job done better. The whole idea of segregating people into classes of "well, obviously, this guy is only fit to write code", and "well, obviously, this guy is only fit to be an artist" is frankly abhorrent to me.

Re:Dear Mr. Ozzie - go screw yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699143)

I think the essential problem is that people who do have only one skill are fundamentally terrified of someone who could easily do their jobs and his own. It's much more comforting for them to say, "well, he's a coding genius, but he can't communicate worth a damn! Good thing I'm around to interpret for him!"

In trying to debunk the myth of the socially-inept single-minded superprogrammer, I've learned that the only way to eradicate these stereotypes is to actively bypass insecure managers and "business analysts" and begin working with customers yourself. Just as most technical people are able to translate computerspeak into non-technical terms when given the chance... most customers are also better able to understand these translations than we give them credit for! (Even if it requires a little forethought, "talking down" shouldn't be something we're afraid of. Really, anyone who can't explain his job---at least on a functional level---to another human being probably doesn't understand it himself.) Eventually, the customer figures out that good people are good in multiple domains.

(Three caveats: (1) it requires initiative on our (the engineers') part; (2) depending on your local business culture, the reactions of newly-clued managers and "business analysts" can get ugly; (3) as the customer learns how worthless the IT middleware staff are, you'll begin accruing new, unpaid responsibilities. The last can be nice for variety's sake, but since many of us are overworked as it is...)

Alas, there's another side of the coin: "bad" people are also "bad" in multiple domains... in practice, poor communicators are almost always poor programmers, too. (Dijkstra was right! And I say "almost" always only because of the foreign language issue. Anyone who's never done tech interviews, let me tell you: it can be very difficult to determine if a foreign resident who's learning English really has all his/her marbles.) Since these programmers (and there are many of them) will always need the support of a manager and "business analyst" to ensure a minimum level of output, the latter needn't worry about losing their jobs just yet. Mediocrity can apparently flourish anywhere.

It's funny, you know. I would have thought that Feynman had shattered the old cultural "scientist" archetype for good.

To be fair (1)

semi-old-geek (791138) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699405)

Maybe they just "discovered" this method, it certainly would explain a lot of the software they have released over the years.

Strange generalization (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699515)

Microsoft argues that its 'invention' of having a Program Manager act as an arbitrator/communicator between a group of right-brained software users and left-brained software developers mimics 'the way that the brain communicates between its two distinct hemispheres
Ehh...so all software-users are right-brained while the developers are left-brained?

Sure, there is a rough schism between humanists and engineers, but acting as a mediator between those is what the field of Human-Computer Interaction has been concentrating on for years.

Microsoft is trying to patent my education, wtf?!

Just wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23699537)

I'm going to be ignorant to the point of absurdity and ask what would happen if people disregard patent laws in the same way that people disregard copyright laws?

Prior Art (2, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23699599)

I am prior art, having served as a Program Manager on various occaisions. I would like to see them sue me over my resume.
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