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Microsoft Patents 1826 Choropleth Map Technique

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the right-click-add-to-dictionary dept.

Microsoft 183

theodp writes "A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"

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183 comments

I reject your patent, M$. (5, Interesting)

Yuff (2748669) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601597)

How can We The People put an end to this nonsense? They are not patenting, so much as stealing. How can we petition the US PTO to have a patent re-examined and to have the a$$wipe who accepted the patent application be fired for incompetence?

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601647)

What nonsense?
did Baron Pierre Charles Dupin describe how to implemented his idea on a computer? the technical details? No?
The patent is on how to do it with a computer; which is a different thing.

There are many things wrong with the patent system, this is not one of them.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601743)

The patent is on how to do it with a computer; which is a different thing.

No, it isn't.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (2)

Entropius (188861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601861)

Grandparent is being snarky, satirizing all of the patents for "X on a computer!" or "X on the internet!", where X is a well-known thing.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601961)

... how is this semantically different from the "X with a digital clock!" And "X with a built in radio!" That happened in the 70s and 80s?

Didn't it get shown that simply adding (random X) to (Known product Y) does not constitute a new invention?

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602207)

That's the old calculus: X+(known product Y) = (known product XY) and you only pay for the X component. With the new
"math" they can do this: (known product Y)+(new patent) = 0 and so: (new patent) = - (known product Y).

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602511)

Grandparent is being snarky, satirizing all of the patents for "X on a computer!" or "X on the internet!", where X is a well-known thing.

He, geekoid, is such a regular troll and full of so much bitterness and sarcasm, I haven't the slightest clue what his intent is. Sarcasm is almost useless as a form of communication. If you have a point, have the balls to clearly make it.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602597)

Whooooooooooosh!

I think that's the old way to reply. Sorry, maybe there's a new way?

In bed (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602799)

This is like the secret fortune cookie decoder. add "in bed" after the phrase. Always works. IN this case it's take any known thing and add "using a computer".

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601769)

If that patent actually contained source code, maybe you'd have a point. It likely doesn't though.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (2)

localman (111171) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601793)

Please tell me this is an example of Poe's law [wikipedia.org] . Please.

I "invented" this years before they did. There are no technical details that are not obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (5, Insightful)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601821)

The patent system grants monopolies on machines in order to encourage people to put in the effort to invent. They are supposed to have time to earn back the money spent inventing.
This patent covers something which isn't new, and probably cost more to patent than to "invent" since it already existed.
It also doesn't achieve any if the original goals of the patent system.

And just because someone takes an existing method and patents executing it on a computer that doesn't make it new or novel or worthy of protection.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (1)

DM9290 (797337) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601915)

The patent is on how to do it with a computer; which is a different thing.

yeah cuz its so hard to do things with a computer.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602789)

Quick: someone tell the IPhone 'Flashlight app' guy to patent his amazing invention ... its done with a computer.

Reminds me of a cartoon where a hobo looks in amazement at a neighbouring hobo with a sign saying 'beggar.com' and a queue of banker-types lined up to give him money.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (2, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601803)

How can We The People put an end to this nonsense?

Haven't you heard? It's legal to vote the incumbents out.. The 98% of voters and the folks complaining here who reelect these people ought to try it some time. The results might surprise them, pleasantly or otherwise, but until they make a feeble effort at it, they can't possibly know.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601855)

Haven't you heard? It's legal to vote the incumbents out..

Uh, hate to tell you, but you can't 'vote the bastards out', you can only 'vote another bastard in'.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602339)

There is only one bastard. You can freely choose whether to get squeezed by the left fist (blue glove) or the right fist (red glove). This gives you the comforting illusion that you have a real choice.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602387)

It's legal to vote the incumbents out

The "incumbents" are the entire system. By the time you vote, it's like wagering on a polo match. You may have a "winning" ticket in your pocket, but it's a $2 bet. You still can't afford to sponsor a team, or even one lousy pony. See over there, under that canopy? You know, the one where the team sponsors sit and sip champagne? THOSE are the incumbents, and you can't vote them out.

You can, however, march onto the field and feed beef-a-rino to their horses. And yes, that's a Seinfeld reference; because revolutions don't have to be violent. We can have a sense of humor about this. We don't have to tear down the system like the crypto-communists you meet at Occupy rallies have suggested. Their thesis that our system can't be reformed is demonstrably false, as we've done it TWICE and by coincidence under guys named Roosevelt.

Now get cracking on REAL reform, which means a credible 3rd party that somehow manages to marry the sane grievances expressed by the Tea Party and Occupy movements. In other words, we need a neo-progressive movement. Note--Progressive doesn't necessarily mean "leftist", it means just what it says, and be similar to the original movement: Progress in a new direction based on flaws exposed through new media.

It just so happens that the original Progressive movement could be easily categorized as leftist because the right was in firm control when it took place. Today, we see loci of control imposed by both the left and the right. Entrenched public employee unionism and the military-industrial complex would BOTH be routed out under a new progressive movement. It can be done without violent revolution. It can be done "American style" without the bloodshed we've seen in Europe.

Get crackin'.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (2)

qweqazqsc (2748077) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602021)

There are multiple processes available to kill this patent (reexamination, post-grant review, inter partes review). However, they are all fairly expensive.

We are talking the government here. Mistake happen. If we are gutting the government for incompetence, the PTO is really not my top concern.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602085)

The thing is, this is not fixed by petitioning the PTO, the problem in a nutshell is: laws are for sale to the highest bidding lobbyist and if you don't like they can always come 2am in the morning, kick in your door, shoot your dog, point a gun into your pregnant wife's face and disappear you into indefinite detention (NDAA). If I had advise how to get started on fixing this, I would say this:

1. Get rid of your television.

2. Stop eating junk food. Junk food is pretty much boiled and pasteurized GMO food scraps (you thought they were using prime cuts in those burgers, right?) devoid of vitamins and other nutrients and laced with a cocktail of toxic chemicals. Yes there is silicone in McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.

3. Stop taking their (prescription) drugs.

4. Start educating yourself. Get in the habit of researching for yourself instead of watching History Channel or using Wikipedia.

5. Spend time away from everybody and everything else .. go for long walks and sort out your thoughts.

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602239)

Wow, you only left out "buy a gun", and we'd have a dead ringer for the Unibomber! ;)

(That said, I agree with you on all but #3, which you'd understand why if you'd actually followed #4)

Re:I reject your patent, M$. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602817)

Really that's interesting because well I have a habit of doing #4, so let's pick a rather popular class of
prescription drugs. Statins. The way they work is they prevent the production of cholesterol by
interfering with an enzyme needed to produce cholesterol. What is inhibited is also known as the
Mevalonate pathway. Cholesterol is merely one of the products of the MVP and cholesterol is a
steroid. In fact, all steroids are synthesized from cholesterol so by shutting off cholesterol synthesis you
are also shutting off steroid hormone synthesis. Testosterones and estrogens are steroid hormones
and I'm sure you heard of these but Aldosterone for example regulates the sodium and potassium
in your kidneys and Cortisol is required among other things for Gluconeogenesis, that is converting
dietary proteins into sugars. But it gets better, interfering with the Mevalonate Pathyway you are also
shutting down Coenzyme Q10 synthesis (which is why outside the US they routinely give Q10 supplements
to statin "users"). Q10 is required for ATP synthesis in your mitochondria, your cells all run on ATP
for fuel do I have to say more? But keep taking it like the doctor "ordered" it, if it makes your pecker
go limp well there's viagra for that and we can give you testosterone shots (that in turn also downregulate
androgen production but oh well).

Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (5, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601639)

It is time to go back to a 13 year patent and 17 year copyright cycle, with a renewal of patent available only to a Natural Person (e.g. not a fictional Corporation) holding a patent for one period, and with copyright renewable only by the Natural Person who authored the work, in 17 year periods, assignable to one spouse, children or heirs (other than Fictional Persons such as Corporations), until said person is deceased for three years.

If it worked for our founding fathers, who didn't have the Internet, and thus had longer lag times, it should work for America.

Exisiting patent and copyright grants should be allowed to conclude their grant cycle, provided it is less than or equal to said period, with the holder reverting to the Natural Person at the expiry of such lease. But not created and renewed.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (5, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601853)

"If it worked for our founding fathers..." is a terrible argument. Even when you're trying to say that things get old faster so they same time period is effectively longer.

I take the opinion that most of the copyright-based industries are actually false economies. They have built up a business model based on the scarcity of a tangible object (vinyl or paper), and expect to continue that via artificial scarcity. It doesn't make any sense.

The duration argument has already been made. Optimum length for a copyright for both the owner and society as a whole is 14-17 years, depending on who you ask. It has nothing to do with the circumstances long ago. We adjust as times change.

http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2007/07/research-optimal-copyright-term-is-14-years/ [arstechnica.com]

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (4, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602023)

Both arguments work. But the insanity of continuing with our out of control system is just that - insanity.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601877)

Maybe just abolish the system altogether and replace it with nothing.

http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602041)

I am sorry, but ACs are clearly not Natural Persons and thus have no say in either Copyright or Patent.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601923)

Agreed, with the exception of the "Natural Person" language. "Person" should cover it quite nicely. And we can reinforce the point by sending anyone--particularly, but not exclusively, any judge or politician--who claims that corporations are people to labor camps in some American version of Siberia, say North Dakota, where they will be clothed in rags, housed in huts, fed on gruel, and worked to the edge of death. When their sentences are up, we can ask them if they understand the difference between corporations and people yet.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602063)

After long thought, I am not going to agree to allowing AIs, ACs, Cyborgs (we have a cool seminar on advanced robotics and remote imaging this Thursday at 3:30 pm), or Robots to be included.

Or Corporations.

But I like your idea of a Gulag for Corporate Believers.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (4, Interesting)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602221)

Corporations are Soylent Green.
Made of people is not the same as people.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602333)

Well while I see your point on the whole "Corp as a Person" thing it started out so that a company could own property so that it could continue on and it made growth and continuance easier.
Just removing person hood from corporations would be bad. You have to change the law so that corporations can own property.
Then I would want every company to have a "person responsible" for the company. this is a person who...
A) Makes the largest percentage of the companies profit or its largest salary.
or
B) The person who has control over the company as a whole.

This person would be the one to go to prison or be put to death for the crimes of "The Company".

Then you can yank person hood from companies.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602413)

Just removing person hood from corporations would be bad. You have to change the law so that corporations can own property.

That's what the law always said, at least until the idea of corporate personhood was invented. Corporations are legal entities to which we grant certain privileges, some of which happen to correspond to the rights of people: owning property, signing contracts, etc. Corporate personhood is a completely unnecessary addition.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602545)

Agreed, with the exception of the "Natural Person" language. "Person" should cover it quite nicely. And we can reinforce the point by sending anyone--particularly, but not exclusively, any judge or politician--who claims that corporations are people to labor camps ...

I hate to have to be the one to inform you of this, but corporations were invented by the Romans for the purpose of being considered a person under the law. "Corporations are people" has been the quick legal definition of what a corporation is for over two thousand years. This is why the founding fathers used language like "Natural Persons" to distinguish living people from fictional legal entities.

The Supreme Court's error is not in stating the obvious but in finding that Congress, which allows corporations to exist, has no power to regulate their activities.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602905)

And, since you post this as an AC, we can see that you too are Not A Person, and thus unworthy of being considered.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#41603157)

I hate to have to be the one to inform you of this, but corporations were invented by the Romans for the purpose of being considered a person under the law. "Corporations are people" has been the quick legal definition of what a corporation is for over two thousand years.

I hate to have to be the one to inform you of this, but asserting a thing doesn't make it so. Evidence?

This is why the founding fathers used language like "Natural Persons" to distinguish living people from fictional legal entities.

When and where did they do that, exactly? The phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution. OTOH, the latter document refers to "person," "persons," and "people" repeatedly, with no indication whatsoever that these words are supposed to refer to anything other than actual living, breathing human beings.

Protip: don't be this guy [theonion.com] .

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602671)

And we can reinforce the point by sending anyone--particularly, but not exclusively, any judge or politician--who claims that corporations are people to labor camps in some American version of Siberia, say North Dakota, where they will be clothed in rags, housed in huts, fed on gruel, and worked to the edge of death. When their sentences are up, we can ask them if they understand the difference between corporations and people yet.

So basically, you're saying that anyone who thinks that corporations are (legal) persons should be sent to concentration camps?

Do you get paid by corporations? Because you certainly sound like a discredit shill. You, and all like you - whether you're paid or just plain evil - are part of the problem. The problem being that humans are willing to do bad things to other humans in the name of profits, ideology, religion, or whatever. And when they do, you? You're right there, waving cheerfully as the newest bunch of victims is shipped off. Fuck you.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602029)

It is time to go back to a 13 year patent and 17 year copyright cycle, with a renewal of patent available only to a Natural Person (e.g. not a fictional Corporation) holding a patent for one period, and with copyright renewable only by the Natural Person who authored the work.

Say goodbye to the corporate research lab pioneered by Edison, Steinmetz, Westinghouse. How much of a debt does the geek owe to AT&T and Bell Labs, Xerox and PARC?

The geek doesn't like to see himself as a small part of some larger corporate entity.

But in the real world that is how the big jobs get done.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602097)

In the real world much of the funding is by foundations, which have no choice but to spend the money on research, based on their charters.

Nice try, though.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602585)

Say goodbye to the corporate research lab pioneered by Edison, Steinmetz, Westinghouse.

We already have. [businessweek.com]

How much of a debt does the geek owe to AT&T and Bell Labs, Xerox and PARC?

See above. Time to stop dreaming about the glory days, because they're gone and not coming back.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602033)

i don't disagree, but isn't 13 years of patent implicitly much longer now than it was then? i mean, it would take years for an invention to be produced in any quantity and finally make it across a few states. since an invention can nowadays be fabbed up within a week and sold in millions within a month, i'd say that the patent term, adjusted for production and innovation rate, should be on the order of months.

however there is perhaps greater risk today (there isn't, but then again we've also become much more risk-averse), so maybe we should be generous and leave the patent term at a year (with extension for a second year), at least for software and electronics.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602089)

True. Good argument. Time to market, time for distribution, even the money markets work faster in venture financing than they used to.

However, I think sticking with a base 13 and base 17 cycle grants us a reasonable time period. When looking at pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, the human trials period can be many years in duration.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (2)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602531)

yeah, patent term should scale with how regulated the industry is. pharma is an extreme outlier and should be handled separately.

Re:Time to return to 13 yr patent 17 yr copyright (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602885)

Interesting point. Yet, when we allow exemptions and exceptions, we find that they are always used as justification to extend more exemptions and exceptions to other non-worthy classes.

Better to keep to a Golden Mean, or median, and let the chaff fall by the wayside.

Other countries get along with far shorter periods for their pharma and medical patents.

First-to-file isn't a problem (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601681)

By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"

The entire rest of the world works just fine using first-to-file for patents. The US is an anomaly with first-to-invent.

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (4, Informative)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601749)

Exactly. Prior art is still considered when awarding a patent. If the map really is prior art, the patent can be invalidated (through courts or through the patent office). What first-to-file solves is having two inventors almost simultaneously filling for a patent. They may have never heard of each others work, and it becomes difficult to find who really invented it first. The only sane thing is to award it to the first person to file.

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (1)

Narrowband (2602733) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602213)

Thanks, this is actually pretty informative. I had actually been thinking over the implications of a first to file system in the sense of truly first to file, without prior art being considered... and taking out a patent on "a process of generating heat by igniting combustible materials" (read: inventing fire) was starting to sound appealling.

I was in the process of thinking up arguments for defending the invention on grounds that wasn't obvious (whole generations of early man probably lived without it) and that nobody had yet filed a claim on it, when I read your post.

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602481)

Prior art is hardly ever considered. Just look at all the patents have been successful. They pretty much all have tons of prior art. The patent office's job is to make things easy for the big corporations that own the government.

But not looking at prior art was a problem that existed long before "first to file". Microsoft, IBM, Apple, etc., wanted "first to file" as it gives them a huge advantage over small companies who can't afford an expensive patent team. It takes small companies longer to file patents. If a big company invents second and files first, then they win. It works even better when you have access to customer data as Microsoft, IBM, Apple, and others do. The various disadvantages small players face was well documented when "first to file" was first introduced.

In short, the net effect of "first to file" is to fuck over everyone except for big, rich corporations. This is really just common sense. Microsoft, IBM, Apple, etc. payed to get "first to file" adopted because it is good for them and their ilk and bad for competition.

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (4, Insightful)

Drishmung (458368) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602723)

You appear to inhabit a different dimension to mine, for in mine, first to invent seems to most benefit big, rich corporations. Are you arguing that the current system is NOT broken? Are you arguing that 'first to file' as used everywhere else in the world is better than 'first to invent'? The evidence for this is?

The patent system is broken. Making 'first to file' is not going to fix the whole thing. It probably won't make any significant difference (other changes are needed as well), but it won't make it any worse or any more corrupt.

Start by throwing out business process patents, then software patents. That will fix a lot. I'm almost persuaded that we should just abolish patents altogether, because I don't see much economic justification for them. Are the big companies, at least the ones that actually make something, going to stop innovating because of a lack of patents? Really? REALLY?

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602913)

Yeah because first-to-invent has really stopped all those megacorps from getting tons of patents, right?

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (2)

ultranova (717540) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602761)

If the map really is prior art, the patent can be invalidated (through courts or through the patent office). What first-to-file solves is having two inventors almost simultaneously filling for a patent.

/blockquoteA>

If two inventors simultanously apply for the same patent, shouldn't it be denied of the basis of obviousness?

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41603029)

They may have never heard of each others work, and it becomes difficult to find who really invented it first. The only sane thing is to award it to the first person to file.

What are you, Stupid? If two people "invent" something within such a close temporal proximity then the "invention" is simply an obvious iterative idea -- It's NOT patentable.

My problem with patents is that we have enough inventors now that many more of them waste their precious R&D discovering a patent already exists for what they've just created. When you grant the first researcher the patent to monetize their investment of time and effort, you steal away all other researchers' ability to monetize their independent investments. Monopolies are Bad. Monopolies on Ideas are Horrible.

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (2)

reebmmm (939463) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601757)

Agreed. First-to-file is a bit of a misnomer. It's more like a first-inventor-to-file regime. If anything, the first-inventor-regime is actually more protective because it has an absolute novelty requirement. If someone else publishes before you file, you get nothing. You get no grace period over someone else publishing, using or marketing an invention -- you do get a grace period with respect to your own publication.

There is not going to be a rush to the patent office to file a patent on sex [youtube.com] .

Re:First-to-file isn't a problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602317)

Get rid of them all. Time for new system: First to sue!

This is old stuff (1)

cvtan (752695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601725)

I remember doing this in Excel ten years ago to make semiconductor device wafer maps and crude gray-scale images. You change the color palette to add more gray levels and then use conditional formatting to color the cells. Ta Da! An image! A patent on a fancier version of this is obvious so there should be no patent. Pfft!

Pillage and Plunder! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601737)

"By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"

Oh really. So I do have an invention and I'm trying to bring it to market but I can't afford the many patents I need to protect my business.. with the current system I can at least claim prior art, go to court and pay a lot of money and if I'm lucky I might still be able to do what I was doing. .. but with the new system they can just come anytime, afford the huge patent attorney fees and filing fees and take it all away. Fuck this shit, this country really sucks ass. For real, how much more evil can it get? How much more unbalanced, unfair and skewed? The way I see it this is carte blanche to pillage and plunder because I can't afford all those fees, but for them it is peanuts. Again: fuck this shit.

Re:Pillage and Plunder! (1, Flamebait)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601809)

If you don't like it, move to another country.

Oh wait, the rest of the world already does it that way.

Re:Pillage and Plunder! (1)

DM9290 (797337) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601817)

If you don't like it, move to another country.

just boycott american products.

Re:Pillage and Plunder! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601945)

When did we start having products again?

Re:Pillage and Plunder! (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602939)

You do realize that the whole rest of the world is on a first-to-file system for patents already, right? theodp is an idiot an a troll who doesn't understand what the "first-to-invent" and "first-to-file" part even means. It's about when there are patent applications from two parties for the same idea. It has nothing to do with prior art.

I already "invented" this in 2005 (4, Insightful)

localman (111171) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601761)

When I was working on internal sales tools for a company that sold shoes, I created a heat map of their sizing grid: I colored each data cell a lighter or darker shade depending on the sales number in that cell. It was so exciting and original that I think a couple people said "thanks, that's neat" before we moved on.

How the hell did this get patented, and how can I submit my prior art to invalidate it?

We've been experiencing this corruption of the patent system for over a decade now. It costs our nation millions and millions of dollars. Is there any serious effort to fix it?

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601977)

I have you beat by four years. In 2001, as part of my Master's research, I was plotting power supply efficiency against two variables, using different colors to represent different efficiency values. Sorry, patent is really OURSES!

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (1)

belgianguy (1954708) | about a year and a half ago | (#41603091)

www.askpatents.com [askpatents.com] seems to be your best shot at getting Prior Art visible to the shamefully incompetent USPTO. They pay their employees peanuts in comparison to this thievery and have them stamp away at anything really, creating IP worth millions in lawsuits and fees from almost nothing. And they expect the system to correct their mistakes instead of fool-proofing or advancing their own methods.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41603097)

Mathematica did this 20 years ago, without sweat.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (1)

qweqazqsc (2748077) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602061)

Why do you automatically assume it was corruption?

More than likely, it was just a poor job by some junior examiner.

I never understand why people are so surprised that the PTO screws up so often. They are a giant bureaucracy that has to handle a really complex job.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602711)

Why do you automatically assume it was corruption?

Because it's routinely condoned with no realistic attempt to fix it or to actually adhere to the sole primary goal (to advance the arts).

They are a giant bureaucracy that has to handle a really complex job.

An impossible job. Even a scientist work in a very narrow field for their entire working life will make mistakes about whether something has been done before. It is the height of hubris by the PTO to pretend they are capable of doing this job. They're not even close.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602275)

When I was working on internal sales tools for a company that sold shoes, I created a heat map of their sizing grid: I colored each data cell a lighter or darker shade depending on the sales number in that cell. It was so exciting and original that I think a couple people said "thanks, that's neat" before we moved on.

How the hell did this get patented, and how can I submit my prior art to invalidate it?

We've been experiencing this corruption of the patent system for over a decade now. It costs our nation millions and millions of dollars. Is there any serious effort to fix it?

Excel has had conditional formatting since at least Office 2000 apparently.

And apppaaaaaaarently, you can't use someone's own earlier work to invalidate a patent they file later? Or maybe you can, but I can't think of any other reason they'd bother patenting something in 2009 that their own product and individuals with VBA had been doing for years already. I just don't get any of this.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602503)

http://peertopatent.org/

In her TED talk Beth Noveck said a peer-reviewed patent system will be put in place as of next year IIRC. I don't know if they allow reviewing patents after they were already granted, or if this just applies to patent applications.

Re:I already "invented" this in 2005 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41603021)

Conditional formatting - the feature this is patent is discussing - was released in Office '97.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601791)

Filed Aug. 2009 with no priority claims at all? Prior art is trivial for this one.

A computer-implemented method for formatting a range of cells according to a spectrum of cell formats, the method comprising: receiving a selection of formatting criteria for a range of cells, wherein the formatting criteria includes a minimum value cell format correlated to a minimum value, a maximum value cell format correlated to a maximum value, and an interval of varying cell formats that vary in a spectrum from the minimum value cell format to the maximum value cell format; determining whether a respective value for each cell in the range of cells is between the minimum value and the maximum value; and for each respective value between the minimum value and the maximum value, causing a processor to apply, to the cells of each respective value, a respective cell format determined from a correlation of each respective value to a respective cell format in the spectrum of varying cell formats

Lab results. There's a maximum and a minimum for each of your test results, and a spectrum of badness which typically choose more alarming colors and/or styles as you stray from the normal result range. And yes, your lab results have been on a computer for over a decade now. Some computer systems can even show all of your blood tests over time as a table, with each cell color coded for abnormality.

All of the mouthbreathers who come out in force to defend retarded patents and scream "read the claims" are now welcome to explain how the invention, as claimed, differs from what is already done.

Re:Prior art (1)

cvtan (752695) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602197)

Isn't this exactly a false color image like the IR imaging folks do all the time? Or a colored map showing rainfall levels or...etc. etc. etc.

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602355)

Agreed, this is no different than any graphical image representation. The cell values of any raster data can be represented as a color, and all those data are stored as a grid of values... All your GIFs, PNGs, JPEGs, TIFFs and other various binary formats are belong to Microsoft...

Poster is a moron who doesn't understand Patents (3, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601813)

This is Slashdot where every grandmother who can't write her own kernel drivers is considered sub-human scum but where IT geeks who barely made it through community college consider themselves experts on patent law.

Once and for all: First to file only applies when two different parties each file a patent application that covers the same subject matter within a short time period of each other (less than one year for all effective purposes in the U.S.

  First to file does *NOT* change the rules on prior art and actually makes it *harder* to overcome prior art because there is no longer an ability to swear behind the filing date of the patent.

  Other countries including Europe (you know, that magical perfect continent where nothing bad ever happens because it isn't the U.S. and that we should all just try to be like?) ALREADY USE FIRST TO FILE.

I haven't read the patent in question (but then again neither has the poster with a trained eye), but just because Microsoft is doing something that has some similarity to an existing mapping technique does NOT mean that Microsoft's technique is the same!

In much the same way that engines for cars already exist, it is perfectly possible to get a patent on an improvement to an engine even though engines existing all the way back in 1846!

Now please return to the standard recycled bigotry that passes for discussion on this site these days.

Re:Poster is a moron who doesn't understand Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41601883)

Excellent sig... and so true. Believe me, I know

Your strawman is on fire (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601895)

Other countries including Europe (you know, that magical perfect continent where nothing bad ever happens because it isn't the U.S. and that we should all just try to be like?) ALREADY USE FIRST TO FILE.

Whose ever said that Europe was magical that way? Certainly, some people have said some aspects of the European patent system (specifically, the fact that it doesn't recognize software patents) are superior, but that's pretty far from saying it is "magical" or "nothing bad ever happens", even in the narrow domain of the patent system.

Re:Your strawman is on fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41603107)

J.K. Rowling did.

Re:Poster is a moron who doesn't understand Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602337)

I wonder if you read the specification or file wrapper, do they define "cell" (an inventor is his own lexicographer)

Why first to file crap in summary (5, Informative)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601949)

Why bring up first to file in the summary? it is completely irrelevant, first to file doesn't mean prior art is ignored or that you can just go patent someone else's ideas. It merely means if 2 people/organisations are working in secret on their invention then it is whoever patents it first that gets the patent not whoever can spend huge amounts of lawyers and paperwork to try and show they had the idea 5 minutes before the other person.

Re:Why first to file crap in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602613)

Why bring up first to file in the summary? it is completely irrelevant, first to file doesn't mean prior art is ignored. It merely means if 2 people/organisations are working [on the same] invention then it is whoever patents it first that gets the patent not whoever can [...] show they had the idea [...] before the other person.

Point taken.

Why the need to be first in the first place? (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602929)

"...they had the idea 5 minutes before the other person."

And that is what needs to be fixed in the patent system, short of abolishing altogether. Why do patents have to winner-takes-all when the historical record is full of examples of parallel inventions and discoveries, like the wheel, caculus or the theory of evolution? Why can't patents be awarded like the winners of sports competiton or American Idol, where even those who didn't place first gets a diminishing share of the prize money?

Re:Why first to file crap in summary (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41603067)

If anything, the current system is broken in that someone willing to spend enough and lie, could file every patent the day after it was filed and claim they invented it first, but didn't file it earlier.

With first to file, you are incented to file as soon as you can, not to wait for anything, as someone could file for something similar or overlapping before you, and you don't get the patent. Incenting early filing is what it's supposed to be doing.

This is absolutely ridiculous (1)

dread (3500) | about a year and a half ago | (#41601993)

1: There is a ton of prior art in general
2: There is a ton of prior art for Excel specifically

Exhibit a) Microcharts from Bonavista Systems, released in 2006 or even earlier (http://www.juiceanalytics.com/writing/microcharts-a-different-take-on-excel-charting/)
Exhibit b) EVERY OTHER BI TOOL IN THE UNIVERSE

How incredibly incompetent are the people at the Patent Office? There is a mandated discovery process after all. What the hell is going on?

FTF : I win (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602015)

As inventor, life gets more interesting. Just publish your inventions.
If somebody files a patent that involves your invention, tell them you want your share of the money or you'll have their patent invalidated by prior art.

Oh, and tell them win-win and Ying Yang as well :)

First to file -- horrific rip-off from Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602099)

As soon as the first to file system goes in place, it will be the end of line for all Open Source projects, and even most small for profit enterprises that depend on new development. Even now patent trolls and large corporations have teams of thousands of examining every open source project for patentable code, all scrambling to beat each other for the March 2013 change of rules. All who object will become terrorists? Amazing that the elections coverage doesn't even mention issues like these.

Re:First to file -- horrific rip-off from Open Sou (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602247)

As soon as the first to file system goes in place, it will be the end of line for all Open Source projects,

It should not, if something is released Open Source then that will count as ''publication'', ie demonstrable prior art; thus anything that comes after that should not be patentable. The problem is in ''should not'', the patent examiners don't have enough time (and finding something in some Open Source bit of code will take a looong time) and I believe that the patent office is paid by patents granted - so has motivation to grant patents and let people battle it out in court; but court is do stupidly expensive.

usa==laughingStock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602159)

lolol

so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602321)

has anyone noticed a lack of innovation or change in our society ?
No - I thought not; innovation is occuring at a dizzying speed.

Has anyone noticed that it is harder to start a startup and get funding ?
No - I thought not; startups are hard as He**; always have been, always will be.

Has anyone noticed that in mature industrys (autos) they all have huge patent portfolios, and cross license each other ?
No - I thought not; why should computer nerds not think that their industry is special in some wierd god given way ?

Hey, what could go wrong? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602433)

Nothing. It is "first inventor to file". Under the present system if two inventors file for a patent on the same invention the one who invented first gets the patent: the order of filing is irrelevant (provided it was "timely" and the inventor "diligent"). Under the new system if two inventors file for a patent on the same invention the one who filed first gets the patent: the order of invention is irrelevant. Thus there will be no more lawsuits in which inventors strive to convince the court that they thought the widget up first and then worked diligently to reduce it to practice right up to the date they filed and therefor deserve the patent even though the other guy filed first. However, you still must be prepared to prove that you invented it independently.

Shitty research or fancy journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602687)

Beginning in March the US will switch from a first to file to a first to patent system? Really...beginning in March? Of 2012? Samuel Morse did not invent the telegraph,he was just the only one who cared about the money that could be made with the system and so he was the first to patent the telegraph. The same can be said of a couple of dozen different inventions that have surfaced. This is nothing new.

First to file (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602745)

| By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?

Baron Pierre Charles Dupin had better get on the ball...

Idea! (1)

evenmoreconfused (451154) | about a year and a half ago | (#41602787)

At the risk of giving away a possibly lucrative idea, my plan is to patent the use of a gavel to bring order to courtrooms. Hopefully, this will allow me to collect royalties for every day of all the various trials I have to attend defending my patent: the more they fight, the more they pay.

What that does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602871)

In March I'm going to patent FTL travel. That way, when someone invents it, I'll be rich.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602925)

Is there anybody out there who both knows what a choropleth map is and read the claims in the patent that thinks the patent could be construed to cover choropleth maps?

The patent seems completely unrelated to me. It talks about applying formats to cells based on their values. In choropleth maps, there are no 'cells' that have 'values.' There are regions, which are shaded to represent the value of some property for that region.

One option to change the Patent system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41602941)

I always thought it would be funny to try to Patent various governmental systems. or maybe patent voting. Or Patent systems..

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