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Microsoft Patents Timed Button Presses

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the lieutenant-obvious dept.

Patents 552

ScooterB writes "According to TechDirt, Microsoft has patented having the action of a button determined by how long the button was pressed. From the patent listing, it seems to be targeted towards PDA's and other handhelds." Whether patents like this are the chicken or the egg, this relates to an MSNBC article submitted by prostoalex which says "United States Patent and Trademark Office is overwhelmed with incoming requests," and that "Unless the budgeting increases, the review process for a patent could double to 5 years."

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As an aside... (5, Funny)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000229)

Could the slash editors post these stories in a larger font on the lynx & mobile devices page format? I'm reading these on a ten year old Palm Pilot, and it's hard to read the tiny fonts when it's dark. I had to hold down the power button for three seconds to turn on the backlight so I could read this.

Oh, wait...

Re:As an aside... (5, Funny)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000304)

Well done! With one single post, I believe this whole conversation is finished. Everyone else just be quiet, this article is done. :)

Re:As an aside... (-1, Offtopic)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000309)

I have to watch it. Too many fr1st p0sts leads to too much trouble [ig.com.br] farther down the line.

Re:As an aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000340)

Great first post! I was thinking just the same thing about the Palm Pilot I got in 1998.

There is absolutely no novelty on this patent, even if filed in 2002.

Re:As an aside... (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000389)

Never mind... I'm excited by the fact that I'll now have a much better chance at First Post on slashdot!

Re:As an aside... (1, Funny)

GetPFunky (309463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000395)

My original post was lost because my Windows box froze at it's pre-determined interval. I had to hold down the power button on my case for 7 seconds to force a shutdown.

Re:As an aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000431)

As another aside, is anyone scared by the second article? Doubling times for patent approval?

A company could submit a software patent, and in the time it takes for the patent to go through, another company could have gone from square one to implementation to market and to obselesence(sp) before the first one has had the patent processed.

That's no good..

Prior Art (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000243)

Hopefully it'll be recognized that this is old. In fact, I believe that there are actual physical switches and buttons that have done this before the rise of Microsoft's empire.

So, to the patent office weenies: PRIOR ART, MOTHAFUCKAS!

Re:Prior Art (5, Insightful)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000271)

every single watch i have ever owned has done this! you have to hold the set button for a number of seconds before it lets you set it...this by far predates microsoft's empire!

Re:Prior Art (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000300)

I knew there was an example I could state of my assumption... Thank you for reminding me of it!

Re:Prior Art (1)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000434)

maybe an even better example that shows a button doing multiple functions

is that i have had watches that if you hold the light button down for like 3 seconds it will toggle the light so every time you hit another button the light turns on for a few seconds

or sometimes the set button is a mode button on the watch that change modes to a timer and such if you just press and release it.

Re:Prior Art (3, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000451)

"every single watch i have ever owned has done this! you have to hold the set button for a number of seconds before it lets you set it...this by far predates microsoft's empire! "

Perhaps, but thanks to the way patents work, using it on a PocketPC or mouse driven PC is different 'enough'. Not saying I support it, just saying I've talked to patent lawyers before about those little kinds of deviations.

Re:Prior Art (5, Informative)

Flexagon (740643) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000274)

Even on desktop systems, this is old. Plenty of games have used this technique for a long time. Golf, for instance, in which your swing is determined by how long you hold your click.

Re:Prior Art (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000314)

In 1992 we already had CD players that skipped tracks when you press the next-button shortly and seeked through the current track when you kept the button pressed...

Re:Prior Art (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000359)

Quite true, however I'm sure Microsoft will say "You are correct, however that was in hardware, and what makes our invention so unique, is that the decision is handled in software!"

Re:Prior Art (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000360)

This is not prior art. It is clearly a new innovation. Microsoft is poruing billions of dollars into R&D. They invent new stuff all the time, it is very natural for them to patent these new techniques.

We can not have a society where everything is for free. We are not in communism.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000396)

Obviously Microsoft should patent the time machine they use to send all these innovations back in time.

I guess no one at microsoft... (4, Insightful)

pr0ntab (632466) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000245)

has played a handheld and/or console game.

Ever.

Whatever, ignore, continue. Who are they going to call on it?

Next patent we'll see.. (1)

SCSi (17797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000246)

Is for the (in)famous "click and drag"..

Future "Pressing" Patents (3, Funny)

datastalker (775227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000248)

Patents for:

Shirt Pressed By Iron
Iron Pressed By Muscleman
Muscleman Pressed By Time
Time Pressed By Space
Space Pressed By Gravity ;)

Re:Future "Pressing" Patents (1)

SCSi (17797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000280)



Shirts pressed by Iron
Im sorry sir, but that falls under the above patent in my comment "click and drag". Please make your checks payable to me.
Thank you. :)

Re:Future "Pressing" Patents (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000286)

Your Fat Face Pressed By My Size 14 Workboot

Re:Future "Pressing" Patents (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000293)

Space Pressed By Gravity ;)

I just use my thumbs.

KFG

Palm did it first... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000253)

On the Tungsten series, pushing the navigator button quickly does an app-defined action. Holding it for a second or two switches to the launcher. How is this not prior art?

Recipe for Bureaucratic Success: (5, Insightful)

Malor (3658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000256)

1. Do such an inept job at screening patents that it quietly expands their scope.
2. Watch as a whole industry is created out of filing for these new patents.
3. Watch incoming volume of new patent requests increase astronomically.
4. Whine to Congress about insufficient resources.
5. Swill at public trough.
6. Hire more workers.
7. Get big raise because you now manage many more workers.
8. Profit!!

Re:Recipe for Bureaucratic Success: (1)

realdpk (116490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000378)

amendment to 4)
Whine to Congress about how they are getting flack for not doing their jobs properly, because Congress doesn't let them keep more than a fraction of what they collect in revenues.

Where (5, Funny)

thpdg (519053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000258)

Wow, that's actually a cool idea. Does anyone have any prior art they could show me? I'm not sure I've seen it before.

stop watch (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000368)

It's the same damn thing; changing the controls a bit does not make for a legitimate patent, as there is no technical barrier to prevent such a thing. Any programmer could re-implement this in a few minutes given a few words of explanation.

IIRC, a patent can be overturned if it is later shown that the invention was obvious or that prior art existed. This patent would surely never hold up in court, so it's only useful for intimidation tactics.

uh? (4, Insightful)

Therlin (126989) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000259)

Like when on a Mac, if you hold the one mouse buttom for a longer amount of time, you get a menu? Or when I press and hold a button on my radio to set the memory?

Re:uh? (5, Funny)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000373)

This patent is on long button presses on "limited power computing devices". Are you saying your Mac qualifies? :-)

Re:uh? (1)

the web (696015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000443)

Precisely! In certain circumstances only though (dock, can I get a witness?).

Another I know of. I can customize the timings for mouse gestures in FireFox. I can say, activate the mouse gesture after holding the button down for 2000ns and from that point, after 5000ns cancel the gesture (highlighting text and such). Regular shorter clicks will not activate the mouse gesture.

Illustrating a point with extreme examples. (2, Interesting)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000262)

Like a severly beaten slave showing the evils of slavery, and extreme example like this shows the evils of patents. It's an illogical system and will not last. If it gets backed up--well that can only be a good thing.

Re:Illustrating a point with extreme examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000411)

are you trying to imply that slavery isn't bad, but physical abuse is?

you wear your asshat well

Mac mice (1, Insightful)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000263)

Mac mice are known for their one buttonness. Hold down the button to achieve the same effect of a right-click. Hmmm...

Re:Mac mice (1)

remahl (698283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000376)

Not generally true, actually. That just works in certain places, such as the Dock, not in every place where a contextual menu exists (ctrl+left click always brings up the contextual, though).

Re:Mac mice (1)

Sloh_One (756526) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000429)

It's referring to a "limited resource computing device" not something as "complicated" as an actual desktop computer.

Re:Mac mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000449)

because I guess an actual desktop computer has unlimited resources. interesting.

So to tell me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000265)

that my limited computing device (radio) with its limited number of buttons in my car, the Bose will need to pay microsoft because i have to press the station set button down for 3 seconds to retain my favorite radio station?

obvious is right.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000267)

Damn, another stupid patent. Yes I looked at the application and saw that the scope was narrow, but come on, just in front of me right now I have:

Sharp Zaurus: The "Cancel" button sends an ESC char to the OS, but if you press and hold it, it turns the unit off. Also if you press the button while it's off, nothing happens, but if you press and hold, it turns on again. I believe the various application buttons can also be programmed with different apps for press vs. press-and-hold.

VIA Mini-ITX motherboard: I have it set in the BIOS to sleep when the power button is pushed. But if you hold the power button for several seconds, the power light flashes and it powers down.

CRT iMac: power button does sleep, unless you hold it down, then it blinks and powers off.

APC SmartUPS: holding down the power-off button turns the unit off, but if you press-and-hold down for several more seconds, it turns off the battery charger too (you can hear the relay click off inside).

And of course SOFTWARE buttons have been doing this for years (click vs. double-click vs. click and hold). My KDE konsole application has a button that you click for a new session or click and hold for a menu.

The patent office needs to get a clue. PLEASE!!

just to add to the list (2, Interesting)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000436)

On an iPod, while browsing songs, clicking the center button selects a song and starts playing it. Holding the center button instead adds it to your "On The Go" playlist.

PC power supplies are prior art (3, Informative)

FZer0 (585622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000272)

Press the button once = soft off
Press the button for 4 seconds = hard off

Prior Art? (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000275)

I wrote a program years ago that started a timer when the button was pressed and stopped it when it was released, and would display the time the button depressed.

*smells lawsuit forthcoming*

I think around $200 million would convince me to license my technology to Microsoft. :-)

first post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000276)

Damn, I almost had it, but I couldn't seem to hold the "submit" button down for the proper period...

Soft Power? (1)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000282)

Do I have to get a license when I need to hold the power button down on my computer for 4 seconds to power cycle it when Windows crashes?

Re:Soft Power? (1)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000310)

Additionally, you need a license for the button itself.

Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes (oblig. Onion ) (3, Funny)

The_Rippa (181699) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000283)

REDMOND, WA--In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones--the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs--unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

"Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals."

A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer, Netscape and Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft patent as monopolistic and anti-competitive, claiming that the 10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would bankrupt them instantly.

"While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to create a platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its core, just a string of trillions of ones and zeroes," said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment used in many Internet applications. "The licensing fees we'd have to pay Microsoft every day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net worth of this company."

"If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to convert to analog," said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, "and I have serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs."

As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun radically revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle has embarked on a crash program to develop "an abacus for the next millennium." Novell, whose communications and networking systems are also subject to Microsoft licensing fees, is working with top animal trainers on a chimpanzee-based message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is developing a revolutionary new steam-powered printer.

Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining that ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.

Above: Gates explains the new patent to Apple Computer's board of directors.
"We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are legally ours," Gates said. "Among Microsoft's vast historical archives are Sanskrit cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a symbol known as 'sunya,' or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls written by Pythagoras himself in which he explains the idea of singular notation, or 'one'; early tracts by Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the concept of al-sifr, or 'the cipher'; original mathematical manuscripts by Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck; and a signed first-edition copy of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being And Nothingness. Should the need arise, Microsoft will have no difficulty proving to the Justice Department or anyone else that we own the rights to these numbers."

Added Gates: "My salary also has lots of zeroes. I'm the richest man in the world."

According to experts, the full ramifications of Microsoft's patenting of one and zero have yet to be realized.

"Because all integers and natural numbers derive from one and zero, Microsoft may, by extension, lay claim to ownership of all mathematics and logic systems, including Euclidean geometry, pulleys and levers, gravity, and the basic Newtonian principles of motion, as well as the concepts of existence and nonexistence," Yale University theoretical mathematics professor J. Edmund Lattimore said. "In other words, pretty much everything."

Lattimore said that the only mathematical constructs of which Microsoft may not be able to claim ownership are infinity and transcendental numbers like pi. Microsoft lawyers are expected to file liens on infinity and pi this week.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether it will charge a user fee to individuals who wish to engage in such mathematically rooted motions as walking, stretching and smiling.

In an address beamed live to billions of people around the globe Monday, Gates expressed confidence that his company's latest move will, ultimately, benefit all humankind.

"Think of this as a partnership," Gates said. "Like the ones and zeroes of the binary code itself, we must all work together to make the promise of the computer revolution a reality. As the world's richest, most powerful software company, Microsoft is number one. And you, the millions of consumers who use our products, are the zeroes."

Re:Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes (oblig. Onion ) (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000341)

If ones and zeroes were patented, why not just switch everything else to octal using 2 through 9? That'd show 'em!

I hate to be obvious, but in this case... (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000284)

Would it be enough to get me thrown out of the patent reviewer pool if I were to point out that this sounds almost exactly like a 1-button Mac mouse? A click, double-click, and click-and-hold have been around since what version of MacOS?

Was it in 1984? I can't find references. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000366)

I guess my question was too basic to be easily googleable... all I can find is that System 1.0 "also included a separate tutorial disk that taught you how to use the mouse (a device alien to most all users at the time) called Mousing Around, which later became Mac Basics."

http://www.mackido.com/History/EarlyMacOS.html

Games (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000285)

Doesn't just about every game on the gameboy represent prior art in handhelds?

The longer I press the button, the higher Mario jumps.

The budget doesn't need to increase (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000288)

Unless the budgeting increases, the review process for a patent could double to 5 years

Congress just needs to quit siphoning off the money that the USPTO makes from application fees.

5 year review process? (2, Insightful)

gabe (6734) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000292)

Does anyone else besides me think that this could be a GOOD IDEA on their part? Maybe if they actually took their time to process the patents and run exhaustive prior art checks most of these silly patents they're awarding would be preemptively tossed in the trash.

Re:5 year review process? (3, Insightful)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000398)

I don't think they'll actually be reviewing the patents for five years, they just have so many to review that it will take them five years to get to each one. Once a patent gets to the front of the queue, they'll still just pull out the "Approved" stamp and pass it on.

Re:5 year review process? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000442)

Except they're saying they'd do the same amount of checking they do now, just that it would take 5 years due to backlog.

Re:5 year review process? (2, Funny)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000448)

If they would only modify patent law so that they expire in 5 years from filing date, I think we'd finally be in pretty good shape.

Re:5 year review process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000459)

They should just fine every company that files for idioticly obvious patents. This would work against those that seek to abuse patent system.

nokia (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000298)

definitely not the first, but my phone (and countless others) shows a menu for profile select if you touch the power button, and shuts the phone off if you hold it....

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000301)

So... lemme get this straight. the patent office if ALLOWING these dumbass requests IN, much less GRANTING them? A friggin CLICK? Not only that, but M$ has the balls to actually WANT to make it theirs. Gimmie a break. This is ridiculous. Slashdot is too good for a story like this.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000472)

Which is pretty bad considering most of what goes on slashdot is too good for this site.

Cheers! :D

The truth is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000305)

"...Whether patents like this are the chicken or the egg..."

Patents like this are the dried up shit that stains the outside of the egg.

Christ, they'll take my car... (4, Funny)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000306)

...hope they don't discover that infringing gas pedal it has!

Oh My GOD (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000316)

What will they get away with patenting next!? This is one of the more obscure patents but come on.. patenting a timer to indicate how long a button's pressed? That's sorta like patenting a keyboard's whole design, variable button repeat and all (typically, the resolution of the button presses on a keyboard is tweakable in the operating system, even if marginably). I'm sure there are better, more clear ways of expressing this patent, but it's just horrible that someone could get away with patenting something as fundamental as pressing a button for "n" amount of time, and having the button return n.

This deserves... (2, Interesting)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000317)

... a special [Asinine] header on fark.com.

Really, though, I'm constantly asking myself when this craziness will end? More importantly, when will the USPTO finally start to do some hard research on these patent requests and reject them?

It's painful to see the system that was designed to encourage innovation so often abused as a tool to stymie it.

adorable.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000320)

"Unless the budgeting increases, the review process for a patent could double to 5 years."

redundancy makes it even funnier...

Tons of things already do this (1)

amichalo (132545) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000321)

My cell phone has done this for years. Press the "talk" button and it shows the last number dialed. Continue to hold it down and it dials it too.

My keyboard is similar. Press a key and it prints a character, hodl it down and it prints many of the same character. (See below)

a
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Distributed Patent Review (5, Interesting)

heytherefancypants (773300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000324)

Does anyone else see the need for a distributed prior art review. The idea is fairly simple, when a patent is applied for, it is placed into a queue where anyone who wants to sign up for the job can spend a small amount of time looking for any prior art. If any is found, the user is allowed to upload the data as well as some simple references that can be attached to the patent that would be flagged for review. This should at the very least provide some time savings for the patent officers, and allow all of us (myself included) to quit bitching and help out.

Macintosh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000326)

I'm sorry, but the one-button-mouse Mac has been doing this for over a decade.

Re:Macintosh (1)

steveb964 (727054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000467)

I'm sorry, but the one-button-mouse Mac has been doing this for over a decade

So has my girlfriend. Press her buttons once for activation, and press and hold to increase level of anger :o)

For crying out loud... (4, Insightful)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000328)

... my digital wristwatch of EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO was doing something like this... you needed to hold down one of the buttons for 2 seconds to get it into 'set' mode.

Sega? Nintendo? (1)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000331)

In every Sonic or Mario game, you jump higher if you hold the button down longer. How can MS have a patent on this?

Government lamers :/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000332)

Or how about this:

Instead of increasing the bugdet dramaticly...

Make more strigent and accurate guidelines to what people can patent. ohhooooOOOOOOooo...

Patenting button pressing is BS obviously. It's frivolous at best, plenty of devices time exactly how long you keep a button pressed.

Every set a digital clock, anybody?

It's like the monte python skit.

I have a particular funny walk I want to patent!!! It's different, I created it! It's usefull for getting from point a to point B!!! Weeee.

They care? (1)

Woogiemonger (628172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000339)

I only wish Microsoft cared about how long I've held down Control-Alt-Delete.

Re:They care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000463)

so true!

Prior Art (4, Funny)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000344)

It's like your ignition key. If you keep it turned for about a second, it starts the car. If you keep it turned for 10 minutes, it burns out the starter.

And there's also auto-repeat.

Slashdotted? (1)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000346)

"United States Patent and Trademark Office is overwhelmed with incoming requests"

Are you saying the US Patent office is the victim of a DOS?

Obvious prior art? (0)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000351)

I think the obvious prior art would something like the buttons on a remote control. As an example, take the Squeezebox. The longer you hold down an arrow button, the faster it scrolls through the list.

I'm sure their are numerous other examples of things where button behavior is determined by timing. The fact that patents like these are granted is unbelievable.

As an aside, would the patent office be less inundated with requests if it was more discriminating when handing them out. After all, it seems like if they give out patents like candy, companies will start submitting obvious ideas in search of a patent, whether the idea is really patentable or not.

Re:Obvious prior art? (1)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000435)


There are some toilets out there that qualify...

ATX power button anybody? (1)

ejaw5 (570071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000362)

If setup on some BIOSes, press and release the power button on the case and the system goes into suspend/sleep. Press and hold for 4 seconds, system powers down.

Seems like it should be invalidated by prior art (1)

linuxtelephony (141049) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000364)

I am assuming (this is /., why would I actually READ the patent) the patent will be for "software" buttons on screens, and not the physical buttons. After all, how long has Palm used the power button to work as a light switch? And, I forget when the first cell-phones started using the End key as a power button. Not to mention the power button on modern PCs, push and hold for 4 seconds to turn off. The closest software only implementation I can think of are some of the palette options in graphic arts program. Seems like holding the mouse button down while clicking on a tool would pop up an option dialog for that tool.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9000365)

The clitoris.

(Or so I am told)

Re:Prior Art (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000447)

If that was just a matter of press and hold, there'd be a lot more satisfied girlfriends out there.

Microsoft has done some prior art by themselves! (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000367)

Just keep your shift key pressed for five seconds in Win2K and you'll find out. Stickey keys!

prostoalex? (2, Funny)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000374)

What's up with prostoalex [slashdot.org] ? I noticed his name like twice today, so I looked...
211 total articles submitted and accepted [slashdot.org] ?

At this rate, by next year, he'll have more accepted articles than Hemos posted!

And michael said I had no life for simply having over 800 comments.....

To solve the patent offices budgeting problem... (1)

skribble (98873) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000379)

They should fine companies millions of dollars for each ridiculous half-assed unresearched patent filed. That should either slow things down or bring in enough money to deal with crap like this.

That's just the beginning... (1)

provoix (730200) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000385)

you don't suppose M$ will let me use their toilets once they patent the direction the water flows when flushed???

*sig under patent, please pay to read*

Cease and Desist (1)

The SCO Group (775359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000386)

I would like to warn Slashdot users that SCO will be responsible for the licensing of the technology described in this article.

If you are currently using this patented technology please contact SCO Licensing [mailto] for more details

Yours Faithfully,

Darl McBride

BSoD? (1)

Casca (4032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000392)

I wonder if the M$ guy that filed this patent got the idea from having to hold the power button down on his desktop for more than 5 seconds all the time?

MS causing backlog (1)

jackstraw2323 (730834) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000408)

Maybe by backlogging the whole office, MS can keep from getting sued for patent infringement (Eolas anyone?) etc for things that they want to assimilate into their product. If it takes five years to patent, the world will have moved on to something new and there will be tons of prior art.

USPTO overwhelmed, their own fault (2, Insightful)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000410)

Maybe if they didn't grant so many patents for obvious and existing things, there wouldn't be so many people jumping on the bandwagon!

Me thinks (1)

Gallowsgod (766508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000414)

...that the guys at MS already knows that prior art exists. They probably just don't think that the rule about prior art applies to them

Definite prior art (0)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000419)

Disclaimer: I have not read the patent. But I think it's got to be for software detecting how long the mouse pressed a GUI button.

Colorgraphics had this on their graphics products back in the mid-1990's, if not earlier. You had a bunch of color boxes with different colors in them. If you clicked on one of them, the current color was set to the color in the color box, but if you "mashed" (defined as clicking on the box for more than 3 seconds), the color in the color box was set to the current color.

Colorgraphics was part of Dynatech at the time. I'm not sure if they even exist any more - Dynatech tried to move the engineers from, IIRC, Madison, Wisconsin, to Utah, and most or all of them found other jobs instead.

yet another reason to support EFF (4, Informative)

updog (608318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000422)

The EFF Patent Busting Project: http://eff.org/Patent/20040419_eff_pr_patent.php

Re:yet another reason to support EFF (2, Interesting)

updog (608318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000454)

Oops, to make it easier:

The Patent Busting Project [eff.org]

Light switch (1)

xraylima (769632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000432)

Next Micro$oft will claim they invented the light switch after all that is all the button is just another switch.

Doubled to 5 years ??? (3, Informative)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000438)

I filed several patents - the last of which was filed in the spring of 2001. 3 years later NONE of them have issued (including one that is passing 4 years now). I don't see a doubling to 5 years, just an increase to 5 years.

In Related News... (0)

TitanBL (637189) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000450)

Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes

REDMOND, WA--In what CEO Bill Gates called an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors, the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

With the patent, Microsofts rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones--the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs--unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975, Gates told reporters. For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals.

A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer, Netscape and Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft patent as monopolistic and anti-competitive, claiming that the 10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would bankrupt them instantly.

While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to create a platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its core, just a string of trillions of ones and zeroes, said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment used in many Internet applications. The licensing fees wed have to pay Microsoft every day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net worth of this company.

If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to convert to analog, said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, and I have serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs.

As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun radically revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle has embarked on a crash program to develop an abacus for the next millennium. Novell, whose communications and networking systems are also subject to Microsoft licensing fees, is working with top animal trainers on a chimpanzee-based message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is developing a revolutionary new steam-powered printer.

Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining that ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.

We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are legally ours, Gates said. Among Microsofts vast historical archives are Sanskrit cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a symbol known as sunya, or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls written by Pythagoras himself in which he explains the idea of singular notation, or one; early tracts by Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the concept of al-sifr, or the cipher; original mathematical manuscripts by Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck; and a signed first-edition copy of Jean-Paul Sartres Being And Nothingness. Should the need arise, Microsoft will have no difficulty proving to the Justice Department or anyone else that we own the rights to these numbers.

Added Gates: My salary also has lots of zeroes. Im the richest man in the world.

According to experts, the full ramifications of Microsofts patenting of one and zero have yet to be realized.

Because all integers and natural numbers derive from one and zero, Microsoft may, by extension, lay claim to ownership of all mathematics and logic systems, including Euclidean geometry, pulleys and levers, gravity, and the basic Newtonian principles of motion, as well as the concepts of existence and nonexistence, Yale University theoretical mathematics professor J. Edmund Lattimore said. In other words, pretty much everything.

Lattimore said that the only mathematical constructs of which Microsoft may not be able to claim ownership are infinity and transcendental numbers like pi. Microsoft lawyers are expected to file liens on infinity and pi this week.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether it will charge a user fee to individuals who wish to engage in such mathematically rooted motions as walking, stretching and smiling.

In an address beamed live to billions of people around the globe Monday, Gates expressed confidence that his companys latest move will, ultimately, benefit all humankind.

Think of this as a partnership, Gates said. Like the ones and zeroes of the binary code itself, we must all work together to make the promise of the computer revolution a reality. As the worlds richest, most powerful software company, Microsoft is number one. And you, the millions of consumers who use our products, are the zeroes.

The Onion [216.239.57.104]

Double-click? (1)

UglyTool (768385) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000460)

Still another function can be launched if the application button is pressed multiple times within a short period of time, e.g., double click.

Are they trying to get a patent on double-clicking?

The best prior art! (1)

Kufat (563166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000468)

Megaman 3 for GB!

(Yes, charged shots were introduced in MM4 for NES, but for the PDA aspect, the first GB game to feature them was MM3.)

Fighting Street (1)

steveminutillo (28728) | more than 10 years ago | (#9000470)

That's how "Fighting Street", the confusingly named version of "Street Fighter" for the Turbo-Grafx 16 worked. There were only two buttons, so to do a fierce punch you hold down punch for a while, and to do a jab you just tap it.
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