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Microsoft Wants More Credit for Inventions

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the without-microsoft-around-no-one-would-think-of-it dept.

Patents 422

theodp writes "Bill Gates said Thursday that Microsoft expects to file 3,000 patent applications this year, up from a little over 2,000 last year and 1,000 just a few years ago. 'We think--patent for patent--what we are doing is, if anything, more important than what others are doing,' said Gates, perhaps referring to 'Organizing and displaying photographs based on time,' which the USPTO published just hours before Gates spoke."

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WOW! (1, Offtopic)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838900)

...and I thought "I" was smoking crack!

And the best part of the article (5, Insightful)

jomas1 (696853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838907)

And the best part of the article:

The link to this other article 00-1008_3-5205574.html?tag=nl

"Apple patented by Microsoft

Apparently, intellectual property does grow on trees.

Microsoft, amid an IP spree that has won the company patent protection for everything from XML dialects to video game storage methods, mistakenly received a patent on Tuesday for a new variety of apple tree.

U.S. Plant Patent 14,757, granted to Robert Burchinal of East Wenatchee, Wash., and assigned to Microsoft, covers a new type of tree discovered in the early 1990s in the Wenatchee area, a major commercial apple-growing region. Dubbed the "Burchinal Red Delicious," the tree is notable for producing fruit that achieves a deep red color significantly earlier than other varieties. It is sold commercially as the "Adams Apple."

Yes I know the patent has been acknowledged as a mistake but it makes you wonder how many of these 3000 patents are going to be approved because someone got tired of paying attention to the fine print.

Re:And the best part of the article (5, Funny)

JPriest (547211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838962)

Sorry jomas1, your post was kind of long so I didn't bother to read it all. But yes, your patent for first post is granted.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839019)

I did not fully realize your joke at first until I re read the parent. You should be a patent judge (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839138)

'nuff said.

Re:And the best part of the article (2, Funny)

Krach42 (227798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839199)

I actually think it's funny that Microsoft has the gaul to say that they are patent-for-patent more important than any other competitor. You know... except for IBM... which has more patents granted per year, than anyone else.

(If I have my fact right. If I don't please feel free to slap me with a herring.)

Re:And the best part of the article (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839252)

gaul = the area now known as France; a person therefrom.

Gall = temerity, boldness; a type of bile.

Photo Patent (3, Insightful)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838911)

Showing photos according to when they were taken? PRIOR ART!!! Photo developers have been doing this for ages, in software and on actual film! PhotoCD anyone???

Re:Photo Patent (2, Funny)

jrockway (229604) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839010)

Yeah, Nautilus has a "sort by date" option. Works for regular files too...


Experience tells me... (3, Funny)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839041)

That the patent also probably includes additional factors, like the exact velocity and angle at which you push your mouse across the table (or the angle and velocity with which you flick your ball for you trackballers out there), the phase of the moon in the lunar calendar, the current estimated life of the CMOS battery, as well as the number of keys you've pressed on the keyboard today, among others....

Patents are a joke, and they need reform.

Re:Experience tells me... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839089)

The published document from the article is NOT a U.S. is a patent application publication. All applications for patent are published within 18 months of filing, and publishing the application doesn't mean the USPTO thinks the invention is patentable. It just means some inventor is trying to get an invention patented. The PTO has it's problems, but it's not THAT bad...

Re:Experience tells me... (3, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839092)

> Patents are a joke, and they need reform.

You're right about this. Patents are a good idea, but leave it to big companies to fuck over whatever meaning they once had. Now I think it would be better for society (and specifically OSS people like me) to just do without them. Too bad for Apple if someone steals their (good) idea for spring loaded folders or the ipod's click wheel.

It's like driving while using a cell phone. A few people can't do it, so now everyone suffers (i.e. a few people died, now it's illegal). M$ can't play nice, so everyone loses their privleges. Sad state of affairs, really.

Re:Experience tells me... (4, Interesting)

john82 (68332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839155)

I recognize your sarcasm, however reading the patent reveals that Microsoft lists GPS information repeatedly. There are several references to it in fact making the assumption that one day photos will incorporate, in their format or metadata, GPS data. At that point Microsoft will naturally assert that this new patent includes sorting by GPS as well.


[0072] Although the systems and methods have been described in language specific to structural features and/or procedures, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or procedures described. Rather, the specific features and procedures are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.

If we let anything out, yeah we meant that too. All your ideas are belong to us.

My photo album is prior art. cira 1970+ (1)

hashish (62254) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839067)

and my pc automatically sorts by date.

Re:Photo Patent (2, Informative)

darkewolf (24563) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839091)

Of course, upon reading the patent (gods they are boring to read) it says that the sorting is based on the following potential factors:

  • A image date stored in the image (unsure if jpeg does this now) as meta data
  • Extracting the date from an image (using a OCR type arrangement for those cameras that data stamp the visual part of the file)

So technically, they have a valid patent. Unless of course the meta data already exists in common file formats to allow date information to be extracted.

Sorting by system create/modify dates isn't really valid in this case. If, say, you cropped an image, maybe added a border, then the image either has a new modify date or a new create date (saved as another image). But assuming the meta-date is preserved it would work. Hmmmms.

Damnit, I also sounded pro-MS there. Still it is a cool idea, and better than their apple.

Re:Photo Patent (3, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839146)

Damnit, I also sounded pro-MS there.

Only to Slashbots..

Most of us understand the difference between acknowledging an idea as original and acknowledging that an idea as patentable.

I think it sounds interesting too. But I certainly don't think it warrants MS having a monopoly on the idea and its implementations for the next 20 years.

What about Apple iPhoto? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839224)

Would I be right in thinking iPhoto automatically organises the 'photo library' based on data embedded in the photo in regards to the time and date the photo was taken?

Would this be considered prior-art?

Re:Photo Patent (3, Informative)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839162)

Check out ExIf data. Digital Cameras have been storing tons of meta data for years. Shutter Speed, Lens Speed, tons of other little things.... including date/time.


Re:Photo Patent (1)

neko9 (743554) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839208)

EXIF [] stands for Exchangeable Image File Format, and is a standard for storing interchange information in image files, especially those using JPEG compression. Most digital cameras now use the EXIF format.

Re:Photo Patent (3, Informative)

Huogo (544272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839175)

Almost all digital camera store EXIF metadata in their jpegs, which contains, among other things, the date the picture was taken. It also contains things such as shutter speed, apature, and whether or not the flash was used. The full spec is available on [] here []

Re:Photo Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839161)

Hell I just did this in Apple's iPhoto which I've had since it was version 1.0

Re:Photo Patent (2, Insightful)

pgnas (749325) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839242)

I liken patents to innovation and microsoft would like it's customers to view them as innovative. I have participated in many surveys for them and this is important to their identity as a corporation.

Is Microsoft innovative? at one time, not too much now. I would like to see a site completely dedicated to mapping out the timeline and the "features" that make up their software in an effort to demonstrate where their "innovations" actually come from (other innovative people), the answer is simple, they are masters at swallowing up innovation by others and integrating it into their flagship packages.

Now, let's take a look at other packages where the y have simply bought the product, ie: Visio, Frontpage, etc..

Microsoft will indeed continue to flourish, however, I think their innovation will flounder.

Re:Photo Patent (1)

MntlChaos (602380) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839253)

Actually, I think they're claiming displaying them in a calendar view. So pictures from 4th of July appear in that area, pictures from July 11th below those, etc.

Photoshop Album? (5, Informative)

flimnap (751001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838914)

Is it just me, or is the display of photos by time on a calendar exactly what Photoshop Album 1 did?

Hurrah for innovation!

Re:Photoshop Album? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839004)

and it's totally fucking obvious.

maybe they should patent an email client it's impossible to uninstall. click uninsall for outlook, and all it does is remove it from the list! it's still fucking there!

it's a goddamn email client. that's it! I want it off my pc. fucker will not die! remove the files, they reappear! I've followed the instructions on the net, it still reappears! it will not go. it'
s crap, it has nothing to do with the os, I hate everything about it, and it will not go. who owns my pc mr fucking Gates? clue is in the question.... come on.... clue for you....*my* pc...... got it yet mr gates!!>??!?!?!

then get your fucking outlook shit off *my* pc, you stupid pudding-bowl haircutted cretin.

1st Death to Microsoft Post (-1, Troll)

setzman (541053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838915)

Since this is /. and what else do you see here on MS stories?

It's really a sad state of affairs... (4, Insightful)

rel4x (783238) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838916)

when we relate/measure producitivity with patents...

Why? (4, Insightful)

z0ink (572154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838918)

When will all of this be stopped? How can a company hold thousands of patents on software. Is anything that unique? What does it even matter, they are closed source. Nobody can steal code from them, but they can look at OSS and say "thats our idea."

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838940)

I think it's about time patents were scrapped and replaced with something that benefits the people, not the corporations. A patent should help get a product started, not to stifle competition through licensing and royalties... Until recently I would have favoured the UK patent system, but with recent EU software patent crap... Who knows...

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839071)

Please don't. Patents are not evil. If you patent a physical device, why should you not receive royalties if people use that idea for a limited time?

There are the problems: WHAT can be patented and for HOW LONG? Patenting physical inventions is actually a good idea that encouraged R&D. The patent expiration process, like the copyright expiration process, ensures that protected ideas eventually enter the public domain so everyone can take advantage of them. Just make sure the term isn't too long.

I'd be okay with software patents (and business process patents in general) if they expired in six months. That's something short enough not to be abusable but long enough that a tech firm could eke out an advantage over their competition during that time.

Re:Why? (1)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839236)

Six months would be fine. But look at copyright - that started off fine and is now completely fuzzed up. It needs RADICAL reform, and the sooner the better.

Re:Why? (0, Flamebait)

RockOutlaw (801460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839102)

Yes, absolutely. The "people" must be protected from the evil machinations of "corporations."

Tell me though, do you say anything else when someone pulls your string, or is that your only phrase?

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839015)

Nobody can steal code from them, but
they can look at OSS and say "thats our idea."

Yes, that's the general idea.

But it's not a new idea. You're just now getting outraged about this because Microsoft is doing it? I'm sorry, but if you were not already outraged by this VERY COMMON PRACTICE then I have to question your motives.
IBM does this all the time. IBM has patents on freaking everything, way more than Microsoft. You know what they use them for? A bludgeon, to beat smaller competitors down and threaten same-sized competitors with the legal version of Mutual Assured Destruction.
I think it's horrible that software (a.k.a. business processes) are patentable at all in the US. But you've got to wonder what happens when Microsoft says "I'm sorry, we patented every aspect of the GUI--we demand royalties from every Linux vendor who uses a GUI". I think IBM may just respond with "Oh yeah? We've got a patent on filesystems. Let's deal." The good thing is that as long as IBM backs Linux, we have a measure of defense in a patent war. The bad news is that it is unwise to place your trust in IBM, or to think that IBM isn't jockying to become the only Linux vendor that DOESN'T have to pay massive royalties to Microsoft.

In summary, the sky is falling. But it'll make a neat sound when it hits.

Re:Why? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839094)

  1. Software companies buy senators.
  2. USPTO grants hundreds of thousands of patents that only have a use in litigation to large companies, at patenting prices that only large companies can afford.
  3. Large companies use patents to crush competition, non-profit or otherwise.
  4. PROFIT!
No ??? necessary.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839141)

They are not all software patent. For example, Microsoft owns a patent on a "Butt Hinge". You can pretty much write your own joke with that one. I think they intended to use it in there new product, "Microsoft Doors".

Because the USPTO just doesn't get it (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839229)

The USPTO is populated by people who don't grasp the fundamental concept that IT systems and programming are about abstract concepts applied to specific requirements. Object oriented programming, GUI event frameworks, network interfaces, RMI, RPC, XML, it's all about abstraction.

The application of those abstract techniques and utilities to solving a particular business problem is not a patentable idea. It is a fundamental concept of the industry.

We now have the USPTO not merely patenting business concepts, but architectural concepts and theoretical interfaces like the association of time with an image. It's absolutely insane -- they are allowing Microsoft to patent a naturally observable attribute of a real-world object. Everyone knows a picture has a time associated with it -- even portraits that were painted over the course of weeks are still associated with a fuzzy time value. How the hell can you possibly patent the idea of associating time with a picture, no matter what the media, formats, or protocols involved?

Patent law itself states that you cannot patent a natural process, and the application of a general tool to a specific function is a natural process of computing.

From this fundamental misunderstanding, we end up dealing with a patent system that allows a company like Amazon to patent the use of abstract behavior templates in regards to a real-world object, the shopping cart.

That's just insane. You cannot patent something which any IT resource with a knack for abstraction can observe, and there are hundreds of thousands of such people. You cannot patent the idea that a car has a color, nor could you patent the idea of a picture of a car changing color each time you click on it. Yet some USPTO employee without a wit of sense or understanding of fundamental computing techniques and philosophies thinks that it's reasonable to think an abstract action like a mouse click associated with a catalog object is a patentable concept.

It's nuts. It's just insane. The USPTO needs to distinguish between use of abstract concepts that are a natural part of computing, and genuine art in implementing general-purpose abstractions.

No matter how disagreeable it might have been, the specifics of how a GIF image file is constructed and compressed is a patentable expression of an abstract image. So is any other image file format.

But the idea that it is an image file, that it has attribute values such as author or creation date embedded in it, or that it has an associated set of attributes like creation date, storage size, etc. are not patentable concepts. They are just natural attributes of an abstract image.

*sigh* We are truly doomed, not because of OSS or Microsoft or because the corps pay off the government so they can use the legal system and patent office as a business model. We are doomed because the people responsible for protecting the people from being fleeced by the con-artists don't have a freakin' clue how to recognize aggressive abuse of the legal and patent systems.

Even when it is recognized, we have governments who are paid off by the corps who benefit from the abuse of the very social systems that are supposed to protect us from such abuse. Or do you think it was an accident that Microsoft's penalty for blatant illegal action was reduced to monitoring and a wrist slap, while IBM and AT&T had been broken up for far lesser offenses? Change of government, change of legislators who've been paid off, and the penalties go away.

Thanks to a legal system that allows corps to drag things out long enough to buy themselves a change of law or government before a ruling or settlement are issued, and you have a system that is ripe for abuse, and the largest of predator corps are abusing it for every dollar they can hope to garner. Nor am I singling out Microsoft -- SCO, Enron, and dozens of others are just as guilty.

Yet not one of the executives, lawyers, or other vultures who make their living off such shady "business practices" ever seem to do jail time, lose their assets, or even lose enough respect for them to be forced out of the industry. See above -- the vast majority of government representatives are lawyers and executives themselves. They've no interested in seeing their own behavior being punished.

Previous Art... (0, Troll)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838920)

Didn't Microsoft steal most of their stuff.. wouldn't that make Prior Art easy to find?
and 3000 of them? what did they do invent the Internet? or was that Dole?

the person... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9838921)

with the most lawyers always wins.
rule # 1 kiddies - if you cant invent, buy more lawyers. and then claim you invented it.

risible (5, Funny)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838922)

If you've ever seen the movie High Fidelity the main character decides to organize his albums not by title or genre, but by autobiographical so that if he wanted to find an album he had to remember when he bought it. Well just for fun I decided to do the same thing with my porn collection using iPhoto. Now I can see how my tastes in porno have changed and grown more sophisticated over the last 7 years. And wow I was into some pretty kinky shit as a 12 year old.

Re:risible (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9838988)

Funniest Comment ive seen on slashdot ever!


Heres the second funniest:

"In other news, at the local beach today a vicious fight broke out between geeks about where to draw a line. Sand was kicked, noses have been blooded, we have some unconfirmed reports of a wedgie. We will have more on this breaking news as it comes in."

And third funniest:

Today, I was lifting an old carpet, as we have a damp problem. Underneath there were hundreds of slugs and worms. My wife and I picked up about 40 slugs and put them in a pair of my wife's panties. I then put the panties on. The feeling was amazing. I got a huge erection and I could feel them sliding over my glans, and round my balls. Eventually I could feel one going up my bum. I knew I would come soon, so I let my wife tie me up, with my hands and feet speadeagled and attached to some furniture. She then took the panties down and about 15 of the slugs were crawling over my cock and balls. I came, spurting out loads of cum all over the poor things, but still couldn't move. My wife then took the other slugs out of the panties and placed them on my cock. She was careful to put some of them right on the opening of my cock, which was now covered in a mixture of sperm and glistening goo from the slugs. She opened up my arse and tried to put one in there too. I got hard again quite quickly as I thought of these slimy little things crawling over me. I imagined them biting me. One seemed to be trying to enter my uretha and this caused me to come again.
That was 4 hurs ago. My cock is now very itchy, but I am about to give them another "feed".

Gotta love slashdot!

Re:risible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839022)

Actually, I think that he he had to remember his state of mind when he bought it, not when he actually bought it.
Could be wrong though.

Re:risible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839192)

  • 2004: Jenna Jameson's "Just For Couples" Collection
  • 2003: Forskin Gump
  • 2002: Yank My Doodle Danky
  • 2001: May I Force It In You
  • 2000: Trans-el-Mania! They Don't Want to Suck Your Blood!
  • 1999: Cum Buttered Cornholes -- Director's Cut
  • 1998: Hairy, Hairy Beavers!
  • 1997: Puppy Love

Weak (4, Insightful)

Jim_Hawkins (649847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838924)

The only reason Microsoft is filing all these patents is because they want to get ahold on every freaken idea that anybody could *ever* come up with. That way, when someone else decides that they want to create something (AKA, create a new OpenSource project), they may just not be able to do it anymore.

Also, Bill...hate to break it to you, buddy. But you're doing just what a ton of other people are doing every day. Get a grip on the ol' ego.

I never had a real problem with MS before -- but this just takes them down quite a few notches. (About 3000 notches to be exact.)

Re:Weak (1)

cloudturtle (260857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839109)

Wow. Just how many fsking notches does one have to have to become a "real problem"? I find it weird that the 1000 patents a few years ago, along with the 2000 last year didn't create a problem. But I understand your point, "Bill, 3000 is just way to fsking much. Better take it down to 2999. Got it?"

All right people, move along. Just another irrationaly pissed off slashdotter here.

Re:Weak (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839124)

Or they could be doing it to keep from getting owned in court again by someone else, such as in the Eolas suit. Patents can work both ways, just just in offense.

Re:Weak (2, Interesting)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839214)

I think the patent application fee should be based on your overall company values, so make it 1% of monthly company revenue per patent app. This would

A) prevent massive applications by big guns
B) make it cheaper for the little guy (isnt that who it is for?)
C) provide the office with many extra funds to do patent apps to real inventors for tiny $100 fees.
D) provide office with enough funds to study apps in more detail

And the work we are doing is not? (0)

isolation (15058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838926)

Dont get me wrong, Microsoft spends quite a lot of money on R&D but patenting a invention or in some cases the lack there-of is standard practice for any company. Microsoft should focus on Quality not Quantity.

Yes, Microsoft are now playing the patent game (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9838935)

In their defense, they got hit by very absurd patent lawsuits. So now they want to grow fangs of their own. I don't blame them.

I blame the stupid patent system and I'm very amazed and disappointed that Congress and the American people seems to think it's all good (or are oblivious to the problem).

Re:Yes, Microsoft are now playing the patent game (1)

SenatorOrrinHatch (741838) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839030)

The American people don't think about it at all. Neither do Congressmen, they just say what other people tell them. I wonder how many lobbyists slashdot and OSDN and FSF have, compared to say IBM or M$ or Cisco or dozens of others. Patents, like most laws, are good for the people who make them, not the people they are imposed on.

Re:Yes, Microsoft are now playing the patent game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839122)

Look, I'm an inventor, so I know the patent system isn't always perfect. You need to look back at the published document above. It isn't a patent, it's a published patent application. All patent applications are published within a certain period of time, and all it means is that an inventor is trying to patent something, and it doesn't mean the USPTO will find it patentable.

Re:Yes, Microsoft are now playing the patent game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839244)

Heh, yeah, if only the American people just got off their asses and voted for a different patent system..

Wait a sec, you mean they can't do that? WTF?! What kind of democracy is this?

It's hard to swallow (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9838937)

Microsoft really wouldn't be where it is today if software patents existed back when they started.

They should have a little more respect for the name of Technology.

Re:It's hard to swallow (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839047)

Good point. I think they've realized that laws could change in the future so this is why they're patenting everything. The reason these patents are so unfair is because small companies can't possibly afford the legal expense to fight a possible microsoft's patent of "a good way of doing things with a keyboard on a sunny day."

I don't mean to sound redundant, but that's the big problem with patents. Anyone can get them, it seems, but only the big shots can afford to fight and uphold them. In essense, they're buying the legal system.

Rules are different now (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839128)

Sure they wouldn't exist if software patents existed 30 years ago, but they now have domination of the market.. and they will stop at nothing to perpetuate their power and control... They could care less about the rest of the market's ability to grow...

This is just another part of the long term strategy..

Re:It's hard to swallow (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839228)

Perfect comment - M$ has been on this patent diarrhea almost forever. Back around 1990 or so, they began patenting every speech made by their employees in public in case some new buzz word or phrase was used.

And most definitely yes, if this patenting had begun much sooner, there would be no M$.

Another blessing of offshore labor. (2, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838938)

The authors of the chronological picture presentation patent:

Sun, Yan-Feng; (Beijing, CN) ; Zhang, Lei; (Beijing, CN) ; Li, Mingjing; (Beijing, CN) ; Zhang, Hong-Jiang; (Beijing, CN)

They must have looked at the source code M$ sold the Chinese. Good thing M$ co-opted them or they would have had to put SCO on their case for stealing ideas. I'm going to barf.

Re:Another blessing of offshore labor. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839045)

How is this modded interesting? They might be chinese but they're MSFT employees, they're not Chinese government bureaucrats looking at the Windows source code. And what does this have to with SCO??

Why are you against offshore labor, or are you just racist? Chinese are also intelligent, capable people, you know?

Re:Another blessing of offshore labor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839083)

Hacked by Chinese!!

Re:Another blessing of offshore labor. (2, Informative)

ravenwing_np (22379) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839099)

Microsoft Research China is where almost all of MSFT's multimedia researchers live. When competing in NIST's Video TREC [] , MSR China are the people who go. Granted, all the cool stuff comes from either IBM (New York), Berkerley, or CMU.

Re:Another blessing of offshore labor. (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839165)

Why do all these people in China get idea-protection in the US? Can't they *gasp* get a Chinese patent instead?

Or come work (and pay taxes) over here instead?

(If you're an innovator, I have no idea why you would want to work in China anyway. Sounds like if you come up with something the government doesn't like your family mysteriously disappears one night.)

expect microsoft stock to go up.... (5, Funny)

jms258 (569015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838939)

once their patent on the blue screen of death goes through ...

they will be getting payouts left and right for that ...

it is by far the most ubiquitous of PC conventions that has ever been seen.

Re:expect microsoft stock to go up.... (2, Insightful)

jcenters (570494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839049)

Who are they going to get payouts from? Themselves? Windows is the only OS I've ever seen with a blue screen of death.

check this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9838944)

If you think chickens are stupid, you should try planting vegetables

Patent madness! All ideas MUST go!! (4, Interesting)

homeobocks (744469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838949)

As the old adage states, in its many forms, that the one thing ``they'' can't take away from you is knowledge. While true, Microsoft can still own it.

four people! (5, Funny)

illerd (579494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838957)

it took four people to come up with that!

Re:four people! (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839249)

It took four people to come up with the idea that it was patentable. That's what was so fucking MS-Innovative(tm)!

patently obvious (5, Interesting)

uncreativ (793402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838972)

I know this has been ranted about on slashdot, but why are patently obvious procedures patentable?

I'd be curious if anyone can suggest a good rule for eliminating obvious patents. Perhaps a rule that states that a method which mimics electonically what is done by other means cannot itself justify issuing a patent.

In the referrring patent, Microsoft pretty much has patented the procedure for looking at things with dates on them and sorting them in order of the date. Now, I understand if Microsoft patents the method they used to extract date information encoded into a photograph, but this patent is way too broad.

Re:patently obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839145)

I agree 100%. But there already is case law that says automating a known process isn't necessarily patentable (or something like that). Anyways, the link was to a patent application publication...this means it is NOT a patent, it just means somebody is trying to patent it. Hopefully the USPTO rejects it with easily found prior art.

Re:patently obvious (3, Informative)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839225)

"I'd be curious if anyone can suggest a good rule for eliminating obvious patents."

It's very simple: 'Software' ideas should never have been made patentable in the first place. Look at the monitor in front of you and ask yourself this: "Is this a general purpose electronic computer I see before me or is it just another consumer appliance?" Are you free to use it as the invention it was originally intended to be or have large corporations now almost managed to metamorphose it into just another consumer appliance - a box into which you may plug only the software products that they deign to supply? Are you free to programme it as it was meant to be programmed or are there daily more and more restrictions on what code you can type in? Is this an acceptable state of affairs - do novelists and musicians have to put up with this kind of 'ownership' of the ideas of their crafts? Could 'inventions' like this one and many others like it only have been made by expert software designers or could a child have done it - or a law firm? And don't even think about the usual: "Well there are some clever mathematical algorithms that deserve to be patentable" - no there are not, they are mathematical ideas and belong to mathematics, which in turn belongs to us all. How many times need it be repeated that software is properly and appropriately a copyright protectable area of endeavour?

Just an attempt to prevent another government suit (2, Interesting)

adc.m (117676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838978)

You think the CIA can operate without software that manages photographs in a chronilogical order, how about the FBI.

Next they'll be patenting the organization of paper. And, since they used Clippy, they'll claim a patent on paper clips which aren't in use.

If the DOJ makes another move against them, MS countersues the government

Isn't this known as a "movie"? (2, Insightful)

J053 (673094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838983)

'Organizing and displaying photographs based on time' surely has some prior art??!!

First thing I thought of too... (1)

gazoombo (650701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839135)

The second was (after actually reading the entire patent), That's my idea!

I had been working around some ideas to organize my photos by data and decided that the comment headers present on JPEGS and GIFS would be the perfect place for a date stamp. I was going to write some scripts to manage a library organized in this fashion when I realized that it wouldn't prove nearly as useful as I would have hoped unless the digital camera would store a date in the same way... I had mostly forgotten about it until I read this.


Ignore, Ignore and Ignore...! (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838987)

Countries like China and Russia, that are powerful enough to stand up to the US, will simply ignore those so called patents and innovate. to better their peoples' lives. We in the "third world" will follow. The Chinese are already in space, don't you think they have "trampled" on some US patents? The world will move on one way or another...with or without M$ and its patents.

Re:Ignore, Ignore and Ignore...! (1)

Enaku (801081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839029)

Where do you suppose "we" are?

What next? (1)

Enaku (801081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838990)

It appears Microsoft are intent on owning the rights to just about everything. Could it occur that in the future, one day M$oft could own the rights to anything you do in their programs? It's quite scary when you think about it. One day, a computer company could own everything, have the legal rights to everything without any liabilites, and maybe even pull us into a seudo-orwell society. Scary, but is it possible?

Limits? (1)

adam mcmaster (697132) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838996)

Am I the only one who thinks there should be a yearly limit to the number of applications one company/person can file? 3000 seems excessive.

Re:Limits? (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839243)

If patents were only granted for unique and non-obvious inventions, this wouldn't be a problem.

What about why they all expire? (1) (528791) | more than 10 years ago | (#9838999)

I know it sucks at the moment, but what about when they all expire? Unless the extend the time of patents (which wouldn't suprise me) then all of this will be out of patents in about 15 years. Sure it's a while but from what I can see well have alot of patents for the next 5 years or so until most of the normal stuff has been patented then we'll wait for another 15 years then anyone can use them.

In the short term it's annoying but in the long term it's not that big a deal.

Re:What about why they all expire? (3, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839082)

In the short term it's annoying but in the long term it's not that big a deal.

Are you insane? 15 years is a long, long time for computers. 15 years ago was 1989. That year, the 80486 was introduced. The web was two years off. Microsoft sales topped one billion dollars for the first time. The internet tops 100,000 hosts. IRC is introduced. Seymour Cray developed the Cray 3. MCI and Compuserve become the first corporations with email connections to the internet.

See what I'm getting at? A "limited" monopoly can be harmful, not just annoying. Even dangerous, when you are talking about the future of the most flexible tool known to man-- knowledge.

Re:What about why they all expire? (2, Insightful)

brendanoconnor (584099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839139)

It is the principle of the matter. The fact that it takes 15 years to expire is not the issue, but rather that common sense ideas are now owned.

To make matters worse, all these common sense ideas will not be aviable for 15 years. Wow. That's insane. Who will care in 15 years? By that time it won't matter as things will have progressed so much.

Everything that seems to happen in the IT industry happens overnight, and after as little as three months, its already to late.

For Microsoft to do this as a business is just business sense. Why not do it? Does not hurt them to have it all. Sure it could hurt the company in the long run, but do you think the top executives really care about the long run? They care for maybe 10-15 years. Microsoft will not be gone in 15 years. I'm sure of that.

So, to get back to the point of the parent, why should we have to wait 15 years to use common sense ideas that have been used many many many times before? We should be able to use them now. I bet Asia will be using them, as well as South American. Europe will be screwed like us, but I'm still hoping for them to get it right.


p.s. I'm an American, and the patent system is insane.

Re:What about why they all expire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839179)

If you consider 17 years to be "about 15 years", then yes, eventually all these ideas will be public domain. However, that probably a long time to wait if you are trying to start a software company NOW.

Re:What about why they all expire? (1)

nbert (785663) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839248)

then we'll wait for another 15 years then anyone can use them.

Some patents might be of interest, but the first thing that comes to my mind thinking about 2034 is gnuclippy (please correct me if they don't have any clippy related patents).

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Hubris (1)

sinnfeiner1916 (793749) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839008)

'we think what we are doing is more important than what others are doing' -- how god damned full of himself is this guy? and what is this 'we' shit anyway? has he done anything since checking the code on the Altair BASIC interpreter that one time?

Re:Hubris (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839254)

Most definitely. In 2000, Bill G bought up some Washington state politicians and caused the Bureau of Labor and Industry to pass a state ordinance putting a cap on the amount of money an independent contractor can make. I don't recall any cap on Bill G's billions!!!!!

In related news... (5, Funny)

SteroidMan (782859) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839032)

Microsoft patents three finger salute. Whiny boy scouts claim prior art. Bill Gates derides scouts as religious cult, and threatens to sue the pimply freaks into oblivion.

Re:In related news... (4, Funny)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839075)

which is easily worked around by using the one finger salute in it's place

hard to patent with zero original ideas (1)

Indy1 (99447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839068)

oh wait, they "innovate" by stealing everyone else's ideas. Maybe they will put out a patent on that.

Dear Bill, (2, Funny)

nbert (785663) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839098)

I always knew your company is inventing superior things every day. I just wonder what kept MS from implementing any of them? Sincerely yours -

see the patent in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839104)

Microsoft has a video of the app that uses this patent 5#14275 []

Extra cash for all (2, Interesting)

dourk (60585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839130)

I used to work closely with an engineer from FANUC, and he claimed (heresay now) they each employee had to apply for a new patent each year. And those that had one awarded were treated well.

why is this happening? (4, Insightful)

sinner0423 (687266) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839133)

For those that are too lazy to RTFA, this is probably the most important part of it :

The push for more patents comes as Microsoft is trying to boost the licensing of its intellectual property to other companies, an effort that began last year.

That pretty much sums it up right there. Exactly what do these guys want? Being one of the largest, most proliferated company on the planet isn't enough, apparently.

Don't think this is freaky yet? Check out this article [] and realize the strategic use of patents in influencing a market. They have all the money to do this too, which is the scariest part. Patents aren't about protection any more, it's about CONTROL.

I quit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839136)

That's it. I'm changing majors. First all the jobs go to india, then MS decides they'll patent everything you could hope to develop anyway.

why bother.

fuck this shit.

I'm gonna learn something else for a change.

Me thinks Mr Gates needs a hobby... (1)

builderbob_nz (728755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839160)

And I quotith:
"We're at an early state on that but it is something that we are pretty excited (about)," Gates said,

As I said in the subject, me thinks he needs a hobby. Getting excited over patents, now that is just plain concerning.

The title is misleading. (2, Informative)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839169)

Although I don't endorse patent whording done by microsoft, the title for the patent is grosely misleading. It makes it sound like Microsoft just patented all motion pictures... but not quite.

The patent application states:

"For instance, the technique determines whether the time information is digitally encoded in the image file, or whether it is embedded within the image data itself. The technique next includes extracting the time information from the photograph image file using a technique appropriate to the identified manner in which the time information is stored, to produce extracted time information."

Simply put, the pictures are organized and displayed in a manner according to data embedded in the image file itself... which is halfway innovative.

Although pretty basic and easy to do on your own, it, I assume, can warrant a patent.

The only possible explanation (2, Funny)

enginuitor (779522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839181)

The only truly unique technology Microsoft ever invented is their secret algorithm that is able to generate errors in such a way that every user experiences at least one unique problem never seen by anyone else. Microsoft's software beats all others in this aspect. No other software can match the sheer randomness of the errors produced by Microsoft operating systems, which is why people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for it than they would have spent on otherwise superior Open-Source operating systems such as Linux.

hate you (1)

gnuLNX (410742) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839183)

"what we are doing is, if anything, more important than what others are doing"

I hate you you egotistical fuck. If you could please just go crawl up under a pile of shit and die...perhaps your rotting fumes couwouldld provide some inspiration to others (us dumb folk) in the world.

How dare you claim that what you are doing is more important that what others are doing. I hope you die. I mean I really really hope that you just drop dead somewhere you fucking peice of shit.

The good news (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839194)

Patents still expire in about 20 years. unlike say copyrights that will last longer than you will. Like something that Microsoft has patented, you can safely put it in open source 20 years from now, a long time, but most of us will live 20 more years. (barring the end of the world or some such of course)

So far Microsoft has just collected patents, generally only using them for defense. If the trend continues you might get by with using that Microsoft patented thing today since Microsoft doesn't really seem to care. I wouldn't because they might change at anytime, but history says you are likely to get away with it. Microsoft has threatened to start enforcing their patents, but so far nothing has come of it. (I can't recall any exceptions where Microsoft actually struck first, though they might exist)

Ladies and gentlemen THIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9839202)

is what will kill FOSS.

One company, with literally BILLIONS of dollars and a war-chest full of patents, versus...redhat and a spattering of rag-tag "non-profit" organisations.

Folks, we don't stand a fucking chance in HELL![1]

[1]dispair void in laos and where-ever else USian laws are not enforced.

Maybe its just me.... (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839207)

But how can you patent a method of doing someting? If you think about it preparing and cooking scrambeld eggs has a method to it, could I patent that? If this patent orgy continues how long before OSS comes to a brick wall because every bloody idea, method, and algorithem etc... has been patented by a company with lots of cash and lawyers? Look at what happed to id software and Creative. The general public does not know what is happening and they will never know unless we educate them. And if we do educate them will they even care? And the patent office employees, do they even have to be certified to handle the patents that are presented to them?

I understand the basic ideas behind patents but when they are taken to the limits like this it really shows just how flawed the system is. And if this madness keeps on going there will definatly be trouble in the future.

Logic (1)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9839237)

Microsoft is more important because Microsoft has more money. And if you do not agree Microsoft can buy your life out from under you.
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