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You Might Be a Microsoft Patent Infringer

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the the-easy-way dept.

Patents 102

theodp writes "Do you use drop-down menus, alphanumerical input boxes, check boxes, radio buttons or sliders to allow client side-processing of data? Utilize SQL, HTML, ActiveX, Java, Perl, JavaScript or JScript to do so? Employ arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, or decision trees to organize things? Well Bunky, you might be infringing on Microsoft's new patent for Dynamically adjusting data values and enforcing valid combinations of the data in response to remote user input, which the USPTO granted Tuesday after 6+ years and two rejections."

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102 comments

In other news... (4, Funny)

jack's wasted liver (821583) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515944)

"Microsoft Patents 1, 0"

Re:In other news... (1)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516263)

as seen in The Onion (but cached elsewhere [att.net])

Re:In other news... (1)

Cade144 (553696) | more than 9 years ago | (#10520465)

Best quote from the Onion "article":
"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."

Microsofting for dummies... (3, Insightful)

relaxrelax (820738) | more than 9 years ago | (#10528651)

MS's 5 steps plan, (c) 1984 by Bill Gates:

1- If you can't patent oxygen, patent its use. If you can't patent its use, patent its use at a remote location - deny any prior art.

2- Get a restraining order for astronauts on Mars not to use oxygen in remote locations without being owned by MS first; the patent will be invalidated in less than 5 minutes. If the astronauts manage to survive, patent their heating system for the next 5 minutes after that. If that doesn't work, patent Mars rock analysis to make the whole mission is pointless.

3- Take over Mars. Rename it Microsoft RedPlanet (tm). Make sure MS manuals and college books don't mention the existence of alternatives, such as other planets. Use 18 front organisation to deny the existence of other planets.

4- Claim innovation, good faith, and take over a niche market unethically as punishment if caught taking over a niche market illegally.

5- Repeat until monopoly on everyone else's innovations!

I refuse to be modded funny. That's truly how MS operates!!

FIRST POST FOR GNAA! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10515949)

GNAA!

As if prior art...... (4, Funny)

Nagatzhul (158676) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515988)

will be hard to prove on this one. Good grief. What is next, a patent on oxygen?

Re:As if prior art...... (2, Funny)

jerde (23294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517521)

> Good grief. What is next, a patent on oxygen?

Of course not, silly! You can't patent a thing... But do keep your eyes out for my patent on my new process for "using oxygen in a reaction with hydrocarbon compounds via enzymatic biological processes to generate energy to perpetuate living tissue."

God will have to license my patent, or I'll sue...

- Peter

Re:As if prior art...... (2, Funny)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10526350)

Better patent the activity of patent licensing, too, just to be on the safe side.

Re:As if prior art...... (1)

jerde (23294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10526452)

> Better patent the activity of patent licensing, too, just to be on the safe side.

I'll bet the US Patent Office would issue it, too. After all, it would be too much work for them to find prior art...

Re:As if prior art...... (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#10548072)

You could, however, patent the submarine patent strategy and then sue anyone who sues you using submarine patents....

Suing me for infringing on your patent infringes on my business process patent ;-)

Re:As if prior art...... (1)

Agilo (727098) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518872)

Well... someone patented the 37 hour work-week, and got it.. so who knows.

wow (4, Funny)

GeoffKerr (821626) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516000)

That's the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. They might as well try patenting the advanced, new technology called "thought"... that way they don't have to file a patent for anything new in the future when they want to take control over any new ideas. Next thing we know, they will be trying to take credit for writing Romeo and Juliet and say that it's been embedded in the Windows source since before Shakespeare was born.

Re:wow (1, Funny)

Methlin (604355) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516274)

Next thing we know, they will be trying to take credit for writing Romeo and Juliet and say that it's been embedded in the Windows source since before Shakespeare was born.
Well Microsoft's Windows programmers are the proverbial infinite number of monkeys banging away at typewriters (keyboards), so I don't see why not.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10517304)

Actually, you CAN cite Shakespeare:

"We still have judgement here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
To plague th'inventor." Macbeth Act I Scene VII

Funny but...... (1)

p.rican (643452) | more than 9 years ago | (#10523117)

this is a sad commentary on our patent system.

It may seem that there's loads of prior art against this patent but I don't think Microsoft's goal is to actually win a patent lawsuit against FOSS. They would get just as good results by making sure that FOSS organizations are buried in legal battles for a very long time. For that reason alone, I'm still scared for Free/Open Source software...

Re:Funny but...... (1)

dprust (316840) | more than 9 years ago | (#10523333)

Hey, I (and damn near everyone else I've ever met) have been doing this for years. Should we sue Microsoft for taking our idea?

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 9 years ago | (#10525730)

Next thing we know, they will be trying to take credit for writing Romeo and Juliet

Don't worry, Willy Wagglestick didn't write Romeo and Juliet himself either (he was illiterate) so there's prior art. :-)

Prior Art? (3, Insightful)

Bonewalker (631203) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516006)

Isn't there a plethora of prior art out there to disprove that this is a "new" idea that Microsoft, of all companies, came up with?

And look at this quote from the abstract: As such, the user can dynamically adjust the set of results and sub-items from a remote location. The system and method of the present invention preferably utilizes client-side processing to achieve real time interaction.

How can it be from a remote location if it is happening on the client-side? That would seem very local to me. But what do I know?

Bright side: Free mod points (4, Funny)

isn't my name (514234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516231)

Hey, maybe this means that MS can stop Slashdot from keeping track of how many mod-points I have.

After all, Slashdot "[d]ynamically adjust[s] data values and enforc[es] valid combinations of the data in response to remote user input."

Re:Bright side: Free mod points (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516239)

Unless you're paying for mod points and there's an incompatible grouping of them ... no. :)

Re:Bright side: Free mod points (1)

isn't my name (514234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516678)

Unless you're paying for mod points and there's an incompatible grouping of them ... no. :)

Doesn't Slashdot adjust the mod points available to me dynamically on the server based on my remote input when I use one?

Re:Bright side: Free mod points (1)

Torienalis (819094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10520430)

And unless its all decided client side. No

Re:Bright side: Free mod points (1)

nerdlyone (539405) | more than 8 years ago | (#10569476)

You, sir, seem to understand that to infringe a patent, one must perform all the listed limitations. Claim 1 of the patent in question has many many limitations:

1. A method for dynamically displaying pricing data on a client display device comprising:

establishing a communications interface between a client computer and a server computer;

requesting pricing data from the client to the server for at least one object;

generating pricing data with associated options and rules for selection and combination of the associated options for each object at the server;

transmitting the pricing data, associated options, and rules for selection and combination of the associated options from the server to the client;

displaying a first set of pricing results on the client display device;

providing a user interface on the client display device for user interaction with the pricing data and selection and combination of the associated options;

using the rules to prevent a user from encountering a conflict by automatically correcting any conflicts to prevent the conflicts from being displayed during the user interaction with the pricing data, the rules for selection and combination containing all potential conflicts that may occur during the user interaction and corresponding safeguards to prevent the user from encountering and viewing a conflict during the user interaction with the pricing data; and

dynamically updating the pricing data using the client computer to process the update and displaying the pricing data on the client display device in response to user interaction with the pricing data and associated options, and rules for selection and combination.

So many of the objections I find in this forum seem slightly uninformed, because they pick out a single limitation, point to prior art, and call the patent bunk. Though the patent may indeed be bunk, it is not for many of the reasons accepted here.

Re:Prior Art? (1)

chthon (580889) | more than 9 years ago | (#10522078)

I already used sidebar sliders on my Sinclair QL in 1987, and I am sure that these things were already in Smalltalk-80 (1980).

Oh God Not Again (-1, Redundant)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516009)

Why Slashdot obesses over patent issuance I'll never understand. Just because some gets a patent doesn't mean that it will hold water in court.

Because not everyone can afford to go to court? (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516104)

If MS decided to send me, or anyone of millions of small companies, a letter saying "pay us 10,000 in royalties or we will sue you for 10 million in damages", guess what? I can't afford the patent attorney for the 8+ months of litigation, and I sure as hell can't afford the 10 million.

The sad thing is that I should even need a patent attorney in this case - it should be so cut and deied that you could represent yourself! But alas, that is rarely so.

Re:Oh God Not Again (2, Insightful)

forsetti (158019) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516112)

IANAL, but once the patent is granted, the process becomes "guilty until proven innocent". If the patent holder goes after an "infringer", it is now up to the infringer to prove they are not, which can be a costly endeavor.

Re:Oh God Not Again (2, Informative)

cypherz (155664) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516156)

"Why Slashdot obesses over patent issuance I'll never understand."

The problem for open source developers is defending their work against bogus patents like this. Getting the patent invalidated costs real money.

Re:Oh God Not Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10522356)

So?
It is expensive to enforce copyright infringements too.

Re:Oh God Not Again (1)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516161)

Why Slashdot obesses over patent issuance I'll never understand. Just because some gets a patent doesn't mean that it will hold water in court.

The reason that patent issuance is such a big thing in cases such as this one is that Microsoft can do a lot of damage with bad patents. Let's say you write some code and Microsoft decides that it infringes on their shiny new patent and sends you a cease and desist letter. You can either a) cease and desist, or b) try to fight it in court. If you choose option b you get to go up against a team of highly trained and well paid lawyers with incredible resources. This will cost you a lot of money and take a lot of your time. Have fun in court and enjoy your ultimate victory after five or six years of appeals and spending all of your money on lawyers when the patent is ruled invalid. Meanwhile of course your life has gone into the shitter fighting this bad patent, but hey, why get upset about these things?

Re:Oh God Not Again (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517751)

Alternatively, C, you can photocopy the stupid Cease-and-Desist letter, publish it to slashdot, and let us tear it apart, don't respond, archive the results and wait. When MICROSOFT spends the money to drag you into court, you don't even need to hire a lawyer- just take your printout and file it as an amicus brief. And be sure to send a second copy to the newspapers so that the rest of us can laugh at Microsoft also.

Re:Oh God Not Again (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10520239)

When MICROSOFT spends the money to drag you into court, you don't even need to hire a lawyer- just take your printout and file it as an amicus brief.

Yes. I'm sure the judge wants to read all about the GNAA, the goatse guy, and whatever fool(s) thought they got first post, but didn't.

That'll go over REAL well.

Re:Oh God Not Again (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10525252)

Ah- but also included in all that is examples of prior art- which means that even an idiotic message board with a bunch of garbage on it can tell that the patent is garbage- and that big company X is a con artist.

Re:Oh God Not Again (2, Insightful)

lunadog (821751) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516164)

...But the mere threat of court action could be enough to close down many free software open source projects.

I think this could lead to "not distributable in the US" clauses...

Hope y'all like living in a ghetto!

Re:Oh God Not Again (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516670)

I think this could lead to "not distributable in the US" clauses...

Good thing there'll always be someone in Eastern Europe ready to step up with a download site plastered with a "DO NOT DOWNLOAD FROM THE U.S. (wink, wink; nudge, nudge" disclaimer.

Because .... (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516875)

Why Slashdot obesses over patent issuance I'll never understand. Just because some gets a patent doesn't mean that it will hold water in court.


Constructs mentioned in the summarly like stacks and queues are fundamental computer data structures. All programmers have used them at one time in their lives, and will probably need to again.

Do you really think that any developer (or most companies) can afford to actually survive long enough to dispute it in court once Microsoft rolls out a fleet of high-priced lawyers? If they get overbroad patents, nobody in the industry will be able to do anything. Period.

First year programming courses will all violate the frigging patent.

The reason why Slashdot 'obsesses' with patent issues is they stand a very real chance of undermining the ability of people to work in the profession unless they're on the Microsoft payroll.

Unless, of course, you plan on funding the legal defence of the first poor schmoe who has to to find out if the patent will hold water in court.

Hell, even the US DoJ can't get Microsoft into a court room in a timely manner.

Cheers

Answer to hypothetical MS C&D letter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10521508)

Dear Sir,

we both know that this is bullshit. I will not talk to an underling. Mr. Gates is welcome to phone and email me.

Should he choose to meet me in person, he's welcome to pick the day and the weapon of choice, and show up at dawn with an attendant.

Re:Because .... (1)

dprust (316840) | more than 9 years ago | (#10523476)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is our real champion in such matters. The government is useless in such matters because they cannot move fast enough.

Re:Oh God Not Again (1)

unixbugs (654234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516912)

You are so right. I wish everyone would just let microsoft do whatever they want. Who cares if they eventually patent the way we eat, sleep, think (oh they did that one allready), and breath? We can all just move to the moon, if gates doesnt allready own it by that time. Apathy like yours is what got us here in the first place.

Wow, the USPTO is worthless (2, Insightful)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516010)

So the idea behind this password is basically input checking over the web, the twist on it appears to be that in order to get around bandwidth limitations the input checking code is downloaded to the client, this way the client can change the options around without having to communicate with the server every time an option is changed.

OK, perhaps there isn't prior art for this specific implementation but I remember learning about the concept of checking for valid user input and adjusting things accordingly back when I started to program in BASIC on a Vic 20. The fact that this got through is further proof that no one at the USPTO has a clue about computers, software, programming or indeed any piece of technology more complicated than a doorknob.

Re:Wow, the USPTO is worthless (1)

wtd (791730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516355)

Anybody who knows even the first thing about web-based applications knows you still have to do every bit as much validation on the server-side, regardless of what validation you do on the client-side, because the client can never be trusted to send back valid input. Client-side validation is a convenience for the client. Nothing more.

Re:Wow, the USPTO is worthless (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518684)

And that validation could be done with LiveScript, now known as JavaScript. If this pre-1995 example is not enough prior art to invalidate the patent, I'm sure there is plenty of other stuff.

Re:Wow, the USPTO is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10530473)

...what about embedded macros in spreadsheet files, that compare entered values against a lookup table?
Or, heck, every database-backed application, way back to 3270 days? ("Hit F4 to pull up a list of account types")

Oh well.

The USPTO is turning into a Comedy of Absurdity.

Re:Wow, the USPTO is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10517767)

...when I started to program in BASIC on a Vic 20

Hmmm... I believe that Vic20's Basic is Microsoft Basic V2. There you go, you just proved MicroSoft's case for them :-)

Not!

Topic overrated, flamebait (5, Insightful)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516059)

from the patent application:

What is claimed is:
1. A method for dynamically displaying pricing data on a client display device...

Note that that's a 1, meaning that's the patent request at its broadest. Once you get past the abstract, according to claim 1 there is required to be client-server communication, a price list, and rules for combining them.

This patent would likely apply to a typical linux distro installation package manager (handling dependencies etc) that was (a) run online, (b) charged prices, and (c) did dependency checking on the form itself before submission.

Hell, I doubt that even Linspire's Click'n'Run violates it...

Re:Topic overrated, flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10516527)

evne in that limited scope, how is that patentable.

they took a broad concept and dropped a certain task/thing they want to do around it.

you could have just as easily said "... on the internet"

Slash FUD (4, Insightful)

ahknight (128958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516139)

That's just a stupid, stupid interpretation of the patent. After reading the patent you will notice that it's about using client-side scripting to enable or disable conflicting form component values based on the current values of other components all specifically in the context of "pricing information" retrieved from the server. After reading the full description it's basically something they thought of when designing Carpoint (now http://autos.msn.com/ [msn.com]) so that after each selection (year, model, etc.) you didn't hit the server for the values for the next item. Very popular these days, but not so much in 1998 when this was filed.


One such system is a server database with a used car price guide for access by a remote user. First, the remote user makes an initial request to access results, such as pricing information for a particular car. After the remote user makes the initial request, the server collects sub-items, such as options relating to the particular car, and transmits the options to the remote user. The remote user is then required to select options for building an option configuration. If the option selections are invalid or conflict, the server notifies the user that the selections are invalid and then retransmits the options to the user. This validation step is repeated until the remote user submits valid option selections and an option configuration without conflicts. When the selection is valid, the server collects pricing information based on the option selections and overall configuration. The pricing information built from the selected options is then transmitted to the remote user.

...

Specifically, first, a user requests information from a remote computer and then results of the requested information are collected at a host computer. Second, the results, sub-items and rules of enforcement of the sub-items relating to the request are transmitted from the host to the remote computer in a format that is preferably encoded and transparent to the remote user. Third, the results are remotely processed in response to user interaction of the results and sub-item selection and configuration. The processed results are dynamically adjusted and displayed as the user interacts with the results and the sub-items. Sub-item conflicts are prevented by enforcement of the transmitted rules of sub-item combinations and predefined interactive options. Graphical user interface control devices are used to allow user interaction and adjustment of the results. For example, alphanumerical boxes, drop-down menus, check boxes, radio buttons or the like can be used. The system and method of the present invention preferably utilizes client side-processing of the results instead of server-side processing. This enables the user to quickly access and adjust information dynamically and in real time without server delays.



Still a crappy thing to patent, I totally agree, but hardly every damned control widget in every damned language in the known fucking universe as the author hints at.

FUD sucks, no matter who spews it.

Re:Slash FUD (1)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516320)

disabling component depending on the value of other was some thing I did regulary in PowerBuilder using calculated attribute in datawindows around 1996. It was client/server, so it was remote. And in a datawindow, you can have a calculated attribute debending on a PowerBuilder function (using dwModify. Oh it's old, 7 years I didn't touch it), so local treatment is obvious.

Remember, for years and years and years, SUN communication was based on : "The network is the computer".
With such a commun slogan, how one can consider that something done on a computer become not obvious when made accross the network ?

Re:Slash FUD (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516442)

Ok, it was client/server, but were the logical rules for the enabling and disabling sent to the client over the network connection and the client trusted to enforce them for the return data? Are you sure there was -zero- network activity when you changed selections? Oh, and was this related to pricing information with incompatible data values and did it enable and disable form elements (all client-side code sent over the wire now) as you made selections?

If so, great, that works. Honestly, I hope there is prior art. I just can't think of it, myself, so this could be valid. And boy, wouldn't that suck?

Re:Slash FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10517950)

Well, if I understand the components correctly, I did something like this around 1996/97. A huge javascript app with all the pricing information which allowed you to configure a custom system to purchase from my then-employer.

Shalon Wood

Re:Slash FUD (1)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518139)

I'm sure there was zero network during the update, but rereading your post (and not the F... article),
you say the patent cover when the client is trusted to control the data. What does it mean when the patent cover bad practice ? Aren't patent suposed to be for the advancement of the arts and sciences ?

I say it is great news for OSS. Let have Microsoft patent this and be the only one to use it. They can also patent and be the only one to use all other bad practices.

Re:Slash FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10519912)

Well, screw them. Who cares about patents on bad practices? Nobody reasonable is going to use them anyway.

I think that writing 50k of Javascript code to do that and transfer all that data necessary for that is simply a contradiction to the philosophy of the web. My personal preference is to make things work in such way that transfers are small, so even if it hits the server 3 times, it's still better then moving around this behemoth everytime someone hits reload. Not mentioning that I don't have to write stupid hacks to avoid incompetence of various browser writers (and actually I'm not talking about IE...)

Re:Slash FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10520538)

Trusting the client with data is fine if the only thing that can go wrong is incorrect search results.

Re:Slash FUD (1)

gokeln (601584) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517221)

Sorry, it's not just a crappy thing to patent. Nor is prior art the issue here. It is so OBVIOUS to anyone versed in the art as to be ludicrous. This is the major failing of the USPTO not to have these reviewed by someone who knows the subject matter.

Re:Slash FUD (1)

dprust (316840) | more than 9 years ago | (#10523408)

I think we worry too much. It isn't like thousands of other patents haven't been enforceable for the same reason. It's just that Micro$oft did it this time. If they were to sue someone, which it would be hard to pick just one product out of the fray, the case would get so much attention that it would be the greatest business boon that person could ever hope for. Plus, the EFF will help, I wager, so relax and hope they sue for something so silly!

Re:Slash FUD (1)

Twylite (234238) | more than 9 years ago | (#10521219)

7. A method for dynamically displaying data values on a client computer, comprising:

I'll paraphrase the result of (7):

  1. Request a result set
  2. Result set returned with a "control module" and "rules of enforcement of ... combinations"
  3. In response to user adjustments the control module applies the rules on the client-side in real time and dynamically displays the "processed data values"

Claim (7) is independent of claim (1), and pertains to "data values" not just to "pricing information".

I've Just Read the Patent In Question; Amazing... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10526236)

It would appear that there is now a patent for the statement taught in just about every software engineering school for the last 30+ years. It goes something like, "Edit Your Inputs, Build Your Outputs."

Or in the wording of the Patent, "...enforcing valid combinations of the data in response to remote user input..., ...for dynamically adjusting data values...".

Now if Microsoft is NOT impling "Editing", then maybe if a User errors, Microsoft will come over and use some type of, 'violence'? To "'Enforce' valid combinations."

I also believe one can find prior art at, kellybluebook dot com.

Re:Slash FUD (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10541758)

"Very popular these days, but not so much in 1998 when this was filed."

I say the following with all due respect: Baloney.

I agree that the write-up for this article is pure fabrication, but it doesn't follow that Microsoft is making a claim that is even remotely valid.

This behaviour was blindingly obvious to web application developers well before 1998. The very first question you ask when you're developing a stateless, client-server application is, 'How do I divide the work?' Updating onscreen information without making another request to the server is what JavaScript was designed for.

How do I know? Because I wrote at least two applications that I can think of off the top of my head in 1996-7 that used exactly the kind of behaviour described in this patent.

You are truely clueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10543164)

Boy, didn't think anyone as naive as you could possibly exist!

If MS's and the PTO's history has taught anyone anything, it's that the PTO will grant any coporation a monopoly on any wild ideas they can come up with a complex definition for a patent application, no matter how invalid it might be, and let everyone else clean up the mess they create by granting that application at everyone else's expense.

And MS, well, everyone (but you, it seems) already know they're a monopoly.



Time for you to get a fucking clue!

Re:You are truely clueless (1)

nerdlyone (539405) | more than 8 years ago | (#10569545)

Boy, didn't think anyone as naive as you could possibly exist!

If MS's and the PTO's history has taught anyone anything, it's that the PTO will grant any coporation a monopoly on any wild ideas they can come up with a complex definition for a patent application, no matter how invalid it might be, and let everyone else clean up the mess they create by granting that application at everyone else's expense.

And MS, well, everyone (but you, it seems) already know they're a monopoly.

The man made a valid point, and you reply with personal attacks? It has been a while since I surfed /., and now I remember why!

Well? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10516166)

Who's going to be the first to blow the whistle on Linux?

The example they use in the patent application (2, Interesting)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516202)

is interesting, an online used car lot. Microsoft has a plug-in for IE that you can download if you use their Carpoint [carpoint.com] website. It allows you to select a model and then change the trim and options on it and get a price. I wonder if there is code in the plugin that relates to this patent.

Re:The example they use in the patent application (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10536731)

I think this patent covers an older implementation using javascript that the plugin replaced.

Ninnle has been doing ALL of these! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10516243)

...and since NinnleDOS predates anything Microsofty, Gates hasn't a leg to stand on!

Congrats to the USPTO (4, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516337)

which the USPTO granted Tuesday after 6+ years and two rejections

They've successfully reduced Patent Examiner incompetence to 1 out of 3

Prior art for claim 1 (4, Informative)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516537)

Digital Equipment Corporation (the remains of which are now part of HP) had an online customer ordering system in the early 1990s that did everything described in claim 1 of the patent. I'm pretty sure there were other systems in operation more than a year before the patent filing that did this as well.

I would like to note... (-1, Troll)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516565)

That Slashdot is, in a way doing us a disservice by publicizing this. In the US, an infringer is only liable for damages after he is informed of the infringement. After he finds out, if he continues to infringe, he is liable for treble damages

So most of us are better off just keeping our eyes and ears closed.

The usual "I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice" disclaimer.

Re:I would like to note... (1)

gokeln (601584) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517275)

How else are we going to raise the ire of the community to the level required to force a change in the system? Something has to be done, and the more of these frivolous patents that can be exposed, the more ammo we'll have to use in the debate.

Bravo, /.-- keep 'em coming.

Seems to cover most any use of a thick client ... (1)

jlrobins_uncc (136569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516618)

Or doing thick-client things on a thin-client (i.e. browser).

Send a 'large' chunk of data down to the client -- more than what will be displayed currently, including the navigation rules (graph edges) between blocks of the chunk of data, so that the client itself can enable / remove available pathways (i.e. screen controls) to navigate through the data. This saves having to perform a server round trip per each choice the user makes.

The example use of such a novelty is their online car shopping site use. But it seems to equally cover arbitrary things done in HTML / Javascript, such as limiting the proper number of days in the month according to the month entered (30 days hath ...).

Lovely.

bu**sh** (2, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10516680)

They've patented using client side script for what exactly it was designed to be used for. Like purchasing a bicycle and then patenting the act of riding it in the normal, intended fashion.

Good news (4, Funny)

vijaya_chandra (618284) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517013)


Employ arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, or decision trees to organize things?


Finally some gain for not learning anything at school.
Everyone loses I gain.

Not learning anything at school? (1)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10542618)

Employ arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, or decision trees to organize things?

Finally some gain for not learning anything at school.
Everyone loses I gain.

I can see that by "not learning anything" you mean also spelling. It's "Everyone loses again."

Fascinating... (3, Insightful)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517020)

Back in the mid-80's, I wrote a program in PROLOG. Rule sets for a character based "GUI" entry screen components were sent, based on the current task to be performed. Data validation, control layout and control enabling was done by executing the PROLOG predicates.

Simple idea... worked well (we only had 2400 baud modems, 9600 baud was the upper end; sending only entry rules and the PROLOG was a reasonable choice).

Took a 512K machine (at the time, a very big micro).

This was *never* used for "pricing" -- it was used to specify typographic instruction (a slightly more advanced task, IMNSHO).

Obviously, can be used for "pricing", "estimating", &etc. (estimating would have been the next logical use).

Still stands as my only commercial PROLOG program.

And the wheel goes around...

I would think that there are other examples -- the IBM 3270 field control protocol is almost there (and I bet that it has been extended to cover this use as well). Other interesting conflicts are with Smalltalk/Squeak, and even the TCL/TK toolkit.

So I don't think that Microsoft will dare enforce this one.

Ratboy.

And in other news.. (1)

56ksucks (516942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517774)

.. Ford has patented the steering wheel, seats, tires, exhaust pipe,the gear shifter and red paint.

Why not patent a DDOS? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10517958)

I'm going for a patent on a "method for utilizing a consolidated broad base of network resources to issue corrective action against a publicly accessible database of information utilized by an entity that abuses any system for legally obtaining protection on intellectual property."

Making lemonade... 1 lemon at a time (1)

macz (797860) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518251)

Look on the bright side. Patents are only for 20 years and then they run out. After that it is freely duplicatable. Copyrights are forever, if the RIAA and it's obsequious servant, Congress, has its way.

Misintepreted? (3, Informative)

Torienalis (819094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518818)

1."Do you use drop-down menus, alphanumerical input boxes, check boxes, radio buttons or sliders to allow client side-processing of data?" Yes, but thats not what the patent covers. It involves the use of these things, but is not a patent on them or for them.

2."Utilize SQL, HTML, ActiveX, Java, Perl, JavaScript or JScript to do so" As above, none of these are being patented by microsoft

3."Employ arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, or decision trees to organize things" Again this is not what is being patented here.

4."Microsoft's new patent for Dynamically adjusting data values and enforcing valid combinations of the data in response to remote user input Oooh, so close, but you missed again.

The patent refers to items 1, 2 and 3, imlicitly or explicitly in their patent as things that are used to achieve the 'invention' they have 'created'
However number 4 is the opposite. They dont adjust data values and enforce valid combinations "in response" to remote user input. They use a process that causes the remote user to apply the rules themselves in an effort to decrease the load on the server to improve the speed of access to the page.

Also, although items 1, 2 and 3 are implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the patent, the use of them is only restricted by this patent if you do the following:

-Use them in such a way that the infrastructure of rules and options you are interacting with is WHOLLY RUN on the client side.

-Use them in a system that is used in relation to pricing for one or more items.

-Returns the result to the server After the client has validated it.

This is my interpretation of the patent after reading it. I assume that someone will soon read it even more carefully than I and debunk what I have said, but it would be nice to see the people posting articles read what they are posting about.

Dont get me wrong, its still too broad and overreaching, but its not as broad as it has been made out to be

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice. Nor will I accept responsibility if you are caught infringing on this patent after reading what I have typed here.

Re:Misintepreted? (1)

cranos (592602) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518937)

Okay so based on your analysis this patent covers any e-commerce form that only uses client side scripting to prompt the user to validate their entries.

Its finally happened, Microsoft has patented shitty coding practices.

Misintepreted ^ 2? (1)

Torienalis (819094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10520408)

Re-reading the patent application It would seem that there is no provision for e-commerce in it.

Actually paying attention to the claim statement indicates that the patent only specifies a system that assists in the selection of the data, not in returning the selected options to the server.

For Example:
Lets say There are a group of drop-down boxes on my page, the first is the TYPE, second is SUB-TYPE, third is SUB-TYPE2, and the fourth is OPTIONS. below these drop down boxes is a field for the display of a price. What the patent claims as the invention is the following process:

My server sends the client all the potential TYPE's, SUB-TYPE's, SUB-TYPE2's, OPTIONS, all the resultant prices, and all the rules governing combinations of the above.

The client then works out for itself how the rules apply and what the price is, so it doesnt have to request the pricing information from the server every time a combination is selected.

Also it claims invention of automatically selecting the first valid TYPE, SUB-TYPE, SUB-TYPE2 or OPTION for any given TYPE, SUB-TYPE, SUB-TYPE2 or OPTION selcted. (IE, I Select OPTION A, so the system selects the first valid TYPE, SUB-TYPE and SUB-TYPE2 that will let me have OPTION A)

The Patent description ends there, it seems to lay no claim to using this 'invention' to return the options selected to the server, it is described often as an information device, not a transaction device.

Im not sure if using this within a transaction would violate patent law or not. Because you are using and extending the invention, it would make sense that it didn infringe. But like I said before...

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice. Nor will I accept responsibility if you are caught infringing on this patent after reading what I have typed here.

Re:Misintepreted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10549693)

Its finally happened, Microsoft has patented shitty coding practices.

Yup. It sounds like Microsoft has patented sending all of the data and implementing mock database logic client-side. So much more secure and robust.

This is their new mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10520155)

Having failed to compete, despite all their attempts to drive every competetent company out of the marketplace and faced with the owning up to empty promises of security in software that can never be secured, this, this is their response? to patent every obvious software thing under the sun and then sue everybody else's ass off?

You were right in the DOJ trials, Bill: "If Microsoft ever fails, let it be only because we have failed to innovate".

Re:This is their new mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10520481)

Failed to compete? Are we talking about the same Microsoft? How many companies have succesfully competed against them?

Proof is in the bank statement, my friend, no matter how much you may not like it.

They still have the best word processing suite, the most deployed word processing suite, the most deployed enterprise mail server, the most deployed web server, the most deployed web browser, the most deployed development environment (I don't consider GCC an environment), the most deployed instant messenger [findarticles.com] (and the one I frankly prefer since it's the least intrusive of the major players), the second most popular game system....

Most companies would be able to build a highly profitable stream of income around just one of those products.

Re:This is their new mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10522643)

Proof is in the bank statement, my friend, no matter how much you may not like it.

Typical yuppie... they are rich, they must be right!

Post is misleading (1)

smhanov (822093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10524282)

This post is completely misleading. Whenever you look at a patent, you have to read the "What is claimed" section. In this case the patent very specifically states that in infringing system must be a client-server system involving pricing data, with loadable modules transferred across the network. Patents are only enforceable if ALL of the claimed ideas are infringed on, not ANY of them. So we are safe to continue using linked lists.

Re:Post is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10530968)

Perhaps not.

Client-server based system involving pricing data that transfer modules across the network have been around long before 1998. !0 years before that I was developing a auto parts store software package using a system RAD tool called "ACE", based on Forth and running on a Xenix OS. And those techniques were old then.

Ultimate Patent? (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 9 years ago | (#10525785)

1. Process in which individual cells internetwork between themselves in such a fashion that complex data structures can be stored, modified, transmitted to other cells either directly or indirectly linked, via either electrical impulses or chemical compound exchanges.
2. Method of using process outlined in 1 to develop additional methods and or processes to create new, or expand upon existing methods and or processes.

There.

That should cover the basic premise of thought, thinking.

All your IDEAS are belong to ME now!

Biggest Infringer: IE (1)

droleary (47999) | more than 9 years ago | (#10528580)

I mean, really, I don't have "a system and method" for doing what is described, but the browser sure does. Hell, I'm not even sure what "remote user input" means. Sounds like they're trying to apply it to something as simple as loading a new page when you click a link (e.g., note the change in "pricing data" when I offer up: Select your system: PC [dell.com] or Mac [apple.com] ). Thank goodness for their freedom to innovate, or they never could have patented the web!

From What I Can Gather (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10529474)

This patent seems to cover every computer program ever written.

Adjusting data values? Dynamically? Isn't that what all of our computers are doing right now!!

Enforcing valid combinations? If else anyone. Sounds like input checking to me.

Don't let all that remote stuff fool you. Remember teletypes. Remember how far away they were.

And of course user input. Well I think MOST programs have SOME kind of user input. :E

I mean what happens in 3482 when some archeologist digs this trash up and asserts that MicroSoft (still around) owns all computer programs in the world, becasue of this patent (Still enforceable due to constant patent extensions by lobby groups).

That's only one of 14 issued TODAY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10530878)

To see the list of 14 go to:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sec t1=PT O2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=0 &p=1&f=S&l=50&Query=AN%2FMicrosoft+AND+ISD%2F10%2F 12%2F2004&d=ptxt

If that URL doesn't work then go to
http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/search-adv.htm
and enter "AN/Microsoft AND ISD/10/12/2004" into the search box and click the search button.

I looked at a couple and they were obvious prior art, coding and techniques I identified as ones I have been using since 1978.

While you are at it just enter AN/Microsoft and find out that MS has 3,486 patents assigned, while AN/IBM shows only 539 patents.

It would be interesting to do a search of Microsoft's patents and see how many were done by a single examiner, but I don't have time right now. Besides, in doing that I'd probably violate one of Microsoft's Intellectual Patents.

Practical limitation of law (1)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 9 years ago | (#10531078)

IANAL, but I doubt microsoft would enforce this much beyond long-winded threats for the same reason the MPAA hasn't used the DMCA in american court yet (IIRC).

Judicial review example:
1. Wealthy interest pays everyone in congress $99999199234 for some law they claim to need.
2. Said interest invokes law against civvy.
3. If case is tried and defendant wins/has-a-pulse law can be repealed in part or whole.

There are things in the DMCA that barely even warrant a laugh, and it will stay a law because nobody is stupid enough to screw with it. Like those stories your parents used to scare you with. Honestly the fact that Microsoft even tried to enforce the FAT patent (rofl) shows only they are so abysmally stupid to enforce something that is obviously invalid. Unchallenged the FAT patent was a way to make free money, backed up by fear of MS and the desire to be left alone.

Not that these things aren't dangerous as they become more accepted, but for the near future gay-everything patents aren't going to end the world unless we just let them.

Tomorrow I'm going to patent networking...
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