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Microsoft [to patent] Verb Conjugation

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the [to-give]-me-a-break dept.

382

streepje writes "Here [to be] the latest egregious patent application. Microsoft [to be] [to apply] for a patent for [to conjugate] verbs. Future postings [to look] like this."

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382 comments

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Already been invented. (5, Interesting)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050164)

It's called a language-to-language dictionary, or a stack of them in this case. Futhermore, many websites and applications already offer complete translation, from single words to long texts (clearly not a secret) and the conjugation of verbs is intrinsic to this type of software so that context is preserved. All that the patent seems to offer is comprehension of strings like "present indicative of [verb]".

From the article:
For example, the user may input "present indicative of sein," "prasens indikativ von sein," "1st person plural of sein," and "erste Person Plural von sein".

I think this is a nonstarter.

Re:Already been invented. (1)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050172)

Unfortunately, the USPTO is so fucked-up that prior art is not even cause for invalidation of such patents in most cases...

Yep. (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050198)

Prior art: expert systems.

Next.

Re:Already been invented. (2, Funny)

dch24 (904899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050214)

Grammar Nazis everywhere will rejoice at the potential this new innovation has to eliminate all kinds of error with the number, case, tense, and person of a verb. Microsoft again demonstrates to their shareholders their ability to embrace, extend, exterminate, and extort^W^W^W^W^W...innovate, while at the same time rendering useless^W^W showing an olive branch to slashdot readers who seem to have a hard time understanding Microsoft innovation(TM).

Re:Already been invented. (1)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050304)

I wrote a computer program to conjugate French verbs around 1993, when I was 11 years old. Prior art :-)

Re:Already been invented. (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050350)

Well, don't tell us. Tell the US Patent office. ;-)

Re:Already been invented. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050414)

Irrelevant if it's already been done. Under the new (proposed? or has it been put in place?) system Microsoft gets to patent whatever they want, and then get to sue anyone who already had the system before Microsoft even thought of it.

[To First Post] Yay! (-1, Offtopic)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050165)

[to yell] Woohoo!

Re:[To First Post] Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050299)

You [to fail] at [to post] first, but I [to be] sure that you [to try] again in the near future.

This good. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050166)

Microsoft good.

Erm... (0, Offtopic)

cthellis (733202) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050170)

I... er... um...

huh?

Re:Erm... (1)

SP33doh (930735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050202)

it's not THAT bad ;)

prior art? (5, Funny)

Xerxes1729 (770990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050175)

Can I submit my seventh grade Spanish book as an example of prior art? It has an interface (a table in the back) that allows the user to select verbs based on tense and person.

Oh please (5, Interesting)

Grym (725290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050176)

I dislike Microsoft's business practices as much as the next guy, but give me a break. If you actually read the linked patent, it isn't a patent on conjugating words. It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before and think could be pretty useful...

-Grym

Re:Oh please (1)

SP33doh (930735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050213)

zomg the first post?

Re:Oh please (4, Informative)

zeruch (547271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050225)

And I for one, have seen things that are certainly similar. At best what you are creating is a series of like values (I live (Engliah) = Eu vivo (Portuguese) = Iskun (Arabic), etc), and that is if you are doing translation (where such things have already been around). If it is for one language, then it is basically taking a "501 X Verbs" Book and making it searchable electronically, and adding it to the grammar/cpell check of a writing application. Unless there is some that extends beyond the simple idea of large tables of word/phrase data and maybe some kind of expert system with grammar rules that accounts for some of the varied iregular verbs of somelanguages, what you have is a rather bogus patent application.

Re:Oh please (1)

bruno.fatia (989391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050353)

(Insert a Language here) is no expert system, its just a set of rules of how should you procced IF(). If person is plural then verbs go plural. Stuff like that... I don't see how can Microsoft make it an "expert system".. and it's so complex that I find it impossible to be put in a database, as it's also dynamic. Book writers help by making up new sentences every now and then (when they have nothing better to do)

Re:Oh please (5, Interesting)

shreevatsa (845645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050230)

It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before and think could be pretty useful...
Have you looked at a (good) dictionary?

Of course it is pretty useful. In fact, it is something fundamental to language. Which is why it is reprehensible that some company should have a patent on it. It is like giving them a patent on changing sentences from passive to active... no, it's worse.

(This Onion article [theonion.com] might not be too far from reality, after all. :-)

Re:Oh please (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050366)

Most dictionaries don't conjugate all of the verbs. They simply give the infinitive form and redirects for some oddballs. For example, I just checked my dictionary and it doesn't list the conjugations of the standard verb 'to utter.' It does list the nonstandard conjugations of 'to eat' (such as 'ate'). How about a Spanish dictionary? Hell no! None of mine even have tables in the back for conjugations. But they do have non-standard conjugations just like my English dictionary. If you want to learn the conjugations you buy a language book or you buy one of the 555 red books, not a dictionary. They are different books used for different purposes.

But this isn't really that surprising, a book on STL functions doesn't tell you all of the possible 'conjugations' of a function call either. You will find something like:

template<class InputIterator, class EqualityComparable> InputIterator find(InputIterator first, InputIterator last, const EqualityComparable& value);

The conjugation to "p = find(a.begin(), a.end(), N);" is up to you.

Re:Oh please (2, Insightful)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050236)

So it's a patent on looking up information in a file and presenting it on the screen. Now I'm sure I've seen that done somewhere before...

Re:Oh please (-1, Offtopic)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050246)

Ok I announce I'm officially sick if silly biased "articles" to which the only purpose is to generate flamewars, visits, and ad revenue from clueless folks who come here to comment on the same stuff every day thinking their written opinion makes a difference.

Re:Oh please (4, Funny)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050261)

It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before and think could be pretty useful...

Yup, that described by your clarification has certainly never been done before [bestwebbuys.com] .

Re:Oh please (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050266)

It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before ...

Look in a dictionary.

Re:Oh please (1)

Yotsuya (4378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050272)

I wrote something like that back when I was in high school. If that doesn't work to prove it's an obvious thing that shouldn't patented, then at least it's prior art.

Re:Oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050344)

It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before and think could be pretty useful...

Useful? Probably.
Novel? Possibly.
Non-obvious? Nope. Sorry, try again.

Re:Oh please (5, Insightful)

Mjlner (609829) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050367)

>"If you actually read the linked patent, it isn't a patent on conjugating words. It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly,"

Yes, that is true, but that doesn't make it any less straightforward and simple.

>"which is something I, for one, haven't seen before and think could be pretty useful..."

...which most definitely does not mean that such a thing does not exist.
I, for one, have created a simple Perl-module which conjugates a given Latin verb in all tenses and forms. Let me tell you: conjugating a verb "on the fly" is trivial. Exceptions to every rule do, however, mess things up a little, but the exceptions themselves build up very simple and trivial rules.

Prior art? Hell, yeah!
Non-obvious? Hell, no!

Re:Oh please (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050372)

“It's a patent on automatically providing all of the different possible conjugation forms of any verb on the fly, which is something I, for one, haven't seen before...”

I don't mean to be rude, but this is the same attitude that leads to Microsoft (or anyone else) registering these crappy patents in the first place. FWIW, I have seen such a system before (Web-based, no less) wherein I could enter verbs (or nouns or any other words) in non-infinitive forms and the system would automatically determine the dictionary form of the word and provide appropriate variations, definitions, examples, etc. If it weren't for this I would have been totally screwed whilst trying to learn a non-English language recently...

Re:Oh please (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050398)

While it may be useful, it's clearly a software patent, the kind that only limits innovation in the US. Microsoft is trying VERY hard to kill any edge we have.

It's a feature. (0, Troll)

nevergleam (900375) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050183)

Yes, because they are actually patenting and charging almost the entire human race royalties to conjugate verbs.

Read it again.

Not even... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050185)

Not even the US government is stupid enough to give M$ a patent for this.

US (5, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050285)

You're kidding right? Their policy is to automatically grant every patent application, and let the courts figure out validity later. Basically, in order to show that they've reduced their budget, they fired all their patent analysts and let them work as consultants to civil courts at one hundred times the overall cost, once you factor in all the legal costs associated with resolving patent disputes the hard way. In a reasonable enlightened nation, this would get the government officials responsible for this decision horsewhipped in a public square before being exiled. In America, the people responsible were instead paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their efforts and will live some of the cushiest lives in the entire world, while the tax payer grapples the massive extra costs introduced by this monstrous decision (as well as paying for the officials' pensions, rather than for a few bullwhips and an exile-barge at a fraction the price). Nice, huh?

Microsoft help... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050187)

Clippie: It looks like you're typing a verb. Would you like:
  • some help choosing another verb?
  • some help conjugating your verb?
  • to use the split infinitive wizard?

Re:Microsoft help... (4, Funny)

dbc (135354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050239)

if Clippy dangles his participle in front of me, I'm cutting it off!

Re:Microsoft help... (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050348)

if Clippy dangles his participle in front of me, I'm cutting it off!

So would that make it a passed participle?

*giggles like a little girl*

clippy ? it's like weed .... (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050399)

... targetted to clippy after U cut off his participle

Never trust something that bleeds for days and doesn't die...

Re:Microsoft help... (5, Funny)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050277)

Surely you mean
  • to boldly use the split infinitive wizard

Re:Microsoft help... (1)

Igmuth (146229) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050377)

Shouldn't that be

"to boldly use the split infinitive wizard?"

Re:Microsoft help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050421)

Or "to perhaps use the split infinitive wizard?"

Since Frankfurter copyrighted Bullshit, (3, Funny)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050192)

can they do this without paying royalties to him?

New Findings: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050194)

In Soviet Russia, you [to suck].

[to be] [to apply] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050197)

Isn't "is applying" actually the conjugation of "to apply?" There would only be one conjugation there, therefore only one verb infinitive "[to apply]" should appear.

Re:[to be] [to apply] (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050395)

Isn't "is applying" actually the conjugation of "to apply?" There would only be one conjugation there, therefore only one verb infinitive "[to apply]" should appear.
Wow! a chance for grammernazism to be on topic.
I believe that "is applying" is a compound verb of the present third person of to be (the "[he] is") & the present progressive of to apply (the "applying"). So I would say that the submitter got it right.

Now to whom do I have to write the cheque for this unauthorised use of verb conjugation?

Obligatory Simpsons Quote Thread (5, Funny)

KU_Fletch (678324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050204)

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Quote Thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050248)

err, if your going to quote the simpsons, do it right =)

"Me frail engrish? That unpossible!"

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Quote Thread (1)

eu_neke (415715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050280)

I, for one, [to welcome] our new verb-conjugating overlords.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Quote Thread (1)

alain_f (941310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050295)

What about:
aspects of the verb conjugating system can be used for any type of language in which verbs are can be conjugated.
?

Yay, whatever (4, Interesting)

deblau (68023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050210)

NJStar Japanese Word processor 5.01 [archive.org] , released in 2004 (before filing date of the application). Note the features marked, respectively, "Instant English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionary/translation" and "Japanese verb forms generator for Japanese study."

And the examples contained within... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050229)

OH NO!! [I SEE] GODZIRRA!!

okay that's it (0)

Desolator144 (999643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050216)

Just to be safe, I'm going to go patent breathing before Microsoft gets that one too. I'll get it too because apparently you can patent things that you didn't invent that already exist.

First to File (2, Interesting)

abandonment (739466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050300)

This is due to the recent patent system 'overhaul' that the big companies have been pushing through - it's not 'first to invent', but 'first to file' that they are trying to move the patent system towards.

If this actually goes through (if it hasn't already), then all of the prior art in the world doesn't matter because the ruling goes to whoever files the patent first.

Basically adding yet another layer of bullshit on a completely broken system. The funny part is how companies like MS try to claim that first to file will help clean up the backlog of bs patents clogging the system.

Re:First to File (1)

CarnivorousCoder (872609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050408)

First to file? Really? I'm going to file a patent for "A System For Discussing Topics Via A Web Browser". I'll charge a mere $.01 US per post on the Internet.

Prior art... (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050220)

To bad we can't used slashdot posters as prior art. For an example saw the children of this post.

Misleading headline.... (4, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050221)

It seems that slashdot routinely posts headlines claiming "Microsoft patents X!" Where X is something obviously nonpatentable. However, in almost every instance what Microsoft has actually done is patented a specific method or system of performing X. This is no exception. Microsoft has not patented conjugating verbs. They are applying for a patent for a specific type of system which helps users identify verb forms from verbs and vice versa. Again: patenting a method or system for performing X != patenting X. Can we get an end to all these misleading "Microsoft patents smiley faces!" type of headlines?

Re:Misleading headline.... (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050263)

Hey, you made a few mistakes in your post... what you meant to say, here on slashdot, was:

MICROSOFT BAD!

PATENTS BAD!

SNARKY ATTENTION GRABBING HEADLINES GOOD!

I mean, seriously... how are we supposed to engage in shouting down the unpopular kids if you don't help out and raise your voice?

Re:Misleading headline.... (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050279)

Can we get an end to all these misleading "Microsoft patents smiley faces!" type of headlines?

C'mon, you just need to get into the Slashdot spirit of these things....

Re:Misleading headline.... (1)

bangenge (514660) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050346)

C'mon, you just need to get into the Slashdot spirit of these things....

he [to be] new here...

Re:Misleading headline.... (2, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050294)

what Microsoft has actually done is patented a specific method

The "specific method" is not very specific, it covers just about any way of doing it. So MS has a big club to beat any small company who makes a widget that achieves the same result, because they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a patent lawyer to defend themselves, even if it's "obvious" their work was original. Ultimately, it just scares anyone away from even trying.

Re:Misleading headline.... (3, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050315)

Can you name any examples where Microsoft has bullied a small company for patent infringement on a trivial patent? I dont know of any. But you claim that MS routinely scares/bullies "anyone away from trying" using patents so I would assume that you must have some examples of this. Do you know of any? (not flaming, legitimately curious)

Re:Misleading headline.... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050342)

I must admit I'm just speculating. As a chicken might who sees the farmer sharpening his axe. MS probably claims such patents are purely defensive. Nevertheless, they provide a deterrent to smaller players, and it would give leverage if they wanted to buy up some promising technology.

Not so misleading headline.... (3, Insightful)

Talennor (612270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050314)

However, in almost every instance what Microsoft has actually done is patented a specific method or system of performing X.

That specific method here is "on a computer." This is exactly the type of patent that slashdot people get up in arms about. The patent application requests that they be the only ones allowed to conjugate verbs on a computer.

Though, I for one [to welcome] our new language [to own] overlords. (btw, way to go article submitter. you've made something dull into something interesting.)

Re:Not so misleading headline.... (2, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050337)

No, it is far more specific than that. You cant just read the few sentences in the abstract and assume that they are trying to patent everything which even remotely fits that description. If that were the case there would be no point in writing more than a few sentences in a patent application. They are much more specific about the system they are trying to patent here.

Re:Misleading headline.... (1)

inio (26835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050336)

What microsoft has patented is:

"A method in a computer system for conjugating verbs in a target language, the method comprising: receiving a verb in a base language; identifying verb forms in the target language using a translation of the received verb from the base language to the target language; and displaying the identified verb forms in the target language."

What is specific (or more importantly, non-obvious) about that?

Re:Misleading headline.... (2, Informative)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050360)

The abstract is general yes. But that is the abstract, the specifics are in the pages that follow. I think that this is where all the confusion on slashdot comes from. People read the abstract and assume that anything which is remotely similar to the abstract is what they are trying to patent. When in reality it really is just an abstract. You need to look at the entire application and realize that they are patenting a specific method of doing xyz, not just "a method for doing xyz" as is usually claimed in the abstract.

Re:Misleading headline.... (3, Insightful)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050338)

I don't really care if it is Microsoft filing this kind of a patent. I still feel that it is baseless and that it already exists. The counter to my argument is that it IS fairly exciting software (in concept) and should be protected from theft. I feel that the software lies in a grey area between invention and copying. The code, not the concept, could be protected. IANAL.

I agree that "patenting a method or system for performing X != patenting X", but does this really qualify? Both paper and computer dictionaries already contain references like "Inflected Form(s): saw /'so/; seen /'sEn/; seeing" http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/see [m-w.com] and cross-references to related entries. Translation dictionaries include possible misinterpretation cross-references. Translation applications rely on databases of tense/verb/misinterpretation charts to accomplish the same thing. A user relies on these systems according to their own resources. The more I think about it, this feels like a search engine patenting all of the content it reveals.

To illustrate, my mom may have a perfect method for scrambling eggs. She can say it is her method, but she cannot claim that she invented scrambled eggs, and she is not claiming that she invented the egg. The implementation of fork, bowl, egg, and milk are not new. She could not exclusively patent and sell Mom's Eggs as a new thing, just because she was the first to think of patenting it.

With today's pantent office, however, I would not be surprised if she could. ::scrambles for phone::

Microsoft patents the English language (1)

Ec|ipse (52) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050223)

Then sues the world for infringing on it's newly acquired patent.

What next? Speak Pig-Latin to avoid future infringements?

Re:Microsoft patents the English language (1)

JoGlo (1000705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050284)

In late breaking news, MicroSoft (R) applies for patent on Pig-Latin, Pig_English and Pig-Ignorance. Claims that the first 2 are based heavily on the third, at which MS have been masters for many years!

It's a method patent (2, Insightful)

Number_1_Bigg$ (771467) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050226)

They're not patenting the idea of Verb Conjugation, they're patenting the method they want to use to accomplish this with software. It's a method patent. Whether or not method patents are a good idea or not is another matter. But what they are doing isn't really all that unusual in the patent world. (IANAL)

Re:It's a method patent (4, Insightful)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050260)

Yes - but they are effectively patenting all methods of doing this. And that is the big problem. Amazon didn't patent one particular method of providing one-click shopping, they pretty much patented them all. As such, Microsoft will have a lock on anyone doing verb conjugation on a computer.

Nowhere in this patent do they describe the method in anything but the broadest generality - they are not patenting a specific implementation (which is what covers programs under copyright law).

As you imply - it's not unusual but it's still a bad idea to allow method patents like this.

Re:It's a method patent (1)

Number_1_Bigg$ (771467) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050313)

I personally agree that this is a bad idea, but the headline is overreacting a little bit.

I don't think patents on methods of solving problems like this are a good idea because closed source software companies can hide their execution method to get around a patent like this (assuming there is no insider evidence) but open sourced programmers would get nailed because the exact method of the algorithm is available to anyone. It's just not a level playing field.

Also having read the patent application more closely, many of the claims are huge and fuzzy. Patents like this might work if any part of it was found to be invalid, the entire patent would be rejected, instead of just the single claim. This might keep some of those lawers in check (At least in my little dream world it would work like that)

Re:It's a method patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050269)

But the point is that M$ can then use their patent to threaten legal action, right or wrong, to any small start-up that wants to release some translation software. Most small companies can't afford a legal battle, even if they're not infringing on M$'s patent, so are ultimately bullied into doing whatever M$ wants them to.

Which language? (2, Interesting)

klang (27062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050240)

Would this patent only cover American English, or would it cover Spanish (verb conjugation galore) or Danish (no verb conjugation at all) as well?

Re:Which language? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050420)

Would this patent only cover American English, or would it cover Spanish (verb conjugation galore) or Danish (no verb conjugation at all) as well?
Having RTFA it would seem to me that the patent application is (probably deliberately) language non-specific. But just so you know, Spanish is used in one of the examples.

The software patent system almost requires this (4, Interesting)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050245)

If you have been following recent history you will see that Microsoft have been sued for just about anything they do with software, and often they have lost for even things like including something like an interactive control on a web page.

Given this, it only makes sense for them, or any company for that matter, to patent any ideas for present or future functionality that they might have.

Software patents are here to throttle the rapid development of technology to the point that the powers that be can keep up with what's going on.

Re:The software patent system almost requires this (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050402)

Heir Of The Mess said:
Given this, it only makes sense for them [Microsoft], or any company for that matter, to patent any ideas for present or future functionality that they might have.
Sure. Likewise, if you are in a deep hole it only makes sense to keep digging. Not.

Wouldn't it make more sense for Microsoft to work to change the current totally broken patent system?

Oops. My mistake. That would be totally non-evil and thus violate Microsoft's mantra: "do evil".

More prior art (4, Informative)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050253)

In the spanish speaking world, unlike in english, there is an official academy of the language which monitors its development throughout all the spanish-speaking countries and updates the official Dictionary of the Academy accordingly. In their website they have a tool that does exactly the same as this patent describes. Would that count as prior-art or the fact that its in a different language might count as sufficient difference even though the process is about the same (if not more complex given that there are a lot more perks to spanish conjugation)?

And terrorists hate us because we're free! (0, Flamebait)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050262)

It's embarassing to be associated with this kind of crap, even just reading it. Sure, the patent system is broke. Sure, Microsoft's business ethics have historically been just a hair above the mafia's.

But it's somewhere between bizarre and pathetic to distort facts so severely to justify moral outrage. Not a word of the topic is actually true. Maybe the original submission was meant as a joke, but our illustrious /. editors didn't see it because it was so similar to submissions made in complete earnest.

What's next? Facetious "news" of Microsoft engaging in genocide? There's certainly room for that kind of zealotry in the world. I wish I could say that this was a new low for /., but a more accurate appraisal is that it's a continuation of the decline. WTF are editors for, if not to ensure a high standard? If we want mindless mob mentality, we'll go to digg. What value add is there in slashdot's editorial structure if the lowest of the low makes it to the front page, with apparently no fact checking or even the weakest attempt at keeping things realistic?

-b

Yeah... (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050267)

While most of you obviously didn't actually READ the article and just had lots of funny stuff to say, I still think this another example of stupid software patents. So what, you came up with a good idea, are you really helping by copyrighting and making everyone else reinvent the wheel?

Re:Yeah... (2, Funny)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050406)

While most of you obviously didn't actually READ the article [...]
You must be new here...

Prior Art (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050268)

Surely the works of Homer, or even Shakespeare are older than at least most of the employees at Microsoft.

In any case, I suppose this will give Microsoft the ability to sue the hell out of SCO for writing any emails to IBM ever.

Not that bad really (4, Funny)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050281)

At least they didn't patent the letter E.

Re:Not that bad really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050303)

Yet.

Re:Not that bad really (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050362)

Keyword being yet.

Conjugate? (5, Funny)

wickedsteve (729684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050302)

Conjugate? I haven't even kissed a girl.

Hmm (1)

AndresCP (979913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050312)

D03s t3h 1337 c0unt as a t4rget l4nguage? C4n 1 st111 c0njug4te th1s w4y?

Surely... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050317)

That IsNot possible...

If we're thrown in prison for conjugating verbs... (4, Funny)

sourcery (87455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050322)

Will we still be allowed conjugal visits?

Romeo and Juliet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050343)

To be or not to be that is the question.

Ad infinitum
Ad litem

Verbix (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050347)

According to Archive.org [archive.org] , Verbix [verbix.com] has been around since at least March of 2000.

Welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050356)

I for one [to welcome] our verb conjugating overlord$!

A new way of thinking of patents (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050358)

by religning their administration to the original stated goals. We have to reevaluate what we have patents for. When the founding fathers put them in the constitution, it was to promote progress and the sciences. They stated this themselves.

Yet, during WW2, the government invalidated many radio patents to spur progress (and help the war effort) and radio considerably advanced in that period. Also, computer science advanced very nicely in the US until software patents showed up.

It seems that, if anything, patents hinder progress in many cases. It seems to me that patents help in situations where there is no market yet or is very research heavy (drug industry) and help funnel research in such an area, but once a competitive market is established, it only hinders progress in many instances.

So a blanket ban on patents seem unfeasible but perhaps there should be a ban of patent by industry. Industries with rapid progress should have no patents because the promotion of science and advancement is obviously not needed.

OTOH, where there is very little market or industry itself has a high upfront/continuing costs - an extra incentive is needed (protection at the marketplace) and thus patents are necessary.

In other words, patents will be considered almost like tax incentives.

The problem with patents today, in lieu of manufacturing going overseas, is that the US is trying to pad its economy with IP, so the government as a whole has no incentive to be sparing of patents. This path is problematic and will impoverish us all over time. We really need to overhaul the patent system.

I would be particularly interested in hearing the opinions of historians who have studied scientific revolutions/industrial revolutions/economic upheavals of the past and what their opinions about the environment/variables that time has shown truly promote advancement/progress.

Ultima? (1)

soccerisgod (585710) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050365)

To find it most unsettling to have to talk like a gargoyle in the future!

Le Conjugueur (2, Insightful)

stivi (534158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050370)

What about this http://www.leconjugueur.com/ [leconjugueur.com] ?

Re:Le Conjugueur (1)

klang (27062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050407)

or this http://www.verbix.com/ [verbix.com]

Utter BS (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050371)

All in favour of the /. editor(s)/Admin pulling or correcting this bullshit "News" to reduce the amount of "prior art" crap coming from /.ers who don't RTFA say "aye".

I'm going patent the act of not RTFA'ing - I'll make a fortune...

Prior art? (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050425)

pookeman said:
to reduce the amount of "prior art" crap coming from /.ers ... say "aye".

I'm going patent the act of not RTFA'ing - I'll make a fortune...
Unfortunately for you, I wouldn't be surprised if there was already an abundance of prior art for this novel idea of yours.

Another great Microsoft patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16050375)

Who can forget when they patented 1's and 0's? [theonion.com] Sorry, couldn't resist.

Yoda + Baseball (2, Funny)

70Bang (805280) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050376)


I suppose it'll make it easier to automate how Yoda talks.

I'm still waiting for them to surpass patenting "How to Tell When a Baseball Game is Exciting." or patenting their apple.

_________________________________________

It's going to take some work, although one never knows when opportunity will strike:

A local anchor once said, "...killed him to death..."

She left the city and returned (to a different station) and I was waiting for another one as she's also the "Health & Technology" reporter.

This time, however, it was the "alternative" anchor team (it's a mess) and the story was about acupuncture and overcoming issues in getting pregnant.

The anchor turned to her and said, "I guess it just takes a little prick, eh?". Deadpan.

If I'd have that taped, it would have been on YouTube about five minutes later, but alas...all I could do was change my boxers.

Blocking patent articles on Slashdot? (1)

Meor (711208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050426)

Because submitters hade AIDS when it comes to submitting patent articles. One pillar of journalism is investigating the story you report on. Either the submitter failed journalism or they are purposly omitting the fact that patent abstracts don't define what is patented, only the claims section does. Purposly slanting a story neither convinces nor reassures so I see very little reason to lie to your readers.

I get it (1)

brycer22 (896858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16050429)

I get the joke, they're verbs!!
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