The Vaults of Innovation

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This time Microsoft has invented "Time based hardware button for
application launch."

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l50%&s1=6,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS=PN/6,727,830

Prior art, anyone?

   Vadim

Re: The Vaults of Innovation
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http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l50%&s1=6,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS=PN/6,727,830
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What a joke. Every Palm Tungsten has this, every cell phone (hold '1' for
dialling your voicemail) and probably 1 million other products with
pushbuttons......

Meindert



Re: The Vaults of Innovation

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Software patents are silly things.  It doesn't matter really if a Palm
does this, because a Palm is not a Personal Computer.  Old ideas that
can be distinguished by new application can be patented apparently (or
so I was told a few years back when superiors were begging us to start
spewing out more patent claims).

The point of modern patents is not about innovation.  There is no
proof of novelty required anymore.  All that is required today is to
make it cheaper to pay a license fee than to challenge the patent.
"IP" is all about stifling innovation.

--
Darin Johnson
    Support your right to own gnus.

Re: The Vaults of Innovation
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Why does it matter if a Palm is not a PC?  The patent refers to a
"limited resource computing device".  I believe this could cover nearly
*any* gadget that contains a CPU.  Even a PC keyboard is a "limited
resource"... you can't make it infinitely large.  After they added the
ALT key, MS added the "tap" ALT feature to select the menus.  So the
prior art from MS invalidates this patent.  


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I don't expect many to pay MS for this one...

Actually, if you read the patent in some detail, it covers some specific
uses of "application" buttons that by default open the app, but if the
button is held, several different things can happen, such as opening the
previous document, opening a specific document, etc...  So this patent
can would cover the same functionality on similar devices, but if you
implement different behavior (for example, open the standard doc by
default and hold the button for starting the app without opening a doc)
then you are clear of infringment.  

But I agree that this is pretty obvious and not novel.  

--

Rick "rickman" Collins

snipped-for-privacy@XYarius.com
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Silly like a freight train bearing down on you.

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They are like all other patents. If you have boatloads of cash to pay
lawyers, they are very useful indeed, even if they are vapid or even
non- existent. If you haven't got the cash, you probably can't even
afford to check if it's worth defending yourself.

Incidentally, if I come up with something to save the world, like a new
source of power (say a quantum fluctuation reactor), I get 25 years of
patent protection. If I write a novel (something as great, say, as Harry
Potter), my heirs and assignees can cash in on royalties for 70 years
after I'm dead, and even after that it can be extended if the copyright
belongs to Walt Disney. Dunno why.

Paul Burke


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I can appreciate the logic behind hardware patents.  But software
patents are something completely different.  I think it is nuts to
issue patents for techniques like exclusive-oring data with
display memory.  I don't see it as much different than patenting
the bit, or addition, or using Boolean logic, or storing data
or programs in memory.
 
Best Wishes

Re: The Vaults of Innovation

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More to the point, software patents, at least the way they are issued
and used these days, especially in the U.S. of A., are the business
world's perfect equivalent of anti-personnel mines:

* they're cheap and easily deployed

* they serve no useful purpose against big, hardened targets, which are the
  real enemy in the war they're used in

* their only real effect is to harm unarmed civilians, and that effect
  tends to significantly outlast the original conflict they were
  deployed in

The downfall probably began the day the US government decided that the
primary goal of the USPTO should be to generate profits, rather than
to carefully execute a function of the federal government.  My strong
impression these days is that it's virtually impossible to come up
with a patent application that the PTO will decline.  That is, unless
it's about one of the things declared heretic by the government
(perpetuum mobile, cold fusion, the likes).

Summing it up, software patents these days are worse than useless.
They're a menace to society, and especially so to the small companies
or individual inventors they were supposedly created to protect.

--
Hans-Bernhard Broeker ( snipped-for-privacy@physik.rwth-aachen.de)
Even if all the snow were burnt, ashes would remain.

Re: The Vaults of Innovation

: The downfall probably began the day the US government decided that the
: primary goal of the USPTO should be to generate profits, rather than
: to carefully execute a function of the federal government.  My strong
: impression these days is that it's virtually impossible to come up
: with a patent application that the PTO will decline.  That is, unless
: it's about one of the things declared heretic by the government
: (perpetuum mobile, cold fusion, the likes).


USPTO issues patent's about 95% of the time compared to 65% in Japan.
Some watchdog group did a prior art search on a random sample and suggested
that 50% of all US patents should not have been issued.

John Eaton



Re: The Vaults of Innovation


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You should also ask how many perpetual motion machines have been
issued a patent by that patent office :-).

Paul


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Yes.  All the companies and individuals that have been squashed
that I don't dismiss them as just silly.

Re: The Vaults of Innovation
On 4 Jun 2004 14:02:02 GMT, Hans-Bernhard Broeker
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Funny, and very true!
--
Jim McGinnis

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There is the faster-than-light radio communication patent out there.

--
Darin Johnson
    "Floyd here now!"

Re: The Vaults of Innovation
snipped-for-privacy@iwvisp.com (Everett M. Greene) wrote in

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I disagree here.  I think the problem isn't that procedures have changed,
but that they *haven't* changed.  The USPTO is "validating" software and
business-model patents the same way they've always evaluated physical-
invention patents.  The big problem here is that because physical
inventions have always been patentable, any relevant prior art will almost
always be found in prior patents.  This means that any disqualifying prior
art in a new patent application for a physical invention will be easily
turned up by a search of previous relevant patents, so that's what patent
examiners do.

This doesn't work for software, though, because software's been around for
decades before it was patentable, so most of the relevant prior art is
unpatented and therefore can't be discovered by looking at old patents.  
Thus the USPTO can't, by its usual procedures, discover prior art for
software unless it was invented quite recently.  Effectively, the examiners
have to trust the applicants.  The prior art for software is mostly
documented in academic literature, old product manuals, textbooks, and
proprietary internal company documents, and the USPTO isn't currently set
up to search that kind of documentation.

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examiners

As far as I understood it, the USPTO does not do any research or checking of
prior art of any sort - they simple ask the applicant if there has been any
prior art.  For traditional types of patents, it is easy for the applicant
to check - they can look through the patent archives as you suggest.  This
also means that applicants know that any future challengers will also have
easy access to solid proof of prior art, so there is no point in wasting
effort applying - any challenges would be settled immediately by court
rulings.  For software patents, the lack of patent histories does not affect
the USPTO's research - they clearly do practically none anyway, as ten
minutes with google would turn up prior art to a hefty proportion of
software patents.  However, such sources are not as clear and strong
evidence when the patent is contested, so a big company can get their patent
and rely on challengers being unwilling to spend the time and money in long
court battles showing the proir art.

I have also heard that the USPTO is funded based on the number of patents it
issues, rather than on the work required to do a proper job.  If this is the
case, then I think this is the key to solving a lot of its problems.  It
would certainly be nice if they actually thought a little bit about what
patents actually are, and why they were introduced in the first place (to
protect small inventors from large, rich companies).

I don't know whether patent offices in Europe are going to be just as bad
once software patenting gets underway here.




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A couple of comments:

The USPTO generates revenue from patent applications, issue fees,
maintainance fees, and sale of publications.  A typical patent
application costs an individual or small business about $700 in
application-related fees, + about $700 to issue the patent, + another
$500 to maintain it after 4 years + $1000 to maintain it after 8 years, +
$1500 to maintain it after 8 years.  For large companies, double those
numbers.  So the PTO's revenue stream is substantial.

For quite a few years the PTO has been generating a profit, with the
excess funds going into Uncle Sam's pocket along with other tax money.  A
bill was recently passed that should allow the PTO to hold onto the funds
it generates; hopefully the office will use the money to improve
services.

In the US, and most countries of the world (Belgium is the most notable
exception) patents are examined not only for formal requirements, but
also for novelty and non-obviousness.  While the system is far from
perfect, I can assure you that most patent applications have to overcome
at least one prior art rejection.


Richard

Re: The Vaults of Innovation


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This prior art rejection is probably just a text scanner that triggers
on a set of words. Including perpetum mobile and such

Rene
--
Ing.Buero R.Tschaggelar - http://www.ibrtses.com
& commercial newsgroups - http://www.talkto.net

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True. All patent offices work this way.

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The European Patent Office already is. Its practice is virtually
indistinguishable from that of the USPTO. The only difference, AIUI,
is that patentees have to pay more attention to the /form/ of the
claim (one has to make sure that it is sufficiently "technical", which
is not all that difficult).

Some national patent offices in Europe (notably the UK one) also grant
software patents. Also under UK case law these patents are actually
enforceable. What the patent movement is trying to do is make these
patents legally enforceable everywhere in Europe.

Alex

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Vadim Borshchev wrote:

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http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l50%&s1=6,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS=PN/6,727,830
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The obvious one that comes to mind is (and that  I used in product in the early
90's) is the double functioning of a Long Key Press for reset function. A timer
interrupt sampled a key and drove a state machine that selected various
functions.   Short key presses were differentiated from long key presses and
used to either
advance the state of the application or select a different execution pathway
(Reset). This is not rocket science.  There is a whole crew that seems to like
to patent
the obvious.  I have little doubt that I was the first to use this.  Someone
probably did it 50 years with a toggle switch on the ENIAC.

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&nbsp;
<br>Vadim Borshchev wrote:
<blockquote TYPE=CITE>This time Microsoft has invented "Time based hardware
button for
<br>application launch."
<p><a
href="http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l50%&s1=6,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS=PN/6,727,830 ">http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&amp ;Sect2=HITOFF&amp;d=PALL&amp;p=1&amp;u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&amp;r=1&amp;f=G&amp;l50%&amp;s1=6,727,830.WKU.&amp;OS=PN/6,727,830&amp;RS=PN/6,727,830</a>
<p>Prior art, anyone?
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; Vadim</blockquote>
The obvious one that comes to mind is (and that&nbsp; I used in product
in the early 90's) is the double functioning of a Long Key Press for reset
function. A timer interrupt sampled a key and drove a state machine that
selected various functions.&nbsp;&nbsp; Short key presses were differentiated
from long key presses and used to either advance the state of the application
or select a different execution pathway (Reset). This is not rocket
science.&nbsp;
There is a whole crew that seems to like to patent the obvious.&nbsp; I
have little doubt that I was the first to use this.&nbsp; Someone probably
did it 50 years with a toggle switch on the ENIAC.</html>

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Re: The Vaults of Innovation
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Digital watches in the mid 1970s used a long button press to enter
time set mode.

Some Casio watches in the early 1980s used a long press to reset the
stopwatch.

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