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Microsoft Patents Page Up & Down Keys

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 24 comments

Microsoft recently applied for and received Patent #7,415,666. Microsoft has just patented the functions of two keys that are on every keyboard that is manufactured on this planet – Page Up & Page Down. Seriously. This patent was originally filed in March 4, 2005 and was awarded August 19, 2008.

This clearly shows how broken and dysfunctional the patent system really is. Maybe someone should quickly run and apply for a patent on Backspace – It is without doubt one of the most widely used keys on any keyboard! Or maybe Ford should patent the steering wheel or gas pedal? Maybe I could patent the process of typing a Blog!

Here is a excerpt from the actual patent Microsoft was recently awarded :

Method and system for navigating paginated content in page-based increments

A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.

Maybe it is because the patent offices are over worked, or maybe the internal processes they utilizes just need some serious revamping. None the less, the situation is broken and needs to be addressed.

How about Patent #5,443,036 - a method for exercising a cat with a laser pointer. Or Patent #6,960,975 - a space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state, which clearly defies the currently known laws of physics.

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  • 0 Hide
    jmods , September 2, 2008 7:50 PM
    Leave it to the crooks at mirco$oft to cook that one up!
  • 1 Hide
    BuckeyeInNC , September 2, 2008 7:55 PM
    Aaron, you may want to do some research and learning about patents before writing such a ridiculous article. Microsoft did not patent page up or page down keys at all. What is "patented" is what is covered in the claims which are numbered sentences at the end of the publication. Read independent claims 1 and 7 to learn what Microsoft patented . . .

    To say that Microsoft "patented page up and page down keys" simply because they are mentioned in this document is akin to alleging that Edison invented light because light is mentioned in a patent for a lightbulb . . .
  • 0 Hide
    Hellbound , September 2, 2008 8:00 PM
    I'm going to patent the "Enter" key..........
  • Display all 24 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2008 8:17 PM
    they simply patented the functions of the keys not the keys themselves...
  • 3 Hide
    ravenware , September 2, 2008 9:02 PM
    Yeah after reading through the patent, they actually just patented a formula for scrolling and reviewing documents via the Pg keys.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 2, 2008 9:11 PM
    well, by patenting the functions of those keys, doesn't it mean that anybody who makes a keyboard to sell, and has a key that has the same function as a page up and/or page down key, can be sued by microsoft?
    sounds pretty similar to microsoft practically owning those keys, regardless of name.. as long as the function of the key is the same, or "similar" to what is written above in the article....
  • 0 Hide
    harrycat88 , September 2, 2008 9:36 PM
    I think I'll patent the "Space Bar".
    Come on Micro$oft give us break.
    I had pageup and pagedown keys on my Commodore Vic-20 and COBOL based Data General Network server, hell Micro$oft wasn't even invited back then.
  • 1 Hide
    jhkokst , September 2, 2008 9:43 PM
    Buckeye is right. Read the patent, read the claims. Patents are awarded all the time for novel methods of performing known functions. Sure, page up and and page down has been used for years. But if Microsoft devises a new method of "calculating offset" (which is positively recited in the claim language)...then cheers to them. They even go on to cite their equations and calculations in the independent claims! In the world of patent rights, this greatly narrows a claim's area of coverage. Please note, that none of their claims are so broad as to cause patent infringement from already developed keyboards. They even disclose that pageup and pagedown keys were known in the prior art in their "Background".

    Sparky, they patented a novel method of using such keys. Not the general function. They hardly "own" the I said, they cite that the original function of those keys were already known. The patent actually has little to do with those keys, and is a method for calculating the vertical offset of a page in order to accurately jump to the next page based on a user input.

    However, the patent system is somewhat broken, especially in the field of software engineering. There is NO comprehensive database comprising what is "the current state of the art" in the open source world. This creates a rift between what is known, and what can be proven as known. The courts need documentation of what constitutes the "prior art". If some hack creates a useful program in his basement, uploads it to the internet, and a small user base implements it....well it is KNOWN, but its hard to prove that its known, especially before a certain point in time, ie when the applicant files for his patent.

    Anyways, I could go on and on....but this article is very flawed and propogates some serious misconceptions about Patents and IP law.
  • 1 Hide
    darkangel97a , September 2, 2008 9:45 PM
    To answer sparky2010's question, the answers is that you can't exactly get sued just because you do the page up/ page down function. According to the patent, the amount of scrolling or movement in the page that occurs when you hit the page keys is the main part of the patent. If you figure out another formula to use, and incorporate those formulas into the page up/page down keys, you are not copying Microsoft's patent. This is commonly known in the industry as a "workaround." What Microsoft has patented is a SPECIFIC FORMULA for calculating positions to scroll and review documents when the page up/page down keys are pressed.

    On a side note, I do agree with BuckeyeyeInNC. Aaron should understand what patents do and how they work BEFORE he writes an article claiming that Microsoft has patented the page up/page down key. As discussed above, Microsoft is patenting the formula to calculate scrolling. If for example, you were able to come up with a better formula to calculate the scrolling for the page up/page down keys, then you could patent that. One can not simply patent the bare functions of the page up/page down key. As keyboards have been around for decades and these bare functionalities are present, all keyboards in existence would be "prior art" and could be used to invalidate a patent, even if one was granted. In order for a patent to issue, you MUST prove to the Patent Office that your invention is patentable over the prior art. In this case, the formula used is what makes this invention different from just a page up/page down key.
  • 0 Hide
    dwellman , September 3, 2008 1:06 AM
    Opera Mini already has like functionality, although it is working with known lines of text.

    In simplistic terms, the criteria for awarding a patent has most to do with whether or not the idea or process has already been patented.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , September 3, 2008 2:15 AM
    i think the patents the author listed at the end made up for the false
  • 3 Hide
    estreetguy , September 3, 2008 4:26 AM
    OMG. Regardless of what some of you people think is going on here, alot of you CLEARLY need to learn how to read and understand the english language.

    When I read this, I noticed a few things you guys over looked because you were too busy trolling.

    1.) The title is relative. If you look up the word relative you may find the definition as "Dependent on or interconnected with something else; not absolute"

    2.) The author did not actually state that microsoft patented the physical keys themselves. What he said was "Microsoft has just patented the functions of two keys". The word 'functions' is also relative and can be quite 'universal'.

    There are millions of good patents out there that protect rights and property. But this is one of the more retarded ones for sure.
  • 1 Hide
    calamit , September 3, 2008 4:34 AM
    estreetguyOMG.... *Snip* *Snip* sure.

    Then why does he go on to rant about about patenting the steering wheel and gas pedal. This is comparable to GM patenting drive by wire, they didn't actually patent the steering wheel but how to use it differently.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanXplosion , September 3, 2008 5:00 AM
    The patent describes a way of reacting to PgUp and PgDn key presses by jumping from page to page rather than simply moving the document a set number of pixels.

    Most applications respond to such keypresses by moving the content up or down by a fixed number of pixels. For example, if you open a PDF document that has pages 500 pixels tall (at 100% zoom) on a screen resolution of 1200 pixels tall and you press the PgDn key, you will probably end up ~1150 pixels further down the document. Thus, if you start on page 1, you'll end up somewhere near the top of page 3. Press the key again, you'll end up somewhere near the bottom of page 5.

    Microsoft's patent covers a method of jumping about that document in terms of pages. If you press PgDn, you'll go down 500 pixels because that is the height of the page. If you zoom the page 200% so that it's 1000 pixels tall, PgDn will move you 1000 pixels because that is the height of the page. You'll never press PgDn and jump from page 3 to page 5, as the PgDn key will actual refer to pages, rather than a set number of pixels.

    Microsoft did not patent the PgUp and PgDown keys, nor the way applications usually respond to those keys being pressed. As far as I'm aware, their approach is unique and thus suitable for patenting.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 3, 2008 7:41 AM
    Ok, M$ has discovered the MORE Unix command... How can they patent something existing since 1980's...????
  • 0 Hide
    dagger , September 3, 2008 12:31 PM
    Wow, all those Microsoft employees posting here. THG must be popular there.

    So all the keyboard manufacturers now have to scramble to find another way to make their page up/page down key work or get sued, after using the old method for decades? How about I patent the method humans intake oxygen and you find another way to breath?
  • -2 Hide
    ThePatriot , September 3, 2008 1:17 PM
    The US patent office is like the US government: flawed beyond repair....
    no brain, no kwnowlege and very corrupt.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , September 3, 2008 3:53 PM
    who cares? those keys have become extinct the moment they started putting scroll wheels on mice
  • 0 Hide
    halfFAST , September 3, 2008 4:30 PM
    Nice. At first glance it looks like it is an absurd patent… these keys have been around for a LONG time – it would definitely fail in the prior art check. Looking further, it appears they are merely patenting a unique way to handle the key stokes – e.g. when a page is zoomed, to scale the amount of pixels the page moves to match the zoom so you still only move one page regardless of how many pages are viewable on the screen.

    So they get to protect the pg up/dn functionality that supports zoomed documents… ? Interesting that they can do that and get the rights to it, but is that terribly useful? And how does that qualify as innovative? Silly patent and I don’t understand why Microsoft would go through the effort of obtaining it… unless they made it some integral part of their future OS somehow or more to the point of what it really is going after, make it part of their office suite baring the competition from implementing such features in say power point, excel or any of their other office applications.

    Hmm… a keystroke that moves the exact place on the next page regardless of the zoom level… so does this rule out assigning a shortcut key to moving to the next page in one of these documents, or just reserve the right to control who can add keys that do that to Microsoft? The implications from this end are much more disturbing than what the article is suggesting.

    It doesn’t matter what the patent actually protects – the concept has been around for a while now(bookmark/thumbnail views are one simple example of this exact feature) and I don’t think Microsoft first came up with it so they shouldn’t be awarded a patent even if it only protects creating a key that does it. I mean if this is the case, can I patent a login key? No keyboards I’ve used have that one – and even if it exists on some obscure interface already, I could pick from any number of other commonplace functions to make a patent on.

    So if I understand any of this correctly… (not saying that I do) this is saying a hardware implementation of a shortcut key or common function is patentable? Huh? Innovative how? Hurry somebody, make a patent to close/open a tab in a browser before somebody else does and bars it from being on any keyboards unless the patent owner says so!

    This is a pretty absurd patent after all.
  • 2 Hide
    BuckeyeInNC , September 3, 2008 5:49 PM
    The ignorance on this board is just astounding . . .
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