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Can Microsoft Patent a Wind-Powered Data Center?

By - Source: USPTO | B 38 comments

Once in a while, I stumble across a granted patent or a patent application that makes me wonder whether it is a serious filing or just a submission that tests the USPTO's willingness to grant a patent to something as trivial as a pound of sugar.

Microsoft may be the latest organization that is trying to test the boundaries of what can be patented and what not. For example, an application for a wind-powered data center.

You could be thinking of some ingenious idea to generate power for a data center, but you may be disappointed. The patent simply describes a data center that is connected to a wind-powered generator. That power generation system is explained as a system that "includes blades mounted to the top of a tower that is at least partially hollow, the blades configured to rotate when the wind blows to generate the power." I am pretty sure that Microsoft refers to those wind turbines that we are used to seeing across the country, often on farm land.

There is also an elaborate description of servers with containers that are "mounted to an outer wall of the tower to form a supportive base for the tower." There are more claims reaching from a data center that is not connected to a traditional electric grid (which I had no idea could be possibly patented), battery resources to store the power generated by a wind turbine, as well as controllers that are able to determine whether the turbine creates just enough, not enough or too much power to power the data center. If there is excess power, the batteries would be charged, if there is not enough power, power would be drawn from the batteries.

I have to admit that I am not an expert in this particular field, but I find it rather amazing that such an idea could be considered for a patent filing. Microsoft's reasoning behind the filing is pure consciousness for renewable energy sources, stating that "more and more computer servers are utilized which is causing the amount of available power to become a scare resource and a resultant increase in the amount of carbon emitted to power servers."

In large parts, the patent filing is a good example that reminds me of school essays, which simply required me to describe a simple idea on as many pages as possible - and I am not especially proud of those papers. In fairness, there are some thoughts in Microsoft's patent filing that could be considered a new idea, even if they may not make it into the real world - such as "hollow tower of the wind-powered generator [that] may be used as a chimney to cool the servers."

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    J3d1M1nD7r1cKs , November 19, 2011 5:14 AM
    You've got to be kidding me.
  • 10 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 19, 2011 5:15 AM
    Haliburton patented patent trolling a while back so why not? It just takes money - the same basis as alien abduction insurance.
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    J3d1M1nD7r1cKs , November 19, 2011 5:14 AM
    You've got to be kidding me.
  • Display all 38 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 19, 2011 5:15 AM
    Haliburton patented patent trolling a while back so why not? It just takes money - the same basis as alien abduction insurance.
  • 1 Hide
    ellarpc , November 19, 2011 5:22 AM
    WTF... Maybe I should file for a patent to a wind powered home
  • 2 Hide
    gerchokas , November 19, 2011 5:25 AM
    All this proves that they are not a serious company... Come on Microsoft, behave!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2011 5:25 AM
    Only the scope of the claims should be considered. Give the patent number or link to google patents. Any goofy thing can be in the specification but I'd bet dollars to donuts that the claim scope is narrower than this article implies.
  • -1 Hide
    Manos , November 19, 2011 5:34 AM
    Whats funny is that way worse patents have been filled. Ill go google/bing "funny/odd patent filling" and see what I get. I really think that there is no way that every other major company ( even MS themselves ) have way more silly patents than this one if you ask me.

    ( I say silly cause I dont wanna be rude >.< )
  • 9 Hide
    winner4455 , November 19, 2011 6:36 AM
    The system is so broken...
  • 0 Hide
    nikorr , November 19, 2011 6:47 AM
    J3d1M1nD7r1cKsYou've got to be kidding me.

    Right?
  • -1 Hide
    nikorr , November 19, 2011 6:48 AM
    You cannot be serious! Common.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2011 7:00 AM
    J3d1M1nD7r1cKsYou've got to be kidding me.


    +1
  • 4 Hide
    NITROGEnarcosis , November 19, 2011 7:41 AM
    I could see patenting a unique control system or some other similar system but a generic "wind powered data center" just seems like trolling.
  • 5 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , November 19, 2011 8:15 AM
    So... what happens when the wind stops blowing for more than a couple hours?
  • 4 Hide
    dtm4trix , November 19, 2011 8:35 AM
    Quick someone go patent breathing air from this planet's atmosphere...........................too late?
  • 2 Hide
    hetneo , November 19, 2011 8:43 AM
    I'm thinking something, you know that legal systems of all countries have some kind of penalty for false crime reporting, maybe something like that is needed for patents, if you file this kind of ridiculous patent you should be rejected and forced to pay 1-2% of income from previous fiscal year.
    This should be refused with "previous art" argument I think. Not sure but I think that Google has some data centers powered by wind turbines already built.
  • 5 Hide
    eddieroolz , November 19, 2011 9:11 AM
    Okay, I was happy about Microsoft's recent patents but this one is just stupid.
  • 1 Hide
    Partizan92 , November 19, 2011 10:14 AM
    They are laughing at the US patent system...
  • 2 Hide
    killerclick , November 19, 2011 11:13 AM
    US patents don't mean squat in the rest of the world, so it's only other US companies that will be hurt by this (unless they patent this in other countries as well).
  • 2 Hide
    house70 , November 19, 2011 11:26 AM
    I know it's stupid, but since
    -square with round corners
    -flat
    -(relatively) thin

    can be patented (and I don't recall Gruener having a problem with that), I do not see why not this one, as well. At least, this shows a shade of thought behind it.
    Broken system...
  • 0 Hide
    triodeman , November 19, 2011 12:07 PM
    It is very common to file what appear to be frivolous patents for protection from the trolls.
  • 3 Hide
    cookoy , November 19, 2011 12:28 PM
    The bulls and cows are pretty angry at this filing. Apparently they claim you can't patent bullshit or cowshit as the bulls and cows own them already.
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