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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Leave it to the crooks at mirco$oft to cook that one up!Reply
Aaron, you may want to do some research and learning about patents before writing such a ridiculous article. Microsoft did not patent page up or page down keys at all. What is "patented" is what is covered in the claims which are numbered sentences at the end of the publication. Read independent claims 1 and 7 to learn what Microsoft patented . . .Reply
To say that Microsoft "patented page up and page down keys" simply because they are mentioned in this document is akin to alleging that Edison invented light because light is mentioned in a patent for a lightbulb . . .
I'm going to patent the "Enter" key..........Reply
they simply patented the functions of the keys not the keys themselves...Reply
Yeah after reading through the patent, they actually just patented a formula for scrolling and reviewing documents via the Pg keys.Reply
well, by patenting the functions of those keys, doesn't it mean that anybody who makes a keyboard to sell, and has a key that has the same function as a page up and/or page down key, can be sued by microsoft?Reply
sounds pretty similar to microsoft practically owning those keys, regardless of name.. as long as the function of the key is the same, or "similar" to what is written above in the article....
I think I'll patent the "Space Bar".Reply
Come on Micro$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.
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".Reply
Sparky, they patented a novel method of using such keys. Not the general function. They hardly "own" the keys...like 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.
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.Reply
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.
Opera Mini already has like functionality, although it is working with known lines of text.Reply
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.