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Microsoft patents a slider, earning EFF’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” award

Accepted submission by mendax at 2015-12-31 05:39:51
Digital Liberty

Ars has a story [arstechnica.com] about the Electronic Freedom Foundation [eff.org]'s latest "Stupid Patent of the Month" award [eff.org]:

The chosen patent (PDF) [eff.org], numbered D554,140, would seem to be one of those things that's so simple it raises some basic philosophical questions about the patent system. That's because it's just a slider, in the bottom-right corner of a window, with a plus sign at one end and a minus sign at the other. That's it. [...]

And Microsoft has put the '140 patent into action, using it to sue Corel Software on December 18. In their complaint (PDF), Microsoft lawyers say that software like Corel Write, Corel Calculate, and Corel Show infringe nine Microsoft patents, of which four (including the slider bar) are design patents.

Microsoft's recent lawsuit is meant counter Corel's earlier one. Corel, which bought WordPerfect from Novell in 1996, sued Microsoft in July [sltrib.com], saying that Microsoft Preview infringed on several Corel patents. Like many patent cases, Corel's complaint can be summarized as "we lost, but it's someone else's fault." Corel lawyers write that "WordPerfect has been reduced to minimal market share as a result of Microsoft's aggressive actions."

One wonders whose working in the patent office. A roomful of monkeys (or Congressmen) would not have issued such a nonsense patent.


Original Submission