Re: Microsoft Patents 'IsNot'

Discussion in 'Python' started by Skip Montanaro, Nov 19, 2004.

  1. My guess is Microsoft hopes to discourage Visual Basic knock-offs. Claim 2
    clearly seems to restrict the scope to BASIC.

    Seems pretty slimy.

    Skip
    Skip Montanaro, Nov 19, 2004
    #1
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  2. On Fri, 19 Nov 2004 12:51:27 -0600, Skip Montanaro <>
    declaimed the following in comp.lang.python:

    >
    > My guess is Microsoft hopes to discourage Visual Basic knock-offs. Claim 2
    > clearly seems to restrict the scope to BASIC.
    >

    Like the language in OpenOffice?

    --
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    > | Wulfraed Dennis Lee Bieber KD6MOG <
    > | Bestiaria Support Staff <
    > ============================================================== <
    > Home Page: <http://www.dm.net/~wulfraed/> <
    > Overflow Page: <http://wlfraed.home.netcom.com/> <
    Dennis Lee Bieber, Nov 20, 2004
    #2
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  3. Skip Montanaro <> writes:

    > My guess is Microsoft hopes to discourage Visual Basic knock-offs. Claim 2
    > clearly seems to restrict the scope to BASIC.
    >

    No, Claim-2 refers to a "BASIC-derived programming language". Description 42
    claims "BORLAND DELPHI" is such a "BASIC-like or BASIC-derived language". Now I
    have not used Delphi but understand it is a kind of Pascal. It looks like
    Microsoft is casting a wide net indeed. Is it wide enough to ensnare Python?

    We all know Python is not Basic, though it fills a similar niche. But let me
    indulge my paranoia for a moment. Could the Python Software Foundation weather
    a lawsuit from a large company, even if the lawsuit was unfounded? A small
    change like removing 'is not' from the language would still be a significant
    inconvenience. And hey, maybe IronPython would remain unaffected, making
    it more backward compatible than CPython. But enough with being the
    conspiracy guy.

    Actually I believe Microsoft is just trying to keep Visual Basic distinct
    from potential competitors.

    Lenard Lindstrom
    <>
    Lenard Lindstrom, Nov 22, 2004
    #3
  4. Skip Montanaro

    Paul Robson Guest

    On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 23:53:37 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:

    > No, Claim-2 refers to a "BASIC-derived programming language". Description 42
    > claims "BORLAND DELPHI" is such a "BASIC-like or BASIC-derived language". Now I
    > have not used Delphi but understand it is a kind of Pascal.


    Delphi *is* Pascal - or Borland's variant of it anyway.

    It's an extension of Object Pascal, which came in with Turbo Pascal 5.5
    and was (I think) designed by the guy responsible for the C# design,
    Andreas Heiljberg (?).

    I bought a copy of this in I reckon about 1986ish. Visual Basic debuted in
    1991.
    Paul Robson, Nov 23, 2004
    #4
  5. Skip Montanaro

    Duncan Booth Guest

    Lenard Lindstrom wrote:

    > Actually I believe Microsoft is just trying to keep Visual Basic distinct
    > from potential competitors.


    Probably not even that. Microsoft are simply grabbing patents for anything
    they think is remotely patentable. The primary reason for doing this is
    probably defensive: if anyone threatens to sue Microsoft for patent
    infringement they can almost certainly find grounds to countersue. This is
    a useful position for Microsoft since they have said that in nearly all
    cases they will indemnify their customers against claims that Microsoft
    software infringes patents.

    (see http://news.com.com/Microsoft to back customers in infringement cases/2100-1014_3-5445868.html)

    Of course they can then use this stance as an argument against using 'risky'
    non-Microsoft software.
    Duncan Booth, Nov 23, 2004
    #5
  6. On 23 Nov 2004 09:37:11 GMT, Duncan Booth <> wrote:
    > Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    >
    > > Actually I believe Microsoft is just trying to keep Visual Basic distinct
    > > from potential competitors.

    >
    > Probably not even that. Microsoft are simply grabbing patents for anything
    > they think is remotely patentable. The primary reason for doing this is
    > probably defensive: if anyone threatens to sue Microsoft for patent
    > infringement they can almost certainly find grounds to countersue. This is
    > a useful position for Microsoft since they have said that in nearly all
    > cases they will indemnify their customers against claims that Microsoft
    > software infringes patents.
    >
    > (see http://news.com.com/Microsoft to back customers in infringement cases/2100-1014_3-5445868.html)
    >
    > Of course they can then use this stance as an argument against using 'risky'
    > non-Microsoft software.


    It's actually worse and much more dangerous than this. It's not a
    simply defensive move. It's a preemptive defensive move against
    open-source software. With patents will become impossible to implement
    software that is compatible with MS offerings. This problem has
    already bitten some projects, particularly Samba and some X related
    projects, specially color management and font rendering (which the
    play field is full of patents, some actually worthy, some silly).

    With patents, Microsoft can also strike back at open-source with an
    economical argument: "I am the innovator and those guys are copying my
    innovation and dumping the market with cheap copies". Its a good
    argument for courts, and one that a conservative administration (read
    Bush) is ready to buy.

    --
    Carlos Ribeiro
    Consultoria em Projetos
    blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
    blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
    mail:
    mail:
    Carlos Ribeiro, Nov 23, 2004
    #6
  7. Paul Robson <> writes:

    > On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 23:53:37 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    >
    > > No, Claim-2 refers to a "BASIC-derived programming language". Description 42
    > > claims "BORLAND DELPHI" is such a "BASIC-like or BASIC-derived language". Now I
    > > have not used Delphi but understand it is a kind of Pascal.

    >
    > Delphi *is* Pascal - or Borland's variant of it anyway.
    >

    So Delphi is definitely not BASIC-derived. It is BASIC-like in that various
    basic dialects, including QBasic, came to support the structured programming
    that Pascal was designed from the beginning to teach.

    > It's an extension of Object Pascal, which came in with Turbo Pascal 5.5
    > and was (I think) designed by the guy responsible for the C# design,
    > Andreas Heiljberg (?).
    >

    Interesting. If this is true I wonder if Heiljberg knows someone in Microsoft
    claims Object Pascal is modelled after Basic. Certainly the windowing extensions
    made to VB and Delphi are not BASIC-like or BASIC-derived.

    > I bought a copy of this in I reckon about 1986ish. Visual Basic debuted in
    > 1991.


    I would hope that a rewrite of Claim-2 of the patent is required before the patent
    is accept (if it is not outright rejected). Claim-2 is too vague to be meaningful.
    Proper definitions of "BASIC" and "derived" are missing. I imaging the patent is
    intended to protect Visual Basic.NET rather than restrict unrelated languages
    like Delphi and Python anyways.

    Lenard Lindstrom
    <>
    Lenard Lindstrom, Nov 23, 2004
    #7
  8. Skip Montanaro

    Greg Ewing Guest

    Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    > So Delphi is definitely not BASIC-derived. It is BASIC-like in that various
    > basic dialects, including QBasic, came to support the structured programming
    > that Pascal was designed from the beginning to teach.


    So it would be more accurate to say that those Basic
    dialects are, in those respects, Pascal-like...

    --
    Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept,
    University of Canterbury,
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~greg
    Greg Ewing, Nov 24, 2004
    #8
  9. Skip Montanaro

    Paul Robson Guest

    On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 18:35:01 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:

    >> I bought a copy of this in I reckon about 1986ish. Visual Basic debuted in
    >> 1991.

    >
    > I would hope that a rewrite of Claim-2 of the patent is required before the patent
    > is accept (if it is not outright rejected). Claim-2 is too vague to be meaningful.
    > Proper definitions of "BASIC" and "derived" are missing. I imaging the patent is
    > intended to protect Visual Basic.NET rather than restrict unrelated languages
    > like Delphi and Python anyways.


    It's blatantly obvious to me that the C# classes, ASP.NET etc. are knock
    offs of the Delphi design. They also bear little resemblance beyond the
    most basic syntactic stuff to VB6.0 let alone VB1.0
    Paul Robson, Nov 24, 2004
    #9
  10. On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 07:36:26 +0000, Paul Robson
    <> wrote:
    > On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 18:35:01 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    >
    > >> I bought a copy of this in I reckon about 1986ish. Visual Basic debuted in
    > >> 1991.

    > >
    > > I would hope that a rewrite of Claim-2 of the patent is required before the patent
    > > is accept (if it is not outright rejected). Claim-2 is too vague to be meaningful.
    > > Proper definitions of "BASIC" and "derived" are missing. I imaging the patent is
    > > intended to protect Visual Basic.NET rather than restrict unrelated languages
    > > like Delphi and Python anyways.

    >
    > It's blatantly obvious to me that the C# classes, ASP.NET etc. are knock
    > offs of the Delphi design. They also bear little resemblance beyond the
    > most basic syntactic stuff to VB6.0 let alone VB1.0


    I think that Delphi is *so* underated when it comes to language &
    framework design... Delphi suffered from a couple of problems; first,
    it was Pascal's child, and not C; also, because it was a proprietary
    project, owned by a single company.

    For some reason, being a Pascal descendant was regarded as a big "no"
    by a huge part of the industry, not to mention academia, that was at
    that time fascinated with the prospect of C++. I wonder what could
    have happened if Delphi (maybe with another name -- P++ anyone?) was
    widely adopted instead of C++ for big projects...

    --
    Carlos Ribeiro
    Consultoria em Projetos
    blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
    blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
    mail:
    mail:
    Carlos Ribeiro, Nov 24, 2004
    #10
  11. Greg Ewing <> writes:

    > Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    > > So Delphi is definitely not BASIC-derived. It is BASIC-like in that various
    > > basic dialects, including QBasic, came to support the structured programming
    > > that Pascal was designed from the beginning to teach.

    >
    > So it would be more accurate to say that those Basic
    > dialects are, in those respects, Pascal-like...
    >

    By saying Delphi is BASIC-like I just mean that many languages have come
    to resemble each, having adopted many of the same features. But it was
    definitely Basic that did most of the adopting. So yes, more precisely,
    Basic has become more Pascal-like. I was just giving the patent applicants
    a minor benefit of a doubt.

    Lenard Lindstrom
    <>
    Lenard Lindstrom, Nov 24, 2004
    #11
  12. Skip Montanaro

    Paul Robson Guest

    On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 18:04:03 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:

    > Greg Ewing <> writes:
    >
    >> Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    >> > So Delphi is definitely not BASIC-derived. It is BASIC-like in that various
    >> > basic dialects, including QBasic, came to support the structured programming
    >> > that Pascal was designed from the beginning to teach.

    >>
    >> So it would be more accurate to say that those Basic
    >> dialects are, in those respects, Pascal-like...
    >>

    > By saying Delphi is BASIC-like I just mean that many languages have come
    > to resemble each, having adopted many of the same features. But it was
    > definitely Basic that did most of the adopting. So yes, more precisely,
    > Basic has become more Pascal-like. I was just giving the patent applicants
    > a minor benefit of a doubt.


    I believe the author of .NET is the bloke that designed Turbo Pascal, so
    it's hardly surprising :)
    Paul Robson, Nov 25, 2004
    #12
  13. "Carlos Ribeiro" <> wrote in message
    news:...

    > With patents will become impossible to implement
    > software that is compatible with MS offerings.


    In the end, all that is achieved is to be in the position that DEC, IBM, and
    countless others placed themselves in:
    Sealed in behind proprietary connectors, standards and protocols and finding
    that they forgot to leave airholes in that box ;-)
    Just about *every* proprietary standard ever invented eventually is
    subverted and die because nobody wants the hassle and risk of dealing with
    it, it gets in the way of "The Job" whereas the Generic *facilitates* "The
    Job".

    > With patents, Microsoft can also strike back at open-source with an
    > economical argument: "I am the innovator and those guys are copying my
    > innovation and dumping the market with cheap copies". Its a good
    > argument for courts, and one that a conservative administration (read
    > Bush) is ready to buy.


    T-Rex was pretty fearsome too for a while but it did not cut much ice when
    the ecosystem changed!
    Frithiof Andreas Jensen, Nov 25, 2004
    #13
  14. >>>>> Lenard Lindstrom <> (LL) wrote:


    LL> I would hope that a rewrite of Claim-2 of the patent is required before
    LL> the patent is accept (if it is not outright rejected). Claim-2 is too
    LL> vague to be meaningful. Proper definitions of "BASIC" and "derived" are
    LL> missing. I imaging the patent is intended to protect Visual Basic.NET
    LL> rather than restrict unrelated languages like Delphi and Python
    LL> anyways.

    If it would be applied to Python there would be enough prior art anyway.
    And they forgot to put the word 'invention' between quotes.
    How stupid can they become?
    --
    Piet van Oostrum <>
    URL: http://www.cs.uu.nl/~piet [PGP]
    Private email:
    Piet van Oostrum, Nov 25, 2004
    #14
  15. Piet van Oostrum <> writes:

    > >>>>> Lenard Lindstrom <> (LL) wrote:

    >
    >
    > LL> I would hope that a rewrite of Claim-2 of the patent is required before
    > LL> the patent is accept (if it is not outright rejected). Claim-2 is too
    > LL> vague to be meaningful. Proper definitions of "BASIC" and "derived" are
    > LL> missing. I imaging the patent is intended to protect Visual Basic.NET
    > LL> rather than restrict unrelated languages like Delphi and Python
    > LL> anyways.
    >
    > If it would be applied to Python there would be enough prior art anyway.


    It is not whether or not Python has prior art but rather what the cost
    would be to defend a patent infringement lawsuit. But honestly, I believe
    that is a remote possibility.

    > And they forgot to put the word 'invention' between quotes.
    > How stupid can they become?


    I do not know what the proper form of a US patent application should be.
    But on my first read of this claim I did find a typo in part 12 of the
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION section. So this application was not carefully
    proofread. It needs at least one revision.

    Besides, many other assertions are plainly wrong. The constructs in parts
    3-5 of the above section are not Basic. They are Microsoft's own additions
    to the language. And to the claim Basic hid pointer arithmetic (part-2)
    remember PEEK and POKE.

    No, the scope of this patent will have to be narrowed to VISUAL BASIC-derived
    languages, which is a very narrow scope indeed.

    Lenard Lindstrom
    <>
    Lenard Lindstrom, Nov 25, 2004
    #15
  16. Paul Robson <> writes:

    > On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 18:04:03 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    >
    > > Greg Ewing <> writes:
    > >
    > >> Lenard Lindstrom wrote:
    > >> > So Delphi is definitely not BASIC-derived. It is BASIC-like in that various
    > >> > basic dialects, including QBasic, came to support the structured programming
    > >> > that Pascal was designed from the beginning to teach.
    > >>
    > >> So it would be more accurate to say that those Basic
    > >> dialects are, in those respects, Pascal-like...
    > >>

    > > By saying Delphi is BASIC-like I just mean that many languages have come
    > > to resemble each, having adopted many of the same features. But it was
    > > definitely Basic that did most of the adopting. So yes, more precisely,
    > > Basic has become more Pascal-like. I was just giving the patent applicants
    > > a minor benefit of a doubt.

    >
    > I believe the author of .NET is the bloke that designed Turbo Pascal, so
    > it's hardly surprising :)


    Is this Andreas Heiljberg which you mentioned in an earlier posting to
    this thread?

    http://groups.google.com/groups?q=

    Lenard Lindstrom
    <>
    Lenard Lindstrom, Nov 25, 2004
    #16
  17. Skip Montanaro

    Peter Otten Guest

    Peter Otten, Nov 25, 2004
    #17
  18. Skip Montanaro

    Tim Roberts Guest

    Carlos Ribeiro <> wrote:
    >
    >I think that Delphi is *so* underated when it comes to language &
    >framework design... Delphi suffered from a couple of problems; first,
    >it was Pascal's child, and not C; also, because it was a proprietary
    >project, owned by a single company.
    >
    >For some reason, being a Pascal descendant was regarded as a big "no"
    >by a huge part of the industry, not to mention academia, that was at
    >that time fascinated with the prospect of C++. I wonder what could
    >have happened if Delphi (maybe with another name -- P++ anyone?) was
    >widely adopted instead of C++ for big projects...


    You are absolutely correct. I have never understood the industry prejudice
    against Delphi. The code is just as efficient as the typical C compiler.
    GUI design in the IDE has always been easier in Delphi than in Visual
    Studio. VCL is easier to understand than MFC
    --
    - Tim Roberts,
    Providenza & Boekelheide, Inc.
    Tim Roberts, Nov 26, 2004
    #18
  19. Skip Montanaro

    Paul Robson Guest

    On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 17:57:44 +0000, Lenard Lindstrom wrote:

    >> I believe the author of .NET is the bloke that designed Turbo Pascal, so
    >> it's hardly surprising :)

    >
    > Is this Andreas Heiljberg which you mentioned in an earlier posting to
    > this thread?


    Yes.... well the name is something like that. The similarities between
    Delphi and C# are so obvious if anyone should be suing it's Borland.

    VB.NET is much much closer to Delphi than it is to VB6.0.
    Paul Robson, Nov 26, 2004
    #19
  20. Skip Montanaro

    Peter Maas Guest

    Carlos Ribeiro schrieb:
    > I think that Delphi is *so* underated when it comes to language &
    > framework design... Delphi suffered from a couple of problems; first,
    > it was Pascal's child, and not C; also, because it was a proprietary
    > project, owned by a single company.


    Like VB :) but this only means that software decisions are largely
    driven by prejudice. I'm a long time supporter of Delphi (and
    C++Builder), fascinated by the design of the VCL and the IDE and
    could never understand why so many developers preferred VB which
    is just crap compared to Delphi.


    --
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, M+R Infosysteme, D-52070 Aachen, Tel +49-241-93878-0
    E-mail 'cGV0ZXIubWFhc0BtcGx1c3IuZGU=\n'.decode('base64')
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, Nov 26, 2004
    #20
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