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.


    Neal> Doesn't Python (along with probably every other language ever
    Neal> invented) display prior art here?

    Sure, but maybe there is no such prior art in the BASIC arena.

    Skip
    Skip Montanaro, Nov 19, 2004
    #1
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  2. Skip Montanaro

    Peter Maas Guest

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

    >
    > Neal> Doesn't Python (along with probably every other language ever
    > Neal> invented) display prior art here?
    >
    > Sure, but maybe there is no such prior art in the BASIC arena.


    Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    some hundred years old. I doubt that this can be an approved patent,
    even under the liberal patent US laws.

    --
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, M+R Infosysteme, D-52070 Aachen, Tel +49-241-93878-0
    E-mail 'cGV0ZXIubWFhc0BtcGx1c3IuZGU=\n'.decode('base64')
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, Nov 19, 2004
    #2
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  3. Skip Montanaro

    Guest

    But it is approved :(

    Peter Maas wrote:
    > Skip Montanaro schrieb:
    > > >> My guess is Microsoft hopes to discourage Visual Basic

    knock-offs. Claim
    > > >> 2 clearly seems to restrict the scope to BASIC.

    > >
    > > Neal> Doesn't Python (along with probably every other language

    ever
    > > Neal> invented) display prior art here?
    > >
    > > Sure, but maybe there is no such prior art in the BASIC arena.

    >
    > Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    > some hundred years old. I doubt that this can be an approved patent,
    > even under the liberal patent US laws.
    >
    > --
    > -------------------------------------------------------------------
    > Peter Maas, M+R Infosysteme, D-52070 Aachen, Tel +49-241-93878-0
    > E-mail 'cGV0ZXIubWFhc0BtcGx1c3IuZGU=\n'.decode('base64')
    > -------------------------------------------------------------------
    , Nov 19, 2004
    #3
  4. Skip Montanaro

    Jarek Zgoda Guest

    Jarek Zgoda, Nov 19, 2004
    #4
  5. Skip Montanaro

    Jeff Shannon Guest

    Peter Maas wrote:

    > Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    > some hundred years old. I doubt that this can be an approved patent,
    > even under the liberal patent US laws.



    Maybe it's not a technically *valid* patent, but that doesn't mean it
    can't be approved. The US patent system has become appallingly lazy
    about checking for things like prior art and obviousness. (After all,
    we're talking about the system that approved a patent on "one-click
    purchasing"....)

    The sad thing about this is that these patents can be challenged in
    courts... but only if you can afford the legal budget necessary. And
    big corporations can afford to defend these patents, regardless of their
    legal viability, well enough to prevent all but the most determined (and
    well-heeled) challengers from actually getting a judgement on the actual
    merits of the case.

    Jeff Shannon
    Technician/Programmer
    Credit International
    Jeff Shannon, Nov 19, 2004
    #5
  6. Skip Montanaro

    Mike Meyer Guest

    Jeff Shannon <> writes:

    > The sad thing about this is that these patents can be challenged in
    > courts... but only if you can afford the legal budget necessary. And
    > big corporations can afford to defend these patents, regardless of
    > their legal viability, well enough to prevent all but the most
    > determined (and well-heeled) challengers from actually getting a
    > judgement on the actual merits of the case.


    Right. In the late 80s, there was a company whose sole source of
    income was from suing smaller companies about violation of their
    patent on xoring the cursor onto the screen

    <mike
    --
    Mike Meyer <> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
    Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.
    Mike Meyer, Nov 19, 2004
    #6
  7. Skip Montanaro

    Jan Dries Guest

    Jeff Shannon wrote:
    > Peter Maas wrote:
    >
    >> Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    >> some hundred years old. I doubt that this can be an approved patent,
    >> even under the liberal patent US laws.

    >
    > Maybe it's not a technically *valid* patent, but that doesn't mean it
    > can't be approved. The US patent system has become appallingly lazy
    > about checking for things like prior art and obviousness. (After all,
    > we're talking about the system that approved a patent on "one-click
    > purchasing"....)


    IIRC, a few years ago there was an Australian lawyer who wanted to show
    the ineffectiveness of the patent application procedure in Australia,
    and so he filed a patent application for the invention of some sort of
    rotating device (the type that is more commonly known as "a wheel").
    The application was approved.

    Jan
    Jan Dries, Nov 20, 2004
    #7
  8. Skip Montanaro

    Jeff Shannon Guest

    Peter Maas wrote:

    > Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    > some hundred years old.



    Actually, looking at the patent claim, this is *not* semantically
    equivalent to inequality. It specifically mentions 'isNot' as something
    that compares memory addresses, which in Basic are normally hidden. In
    other words, they are referring to something with the same semantics as
    Python's 'is not', comparing object identity rather than object equality.

    >>> [] is not []

    1
    >>> [] != []

    0
    >>>


    It's still a pretty questionable patent, though. Even without anyone
    explicitly having used 'is not' in Basic before, its prevalence in so
    many other languages would seem to fail the "nonobvious" test
    (supposedly) required for patent validity.

    Jeff Shannon
    Technician/Programmer
    Credit International
    Jeff Shannon, Nov 20, 2004
    #8
  9. Skip Montanaro

    Peter Maas Guest

    Jeff Shannon schrieb:
    > Peter Maas wrote:
    >> Isnot is semantically equivalent to the inequality operator which is
    >> some hundred years old.

    [...]
    > Actually, looking at the patent claim, this is *not* semantically
    > equivalent to inequality. It specifically mentions 'isNot' as something
    > that compares memory addresses, which in Basic are normally hidden.


    Isnot is the inequality operator applied to memory addresses. That these
    are hidden in VB, doesn't make this a new invention worth to be protected.
    E.g. electrical power supplies are a pretty old thing. If somebody would
    try to get a patent on the application of electrical power supplies to
    TVs this would probably (hope so) rejected and so should the application
    of the inequality operator to memory addresses.

    > It's still a pretty questionable patent, though. Even without anyone
    > explicitly having used 'is not' in Basic before, its prevalence in so
    > many other languages would seem to fail the "nonobvious" test
    > (supposedly) required for patent validity.


    Could this patent be circumvented by writing "not (a is b)" instead
    of "a is not b"? If that would be the case the patent claim would
    be even more ridiculous.

    --
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, M+R Infosysteme, D-52070 Aachen, Tel +49-241-93878-0
    E-mail 'cGV0ZXIubWFhc0BtcGx1c3IuZGU=\n'.decode('base64')
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, Nov 20, 2004
    #9
  10. On Sat, 20 Nov 2004 22:20:28 +0100, Peter Maas <> wrote:
    > Could this patent be circumvented by writing "not (a is b)" instead
    > of "a is not b"? If that would be the case the patent claim would
    > be even more ridiculous.


    Going off-topic.

    Ridiculous patents are not the exclusive domain of software. A few
    years ago someone (I think it was Motorola, but I'm not sure) got a
    patent on "Vibracall", or how to make a cell phone vibrate when
    receiving calls. They didn't want to license the patent to their
    competitors. Nokia circumvented it by putting the vibracall circuits
    into the battery pack. So when you bought a Nokia digital phone, you
    have to buy a "vibracall enabled battery". It was that weird.

    --
    Carlos Ribeiro
    Consultoria em Projetos
    blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
    blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
    mail:
    mail:
    Carlos Ribeiro, Nov 20, 2004
    #10
  11. Skip Montanaro

    Terry Reedy Guest

    "Peter Maas" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Could this patent be circumvented by writing "not (a is b)" instead
    > of "a is not b"? If that would be the case the patent claim would
    > be even more ridiculous.


    Somewhere deep in the verbiage they explicitly mention 'Not (A Is B)' as
    the currently necessary idiom (which competitors would presumably have to
    continue using) and tout 'A IsNot B' as nicer or something. Replacing the
    former with the latter is the whole and entire point of this
    ridiculousness. No new actual functionality. Yes, mind-boggling.

    Terry J. Reedy
    Terry Reedy, Nov 21, 2004
    #11
  12. Skip Montanaro

    Peter Maas Guest

    Peter Maas schrieb:
    > Isnot is the inequality operator applied to memory addresses. That these
    > are hidden in VB, doesn't make this a new invention worth to be protected.
    > E.g. electrical power supplies are a pretty old thing. If somebody would
    > try to get a patent on the application of electrical power supplies to
    > TVs this would probably (hope so) rejected and so should the application
    > of the inequality operator to memory addresses.


    I believe what these patent guys get wrong and mixed up is the
    difference between inheritance and specialization. If you invent a
    power supply that transmits power without using a wire this is an
    invention that inherits from power supplies in general and is of
    course something new because it has a feature not shared by previous
    power supplies. But to simply narrow down the application range is
    not new but a trivial twist not worth to be metioned let alone be
    patented.

    --
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, M+R Infosysteme, D-52070 Aachen, Tel +49-241-93878-0
    E-mail 'cGV0ZXIubWFhc0BtcGx1c3IuZGU=\n'.decode('base64')
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Peter Maas, Nov 21, 2004
    #12
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