More Patently Stupid Patent Enforcement

According to various sources, SBC is enforcing a patent on the use of frames in a user interface. Use of tabs in a frame, where the frame doesn’t disappear as you navigate — that kind of thing.

Insert the usual rant about obviousness of the application and the cluelessness of the U.S. Patent Office. These bozos dreamed up a patent around the way that frames were intended to be used in the first place.

“Wow, there are tires everywhere. They look pretty useless on their own, so I’m going to patent a method for attaching them to cars and moving around on them…”

* * * *

So, there’s this patent on network standard byte order, which is about an obvious idea as you can find in the field of internetworking. There’s been prior art forever (well, since ArpaNet, anyway). In 1988 or so I went over to the patent branch office in Sunnyvale and got a copy of it, and confirmed that it was about as bad as the Usenet flames were saying.

A few years later, I worked with someone who knew the guy whose name is on the patent. Apparently the recipient said (when he received it), “I can’t believe they gave that patent to me.”

Hearsay, yes.

A few years after that, I was more or less forced to apply for a patent on an RPC mechanism that probably would have had Java RMI infringing on most of it. If anyone from Sun is reading this, PeopleSoft owns that particular IP now.

The whole stupid game needs to be stopped, before someone patents breathing or the Return key and it’s all over except for the lawyers, coming for your soul in the dead of night….

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