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Corel has been sued by a little-known Californian software operation Advanced Software which claims the Canadian developer has infringed one of its word processing patents. The suit also names Reed Elsevier's CompareRite software as a fellow infringer. Advanced Software's beef shows just how silly US software patent law has become. It says it was granted a patent in 1989 which described how a word processor could display the original version of a document alongside a modified version in a split-screen configuration. Corel's WordPerfect and Reed Elsevier's CompareRite both do just that and by doing so without Advanced's permission, infringe Advanced's patent. For their crime, Advanced wants both companies to cough up unspecified damages, to pay for the company's legal fees and to cease offering that feature. What's daft about this? Well, for starters, there can't be a word processor user on the planet who hasn't at some point arranged windows containing different versions of a document on their monitors so that they can view both simultaneously. Since they're using their word processing software to do this, are they too infringing Advanced's patent? Worse, since this very reporter put a similar feature into a text editor written for a Computer Studies O-Level back in the early 80s, he is worried he may be sued next. Advanced lawyers should note, however, that the BASIC-implemented Dragon 32 Writer was never released commercially, never made it out of beta testing and this reporter can no longer find the TDK cassette it was saved on. Ahem. Meanwhile, Corel would only say that it had received the suit and that it's lawyers were reviewing the complaint. ®

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