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Stob Softwron Inc, the US software and litigation giant, has become the first company to make a move in what is increasingly becoming known as the Great Rumble for Numbers.

The recent surprise announcement by the US Patent Office to grant patents on integer numbers has meant that industry-watchers, Wall Street and the Association of Primary School Maths Teachers have been on eleventerhooks as to which company would be the first to exploit the iniquitous new law.

Mr Rock McDosh, Softwron’s CEO, founder and widely loathed bully, today summoned the world’s business press to his luxurious 92nd floor boardroom for the announcement.

"I am proud to confirm that Softwron has become the first company to apply for a patent on an integer number. This is a great day for Softwron, Softwron’s shareholders and indeed the United States of America. Mankind long ago discovered the science of math, but it is only now with the industrial might and urgent probing technical innovation of Softwron that we have truly begun to tame it. Going forward into the future, we confidently expect to become the leading player in the integer market, although obviously we will never have anything that could reasonably be construed as a monopoly by federal authorities."

McDosh was asked if his company was not just cynically exploiting a natural resource. "That is absolutely not the case. Going forward we are looking into maturing and adding value to our intellectual property. Even as we speak our best numberware engineers are looking into, for example, ways of enhancing our integer so that it is divisible by seven. Obviously this would make it much more attractive to manufacturers of weekly diaries and calendar type products. We call this technology 'Retrofactorization™' and I’m very, very excited about it."

McDosh sought to address worries about how the licence to use the Softwron integer would operate. "I’ve been hearing some very silly scare stories that every computer in the world will have to run the WronMon monitor program, which will supposedly automatically transfer $0.50 each time our number is used within the machine. This is ridiculous.

"The fact is that in the early days very few institutions will have the need or indeed the financial wherewithal to license the Softwron integer. We are in negotiations with chip manufacturers right now so that, going forward, unlicensed systems will simply be unable to 'think' of our number. It’s a process analogous to human lobotomy, and I expect it to be entirely painless."

The details of the patent itself are being kept a closely guarded secret, pending completion of the legal formalities. This is in case some naughty person goes out and tries to establish prior usage, or other jiggery-pokery. However the integer is generally believed to be in the so-called high 64-bit range, from 4,294,967,296 to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 inclusive. If this is the case, then it has worrying implications for all those swanky 64-bit machines that are beginning to come out now. Although, there again, do you know anybody who has actually got one? Quite. ®

© Copyright 2003 Verity Stobb

Five Stob stories on Number Patentability (read them in sequence)
Numbers to be patentable
Patented numbers ‘a good idea’
First integer patented
Softwron shows off its new technology
’Wron number caught in Fermat-defying romp

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