Feeds

Real Software slams MS IsNot patent application

It's obvious, really

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Real Software, the maker of the Realbasic application development tool, has raised concerns over Microsoft's IsNot operator patent application, saying that no one should be able to patent fundamental programming operations.

The IsNot patent application was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office in November 2004 by Paul Vick and Amanda Silver, both at Microsoft; and another developer, Costica Barsan. The application describes a single operator, dubbed IsNot, that compares two variables and determines if they point to the same location in memory. It mentions Realbasic among a small group of BASIC-like programming languages, including Microsoft's Visual Basic .Net.

"We object to this patent," Real Software's CEO Geoff Perlman told eWeek. He argues that the patent should not be awarded because it fails the "obvious" test, and because there is plenty of prior art. The IsNot concept has existed in many programming languages for many years, he said.

The patent application was greeted by a chorus of disapproval when it was filed, with plenty of invective levelled at the principal inventors.

Paul Vick's personal blog entry about the application makes interesting reading. He says that although he doesn't belive in software patents himself, he recognises that because software patents do exist, companies have to "play the game".

"One of the most unfortunate aspect of the software patent system is that there is a distinct advantage, should you have the money to do so, to try and patent everything under the sun in the hopes that something will stick. If someone has a patent on "a biological system used to aspirate oxygen gases to fuel biological processes" (i.e. lungs), I wouldn't be surprised," he writes.

Richard Tallent, a software developer at ERM Group, argues that the only reason to claim the IsNot operator as a patentable innovation would be to sue anyone who infringed on it, eWeek reports.

"Additions of keywords to a language to formalize a simpler syntax of some common action are not worthy of patent status," Tallent told the publication. "Such additions to a programming language are trivial, obvious, semantic improvements, not unique innovations." ®

Related stories

MS seeks patent experts - no patent experience necessary
Dozen claim MS codec patents
Gates holds forth on Red Menace of IP law reform
Microsoft offshores patent war - so goes the WTO?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.