Microsoft Sued Over User Editable Toolbar Patent

from the don't-bother-creating-software,-you'll-just-get-sued dept

If you follow the patent world, you know of Gary Odom, who is known as The Patent Hawk. To say he's a big supporter of the patent system would be something of an understatement. He's been known to comment here on occasion, employing the style seen all-too-often among patent system apologists commenting on Techdirt posts: insult repeatedly and broadly, offer no actual points, refuse to actually counter anything we say, provide absolutely no evidence and (for good measure) insult again. However, as reader Jon has pointed out to us, Odom recently received a new patent (he's got a bunch) on tool group manipulations and he's now suing Microsoft for the way its toolbars work in Office 2007.

I won't comment on the patent itself and whether or not its obvious -- read the claims and judge for yourself. However, I will question just what sort of patent system we've created when simply putting a toolbar in your software that can be changed and manipulated by the end user can get you sued for patent infringement. With patents and lawsuits like this flying by every day, it almost seems as if software companies are better off not doing any actual innovation, because it's only likely to get them sued. Have an idea on how to make a toolbar function better? Don't bother unless you're willing to pay a tax. At some point you have just sit back and look at the system as a whole and wonder how we got from the vision of Thomas Jefferson to here.

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  1. identicon
    mobiGeek, 21 Aug 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re: stop the shilling!!!

    Evidence? You have provided some anecdotes of small players that have failed in the marketplace "needed" to litigate to make any kind of money. How is this "evidence"?

    The anti-patent views are NOT those of the "big infringers". There are many of us, especially in the software industry, who start SMALL companies and find ourselves in a rats nest of problems because programs we have developed IN ISOLATION wind up infringing on someone's patent for "configurable mouse speeds" or "blue menus" or "buttons that have different styles when depressed".

    The above patent is an incredibly OBVIOUS extension of software. In fact, the OVERWHELMING number of "advancements" in software are simple enhancements to existing paradigms. There have been extremely few advancements worthy of the term "invention" much less "patent".


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