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Notes on tech

Notes on technology, business, enterpreneurship, economy, markets along with interesting general tidbits.

Patents giveaway

1/26/2005 09:04:00 PM, posted by anand

First, IBM announced that it is going to give away 500 patents to the Open Source community. Then, Sun made a similar announcement (1600+ patents) that coincided with their release of Solaris 10 in the open source domain. Why this sudden show of generosity?

These are the very same companies that spend millions of dollars trying to patent every stupid trick (see below) in the technical domain and then they come out and annouce a public giveaway. This year IBM was the number one (3248 patents) in the list of companies that were granted patents. I think, this is all about being in the good books of the open source community and also as a way to break each others back. According to AMR Research "IBM’s promise makes it harder for Microsoft and Sun to monetize Web services transactions".

Here is a list of some stupid patents (either applied-for or already granted) :
  • IBM's patent on CGI redirects - The present invention provides redirection for a web page request for an old URL received at a web server. In an embodiment, a web page request from an end-user is redirected to a Common Gateway Interface ("CGI") script for handling the web page redirection. In an embodiment, the CGI script includes a routine for matching an old URL to a new URL provided in a lookup table. In an embodiment, each web page of an old URL has a corresponding new URL such that an end-user trying to access a web page using an old URL is always directed to a corresponding new web page, or to a relevant page if a corresponding new page does not exist. In another embodiment, a customized message may be associated with a match between an old URL and a new URL, and the customized message may be displayed prior to redirection.
  • IBM's patent for retrieving text via regular expresions -Techniques are provided for enumerating regularly identifiable or stereotypical phrases that people commonly use to convey particular information, and where exactly in these phrases the particular information is to be found. In one embodiment, such phrases are referred to as "regular expressions." Using such enumerated phrases, the invention is able to automatically identify them in an input data stream and then identify and extract the particular information associated with the phrase that is being sought, e.g., important or relevant information.
  • Apple's patent for desktop search - A method for locating information in a computer system, comprising the steps of: inputting an information identifier;providing said information identifier to a plurality of plug-in modules each using a different heuristic to locate information which matches said identifier; providing at least one candidate item of information from said modules; anddisplaying a representation of said candidate item of information.
  • Microsoft's patent on Object persistence - Herein is described an implementation of an object persister, which serializes an object to preserve the object's data structure and its current data. The serialized object is encoded using XML and inserted within a message. That message is transmitted to an entity over a network. Such a transmission is performed using standard Internet protocols, such as HTML. Upon receiving the serialized object, the receiving entity deserializes the object to use it. Rather than include copies of referenced objects within the serialized object, the object persister includes references to those objects. This avoids redundant inclusion of the same object and potentially infinite inclusion of the object itself that is being serialized.

This is just a sampling of the absurdities going on in the patent world. For more check out this cool blog called varchars.
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