Thanksgiving Day or April Fool’s Day?
Just about everyone knows Cary Milsap of Hotsos and other fame. On Thanksgiving Day, he sent out a real turkey of an email (I just couldn’t resist that one) to us on the OakTable email list. I thought it was a joke when I first saw it.
The email pointed out that LSI had been granted a patent on the Linked List. Yes, the title of the patent is simply “Linked List”. As the holder of a couple of software patents, I tend to play devils advocate. I see entirely too much of the open source anarchy mentality when it comes to software patents. However, this particular patent is really out there. I really see no way that this patent could have made it through scrutiny on prior art or novelty. There are millions of software applications of the following quoted summary of the invention:
The present invention overcomes the disadvantages and limitations of the prior art by providing a system and method for traversing a list using auxiliary pointers that indicate the next item in a sequence. The sequential list may be created in one sequence, but used in a second sequence without having to resort the list.
Uh, there is nothing novel about that. But that is not all. Look at claim number 4:
A computer system capable of traversing a list having at least two sequential pointers comprising: a plurality of items that are contained in said list to be traversed; at least a primary pointer and a secondary pointer for each of said items of said list such that each of said items has an associated primary pointer and an associated secondary pointer…
That is weird. Find me a computer that can’t do that. Was there a C compiler for the TRS-80? Yes, in fact, there was. Hmmm…I better dig further…
I don’t think this patent is a reason to abolish software patents, but clearly something is out of whack. Maybe this gentleman could explain it?
This is Not A Software Patent, Is It?
OK, this other patent granted to LSI this year is interesting. It doesn’t even describe a software program really. I wonder if Microsoft is paying royalties. How is the following abstract from the patent not in fact precisely what Microsoft Project does? Oh, I know, MS Project doesn’t send email.
The present invention is a computer-based system for managing projects. It allows the user to input data concerning a project and associate individuals with the project. The system then determines a deadline for completing a task associated with the project and send out reminders accordingly. The system provides the user a number of options not available on the conventional docketing systems, such as automatically increasing the frequency with which reminders are sent as the deadline approaches, and automatically increasing the number of individuals to whom the reminders are sent as the deadline draws near.