Microsoft Patents 'IsNot'

Tim Churches tchur at
Sat Nov 20 01:36:58 CET 2004

On Sat, 2004-11-20 at 10:51, Mike Meyer wrote:
> "Martin v. Löwis" <martin at> writes:
> > Neal D. Becker wrote:
> >> Doesn't Python (along with probably every other language ever invented)
> >> display prior art here?
> >
> > Wrt. claim 1, yes. Actually, C is prior art here: you have two
> > expressions representing pointers, and you have a system where
> > you can determine that the pointers refer to different memory
> > locations.
> LISP has had NEQ for about 40 years.
> Can they actually get away with patenting the spelling of the
> keywords in a language?

It is worth remembering that US patents are only valid in the US.
Although a US patent application like this establishes a priority date,
if Microsoft (or anyone else) wants patent protection in other
countries, then they still need to pursue separate applications in each
of those countries. Here in Australia, the test for novelty has been
tightened for patents applications filed after Jan 2002. Previously the
prior art needed to be described in a single document (or single public
"performance of an act"). Now elements of prior art published in
separate published documents but which is clearly related (in the view
of a skilled person) are also acceptable. Thus prior art comprising any
published description of the BASIC programming language, and the prior
art comprising a published description of "is not" in just about any
other programming language should be sufficient to torpedo the
application. Previously it may have required prior art of someone
describing in a published work the concept of "is not" specifically in
the context of BASIC.

Of course, if and when Microsoft files an application for this in
Australia, it may be necessary for someone to lodge an objection
pointing out the above, if the Australian patent office examiners don't
reject the application at its preliminary examination.



Tim C

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