MS’ latest patent

Patents: Oh, come on. USPTO: task list window for use in an integrated development environment. Here’s claim 1:

  1. A computer-implemented method for managing development-related tasks, the method comprising:

    during an interactive code development session, evaluating source code to determine whether a comment token is present;

    in response to determining that the source code contains a comment token, inserting a task into a task list; and

    in response to completion of a task, modifying the task list during the interactive code development session to indicate that the task has been completed.

There’s 74 more claims that are about up to that standard, including the usual ‘an input module connected to the knee-bone’ mumbo-jumbo that means it ‘isn’t a software patent’.

This is just quite simply absurd. Are we really supposed to believe that nobody had thought of what is essentially a list of tickboxes, displaying the output of ‘grep TODO *.c’, before March 6, 2000? You have got to be kidding. This /. comment suggests that Delphi 5 (released 1999) did it.

(update: looks like there was a provisional patent application, so that may have to be Mar 5 1999.)

William Chiles, Anders Hejlsberg, Randy Kimmerly and Peter Loforte should be ashamed of themselves for filing this joke. And the USPTO examiner who granted it should be fired.

(PS: a factoid from the slashdot comments: IBM receives (note: not even ‘files for’) nearly 10 patents every day.)

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