My first patent


If you walk into some offices at Microsoft, you’ll find these strange 2“ black cubes on some people’s desks. These cubes show up when you complete a patent application and it is filed. It’s a nice reward to a process that takes a fair bit of work on your time, and there is also a monetary award.


Sometime later (and by later, I mean *years* later), the patent application may be granted, and if it does, you get a nice little plaque a summary of your patent on it. It also has a diagram that details how a computer system works, which is boilerplate that goes into all of our patents (and those of other computer companies, I suspect). So, there’s a processing unit with a system bus, a hard disk drive interface, etc. It’s not enough to just say “this patent is related to a computer“, you apparently have to describe a computer.


So, I’ve been awarded patent # 6,xxx,xxx for “Method and Apparatus xxxx xxxx x x xx xxxx x xxxxx“.


I thought that I’d give you the real number, but I’ve decided not to because you probably don’t want to read patents, as one of the idiosyncracies of patent law is that damages are trebled if you knowingly violate a patent, so it’s better to be ignorant.


And no, I’m not going to talk about the advisability of software patents in general. I do have an opinion on that, but I’d rather not debate that here.


Comments (14)

  1. jp says:

    Interesting….an intelligent jukebox.

  2. Welcome to the club 😉

    Like you I don’t want to go in the patents debate here. But anyways these little cubes do make you feel good in a strange sort of way.

    The funny thing is that when you walk into some MSR researchers’ offices, you see piles an piles of them…

  3. KC Lemson says:

    There’s a guy in my group who has an entire shelf of his bookshelf taken up with them. He has so many he just doesn’t care about keeping them organized, they’re like pocket change. A strange sight to see.

  4. Take Outs: The Digital Doggy Bag of Blog Bits for 24 February 2004

  5. IM says:

    Ahah, this post explains all that ‘irrelevant’ stuff in the recent ‘wsf’ patent – it’s the "what is a computer" boilerplate. I must admit I was thinking ‘is this nonsense in here to bulk out the patent and make it look more weighty’? Now I am enlightened! 🙂

  6. Fabrice says:

    > There’s a guy in my group who has an entire shelf of his bookshelf taken up with them.

    This really shows how stupid patents are. Patent anything, patent everything, shoot anywhere: you never know, maybe you’ll manage to grab money from someone "violating" one of your patents.

  7. WK says:

    So what are you going to do with it? Going after me if I – by chance – is doing what you have patented, and Im not even knowing that there is a patent on that???? So you can kick my ass, and say "I didt it first!!!".

    Whow! You lucky guy! You must be very proude!!

  8. I don’t think there are many submarine patents at Microsoft. All the product team patents I’ve seen are for things that have already been implemented. Not that I’m an expert on what we patent.

  9. MBA says:

    Helpful For MBA Fans.