WANTED: PATENT ENGINEERS - NO PATENT EXPERIENCE NECESSARY: Microsoft is recruiting patent engineers - but actual knowledge of patent law is not considered an obstacle to being hired, according to the job ad.
Last year, Redmond began outsourcing the task of researching and analysing patents to a firm called Intellevate, and the team is based in New Delhi, India. The applicant must be a computer science or electrical engineering PhD, and will be involved in prior art searches, patentability research, "file wrapper analysis", "claim scope mapping" and technical analysis.
But "patent experience" itself "is helpful but not mandatory," for potential recruits. To emphasize the point, the ad stresses that "although advance knowledge of patent law is helpful, it is not required".
Andrew Orlowski of The Register takes Microsoft to task for some of their patenting attempts (and successes), including
- a patent for tabbing through a web page ;
- a patent for online bill payment (which includes the innovation "'the consumer is in direct control of the amount to be paid and the payment date") ;
- a patent for fine-grained IM presence ("... a participant might not want someone else to know whether or not the individual is logged in or out to lunch. Thus, one might want to prohibit other individuals from viewing such presence information");
- a patent (issued to Expedia) for matching a quote with an offer, which asserted that "an effective electronic exchange system for satisfying an offer by a purchaser with a quote from a supplier has eluded those skilled in the art";
- applications for patenting the "y-axis", the "IS NOT" operator in Basic, interactive test feedback, and reading ahead 20 records at a time in a database, when the user clicks the Previous or Next buttons, as well as an application for patenting a latitude/longitude co-ordinate stored as a base-30 number.
To be fair, this is not so much a problem with Microsoft, as it is with the USPTO and some of the shoddy examinations being conducted by the examiners. Spotting bad patents has almost become a sport in this business, and it's high-time the USPTO start acting seriously about patent quality. Then again, I'm sure the readers of Greg Aharonian's newsletter have known about this for a looooooooong time . . .