Wednesday, August 17, 2005

WHY NEWSROOMS NEED PATENT PRIMERS: It's bad enough when reporters run headlines like "Donald Trump Seeks Patent on 'You're Fired!'", but the latest brouhaha over the Apple iPod patent application has to be the most annoying (non) story this year. Here's the situation:

Apple files a patent application on a user interface for the iPod wheel.

The USPTO cites a Microsoft application as prior art against the claims (Microsoft's application predates Apple's by 5 months).

HORRORS!

Sensing another Apple/Microsoft patent standoff, the press runs over 300 reports on the rejection, with wild speculation about Microsoft usurping Apple's iPod's product line. To be fair, a good number of these articles have an obligatory quote from a patent attorney telling them "it's no big deal," but these stories persist nevertheless.

It's just a garbage story - competitors have patents cited against one another all the time. And in cases like this, where the applications are so close together, it's almost a no-brainer that Apple fill simply file a 1.131 declaration to swear behind the Microsoft reference, and everyone will go their merry way.

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