Abused By A Patent Troll

How would you react when you learn that your name appears on a Microsoft filed US patent (7627600)?

No, not as inventor, but under "Other References" which cites an ancient journal paper (Syndication with JML) I had written in 1999 together with a friend.

The patent was filed 2006 and only end of last year (12/01/2009) it has been issued to Microsoft.

Patenting the Obvious, And Post-Mortem

Looking into the patent, I do not understand a single word from this legalese ribble-prabble what it is actually about:

Automatic layout of unpredictable content from multiple sources.

"Unpredictable content". Hmmm. As if Shannon had never lived.

Methods and systems are provided for managing, compiling, and displaying unpredictable digital content received from a plurality of sources, such as news information transmitted in RSS feeds.

It is true that our paper at that time was dealing with news, syndication and XML. But so did 100000 other papers around that time. And many in the IT world, anyways. And 2006 this was hardly innovation. Why the US patent office has not rejected this because of prior art escapes me. Especially because of the generality of the claims:

As one skilled in the art will readily understand, ... digital content is received from a plurality of sources, and is in no way meant to limit the embodiments to only two sources. ...

Well.

This so innovation-void patent seems to be an allcover to protect ... protect exactly what?

Hall of Shame

I understand that there is a war going on, but it is difficult to take this more serious than, say, German entertainment TV.

Just to be sure that Google Alerts pick this up, here are the "Inventors":

Citron, David; Sierra, Giampiero M.; Van Tilburg, Martin; Weir, Jeffrey J.; Soegiono, Orry; Constable, Ben; Anthony, Colin; Stewart, David; Zearing, David

And here the great minds at the patent office:

Examiners:

Primary: Vital, Pierre M; Assistant: Rostami, Mohammad S

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