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Microsoft awarded Stupid Patent of the Month by EFF, for patenting a slider
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Microsoft awarded Stupid Patent of the Month by EFF, for patenting a slider

by AshwinJanuary 1, 2016

Microsoft just won an award, and not something it can/will be proud of.

Microsoft Slider Bar Design Patent

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a Digital Rights Activists group, which defends technologies (and individuals) from baseless allegations.

And the non-profit organisation has awarded Microsoft, the Stupid Patent of the Month. Here’s why that happened. Microsoft had filed a patent for a slider, claiming it as its own design (intellectual property).

Don’t know what a slider is? Take a look at your Windows System Tray, and click on the volume button (the speaker icon). See the volume bar which you can adjust by dragging the marker from left to right. That’s exactly what a slider is.

Such a slider bar, exists in Microsoft Office as well, to allow users to Zoom In and Zoom Out. Well, apparently Microsoft thought it would be a great idea for patenting the slider (and did so in 2006). Sounds stupid, right? Well, that is what the EFF thought so too, and awarded the Stupid Patent to the Redmond Company.

And we can’t help but smile and nod our heads in agreement, to the move. It highlights the power of patents being misused for ridiculous claims,  just for the sake of hampering a rival business. But it does happen, and you may have come across several news articles about patent trolls. They ruin technology for everyone, by claiming rights for basic software features, like the Slider. Hopefully this will bring Microsoft back to its senses, and help it focus on practical things, that which are actually useful.

But there is a backstory to this drama. Microsoft had recently filed a lawsuit on Corel, the company behind famous software like CorelDRAW. Apparently, Corel had done something similar, back in July 2015, by claiming that Microsoft had infringed on one of its own products.

The Redmond company’s complaint is to simply hit back at Corel. The lawsuit alleges that the following products: Corel Write, Corel Calculate, and Corel Show, are infringing not one, but nine of Microsoft patents. And four of these are related to the (ridiculous) slider bar design patents.

This is what a spokesperson from Microsoft told Ars Technica,

“Microsoft’s lawsuit is in direct response to the meritless claims made by Corel earlier this year in a Utah court. We are confident we will be successful.”

Surely Corel isn’t the only company using the Slider. We have seen plenty of those in other apps, even in browsers.

stupid-patent-of-the-month

This also happens to be the first time, a design patent has managed to get the EFF’s Stupid Award of the Month.

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