Annals of the Patently Absurd

Microsoft has received a patent on a “new and improved” Page-Up and Page-Down system. Timothy D. Sellers et al. was awarded the patent on August 19, 2008 for a “Method and system for navigating paginated content in page-based increments.”

Abstract for United States Patent 7,415,666

A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.

Full text of 7,415,666

Perhaps patent examiners are unable to tell what’s obvious or not because the very language in which patents are written is so obscure. Try parsing this sentence:

A document viewing component, such as in the form of a control hosted in a program, controls the scrolling operation, such as by containing a scroll control.

Most likely this twisted language is the work product of Workman Nydeggar, the patent attorneys on this one. No doubt they are responsible for this closing flourish:

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative constructions, certain illustrated embodiments thereof are shown in the drawings and have been described above in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

Patent 7,415,666 was submitted in March 2005 so it took three years for the patent office to take in all this mumbo-jumbo and decide to give its approval. So if the USPTO is going to approve nearly every patent — and I’d love to see a list of rejected ones — why does it take three years to do so?

Also, 7,415,666 was not the only good news for Timothy D. Sellers of Bellevue WA. This week, he had three patents approved, upping his own total to nine. He re-invented the toolbar, among other things.

Thanks to Richard Forno’s of InfoWarrior for his posting to Dave Farber’s IP list.