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RE: Microsoft patented keyboard-navigation?

From: Rotan Hanrahan <Rotan.Hanrahan@MobileAware.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 11:27:07 +0100
Message-ID: <D9BC812593BC2E44A803E6765FFA5E2D657E36@gpo.mobileaware.com>
To: "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@sidar.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-au@w3.org>
Just to clarify. The threat to the mobile Web and accessibility is real. 
Even though the patent is completely obvious. Mobile Web solutions 
and accessibility solutions are often created by small companies (such 
as ours) and small companies don't have the resources to defend 
themselves against patents held by the giants, no matter how "indefensible" 
the patents may be. The truth is that a patent is as defensible as your 
pockets are deep. When something like this happens, the small innovators 
who are trying to add something real to the developing technology will 
look to others (e.g. W3C) to defend them. I have great respect for big 
companies and their ability to innovate, and I like many of the things they 
produce, but sometimes they do something that can only be described as 
embarrasing, such as "patenting the wheel". This reflects badly on the 
company, badly on their staff (who appear to act without knowledge) and 
badly on their country wherein they rely upon a patenting system that has 
clearly lost the plot.
It's a pity that the patenting process doesn't have a public review period, 
during which the patent could be enforced until and unless a public comment 
raises justifiable doubts over the patent legitimacy. A patent could then only 
be granted fully if the public judge the concept to be inventive. This would 
also deter big business from attempting to patent the wheel, because it wouldn't 
just be the USPTO they'd have to convince; they'd have to convince us too.
(Commentary is my own. It may not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.)

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: Charles McCathieNevile [mailto:charles@sidar.org] 
	Sent: Tue 07/09/2004 10:04 
	To: Rotan Hanrahan; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org; w3c-wai-au@w3.org 
	Subject: Re: Microsoft patented keyboard-navigation?

	[dropped ac-forum since I am not a subcriber to that list]
	I read the patent. It was filed March 6 97.
	It not only includes navigating with a keyboard, but also
	  + predefining the "tab" key as the particular key to use
	  + being able to do this even if the links are defined in an image map
	  + being able to provide a visual indicator that can be rectangualr OR 
	non-rectangular (circles and polygons are explicitly mentioned)
	  + being able to expose this mechanism in a ccoputer readable way.
	  + Lots of repetition of the above.
	Most of this occured with Lynx when I used it in 1996. Although it didn't 
	display circles or polygons.
	On Tue, 7 Sep 2004 09:38:02 +0100, Rotan Hanrahan 
	<Rotan.Hanrahan@MobileAware.com> wrote:
	> I see a threat to the mobile/celular Web. I see a threat to Web 
	> accessibility.
	I see a threat to the patent based on prior art and the fact that it is 
	blindingly obvious.
	I see a threat to the credibility of claims that software patents are 
	worthwhile, particularly from people who apply for such patents. (I see a 
	threat to the credibility of the research groupp that did this, and hope 
	for their sake that they can blame it on some other department).
	I see an even bigger threat to the credibility of anyone who tries to 
	enforce such a patent.
	(I see a threat to credibility all over the place. I recently saw a 
	government minister explaining that his legislation enforcing US patents 
	was fine, since the US patent system doesn't let bad patents be granted...)
	I see a job opportunity, for working at the US patent Office. (Along the 
	lines of "When I am an evil mastermind I will employ a 5-year-old to 
	review my plans  for world domination and point out the flaws that any 
	5-year-old could see").
	I don't see any real threat from this patent, except that somebody might 
	be forced to waste time defending the blindingly obvious in court. 
	Fortunately, since I don't live or work in THe US where the patent is 
	valid, it is unlikely to be me. I suspect that the patent holders are 
	smart enough  to realise that they wasted their money on the application 
	an will just let it slide into obscurity, so I don't think even that risk 
	is very high.
	Charles McCathieNevile         charles@sidar.org
	FundaciĆ³n Sidar             http://www.sidar.org


Received on Tuesday, 7 September 2004 10:27:09 UTC

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