MS seeks patent experts - no patent experience necessary

Offshoring incompetence


Microsoft is recruiting patent engineers - but complete ignorance of patent law is not considered an obstacle to being hired, according to the job ad.

Last year, Redmond began outsourcing the task of researching and analysing patents to a firm called Intellevate, and the team is based in New Delhi, India. The applicant must be a computer science or electrical engineering PhD, and will be involved in prior art searches, patentability research, "file wrapper analysis", "claim scope mapping" and technical analysis.

But "patent experience" itself "is helpful but not mandatory," for potential recruits. To emphasize the point, the ad stresses that "although advance knowledge of patent law is helpful, it is not required".

Over the past eighteen months, Microsoft has dramatically accelerated its patent filing activity. Many claims, such as tabbing through a web page have little chance of withstanding the most basic prior art examination.

Just before Christmas Microsoft was granted a patent for online bill payment (which includes the innovation "'the consumer is in direct control of the amount to be paid and the payment date") and fine-grained IM presence - ("... a participant might not want someone else to know whether or not the individual is logged in or out to lunch. Thus, one might want to prohibit other individuals from viewing such presence information").

The USPTO has also granted Microsoft's Expedia a patent for matching a quote with an offer, which claimed -

"An effective electronic exchange system for satisfying an offer by a purchaser with a quote from a supplier has eluded those skilled in the art."

Other recent filings include attempting to patent the "y-axis", the "IS NOT" operator in Basic, interactive test feedback, and reading ahead 20 records at a time in a database, when the user clicks the Previous or Next buttons.

Thanks to Theo for recording these absurdities, and in particular Microsoft's attempt to patent a latitude/longitude co-ordinate stored as a base-30 number. As he points out, this has been on the K-6 curriculum for some time.

Along with other companies, Microsoft is mining India's brilliant engineering talent to save money. But judging by recent form, it may as well save even more money by dropping the requirement for PhDs altogether - and simply employ children. ®

Related stories

Microsoft offshores patent war - so goes the WTO?
Microsoft FAT patent rejected
Microsoft patents tabbing through a web page
HP feared MS open source patent offensive
How Microsoft played the patent card, and failed


Other stories you might like

  • How to keep a support contract: Make the user think they solved the problem

    Look what you found! Aren't you clever!

    On Call Let us take a little trip back to the days before the PC, when terminals ruled supreme, to find that the more things change the more they stay the same. Welcome to On Call.

    Today's story comes from "Keith" (not his name) and concerns the rage of a user whose expensive terminal would crash once a day, pretty much at the same time.

    The terminal in question was a TAB 132/15. It was an impressive bit of kit for the time and was capable of displaying 132 characters of crisp, green text on a 15-inch CRT housed in a futuristic plastic case. Luxury for sure, unless one was the financial trader trying to use the device.

    Continue reading
  • Apple kicked an M1-shaped hole in Intel's quarter

    Chipzilla braces for a China-gaming-ban-shaped hole in future results, predicts more product delays

    Intel has blamed Apple's switch to its own M1 silicon in Macs for a dip in sales at its client computing group, and foreshadowed future unpleasantness caused by supply chain issues and China's recent internet crackdowns.

    Chipzilla's finances were robust for the third quarter of its financial year: revenue of $19.2 billion was up five per cent year over year, while net income of $6.8 billion was up 60 per cent compared to 2020's Q3.

    But revenue for the client computing group was down two points. CFO George Davis – whose retirement was announced today – was at pains to point out that were it not for Apple quitting Intel silicon and Chipzilla exiting the modem business, client-related revenue would have risen ten per cent.

    Continue reading
  • How your phone, laptop, or watch can be tracked by their Bluetooth transmissions

    Unique fingerprints lurk in radio signals more often than not, it seems

    Over the past few years, mobile devices have become increasingly chatty over the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol and this turns out to be a somewhat significant privacy risk.

    Seven boffins at University of California San Diego – Hadi Givehchian, Nishant Bhaskar, Eliana Rodriguez Herrera, Héctor Rodrigo López Soto, Christian Dameff, Dinesh Bharadia, and Aaron Schulman – tested the BLE implementations on several popular phones, PCs, and gadgets, and found they can be tracked through their physical signaling characteristics albeit with intermittent success.

    That means the devices may emit a unique fingerprint, meaning it's possible to look out for those fingerprints in multiple locations to figure out where those devices have been and when. This could be used to track people; you'll have to use your imagination to determine who would or could usefully exploit this. That said, at least two members of the team believe it's worth product makers addressing this privacy weakness.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021