Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem

The Sins of My Youth

My lovely and much younger sister works as a paralegal in a Dallas law office when she’s not running triathalons. So one day last week I guess she was bored and typed our not-very-common surname into the US PTO database and found this piece of hilarity. I genuinely had no idea that this thing existed.

I only very vaguely remember reading the patent application. I do distinctly remember the “invention”, which consisted of one afternoon with a couple of guys (particularly Greg Melahn and Sam Ruby) brainstorming ideas on how we could get two very different systems to talk to one another. Not exactly earth-shattering design work.

My recollection is that this stuff never even got implemented, but I could be wrong about that, as I bailed from OTI/IBM in May, 1999.

An astute practitioner of the software art will quickly realize how lame this thing is. I certainly don’t mean to criticize anyone involved in this particular patent. We were all just doing our jobs within the system that exists. But the fact that the US PTO felt that it was worthy of patenting is all the reminder any of us should need as to just how broken the existing system really is.

And the funniest part of all this is……This patent is referenced as prior art by four other patents (6996826, 6883172, 6484311, and 6438744), all issued to (you guessed it!) Microsoft.

Anyone else out there with sinfully funny patents bearing their names that they want to ‘fess up to?

Written by Mike Milinkovich

August 14, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Foundation

2 Responses

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  1. If only I owned the IP, and it were enforcable, and I were “that kind of person”, I might be able to make some moolah :) is pretty funny though that the team I was working on was doing VOIP work back in 1995, WAYYYYY ahead of our time… – Don

    Donald Smith

    August 14, 2006 at 6:53 pm

  2. btw mike yes this patent did get implemented (by me and adrian cho and a few others); the bridge described by the patent is still standing though i don’t think the systems it connected are still around


    October 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

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