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October 9, 2008

Has Microsoft Really Patented Page Up and Page Down?

A ZDNet UK article claims that Microsoft has obtained a U.S. patent on the use of "page up" and "page down" keystrokes.  The article points to the fact that computer keyboards have had "page up" and "page down" keys for over two decades to imply that the patent was wrongly granted to Microsoft.

Even a cursory glance at the claims of the patent itself, however, reveals that those claims do not appear to cover the mere use of "page up" and "page down" keys, but rather some particular technique for using those keys to scroll through content.  (The claims are a numbered list beginning right after the text which reads, "What is claimed is:").  My point is not that this particular technique is entitled to a patent; maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  Rather, my point is that press coverage of software patents often implies that individual software patents grant their owners much more sweeping rights than they actually grant.  Such coverage isn't a helpful way to promote an informed public debate over the merits and demerits of software patents generally.

Posted by Robert at October 9, 2008 8:29 PM
category: Intellectual Property Law

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