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   Microsoft Proves Pronouns Patentable

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Forwarded from the W3C list:

> Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 19:24:07 -0400
> From: TheoDP@aol.com
> To: public-web-plugins@w3.org
> Subject: Microsoft Proves Pronouns Patentable

Five days after arguing that the Eolas browser plug-in patent should
be invalidated as obvious, Microsoft pocketed a patent of its own for
'Computer programming language pronouns', which covers the use of
ellipses, blanks, and ditto marks as substitutes for names in a
computer programming language. Perhaps the USPTO was won over by the
patent's eloquent conclusion: 'Eliminating names is a substantial
benefit as programmers dislike creating names.'

See the patent at:


Computer programming language pronouns 

Abstract: Programming language constructs called pronouns
and referents, and a method, system, and apparatus for
translating computer source code that contains the pronouns
and referents. A referent is any semantic or syntactic
construct in the source code (e.g., a statement, a portion
of a statement, an expression, or a value) to which a pronoun
refers. A pronoun is a programming-language defined source-code
symbol or a sequence of symbols that refers to the referent.
As a result, pronouns eliminate the need to define new names
or macros for repeated program segments. When a translator
encounters the pronoun in the source code, the translator
searches the source code for the referent and substitutes
the referent for the pronoun. Thus, by using pronouns and
referents, the programmer can write programs faster and
easier and eliminate program redundancy without losing

We claim:

1. A computerized method for translating source code,
where the source code is written in a high-level programming
language, comprising:

- recognizing a pronoun in the source code, wherein the pronoun
  is defined by the programming language; and 

- finding a referent in the source code, wherein the pronoun
  refers to the referent, and wherein the referent is defined
  by a programmer of the source code


Note to XML-DEV readers: if this sounds bizarre, remember that
Todd Dickinson (Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office)
believed it should be possible to patent a football (timing)
play or a legal argument, if they were new and 'non-obvious'.
(http://xml.coverpages.org/patents.html#Dvorak)  Scary as it
may be, there are living human beings who actually think this
way; they get jobs at the USPTO.


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