Pointless Patents

Microsoft has been granted a patent on 'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keystrokes.

The software giant applied for the patent in 2005, and was granted it on August 19, 2008. US patent number 7,415,666 describes "a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed".

This is being reported on ZDNet. I thought it was a joke at first. I am still looking for someone to jump up and say "April Fool." Please, tell me this is a spoof...please!!!


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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veryy good

pire's picture

veryy Good. nice to meet you linuxjournal :D

Need a script to play an

MSHammer's picture

Need a script to play an excerpt on the numeric keypad from MSHammer's famous tune "MS can't NumLock the world" on the "Do Linux or Pay the Price" album.

33 99 3
can't touch this
33 99 3
can't touch this

Haven't had time to put an ani-png of Tux doing the patented MSHammer rooster dance yet.

Patent System is not necessarily broken, just corrupt

Ken Sarkies's picture

I did try a patent once, just to see what happened. My observations were that a patent almost never belongs to the inventor, as such a person never has enough money or autonomy to be able take out a patent. If anyone ever achieves this they do, they have to exploit it, and defend it.

I noted also that large research companies typically take out huge numbers of patents on the most apparently trivial "inventions" just in case one of them might bring in some value. The check for prior art also doesn't seem to be particularly rigorous, probably because of the massive volume of these patents coming in all the time. The patent concept is a good one in principle, but it is the tendency of humankind to corrupt any good thing that has dominated. The MS patent looks like just part of the patent diorrhea.

The Patent isn't for the PageUp and PageDown Keys

Randy Kramer's picture

Before I say anything (else), I want to say that I agree that the whole patent (and copyright) situation is bad, especially in software.

However, I read through some of this stuff a few days ago, and it is *not* true that "Microsoft has been granted a patent on 'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keystrokes".

A more accurate description of what they have patented is, as described in the article: "a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed".

My problem with that is that it seems pretty obvious (as a user), and, iirc, applications like Acrobat Reader already do that (this was pointed out in some of the stuff I read the other day).

The thing that I want in all applications is the following. Many applications let you page so that the first un-viewable line line on a new page is in some fixed position, maybe the top line (not ideal), the 2nd line, or the 3rd line. Once you get the hang of it you know where to pick up your reading on the new page, and, with a line or two that you've previously read, you can pick up the context if you've been interrupted.

Then you get to the last page, and find the next line to read might be anywhere on the page.

I hope none can patent that, as "back in the day" (prior to 2001, I complained to every support group I came across (including Microsoft for MS Word). It seems to me my complaints should somehow count as prior art. Unfortunately, I don't have any documentation of them.

Look at the big picture

David Tangye's picture

If this is true, it just confirms 2 things to me:

1. How corrupt and bereft of any value the entire patenting system is, and has been for many years now. Do you wonder why the likes of China, and most of the rest of us in the rest of the world simply pirate stuff now? But why does the USA support patents? Because you do not produce and export goods anymore, so you need royalties and patents in software and medicine etc to try in vain to prop up your economy and help pay for your immense debt and military forays. The business and economic aspects to the Great American Dream are bankrupt, and now so is America. Your housing crisis, stock market woes, and forced bail-out of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac are no more than symptoms of this. It does not take a genius to see this: its blindingly obvious. In a nutshell the wealth that the USA gained from the 2nd World War has run out.

2. Microsoft's strategic business philosophy of screwing money from everywhere it can, by whatever means it can. This great capitalist dinosaur, whose old leader rightly said that 'Linux is Un-American', is a dying part of a dying system. That system, capitalism, is based on supposedly open competition but in fact has led to the subversion of freedom, commercial viability based on obfuscation (partly stripped away by the internet), greed, and propping up the established and the rich via patents and royalties at the expense of everyone else.

See my post on standards

David Lane's picture

I cannot argue either point...and I cannot even think it would be fun to try. Take a look at my post on standards for another twist on this whole mess.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

US patent number 7,415,666

Mirek's picture

An element of absurdity is a solid fundament of a funny joke. Unfortunately, if the absurdity became a reality then...
Anyway, the "'Page Up' and 'Page Down' keystrokes" Patent can be viewed at US Goverment's website:


John Stampe's picture

What if I change my keymaps? Am I breaking the patent???!!!

What stupid nonsense.

Key labels

Phil Hughes's picture

I have been using computers for quite a few years. Once Page Up and Page Down appeared on keyboards, I really don't remember needing someone or something to clarify what those keys might do.

So, if Microsoft can patent the funcion of the key it would seem that they should be able to claim some other IP right for the meaning of "Page Up" and "Page Down". And, as for me, I think I need to find a new career that doesn't involve computers.

Phil Hughes

I was thinking barista...

David Lane's picture


I am right there with you. My local coffee shop is hiring - should I send you an application? Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and fix an Oracle database that was moved over the weekend...and no one bothered to tell me....

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

I would be embarrassed to have my name on it.

No Way Jose's picture

This is worse than Amazon's one-click-checkout. Who's gonna be the first to patent how to pinch a turd?

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