Microsoft abandons IDE patent application

Technology in question came from the BlueJ project

Citing a mistaken filing, Microsoft has abandoned a patent application for technology in its Visual Studio software development platform that originated outside the company, a Microsoft representative said on Tuesday.

The application involved Microsoft's implementation of the BlueJ developer environment, which the company calls "Object Test Bench," said the representative, who attributed the company's response to an InfoWorld press inquiry on the subject to Jason Matusow, Microsoft's senior directory of IP and interoperability.

"Microsoft mistakenly filed for a patent on a technology included in components of Visual Studio 2005 that was based upon an academic project to help individuals grasp introductory concepts of software programming through pictorial representation of code," the representative said.

The company had been notified by Michael Kolling, the creator of BlueJ, that the patent application covered technology substantially similar to his project. BlueJ is an IDE for teaching object-oriented programming and Java to beginners, according to Kolling's blog.

"Microsoft agrees with Professor Kolling, and in keeping with the company's standards for quality patent filings, [it is] expressly abandoning the patent application with the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office) through normal procedures," the company said.

Kolling could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. But in his blog , he raised the question of whether Microsoft's patent application would be denied because it was based on "prior art," which is technology that already existed.

"While I am sure we would have had a good case to file for prior art, and while it is likely that this would have stopped the application, I really have better things to do with my time," he wrote.

In a blog entry last Friday, Kolling had expressed fears that the patent application could destroy BlueJ.

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