Microsoft Drops Controversial Patent Bid


Microsoft is backing away from a patent application that prompted one Sun Microsystems executive to accuse it of "disgusting behaviour" after a University of Kent researcher claimed it ripped off technology he developed.

The Redmond, Wash.-based computer giant said it is now abandoning its U.S. Patent application that Professor Michael Kolling said copied key elements of his BlueJ Java development environment.

Jason Matusow, Microsoft's senior director of IP and Licensing, in a statement sent out late Monday, said:

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. Professor Michael Kolling, Senior Lecturer at the Computing Laboratory, University of Kent originally created the technology known as "BlueJ" and was aware of Microsoft's use of the technology within the Visual Studio 2005 product. Recently, Professor Kolling notified Microsoft that a patent application for Microsoft's implementation of BlueJ, known as "Object Test Bench," was substantially similar to his project. Microsoft agrees with Professor Kolling, and in keeping with our internal standards for quality patent filings, we are expressly abandoning the patent application with the USPTO through their normal procedures.

Kolling, on his blog, said he was surprised at how fast all the events transpired after he first made his complaint public over the weekend:

All considered, I must say that I am impressed and surprised at the speed with which all this happened. It was a weekend, after all! And at the time of writing this, it's not even Monday morning yet in the US.

Also, all the individual people from Microsoft I have heard from (either directly or via a public statement) have been professional, friendly, and reasonable.

He added, " I am very grateful if this gets resolved without involving the lawyers."