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Microsoft Wins "Tabbed Browsing" Patent [internetnews.com] Sept. 12 2004
Microsoft has been granted a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on a process known as tabbing through a Web page in order to find links.
Thoughts? Personally, I think it's junk. They have lawyers grabbing at patents like others grab at domains that are a little slow in getting renewed.
Very broad coverage, it seems to me.
However, there are serious constraints on enforcing something like this.
Plus, the patent might be held invalid for many reasons.
Even in 1997, when it was filed, I think it was obvious and obviousness is grounds for narrowing a patent's scope or invalidating it altogether.
I think MS has to sit on this one for PR reasons.
As it is, though, patenting the tab-through-links procedure seems a lot like one of the car manufacturors patenting a way to hold the steering-wheel. Everyone's keyboard has more or less the same buttons on it. Surely a program developer is free to use any one of them for whatever purpose he sees fit?