Thursday, February 25, 2010

I got a patent

Today I got a pleasant surprise when I got into the office: I found a big box on my desk. It turns out it was a nice engraved plaque of my patent on "Protected Concurrent FIFO" message processing.


The funny thing is that I didn't even know that the patent was awarded. After the patent application in 2004 or 2005, I don't even remember when it was, I lost track of its status. Emails to the patent lawyer went unanswered.

I googled for the text of the actual patent (US7644197 Queue management by multiple processors) and found a PDF which I copied to Mediacast.

A thank-you to Jerry Waldorf (my boss during the SeeBeyond days and co-applicant of the patent) for asking me to work on this subject, and a thank-you to Sun for the plaque!

By the way, I have often said that almost all software patents are nonsense and inhibit progress rather than promote it. I still feel this way. Does that make me a hypocrite? Not necessarily: companies are forced to submit patents applications so that they can defend themselves against patent litigation from competitors. In that sense I'm happy that Sun got another patent. And that I'm happy that my name is on it: well, yes, I guess that's an ego-thing.


Anonymous said... are the best


Nigel said...

Yes, Congratulations!

lativb said...

It's amazing!
My best Congratulations!
IMHO the idea of software patents is mostly political game:)
But the resulted document is a good award to the developer!

Wen said...

Congratulations! Now you are going to make even bigger bucks! :)

bahdab said...


Anonymous said...

Wow, impressive!
This is great news, hope you celebrated with champagne and a big party.


Senthil said...

Congrats Frank

Charles Ye said...

I just saw that this patent is awarded recently. But think I can not stay silent anymore.

I am your former Sun Micro member of your team. You were my manager when the patent was actually
invented and developed. I am the actual sole original developer of this feature and contributed lots.

Realized that you as my manager at that time even did not list actual developer in the inventor list.
This is mainly server side technology. I do not recall you contribute anything on the server side of that product although you are the manager. What is your exact contribution on this patent?

I am honest person and all I am talking is about the fact. I think that it is completely not right and not fair! I will contact your former boss about this.


Frank Kieviet said...

Hi Charles,

How nice to see that you're following my blog!

I'm surprised by your comments. I don't think a who-contributed-what to the code base is productive, and I don't think a public blog is the right place to do so. I'd like to leave it at that I feel I contributed a lot to the code base. And credit where credit is due, so did you, and so did a few more people.

I also like to point out that Jerry filed the patent application, and that I converted my design docs for this feature into the paperwork for the application. It was Jerry's call to pick names to put on the application. It was also customary within SeeBeyond to limit the number of people on an application to one or two. As a result, I think the patent you helped submit also was lacking some contributors.

Feel free to contact "my former boss" about this. Jerry is still at Oracle as far as I know. Venu is not, but I'd be happy to ask him if I can give you his email address. You may also find him on LinkedIn.

If you insist on discussing this further, I suggest you send me an email.