Microsoft Applies for Latitude/Longitude Patent, or Some USPO Hilarity

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The United States Patent Office on Friday released details of Microsoft’s latest patent application, this time for ‘[a] computer-implemented method of reducing the number of characters required to represent coordinates within a geographically-oriented string’. In other words: latitude and longitude coordinates.

If granted, this patent will join other examples of USPO silliness in the IP Hall of Shame, including:

  • Method of Swinging on a Swing
    Patented by a five year-old child from Minnesota, United States, this patent describes a way of swinging laterally on a child’s swing (you know, the one where you swing side to side). Unsurpringly, the applicant’s father is a patent attorney.
    …a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other.
  • Method of Exercising a Cat (with a laser pointer)
    I’ll bear this one in mind the next time I have the urge to enrage somebody’s cat, though when it comes to animal exercise I prefer to provide some incentive:
    [C]onsists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.
  • [Peanut] butter and jelly food slice
    This isn’t quite as capricious as it looks; it’s actually a ‘pre-formed nut butter and jelly food slice that enables a person of any age to easily and quickly make a nut butter and jelly sandwich’. It’s still a little bizarre, however:
    A volume of nut butter is placed within the hollow region, and is thereby totally encapsulated between the first and second layers of jelly. Also provided is a method and apparatus for making nut butter and jelly slices. Finally, a jelly slice dimensioned to fit on a food substrate and jelly suitable for making jelly slices or nut butter and jelly slices are provided. The jelly slices and the nut butter and jelly slices may be individually wrapped in flexible coverings and packaged in a single food container.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures from the land of the Whimsical Patent.