According to some of the posts in the blogosphere, Microsoft has struck yet again, patenting other peoples invention and creation as their own. The latest victim of the MS-patent troll army, is BlueJ, an educational IDE used for cross-platform development. I’ve used BlueJ in my own studies, and I have to say, its ok, though not particularly remarkable. However, the product does have at least one feature which the big boys did not have (at least until recently) – something called a function test bench. This allows a developer to easily integrate test-based development paradigm into his or her project, without having to go through the manual process of modifying and creating unique modules for the testing process. Apparently, Microsoft thought this sufficient a feature for a MS Visual studio development manager to copy from BlueJ. A member of the BlueJ development team, Michael Kölling, responded to the posting by Dan Fernandez, indicating his concern with this blatant absorption of the BlueJ product functionality, without even an attribution. There was even a response from Fernandez, acknowledging the leadership and “innovation” of BlueJ in developing this feature. Fast forward to 2005, and guess what?
Microsoft filed a patent on an “Object test bench”. As you can imagine, there is a fair bit of consternation and disgust at this latest example of “innovention” from Microsoft. Michael’s thoughts on the impact of this on BlueJ can be found here, and additional commentary is available from Slashdot. I hope Microsoft does the right thing, and recognise the prior art of the BlueJ team, and withdraw their patent application. One can hope, right?