Is IsNot plagiarism?

The IsNot patent issue is raising its ugly head again.  And although I agree with Cameron that Paul and Amanda are some of the nicest folks (I don’t think I’ve met Corneliu), I still think this is an issue that they need to fix !

Over the last four or five years’I’ve had a fair bit of interaction with both Paul and Amanda.  And a fair bit of that has to some extent been differences in opinions (especially with Paul <g> ).   But even when I have thought them somewhat clueless on a particular aspect of a discussion I’ve never really taken that as a personal short coming, rather just the need for more persuasive discussions .  That is, even though we have disagreed, I’ve always felt there was a level of sincerity there. And I think that even if you disagree with someone (even strongly at times) discussing those issues and interacting with them over a period of five or so years, well yo’ can’t help but have some respect for them. 

But the IsNot issue is different from any differences in opinions, this really cuts down to the level of credibility and an issue of personal substance.

Technically I think Paul has even alluded to the lack of merit of the IsNot patent.
And of course there is the issue of how VB.NET is proprietary whereas C# is made open license.

The real issue though is that there was and is clear prior instructions given on it.  A simple search for IsNot in the Visual Basic forums, shows references to it many years before this patent was applied for.  Now whether Paul and Amanda dreamt up the IsNot concept themselves, or whether they had heard it and forgot that and it somehow muddled in their subconscious, or perhaps they weren’t listening, we’ll never really know, and perhaps they themselves will never really know, as with so much information processing by humans things can sometimes get muddled. Regardless of whether they think they invented it or not, they failed the basic rule of research. 

The issue now, as it stands, is they have since been made aware it was in the public domain long before.  The simple instruction saying have an IsNot operator that is the equivalent of “Not Foo Is bar” is sufficient instruction for anyone skilled in the language and the compiler to implement it. That’s a simple fact.

So really, I think Paul and/or Amanda should do the right thing and write to the patent office and tell them it has come to their attention that there was in fact prior art, and hence they no longer believe the patent is valid.  In doing so, they still gain protection from anyone else applying for said patent as the prior art in the public domain has already been established. 

And of course this would also allow other versions of Basic such as Mono’s VB.NET to include the IsNot operator.

Anyway, as much as I agree with Cameron about Paul and Amanda, this patent issue has actually discredited them in my eyes.  I view it as plagiarism, and even if it was not intentional, it is still up to them to fix that. As long as they don’t fix it, it can only be viewed as intentional plagiarism.

And that then leads us to the question of whether or not the community can make suggestions, freely giving concepts and ideas for the betterment of the community then have employees of Microsoft file for patents on the implementation of those concepts.


I really think it is about time Paul and Amanda stepped up to the plate andwithdraw this reidculous patent.