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Patent Shock

The US Patent Office just got around to awarding a patent to Gilbert Hyatt that he applied for in late 1970. This would not have been a big deal if he had invented a better mousetrap, but instead he claims to have invented the first microprocessor. In a less litigious society that wouldn't mean much, but if Hyatt's patent does indeed apply to all microprocessors ever shipped, (hundreds of millions, all told) he could conceivably sue every chip maker for royalties. Of course, if he asks for more than a minuscule amount, he would be facing some of the highest paid legal counsel in the universe.

There's no telling what Hyatt will do, but it seems that he should accept mention in the next edition of the textbooks and leave well enough alone. The electronics industry has enough trouble without having to fight more legal battle over who managed to get to the patent office first. More later when we hear what happens.

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 03-Sep-90, Vol. 12, #36, pg. 1
PC WEEK -- 03-Sep-90, Vol. 7, #35 , pg. 1