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> Patents today are written in legalese that can only be interpreted by a select tribe of professionals, and Microsoft benefits by keeping lists like this secret.

This is like a blub programmer complaining about lisp being unreadable. I am no attorney or patent agent, let alone part of a "select tribe of professionals", just a typical software geek. Yet I can read patents pretty easily. Took me some practice to get the hang of it, but I needed absolutely no training for it, and neither do you!

Of course, if it's a legal matter (you're being sued), you need a lawyer. But if you just want to evaluate the technical merits of a patent, you can interpret the claims yourselves. All you have to realize is that patentese is just a particular form of English -- English that has to be overly specific (e.g. avoid pronouns) while at the same time trying to be as broad as possible, but English nonetheless. And you usually only need to read the independent claims (those that don't reference other claims) get a sense of the scope, as those are the broadest ones.

For instance, look at the claims conveniently posted at the top of the thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7901544

I really cannot see what's so complicated about those. They seem a bit vague (e.g. what's an "entity"?) but applying the common meaning of the terms involved (e.g. maybe "entity" as in "person, place or thing") reveals a pretty straightforward description. It's nowhere near groundbreaking, but popular narrative of lightbulbs and flying machines notwithstanding, patents rarely are.

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