Microsoft Pay-Per-Use Patent Rejected

Microsoft's pay-per-use computing patent application, uncovered at the end of December, has been rejected by the US Patent & Trademark Office.  The application – which described a system whereby users would receive a high-power PC and be able to select multiple levels of performance, with costs varying according to use – was criticised as being unclear and "fuzzy" in places, with the USPTO feeling that much of what Microsoft was claiming had already been patented.

The system, according to Microsoft, would have benefited both users and retailers.  The former would be able to take advantage of a more powerful computer system than they could afford to buy outright, ensuring longevity and sufficient capabilities when the need arose.  For instance, regular web surfing would be billed at a lower rate than processor-intensive gaming.  Retailers, meanwhile, would have a guaranteed income stream, and Microsoft admitted that in the long run users might in fact pay more than if they had bought a more capable computer outright.

Microsoft can now contest the decision or rework the application and resubmit it.  However while it may be relatively straightforward to tweak the language into something less fuzzy – "polls" being one criticized word – it's hard to imagine how they can get around the USPTO's belief that the main concepts have already been claimed by others.