iA Drops Syntax Control Patent, Internet Silent

Last week, the Internet exploded when the website for Information Architects new app, Writer Pro, mentioned the company filing a patent on a feature called “Syntax Control.” What the feature does is use Apple’s NSLinguisticTagger class to highlight syntactic components of your document (adjectives, nouns, etc), to help while editing. I’m not a patent expert, but based on what understand, I don’t believe in them. I’m willing to be flexible, but the point is I wouldn’t have filed for a patent if I were them, and I understand what everyone was so upset over: patents can be used for extorting other companies, and we all hate patent trolls.

One part of the reaction I don’t understand is those who say their patent is more invalid because it’s based on an Apple class. The building blocks for anything you want to do exist. What’s patentable is the specific way in which you took those building blocks and made something with them. Whether those building blocks got you 10% or 90% of the way there is immaterial. How you execute is all that counts. Since I don’t like any patents, it’s bad either way, but the idea that the technical difficulty to implement something matters doesn’t make sense to me.

The other thing I don’t get is why I saw no one commending acknowledging iA for this1:

So, what happened is:

  1. A company did something a lot of people didn’t like.
  2. Those people voiced their opinion.
  3. The company listened and corrected what everyone was upset about.

If a company does something you don’t like, you speak out, and they correct it, that means what you did worked. It means you got what you wanted. Isn’t the right thing to acknowledge them for it? If you don’t, why would anyone listen to you the next time?


  1. Except for all the people who retweeted and favorited their tweet.