We are a software company based in Europe making spreadsheet software.

We found a patent Enhanced editing of formulas in spreadsheets.

Actually suggesting functions while users edit a formula exists in almost all the major spreadsheet software, they use certain intelligence or algorithms that can well include machine learning.

We also plan to build the feature in our spreadsheet software.

So my question are:

  1. The patent belongs to Microsoft, why could other major spreadsheet software like Google Sheets still have this feature in their spreadsheet software?
  2. When building our feature, what could our company do to avoid future IP trouble with regard to this patent?
  • 2
    The linked document is an application, not a patent. Even if it does get granted, the claims are almost sure to be edited. Otherwise it is a good question. You might consider reviewing the cited patents.
    – Eric S
    Oct 12, 2022 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


It has been issued in the US as Suggested functions for formulas in spreadsheets US 11227106B2 but is still pending in Europe.

So far this is an application in the EPO, not a granted patent. The claims may or may not be granted or may be granted in a narrower form.

Any feature that was public knowledge before the filing date in 2019 would be prior art to this application preventing patenting that feature in Europe. In the US there is a one year grace period so any feature made public by Microsoft more than a year before the filing date would also be prior art.

  • How could we define "public knowledge"? Does it have to be patented? Even though there is such a similar feature in a European software, it may be not very well-known and cannot prevent this feature from being patented in Europe?
    – Thomas
    Oct 12, 2022 at 20:45
  • 1
    Typically it refers to information that is published. And not just in Europe. To get a patent anywhere the invention needs to be new everywhere. In Europe there are such a things as third party observations that allow you, or anyone to bring publications to the attention of examiners. A shipping product or information on a web site (let's say on the wayback machine) are considered published. Past the point of "observations" there is a period after allowance where more formal "objections" can be brought up.
    – George White
    Oct 12, 2022 at 21:02

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