This patent seems odd .. it is patenting an idea, which i thought was not possible .. since this company does not make the simulation engine, and they did not make the internet, what are they patenting? They seem to be trying to sue others for making web based circuit simulation systems, however they have created no part of the system .. why was this patent issued? it is too general i think and invalid

here is the link


it seems to be a patent to protect any sort of server client system that simulates circuits .. but if someone sets up a circuit simulation system with open source software .. can they really prevent it just because it is a server client system? seems like an unenforceable patent.

Claim 1: 1. A method for simulating a circuit in a client-server environment, wherein a network couples at least one client computer to a server computer, the method comprising:

at the client computer, presenting a visual display, wherein the visual display includes a visual depiction of a particular circuit having two or more components, and wherein at least one of the depicted components is linked to one or more user interface controls for receiving user input to change component characteristic data for the depicted component;

providing executable code to the client computer from the server computer;

at the server computer, generating simulation data that represents one or more characteristics of a signal that would be generated in the particular circuit during operation of the particular circuit;

sending the simulation data over the network from the server computer to the client computer;

at the client computer, generating a first simulation display based on the simulation data for operation of the particular circuit;

receiving user input at the client computer; and

at the client computer and without requesting additional simulation data from the server computer, generating a second simulation display based on the simulation data, wherein the second simulation display displays the simulation data differently than the first simulation display, and wherein the second simulation display is generated in response to the user input and in response to executing by the client computer the executable code.

ok let's just look at claim 1 ... suppose another system simulates circuits and produces data and displays, exactly as written in the claim ... the problem i have is, these other systems use open source software for every piece of the system ... and certainly they cannot patent server client systems in general .. so again, what in fact they are patenting is simply the idea, of using a server to run a simulation program (any simulation program) to produce simulation data, and sending that to a client for display ... but since this patent holder has no claim on the simulation engines, and no claim on client/server systems in general .. the only thing they presume to have claim on is the idea of using a client/server system for the purpose of circuit simulation, using ANY simulator, and ANY server, and ANY client code, etc ... again, my point is this is way too general and I cant see how this is valid ... this claim 1 above does NOT in fact point to any specific implementation .. isnt that a problem for the claim?


1 Answer 1


This is not an attempt to patent an idea. An idea would be "it would be good to have a client/server circuit simulation system with an efficient partitioning between what the client does and what the server does." This patent describes particular ways to do this so it is more than an idea. Also it is irrelevant that the inventor does or does not have a product on the market. It may even be that some earlier patent could prevent the owner of this patent from producing this system. An alleged infringer using an open source simulation engine would not be relevant as to infringement of this patent.

Now, was it novel and non-obvious at the time it was filed? It looks to me that the step:

". . . the client computer and without requesting additional simulation data from the server computer, generating a second simulation display based on the simulation data, wherein the second simulation display displays the simulation data differently than the first simulation display . . ."

may contain the key element of novelty.

To get to an informed opinion on the novelty one would need to do a search. And also to understand what the claims are actually claiming. Claim 1, for example, requires code to be sent from the server to the client. It also requires a way for the user to make an input at the client that changes what is displayed regarding a simulation run without needing to go back to the server. Was all of this new on the date of filing? It would take a careful parsing of the claims and a search to answer that question. Also, in order to build a system that doesn't infringe this particular claim, just make any change to the displayed data require getting information from the server.

EDIT: If you take a system that is old or obvious and add a twist that makes the whole thing patentable, the only thing you have a monopoly on is a version with the twist. The old thing isn't captured by the patent. If the twist is bells and whistles that do not provide any particular value in the eyes of the users/customers then you have a patent that has not much value.

  • can you elaborate on the comment about open source?
    – MrMan
    Apr 13, 2013 at 0:12
  • This text was a comment from MrMan posted as an edit to the answer. ---------in other words suppose someone (in fact tere are many "including texas instruments) uses eitheir own proprietary simulation software or open source to do circuit simulation (for example hspice from synopsis company) the way this patent reads noone can use a server like a server and serve up circuit
    – George White
    Apr 13, 2013 at 4:00
  • Continued from above-_-------simulation results but this seems ridiculous since the patent holder has no claim on either the simulation engine used nor the internet nor webpages for displaying the information .. so like i said, what they have patented is just an idea, with language like "any client/server system that ... " .. isnt this a totally invalid patent for trying to claim noone can run simulations on a server and display results to a browser? i dont understand how this could possibly have been granted"
    – George White
    Apr 13, 2013 at 4:01
  • Using an open source product as an ingredient in a system does NOT sprinkle any "get out of jail free card" on the system. The way you see if you infringe a claim is to try to figure out what it says and see if your system has every element of the claim.
    – George White
    Apr 13, 2013 at 6:40
  • the point is that if this patent is to be followed it would be enforcing a monopoly on circuit simulation over the web
    – MrMan
    Apr 13, 2013 at 6:42

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