Breakpoints patented?

I’m really beginning to hate to have to revisit US Patent Law. Especially for something this stupid.

Seiko Epson has applied and won a patent for, of all things, breakpoints.

Yes, breakpoints.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a breakpoint is a command, pointer, or piece of code that sits at a specific place in a programmer’s code. It’s put there to temporarily pause the execution of the code so the programmer can analyse the state to see what’s wrong. It’s a debugging device, and not used for production systems.

It’s been around a long, long, long time. I can remember using breakpoints as early as 1987 in QuickBasic, and I’m relatively sure it’s been around longer than that. It’s a commonly-used practice by millions of developers worldwide.

It’s not rocket science.

It’s not ground breaking.

It’s not even remotely new.

It’s so old hat that most people don’t even think about using them. It’s been implemented in hundreds of IDEs.

So why the hell did the USPTO allow this to receive the honour of a patent? Well, therein lies the big debate about why the USPTO is even needed, if they’re allowing this through the door.

Remember folks, patents are meant to support inventors in the act of creating and developing a unique product or process. This? This is just plain asinine.