Fun with Google Patent Search: Why does the maker of Windows hold a patent on a door hinge?

That there is a patent on file with the United States Patent Office for something called a "butt hinge with integrally formed butt straps" is odd enough -- and in a patently obscene sort of way, too.

That the patent is held by the world's most famous software company makes one wonder exactly what the limits might be on Microsoft's well-publicized efforts to diversify its product portfolio.

(That the new Google Patent Search feature can help you find such stuff is kind of cool.)

The patent was granted in 1998 and received a dribble of publicity in 1999, but I'm hard pressed to find any meaningful explanation for a door hinge being in the control of the company that made Windows famous.

I've put in a request for an explanation, and, of course, will share immediately upon its receipt.

In the meantime, here's the abstract for "butt hinge with integrally formed butt straps":

An improved butt hinge is disclosed in which each hinge half comprises a leaf portion formed integrally with a butt strap. A second leaf portion mounts to each butt strap after the butt straps are mounted to a door and door frame. A hinge pin passes through each of the four leaf portions to hingedly mount the door to the door frame. The hinge pin cannot be removed without removing at least one of the second leaf portions, and since the second leaf portions cannot be removed while the door is closed, the hinge pin cannot be removed while the door is closed.

Based upon my layman's reading, it would seem as though this patented technology might be some sort of security advancement, raising to even greater heights the question of what it's doing in the possession of Microsoft.

The inventor, a Robert Dean Magoon of Duluth, Ga., does not appear to work for Microsoft (or did that go without saying.) Magoon does, however, have a couple of other patents to his credit, including those for  a "self-retaining configurable face plate" and a "self-sealing framing system for buildings." Microsoft has yet to snap up either one.

Anyone have a guess? What's your best theory as to what Microsoft might do with its fancy-pants butt hinge?

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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